The CWA Debut Dagger is back!

I just received Bulletin One  from the Debut Dagger folks and thought I’d reproduce it in its entirety as it references the great success of the shortlisted entrants in recent years. You can subscribe to Debut Dagger updates here — the weekly bulletins always have great tips on writing for aspiring authors.  (And thanks for the plug for The Beggar’s Opera, Liz!)


Hello and welcome to the 2012 Debut Dagger Competition.

Those of you who have done the maths, will realise that this year the competition is only open to entries for thirteen weeks, rather than the usual fourteen. You’ll also have spotted that we’re starting a week early. The reason is quite simple; entries increased yet again in 2011 and we need the extra time to get through all the entries before the shortlist announcement at Crimefest in May.

In 2011 we had nearly seven hundred entries from twenty six countries. Once again there was an impressive mix of the psychological, supernatural, quirky, historical and action adventure.

The overall winner was South African writer Michele Rowe with What Hidden Lies; the story of the hunt for the killer of an alleged sex offender on the spectacular Cape Town coast.

Highly Commended went to UK author Graham Brack for The Outrageous Behaviour of Left-handed Dwarves where the death of a young woman in Prague reveals a series of scandals reaching to the highest levels of Government.

The Awards were presented at the Harrogate Literary Festival in July and we were pleased that some of the short-listed authors attended the Event. Unfortunately a combination of visa problems and bronchitis prevented Michele from joining us, but you can find a video message from her on the CWA website.

At the time of writing, I know some of the short-listed authors have been approached by agents and Michele has been signed to a prestigious London literary agency. If I tell you that I was speaking to Michele’s agent at the Awards and she told me that they get approximately 5000 submissions a year and sign up two or three new clients each year, that gives you some idea of Michele’s achievement.

Now for the good news on some of the 2010 short-listed authors.

I’m pleased to say that Peggy Blair’s 2010 entry The Beggar’s Opera is being published by Penguin Canada in February 2012. In fact, they like it so much, it features on the cover of their 2011 autumn brochure.

In beautiful, crumbling Old Havana, Canadian detective Mike Ellis hopes the sun and sand will help save his troubled marriage. He doesn’t yet know that it’s dead in the water – much like the little Cuban boy last seen begging the Canadian couple for a few pesos. For Inspector Ricardo Ramirez, finding his prime suspect isn’t a problem – Cuban law is. He has only seventy-two hours to secure an indictment and prevent a vicious killer from leaving the island. But Ramirez also has his own troubles to worry about. He’s dying of the same dementia that killed his grandmother, an incurable disease that makes him see the ghosts of victims of unsolved murders. As he races against time, the dead haunt his every step…

We also heard from two other 2010 short-listed authors over the summer. Rick DeMille’s entry A Murder in Mumbles (now retitled Hellfire) has been picked up by Transit Publishing and is due for publication in at the end of October. and Rosemary McCraken’s book Safe Harbour (now retitled Safe Harbor) has just been taken by a Canadian publisher and will be issued as a paperback and e-book early next year.

That’s all for this bulletin. The 2012 Debut Dagger is now open for business on our website:

Happy writing.

13 weeks to go.

For more information about the competition, visit


 Check out Penguin Canada’s book trailer for The Beggar’s Opera  here! It’s pretty cool!

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