Thursday, September 24, 2009

History’s Powerful Present

From Karen Meek’s EuroCrime blog comes the shortlist of nominees for this year’s Ellis Peters Historical Award, given out by the British Crime Writers’ Association:

The Dead of Winter, by Rennie Airth (Macmillan)
If the Dead Rise Not, by Philip Kerr (Quercus)
The Redemption of Alexander Seaton, by Shona MacLean (Quercus)
The Information Officer, by Mark Mills (HarperCollins)
The Interrogator, by Andrew Williams (John Murray)
An Empty Death, by Laura Wilson (Orion)

Having read more than half of these books, I can say this is a particularly strong list. I’d have a hell of a time choosing a winner. Wilson picked up this same commendation last year (for Stratton’s War), so I might want to give it to somebody else this year. Certainly The Dead of Winter is a stunner--Airth’s best book since River of Darkness. But Kerr’s sixth Bernie Gunther story, If the Dead Rise Not, is an extraordinary work by any measure, filled with the rancid tastes of Nazi-era, Jew-purging Berlin and characters prone to take up permanent residence in your memory. It’s unfortunate that American readers will have to wait until March 2010 to see what’s in store for Gunther in this prequel to the rest of Kerr’s series.

The winner of this prize will be announced on Thursday, October 29.

1 comment:

Mike Ripley said...

Interesting that although Ellis Peters was best known for medieval mysteries, very few medieval mysteries get a look in at this award (Ariana Franklin being a noble exception). On this year's list, five out of six are set in or in the aftermath of WWII. Philip Kerr is nominated for the third year on the trot and deserves to win, but my money will go on Rennie Airth.