British Crime Fiction Awards (Part 1): CWA Dagger Award Longlist 2017

The United Kingdom has quite a tradition of prestigious literary awards, with The Man Booker Prize as its crown jewel. According to the buzz in the land of booktubers and bookbloggers, almost all the attention seems to go to British fiction awards with The Man Booker Prize, The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and The Costa Book Awards as most popular ones.

Given that the United Kingdom has a decent reputation in crime fiction, I expected to find an equally successful literary award for crime fiction. Sadly, it turns out that there’s no crime equivalent to any of the prestigious novel awards. Even the best known ones tend to stay under the radar. So, let this be a call-up to booktubers and bookbloggers; crime fiction needs more love.

The ones I’d like to focus on are the CWA Dagger Awards and the reasonably younger Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, presumably the most important crime fiction awards the United Kingdom has at its disposal.

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Figuring Out Your Plot

Eureka! Something exciting just happened. You’ve found a magnificent idea for a novel. All you have to do now, is write it down and turn it into an exceptional story. Piece of cake, right? Well frankly, coming up with an idea is the easiest part of the writing process. You’ve got a bumpy road ahead of you. Your first obstacle? Figuring out your plot.

Chances are you will know how your story begins once you’ve tought about your idea. You might not be certain what your opening scene should be, but you’ll know how your story will kick off. If you’re lucky you might even know how it could end. But how do you go from start to finish? How do you fill up the gaps? How do you tackle the dreaded middle?

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Bird Box by Josh Malerman

18753853Don’t open your eyes. They are out there. They might see you, or worse: you might see them. Even the slightest glimpse might get you killed.
Malorie has managed to survive for over four years, but she’s far from safe. She raises the children indoors. They’ve never been outside, they’ve never even seen the light of day. The doors are locked, the windows nailed shut with mattresses.
Today they must leave the house. Today they will risk everything.

Bird Box is marketed as a horror novel that could be compared to Hitchcock’s The Birds and Stephen King’s most haunting work. Admittedly, there have been worse comparisons. Bird Box definitely has its moments whereby you’re fighting the urge to close your eyes along with the characters, wishing they’ll be okay. And while Stephen King would certainly applaud the level of disturbance, I can’t quite agree that this is the kind of story that will scare the hell out of experienced thriller readers or leave them with sweaty hands. Having said that, the constant terror of some evil you can’t see or hear is unsettling at least. The real fear is to be found in what might be, rather than in what is.

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Bates Motel vs Psycho

Here’s a confession: I hadn’t seen Psycho back when I started watching Bates Motel a few years ago. I didn’t even really know what it was about. I think I was aware that it involved a creepy motel owner, but as far as how the story was supposed to go, I was completely in the dark. When you’re committing yourself to watching 50 episodes of a prequel and reimagining of a 1960 movie, maybe that’s not a bad thing. And it’s not as if I wasn’t familiar with Hitchcock’s work. I’ve seen The Lady Vanishes, Notorious and The Birds. That’s not too bad. Even so, I made me promise to watch Psycho when I was done with Bates Motel, so that’s what I did.

Now, if you haven’t seen Bates Motel and/or Psycho and would like too, then please bear in mind that this post contains minor spoilers. I’ve kept it as vague as I possibly could, but if you want to get into them as unknowingly as I did, it might be best to skip this one for a while. You’re very welcome to come back once you’ve seen them.

Norman Bates
Freddie Highmore and Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates

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