Blacklands praised as ‘riveting psychological suspense’ that ‘demands a one-sitting read’
The debut novelist Belinda Bauer has taken one of crime writing’s most prestigious awards, carrying off the 2010 Crime Writers’ Association Golden Dagger with Blacklands.
Speaking at last Friday’s prize ceremony in London, Bauer said it was a “thrill” to be shortlisted for the £2,500 award alongside George Pelecanos, SJ Bolton and Karen Campbell.
“Blacklands is a small, simple book and I’m still stunned and delighted that it seems to have struck a chord with so many people,” she said.
Praised by the judges as a “riveting psychological suspense debut that demands a one-sitting read”, Blacklands tells the story of a game of cat and mouse between 12-year-old Steven and Arnold Avery, a serial killer and abuser of children who murdered Steven’s 11-year-old Uncle Billy almost 20 years before. Desperate to find where his uncle’s corpse is buried, Steven hits on the idea of writing to his murderer in jail, unleashing a chilling confrontation, as the killer realises that the letter-writer is a child.
Bauer joins a stellar roster of previous winners including Sara Paretsky, Henning Mankel, Patricia Cornwell and James Lee Burke.
Simon Conway won the The Steel Dagger, awarded to the thriller of the year, for A Loyal Spy, while Ryan David’s Acts of Violence carried off the John Creasey Dagger, which celebrates the best first book by a previously unpublished writer.
The awards are due to be broadcast on ITV3 at 9pm tomorrow.