Historical Musings #79: The CWA Historical Dagger Longlist 2023

Welcome to my series of posts on all things historical fiction!

Just a quick post this month as the Crime Writers’ Association revealed the longlists for their 2023 Dagger awards yesterday. I don’t usually follow the CWA awards, but noticed that I had read three of the books longlisted in this year’s Historical Dagger category and this made me curious about the other titles, particularly as I haven’t even heard of some of them!

The Historical Dagger is awarded to ‘the best historical crime novel, first published in the UK in English during the judging period, set in any period up to 50 years prior to the year in which the award will be made’. Here are the twelve books on the 2023 longlist:

The Darkest Sin by DV Bishop
Blackstone Fell by Martin Edwards
Two Storm Wood by Philip Gray
The Lost Diary of Samuel Pepys by Jack Jewers
The Bookseller of Inverness by SG MacLean
The Clockwork Girl by Anna Mazzola
Death at the Dolphin by Gretta Mulrooney
The Homes by JB Mylet
The Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra
Blue Water by Leonora Nattrass
Hear No Evil by Sarah Smith
The Mushroom Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu


Of the three books I have read, two of them – The Clockwork Girl, an atmospheric Gothic novel inspired by the real life case of the ‘Vanishing Children of Paris’ and the 18th century advances in the creation of automata, and Blue Water, a wonderful historical mystery set during a long sea voyage in 1794 – were on my Books of the Year list for 2022. The other, The Bookseller of Inverness, I found interesting for the setting (Scotland in the aftermath of the 1745 Jacobite rebellion) but not a particularly strong mystery.

I know very little about any of the other longlisted books. I probably won’t read Blackstone Fell as I wasn’t all that impressed with the previous Martin Edwards book, Mortmain Hall, but if you’ve read any of the others please let me know what you thought!

The shortlist will be announced on 12th May and the winner on 6th July. More details and the full lists of nominees for all of the other Dagger categories can be found on the CWA website.

9 thoughts on “Historical Musings #79: The CWA Historical Dagger Longlist 2023

  1. Rekha says:

    I have read a couple of Gretta Mulrooney’s books – Tyrone Swift and Siv Drummond series. I love her writing. Sadly, she passed away in the beginning of this year.
    I have also heard of Harini Nagendra’# Bangalore Detectives Club. Haven’t read it yet but I suppose I should, as I live in Bangalore. 😊

    • Helen says:

      Sorry to hear about Gretta Mulrooney. I’ve never read any of her books but maybe I should try one. The Bangalore Detectives Club sounds interesting!

  2. FictionFan says:

    I’ve only read two of the ones you’ve already read, The Clockwork Girl and The Bookseller of Inverness, both of which I really enjoyed. I think you should read and review all the other ones for us so we can decide which ones are worth reading… 😉

    • Helen says:

      Yes, I enjoyed both of those and Blue Water, which made me think the rest of the list could be worth exploring. I might read one or two of the others, if you’re lucky! 😉

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