2012 Arthur Ellis Awards Winners



Best NovelBest First NovelBest Crime Non-fictionBest Crime French


Best JuvenileBest Short StoryBest Unpublished — Derrick Murdoch Winner


And the winner is...

robinson-beforethepoison Best Crime Novel

Before the Poison by Peter Robinson, McClelland and Stewart

The Jury reached a unanimous but very close decision among the five final nominations. Each nominated novel demonstrated many of the inherent qualities that make up an Ellis award winning best novel. Clear, concise story telling, compelling characters shaped by dialogue and action, all carefully drawn in settings that supported the action and plot. In each case the climaxes were exciting and satisfying. The chosen novel, Before the Poison by Peter Robinson was our choice in a photo finish.
hamilton-waterrat Best First Novel

The Water Rat of Wanchai by Ian Hamilton, House of Anansi Press Inc.

Ian Hamilton's The Water Rat of Wan Chai is a smart, action-packed thriller of the first order, and Ava Lee, a gay Asian-Canadian forensics accountant with a razor-sharp mind and highly developed martial arts skills, is a protagonist to be reckoned with. We were impressed by Hamilton's tight plotting; his well-rendered settings, from the glitz of Bangkok to the grit of Guyana; and his ability to portray a wide range of sharply individualized characters in clean but sophisticated prose.

Best Crime Book in French

La chorale du diable by Martin Michaud, Les Editions Guélette

In this well-written crime novel, two main plotlines are intertwined with so many twists and turns that it becomes almost impossible to predict any outcome. The characters are complex and interesting, and we hope to see many of them continue to develop in other stories. Michaud, in only his second novel, shows a lot of maturity and confidence in his writing. He takes the reader on a ride across the province, from one era to another, with the utmost respect for chronology and history but mostly with a vivid depiction of “his” city, Montreal.

wynne-jones-blinkcaution Best Juvenile or Young Adult Crime Book

Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones, Candlewick Press

Rich characterization, well-crafted language, intriguing use of voice, and a compelling plot make Blink & Caution an intense yet enjoyable story that’s hard to put down. Pacing and tension build steadily through the first half of the book, creating a strong connection with the reader. An uplifting conclusion gives us hope for the future of the two main characters, Blink and Caution.
knelman-hotart Best Crime Nonfiction

Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives Through the Secret World of Stolen Art by Joshua Knelman, Douglas & McIntyre

Hot Art is a very readable, extremely well researched and written look at the world of art theft full of well drawn colourful characters of art thieves and cops who specialize art theft cases. Knelman succeeds in spades in presenting an inside look as how and why art is stolen and how it is then disposed of  through a complex network of dealers (some in the know as to its origins; some not) and criminals. Joshua Knelman is an excellent story teller and Hot Art is a pleasure to read from page one to the end.
arthur-200 Best Crime Short Story

What Kelly Did by Catherine Astolfo, North Word Magazine

The art of the Canadian crime story is flourishing! We were very impressed with the quality and originality of the submissions. Developing the list of the five finalists  meant that we had to make some tough decisions. The winning story, What Kelly Did, particularly impressed us with its emotional resonance, deft plotting, strong suspense and vivid characters. It is not only a gripping crime story, but a work that explores and illuminates human and social  issues.
arthur-200 Best Unpublished First Novel - “Unhanged Arthur”

Last of the Independents by Sam Wiebe

A thoroughly satisfying read. An opening that grabs you, fast-moving and at times very funny with snappy dialogue, nice writing and intriguing plot. Very professional, and almost ready for publication. Last of the Independents was our unanimous choice as winner of the Unhanged Arthur Award.
don graves

Derrick Murdoch Award to Don Graves

From planning Crime Writer events at Casa Loma in earlier days, to the countless reviews of member books that Don has written for The Hamilton Spectator – Don has been instrumental in promoting crime writing in Canada.

And most outstanding: Don has been a frequent Jury member for the Arthur Ellis awards.  Without people like Don who selflessly commit their time and knowledge to selecting our short listed authors and winners, we wouldn’t have national crime writing awards in Canada.

Don has served the Crime Writing community well these past several years, and I am delighted to tell you that he is coming on the Board of Directors of Crime Writers of Canada for the coming year.

Thank you, Don!


Derrick Murdoch Award to Catherine Astolfo

It is with great personal pleasure for me tonight that I am presenting this Derrick Murdoch award to Cathy Astolfo.

Many of you know Cathy as our President from last year.  What you may not know is that Cathy guided our association through an extremely tumultuous time, when she herself was facing serious health issues.  Most people would have quit: Cathy did not.

In fact, under Cathy’s leadership, CWC grew in leaps and bounds.  Our new website was launched.  Our membership climbed to over 300.  And – this is truly outstanding – Cathy negotiated our media sponsorship arrangement with National Post.

Cathy remained on the board this year as Past President, and continued to lead the National Post initiative.  In addition to that, she has negotiated a deal for us with CARP.

We are extremely fortunate that she has agreed to stay on the board for another year, in the role of Toronto NVP.

Thank you, Cathy!


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Guidelines are available in the AWARDS section of this website.
The call for submission of 2011 books for the 2012 Arthur Ellis Awards will go up in August.