Grandmaster Award

CWC established the Grand Master Award in 2014 to recognize a Canadian crime writer with a substantial body of work who has garnered national and international recognition.

The Grand Master is chosen by a jury chosen by the Chair of Crime Writers of Canada, with advice from the board. The award is presented biennially, alternating with the Derrick Murdoch Award.

The Grand Master Award is presented biennially to recognize a Canadian crime writer with a substantial body of work who has garnered national and international recognition.

GM2024 Maureen Jennings

2024 Grand Master: Maureen Jennings

Maureen Jennings is not only just about the best crime novelist in Canada, she’s among the best writers anywhere - a national and international treasure. —LONDON FREE PRESS

Maureen Jennings, a long-time Crime Writers of Canada member, is a prolific author of non-fiction, short stories and book series featuring Christine Morris, Detective Murdoch, and D.I. Tom Tyler. The Detective William Murdoch television series, set in Victorian era Toronto, was optioned in 2003 by Shaftesbury Films. Murdoch Mysteries are shown in over 120 countries and feature innovative crime-solving techniques, social justice subplots and surprise guest appearances.

In 2011, she was awarded the Grant Allen award for her on-going contribution to Canadian crime writing. Maureen has received eight Award of Excellence nominations from CWC for best novel and short story. In 2014, the 180th anniversary of the city of Toronto, the Toronto Star named her one of 180 people whose influence has raised the city’s profile.

Published by Cormorant Books, her latest project The Paradise Café series is set in Depression-era Toronto and features Private Investigator Charlotte Frayne.

She is an exceptional talent, a generous mentor and strong supporter of Canadian crime and mystery writers. CWC is proud to honour Maureen Jennings with the 2024 Grand Master Award.

GM2022 Louise Penny

2022 Grand Master: Louise Penny

In 2005, Louise Penny’s first novel, Still Life, introduced Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and a cast of eccentric and engaging characters inhabiting Three Pines, in Quebec’s Eastern Townships region to the world. And the world embraced them. Still Life won the New Blood Dagger award in the U.K., along with the Arthur Ellis, Dilys, Anthony and Barry awards.

Over the sixteen novels that followed, Louise fast became an international bestseller, and in the process won, or was nominated for, even more awards, including the Agatha, Macavity, Nero and Edgar. During this time, Louise also became a frequent guest at crime writers’ conventions around the world, and her warmth, intelligence and enthusiasm made her a welcome ambassador for Canadian crime writing. Though Louise’s books often have the charm and mystery of a Golden Age novel, they don’t shy away from showing the darker side of life. Her latest Gamache novel, The Madness of Crowds, debuted at #1 on the NYTimes, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star bestseller lists and was chosen as one of Amazon’s best books of the year. Left Bank Productions are presently filming the series for television, starring Alfred Molina.

Her most recent book is State of Terror, written with 2016 U.S. Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton. Needless to say, it’s another bestseller!

(Photo by Mikael Theimer)

GM2020 PeterRobinson

2020 Grand Master: Peter Robinson

Since Peter Robinson’s first mystery, Gallows View, appeared in 1987, his growing readership has eagerly waited for each encounter with Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks. Now with twenty-seven of these moody and layered police procedurals, fans around the world have become attached to the complex, music-loving DCI Banks and his always-intriguing colleagues in the fictional town of Eastvale in North Yorkshire. They’ve followed Banks, his twisty cases, his career challenges and the ups and downs of his personal life with interest and affection. The series has also been adapted to television by ITV.

Peter has a shelf full of Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Awards for both best novel and for best short story. Internationally he’s been honoured by Le Grand Prix de Littérature Policière (France), the Martin Beck Award (Sweden), the Palle Rosenkrantz (Denmark), the CWA Dagger in the Library (UK), and the American Macavity, Edgar and Barry awards. In 2010, he was presented with the Crime Writers of Canada Derrick Murdoch Award for contributions to the crime genre.


GM2018 GailBowen byDaleWilliams

2018 Grand Master: Gail Bowen

Gail Bowen is being recognized by Crime Writers of Canada for her long and illustrious career as a crime fiction author. She has almost 20 books in her long running Joanne Kilbourn series, several of which were either nominated for or received awards, including the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel in 1994, for A Colder Kind of Death. She has also written four Rapid Reads novellas and several plays. She is well established in Canada, highly respected in the writing community and much sought after by readers. She is frequently a guest at literary events. Several of her Joanne Kilbourn books were turned into a TV series.

(Photo by Dale Williams)


Wright Eric

2016 Grand Master: Eric Wright

If there ever was a crime writer whom the Canadian crime-writing community needs to thank it is Eric Wright. He wrote eighteen crime novels, in four different series, as well as novels, a novella, and a memoir.

Eric’s first novel, The Night the Gods Smiled (1983), won the first Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel, the John Creasey Award from the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA), and the City of Toronto Book Award. The Kidnapping of Rosie Dawn (2000) won an Arthur and was nominated for an Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America (MWA). His writing career spanned over forty years and his contribution to Canadian crime writing was, without question, immense. This was recognized in 1998 when Eric received the Derrick Murdoch Award for lifetime contribution to Canadian crime writing.

Eric Wright passed away in October, 2015, shortly after being notified that he had been selected for the Grand Master Award.


Howard Engel

2014 Grand Master: Howard Engel

It is with great pleasure that Crime Writers of Canada presents the inaugural award to Howard Engel, a mainstay of Canadian crime writing for many years.

Since his first book, Suicide Murders, introduced P.I. Benny Cooperman in 1980, his detective series has garnered both national and international recognition. He has won numerous awards for his writing, including 1985 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel, the 1990 Harbourfront Festival Prize for Canadian Literature, the 1998 Derrick Murdoch Award and the 2005 Writer’s Trust Of Canada Matt Cohen Award. He was chosen as the Barker Fairley Distinguished Visitor for University College at the University of Toronto and in 2007 named to the Order of Canada.

His books have been published in over 20 countries and two have been adapted for TV films.

Mr. Engel was a founding member of Crime Writers of Canada and a past president.