Arthur Ellis Awards
Arthur Ellis was the pseudonym for Arthur B. English, a British man that was named Canada’s first official hangman in 1913. The award represents the best in Canadian crime writing. Awarded by the Crime Writers of Canada
2015 Best Crime Novel
C.C. Humphreys' Plague
London, 1665. A serial killer stalks his prey, scalpel in his hand and God's vengeance in his heart. Five years after his restoration to the throne, Charles II leads his citizens by example, enjoying every excess. Londoners have slipped the shackles of puritanism and now flock to the cockpits, brothels and, especially, the theatres, where for the first time women are allowed to perform alongside the men. But not everyone is swept up in the excitement. Some see this liberated age as the new Babylon, and murder victims pile up in the streets, making no distinction in class between a royalist member of parliament and a Cheapside whore. But they have a few things in common: the victims are found with gemstones in their mouths. And they have not just been murdered; they've been . . . sacrificed. Now the plague is returning to the city with full force, attacking indiscriminately . . . and murder has found a new friend.
2015 Best First Novel
Steve Burrows' Siege of Bitterns
Inspector Domenic Jejeune's success has made him a poster boy for the U.K. police service. The problem is Jejeune doesn't really want to be a detective at all; he much prefers watching birds. Recently reassigned to the small Norfolk town of Saltmarsh, located in the heart of Britain's premier birding country, Jejeune's two worlds collide when he investigates the grisly murder of a prominent ecological activist. His ambitious police superintendent foresees a blaze of welcome publicity, but she begins to have her doubts when Jejeune's most promising theory involves a feud over birdwatching lists. A second murder only complicates matters. To unravel this mystery, Jejeune must deal with unwelcome public acclaim, the mistrust of colleagues, and his own insecurities. In the case of the Saltmarsh birder murders, the victims may not be the only casualties.
2015 Best Nonfiction Book
Charlotte Gray's The Massey Murder
A scandalous crime, a sensational trial, a surprise verdict—the true story of Carrie Davies, the maid who shot a Massey. In February 1915, a member of one of Canada’s wealthiest families was shot and killed on the front porch of his home in Toronto as he was returning from work. Carrie Davies, an 18-year-old domestic servant, quickly confessed. But who was the victim here? Charles “Bert” Massey, a scion of a famous family, or the frightened, perhaps mentally unstable Carrie, a penniless British immigrant? When the brilliant lawyer Hartley Dewart, QC, took on her case, his grudge against the powerful Masseys would fuel a dramatic trial that pitted the old order against the new, wealth and privilege against virtue and honest hard work. Set against a backdrop of the Great War in Europe and the changing faceof a nation, this sensational crime is brought to vivid life for the first time.
2014 Best Crime Novel
Seán Haldane's The Devil’s Making
Victoria, 1869, the ramshackle capital of British Columbia. Vastly outnumbered by native ‘Indians’, a few thousand British, American, European and Chinese settlers aspire to the values of the Victorian age.
In the forest a mutilated body is discovered: Dr McCory, an American ‘alienist’ whose methods include phrenology, Mesmerism, and sexual-mystical ‘magnetisation’.
Chad Hobbes, arrived from England, is the policeman who must solve the crime. Could the murderer be a Tsimshian medicine man, Wiladzap, who is immediately arrested? But everyone who has known McCrory – respectable or not – has something to hide.
2014 Best First Novel
J. Kent Messum's Bait
No one is coming to your aid. We have ensured this.
Six strangers wake up on a remote island in the Florida Keys with no memory of their arrival. They soon discover their common bond: all of them are heroin addicts. As the first excruciating pangs of withdrawal make themselves felt, the six notice a yacht anchored across open water. On it lurk four shadowy figures, protected by the hungry sharks that patrol the waves. So begins a dangerous game. The six must undertake the impossible—swim to the next island where a cache of heroin awaits, or die trying. When alliances form, betrayal is inevitable. As the fight to survive intensifies, the stakes reach terrifying heights—and their captors’ motives finally begin to emerge.
2013 Best Crime Novel
Until the Night by Giles Blunt It's not unusual for John Cardinal to be hauled out of a warm bed on a cold night in Algonquin Bay to investigate a murder. And at first this dead body, sprawled in the parking lot of Motel 17, looks pretty run of the mill: the corpse has a big bootprint on his neck, and the likely suspect is his lover's outraged husband. But the lover has gone missing. And then Delorme, following a hunch, locates another missing woman, a senator's wife from Ottawa, frozen in the ruins of an abandoned hotel way back in the woods. Neither Delorme nor Cardinal can imagine where their investigation will lead.
2013 Best First Novel
The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simon St. James In 1920's England, Sarah Piper's lonely existence changes when her temporary agency sends her to assist a ghost hunter. In the aftermath of World War I, she is thrust into a mystery she never expected, and a romance she could never have foreseen. This title is on order.
2012 Best Crime Novel
Before the Poison by Peter Robinson 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.
2012 Best First Novel
The Water Rat of Wanchai by Ian Hamilton 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.
2011 Best Crime Novel
Louise Penny's Bury Your Dead "Louise Penny's Bury Your Dead is a book that lingers in the mind. Thick with atmosphere and images of Quebec City in winter, the book delves deep into the almost forgotten, dwindling Anglo community in the city, as Inspector Gamache becomes involved in the city's tangled history, and the identity of a body in the Literary and Historical Society basement. Bury Your Dead stands out because of the writing, the exploration of friendship and history, and the haunting atmosphere that still holds some hope at the end." - The Judges
2011 Best First Crime Novel
Avner Mandleman's The Debba "A very strong field of contenders in the best first novel category left the judges with a rewarding, but difficult task. Using the form of the classic murder mystery, this year's winner, The Debba, roams over the vast and richly textured landscape of Israeli/Palestinian history, to explore not only one man's crisis of faith and chance at redemption, but the nations' as well." - The Judges
2010 Best Crime Novel
High Chicago by Howard Shrier Toronto investigator Jonah Geller has opened his own agency, World Repairs, with best friend and partner Jenn Raudsepp. Asked to investigate the apparent suicide of a young woman, they’re drawn into the high-stakes world of construction and development on a long-neglected parcel of Toronto’s waterfront.
2010 Best First Crime Novel
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley Flavia de Luce has a taste for poison. It is 1950 and eleven year-old Flavia, armed with a Victorian chemistry lab, is out to solve a murder - unafraid and morbidly fascinated. Agatha nominee and winner of the 2009 Dilys Award.