Sunday, June 07, 2009

Arthur Ellis Awards

The Crime Writers of Canada have bestowed the 2009 Arthur Ellis Awards. The winners include Linwood Barclay's Too Close to Home for best novel, Howard Shrier's Buffalo Jump for best first novel, and Jacques Côté's Le Chemin des brumes for best crime writing in French.

Find a complete list of winners and a list of all nominees. The awards, by the way, are charmingly named for the nom de travail of Canada's official hangman, according to the CWC.

And click here for previous discussion of Shrier on the blog, including his appearance at the first cross-border Noir at the Bar.
N.B.: Here's a bit about Arthur Ellis, his name, his career as a hangman, and why that career came to an end on March 28, 1935.

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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Blogger adrian mckinty said...


I remember reading something about Britain's official hangman that may or may not be true. After each hanging he was convicted of murder and then pardoned. Is this why Canada's hangman needed a nom de travail?

June 07, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I don't know the story behind Canada's hangman. I did some quick research, but not much turned up. I should imagine that a hangman might be unpopular with his neighbors. A nom de travail might serve such a man well, as would a hood.

Why Canada chose the name Arthur Ellis, I don't know. I found that there had been a lawyer and politician by that name, but what he had to do with hanging, if anything, I don't know.

June 07, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

In England they used to call him Jack Ketch didnt they? But the hangman wasnt anonymous. I remember reading something he wrote about the hanging of Ruth Ellis (coincidentally) who was the last woman hung in Great Britain.

Did you ever see that Michael Crichton film The Great Train Robbery? There's a nice scene showing the carnival atmosphere that came with a hanging in Victorian England.

June 08, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Jack Ketch was a real person, according to knowledge I have recently acquired from Wikipedia, an immigrant from Ireland, which may or may not be something to be proud of.

But his name lived on as a proverbial name for death or Satan, as a euphemism for the gallows, as the name of the hangman in the traditional version of Punch and Judy, and in a name for the hangman's knot: Jack Ketch's knot.

I saw The Great Train Robbery not long ago. Scenes of carnival-like hangings always make me squirm, and I suspect the filmmakers intend just such a reaction.

June 08, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

If I recall the scene correctly, the tumult over the hanging provided the cover for the safe-cracker's hair-raising escape.

June 08, 2009  

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