Lancaster University: Professor Dame Sue Black scoops top Crime Writers Association award

Lancaster University’s Professor Dame Sue Black has won the Crime Writer’s Association (CWA) ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction award for her second book, Written in Bone.

The 2021 CWA Daggers, which honour the very best in crime writing, are the oldest awards in the genre and have been synonymous with quality crime writing for over half a century.

Lancaster University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engagement, Professor Dame Sue Black, is a world-renowned forensic anthropologist, anatomist and academic. Her second book, Written in Bone, was awarded the Gold Dagger at a virtual ceremony last night (1 July) with CWA judges offering praise for her ‘humane, wise book’.

Professor Black said: “My aim when writing Written in Bone was to help people understand a little bit more about their own bodies, and to feel more comfortable when talking about them. Drawing on my own experiences, I take a look at each body part under a detailed lens, drawing on examples of how each body part has helped unravel a mystery surrounding criminal cases I’ve worked on in the past.

“I feel truly honoured to receive this award and I am so very grateful to the CWA for recognising the importance of identification in criminal investigations. Whilst crime fiction is about telling stories, crime fact is about real-life dialogue that conveys the reality of the devastating impact experienced by victims’ family and friends.”

Drawing upon years of Professor Black’s own wealth of research and experience, Written in Bone reveals the secrets hidden deep within our bones. From skull to feet, via the face, spine, chest, arms, hands, pelvis and legs, she shows that each part has a tale to tell. What we eat, where we go, everything we do leaves a trace, a message that waits patiently for months, years, sometimes centuries, until a forensic anthropologist is called upon to decipher it.

This latest recognition follows the critical acclaim of her first book, the Sunday Times bestseller, All That Remains.

It also follows Professor Black’s recent introduction to the House of Lords as a non-party-political peer. Baroness Black of Strome – recognised for her outstanding contributions as a forensic anthropologist, anatomist and academic – now sits on the crossbenches, contributing to the work of the House. This prestigious appointment is carried out alongside Professor Black’s current role at Lancaster University, where she is the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Engagement and leads the 2.5m euro H-unique project designed to identify serious criminals based on their hand anatomy.

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