Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year

2017 Winner

Chris Brookmyre scooped the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award 2017 for Black Widow.

Celebrating its thirteenth year, the Award is considered one of the most coveted crime writing prizes in the country.

Black Widow is a story of cyber-abuse, where ‘even the twists have twists’. It features Brookmyre’s long-time character, reporter Jack Parlabane. Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon tweeted that she had been given the novel as an early Valentine’s Day present by her husband, declaring it ‘brilliant’.

Brookmyre was presented the award by title sponsor Simon Theakston and broadcaster Mark Lawson at the opening night of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. The annual Festival, hosted in Harrogate, is the world’s biggest celebration of the genre.

Chris beat off stiff competition from the shortlist of six, whittled down from a longlist of 18 crime novels published by British and Irish authors whose novels were published in paperback from 1 May 2016 to 30 April 2017.

Shortlist 2017

Outstanding Contribution Award Winners

The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award honours writers who have made a lasting and distinct impression on the genre over the span of their careers, and are often people who have provided inspiration for other great authors who have followed in their wake.

The inaugural Outstanding Contribution Award was presented at the 2010 Festival to Reginald Hill, in a year which marked the 40th anniversary of the publication of his very first novel, A Clubbable Woman. The book was the first in the hugely successful Dalziel and Pascoe series which went to became a TV hit. Since then, Hill has written over forty books in a variety of genres.

Hill’s acceptance speech was warm and witty and full of praise for his editor, HarperCollins’ Julia Wisdom.

The second presentation of the Theakstons Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award was made in 2011 to PD James. At 91, she was delighted to collect the award: “It is always a satisfaction and an encouragement for a writer to win a prize, but I am particularly proud to be honoured by the Theakstons Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award because it comes from Harrogate, a town which it is always a delight to visit and which is the home of one of the most distinguished and pleasurable English literary festivals.”

Born in Oxford in 1920, Baroness James of Holland Park began writing in the 1950s. Her debut novel, Cover Her Face, was published in 1962 featuring her now famous investigator, Adam Dalgliesh. Many of her books have been adapted for film and television, including her 1992 novel Children of Men, which in 2006 was adapted for Hollywood, starring Clive Owen and directed by Alfonso Cuarón.

In 2012, Colin Dexter was award the third Theakstons Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award. He began writing mysteries in 1973 while on a family holiday. His debut novel, Last Bus to Woodstock, was published in 1975 and introduced the world to Inspector Morse for the first time. One of the most iconic detectives ever to have been created, Morse’s crime-solving talents found a whole new audience in the successful TV series, bringing further acclaim for Dexter. On receiving the award Dexter said: “Never had I thought that the gods would be kindly enough to give me such a huge honour so late in my life. Yet here I am, in my early eighties, feeling a profound and heartfelt gratitude for the great honour bestowed on me.”
A special presentation was made to the winner of the fourth Theakstons Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award to Ruth Rendell, creator of Inspector Wexford.

The Labour peer has more than 70 books under her belt, and is widely regarded as an innovator of the genre, both under her own name and as Barbara Vine.

Ruth Rendell said: “I feel quite overwhelmed by the most wonderful things ever said about me tonight. It’s very gratifying. I will have been published for 50 years next year, it’s a long time, but it also seems like yesterday” Ruth told how she sold her first manuscript, that first introduced the world to Inspector Wexford, for £75 before an American approached her and offered her 15 times that. “I wrote a lot of books after that.” She added, insisting there was still more to come from the octogenarian “It’s not curtains for Wexford and I hope it’s not curtains for me.

A special presentation was made to Val McDermid – the winner of the seventh Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award. McDermid joins Sara Paretsky, Lynda La Plante, Ruth Rendell, PD James, Colin Dexter and Reginald Hill as recipients of the Award.

Val said: “It’s an honour and a thrill to receive this award. The community of writers and readers at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is unlike any other in its warmth and generosity and so this means a huge amount to me. This year sees the publication of my 30th novel and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate that.”

Crime writer Mark Billingham paid tribute to Val at the awards ceremony, he said: “It’s fitting that Val should receive this award at a festival she was instrumental in starting, and it’s one that is richly deserved. She has represented this genre quite brilliantly all over the world, both in person and through her novels, which have earned her legions of fans and a place among the very greatest crime writers of all time. She is the Queen of Crime, and long may she reign over us.”

J.K. Rowling, who writes crime fiction under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, sent a message of support, saying: “I’d like to add my note of congratulations to my friend and colleague Val McDermid, for her justly deserved Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award. She has been showing us all the way for a long time now. One of Robert’s proudest moments was receiving a favourable review from the great McDermid, who received a thank you note in fake handwriting, only to receive one two weeks later in my real handwriting when I was unwillingly unmasked.”

Val McDermid is one of the biggest names in crime writing. Her novels have been translated into 30 languages, and sold over 10 million copies worldwide.

Val has created many notable characters such as journalist, Lindsay Gordon and the private investigator, Kate Brannigan. One of her most enduring creations is the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series, which were adapted in the highly successful TV drama Wire in the Blood, starring Robson Green.

Her 30th novel, Out of Bounds, is published next month. McDermid co-founded the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival with the leading arts organisation, Harrogate International Festivals, and literary agent Jane Gregory, in 2003.

Simon Theakston added: “It gives us enormous delight to celebrate Val McDermid’s remarkable career. Val is very much the heart and soul of our festival. Her generosity to readers and authors alike, her role as a champion of the crime genre, and her support for new talent, are all qualities to be admired. She is unique, not only as the only author to sponsor a football team – her beloved Raith Rovers – but for remaining grounded and inclusive, amidst her enormous success.”

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A special presentation was made to Lee Child – the winner of the eighth Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award.

Lee Child said: “It’s an honour – probably undeserved – to be placed in the same category as the previous recipients of this prize.  In particular I would like to thank Simon Theakston for his generous and visionary support of the genre.”

Child has been dubbed a ‘billion-dollar brand’ for his blockbuster Jack Reacher series, adapted to film by Tom Cruise.

Title sponsor and executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said: “We’re particularly delighted to be honouring Lee Child. He is nothing short of a phenomenon. The Jack Reacher series tops bestseller lists worldwide, with a staggering 100 million books sold.  Lee is very deserving of this accolade, and will have his rightful place in a pantheon of legendary crime authors who have achieved this honour to date.”

Previous Award Winners 2005-2016. “And the Award goes to…”:

The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year so far:

The first winner of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year in 2005 was Mark Billingham for his novel Lazy Bones. He pipped Simon Kernick, Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, Minette Walters, Andrew Taylor, Reginald Hill and Alexander McCall Smith to the post.

Mark was dubbed a ‘rising star’; his detective Tom Thorne series has since put him firmly in the crime writing hall of fame. Of his win at the time, Mark said: “I am absolutely delighted to be the winner of the first Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year … I am incredibly proud to have beaten so many great writers. I am really thrilled that so many people voted.”.

2006 saw a victorious Val McDermid when her novel The Torment of Others won the title. She beat Lindsay Ashford, Stephen Booth, Martin Edwards, Susan Hill and Ian Rankin. McDermid is one of the biggest names in crime fiction today. Her bestsellers have sold over an incredible ten million copies. The clinical psychologist Tony Hill who first appeared in her novel The Mermaids Singing became a household name with the ITV hit Wire in the Blood.

The win was a particularly special moment because of Val’s close association with the Festival. Of her win, Val said: “I was Programming Chair for the first three years of the Festival when it was just a twinkle in our eyes. I’ve been involved with the Festival from the very beginning and it feels very special to be honoured here because of the closeness of my involvement with it.”

The 2007 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year saw Allan Guthrie‘s novel, Two Way Split beat strong competition to scoop the sought after prize.

Allan Guthrie said of his win: “I am stunned, overwhelmed and very pleased. Thank you to everyone who had faith in the book and everyone who voted.”

He beat off strong competition including Stephen Booth, Christopher Brookmyre, Graham Hurley, Michael Jecks and Stuart MacBride.

The win was something of an inspiration for budding crime authors – Allan had faced hundreds of rejection slips before Two-Way Split was picked up by an independent press in America. Two-Way Split was then snatched up by Polygon and his fifth novel Slammer was published in 2009.

In 2008, the debut novel of Stef Penney, The Tenderness of Wolves conquered crime writing stalwarts Simon Beckett, Mark Billingham, Christopher Brookmyre, Reginald Hill, Graham Hurley, Peter James, Simon Kernick, Stuart MacBride, Alexander McCall Smith, Peter Robinson and CJ Samson.

Stef Penney said of her win: “I feel a bit of a fraud as it is only my first book and I don’t really feel like a proper crime writer, but I am delighted to have won.”

The Tenderness of Wolves also won the Costa prize in 2006.

In 2009, Mark Billingham’s novel Death Message beat strong competition to scoop this sought after prize on the opening night of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.

Mark repeated his success from 2005 when he won the very first Crime Novel of the Year award with LazyBones. In total over 5000 votes were cast by the general public in the online poll to decide the winner.

After the announcement Mark Billingham said, ‘To even be on the shortlist with such fantastic authors was amazing and then to win was absolutely amazing!’

In 2010, R.J. Ellory scooped the award with his novel A Simple Act of Violence, beating off stiff competition from a shortlist that included genre giants Ian Rankin, Peter James and Mark Billingham.

Ellory was completely stunned upon hearing the news: “I don’t think anyone not in my shoes can understand the definition of speechless. I am utterly speechless. This has really taken me aback. I feel acknowledged for doing something different. Thank you, I’m grateful beyond words.”

In 2011 the congratulations went to Lee Child, who beat off competition to take home the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award on the opening night of the Festival. Child won for his Jack Reacher thriller 61 Hours.

Child beat off stiff competition from Mark Billingham, hoping to make this year his hat-trick win, as well 2010 Festival Chair, Stuart MacBride. It wasn’t to be Irish debut novelist William Ryan’s year either, and despite critical acclaim for The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor and Blood Harvest by SJ Bolton, Child emerged as a clear winner.

Scottish author Denise Mina scooped the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award with her ninth book The End of the Wasp Season.

Beating off stiff competition from a shortlist that included SJ Watson’s smash hit debut Before I Go To Sleep; veteran crime writer John Connolly’s The Burning Soul; and Steve Mosby’s acclaimed Black Flowers; this is the first time that Mina has been awarded the coveted accolade.

Scottish author Denise Mina scooped the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award with her tenth book Gods and Beasts.

Defying the odds, Mina beat off stiff competition from a shortlist that included Stuart Neville, Stav Sharez, Mark Billingham, Peter May and Chris Ewan to win this coveted accolade for the second time.

Debut author Sarah Hilary has scooped the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award for Someone Else’s Skin.

Hilary was presented with the award by title sponsor Simon Theakston and broadcaster Mark Lawson at the opening night of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival (16th July) in Harrogate.

She beat off stiff competition from a shortlist of six, whittled down from a longlist of 18 titles published by British and Irish authors over the last year.

Clare Mackintosh first thriller I Let You Go was one of the fastest selling titles of 2015 and became a Sunday Times bestseller and a Richard & Judy book club winner. Clare spent twelve years in the police force, including time on CID, and as a public order commander. She left the police in 2011 and now writes full time.  Praised widely for its astonishing twist, overseas rights have now sold in 30 countries.

Clare was presented the award by title sponsor Simon Theakston and broadcaster Mark Lawson at the opening night of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. The annual Festival, hosted in Harrogate, is the world’s biggest celebration of the genre.