The world’s biggest celebration of the crime genre has unveiled its 2018 line up.

Lee Child, Programming Chair of the 2018 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, launched the programme at an exclusive party at Browns Courtrooms in London (Thurs April 19).

The New York-based author of the global bestselling Jack Reacher series will head up an American invasion to the north Yorkshire town, Harrogate. Stateside Special Guests include John Grisham, Don Winslow and Laura Lippman.

A Reacher novel is sold somewhere in the world every nine seconds. Published in over one hundred territories, Lee Child’s novels have been adapted to two Hollywood films starring Tom Cruise. Lee will be in conversation with John Grisham, a name synonymous with the modern legal thriller; the lawyer-turned-author has had nine of his books adapted to film. His latest novel, The Rooster Bar, will be published in paperback in July 2018 to coincide with Grisham’s visit to Harrogate.

Don Winslow has sold over 100 million books worldwide. His latest, The Force has earned him the best reviews of his career. Film directors including Oliver Stone and Ridley Scott promptly turn his novels into blockbusters. Laura Lippman, a former journalist on the Baltimore Sun, is a New York Times bestselling author considered one of the most acclaimed novelists in America. Her latest novel, Sunburn, is a tantalising modern noir.

The festival takes place 19-22 July at Agatha Christie’s old haunt, The Old Swan Hotel.

Lee Child said: “I’ve been to all the festivals in the world and Harrogate is by far my favourite, so it’s a joy to be 2018’s chair. For authors, it’s a chance to hang out and socialise in beautiful Harrogate, and more crucially we get to meet the most important people – our readers. Crime writers deal with some of the biggest issues of our times, so I promise our incredible line-up will inspire thought and debate. I love it because this festival also has such warmth and camaraderie – it’s the most fun book event out there.”

Special Guests also include Linwood Barclay, Denise Mina, Sophie Hannah, Nicci French, and Festival co-founder Val McDermid, who will be in conversation with Professor Sue Black, director of the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at Dundee University. McDermid’s annual New Blood panel, one of the most anticipated events in publishing, will showcase four hand-picked debuts from the Queen of Crime: authors Stuart Turton, Dervla McTiernan, CJ Tudor and Will Dean.

Simon Theakston, Executive Director of T&R Theakstons and title sponsor, said: “The crime genre dominates more than ever. There’s huge thirst for the genre’s moral framework where usually, justice prevails, proven by the fact our chair this year, Lee Child, is a hero to millions of readers. I’m delighted, as 2018’s festival looks even bigger and better than ever, our celebration of the genre is no doubt the best in the world.”

The Festival opens with a day-long writing workshop, Creative Thursday, followed by the crime writing equivalent of The Oscars, the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award.

Festival goers will join the world’s most celebrated crime authors in conversation, in action and in the bar, including panel events with Alafair Burke, Karen Cleveland, AA Dhand, Greg Hurwitz, Simon Mayo, Chris Brookmyre, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Ann Cleeves and Eva Dolan. There’ll be a Late Night Event with BBC’s Pointless star, Richard Osman, and stand-up turned crime author, Mark Billingham.

Established in 2003 by Val McDermid, agent Jane Gregory and arts charity Harrogate International Festivals, 2018 marks the 16th Festival.

Famed for its no barriers approach, fans, fledgling writers and established superstar authors mingle in the hotel bar. It is one of the most important events in the crime publishing calendar. Agents, publishers, publicists, readers and authors attend from all over Europe and the world.