The Longlist for the UK’s most prestigious crime writing prize is announced.
Today, the longlist of the UK and Ireland’s most prestigious crime novel award is unveiled with literary legends and dynamic debuts in contention for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year…
Now in its 16th year, the most coveted prize in crime fiction, presented by Harrogate International Festivals, received a record number of submissions and this highly anticipated longlist of 18 titles – 10 of which by women – represents crime writing at its best: celebrating four former winners, a Booker Prize contender, and the fresh new voices taking the genre by storm.
The line-up of returning champions is led by Scottish supernova Denise Mina, vying to become the first author to complete a hat trick with the deeply unsettling thriller Conviction. Mina is joined by fellow Glaswegian bestseller Chris Brookmyre and his psychological suspense Fallen Angel, ‘Queen of Crime’ Val McDermid’s latest masterful Tony Hill and Carol Jordan investigation, How the Dead Speak, and Lee Child CBE, with the final Jack Reacher, Blue Moon, before sharing authorship with his brother Andrew.
The longlist also features several previously nominated authors hoping to go one step further and claim the trophy with Mick Herron securing a fifth pick for his much-lauded Slough House series with Joe Country and a nod for Abir Mukherjee’s new Wyndham & Banerjee instalment, Smoke and Ashes, and fan favourite Vera and Shetland author Ann Cleeves returns with The Long Call, marking the launch of a new North Devon series. Further Theakston alumni in the running include Adrian McKinty with his electrifying thriller The Chain, Helen Fitzgerald and the darkly comic Worst Case Scenario, and outback noir from Jane Harper in The Lost Man.
Rising stars of the genre are celebrated with three debuts on the list. Oyinkan Braithwaite, who was spotlighted in the Festival’s highly respected ‘New Blood’ panel in 2019, has been recognised for her Booker longlisted My Sister the Serial Killer. Harriet Tyce is in contention for her electrifying domestic noir Blood Orange that draws on her own experience as a criminal barrister, and Laura Shepherd-Robinson for the deeply atmospheric Blood & Sugar, bringing the 1780s Deptford Docks to life.
Established voices joining the Theakston ranks for the first time include Jane Casey and her latest Maeve Kerrigan instalment Cruel Acts, Alex North with his chilling police procedural The Whisper Man, Louise Doughty, who is longlisted for the eerily unnerving Platform Seven, Will Carver with the mesmerising thriller Nothing Important Happened Today; and Val McDermid’s 2018 New Blood selection: Will Dean and his eagerly awaited follow-up to Dark Pines, the stunning Scandi noir Red Snow.
The full longlist for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2020 is:
- My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Atlantic Books)
- Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre (Little, Brown Book Group, Abacus)
- Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver (Orenda Books)
- Cruel Acts by Jane Casey (HarperCollins, Harper Fiction)
- Blue Moon by Lee Child (Transworld, Bantam)
- The Long Call by Ann Cleeves (Pan Macmillan, Macmillan/Pan)
- Red Snow by Will Dean (Oneworld, Point Blank)
- Platform Seven by Louise Doughty (Faber & Faber)
- Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald (Orenda Books)
- The Lost Man by Jane Harper (Little, Brown Book Group, Little, Brown)
- Joe Country by Mick Herron (John Murray Press)
- How the Dead Speak by Val McDermid (Little, Brown Book Group, Little, Brown)
- The Chain by Adrian McKinty (Orion Publishing Group, Orion Fiction)
- Conviction by Denise Mina (VINTAGE, Harvill Secker)
- Smoke and Ashes by Abir Mukherjee (VINTAGE, Harvill Secker)
- The Whisper Man by Alex North (Penguin Random House, Michael Joseph)
- Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson (Pan Macmillan, Mantle/Pan)
- Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce (Headline Publishing Group, Wildfire)
Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said: “Year on year, I’m astounded and delighted by how this exceptional genre continues to excel – we were deluged with record submissions and these 18 impressive titles demonstrate the quality and power of contemporary crime fiction. From the familiar faces to the new voices, we are immensely proud of this year’s longlist and raise a virtual glass of Old Peculier to all the authors, and what will be another fierce contest for this much-wanted award.”
The award is produced and curated by arts charity Harrogate International Festivals and is presented in partnership with T&R Theakston Ltd, WHSmith and the Express. It is open to full length crime novels published in paperback from 1 May 2018 to 30 April 2019 by UK and Irish authors.
The longlist was selected by an academy of crime writing authors, agents, editors, reviewers, members of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Committee, and representatives from T&R Theakston Ltd, the Express, and WHSmith.
The 18 titles will be promoted in a dedicated online campaign from WHSmith, digital promotional materials will be made available for independent bookstores, and the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival’s online community – You’re Booked– will raise a virtual glass to the titles and authors through interviews, features and a variety of further interactive content, as well as giving the opportunity to see a selection of events from the Festival’s extensive archive. This forms part of the Harrogate International Festival virtual season of events, which presents a raft of live music, specially commissioned performances, literary events and interviews to bring a free festival experience to your own digital doorstep.
The public are now invited to vote for a shortlist of six titles on www.harrogatetheakstoncrimeaward.com, which will be announced on 8 June.
The winner of this pre-eminent prize has historically been awarded on the opening evening of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival as part of Harrogate International Festival Summer Season, which this year was cancelled, with much sadness, due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This year, the winner will be revealed at a virtual awards ceremony on 23 July, and will receive £3,000, and a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculier.