The shortlist for crime writing’s most wanted accolade, the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, has been announced.
The shortlisted six were whittled down from a longlist of 18 titles. The prize, created to celebrate the very best in crime fiction, was open to UK and Irish crime authors whose novels were published in paperback from 1 May 2017 to 30 April 2018.
Val McDermid, Susie Steiner, and Mick Herron return as contenders after being shortlisted in 2017, the year Chris Brookmyre took the winning accolade.
Mick Herron’s espionage thriller, Spook Street, is the fourth in his award-winning Jackson Lamb series. His acclaimed series is based on an MI5 department of ‘rejects’ – intelligent services’ misfits and screw-ups. Herron’s writing was praised by critic Barry Forshaw for ‘the spycraft of le Carré refracted through the blackly comic vision of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.’
Val McDermid’s Insidious Intent features DCI Carol Jordan and Tony Hill, two of the most iconic characters in crime fiction. The LA Times said it was a novel that ‘shows Val McDermid deserves her Queen of Crime crown’. McDermid last received the Novel of the Year accolade in 2006.
Denise Mina could make it a hat-trick after winning the award in 2012 and 2013, she is the only author to date to have won the Novel of the Year in two consecutive years. The Long Drop has already attracted a wealth of awards; Mina was the first woman to win The McIlvanney Prize for The Long Drop.
Abir Mukherjee is the only author on the shortlist for a debut novel. A Rising Man, saw Abir Mukherjee picked as a 2016 New Blood author by Val McDermid at the Festival. She hailed it as, ‘One of the most exciting debut novels I’ve read in years.’ It too has won awards, including the CWA Historical Dagger. His sequel in the Sam Wyndham series is A Necessary Evil.
The Intrusions by Stav Sherez was a 2017 Guardian and Sunday Times book of the year, dubbed ‘A Silence of the Lambs for the internet age’ by Ian Rankin. The book was acclaimed by critics for its echoes of Emile Zola and influences from Graham Greene to Dostoyevsky.
Former Guardian journalist Susie Steiner’s first crime novel introduced Detective Manon Bradshaw in Missing, Presumed, a Sunday Times bestseller. Her follow up, Persons Unknown, a Richard and Judy book club pick, has attracted huge critical acclaim.
2018 marks the 14th year of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award.
Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said: “The shortlisted authors are already rich in awards, but there’s only one Novel of the Year, so it will be fascinating to see which of these remarkable titles prevails – all are simply outstanding.”
The shortlist will feature in a six-week promotion in libraries and in WHSmith stores nationwide. The overall winner will be decided by the panel of Judges, alongside a public vote. The public vote opens on 1 July and closes 14 July at www.theakstons.co.uk.
Helen Donkin, Literature Festival Manager at Harrogate International Festivals, said: “The public’s vote is incredibly important. It’s the readers that have real power when it comes to judging a book’s worth, so I’d encourage everyone to make their voice heard – it’s free and simple to vote online.”
The winner will be announced at an award ceremony hosted by broadcaster Mark Lawson on 19 July on the opening night of the 16th Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.
The winner will receive a £3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculier.