Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Novel of the Year Longlist 2022
What a few weeks it’s been at HIF Headquarters!
We officially launched the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival programme at the end of April, and tickets have been flying ever since! If you haven’t yet, make sure you grab yours here.
May saw the return of our Book of the Month series, and we started with the fantastic Kalmann by Joachim B. Schmidt. Check out our post here, and check back next week when we catch up with Joachim himself to discuss his inspiration, writing routines and author quirks.
And last but not least, we revealed the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Longlist 2022 – and what a longlist it is! Featuring past winners Denise Mina, Mark Billingham and Chris Brookmyre, it’s safe to say it’s going to be a tight contest this year. Vote for your favourite here and join us at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Awards Show and Party on the opening night of the festival, 21 July, to find out the winner.
We’re desperately in need of putting our feet up with a drink and a new book, so join us whilst we run down this year’s longlist.
Abigail Dean – Girl A
‘Girl A,’ she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’ Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings – and with the childhood they shared. Beautifully written and incredibly powerful, Girl A is a story of redemption, of horror, and of love.
Erin Kelly – Watch Her Fall
I WATCHED HER RISE
Ava has devoted her life to being the best at what she does. Now she’s at the top, she has the world at her feet.
I TRACKED HER EVERY MOVE
Except, the feeling of success isn’t what Ava expected. She’s lonely and paranoid – and terrified. Because someone is watching her. A rival who wants what she has and is prepared to kill to get it.
AND NOW I’LL WATCH HER FALL
Denise Mina – The Less Dead
When Margo goes in search of her birth mother for the first time, she meets her aunt, Nikki, instead. Margo learns that her mother, Susan, was a sex worker murdered soon after Margo’s adoption. To this day, Susan’s killer has never been found. Nikki asks Margo for help. She has received threatening and haunting letters from the murderer, for decades. She is determined to find him, but she can’t do it alone…
Chris Brookmyre – The Cut
Millie Spark can kill anyone. A special effects make-up artist, her talent is to create realistic scenes of bloody violence. Then, one day, she wakes to find her lover dead in her bed. Twenty-five years later, her sentence for murder served, Millicent is ready to give up on her broken life – until she meets troubled film student and reluctant petty thief Jerry. Together, they begin to discover that all was not what it seemed on that fateful night… and someone doesn’t want them to find out why.
Brian McGilloway – Blood Ties
How can a dead woman avenge herself on her killer twenty years after her murder? This is the puzzle facing Ben Devlin in his latest case. He is called to the scene of a murder – a man has been stabbed to death in his rented room and when his identity is discovered Devlin feels a ghost walk over his grave as he knows the name Brooklyn Harris well. As a teenager, Harris beat his then-girlfriend Hannah Row to death, and then spent twelve years in prison for the murder. As Devlin investigates the dead man’s movements since his release it becomes apparent Harris has been grooming teenage girls online and then arranging to meet them. But his activities have been discovered by others, notably a vigilante, who goes straight to the top of Devlin’s list of suspects… until he uncovers that Harris was killed on the anniversary of Hannah’s death – just too big a coincidence in Devlin’s books. So, Hannah’s family join the ever-growing list of suspects being interviewed by his team. And then forensics contact Devlin with the astounding news that blood found on Harris’s body is a perfect match to that of Hannah Row’s. Yet how can this be; the girl was murdered many years ago – and Devlin doesn’t believe in ghosts.
Anna Bailey – Tall Bones
When Emma leaves her friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, beneath the stark beauty of the stars, but Emma will never see her friend again. But what happens next in Whistling Ridge is so much more than the story of a missing girl. It’s a spellbinding story that will keep you guessing, a story of surprises and secrets, regrets and rage, love and lies. Abi’s disappearance cracks open the facade of this small town, peeling away the layers of its past. Even within Abi’s own family there are questions to be asked – of the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of the shining younger sibling who hides his wounds, of her mother and her father – both in thrall to the fiery preacher who has an unsettling grasp on the whole town. And then there is Rat, the outsider, whose exciting presence is a catalyst for change. Anything could happen in a tinder-box like Whistling Ridge. All it will take is just one spark… the truth of what happened that night at the Tall Bones. Beautifully written, arresting, and constantly surprising, Tall Bones is a gripping read from a stunning new voice.
M.W. Craven – Dead Ground
Detective Sergeant Washington Poe is in court, fighting eviction from his beloved and isolated croft, when he is summoned to a backstreet brothel in Carlisle where a man has been beaten to death with a baseball bat. Poe is confused – he hunts serial killers and this appears to be a straightforward murder-by-pimp – but his attendance was requested personally, by the kind of people who prefer to remain in the shadows. As Poe and the socially awkward programmer Tilly Bradshaw delve deeper into the case, they are faced with seemingly unanswerable questions: despite being heavily vetted for a high-profile job, why does nothing in the victim’s background check out? Why was a small ornament left at the murder scene – and why did someone on the investigation team steal it? And what is the connection to a flawlessly executed bank heist three years earlier, a heist where nothing was taken…
Laura Shepherd-Robinson – Daughters of Night
From the pleasure palaces and gin-shops of Covent Garden to the elegant townhouses of Mayfair, Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s Daughters of Night follows Caroline Corsham as she seeks justice for a murdered woman whom London society would rather forget… London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she finds a well-dressed woman mortally wounded in the bowers of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Bow Street constables are swift to act, until they discover that the deceased woman was a highly paid prostitute, at which point they cease to care entirely. But Caro has motives of her own for wanting to see justice done, and so sets out to solve the crime herself. Enlisting the help of thieftaker Peregrine Child, their inquiry delves into the hidden corners of Georgian society, a world of artifice, deception and secret lives. But with many gentlemen refusing to speak about their dealings with the dead woman, and Caro’s own reputation under threat, finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous, than she can know…
Joseph Knox – True Crime Story
‘What happens to those girls who go missing? What happens to the Zoe Nolans of the world?’ In the early hours of Saturday 17 December 2011, Zoe Nolan, a nineteen-year-old Manchester University student, walked out of a party taking place in the shared accommodation where she had been living for three months. She was never seen again. Seven years after her disappearance, struggling writer Evelyn Mitchell finds herself drawn into the mystery. Through interviews with Zoe’s closest friends and family, she begins piecing together what really happened in 2011. But where some versions of events overlap, aligning perfectly with one another, others stand in stark contrast, giving rise to troubling inconsistencies. Shaken by revelations of Zoe’s secret life, and stalked by a figure from the shadows, Evelyn turns to crime writer Joseph Knox to help make sense of a case where everyone has something to hide. Zoe Nolan may be missing presumed dead, but her story is only just beginning.
Imran Mahmood – I Know What I Saw
A woman strangled in a Mayfair flat. A man fleeing the scene. Xander Shute saw it all – but the police won’t believe someone who lives on the streets. Determined to find justice for the murdered woman, Xander searches for answers. But as his recollection of the crime comes under increasing scrutiny, he is forced to confront other memories, including those from his long-buried, troubled, wealthy past. How much will he risk to understand the brutal truth?
Elly Griffiths – The Night Hawks
The Night Hawks, a group of metal detectorists, are searching for buried treasure when they find a body on the beach in North Norfolk. At first Nelson thinks that the dead man might be an asylum seeker but he turns out to be a local boy, Jem Taylor, recently released from prison. Ruth is more interested in the treasure, a hoard of Bronze Age weapons. Nelson at first thinks that Taylor’s death is accidental drowning, but a second death suggests murder. Nelson is called to an apparent murder-suicide of a couple at the isolated Black Dog Farm. Local legend talks of the Black Shuck, a spectral hound that appears to people before they die. Nelson ignores this, even when the owner’s suicide note includes the line, ‘He’s buried in the garden.’ Ruth excavates and finds the body of a giant dog. All roads lead back to this farm in the middle of nowhere, but the place spells serious danger for anyone who goes near. Ruth doesn’t scare easily. Not until she finds herself at Black Dog Farm…
Ann Cleeves – The Heron’s Cry
North Devon is enjoying a rare hot summer with tourists flocking to its coast-line. Detective Matthew Venn is called out to a rural crime scene at the home of a group of artists. What he finds is an elaborately staged murder – Dr Nigel Yeo has been fatally stabbed. His daughter, Eve, is a glassblower, and the murder weapon is a shard of one of her broken vases. Dr Yeo seems an unlikely murder victim. He’s a good man, a public servant, beloved by his daughter. Matthew is unnerved though to find that Eve is a close friend of Jonathan, his husband. Then another body is found – killed in a similar way. Matthew finds himself treading carefully through the lies that fester at the heart of his community and a case that is dangerously close to home…
Mick Herron – Slough House
Slough House – the crumbling office building to which failed spies, the ‘slow horses’, are banished – has been wiped from secret service records. Reeling from recent losses in their ranks, the slow horses are worried they’ve been pushed further into the cold, and fatal accidents keep happening. With a new populist movement taking a grip on London’s streets, the aftermath of a blunder by the Russian secret service that left a British citizen dead, and the old order ensuring that everything’s for sale to the highest bidder, the world’s an uncomfortable place for those deemed surplus to requirements. The wise move would be to find a safe place and wait for the troubles to pass. But the slow horses aren’t famed for making wise decisions.
Mark Billingham – Rabbit Hole
My name is Alice. I’m a police officer. I’m trying to solve a murder on a psychiatric ward. But I’m also a patient…
They were meant to be safe on Fleet Ward: psychiatric patients monitored, treated, cared for. But now one of their number is found murdered, and the accusations begin to fly. Was it one of his fellow patients? A member of staff? Or did someone come in from the outside? DC Alice Armitage is methodical, tireless, and she’s quickly on the trail of the killer. The only problem is, Alice is a patient too.
William Shaw – The Trawlerman
A DOUBLE MURDER
The naked corpses of Aylmer and Mary Younis are discovered in their home. The only clues are a note written in blood and an eerie report of two spectral figures departing the crime scene. Officer Jill Ferriter is charged with investigating the murders while her colleague Alex Cupidi is on leave, recovering from post-traumatic stress.
AN ELABORATE SCAM
The dead couple had made investments in a green reforestry scheme in Guatemala, resulting in the loss of all their savings. What is more disturbing is that Cupidi and Ferriter’s disgraced former colleague and friend Bill South is also on the list of investors and the Younis’s were not the only losers.
AN UNLIKELY KILLER
Despite being in counselling and receiving official warnings to stay away from police work Cupidi finds herself dragged into the case and begins to trawl among the secrets and lies that are held in the fishing community of Folkestone. Desperate to exonerate South she finds herself murderously compromised when personal relationships cloud her judgement.
Will Dean – The Last Thing To Burn
He is her husband. She is his captive. Her husband calls her Jane. That is not her name. She lives in a small farm cottage, surrounded by vast, open fields. Everywhere she looks, there is space. But she is trapped. No one knows how she got to the UK: no one knows she is there. Visitors rarely come to the farm; if they do, she is never seen. Her husband records her every movement during the day. If he doesn’t like what he sees, she is punished. For a long time, escape seemed impossible. But now, something has changed. She has a reason to live and a reason to fight. Now, she is watching him, and waiting…
Vaseem Khan – Midnight at Malabar House
Bombay, New Year’s Eve, 1949. As India celebrates the arrival of a momentous new decade, Inspector Persis Wadia stands vigil in the basement of Malabar House, home to the city’s most unwanted unit of police officers. Six months after joining the force she remains India’s first female police detective, mistrusted, sidelined and now consigned to the midnight shift. And so, when the phone rings to report the murder of prominent English diplomat Sir James Herriot, the country’s most sensational case falls into her lap. As 1950 dawns and India prepares to become the world’s largest republic, Persis, accompanied by Scotland Yard criminalist Archie Blackfinch, finds herself investigating a case that is becoming more political by the second. Navigating a country and society in turmoil, Persis, smart, stubborn and untested in the crucible of male hostility that surrounds her, must find a way to solve the murder – whatever the cost.
Stuart Turton – The Devil And The Dark Water
It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported from the Dutch East Indies to Amsterdam, where he is set to face trial for a crime that no one dares speak of. But no sooner is the ship out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. Strange symbols appear on the sails. A figure stalks the decks. Livestock are slaughtered. Passengers are plagued with ominous threats, promising them three unholy miracles. First: an impossible pursuit. Second: an impossible theft. Then: an impossible murder. With Pipps imprisoned in the depths of the ship, can his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes solve the mystery before the ship descends into anarchy?