The shortlist for crime writing’s most wanted accolade, the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, has been announced.
The shortlist in full:
Belinda Bauer - Snap
Steve Cavanagh - Thirteen
Mick Herron - London Rules
Val McDermid - Broken Ground
Liam McIlvanney - The Quaker
Khurrum Rahman - East of Hounslow
The shortlisted six were whittled down from a long list of 18 titles. The prize, now in its 15th year, was created to celebrate the very best in crime fiction.
Belinda Bauer, a previous winner of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award for her novel Rubbernecker in 2014, is shortlisted with her 2018 Man Booker longlisted, Snap.
Snap, which is inspired by the murder of a pregnant woman, Marie Wilks, on the M50 in 1988 (the real-life crime remains unsolved), became one of the very few crime-genre novels ever to be considered for the Man Booker prize. The judges described it as “an acute, stylish, intelligent novel about how we survive trauma.”
Bauer battles courtroom drama, Thirteen, by Steve Cavanagh, hailed by Ian Rankin for “plotting that takes the breath away.”
Cavanagh is an Irish lawyer and author born and raised in Belfast. Thirteen offers an original twist on the courtroom thriller, where the serial killer isn’t on trial - he’s on the jury.
Both Mick Herron and Val McDermid were shortlisted for the 2018 Theakston Old Peculier Novel of the Year - the title went to Stav Sherez with The Intrusions.
McDermid last won Novel of the Year in 2006. The No.1 bestseller and ‘queen of crime’ could reclaim the title with her latest, Broken Ground. The Karen Pirie thriller digs up a secret buried for 70 years in a Highland peat bog and has been praised for its ‘masterly handling of pace and plot.’
Her novels have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold over 15 million copies. McDermid has won many awards including in 2016 the Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.
Mick Herron’s widely acclaimed Jackson Lamb novels have been shortlisted twice for the Crime Novel of the Year and London Rules puts him back in the running. London Rules is the fifth outing for the misfit disgraced band of spies at Slough House with the backdrop of Brexit Britain and a terror plot. Dubbed ‘the UK’s new spy master’ by the Sunday Times, 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.”
The Quaker by Liam McIllvanney has already scooped the 2018 McIlvanney Prize which was named to honour his father, the late ‘godfather of tartan noir’, William McIlvanney. Liam, an author and a professor of Scottish studies in New Zealand, set The Quaker in Glasgow in 1969 drawing on the real-life, never-caught serial murderer Bible John.
The only debut author on the list is that of Senior IT Officer turned novelist, Khurrum Rahman, with his first novel, East of Hounslow. Mixing edgy humour and pulse-racing tension, Khurrum was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Debut Dagger Award 2018. East of Hounslow follows his young hero Jay, a dope dealer who ends up reluctantly working undercover for MI5 while undergoing radical Islamist training. Khurrum lives in Berkshire with his wife and two sons.
Shortlist titles will feature in a dedicated online campaign with WHSmith and a nationwide library promotion.
The overall winner will be decided by the panel of Judges, alongside a public vote. The public vote opens on July 1 and closes July 14 at www.theakstons.co.uk.
Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said: “All shortlisted authors are deserving of the title, but there’s only one Novel of the Year. The public vote will be invaluable, readers have real power, so I’d encourage everyone to make their voice heard - it’s free and simple to vote online. It will be fascinating to see which of these remarkable titles prevails, all are simply outstanding.”
The winner is announced on the opening night of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, on July 18
The winner will receive a £3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculier.
The awards ceremony, hosted by Mark Lawson, will also reveal the recipient of the 2019 Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award, who will join a roll-call of crime writing giants. Past recipients include Colin Dexter, Reginald Hill, PD James, Ruth Rendell, Lynda La Plante, Sara Paretsky, Val McDermid, Lee Child and John Grisham.
The award is run in partnership with T&R Theakston Ltd, WHSmith, and The Mail on Sunday.