LONGLIST REVEALED FOR UK’S MOST PRESTIGIOUS CRIME WRITING PRIZE THEAKSTON OLD PECULIER CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR 2021

I am delighted to be able to announce the longlist for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Once again there are some fantastic novels some of which I’ve read already, some of which are on my TBR pile and all of which are guaranteed to be superb. Look out for some reviews coming soon (I can feel another challenge coming on). Read on for the full list!

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 17th year, the most coveted prize in crime fiction, presented by Harrogate International Festivals celebrates crime writing at its best. This year’s longlist transports readers around the world from California to Sweden and Calcutta to a remote Irish island and explores every subgenre from Scandi noir to murderous families.

The line-up of returning champions is led by crime fiction titan Ian Rankin, who has received a nod for his A Song for The Dark TimesMark Billingham, hoping for a third win with his Cry Baby, and Steve Cavanagh looking to beat the competition with Fifty Fifty.

This year’s longlist recognises a number of authors who have previously never been listed by the prize. Hoping to claim the trophy on their first appearance are Lucy Foley with her No.1 Sunday Times Best Seller The Guest List, Chris Whitaker with We Begin at The End, Scottish author Doug Johnstone with The Big Chill and Liz Nugent with Our Little Cruelties, and Jane Casey with her latest Maeve Kerrigan instalment The Cutting Place.

The longlist also features several previously nominated authors hoping to go one step further and clinch the trophy with Elly Griffiths securing her seventh pick for her much lauded The Lantern Men and Susie Steiner getting her third nod for Remain Silent and Brian McGilloway’s second nomination for The Last Crossing, and best-selling author Louise Candlish hoping to win on her second pick with The Other Passenger.

Joining these outstanding names is the undisputed ‘Queen of Crime’ herself, Val McDermid with her newest Karen Pirie novel Still Life. Celebrated in the industry for her impeccable ability to select emerging talent for the annual New Blood panel at Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, McDermid find herself competing against many New Blood alumni including: Will Dean for his latest Scandi noir Black River; Eva Dolan for the newest instalment of her critically-acclaimed Zigic and Ferreira series, Abir Mukherjee’s new Calcutta and Assam-inspired Death in the East, and finally Trevor Wood – who has gone from the 2020 New Blood panel to longlisted for Crime’s biggest award.

The full longlist for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2021 is:

–          Cry Baby by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown Book Group, Sphere)

–          The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish (Simon & Schuster)

–          The Cutting Place by Jane Casey (HarperCollins, HarperFiction)

–          Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh (The Orion Publishing Group, Orion Fiction)

–          Black River by Will Dean (Oneworld Publications, Point Blank)

–          Between Two Evils by Eva Dolan (Bloomsbury Publishing, Raven Books)

–          The Guest List by Lucy Foley (HarperCollins, HarperFiction)

–          The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths (Quercus, Quercus Fiction)

–          The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone (Orenda Books)

–          Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton (Penguin Random House UK, Viking)

–          Still Life by Val McDermid (Little, Brown Book Group, Sphere)

–          The Last Crossing by Brian McGilloway (Little, Brown Book Group, Constable)

–          Death in the East by Abir Mukherjee (VINTAGE, Harvill Secker)

–          Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent (Penguin, Sandycove)

–          A Song For The Dark Times by Ian Rankin (Orion, Orion Fiction)

–          Remain Silent by Susie Steiner (HarperCollins Publishers, The Borough Press)

–          We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker (Bonnier Books UK, Zaffre)

–          The Man on the Street by Trevor Wood (Quercus, Quercus Fiction)

Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said“The way the global obsession with the crime genre continues to grow year on year is simply astonishing and this year’s longlist proves the remarkable talent on offer in crime writing– from legends of the craft to eager-eyed newcomers. The shortlist is already too close to call so we encourage all to get voting! A hearty toast of Old Peculier to all longlisted authors for this coveted award – and we look forward to what we know will be a fiercely fought competition!”

Run by Harrogate International Festivals, the shortlist will be announced in June and the winner on 22 July, at the opening evening of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – with the public able to vote for the winner on harrogatetheakstoncrimeaward.com.

The award is run by Harrogate International Festivals sponsored by T&R Theakston Ltd, in partnership with WHSmith and the Express, and is open to full length crime novels published in paperback 1 May 2020 to 30 April 2021 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 public are now invited to vote for a shortlist of six titles on www.harrogatetheakstoncrimeaward.com, which will be announced in June. The winner will be revealed on the opening night of Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Thursday 22 July, and will receive £3,000, and a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculie

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Last Place You Look by Louisa Scarr – a review BLOG TOUR

A big thanks to Damp Pebbles for inviting me onto the blog tour for Last Place You Look which is a new police procedural series by Louisa Scarr.

Last Place You Look introduces us to DS Robin Butler and his new partner DC Freya West. Jonathan Miller is found dead in his hotel room, just four days after attending his best friends birthday party. It is assumed that it was a solitary sex act gone wrong as Butler and West head off to go and inform the widow. Unfortunately their first assignment doesn’t get off to a great start as Butler sees West acting like it’s her first day on the job. Unbeknownst to Butler, West was having an affair with the dead man. She is certain that he wouldn’t have died in the way he did, and is determined to find out the truth. However things soon start to get even more complicated as the relationship between Butler and West is tested more than they could have imagined and secrets start to be unveiled.

I like a police procedural novel and this one was no exception.  This was an intriguing tale that I found drew me in from the start. You know that the death is going to be more complicated that it first seems as any book that starts with a swingers party isn’t going to end up heading to St Mary’s Mead. I did think the actual police procedure part was almost secondary to the story, there weren’t great long paragraphs recounting minute details regarding the investigation, but that wasn’t a bad thing. The dialogue between the characters swept the story along, and with it all being written in the third person you get to know inside all the characters minds.

Despite the fact that both the main characters are hiding big (and career changing) secrets I still actually liked them both. Of course they are flawed, but certainly with Robin Butler you begin to see why he is the way he is as we find out more about his background and his family. Equally with Freya West, her decision making was a bit flawed in my eyes but I still thought she was a good character.

The story had a relatively slow start but I found myself quickly getting caught up in the moment and I raced through to the end. This was a good start to a series and I look forward to reading more in this series.

To find out what others thought of Last Place You Look head over to the other stops on the blog tour:

You can get your own copy from tomorrow:

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/3v4YOiC

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Bound by Vanda Symon – a review BLOG TOUR

Back in the days of old when we had face to face events I was lucky enough to attend the Antipodean Noir session at the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 2019 and heard Vanda Symon speak. I’ve been a big fan ever since and therefore was really excited to be invited onto the blog tour for her latest novel Bound, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Bound by Vanda Symon

Bound begins when a businessman is murdered in his home while his wife is bound and gagged, and forced to watch her husband die. Detective Sam Shephard and her team start investigating the case, and soon discover that the victim had links with some dubious characters.

The case seems cut and dried, but Sam has other ideas and in need a distraction from her personal life she launches her own investigation. When another murder throws the official case into chaos, it’s up to Sam to prove that the killer is someone no one could ever suspect.

This is the 4th in the series starring Detective Sam Shephard and I would go so far as to say that Sam is one of my most favourite Detective’s of the moment. She’s funny, confident and sassy, yet believable. In this book we see a more vulnerable side of her as she deals with her father’s cancer diagnosis, as well as within her relationship with partner Paul.

The story itself is a great twisty read that starts down one path and then keeps throwing you down other routes as it picks up pace to the final reveal. I liked the short chapters and each one kept me wanting to just read one more. Although the story itself focusses on some rather somber subjects there are light hearted moments and an element of comedy that really helps lift it throughout.

Set in New Zealand you get a real sense of the place, and I enjoyed learning about the city of Dunedin through the descriptions flawlessly written in the story. Yes the real focus throughout is Sam and how she navigates her way through her personally and professional life. Although this is the fourth in the series it could be read as a standalone, but I would recommend reading the others first as you’ll get to know Sam so much better and appreciate how she seems to have matured in this novel.

I would definitely recommend Bound and do hope that this isn’t the last in the series.

Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the Blog Tour to find out what they thought of Bound.

You can also revisit some of the highlights of the TOPCWF including Antipodean Noir here:

https://harrogateinternationalfestivals.com/hif-player/antipodean-noir/

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Smoke Screen by Thomas Enger and Jorn Lier Horst – a review BLOG TOUR

I’ve been lucky enough to have a bit of a flurry of blog tours these past couple of weeks, with some excellent books, but I have to say this latest one is definitely in my top five so far!

Smoke Screen is a joint collaboration between authors Thomas Enger and Jorn Lier Horst. Set in Oslo, the story begins with a suspected terror attack on New Year’s Eve. One of the injured is the mother of a young girl who went missing ten years before, and has never been found. Both Police Office Alexander Blix and journalist Emma Ramm are on the scene when the explosion happens, and therefore have a personal interest in the case. As the terror threat is increased it becomes clear that the missing girl case is not all it seems.

I’m a big fan of Nordic Noir and this one didn’t disappoint. Smoke Screen was a great story that I thoroughly enjoyed. I found both the main characters to be really engaging. Blix is almost a brother to Emma, and I liked the fact that there didn’t seem to be anything other than friendship between them. Emma has clearly been through a tough time, and sadly things don’t seem to be improving for her. She is used to reporting on tough cases but this time it is distinctly personal.

I found this story really gripping, it’s hard to review without giving too much away, but suffice to say it’s definitely worth a read. It was a fast paced novel, that flits between present day and ten years prior. Gradually the story of the attack and the missing girl unravel as both Blix and Ramm get caught up in their investigations, until the explosive finale.

Smoke Screen is actually the second in the series, although was the first book I’ve read by the pair. It can definitely be read as a stand-alone (as I did) but I loved it so much that as soon as I finished I ordered the first one.

Thanks to Orenda Books and Random Things Tours for inviting me ont this tour. To find out what others thought of the book visit the other stops on the tour:

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