I bought this novel a while ago as Bella Mackie was due to appear at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. Unfortunately she was ill at the time, so it ended up at the bottom of my book pile until recently.
How to kill your family is the debut crime fiction novel from Bella. It introduces us to Grace. Grace is in prison for a murder she didn’t committee, however there is the matter of a few murders she did commit but just hasn’t been caught for. When Grace found out that her absentee father was rich and had refused to acknowledge her Mother she decided to make him pay by killing off members of his family.
How to kill your family was an at time hilarious, at times dark read, that I thoroughly enjoyed. The premise of the book was relatively simple – a wronged woman taking revenge, but there was much more to it than that. We find out about Grace’s real crimes through her diary which she starts in prison (lets skip the probably not sensible plan of admitting to things in writing whilst in prison!) and details all the whys and hows of her crimes.
The character of Grace was a bit of a mixed one for me, although there were bits of her I liked, there were also bits that just seemed a bit too needy for someone who had killed 6 people. Her observations on life and the people around her were exactly what so many of us think but don’t want to admit. It reminded me a little of American Psycho but with a more likeable protagonist. There was a lot of rambling about the state of the world and the varying groups that Grace didn’t like (think everyone but her!) but these observations were often funny and very sharp. They did occasionally make for some longish chapters but they added to the overall tone of the story.
I loved the way the story went backwards and forwards between the prison and the planning and execution of the killings. Each murder is planned to be a fitting end to the family members life so they are all different and take Grace from a frog conservation pond to Puerto Banus in order to realise her plan.
How to kill your family was a superb novel that I very much enjoyed and I look forward to reading more from Bella Mackie.
So tomorrow is July, which mean’s it’s TOPCWF month, and what better way to celebrate than with the announcement of the the shortlist for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2022:
Presented by Harrogate International Festivals, the coveted award, now in its eighteenth year, celebrates crime fiction at its very best, with this year’s shortlist taking readers from newly independent India to the tension of a remote Fenlands cottage, from a nail-biting missing persons investigation in Manchester to the wilds of North Norfolk, and from the hedonism of Georgian London to the murky world of international espionage. Selected by the public from a longlist of eighteen novels, with a record number of votes being placed this year, the list of six novels features newcomers to the shortlist, two New Blood panellists, a previous Festival Programming Chair, and a five-time shortlistee. None of this year’s shortlistees have ever taken home the prize before, making the competition even more tense.
Elly Griffiths, who was the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Chair in 2017, is shortlisted for the fifth time for The Night Hawks, the thirteenth instalment in her popular Ruth Galloway series. The Night Hawks sees Norfolk’s favourite forensic archaeologist Galloway called when a group of metal detectorists discover a body buried on a beach with Bronze Age treasure, a find which will lead to a series of murders seemingly linked to the local legend of a spectral dog whose appearance heralds death.
Sunday Times bestseller True Crime Story, the first standalone novel from Joseph Knox, blends fact and fiction to tell the gripping story of a 19-year-old university student who leaves a party in her student halls and is never seen again. Knox, who was selected by Val McDermid as a New Blood panellist in 2017, was longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2018 for his thriller Sirens the following year, but has never previously reached the shortlist stage.
Historical crime writer Laura Shepherd Robinson continues her incredible streak as her second novel Daughters of Nightis shortlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, two years after her debut Blood & Sugar was longlisted for the award in 2020. Robinson’s evocative novel transports readers to the seedy underworld of Georgian London, as Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham tries to solve the murder of a prostitute in the infamous Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, an investigation which will delve into the darkest corners of high society.
Bestselling author Mick Herron is longlisted for Slough House, the tenth instalment in his series of the same name, which was recently adapted by Apple TV as spy drama Slow Horses, starring Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas. Herron will be hoping to take home the prize this year, with 2022 marking the fifth time in the past six years he has secured a place on the shortlist.
Midnight at Malabar House by Vaseem Khan, the first in a new series chronicling the investigations of India’s first female police detective, marks Khan’s first time reaching the shortlist. The novel introduces readers to Inspector Persis Wadia as she is plucked from obscurity in a basement office and tasked with solving the murder of an English diplomat as the country prepares to become the world’s biggest republic.
Finally, The Last Thing to Burn sees bestselling author and New Blood 2018 panellist Will Dean move away from the Nordic setting of his acclaimed Tuva Moodyson series in favour of a claustrophobic thriller set on the British fenlands. The Last Thing to Burn, which has secured Dean his first ever placement on the shortlist, sees a woman held captive in a remote cottage by a man who calls her Jane and insists she is his wife. She has long abandoned hopes of escape, until she finds a reason to live and finds herself watching and planning, waiting for the right moment to act.
The six novels shortlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2022 are:
· Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd Robinson (Mantle/Pan)
· Slough House by Mick Herron (Baskerville)
· Midnight at Malabar House by Vaseem Khan (Hodder & Stoughton)
· The Last Thingto Burn by Will Dean (Hodder & Stoughton)
Simon Theakston, Executive Director of Theakston, added: “What a fantastic shortlist, six thrilling tales which deliver shocking twists and unforgettable characters! We raise a glass of Theakston Old Peculier to all of the shortlistees and look forward to revealing the winner in July as we kick off the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.”
Sharon Canavar, Chief Executive of Harrogate International Festivals,commented: “We are delighted to announce this year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year shortlist, featuring six novels by some of the most exciting crime writers working today. Whisking readers around the world and through time, this shortlist is a fantastic demonstration of the variety to be found in crime fiction. The public have a tough task ahead choosing just one winner and we can’t wait to see who they vote for!”
The public are now invited to vote for a winner at www.harrogatetheakstoncrimeaward.com. Voting closes on Friday 8th July, with the winner to be revealed on the opening night of Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Thursday 21st July. The winner will receive a £3,000 prize, as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by T&R Theakston Ltd.
The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year is run by Harrogate International Festivals sponsored by T&R Theakston Ltd, in partnership with Waterstones and the Express, and is open to full length crime novels published in paperback 1 May 2021 to 30 April 2022 by UK and Irish authors.
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 Times, Mark 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
I was lucky enough to meet Laura Lippman at the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival a couple of year’s ago and have always been a fan of her books. Therefore I jumped at the chance to be the final stop on the blog tour for her latest novel Sunburn.
Polly is on a family holiday to the beach when she walks off leaving behind her husband and daughter. She lands in a small town in Delaware and gets a job at the High Ho restaurant. She is soon joined by the mysterious Adam who gets a job as a cook. Whilst he is obviously following Polly for some reason, it is soon clear that he also has secrets. As they both become more drawn into each other’s worlds the lines between truth and lies get more blurred.
This was a really intriguing story. Whilst it wasn’t one you’d class as fast paced, it felt almost hypnotic in it’s telling. It has been likened to some of the classic noir tales such as those by James M. Cain and that is a great comparison. It starts off as a relatively simple premise, we are lead to believe that Polly is the kind of woman who can leave her child behind and therefore is uncaring. Yet as the story flows you realise that things are not as black and white as they seem. Adam could be Polly’s hero turning up just when she needs someone. Yet there is more to him than meets the eye and it soon becomes clear he is not necessarily the person we are first led to believe.
This was change from my usual books, but I really enjoyed it. The gentle pace made for a nice relaxing read on a train. However the twists were certainly there and even though you feel you know most of the story by the time you are halfway through there is still so much that is unknown you just have to carry on. I really liked the fact that everytime I thought I had a handle on who was good and who was bad something else became clear and thoughts changed.
It’s hard to say more without giving away the plot, but suffice to say for me the ending was perfect. I would thoroughly recommend Sunburn especially if like me you enjoy reading a strong female lead in a very compelling story.
Sunburn is available here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sunburn-Laura-Lippman-ebook/dp/B0771X1KMX
Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour.