Daily Archives: May 17, 2012



A mix of writers old and new will do battle in this year’s Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, one of the most prestigious crime writing prizes in the country. Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London which imagines magical mayhem in the Metropolitan police force goes head to head with SJ Watson’s smash hit debut Before I Go To Sleep and Tom Rob Smith’s Agent 6, the final in the trilogy about a former MGB agent, Leo Demidov. Power-house authors John Connolly, Ian Rankin, Robert Harris, and Val McDermid are represented by The Burning Soul, The Impossible Dead, The Fear Index, and The Retribution respectively and former journalist and screenwriter Belinda Bauer makes the longlist for the second year running with Darkside, following her critically acclaimed debut, Blacklands. Neil Cross, who will be discussing the hit TV series Luther at this year’s Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, also makes the list with The Calling.

Now in its eighth year, the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, in partnership with Asda, and in association with the Daily Mirror, was created to celebrate the very best in crime writing and is open to British and Irish authors whose novels were published in paperback from 1st June 2011 to 31st May 2012.

The longlist in full:

· Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (Gollancz)

· Darkside by Belinda Bauer (Corgi)

· Now You See Me by SJ Bolton (Corgi)

· Where the Bodies Are Buried by Chris Brookmyre (Abacus)

· The Burning Soul by John Connolly (Hodder Paperback)

· The Calling by Neil Cross (Simon & Schuster)

· The Hanging Shed by Gordon Ferris (Corvus)

· Bryant and May and the Memory of Blood by Christopher Fowler (Bantam)

· Blue Monday by Nicci French (Michael Joseph)

· The Fear Index by Robert Harris (Arrow)

· The Retribution by Val McDermid (Sphere)

· The End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina (Orion)

· Black Flowers by Steve Mosby (Orion)

· Collusion by Stuart Neville (Vintage)

· The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin (Orion)

· Mice by Gordon Reece (Pan Books)

· Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith (Simon & Schuster)

· Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson (Black Swan)

The longlist will then be whittled down to a shortlist of six titles which will be announced on Thursday 5th July.

The overall winner will be decided by a panel of experts which this year comprises of DI Tom Thorne actor David Morrissey, Festival chair Mark Billingham, journalist and crime novelist Henry Sutton, Ruth Lewis, Fiction Buyer at Asda, and Simon Theakston, Executive Director of T&R Theakston Ltd; as well as members of the public. The public vote opens on Thursday 5th July and closes on Tuesday 17th July at http://www.theakstons.co.uk.

The winner of the prize will be announced by broadcaster and festival regular Mark Lawson on Thursday 19th July, opening night of the tenth annual Theakstons 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 Theakstons Old Peculier.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book events, Book news

Headstone by Ken Bruen

Out now from Transworld

Evil has many guises, and Jack Taylor is personally acquainted with most of them.  But nothing has ever truly terrified him – until he encounters a group called Headstone.

An elderly priest is beaten, a special needs boy brutally attacked.

As another appalling act of violence alerts Jack to the horror spreading through Galway City, he realises he must fight back.

But to do so, and win, he knows he must relinquish the remaining shreds of what makes him human.

And he’s not sure that even he has got what it takes . . .

Another Jack Taylor novel and another triumph for the man who is fast becoming one of my favourite crime authors.

Ken Bruen simply doesn’t mess about, his stories are tight, language uncluttered and fast, dialogue current and peppered with reference lists that always have me checking my bookshelves, movie collections and CD racks – they really are crime books for our time.  He uses pop-culture and, through recent movie adaptations of his own books (London Boulevard and Blitz) has become something of a pop culture icon himself, as well as always being cited as a crime writer than many other crime writers look up to and respect.

In Headstone, the subject is pretty grim –  a team of sinister characters who think nothing of dishing out harm to those whom in their own twisted manifesto they wish to rid the city of:

‘the misfits,

the handicapped,

the vulnerable,

the weak,

the pitiful.’

But, as usual, and even moreso in this book, you have to hand it to Jack Taylor for being the voice of reason, the imperfect hero, the heavy-drinking and yet reliable Jack that fans have become so fond of as he strives to help those around him by any means at his disposal.

It’s rare that an author takes the risk to damage his characters from book to book in anyway that will carry through, with the other exception that springs to mind being Ray Banks, but the emotional damage that Taylor has been through in previous novels is clearly here and shapes and determines his way of dealing with things. In Headstone, I think Ken Bruen has also upped the ante in terms of how many times Taylor also gets a physical battering.

‘He said,

‘I need to know first, though, which hand do you drink with?’

Without thinking, I said,

‘The one that shakes the least.’

Received a second stunning blow to my gut that was so fierce I threw up – threw up the water and some other stuff I don’t think I want to know. I stuttered,

‘My . . . right . . . right hand.’

‘Just one more question, buddy, and we’re nearly done. Would you prefer to read or drink?’

With a great story leading up to a chilling end game, and plenty of Guinness and Jameson to keep you warm inside along the way, this is a great start for anyone yet to experience a Ken Bruen / Jack Taylor novel and a worthy novel to sit alongside the others in the series so far.

Top stuff – check it out here.


Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review