Daily Archives: July 4, 2012


Chilling suspense thrillers lead the way on this year’s Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award shortlist. One of the most prestigious crime writing prizes in the country, the 2012 shortlist reflects the ever increasingly popularity of psychological and suspense-driven narratives.

In a move away from the grittier whodunits that have long dominated the crime fiction genre, this year’s shortlist is comprised of four thrillers out of six: SJ Watson’s smash hit debut Before I Go To Sleep; The Burning Soul by veteran author John Connolly; SJ Bolton’s multi-layered, page-turner Now You See Me; and Steve Mosby’s horror-tinged tale Black Flowers.

The two non-thriller titles are Where the Bodies Are Buried and The End of the Wasp Season by Chris Brookmyre and Denise Mina respectively, both of whom have based their plots on the streets of Glasgow and have focused on a police procedural style. The presence of two Scots on the list also reaffirms the consistent level of success enjoyed by crime writers north of the border.

The shortlist in full:

· Now You See Me by SJ Bolton (Transworld)

· Where the Bodies are Buried by Chris Brookmyre (Little, Brown)

· The Burning Soul by John Connolly (Hodder & Stoughton)

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

· Black Flowers by Steve Mosby (Orion)

· Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson (Transworld)

Now in its eighth year, the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, in partnership with Asda – who will promote the shortlisted titles in stores nationwide from today – 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 overall winner will be decided by a public vote and a panel of experts which this year comprises DI Tom Thorne actor David Morrissey, Festival chair Mark Billingham, Daily Mirror Literary Editor and crime novelist Henry Sutton, Asda Fiction Buyer Ruth Lewis, and Simon Theakston, Executive Director of T&R Theakston Ltd.

The public vote opens today, Thursday 5th July, and closes on Tuesday 17th July at www.theakstons.co.uk

The winner of the prize will be announced by title sponsor Simon Theakston at an award ceremony hosted by radio broadcaster and Festival regular Mark Lawson on Thursday 19th July, the opening night of the 10th Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. The winner will receive a £3,000 cash prize as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakstons brewery.

On the same night a special presentation will be made to the winner of the third Theakstons Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award, which this year is awarded to Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse.

Born in Lincolnshire in 1930, Dexter won a scholarship to the local grammar school and, after completing his National Service, went on to study at Cambridge. Since 1966 he has lived in Oxford with his wife, with whom he has two children. After retiring from a 13-year teaching career, he began writing mysteries in 1973 while on a family holiday. His debut novel, Last Bus to Woodstock, was published in 1975 and introduced the world to Inspector Morse for the first time. One of the most iconic detectives ever to have been created, Morse’s crime-solving talents found a whole new audience in the successful TV series, bringing further acclaim for Dexter. Inspector Morse has appeared in 13 novels and numerous short stories. Dexter has won many awards for his novels, including the CWA Silver Dagger twice and the CWA Gold Dagger for both The Wench is Dead and The Way Through the Woods. In 1997, he was presented with the CWA Diamond Dagger for outstanding services to crime literature and, in 2000, was awarded the OBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Dexter said: “Never had I thought that the gods would be kindly enough to give me such a huge honour so late in my life. Yet here I am, in my early eighties, feeling a profound and heartfelt gratitude for the great honour bestowed on me.”

Simon Theakston, Executive Director of T&R Theakston, said:

“The variety of narratives within crime fiction means that every year we have a shortlist that reflects the diversity of the genre; this year, the thriller seems to be the popular choice. It’s great to see crime writing in such rude health, although it doesn’t make the job of picking a winner any easier!

“I’m also delighted and privileged to welcome Colin Dexter to Harrogate to collect his much- deserved Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award. Few writers are as prolific as Colin has been over his long and varied career and even fewer create a character as iconic and well-loved as Morse. This award acknowledges Colin’s huge contribution to crime fiction and to British culture.”

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An explosive discovery: Matt Hilton

It is to my eternal shame that, until this week, I had copies of books by Matt Hilton sitting on shelves and unread.

At the weekend, I corrected this (in part) by cracking open the covers of his first Joe Hunter novel ‘Dead Men’s Dust‘ and, if you’ll excuse the pun, I was ‘blown away’ by the action packed narrative therein.  I loved it – from the speed of the plotting, the furious and clearly well researched action sequences (Matt Hilton is a 4th Dan blackbelt ju-jitsu coach and ex-private security and police officer), the central character and, in particular for me, the almost mystical closing scenes of the novel where I likened it to some of the best John Connolly work I had read.

And then – I went full pelt along with Joe Hunter once again for his seventh adventure, confident that I would still get a great thrill ride, despite concerns that I was running the risk of losing some information no doubt locked within the five novels in the series I was skipping past.

No Going Back‘ is another cracker of a book.  Set in the Arizona Desert with Hunter on the trail of missing women who have been stolen away, seemingly without a trace and, in all likelihood, having been taken by a brutal group of men, whose motives are unclear and may hold a sinister secret. Once again, the book rushes along at breakneck speed and I was somewhat stunned at the page count rushing by – I defy anyone not to get swept along by the story and the action.  And, like Dead Men’s Dust, you will see hints of the unknown, the mysterious, in the corners of the page, small touches that may make you question if there is, once again, the possibility that this is more than an action thriller and whether you have in fact read something which is every now and again making little tears into other genres, all the time masking you with clouds of Arizona desert dust.

Joe Hunter takes no prisoners – and from the two ends of the series that I have experienced so far, I’d say that Matt Hilton doesn’t either – once he’s got you gripped, you’re his….but it won’t be against your will.


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Crime in the Court 2012 – Goldsboro Books

It would be remiss of me not to make mention, acknowledge and thank the wonderful Goldsboro Books (David Headley and his team) for another fantastic event in the crime fiction fan’s calendar.

Despite the constant threat of rain, which for the most part resulted in the occasional drizzle, Cecil Court was last night, once again, packed with some of the biggest names in the crime fiction fraternity – this was like speed-dating for the crime fan. As with last year, there were just too many great names to get to see, or to mention – check out here for the list of attendees.

Others will, I’m sure, cover the event in far more detail and probably with some lovely candid photography.  For my part (and the fact that I was only there briefly this year) I just wanted to go on record to say thank you and to let anyone that didn’t know about this great opportunity to feel the buzz of Crimefest or Harrogate crammed into an incredibly friendly and sociable few hours in London, to make sure you keep an eye on Goldsboro Books and for upcoming events there.


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