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27th April 2023

Longlist revealed for UK’s most prestigious crime writing award: Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2023

The unique handcrafted oak barrels for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award being built under the watchful eye of one of England’s last coopers; Euan Findlay, with T&R Theakston and the Programming Chair for the 2023 Festival Vaseem Khan. Past recipients of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Awards include Lee Child, Val McDermid and Mark Billingham. (Credit: Charlotte Graham, 2023)



Harrogate, Thursday 27 April 2023: The longlist for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2023 has been announced today by Harrogate International Festivals. The search for the best crime novel of the past year gets underway as the public are now invited to vote for their favourites to reach the next stage.

The winner of the prestigious Award will be announced at the opening night of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival (20 July), which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary. To mark the momentous occasion, for the first time the longlist includes twenty outstanding authors, rather than the traditional eighteen, competing for the UK and Ireland’s most coveted crime fiction writing Award.

 With thrilling stories that transport readers from a burnt-out Glasgow under threat, to the hidden backstreets of Paris, from the bustle of 1950s Bombay and a mail ship bound for Philadelphia, the longlist celebrates the very best of the crime genre.

A number of returning champions are hoping to take home the Award once again – Mick Herron defends his 2022 title with the latest Slough House instalment, Bad Actors, alongside Clare Mackintosh’s gripping New Year’s Day murder mystery The Last Party, two-time winner Mark Billingham’s electrifying thriller The Murder Book, and the scintillating 1989, the second in the new Allie Burns series from the doyenne of crime writing Val McDermid.

Several of the crime world’s favourite crime solving protagonists are also in the running for the coveted trophy – Elly Griffith’s penultimate mystery featuring Dr Ruth Galloway, The Locked Room, is in contention, alongside M.W. Craven’s latest Detective Sergeant Washington Poe thriller The Botanist, and Black Hearts, the explosive thriller featuring Doug Johnstone’s Skelf women.

They are joined by fellow Theakston nominees, including Sarah Vaughan with her masterful psychological page-turner Reputation, the unputdownable The It Girl from Ruth Ware, Lucy Foley’s deeply unsettling, locked room mystery The Paris Apartment as well as All I Said Was True, the ticking clock thriller from barrister-turned-author Imran Mahmood. Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 2023 Programming Chair Vaseem Khan is vying to win with The Lost Man of Bombay, as is Blue WaterLeonora Nattrass’ atmospheric tale aboard an eighteenth-century ship on route to Philadelphia. Joining them are Liam McIlvanney’s highly anticipated The Heretic, which sees D.I. Duncan McCormack tackling brutal gang warfare on the streets of Glasgow, and the eerily unnerving new thriller Into The Dark from Val McDermid’s 2017 New Blood selection, Fiona Cummins.

A plethora of established voices join the Theakston ranks for the first time this year. The tantalisingly tense Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister and Lisa Jewell’s chilling new domestic noir The Family Remains are longlisted along with Victoria Selman’s nerve-jangling Truly Darkly Deeply, the deftly suspenseful The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett, while chilling police procedural May God Forgive gives star of ‘Tartan Noir’ Alan Parks his first longlisting.


The full Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2023 longlist is:

  • The Murder Book by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown Book Group; Little Brown)
  • The Botanist by M.W. Craven (Little, Brown Book Group; Constable)
  • Into The Dark by Fiona Cummins (Pan Macmillan; Macmillan/Pan)
  • The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley (HarperCollins; HarperFiction)
  • The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths (Quercus)
  • The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett (Profile Books; Viper)
  • Bad Actors by Mick Herron (John Murray Press; Baskerville)
  • The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell (Cornerstone; Century Fiction)
  • Black Hearts by Doug Johnstone (Orenda Books)
  • The Lost Man of Bombay by Vaseem Khan (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh (Little, Brown Book Group; Sphere)
  • All I Said Was True by Imran Mahmood (Bloomsbury Publishing; Raven Books)
  • Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister (Penguin Random House; Michael Joseph)
  • 1989 by Val McDermid (Little, Brown Book Group; Little Brown)
  • The Heretic by Liam McIlvanney (HarperCollins; HarperFiction)
  • Blue Water by Leonora Nattrass (Profile Books; Viper)
  • May God Forgive by Alan Parks (Canongate Books)
  • Truly Darkly Deeply by Victoria Selman (Quercus)
  • Reputation by Sarah Vaughan (Simon & Schuster)
  • The It Girl by Ruth Ware (Simon & Schuster)

Simon Theakston, Executive Director of Theakston, added: “Each year I eagerly await the long list announcement for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and every year I’m reminded of the phenomenal talent in the crime fiction writing world, whether a returning icon or a rising star. I’m looking forward to a celebratory toast of Old Peculier in July, but for now, we raise a glass to all the exceptional nominees as the shortlist vote is taken to the public.”

 Chief Executive of Harrogate International Festivals, Sharon Canavar, commented: “We are delighted to announce the 2023 longlist for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, with an exceptional collection of the UK and Ireland’s best crime fiction novels from the past year. The Award is an integral part of the Festival and with a gripping mix of subgenres nominated, from psychological thrillers to murder mysteries, we can’t wait to see how the public vote this year.”

 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, along with representatives from the media partner, Daily Express. The award is run by Harrogate International Festivals sponsored by T&R Theakston Ltd, in partnership with Waterstones and Daily Express, and is open to full-length crime novels published in paperback between 1 May 2022 to 30 April 2023 by UK and Irish authors.

The public are now invited to vote to create a shortlist of six titles from 10am on Thursday 27 April at Voting closes on Thursday 18 May, with the shortlist announced and winner voting opening on Thursday 15 June. The winner will be revealed on the opening night of Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Thursday 20 July, receiving £3,000 and a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by T&R Theakston Ltd.


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About Harrogate International Festivals

‘Harrogate International Festivals’ is a charitable organisation with a mission to present a diverse year-long programme of live events that bring immersive and moving cultural experiences to as many people as possible. Delivering artistic work of national importance, the Festival curates and produces over 300 unique and surprising performances each year, celebrating world-renowned artists and championing new and up-coming talent across music, literature, science, philosophy and psychology. The HIF+ ongoing education outreach programme engages schools, young people and the local community with workshops, talks, projects and inspiring activities, ensuring everyone can experience the Festival’s world class programme and the transformative power of the arts. Established in 1966, Harrogate International Festivals are an artistic force to be reckoned with and a key cultural provider for the North of England.

Find out more at:

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About Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year


The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year is now in its nineteenth year. Presented by Harrogate International Festivals the Award recognises the best crime novels published in the UK and Ireland in paperback over the past year. The twenty longlisted authors are selected by a panel 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, Daily Express, and Waterstones. After which the public can contribute to voting for the six shortlisted authors, which will be revealed on Thursday 15 June. The public will then have the chance to pick the winner, who will be announced on the opening night of Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Thursday 20 July, receiving £3,000 and a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by T&R Theakston Ltd.



About T & R Theakston Ltd

Title sponsor of the Festival since 2005, Theakston Old Peculier beer is produced by T & R Theakston Ltd. It is one of the country’s most famous and highly regarded traditional beer brewers. Theakston was established in Masham, North Yorkshire in 1827 by Robert Theakston. After a brief period in the 1980s when the company was acquired by Scottish & Newcastle plc, the company has been back under family ownership since Autumn 2003. It now operates as an independent brewer producing five permanent brands in the Theakston range including the iconic Old Peculier – its best-known beer with a rich, dark flavour, celebrated by ale enthusiasts all over Britain and around the world.

TITLE & AUTHOR INFORMATION: Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2023

The Murder Book by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown Book Group; Little Brown)

Tom Thorne has it all. In Nicola Tanner and Phil Hendricks, Thorne has good friends by his side. He finally has a love life worth a damn and is happy in the job to which he has devoted his life…  He has everything to lose.  Hunting the woman responsible for a series of grisly murders, Thorne has no way of knowing that he will be plunged into a nightmare from which he may never wake.  And he’ll do anything to keep it.  Finally, Thorne’s past has caught up with him and a ruinous secret is about to be revealed. If he wants to save himself and his friends, he must do the unthinkable.

Mark Billingham has twice won the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and has also won a Sherlock Award for the Best Detective created by a British writer. Each of the novels featuring Detective Inspector Tom Thorne has been a Sunday Times bestseller. Sleepyhead and Scaredy Cat were made into a hit TV series on Sky 1 starring David Morrissey as Thorne, and a series based on the novels In the Dark and Time of Death was broadcast on BBC1. Mark lives in north London with his wife and two children.

The Botanist by M.W. Craven (Little, Brown Book Group; Constable)

Detective Sergeant Washington Poe can count on one hand the number of friends he has. And he’d still have his thumb left. There’s the insanely brilliant, guilelessly innocent civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, of course. He’s known his beleaguered boss, Detective Inspector Stephanie Flynn, for years as he has his nearest neighbour, full-time shepherd/part-time dog sitter, Victoria.  And then there’s Estelle Doyle. It’s true the caustic pathologist has never walked down the sunny side of the street, but this time has she gone too far? Shot twice in the head, her father’s murder appears to be an open and shut case.  Estelle has firearms discharge residue on her hands, and, in a house surrounded by fresh snow, hers are the only footprints going in. Since her arrest she’s only said three words: ‘Tell Washington Poe.’  Meanwhile, a poisoner the press have dubbed the Botanist is sending high profile celebrities poems and pressed flowers. The killer seems to be able to walk through walls and, despite the advance notice he gives his victims, and regardless of the security measures the police take, he seems to be able to kill with impunity.  For a man who hates locked room mysteries, this is going to be the longest week of Washington Poe’s life . . .

Multi-award-winning author M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle. He joined the army at sixteen, leaving ten years later to complete a social work degree. Seventeen years after taking up a probation officer role in Cumbria, at the rank of assistant chief officer, he became a full-time author. The Puppet Show, the first book in his Cumbria-set Washington Poe series, was published by Little, Brown in 2018 and went on to win the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger in 2019. It has now been translated into twenty-one languages. Black Summer, the second in the series, was longlisted for the 2020 Gold Dagger as was book three, The Curator. The fourth in the series, Dead Ground, was published in June 2021, became an instant Sunday Times bestseller and won the 2022 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger. The latest book in the series, The Botanist, published in June 2022, also became an instant Sunday Times bestseller.

Into The Dark by Fiona Cummins (Pan Macmillan; Macmillan/Pan)

The place: Seawings, a beautiful Art Deco home overlooking the sweep of the bay in Midtown-on-Sea. The crime: The gilded Holden family – Piper and Gray and their two teenage children, Riva and Artie – has vanished from the house without a trace. The detective: DS Saul Anguish, brilliant but with a dark past, treads the narrow line between light and shade.

One late autumn morning, Piper’s best friend arrives at Seawings to discover an eerie scene – the kettle is still warm, all the family’s phones are charging on the worktop, the cars are in the garage. But the house is deserted.

In fifteen-year-old Riva Holden’s bedroom, scrawled across the mirror in blood, are three words:  Make. Them. Stop.  What happens next?

Fiona Cummins is an award-winning former Daily Mirror showbusiness journalist and a graduate of the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course. She lives in Essex with her family. Into The Dark is her fifth novel.

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley (HarperCollins; HarperFiction)

In a beautiful old apartment block, deep in the backstreets of Paris, secrets are stirring behind every resident’s door. The lonely wife. The party animal. The curtain-twitcher. The secret lover. The watchful caretaker. The unwanted guest. One resident is missing. Only the killer holds the key to the mystery…

Lucy Foley is a No.1 Sunday Times bestselling author. Her contemporary murder mystery thrillers, The Hunting Party and The Guest List, have sold over a million copies worldwide and also hit the New York Times and Irish Times bestseller lists. The Guest List was a Waterstones Thriller of the Month selection, a Reese’s Book Club pick, it was chosen as one of The Times and Sunday Times Crime Books of the Year, and it won the Goodreads Choice Award for best mystery/thriller.  Lucy’s novels have been translated into multiple languages and her journalism has appeared in publications such as Sunday Times Style, Grazia, ES Magazine, Vogue US, Elle, Tatler and Marie Claire. Lucy lives in Brussels with her husband and their baby son.

The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths (Quercus)

Forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth is in London clearing out her mother’s belongings when she makes a surprising discovery: a photograph of her Norfolk cottage taken before Ruth lived there. Her mother always hated the cottage, so why does she have a picture of the place? The only clue is written on the back of the photo: Dawn, 1963.  Ruth returns to Norfolk determined to solve the mystery, but then Covid rears its ugly head. Ruth and her daughter are locked down in their cottage, attempting to continue with work and home-schooling.  Happily, the house next door is rented by a nice woman called Zoe, who they become friendly with while standing on their doorsteps clapping for carers.  Nelson, meanwhile, is investigating a series of deaths of women that may or may not be suicide. When he links the deaths to an archaeological discovery, he breaks curfew to visit the cottage where he finds Ruth chatting to her neighbour whom he remembers as a carer who was once tried for murdering her employer.  Only then her name wasn’t Zoe.  It was Dawn.

Elly Griffiths is the bestselling author of the Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries and the Brighton Mysteries.  She has won the CWA Dagger in the Library, has been shortlisted five times for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for The Lantern Men.  Her new series featuring Detective Harbinder Kaur began with The Stranger Diaries, which was a Richard and Judy book club pick and won the Edgar Award for Best Novel in the USA. It was followed by The Postscript Murders, shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger and Bleeding Heart Yard. Elly has two grown-up children and lives near Brighton with her archaeologist husband

The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett (Profile Books; Viper)

Edith Twyford was once a world-famous children’s author, but now her only legacy is the rumoured existence of the Twyford Code: a series of clues hidden in her books leading to… what? No one knows – but that hasn’t stopped the speculation.  Steve Smith can trace nearly all the bad things in his life back to Edith Twyford. As a child he found one of her books, covered in strange symbols. He showed it to his teacher, Miss Iles, who was convinced it held the key to the code. Within weeks Miss Iles had disappeared, and Steve has no idea if she is dead or alive – or if she was right. Now he’s determined to find out.  But the Twyford Code hides secrets some would do anything to possess, and Steve isn’t the only one on its trail. The race is on to solve the mystery of the century. Could you get there first?

Janice Hallett studied English at UCL, and spent several years as a magazine editor, winning two awards for journalism. Her debut novel, The Appeal, was a Sunday Times bestseller, the Sunday Times 2021 Crime Book of the Year, and shortlisted for the Waterstones Book of the Year. Janice lives in West London.

Bad Actors by Mick Herron (John Murray Press; Baskerville)

In MI5 a scandal is brewing and there are bad actors everywhere.  A key member of a Downing Street think-tank has disappeared without a trace. Claude Whelan, one-time First Desk of MI5’s Regent’s Park, is tasked with tracking her down. But the trail leads straight back to Regent’s Park HQ itself, with its chief, Diana Taverner, as prime suspect. Meanwhile her Russian counterpart has unexpectedly shown up in London but has slipped under MI5’s radar.  Over at Slough House, the home for demoted and embittered spies, the slow horses are doing what they do best: adding a little bit of chaos to an already unstable situation.  In a world where lying, cheating and backstabbing is the norm, bad actors are bending the rules for their own gain. If the slow horses want to change the script, they’ll need to get their own act together before the final curtain.  Includes the short story ‘Standing by the Wall: A Slough House Interlude’.

Mick Herron is the No. 1 Sunday Times bestselling author of the Slough House thrillers, which have won the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, two CWA Daggers, been published in twenty languages, and are the basis of a major TV series starring Gary Oldman as Jackson Lamb. He is also the author of the Zoë Boehm series, and the standalone novels Reconstruction and This is What Happened. Mick was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, and now lives in Oxford

The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell (Cornerstone; Century Fiction)

LONDON. Early morning, June 2019: on the foreshore of the river Thames, a bag of bones is discovered. Human bones.  DCI Samuel Owusu is called to the scene and quickly sends the bag for forensic examination. The bones are those of a young woman, killed by a blow to the head many years ago.  Also inside the bag is a trail of clues, in particular the seeds of a rare tree which lead DCI Owusu back to a mansion in Chelsea where, nearly thirty years previously, three people lay dead in a kitchen, and a baby waited upstairs for someone to pick her up.  The clues point forward too to a brother and sister in Chicago searching for the only person who can make sense of their pasts.  Four deaths. An unsolved mystery. A family whose secrets can’t stay buried for ever …

Lisa Jewell was born in London in 1968.  Her first novel, Ralph’s Party, was the best- selling debut novel of 1999. Since then she has written another eighteen novels, most recently a number of dark psychological thrillers, including The Girls, Then She Was Gone and The Family Upstairs (all of which were Richard & Judy Book Club picks).  Lisa is a New York Times and Sunday Times number one bestselling author who has been published worldwide in over twenty-five languages. She lives in north London with her husband, two teenage daughters and the best dog in the world.

Black Hearts by Doug Johnstone (Orenda Books)

Death is just the beginning… The Skelf women live in the shadow of death every day, running the family funeral directors and private investigator business in Edinburgh. But now their own grief intertwines with that of their clients, as they are left reeling by shocking past events.  A fistfight by an open grave leads Dorothy to investigate the possibility of a faked death, while a young woman’s obsession with Hannah threatens her relationship with Indy and puts them both in mortal danger. An elderly man claims he’s being abused by the ghost of his late wife, while ghosts of another kind come back to haunt Jenny from the grave… pushing her to breaking point.  As the Skelfs struggle with increasingly unnerving cases and chilling danger lurks close to home, it becomes clear that grief, in all its forms, can be deadly…

Doug Johnstone is the author of fourteen novels, including The Great Silence, the third in the Skelfs series, which has been optioned for TV. In 2021, The Big Chill, the second in the series, was longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. In 2020, A Dark Matter, the first in the series, was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and the Capital Crime Amazon Publishing Independent Voice Book of the Year award. Black Hearts (Book 4) was published in 2022, with The Opposite of Lonely (Book 5) out in 2023. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his first science fiction novel, The Space Between Us, was a BBC2 Between the Covers pick. He’s taught creative writing, been writer in residence at various institutions, and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers. He lives in Edinburgh.

The Lost Man of Bombay by Vaseem Khan (Hodder & Stoughton)

As Inspector Persis Wadia and Metropolitan Police criminalist Archie Blackfinch investigate the case in Bombay, they uncover a trail left behind by the enigmatic Ice Man – a trail leading directly into the dark heart of conspiracy.  Meanwhile, two new murders grip the city. Is there a serial killer on the loose, targeting Europeans?  Rich in atmosphere, the thrilling third chapter in the CWA Historical Dagger-winning Malabar House series pits Persis against a mystery from beyond the grave, unfolding against the backdrop of a turbulent post-colonial India, a nation struggling to redefine itself in the shadow of the Raj.

Vaseem Khan is the author of two crime series set in India: the Baby Ganesh Agency series, and the Malabar House historical crime novels. His first book, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, was a Times bestseller and has been translated into sixteen languages. Midnight at Malabar House won the CWA Historical Fiction Dagger in 2021 and was shortlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Vaseem was born in London but spent a decade working in India as a management consultant.

The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh (Little, Brown Book Group; Sphere)

On New Year’s Eve, Rhys Lloyd has a house full of guests.  He’s celebrating the success of his lakeside holiday homes and has generously invited the village to drink champagne with their wealthy new neighbours.  By midnight, Rhys will be floating dead in the freezing waters of the lake.  On New Year’s Day, DC Ffion Morgan has a village full of suspects.  She grew up in the tiny community, so the murder suspects are her neighbours, friends and family – and Ffion has her own secrets to protect.  With a lie uncovered at every turn, soon the question isn’t who wanted Rhys dead . . . but who finally killed him.

Clare Mackintosh is a police officer turned crime writer, and the multi-award-winning author of six Sunday Times bestselling novels. Translated into forty languages, her books have sold more than two million copies worldwide and have spent a combined total of sixty-four weeks in the Sunday Times bestseller chart. Clare lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.

All I Said Was True by Imran Mahmood (Bloomsbury Publishing; Raven Books)

I didn’t kill her. Trust me. When Amy Blahn died on a London rooftop, Layla Mahoney was there. Layla was holding her. But all she can say when she’s arrested is that ‘It was Michael. Find Michael and you’ll find out everything you need to know.’ The problem is, the police can’t find him – they aren’t even sure he exists. Layla knows she only has forty-eight hours to convince the police that bringing in the man she knows only as ‘Michael’ will clear her name and reveal a dangerous game affecting not just Amy and Layla, but her husband Russell and countless others.  But as the detectives begin to uncover the whole truth about what happened to Amy, Layla will soon have to decide: how much of that truth can she really risk being exposed?

Imran Mahmood is a practicing barrister with thirty years’ experience fighting cases in courtrooms across the country. His previous novels have been highly critically acclaimed: You Don’t Know Me was a BBC Radio 2 Book Club choice, Goldsboro Book of the Month and was shortlisted for the Glass Bell Award; both this and I Know What I Saw were longlisted for Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and the CWA Gold Dagger. You Don’t Know Me was also made into a hugely successful BBC1 adaptation in association with Netflix. When not in court or writing novels or screenplays he can sometimes be found on the Red Hot Chilli Writers’ podcast as one of their regular contributors. He hails from Liverpool but now lives in London with his wife and daughter.

Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister (Penguin Random House; Michael Joseph)

It’s late. You’re waiting up for your son.  Then you spot him: he’s with someone. And – you can’t believe what you see – your funny, happy teenage boy stabs this stranger.  You don’t know who. You don’t know why. You only know your son is charged with murder. His future is lost.  That night you fall asleep in despair. But when you wake . . . it is yesterday. The day before the murder.  Somewhere in the past lie the answers – a reason for this crime.  And your only chance to stop it . . .

Gillian McAllister is the Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author of eight stand-alone novels. Her books have been selected for the Radio 2 Book Club, Reese’s Book Club, the Richard & Judy Book Club, and are published in thirty-six languages.

1989 by Val McDermid (Little, Brown Book Group; Little Brown)

  1. The world is on the brink of revolution and journalist Allie Burns is a woman on a mission. When she discovers a lead about the exploitation of society’s most vulnerable, Allie is determined to investigate and give voice to the silenced.  Elsewhere, a ticking clock begins the countdown to a murder. As Allie begins to connect the dots and edges closer to exposing the truth, it is more shocking than she ever imagined. There’s nothing like a killer story, and to tell it, Allie must risk her freedom and her life . . .

Val McDermid is a number one bestseller whose novels have been translated into forty languages and have sold over eighteen million copies. She has won many awards internationally, including the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year and the LA Times Book of the Year Award. She was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame in 2009, was the recipient of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger in 2010 and received the Lambda Literary Foundation Pioneer Award in 2011.  In 2016, Val received the Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival and in 2017 received the DIVA Literary Prize for Crime and was elected a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Val has served as a judge for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Man Booker Prize and was Chair of the Wellcome Book Prize in 2017. She is the recipient of six honorary doctorates, is an Honorary Fellow of St Hilda’s College, Oxford and a Professor at the University of Otago in New Zealand. She writes full time and divides her time between Edinburgh and East Neuk of Fife

The Heretic by Liam McIlvanney (HarperCollins; HarperFiction)

Glasgow, 1975. A deadly fire. An arson attack on a Glasgow warehouse causes the deaths of a young mother and child.  Police suspect it’s the latest act in a brutal gang warfare that’s tearing the city apart – one that DI Duncan McCormack has been tasked with stopping. A brutal murder. Five years ago he was walking on water as the cop who tracked down a notorious serial killer.  But he made powerful enemies and when a mutilated body is found in a Tradeston slum, McCormack is assigned a case that no one wants. The dead man is wearing a masonic ring, though, and Duncan realizes the victim is not the down-and-out his boss had first assumed. A catastrophic explosion. As McCormack looks into both crimes, the investigations are disrupted by a shocking event.  A bomb rips through a pub packed with people – and a cop is killed in the blast.  The cases are stacking up and with one of his own unit now dead, McCormack is in the firing line. But he’s starting to see a thread – one that connects all three attacks…

Liam McIlvanney was born in Scotland and studied at the universities of Glasgow and Oxford. He has written for numerous publications, including the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement and the Guardian. His debut, Burns the Radical, won the Saltire First Book Award, and his most recent book, Where the Dead Men Go, won the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel. The Quaker won the 2018 McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year.  He is Stuart Professor of Scottish Studies at the University of Otago, New Zealand. He lives in Dunedin with his wife and four sons.

Blue Water by Leonora Nattrass (Profile Books; Viper)

New Year 1795, and Laurence Jago is aboard the Tankerville mail ship, en route to Philadelphia. Laurence is travelling undercover, supposedly as a journalist’s assistant. But his real mission is to protect a civil servant, en route to Congress with a vital treaty that will stop the Americans from joining the French in their war against Britain.  When the civil servant meets an unfortunate – and apparently accidental – end, the treaty disappears, and Laurence realises that only he can keep the Americans out of the war. Trapped on the ship with a strange assortment of travellers including two penniless French aristocrats, an Irish actress and a dancing bear, Laurence must hunt down both the lost treaty and the murderer, before he has a tragic ‘accident’ himself…

Leonora Nattrass studied eighteenth century literature and politics and spent ten years lecturing in English and publishing works on William Cobbett. She lives in Cornwall, in a seventeenth-century house with seventeenth century draughts, and spins the fleeces of her Ryeland sheep into yarn. Her first novel, Black Drop, was published in 2021.

May God Forgive by Alan Parks (Canongate Books)

Glasgow is a city in mourning. An arson attack has left five dead. Tempers are frayed and sentiments running high.  When three youths are charged the city goes wild. A crowd gathers outside the courthouse but as the police drive the young men to prison, their van is rammed by a truck, and the men are grabbed and bundled into a car. The next day, the body of one of them is dumped in the city centre. A note has been sent to the newspapers: one down, two to go.  Detective Harry McCoy has twenty-four hours to find the kidnapped boys before they all turn up dead, and it is going to mean taking down some of Glasgow’s most powerful to do it . . .

Alan Parks worked in the music industry for over twenty years before turning to crime writing. His debut novel Bloody January was shortlisted for the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, February’s Son was nominated for an Edgar Award, Bobby March Will Live Forever was picked as a Times Best Book of the Year, won a Prix Mystère de la Critique Award and won an Edgar Award. The April Dead was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year and May God Forgive won the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2022. He lives and works in Glasgow.

Truly Darkly Deeply by Victoria Selman (Quercus)

Twelve-year-old Sophie and her mother, Amelia-Rose, move to London from Massachusetts where they meet the charismatic Matty Melgren, who quickly becomes an intrinsic part of their lives. But as the relationship between the two adults fractures, a serial killer begins targeting young women with a striking resemblance to Amelia-Rose.  When Matty is eventually sent down for multiple murder, questions remain as to his guilt — questions which ultimately destroy both women. Nearly twenty years later, Sophie receives a letter from Battlemouth Prison informing her Matty is dying and wants to meet. It looks like Sophie might finally get the answers she craves. But will the truth set her free — or bury her deeper?

Victoria Selman is the author of the critically acclaimed Ziba MacKenzie series and her debut novel, Blood for Blood, was shortlisted for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award. She read Modern History at Oxford University and holds certificates in criminal profiling and criminal psychology. Victoria Selman has written for the Independent and co-hosts Crime Time FM with Barry Forshaw and Paul Burke.

Reputation by Sarah Vaughan (Simon & Schuster)

Reputation: it takes a lifetime to build and just one moment to destroy. Emma Webster is a respectable MP. Emma Webster is a devoted mother. Emma Webster is innocent of the murder of a tabloid journalist. Emma Webster is a liar. Reputation: the story you tell about yourself, and the lies others choose to believe… With everything at stake, his death could be the end of her.  

Sarah Vaughan read English at Oxford and went on to become a journalist. After training at the Press Association, she spent eleven years at the Guardian as a news reporter and political correspondent before leaving to freelance and write fiction. Her first two novels, The Art of Baking Blind and The Farm at the Edge of the World, were followed by her first psychological thriller, Anatomy of a Scandal, which became a Sunday Times bestseller and Richard & Judy pick of the decade, and was developed into a Netflix series starring Rupert Friend, Michelle Dockery and Sienna Miller. Her fourth novel, Little Disasters, was published in 2020 and selected as a Waterstones Thriller of the Month. Reputation is her fifth novel.

The It Girl by Ruth Ware (Simon & Schuster)

Everyone wanted her life. Someone wanted her dead. It was Hannah who found April’s body ten years ago. It was Hannah who didn’t question what she saw that day. Did her testimony put an innocent man in prison?  She needs to know the truth.  Even if it means questioning her own friends. Even if it means putting her own life at risk. Because if the killer wasn’t a stranger, it’s someone she knows.   

Ruth Ware worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language, and a press officer before settling down as a full-time writer. She now lives with her family in Sussex, on the south coast of England. She is the No. 1 New York Times and Globe and Mail (Toronto) bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark Wood; The Woman in Cabin 10; The Lying Game; The Death of Mrs Westaway; The Turn of the Key; One by One; and The It Girl. Her next book, Zero Days, will be published in July 2023.

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