Celebrating its eleventh year, the Awards feature six titles whittled down from a longlist of 18 crime novels published by British and Irish authors over the last year.
The 2015 Award is run in partnership with T&R Theakston Ltd, WHSmith, and Radio Times.
Three of the shortlist are debut crime novels. Antonia Hodgson’s debut, The Devil in the Marshalsea, makes the list with her Georgian period murder mystery. The fast paced historical thriller set in the Marshalsea prison in 1727, was hailed as a “scorcher of a debut novel”. TV and film scriptwriter Ray Celestin’s The Axeman’s Jazz, is a stunning atmospheric crime thriller set in 1919 New Orleans, inspired by a real life serial killer. Sarah Hilary’s compelling first thriller, Someone Else’s Skin, is also shortlisted. Hilary’s novel received critical acclaim for being superbly disturbing, twisty and tricksy.
Last year’s winner Belinda Bauer is also back amongst the finalists with The Facts of Life and Death, a chilling story where lone women are terrorised in a game where only one player knows the rules.
Peter May’s Entry Island, competes with a tale of dark island passions, which starts in the past in the Hebrides and moves to the French-Canadian Magdalen islands with a murder on Entry Island.
The highly atmospheric The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths is the sixth in the series featuring forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway.
The overall winner will be decided by the panel of Judges, which this year comprises of Executive Director of T&R Theakston Ltd. and title sponsor Simon Theakston, Festival Chair Ann Cleeves, Radio Times’ TV Editor Alison Graham, Head of Fiction at WHSmith, Sandra Bradley, and Producer of the Radio 2 Book Club, Joe Haddow, as well as members of the public. The public vote opens on 1 July and closes 13 July at www.theakstons.co.uk
Broadcaster and Festival regular Mark Lawson hosts the Awards on the opening night of the 13th annual Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate on 16 July. The winner will receive a £3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakstons Old Peculier.
Also on the night, one of America’s greatest award-winning crime writers, Sara Paretsky, will receive the Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award, joining past winners Lynda La Plante, Ruth Rendell, PD James, Colin Dexter and Reginald Hill.
Paretsky challenged a genre in which women typically were either vamps or victims when she introduced V I Warshawski in Indemnity Only, creating a believable investigator with the grit to tackle problems on the mean streets.
Executive Director of T&R Theakston and Judge, Simon Theakston, said:
The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award was created over a decade ago to celebrate the very best in the genre, as this remarkable shortlist shows.
It’s also a great honour to be recognising the extraordinary achievements of Sara Paretsky.
Sara’s remarkable legacy has helped perceptions of women in crime fiction, and is truly one of the great crime writers today.
The shortlist in full:
The Facts Of Life And Death, Belinda Bauer, Transworld
The Axeman’s Jazz, Ray Celestin, Mantle/ Pan Macmillan
The Outcast Dead, Elly Griffiths, Quercus
Someone Else’s Skin, Sarah Hilary, Headline
The Devil in the Marshalsea, Antonia Hodgson, Hodder & Stoughton
Entry Island, Peter May, Quercus
Previous winners of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award include Belinda Bauer, Denise Mina, Lee Child, Val McDermid, and Mark Billingham.