crime awards
Val McDermid and Clare Mackintosh

Former policewoman wins crime novel award in Harrogate

23 July 2016

A former police woman, Clare Mackintosh has won the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award for the novel “I Let You Go”

Clare Mackintosh first thriller I Let You Go was one of the fastest selling titles of 2015 and became a Sunday Times bestseller and a Richard & Judy book club winner. Clare spent twelve years in the police force, including time on CID, and as a public order commander. She left the police in 2011 and now writes full time.  Praised widely for its astonishing twist, overseas rights have now sold in 30 countries.

Clare Mackintosh said:

I first came to Harrogate as an unpublished author so to win this award tonight is a dream come true. I would like to thank my publishers and agent for supporting me, everybody who has read and recommended I Let You Go, and the crime writing community for their endless encouragement.

Clare was presented the award by title sponsor Simon Theakston and broadcaster Mark Lawson at the opening night of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. The annual Festival, hosted in Harrogate, is the world’s biggest celebration of the genre.

She beat off stiff competition from the shortlist of six, whittled down from a longlist of 18 crime novels published by British and Irish authors whose novels were published in paperback from 1 May 2015 to 30 April 2016.

Clare collected a £3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade, engraved oak beer cask made by Theakston Old Peculier.

A special presentation was made to Val McDermid  as the winner of the seventh Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award. McDermid joins Sara Paretsky, Lynda La Plante, Ruth Rendell, PD James, Colin Dexter and Reginald Hill as recipients of the Award.

Val said:

It’s an honour and a thrill to receive this award. The community of writers and readers at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is unlike any other in its warmth and generosity and so this means a huge amount to me. This year sees the publication of my 30th novel and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate that.


Crime writer Mark Billingham paid tribute to Val at the awards ceremony, he said:

It’s fitting that Val should receive this award at a festival she was instrumental in starting, and it’s one that is richly deserved. She has represented this genre quite brilliantly all over the world, both in person and through her novels, which have earned her legions of fans and a place among the very greatest crime writers of all time. She is the Queen of Crime, and long may she reign over us.


J.K. Rowling, who writes crime fiction under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, sent a message of support, saying:

I’d like to add my note of congratulations to my friend and colleague Val McDermid, for her justly deserved Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award. She has been showing us all the way for a long time now. One of Robert’s proudest moments was receiving a favourable review from the great McDermid, who received a thank you note in fake handwriting, only to receive one two weeks later in my real handwriting when I was unwillingly unmasked.

Val McDermid is one of the biggest names in crime writing. Her novels have been translated into 30 languages, and sold over 10 million copies worldwide.

Val has created many notable characters such as journalist, Lindsay Gordon and the private investigator, Kate Brannigan. One of her most enduring creations is the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series, which were adapted in the highly successful TV drama Wire in the Blood, starring Robson Green.

Her 30th novel, Out of Bounds, is published next month. McDermid co-founded the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival with the leading arts organisation, Harrogate International Festivals, and literary agent Jane Gregory, in 2003.

Simon Theakston added:

It gives us enormous delight to celebrate Val McDermid’s remarkable career. Val is very much the heart and soul of our festival. Her generosity to readers and authors alike, her role as a champion of the crime genre, and her support for new talent, are all qualities to be admired. She is unique, not only as the only author to sponsor a football team – her beloved Raith Rovers – but for remaining grounded and inclusive, amidst her enormous success.

The shortlist in full:

  • Time Of Death – Mark Billingham, Sphere
  • Career Of Evil – Robert Galbraith, Sphere
  • Tell No Tales – Eva Dolan, Harvill Secker
  • Disclaimer – Renee Knight, Black Swan
  • I Let You Go – Clare Mackintosh, Sphere
  • Rain Dogs – Adrian McKinty, Serpent’s Tail

The winner of the Award was determined by a combination of the results of the public vote (20%) and the deliberation of a judging panel (80%).

The judging panel will be comprised of literary and broadcasting/media figures and representatives of T&R Theakston and WHSmith. Forming the 2016 judging panel are 2016 Festival Programming Chair Peter James, WHSmith’s Head of Fiction Sandra Bradley, TV Editor at The Radio Times, Alison Graham, Producer of BBC Radio 2 Book Club, Joe Haddow, and executive director of title sponsor T&R Theakston Ltd, Simon Theakston.


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