Confessions from #TheakstonsCrime (Part 2): The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2016

Val McDermid - Life Time Achievement Award Crime Novel of the Year Award 2016 Clare Macintosh - Winner Best Crime Novel of the year (c) Charlotte Graham/Guzelian

Val McDermid – Life Time Achievement Award (on left) and Clare Macintosh – Winner Crime Novel of the Year 2016 (on right) Photo credit: Charlotte Graham/Guzelian

 

The annual Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate happened last weekend and, as always, it was an amazing weekend of crime fiction, bookish antics, parties, and awards. It was a time to rub shoulders with like-minded types who write and read crime fiction, and to catch up with friends and meet new ones.

Here’s one of the highlights from the weekend …

The first big event was the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2016 ceremony. Sponsored by T&R Theakston Ltd and supported by WHSmith and The Radio Times the award is one of the most hotly contested crime fiction prizes and had a stellar shortlist.

After introductions from the festival organisers and sponsors, each of the six shortlisted authors was presented with a silver tankard and invited to speak about their novel. The shortlist was:  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).

Then the winner was announced … Clare Mackintosh for her outstanding debut novel, the psychological thriller I LET YOU GO. I Let You Go was one of the fastest selling books of 2015, a Sunday Times bestseller and a Richard & Judy Book Club winner. Clare was presented with the award by Simon Theakston and broadcaster Mark Lawson. On winning, Clare said: “I first came to Harrogate as an unpublished author so to win this award tonight is a dream come true.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.”

During the ceremony, a special presentation of the Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award was made to the fabulous Val McDermid. Mark Billingham paid a heartfelt tribute to Val saying: “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.”

On receiving 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.”

It was a fabulous high energy kick-off to the festival, and afterwards everyone spilled out to the bar and the lawn to congratulate the winners and much fun (and drink) was had!

Confessions from Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival: Part 3

The New Blood Panel

The New Blood Panel

On Saturday (after a rather late night on the Friday) I started my day with the New Blood panel.

To a sold-out audience, Val McDermid talked to debut novelists Renee Knight (Disclaimer), Clare Mackintosh (I Let You Go), Ben McPherson (A Line of Blood), and Lucy Ribchester (The Hourglass Factory) about the inspiration behind their books, their journey to publication, and what they had planned for their second books.

It was a real treat, especially as I’ve read, loved and reviewed Renee Knight and Clare Mackintosh’s books – find the reviews here for Disclaimer and I Let You Go. And wonderful find out more about Ben McPherson’s chilling psychological thriller about a seemingly ordinary family caught in the middle of a murder investigation, and Lucy Ribchester’s fabulous sounding historical murder mystery set in the world of suffragettes and trapeze artists – two more books to add to my To Be Read pile for sure!

 

Authors Paul Finch and JS Law

Authors Paul Finch and JS Law

After the panel I caught up with some friends for lunch before heading across the lawn to the tent where Headline Publishing had set up a submarine-themed game of battleships to celebrate the launch of JS Law’s debut novel (on 30th July) TENACITY.

 

 

Here willing volunteers battled it out in a game of wits and rum. Author Paul Finch was victorious in a game (pictured here with JS Law). I have to admit that I didn’t play the game – but I did get my picture taken with JS Law.

 

After that, I caught up with Graeme Cameron, author of NORMAL – which was one of the books available for festival goers to bag (if they were fast) from the bookshelves. I was chuffed to get myself a copy – and have Graeme sign it for me.

 

JS Law and CTG

JS Law and CTG

Then it was off to the Harrogate Crime Writers North vs. South Challenge Cup football match (you can read my post on the game here).

Perhaps that’s why I didn’t make it to any panels on Sunday morning. It was either that or the fact that it’s impossible to move more than a few feet at Harrogate without bumping into friends – hours seem to pass in a flash.

 

But all too soon the weekend was over and I was saying my goodbyes to all the fabulous crime folks and heading home weighed down by as many books as I could carry.

 

 

Graeme Cameron pointing to his book NORMAL

Graeme Cameron pointing to his book NORMAL

If you’ve not been to the festival before I seriously recommend that you check it out and make a plan to go next year – it really is a crime reader’s heaven.

 

You can find out more here

 

The 2016 programme chair is best selling crime writer Peter James – so go on, book now, I’m sure you won’t regret it!

 

The Quiz!!

The Quiz!!

 

CTG Reviews: DISCLAIMER by Renee Knight

DISCLAIMER cover image

DISCLAIMER cover image

What the blurb says: “How would it feel if you came across yourself in a book? It is unmistakably you. Worse, it is about something you have never told anyone – anyone living, that is.

When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table, she curls up in bed and begins to read. On opening The Perfect Stranger by E.J. Preston, she is horrified to read an account of a day from twenty years ago she’s chosen to forget. Desperate for answers as to who the author is and what they want, she ploughs through the novel, until she reaches the end: the author’s portrayal of Catherine’s death.

Catherine has never met Stephen. But Stephen knows all about Catherine, including the details of her most closely guarded secret, unknown to her husband and son. Now that Stephen has found her secret, he is going to carefully and deliberately expose both it and her, exactly the ultimate revenge.”

At the moment ‘the big twist’ is hugely popular in psychological thrillers. You know, that moment where the reader turns the page and says ‘Oh my God, I never saw that coming – now everything’s changed’? Well, this book has so many ‘oh my God’ moments that I lost count!

Catherine isn’t so much an unreliable narrator as a secretive narrator. She knows the truth about what happened – it’s been festering in her mind, gnawing away at her for the last twenty years – but she still can’t bring herself to think about the details, and make herself relive the horror, of what occurred. So her side of the story remains a mystery to the reader for much of the book.

She hides what’s going on from her husband. As the stress and fear take hold, her life – work, family, self-perception – starts to fall apart, but she still won’t, can’t, tell those important to her the truth. It’s both heart-breaking and maddening (you want her to tell them, to tell you!) – and it makes for an utterly gripping narrative.

And while Catherine’s life comes apart, Stephen’s life is looking up. His plan is working, and he’s feeling more alive, more connected, to his wife, than he has done in many years. He begins to hope that maybe, finally, he’ll have succeeded in claiming some sort of justice.

Both lead characters are compelling and captivating in equal measure. Nuanced and flawed, and utterly real, they make bad choices, have regrets, and struggle to cope with the guilt they carry with them from the past.

I loved the quirky, up-close style of the narrative, and the shifts between past and present tense that really added to the feeling of what happened ‘then’ and what was happening ‘now’.

When I finished this book I sat looking at the cover and thinking about the story. ‘Wow’, I thought. Really, WOW! It is that good.

A heart wrenching, beautifully written and perfectly paced psychological thriller – with big twist after big, jaw-dropping twist – DISCLAIMER is one of my top ‘must reads’ of 2015 so far.

Highly Recommended.

 

[with thanks to Transworld for my copy of DISCLAIMER]