Beating off stiff competition from a shortlist that included genre giants Ian Rankin, Peter James and Mark Billingham R.J. Ellory also beat a number of longlisted heavy-weights from the cream of Britainâ€™s crime writers including Val McDermid, Martina Cole and Peter Robinson.
The Birmingham born author was presented the prize at a ceremony hosted by broadcaster and regular festival goer Mark Lawson on the opening night (Thursday 22 July) of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. He receives a Â£3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakstons Old Peculier.
Now in its sixth year, the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award was created to celebrate the very best in crime writing, and is open to British and Irish authors whose novels were published in paperback in 2009.
The judging panel, which included Jenni Murray, BBC Radio 4 broadcaster and author; John Dugdale, Guardian Associate Media Editor; Natalie Haynes, comedian and journalist; Simon Theakston, Executive Director of T&R Theakston Ltd; and a public online vote that represented a 20% share of the all-new judging process, was very impressed by Elloryâ€™s novel. Simon Theakston, Executive Director of T&R Theakston, said:
â€œThe standard of the shortlist was particularly high this year and our decision was a tough one. However, R.J. Elloryâ€™s A Simple Act of Violence is a most impressive, fascinating and surprising book and a worthy winner of this yearâ€™s Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. A fast-paced thriller, each page seems to bring about a new twist and take you deeper into a world that could only have come from a true master of crime fiction. â€
Ellory was completely stunned upon hearing the news: â€œI donâ€™t think anyone not in my shoes can understand the definition of speechless. I am utterly speechless. This has really taken me aback. I feel acknowledged for doing something different. Thank you, Iâ€™m grateful beyond words.â€
The 2010 Shortlist in full
In the Dark by Mark Billingham
The Surrogate by Tania Carver
A Simple Act of ViolenceÂ by R.J. Ellory
The Crossing PlacesÂ by Elly Griffiths
Dead Tomorrow by Peter James
Gallows Lane by Brian McGilloway
Doors Open by Ian Rankin
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith