The public has spoken: after three weeks of voting, crime fans have chosen their favourite crime novels for the shortlist of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, one of the most prestigious crime writing prizes in the country.
This year, crime aficionados have welcomed two debut authors to the crime-writing hall of fame: Tom Rob Smith, author of Booker Prize-nominated Child 44; and Elly Griffiths whose debut The Crossing Places is the first in a new series mysteries following the adventures of forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway.
Despite knocking-out a number of longlisted heavy-weights such as Val McDermid, Martina Cole and Peter Robinson, the newcomers still face stiff competition in the final stage as they go head to head with such genre giants as Ian Rankin, Peter James and Mark Billingham (who has claimed the title on two previous occasions).
The shortlist in full:
In the Dark by Mark Billingham
The Surrogate by Tania Carver
A Simple Act of Violence by R.J. Ellory
The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
Dead Tomorrow by Peter James
Gallows Lane by Brian McGilloway
Doors Open by Ian Rankin
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
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 winner of the prize will be announced by radio broadcaster and festival regular Mark Lawson on the opening night of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate on Thursday 22nd July. The winner will receive a Â£3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by T&R Theakston Ltd.