Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Novel of the Year Awards 2019

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Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Novel of the Year Awards 2019 main

by Sarah Morgan

How do you get a literary event off with a bang? Take a look at the best novels of the past 12 months, of course.

That’s what the organisers of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival do every year, and as it’s the biggest shindig of its kind in the world, they’re clearly doing it write – sorry, right!

Last night in Harrogate, the 17th festival got under way at The Old Swan hotel. After opening speeches from Sharon Canavar of Harrogate International Festivals and Simon Theakston, CEO of the main sponsors, Mark Lawson MC’d took charge of the proceedings, welcoming all six shortlisted authors to the stage.

In the running were Belinda Bauer for Snap, which hit the headlines when it was nominated for the Booker Prize, Mick Herron’s London Rules, Broken Ground by Val McDermid – her eighth nomination – Liam McIlvanney for The Quaker and Khurrum Rahman for East of Hounslow.

But the winner was a clearly shocked and delighted Steve Cavanagh for Thirteen, a courtroom thriller and the fifth tale in the Lisburn author’s Eddie Flynn series.

harrogate crime writing festival 2019 preview james patterson

James Patterson
image: Rankin

“Topical humour”

“It is always a privilege to present the winning author with their richly deserved award,” said Simon Theakston after the event. “As ever, the standard of both the short and the long lists has been astonishingly high, and it is never an easy task to decide the winner.”

Cavanagh takes home with him the £3,000 prize as well as a handmade engraved oak beer cask crafted by the coopers at Theakston’s Masham brewery.

But he wasn’t the only winner on the night. Each year an Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award is also presented to one of the event’s star guests, and 2019’s recipient was none other than James Patterson.

The hugely prolific author has sold in excess of 300 million copies of his books and counts collaborations with ex-US President Bill Clinton and attempting to boost literacy and reading among his achievements.

“James is as passionate about reading as he is about writing and is a huge supporter of independent bookstores and libraries,” explained Theakston. “We are delighted that he is joining us here in Harrogate for a few days, and I’m sure many budding crime writers will draw inspiration from his very presence.”

Patterson’s lively acceptance speech was full of topical humour that brought the house down – and got 2019’s festival off to a rousing start.

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