Announced: Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2021 Harrogatetheakstoncrimeaward.com #TheakstonAward @HarrogateFest @MidasPR

Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2021

Harrogate, Thursday 22 July, 9.15pm: Chris Whitaker’s We Begin at the End has been crowned Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2021 at the opening night ceremony for Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – presented by Harrogate International Festivals at the Old Swan Hotel.

A powerful story of crime, punishment, love and redemption set in coastal California, We Begin at The End is credited by Whitaker as saving his life after being brutally mugged and stabbed as a teenager. He tells the story here.

‘I began writing this book as a form of therapy after being mugged and stabbed. Without doubt this story saved my life, so to win this award feels like the most wonderful, dreamlike end to a journey that has been twenty years in the making. I have read the shortlisted books, so know with some certainty that I’m not a worthy winner, but I am a grateful one, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop smiling now.”

Chris Whitaker

Whitaker has clinched the title on his very first nomination after being chosen by a public vote, the prize Academy and a panel of expert judges, receiving £3,000 and an engraved oak beer cask, hand-carved by one of Britain’s last coopers from Theakstons Brewery.

WINNER: THEAKSTON OLD PECULIER CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR 2021

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker (Bonnier Books UK. Zaffre)

Thirty years ago, a teenage Vincent King became a killer. Now he’s been released from prison and is back in his hometown of Cape Haven, California, where not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend and sister of the girl he killed. Duchess Radley, Star’s thirteen-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin – and to her deeply troubled mother. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but for the whole town.

Chris Whitaker is the award-winning author of Tall Oaks and All The Wicked Girls. Both books were published to widespread critical acclaim, with Tall Oaks going on to win the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award. We Begin At The End has been optioned for film and is currently in development. It was an instant New York Times bestseller. Chris lives in Hertfordshire with his family.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: THEAKSTON OLD PECULIER CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR 2021

An unprecedented decision has been taken to recognise Northern Irish author Brian McGilloway’s exceptional political thriller The Last Crossing as Highly Commended. McGilloway will also receive a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculier for his novel which explores The Troubles from the perspective of former operatives who like to think they have moved on.

The Last Crossing by Brian McGilloway (Little, Brown Book Group, Constable)

Tony, Hugh and Karen thought they’d seen the last of each other thirty years ago. Half a lifetime has passed and memories have been buried. But when they are asked to reunite – to lay ghosts to rest for the good of the future – they all have their own reasons to agree. As they take the ferry from Northern Ireland to Scotland the past is brought into terrible focus – some things are impossible to leave behind. In The Last Crossing memory is unreliable, truth shifts and slips and the lingering legacy of the Troubles threatens the present once again.

Brian McGilloway is the author of eleven crime novels including the Ben Devlin mysteries and the Lucy Black series, the first of which, Little Girl Lost, became a New York Times and UK No.1 bestseller. In addition to being shortlisted for a CWA Dagger and the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, he is a past recipient of the Ulster University McCrea Literary Award and won the BBC Tony Doyle Award for his screenplay, Little Emperors. He currently teaches in Strabane, where he lives with his wife and four children.

“The contest for this year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award has been fiercely fought – a reflection of the outstanding quality of all the longlisted and shortlisted crime fiction published within the last year. I offer Chris Whitaker my hearty congratulations for clinching the title on his first ever nomination for his powerful and insightful We Begin at the End.”

Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston

“It’s a great pleasure to be associated with the world’s most famous celebration of crime writing and we’re thrilled the Theakston Old Peculier Festival is back this year in the flesh and better than ever. Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors for crime book of the year and especially to winner Chris Whitaker.”

Gary Jones, Express Editor-in-Chief

Special Presentations

Special presentations were also made to Ian Rankin OBE and Mark Billingham, the winners of the Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award for 2021 and 2020, respectively.

“It was an absolute pleasure to award crime fiction legends Ian Rankin and Mark Billingham with the Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award 2021 and 2020 respectively. They are two titans of crime fiction and richly deserving of this latest recognition of their mastery of the genre.”

Simon Theakston

It’s such a privilege and an honour to receive this award, and especially to be in Harrogate to receive it in person. I’ve been a published writer for over thirty years but this past year has been uniquely challenging – for writers, readers and booksellers. It’s heartening to see the Theakston Festival rise like a phoenix. Books continue to provide us with that wonderful mix of food for thought and escapism. I couldn’t be prouder to be a crime writer.”

Ian Rankin OBE, recipient of Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award 2021

It goes without saying that – presuming it’s not some sort of administrative error – this is an enormous honour. I’m as gobsmacked as I am grateful to be joining a list containing the likes of Ruth Rendell, PD James and Lee Child and while there are many individuals to whom I’m hugely indebted, first and foremost I want to say ‘thank you’ to the readers. Without them, there’s no point to any of it.”

Mark Billingham, recipient of Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award 2020

Special Guests and Programme

This year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival continues until Sunday at the Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate. Special Guests this year include Mark Billingham, Ann Cleeves, Elly Griffiths, Mick Herron, Clare Mackintosh, Val Mcdermid and Richard Osman, curated by Festival Programming Chair Ian Rankin OBE.

The award is run by Harrogate International Festivals sponsored by T&R Theakston Ltd, in partnership with WHSmith and the Express, and is open to full length crime novels published in paperback 1 May 2020 to 30 April 2021 by UK and Irish authors. The longlist was selected by an academy of crime writing authors, agents, editors, reviewers, members of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Committee, and representatives from T&R Theakston Ltd, the Express, and WHSmith.

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