The six authors on the Crime & Thriller shortlist range from massive brand names to début authors who entered the market with a big impact in 2020. While amateur- sleuth stories saw a rise in popularity, fan-favourite detectives held firm. All six titles were accompanied by massive digital campaigns and marketing strategies despite the impact of lockdown, resulting in record-breaking sales for the genre.
The fifth instalment of J K Rowling’s pseudonymous crime series was dubbed “intricate”, “engaging” and “memorable” by the judges for this category.
Troubled Blood saw the captivating detective duo Cormoran Strike and sidekick Robin Ellacott head to the Cornish coast to confront a serial killer at large and tackle Strike’s first cold case. The judges commended the “extremely intelligently crafted” plot and felt the pair’s “will-they-won’t they?” relationship brought an additional layer of interest that kept readers of the novel hooked.
The Sphere team set out to build the Robert Galbraith brand with a significant pre-awareness campaign featuring a series read-along, Kindle promotions, exclusive extracts and an international influencer outreach campaign via Instagram. As well as impressing the judges, the team’s work saw commercial success: the titled received a record 93,500 pre-orders.
The judges agreed that Troubled Blood is “the best in the series so far” and readers clearly thought so too: hardback sales were up 55% on the previous book, with the title selling just over 152,000 copies through Nielsen’s TCM, excluding lockdown-era sales.
Troubled Blood by Robert GalbraithSphere
The Sentinel by Lee Child and Andrew ChildBantam
The Patient Man by Joy EllisJoffe Books
The Guest List by Lucy FoleyHarperFiction
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard OsmanViking
A Song for the Dark Times by Ian RankinOrion Fiction