Braithwaite, Mukherjee and Herron make Theakston shortlist

Braithwaite, Mukherjee and Herron make Theakston shortlist

Oyinkan Braithwaite, Abir Mukherjee and Mick Herron are among the writers shortlisted for this year's Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Prize.

The six-book list, which roams from London to Lagos, was chosen via a public vote and a selection of writers, publishers and agents. A public vote for the winner is now active at, with the champion to be revealed in a virtual awards ceremony on 23rd July. The winner will receive £3,000 and an engraved oak beer cask, hand-carved by one of Britain’s last coopers from Theakston's Brewery.

Braithwaite, picked as the Old Peculier Writing Festival's spotlight author last year by Val McDermid, is nominated for her debut novel My Sister, the Serial Killer (Atlantic). Inspired by the black widow spider, her book is a “a darkly comic exploration of sibling rivalry, exploring society’s feelings towards beauty and perfection”. 

Meanwhile, Herron picks up a fifth nomination with Joe Country (John Murray), the latest in his espionage series Slough House, currently being adapted for television with Gary Oldman taking on the role of Jackson Lamb.

Mukherjee's Smoke & Ashes (Vintage), set in Calcutta and described by the Times as one of the best crime novels since 1945, also gets the nod. Accountant turned bestseller Mukherjee was shortlisted in 2018 for the first book in the Wyndham & Banerjee series set in India during the Raj, A Rising Man (Harvil Secker). 

Helen Fitzgerald's Worst Case Scenario (Orenda), also makes the list. The book takes inspiration from Fitzgerald’s time as a criminal justice social worker in Glasgow’s Barlinnie Prison, alongside her experiences with depression and going through the menopause.

Also shortlisted is Adrian McKinty for The Chain (Orion), a thriller about parents being forced to kidnap children to save their own. McKinty penned it in an attempt to give writing one last go after being evicted and working as an Uber driver to make ends meet.

Completing the list is The Lost Man by former journalist Jane Harper (Little, Brown). Inspired by the Australian environment, the book explores how people live and die in the unforgiving Outback.

Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said: “Seeing the huge variety and originality within this shortlist, it comes as no surprise to hear that crime fiction is dominating our lockdown reading habits. Offering both escapism and resolution, these exceptional titles transport readers around the world and I can’t wait to see where we settle on 23rd July when one of these extraordinary authors takes home the 2020 Theakston Old Peculier cask.”

The award is run by Harrogate International Festivals and supported by T&R Theakston Ltd, W H Smith and the Express. The shortlist will be promoted in a dedicated online campaign from W H Smith, digital promotional materials will be made available for independent bookstores, and the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival’s online community You’re Booked will feature exclusive interviews and interactive content.