Crimefest unveils award nominees for 2020

Crimefest unveils award nominees for 2020

Crimefest has announced 2020's award nominees, including Alex Michaelides (pictured) and Holly Watt who are up for this year's inaugural Specsavers Debut Crime Novel Award.

Now in its 13th year, the awards honour the best crime books released in 2019 in the UK. Categories recognise e-books and audiobooks, humour, children and young adult crime fiction novels, with an aim, according to Adrian Muller, co-host of Crimefest, "to be the most inclusive of awards to reflect the values of our convention".

While Specsavers is the headline sponsor, awarding £1,000 for the Specsavers Debut Crime Novel Award, a further £1,000 prize fund will also be awarded for the Audible Sounds of Crime Award, which is sponsored by Audible UK. Eligible titles are submitted by publishers, and Audible UK listeners establish the shortlist and the winning title.

Laurence Howell, vice-president, Content at Audible, said it was a prize that is "very close to our heart and important for our members who are passionate fans of crime audiobooks". With congratulations to the nominees, he added that the crime and thriller genre remains one of its bestselling genres "because of the intimate, immersive nature of audiobooks". 

All other category winners, which are judged by panels of leading British crime fiction reviewers, receive a Bristol Blue Glass commemorative award.

The 2020 Crimefest Awards–previously due to be presented at a gala dinner during the convention at the Bristol Grand Mercure Hotel this June–will, in light of Covid-19, announce the winners online at and via its social media pages on Tuesday 7th July.

The shortlist for the Specsavers Crime Fiction Debut Award includes Holly Watt, who has already picked up the 2019 CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for her debut, To The Lions, and Alex Michaelides with The Silent Patient, which was a bestselling Richard and Judy Book Club pick. Other contenders are engineer Fiona Erskine’s Chemical Detective; Katja Ivar's Evil Things, which takes place in Finland at the height of the Cold War with the Soviet Union; Carolyn Kirby’s The Conviction of Cora Burns, which was longlisted for the HWA debut crown award; and Laura Shepherd-Robinson's Blood & Sugar, set in 1781 amid the British slavery industry.

Up for the Audible Sounds of Crime Award meanwhile are novels including Kate Atkinson’s Big Sky, read by Jackson Brodie actor Jason Isaacs; Lee Child’s Blue Moon narrated by Jeff Harding; and The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, featuring Sherlock actress Louise Brealey and Jack Hawkins. Oyinkan Braithwaite’s Booker-longlisted My Sister, The Serial Killer is in the running too, for the audiobook read by the British-Nigerian actor Weruche Opia, alongside Alex Callister’s Winter Dark, The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell, T M Logan’s The Holiday, and Peter May’s The Man with No Face.

The full shortlists are: 


  •  Fiona Erskine for The Chemical Detective (Point Blank)
  •  Katja Ivar for Evil Things (Bitter Lemon Press)
  • Carolyn Kirby for The Conviction of Cora Burns (No Exit Press)
  • Alex Michaelides for The Silent Patient (Orion Fiction)
  • Laura Shepherd-Robinson for Blood & Sugar (Mantle)
  • Holly Watt for To The Lions (Raven Books)


  • Kate Atkinson for Big Sky narrated by Jason Isaacs (Penguin Random House Audio)
  • Oyinkan Braithwaite for My Sister, the Serial Killer narrated by Weruche Opia (W F Howes)
  • Alex Callister for Winter Dark narrated by Ell Potter (Audible Studios)
  • Lee Child for Blue Moon narrated by Jeff Harding (Penguin Random House Audio)
  • Lisa Jewell for The Family Upstairs narrated by Tamaryn Payne, Bea Holland, Dominic Thorburn (Penguin Random House Audio)
  • T M Logan for The Holiday narrated by Laura Kirman (Zaffre)
  • Peter May for The Man with No Face narrated by Peter Forbes (Quercus, Fiction)
  • Alex Michaelides for The Silent Patient narrated by Louise Brealey, Jack Hawkins (Orion)


  • Ursula Buchan for Beyond The Thirty-Nine Steps (Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • John Curran for The Hooded Gunman (HarperCollins Crime Club)
  • Barry Forshaw for Crime Fiction: A Reader's Guide (No Exit Press)


  • William Boyle for A Friend is a Gift you Give Yourself (No Exit Press)
  • Hannah Dennison for Tidings of Death at Honeychurch Hall (Constable)
  • Helen FitzGerald for Worst Case Scenario (Orenda Books)
  • Christopher Fowler for Bryant & May - The Lonely Hour (Transworld)
  • Antti Tuomainen for Little Siberia (Orenda Books)
  • L C Tyler for The Maltese Herring (Allison & Busby)


  • Helen FitzGerald for Worst Case Scenario (Orenda Books)
  • Sarah Hilary for Never Be Broken (Headline)
  • Andrew Taylor for The King's Evil (HarperFiction)
  • L C Tyler for The Maltese Herring (Allison & Busby)
  • Holly Watt for To The Lions (Raven Books)
  • Don Winslow for The Border (HarperFiction)


  • P G Bell for The Great Brain Robbery (Usborne Publishing)
  • Vivian French for The Steam Whistle Theatre Company (Walker Books)
  • Sophie Green for Potkin and Stubbs (Bonnier Books)
  • A.M. Howell for The Garden of Lost Secrets (Usborne Publishing)
  • Simon Lelic for The Haven (Hodder Children's Books)
  • Thomas Taylor for Malamander (Walker Books)


  • Kathryn Evans for Beauty Sleep (Usborne Publishing)
  • John Grisham for Theodore Boone: The Accomplice (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Samuel J Halpin for The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods (Usborne Publishing)
  • Simon Mason for Hey Sherlock! (David Fickling Books)
  • Tom Pollock for Heartstream (Walker Books)
  • Nikesh Shukla for The Boxer (Hodder Children's Books)