Johnstone and Parry among McIlvanney Prize shortlistees

Johnstone and Parry among McIlvanney Prize shortlistees

Andrew James Grieg, Francine Toon and Doug Johnstone have made the final four in the running for Bloody Scotland's £1,000 McIlvanney Prize, with Johnstone reaching the finals for the third time in five years for A Dark Matter (Orenda). 

Also in the selection for their novel, The Art of Dying, is husband and wife team Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman, who work under the pseudonym Ambrose Parry. The couple were also finalists last year, and in 2016 Brookmyre won the prize with Black Widow

This year's judges, the Times Crime Club editor Karen Robinson, writer and broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove and chair of Publishing Scotland James Crawford, praised Grieg's novel Whirligig (Fledgling Press) for its "ambitious, innovative concept and the most intricate modus operandi for killing the victims of any book this year", describing it as "a real page turner".

Toon's work Pine (Transworld) , which is also shortlisted for the 2020 Bloody Scotland Debut Prize, was called an "impressive and atmospheric novel, with a portrait of remote rural Scotland, bringing in issues of school bullying, mental health and alcoholism". The panel judged it "very readable and engaging", and "beautifully written". 

Commenting on her shortlisting, Toon said: “To be shortlisted for the Scottish Crime Debut of the Year has been such an honour, but to also be a Finalist for the McIlvanney Prize is unbelievable. Five years ago, when I was in the Highlands at Halloween and had the idea for Pine, I never could have imagined something this amazing would happen.”

The winners will be revealed at 7pm on 18th September 2020, alongside the winner of the second Bloody Scotland Debut Prize. All the finalists are involved over the festival weekend, with Greig, Johnstone and Parry featuring on The Never-Ending Panel, Brookmyre and Johnstone participating in The Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers event and Toon contributing to the debut short story in association with new sponsors of the two prizes, the Glencairn Glass. 

Tickets to the festival are free, excluding masterclasses, and runs from 17th to 30th September. It  will also include events with Jo Nesbo, Attica Locke and Oyinkan Braithwaite.