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Monday, 20 May 2019

Shortlist Announced for Crime Novel of the Year 2019
The shortlist for crime writing’s most wanted accolade, the
Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, has been announced.
The shortlist in full:
Belinda Bauer - Snap
Steve Cavanagh - Thirteen
Mick Herron - London Rules
Val McDermid - Broken Ground
Liam McIlvanney - The Quaker
Khurrum Rahman - East of Hounslow
The shortlisted six were whittled down from a longlist of 18 titles. The prize, now in its 15th year, was created to celebrate the very best in crime fiction.
Belinda Bauer, a previous winner of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award for her novel Rubbernecker in 2014, is shortlisted with her 2018 Man Booker longlisted, Snap.
Snap, which is inspired by the murder of a pregnant woman, Marie Wilks, on the M50 in 1988 (the real-life crime remains unsolved), became one of the very few crime-genre novels ever to be considered for the Man Booker prize. The judges described it as “an acute, stylish, intelligent novel about how we survive trauma.”
Bauer battles courtroom drama, Thirteen, by Steve Cavanagh, hailed by Ian Rankin for “plotting that takes the breath away.” Cavanagh is an Irish lawyer and author born and raised in Belfast. Thirteen offers an original twist on the courtroom thriller, where the serial killer isn’t on trial - he’s on the jury.
Both Mick Herron and Val McDermid were shortlisted for the 2018 Theakston Old Peculier Novel of the Year - the title went to Stav Sherez with The Intrusions.
McDermid last won Novel of the Year in 2006. The No.1 bestseller and ‘queen of crime’ could reclaim the title with her latest, Broken Ground. The Karen Pirie thriller digs up a secret buried for 70 years in a Highland peat bog and has been praised for its ‘masterly handling of pace and plot.’
Her novels have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold over 15 million copies. McDermid has won many awards including in 2016 the Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.
Mick Herron’s widely acclaimed Jackson Lamb novels have been shortlisted twice for the Crime Novel of the Year and London Rules puts him back in the running. London Rules is the fifth outing for the misfit disgraced band of spies at Slough House with the backdrop of Brexit Britain and a terror plot. Dubbed ‘the UK’s new spy master’ by the Sunday Times, Herron’s writing was praised by critic Barry Forshaw for, “the spycraft of le CarrĂ© refracted through the blackly comic vision of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.”
The Quaker by Liam McIllvanney has already scooped the 2018 McIlvanney Prize which was named to honour his father, the late ‘godfather of tartan noir’, William McIlvanney. Liam, an author and a professor of Scottish studies in New Zealand, set The Quaker in Glasgow in 1969 drawing on the real-life, never-caught serial murderer Bible John.
The only debut author on the list is that of Senior IT Officer turned novelist, Khurrum Rahman, with his first novel, East of Hounslow.  Mixing edgy humour and pulse-racing tension, Khurrum was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Debut Dagger Award 2018. East of Hounslow follows his young hero Jay, a dope dealer who ends up reluctantly working undercover for MI5 while undergoing radical Islamist training. Khurrum lives in Berkshire with his wife and two sons.
Shortlist titles will feature in a dedicated online campaign with WHSmith and a nationwide library promotion.
The overall winner will be decided by the panel of Judges, alongside a public vote. The public vote opens on 1 July and closes 14 July at
Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said: “All shortlisted authors are deserving of the title, but there’s only one Novel of the Year. The public vote will be invaluable, readers have real power, so I’d encourage everyone to make their voice heard - it’s free and simple to vote online. It will be fascinating to see which of these remarkable titles prevails, all are simply outstanding.”
The winner is announced on the opening night of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, on 18 July.
The winner will receive a £3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculier.
The awards ceremony, hosted by Mark Lawson, will also reveal the recipient of the 2019 Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award, who will join a roll-call of crime writing giants. Past recipients include Colin Dexter, Reginald Hill, PD James, Ruth Rendell, Lynda La Plante, Sara Paretsky, Val McDermid, Lee Child and John Grisham.
The award is run in partnership with T&R Theakston Ltd, WHSmith, and The Mail on Sunday.
For further media information please contact Ann Chadwick at Cause UK 07534892715
The winner will be announced at the Awards ceremony in Harrogate at the Old Swan Hotel at 8pm on Thursday 18 July 2019, hosted by acclaimed broadcaster Mark Lawson.
A cash prize of £3,000 will be provided for the winner. The winning author will also receive a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by
Theakston Old Peculier.
The winning title will feature in a 2-week campaign in WHSmith stores nationwide.
2005 – Lazy Bones by Mark Billingham
2006 – The Torment of Others by Val McDermid
2007 – Two Way Split by Allan Guthrie
2008 – The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney
2009 – Death Message by Mark Billingham
2010 - A Simple Act of Violence by RJ Ellory
2011 – 61 Hours by Lee Child
2012 – The End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina
2013 – Beasts and Gods, by Denise Mina
2014 – Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer
2015 – Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary
2016 – I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
2017 – Black Widow by Chris Brookmyre
2018 – The Intrusions by Stav Sherez

Friday, 17 May 2019

‘The Road to War’ by Peter Tonkin

Published 12 Feb 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-79627829-2 (PB)
The year is 712, two years after the murder of Julius Caesar. The power of Rome lays with Triumvirs Mark Antony and twenty-year-old Octavianus his adopted son and heir. Rome is in turmoil. Brutus and Cassius are their greatest enemies and their ships are blockading their ports, preventing them from sailing out and taking their revenge on the main instigators in Caesar's death.

Antony calls upon his top secret agent Artemidorus also known as Septem to find a way of clearing the enemies' fleet. Artemidorus gathers his trusty companions Ferrata a one eyed soldier, Puella a female soldier and Quintas a battle hardened legionnaire to help him. Together with Antony and his commanders they decide that they need the help of Cleopatra. If she can provide them with ships they will be able to defeat the enemy fleet. However Egypt has had no inundation of the Nile to fertilise the crops for two years causing widespread famine. Added to this it has led to a plague and people are dying in their thousands. Antony is concerned that Cleopatra may be reluctant to help them, she has enough problems of her own.

Artemidorus and his group are given the task of travelling to her and trying to persuade her to come to their aid. However this involves a perilous journey over land and sea and they encounter more than a few problems, even at one stage having to make out they are Brutus' men. Also, some people they think they can trust turn against them, with terrible consequences. Even if they manage to reach Cleopatra and persuade her to provide them with a fleet, what is the guarantee that they can help exact the revenge Anthony craves?

A really fascinating and historically interesting book. The details are so well written I almost felt I was there. It brought ancient Rome and the perilous times alive.

I see reading about the characters at the back of the book that many of the events described did actually take place.
Anyone interested in the history of the Roman Empire and those turbulent times will thoroughly enjoy this intriguing story. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Tricia Chappell

Peter Tonkin was born 1 January 1950 in Ulster, son of an RAF officer. He spent much of his youth travelling the world from one posting to another. He went to school at Portora Royal, Enniskillen and Palmer's, Grays. He sang, acted, and published poetry, winning the Jan Palac Memorial Prize in 1968. He studied English with Seamus Heaney at Queen's Belfast. His first novel, Killer, was published in 1978. His work has included the acclaimed "Mariner" series that have been critically compared with the best of Alistair MacLean, Desmond Bagley and Hammond Innes. More recently he has been working on a series of detective thrillers with an Elizabethan background.

Tricia Chappell. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.