Theakstons of Masham is probably most famous for its beer Old Peculier. A unique beer with a worldwide reputation, Old Peculier is in a class of its own, there is no other beer like it and therefore in presenting the beer as a brand to consumers it is always deliberately positioned in a way to reflect its unique status. The association with the world's greatest Crime Festival is a perfect example of this. But there are other parallels that can be drawn.

When the sponsorship of the Festival was first proposed, a small conundrum was presented. In what way can we further associate drinking Old Peculier with reading a crime novel. This was tackled in the way that only these things can be done - with a glass of Old Peculier whilst in contemplatory mood with a little time on one's hands. The striking initial taste sensation soon developed into something magnificent as the full flavour of the beer opened out in all its glory with rich warming fruity full bodied resonance before mellowing into a deeply satisfying finish. That was the Eureka moment! The perfect Crime novel does not have the 'whodunit' on page one. After a gripping opening scene the reader is drawn into the story with all its facets, experiencing, the characters, the plotting, the scenes and only at the end of the book, when the conclusion has been reached, the reader will then experience the satisfaction of the mystery solved.  The parallels between drinking Old Peculier and good crime novel became immediately obvious!

Two additional elements linking the beer with the festival were firstly, the close proximity of Masham, the Yorkshire dales market town in which Theakstons have brewed for over 186 years, to the spa town of Harrogate, the home of the International Festival. Second, the Crime Writers Festival draws fans from all over the world and in particular from the United States, with many coming to enjoy the four day festival in Harrogate.

Similarly, Old Peculier is sold in many countries all over the world but in particular in the United States. By linking all these facts together, a great platform for joint promotion was created and the justification for the sponsorship complete.

Theakston Old Peculier has been the title sponsor of the Crime Writing Festival almost from day one. The status of the Festival in the world of publishing grows in stature year after year, greatly enhanced by the introduction of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award launched in 2006. The awareness of the Old Peculier brand continues to be one of the highest of all beers in the UK and is widely considered to be one of the world iconic beers. On the back label of each bottle of Old Peculier there is one of a series of six ten-word crime stories written by renowned crime authors, acting as a constant reminder of this unique and successful association.

2016 Short List

The shortlist for crime writing’s most wanted accolade, the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, has been announced.

Celebrating its twelfth year, the Awards feature six titles whittled down from a longlist of 18 crime novels published by British and Irish authors whose novels were published in paperback from 1 May 2015 to 18 April 2016.

The 2016 Award is run in partnership with T&R Theakston Ltd, WHSmith, and The Radio Times.

The shortlist in full:

  • Time Of Death – Mark Billingham
  • Career Of Evil – Robert Galbraith
  • Tell No Tales – Eva Dolan
  • Disclaimer – Renee Knight
  • I Let You Go – Clare Mackintosh
  • Rain Dogs – Adrian McKinty


Two debut novels make the shortlist. Renee Knight’s debut, Disclaimer, has been pitched as the new Gone Girl. The former TV documentary maker spent a decade writing film scripts, with her first novel turned down by every publisher, but persisted to write Disclaimer, a Sunday Times No. 1 bestseller, whose overseas rights have been sold in 35 countries and to Fox Searchlight.

Clare Mackintosh first thriller I Let You Go was one of the fastest selling titles of 2015 and became a Sunday Times bestseller and a Richard & Judy book club winner. Clare spent twelve years in the police force, including time on CID, and as a public order commander. She left the police in 2011 and now writes full time. I Let You Go sold over half a million copies and rights have been sold to 29 countries.

Robert Galbraith’s Career of Evil – the third novel in the Cormoran Strike series – was lauded by the critics and a number one bestseller in both hardback and paperback. With the Cormoran Strike novels in the process of being adapted for a major new television series for BBC One, J.K. Rowling’s crime pseudonym has well and truly made his mark in the genre.

Mark Billingham could make it a hat-trick after winning the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award in 2005 and 2009. A stalwart of the genre, Time of Death is the astonishing thirteenth Tom Thorne novel – a story of kidnapping, the tabloid press, and a frightening case of mistaken identity. The novel is currently in adaptation with BBC Drama North.

Rain Dogs is book five in the critically-acclaimed Sean Duffy Thriller series set in 1980s Belfast by Northern Irish writer, Adrian McKinty. McKinty was shortlisted for the Steel Dagger in 2004 and has since been nominated for multiple awards in the UK, USA, France and Australia. He won the Ned Kelly Award in 2014 for Sean Duffy book three and book four was nominated for an Edgar in 2016. He currently lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Eva Dolan’s Tell No Tales is the second book from the author BBC Radio 4 marked as ‘a rising star of crime fiction’. Shortlisted for the CWA Dagger for unpublished authors when she was just a teenager, her debut novel Long Way Home, was the start of a major new crime series starring two detectives from the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit. Tell No Tales focuses on murdered migrants and racial tension.

The award ceremony will be hosted by broadcaster Mark Lawson on 21 July on the opening night of the 14th Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.

Executive Director of T&R Theakston Ltd and Judge, Simon Theakston, said: “It’s a remarkable shortlist that shows the crime genre shapes our cultural landscape and dominates publishing.”

The winner will receive a £3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade, engraved oak beer cask made by Theakston Old Peculier.

Gemma Rowland, Operations Manager at Harrogate International Festivals, the arts organisation that delivers the festival, said: “2016’s winner will join the list of game changing authors who have won one of the most coveted awards over the last decade, including Denise Mina, Lee Child, and Sarah Hilary. The public’s vote is incredibly important as ultimately readers decide when it comes to judging a book’s worth, so I’d encourage everyone to make their voice heard – it’s free and simple to vote online.”

The overall winner will be decided by a panel of Judges*, alongside the public vote. The public vote opens on 1 July and closes 15 July at

Also on the night, Val McDermid will receive the Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award, joining past winners Sara Paretsky, Lynda La Plante, Ruth Rendell, PD James, Colin Dexter and Reginald Hill.

Simon added: “We’re particularly delighted to be honouring Val McDermid this year. On a personal note, Val had the vision to create this Festival with Harrogate International Festivals back in 2003. Thanks to her far-reaching passion and generosity for crime fiction – for writers and readers alike – it has become the biggest celebration of the genre in the world. As a writer, she is rightfully known as the Queen of Crime. Val is very deserving of this accolade in the pantheon of legendary crime authors.


The Short List

Time of Death - Mark Billingham


DI Tom Thorne returns in a chilling mystery that will keep readers guessing until the final page. Time of Death is Mark Billingham's most timely, atmospheric thriller to date. The Missing Two schoolgirls are abducted in the small, dying Warwickshire town of Polesford, driving a knife into the heart of the community where police officer Helen Weeks grew up and from which she long ago escaped. But this is a place full of secrets, where dangerous truths lie buried. The Accused When it's splashed all over the press that family man Stephen Bates has been arrested, Helen and her partner Tom Thorne head to the flooded town to support Bates' wife - an old school friend of Helen's - who is living under siege with two teenage children and convinced of her husband's innocence. The Dead As residents and media bay for Bates' blood, a decomposing body is found. The police believe they have their murderer in custody, but one man believes otherwise. With a girl still missing, Thorne sets himself on a collision course with local police, townsfolk - and a merciless killer.


Career of Evil - Robert Galbraith


When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman's severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible - and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality. With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them...A fiendishly clever mystery with unexpected twists around every corner, Career of Evil is also a gripping story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives. You will not be able to put this book down.


Tell No Tales - Eva Dolan


Two men are kicked to death in brutal attacks. Caught on CCTV, the murderer hides his face - but raises a Nazi salute. In a town riddled with racial tension, Detectives Zigic and Ferreira from the Hate Crimes Unit are under pressure to find the killer. But when a car ploughs into a bus stop early one morning, the Detectives have another case on their hands, and soon the media are hounding them for answers. Riots break out, the leader of right-wing party steps into the spotlight, and Zigic and Ferreira must act fast - before more violence erupts. "Powerful." (Sunday Times). "Breathlessly exciting." (Sunday Mirror). "Gritty." (Daily Express). "Everyone should read this." (Sarah Hilary). "A rising star of crime fiction." (BBC Radio 4 Front Row). "Frightening in its believability." (Big Issue).


Disclaimer - Renee Knight


Imagine if the next thriller you opened was all about you.  When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine's bedside table, she curls up and begins to read. But as she turns the pages she is horrified to realize she is a key character, a main player. This story will reveal her darkest secret. A secret she thought no one else knew...

"An addictive novel with shades of Gone Girl." - Sunday Times


I Let You Go - Clare Mackintosh


THE SENSATIONAL SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn't have prevented it. Could she? In a split second, Jenna Gray's world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever. Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating ...

writes full time. I Let You Go sold over half a million copies and rights have been sold to 29 countries.


Rain Dogs - Adrian McKinty


'McKinty's Troubles-set tales of sarky Belfast cop Sean Duffy are becoming one of the great crime series ...Brilliant!' - THE SUN 'It blew my doors off' - IAN RANKIN SPINETINGLER AWARD WINNER NED KELLY AWARD WINNER STEEL DAGGER AWARD SHORTLISTED It's just the same things over and again for Sean Duffy. Riot duty. Heartbreak. Cases he can solve but never get to court. But what detective gets two locked room mysteries in one career? When journalist Lily Bigelow is found dead in the courtyard of Carrickfergus castle, it looks like a suicide. But there are just a few things that bother Duffy enough to keep the case file open. Which is how he finds out that she was working on a devastating investigation of corruption and abuse at the highest levels of power in the UK and beyond. And so Duffy has two impossible problems on his desk: who killed Lily Bigelow? And what were they trying to hide? BOOK 5 IN THE DETECTIVE SEAN DUFFY SERIES


The 2016 Longlist







2016 Events

2016 Theakstons Old Peculier
Crime Writing Festival Programme

Box Office: 01423 562303 |

Creative Thursday

Thursday 21 July | 9am – 5.30pm | £99 per person

A day-long series of crime fiction creative writing workshops focusing on how to get published.
The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival’s creative writing course for aspiring writers. Creative Thursday gives you the chance to hone your writing skills with industry professionals and real-life crime experts.

2016 programme includes:

- Intensive Writing Workshop: How To Write a WhyDunnit

The psychological thriller is nothing new, although its popularity is soaring. But what elements distinguish a “WhyDunnit” within the broad and varied world of crime fiction? And how do yougo about writing a successful thriller where the focus is ondrama rather than punishment, and where the culprits and victims take centre stage? Award-winning writers Sarah Hilary and Alex Marwood talk you through the basics from their very different perspectives. Expect insider secrets, and tips ongetting published.


- Intensive Writing Workshop: Psyche your Character

This session with Danuta Kean will enable you to get deep under the skin of your characters. You will experiment with your own characters, creating full, plausible people with deep back-story and related character traits. You will examine the pit-falls of over-writing a character’s quirks and issues, while finding creative ways to show and not tell the array of possibilities that an understanding of human psychology can generate.


- Intensive Writing Workshop: Turning Good Ideas into Commercial Crime Novels

William Ryan and M.R. Hall will deliver a workshop aimed at writers who have completed or are working on a first draft and want to take it to the next level and for beginners aiming to turn promising ideas into great novels. Focusing on how to construct and test a solid crime fiction plot, how to make sure your characters are working together to push your story forward, how to ensure each chapter develops the story while delivering drama and tension and how to sell your book with a great opening scene.


- The Dragons’ Pen

Four brilliant publishing professionals. Two minutes to convince them your synopsis and first chapter are worth reading. One audience full of your fellow would-be writers. Our literary version of the popular TV show, the Dragons’ Den, is not for the faint-hearted.


Thursday 21 July 2016

Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year & Festival Opening Party

The six authors shortlisted for the prestigious prize battle it out for supremacy. Broadcaster Mark Lawson hosts as the 2016 award is presented to the lucky winner.

8.00pm | Tickets: £16


 Friday 22 July 2016


Special Guest: Linwood Barclay interviewed by Mark Billingham

The American-born Canadian Linwood Barclay, a former journalist and columnist, is the bestselling author of 13 detective novels including Trust Your Eyes, A Tap on the Window and No Time for Goodbye. He’ll be put under the forensic spotlight by bestselling crime writer Mark Billingham.

9.00am | Tickets: £13

You Couldn’t Make It Up. Or Could You?…

Does life imitate art far more than art imitates life? Peter James discusses the role of real life cases with former Chief Superintendent Graham Bartlett and authors Sharon Bolton, Mari Hannah and Ysra Sigurdardottir.

10.30am | Tickets: £10


Domestic Suspense – The Killer Behind The Front Door

Home is where the heart is… and where the bread knives live! Join Julia Crouch, Helen Fitzgerald, Paula Hawkins, Clare Mackintosh and Alex Marwood, for a focus on grip lit.

12.00pm | Tickets: £10

Is the Legacy Of The Golden Age Still Alive?

Ah, those were the days. Weren’t they? Reminisce with our ‘cosy crime’ panel featuring Simon Brett, Frances Brody, Ann Granger, Catriona McPherson and Ruth Ware.

2.00pm | Tickets: £10

Set A Scientist To Catch A Killer

Forensics has transformed detecting crimes. Taking the genre from the puzzle in the library to the minutia under the microscope will be Dave Gaylor, Elly Griffiths, Peter James, Haydn Kelly, Brooke Magnanti and Kate Medina.

3.30pm | Tickets: £10

From Book to Stage and Screen

How do bestsellers translate to different mediums? Find out with playwright Shaun McKenna and actors Robert Daws and Jamie Lomas.

5.00pm | Tickets: £13

Dead Good Reader Awards

Join Dead Good for drinks as they present the Reader Awards as voted for by you. Best Series, Favourite Classic and Tantalising Twist are up for grabs with all attendees walking away with a goody bag full of this season’s best crime novels

6.30pm | Tickets £12

Special Guest: Val McDermid In Conversation with Susan Calman

Continuing the success of injecting comedians into the mix, ‘Queen of Crime’ and co-founder of the Festival Val McDermid will be In Conversation with comedian Susan Calman, a familiar face on shows such as Have I Got News for You, 8 out of 10 Cats and Would I Lie to You.

8.30pm | Tickets: £13

The Hard Yards

How many years does it take to become an overnight success? Talking about their journey up, and staying on top of, that greasy pole, join Sophie Hannah, Simon Kernick, Laura Lippman, Martyn Waites and Laura Wilson.

10.00pm | Tickets: £10






Saturday 23 July 2016


Special Guest: Jeffery Deaver interviewed by Mark Lawson

Jeffery Deaver, the award winning author of 33 internationally bestselling novels, will be interviewed by broadcaster and author Mark Lawson. One of the world’s most successful thriller writers, Deaver is best known for his Lincoln Rhyme thrillers.

9.00am | Tickets: £13

Special Guest: Gerald Seymour interviewed by Joe Haddow

Gerald Seymour was a high-profile reporter and foreign correspondent at ITN before becoming an acclaimed novelist. His ground-breaking thriller Harry’s Game was an instant hit in 1975; he recently published his 32nd book, No Mortal Thing. Joe Haddow, Producer of the BBC Radio 2 Book Club, interviews.

10.30am | Tickets: £13

New Blood

Val McDermid introduces her pick of the four sparkling new talents of 2016 – Martin Holmen (Clinch), JS Law (Tenacity) Beth Lewis (The Wolf Road) and Abir Mukherjee (A Rising Man).

12.00pm | Tickets: £10

Murder Out of Africa

Homicide figures in South Africa are akin to a country at war. NJ Cooper, Paul Mendelson, Deon Meyer, Margie Orford, Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip navigate the heart of South Africa’s darkness.

2.00pm | Tickets: £10

France Noir - Le Roman Policier

The French have a certain je ne sais quoi, when it comes to the crime genre. Authors Pierre Lemaitre, Bernard Minier and SJ Parris will transport France to Harrogate with chair Barry Forshaw.

3.30pm | Tickets : £10

Special Guests – Martina Cole In Conversation with Peter James

Programming chair Peter James, CWA Diamond Dagger Award winner and ‘King of the police procedural’ best known for his Roy Grace detective series, will be In Conversation with hard-hitting author Martina Cole, the first British female novelist for adult audiences to surpass the £50 million sales mark.

5.00pm | Tickets: £13

Kill me Quick

Roll-up your trousers, pop on some sun cream…* No.1 bestselling author Peter James is bringing the dark side of Brighton to Harrogate. Creator of the unstoppable Detective Roy Grace will host an evening of seaside themed food and fun. Includes 2 course murder mystery dinner and a glass of wine

6.15pm | Tickets: £30

Special Guest: Tess Gerritsen

Tess Gerritsen, a physician turned author dubbed the ‘medical suspense queen’, is published in 40 countries with more than 30 million copies of her books sold worldwide.

8.30pm | Tickets: £13

Late Night Quiz

Test your criminal knowledge with quiz masters Val McDermid and Mark Billingham and vie to get your hands on the coveted quiz cup!

10.00pm | Tickets: £10

Sunday 24 July 2016


Political Corruption

Everyone loves a scandal - except the victims! Charles Cumming, Frank Gardner, Mark Lawson, Kate Rhodes and Gillian Slovo explore how the world of politicians has become rich fodder for the crime genre.

10.00am | Tickets: £10

Special Guest: Neil Cross on Luther

Award-winning novelist and screenwriter Neil Cross is best-known as the creator of the international hit BBC series, Luther, starring Idris Elba, as well as a writer on Spooks and Doctor Who.

11.30am | Tickets: £13


Friday 22 July

Join the Thin Blue Spine team and experts from Think Forensic for a Forensics Experience.

Visit a crime scene, gather the evidence and examine it using real techniques such as fingerprint lifting, shoeprints and hair and fibre analysis.


Saturday 23 July

Join the Crime Files team and their authors at the Sperry Tent on as they travel around the

world with some of the biggest names in crime and thriller fiction.

Festival Weekend Break Packages:

Make The Perfect Getaway!

Treat yourself to a long weekend at the crime hot spot of the summer by booking a combined ticket and accommodation package. Stay in one of our specially selected Festival hotels and join over 80 of the world’s most celebrated crime authors in conversation, in action and in the bar!


Weekend Break packages include 3 nights’ accommodation and a Weekend Rover ticket, start from only £350 per person.


For details:

Box Office: 01423 562 303 Email:


Weekend Rover Ticket

Indulge your criminal tendencies and get great value for money with a Festival Rover ticket:

Weekend Rovers include:

- Access to all Festival events* from 8pm on Thursday 21 July to 12.30pm on Sunday 24 July.

- Delicious lunches at the Old Swan Hotel on Friday and Saturday

- A complimentary Festival goody bag

Price: £220 per person

Day Rover Ticket

Day Rovers include:

- Access to all Festival events* throughout the day

- A delicious lunch at the Old Swan Hotel

- A complimentary Festival goody bag

Friday Rover (22 July) - £94 per person

Saturday Rover (23 July) - £88 per person


Phone: 01423 563 303
In Person: Harrogate International Festivals, 32 Cheltenham parade, Harrogate, HG1 1DB

Opening Times: Monday – Friday, 10am – 5pm

Payment: Please note that all bookings are subject to a £1.75 transaction fee. A £1 fee is charged for postal orders, or we offer free ticket collection.










Past Winners


Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year  -  Denise Mina, with Simon Theakston and Jonathan Manby

Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year - Gods and Beasts by Denise Mina

Outstanding Contribution Award - Ruth Rendall



Outstanding Contribution Award - Colin Dexter

Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year - The End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina


Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year - 61 Hours by Lee Child

Outstanding Contribution Winner - PD James