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 190 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.

2017 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 15th 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 2016 to 30 April 2017.

2016’s event sold-out with 14,000 individual tickets over four days. Cited as one of the UK’s top literary festivals in the Guardian and Elle magazine, the 2016 Festival reached 8.2 million Twitter users, with 35.9 million impressions during the week of July. The event, known as the friendliest and most inclusive on the circuit, is famed for its no barriers approach, as fans, fledgling writers and established superstar authors mingle in the hotel bar, bookshop and papakata tents in the hotel grounds.

The 2017 Award is run in partnership with T&R Theakston Ltd, WHSmith, and The Mail on Sunday.

The shortlist in full:

  • Real Tigers - Mick Herron
  • Lie With Me - Sabine Durrant
  • Out of Bounds - Val McDermid
  • Missing, Presumed - Susie Steiner
  • After You Die - Eva Dolan
  • Black Widow - Chris Brookmyre

The Short List

Black Widow - Chris Brookmyre


Diana Jager is clever, strong and successful, a skilled surgeon and fierce campaigner via her blog about sexism. Yet it takes only hours for her life to crumble when her personal details are released on the internet as revenge for her writing.

Then she meets Peter. He’s kind, generous, and knows nothing about her past: the second chance she’s been waiting for. Within six months, they are married. Within six more, Peter is dead in a road accident, a nightmare end to their fairytale romance.

But Peter’s sister Lucy doesn’t believe in fairytales, and tasks maverick reporter Jack Parlabane with discovering the dark truth behind the woman the media is calling Black Widow

Eva Dolan - After You Die


DS Ferreira is back on the force after being severely injured in the line of duty. The first case to land on her desk takes her and DI Zigic to a brutal crime scene where a woman has been stabbed to death and her disabled daughter left to starve upstairs.

The murdered woman is Dawn Prentice – a woman who had come to Ferreira for help when she and her daughter were being subjected to harassment.

As Ferreira battles her demons and Zigic clashes with another officer, the detectives realise that the Prentice case rests on one crucial question – who was the real target of the killer: mother or daughter?

Real Tigers - Mick Herron


Catherine Standish knows that chance encounters never happen to spooks. She’s worked in the Intelligence Service long enough to understand treachery, double-dealing and stabbing in the back. What she doesn’t know is why anyone would target her: a recovering drunk pushing paper with the other lost causes in Jackson Lamb’s kingdom of exiles at Slough House.

Whoever it is holding her hostage, it can’t be personal. It must be about Slough House. Most likely, it is about Jackson Lamb.

And say what you like about Lamb, he’ll never leave a joe in the lurch. He might even be someone you could trust with your life . 

Out of Bounds - Val McDermid


When a teenage joyrider crashes a stolen car and ends up in a coma, a routine DNA test could be the key to unlocking the mystery of a twenty-year-old murder inquiry. Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is an expert at solving the unsolvable. With each cold case closed, justice is served. So, finding the answer should be straightforward, but it’s as twisted as the DNA helix itself.

Meanwhile Karen finds herself irresistibly drawn to another case, one that she has no business investigating. And as she pieces together decades-old evidence, Karen discovers the most dangerous kinds of secrets. Secrets that someone is willing to kill for . . .

Lie with Me - Sabine Durrant


A few little lies never hurt anyone. Right?


Paul has a plan. He has a vision of a better future, and he’s going to make it happen. If it means hiding or exaggerating a few things here and there, no harm done.

But when he charms his way on to a family holiday, and finds himself trapped among tensions and emotions he doesn’t understand, by the time he starts to realise that however painful the truth is, it’s the lies that cause the real damage… Well, by then, it might just be too late.

Rain Dogs - Adrian McKinty


Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

Edith Hind is gone, leaving just her coat, a smear of blood and a half-open door.

Each of her friends and relatives has a version of the truth. But none quite adds up.

The press grows hungrier by the day. Can DS Manon Bradshaw fend them off, before a missing persons case becomes a murder investigation?


The 2017 Longlist







2017 Events

2017 Theakstons Old Peculier
Crime Writing Festival Programme

Box Office: 01423 562303 |

2017’s Programming Chair Elly Griffiths has put together a world-class programme of events, including titans of the genre Lee Child, Ian Rankin, Kathy Reichs, Stuart MacBride, Peter May and Arne Dahl as well as an exclusive Vera TV event with Ann Cleeves, actors Brenda Blethyn and Kenny Doughty and BBC’s Steph McGovern.

Thursday 20 July 2017

Creative Thursday 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.

2017 programme includes:

Plotting the Murder: How to Create an Engaging Crime Story- 2 hr Intensive Writing Workshop
Lesley Thomson and Greg Mosse will work with you to create an original collaborative plot, including a set of plausible suspects, a logical method of murder and a convincing wider world. In the process, they will illustrate the many ways a writer can create suspense and intrigue through the revelation of character and unexpected events. They will draw on Lesley’s superbly plotted crime novels and Greg’s long experience as editor and script consultant. As Greg says: ‘The reader is more interested in what they do not know than what they do.’


How to Create Pace and Suspense – 2 hr Intensive Writing Workshop
Whether a procedural or a psychological thriller, crime fiction is enthused with craft. All crime novels rely on key components, not least – plot, character, events, setting and prose style. It’s how you mix them together and structure a novel that will determine reader engagement and entertainment. With a close look at timelines and narrative perspective, and just when to turn a corner, the mysteries of generating suspense will be revealed. Henry Sutton is the author of ten novels, most recently Time to Win under the pseudonym Harry Brett and is Senior Lecturer of Creative Writing and Director of the new Crime Fiction MA at UEA. Louise Welsh is the author of eight novels, most recently No Dominion. She is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow.
How To Free Your Creativity and Get Started – 1 hr Writing Workshop
A unique seminar – part nuts-and-bolts talk, part creative workshop with exercises – from Stephen King’s British editor and Neuro-Linguistic Programming Coach Philippa Pride. Philippa is described by Hodder as having ‘a reputation as a talented spotter of new fiction, a creative editor with flair and vision, a nurturer of writers’ careers and a terrific champion of her authors both inside the business and to the outside world’. This inspirational hour will include insights into…
How to free your creativity, access your ideas and get started on your book
The value of reading like a writer
Whether to plan your novel before you start or just fly by the seat of your pants
Drawing on NLP to create compelling characters
The power of the senses – smelling a crime
How to switch off your inner critic and get in flow on cue
Setting goals and a writing schedule to suit your life
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.



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 2017 award is presented to the lucky winner.

The Old Swan Hotel | Harrogate 8.00pm | Tickets: £17


 Friday 21 July 2017


Lee Child

The world, more than ever, needs a hero. To win fights, charm women and outsmart the baddies. We’re not talking the debonair, charismatic Lee Child, of course, but his creation, who made the author a ‘billion-dollar brand’. Lee named his hero after his own ability to reach the top shelf in supermarkets for little old ladies: Jack Reacher. At 6 foot 5, the giant dude propelled Lee to the top of bestseller lists worldwide’, with a jaw-dropping 100 million books sold worldwide. The press dubbed Reacher ‘both Schwarzenegger and Socrates’. Throw in Tom Cruise and you have a massive film success though those top shelves are probably safe.

Pack your pocket toothbrush, and get ready to experience the genre’s blockbusting phenomenon, as Lee celebrates his 21st Reacher thriller, The Night School..

9.00am | Tickets: £14

Double Indemnity

Order!! Why are lawyers, allegedly, so good at murder? (In the pages of fiction of course). Legal eagles turned literary high-flyers are in the dock.
Alafair Burke grew up in the shadow of a neighbourhood serial killer and found justice in the pages of crime books. Her novels were born of her experience as a prosecutor in America’s courts. Guilty as charged, Denise Mina studied at Glasgow University Law School before becoming an award-winning novelist. She has twice been the winner of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. Belfast’s Steve Cavanagh was an investigator for a large law firm, before moving to focus on civil rights law. His debut novel, The Defence, was the subject of an international bidding war.A prolific screenwriter and novelist, Matthew Hall practised as a barrister before becoming a full-time writer, starting with episodes of Kavanagh QC. Order is restored by chair, the solicitor and author, Martin Edwards.

10.30am | Tickets: £11


The Dark Side

How do you write believable crime fiction that also features the unknown? Putting the peculiar into Theakston Old Peculier, crime gets creepy as authors explore how the supernatural pushes boundaries.

12.00pm | Tickets: £11

Readers’ Book Group

The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival will be on tour this Summer with the 9th Big Read. These free reading group events will be led by award-winning author Mari Hannah, delving into the world of Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus novel ‘Black and Blue’.  Free copies of the book will be available in advance.

1.00pm | Free

Ashes to Ashes

Why is the past so fashionable again? Historical crime novelists explore timeless questions.
Super sleuth of the past is music journo-turned-crime author, William Shaw, who sets his Breen and Tozer books in the swinging sixties. Antonia Hodgson (who was born the year Hunky Dory was released) won the CWA Historical Dagger for her first novel, The Devil in the Marshalsea. SG MacLean has a PhD in history and a growing New Model Army of fans for her Seeker series set in Oliver Cromwell’s London. Graeme Macrae Burnet is one of Scotland’s brightest literary talents. His Bloody Project was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016. Master of the past’s dark secrets, Robert Goddard, chairs

2.00pm | Tickets: £11

Endearing Monsters

Being liked is so over-rated. “Give Paul a comb-over, and we could be talking Donald Trump,” says Richard and Judy of Sabine Durrant’s ‘slimy lead’ protagonist in Lie with Me. Stav Sherez says, ‘cruelty, horror and atrocity obsess me’. His latest, The Intrusions, was dubbed by Ian Rankin as ‘A Silence of the Lambs for the internet age.’ Mick Herron’s anti-hero, Jackson Lamb, has been compared to Reginald Hill’s Andy Dalziel, as ‘crime fiction’s Falstaff, a glorious Rabelaisian monster.’ Shari Lapena’s, strapline for her thriller, The Couple Next Door, asks, ‘What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?’ Chair Julia Crouch, keeps the lid on proceedings; Her Husband’s Lover left readers constantly wrong-footed in deciding which of her characters deserved sympathy. When it comes to murderously good crime writing, it’s the monsters we love to hate.

3.30pm | Tickets: £11

TV Panel: Grantchester

James Runcie is a director, documentary film-maker, literary curator, founder member of The Late Show and author of the fifties-set crime drama, The Grantchester Mysteries, inspired by his father, the late Archbishop of Canterbury. Fittingly, Grantchester is a thoughtful, handsome moral meditation on life, subverted by gentle comedy, old fashioned romance and the dark psychology of murder. Sidney Chambers is a man of the cloth, with a taste for whisky, jazz and pretty parishioners, who solves crimes with Detective Inspector Geordie Keating, played by Robson Green. Green, with eyes so blue, is known to a certain generation for the singing-duo Robson and Jerome and to younger ones, for Extreme Fishing. The crime genre has given him his finest acting roles, firstly as Dr Tony Hill in Val McDermid’s Wire in the Blood and now in ITV’s adaptation of Grantchester.

5.00pm | Tickets £14

Dead Good Reader Awards

Join Dead Good for drinks as they present the Reader Awards as voted for by you. Best Police Procedural, Unreliable Narrator and Fearless Female Character are up for grabs with all attendees walking away with a goody bag full of this season’s best crime novels

6.00pm | Tickets: £12

Kathy Reichs

From teaching FBI agents how to detect and recover human remains to separating and identifying commingled body parts in her Montreal lab, as one of only seventy-seven forensic anthropologists ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, Dr Kathy Reichs has brought her own dramatic work experience to her mesmerising forensic thrillers. Kathy has travelled to Rwanda to testify at the UN Tribunal on Genocide, and helped exhume a mass grave in Guatemala. She has also worked on the identification of war dead from World War II, Korea and Southeast Asia. Her novel Déjà Dead catapulted her to fame when it became a New York Times bestseller. She is also a producer of the chilling hit TV series Bones. Kathy has written seventeen bestsellers featuring Dr Temperance Brennan, the most recent being Bones Never Lie. She has also written four bestsellers featuring Tory Brennan: Virals, Seizure, Code and Exposure.
Kathy will be discussing her first stand-alone thriller ever, Two Nights, which introduces the world to a brand new character, Private Investigator Sunday Night. A psychological and physical force to be reckoned with, Sunnie is unlike any character Kathy has written before!

8.30pm | Tickets: £14


Where the Bodies are Buried

Let’s get some guests on!!! This late-night event has been described as a Graham Norton style chat, with guests Val McDermid, Mark Billingham and Lee Child. You won’t want to miss the gossip and stories of the good, bad and mad, expect plenty of erm, pointless answers, frivolity and a LOT of fun. (Will there be a Big Red Chair?)
Due to unforeseen circumstances, Richard Osman is unable to attend the Festival next month, we are delighted to announce today that Richard will be replaced by comedienne and writer Sarah Millican, stand-up comedian and writer from North East England. At the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Millican won the if.comedy award for Best Newcomer. Since then, she has appeared on several television and radio shows including BBC1’s Live At The Apollo and BBC2’s Mock the Week.

10.00pm | Tickets: £11


Saturday 22 July 2017


Arne Dahl with Joseph Finder

Regarded as one of the finest literary crime writers in Scandinavia, celebrated author Jan Arnald is the man behind the bestselling Intercrime series which has been made into a BBC TV series, written under the pen name of Arne Dahl. His books have sold over three million copies and been translated into 32 languages. The crime genre is ‘about the search for the truth that we are all constantly involved in,’ he says. “The question I’m asking is really always the same: What’s life really about? What is this short flash of light between two eternities of darkness? How do we use this all too fleeting time in the most decent and enjoyable way? And why do we have such trouble doing it?” After Joseph Finder completed his master’s degree at the Harvard Russian Research Centre, he was recruited to the Central Intelligence Agency… His plan was to become a spy. Instead he became an award-winning bestselling thriller writer, hailed as ‘the CEO of suspense’. Finder’s Private Spy Nick Heller is the best lie detector you’ll ever meet.
Between these two internationally-acclaimed authors the truth is out there… Mark Lawson goes undercover to prise out the facts.

9.00am | Tickets: £14

Ian Rankin

2017 marks the thirtieth anniversary of one of crime fiction’s greatest characters, John Rebus, created by one of the world’s leading crime writers, Ian Rankin. Rebus returned from retirement in 2012 to star in Standing in Another Man’s Grave. One of crime fiction’s most enduring heroes is heading for immortality, even though he’s apparently drinking himself into an early grave. Ian’s work is translated into 36 languages as Rebus resonates with readers around the world. The books have twice been dramatised for TV (starring John Hannah and Ken Stott) with rumours of another TV outing on the horizon. “I had no idea when I published Knots and Crosses in 1987 that Rebus would still be sharing his adventures – and misadventures – with me thirty years later,” Rankin says. “It’s a thrill to be spending 2017 celebrating the man, his legacy and his taste in music.”
Currently the UNESCO City of Literature Visiting Professor at the University of East Anglia, Rankin has made a meteoric rise to international bestseller. Rather Be the Devil is Rebus’ 21st adventure.

10.30am | Tickets: £14

New Blood

It’s the panel dedicated to showcasing the year’s most dazzling debut authors! Always a sell-out, this event sees Queen of Crime Val McDermid in the hot seat to hand-pick four of the brightest new talents ready for a new crime wave. Over the past ten years Val has proved her knack for spotting the Next Big Thing; previous New Bloods include SJ Watson, Stuart MacBride, Dreda Say Mitchell and Clare Mackintosh.
The Class of 2017 are: Fiona Cummins – Rattle; Jane Harper – The Dry; Joseph Knox – Sirens; Kristen Lepionka – The Last Place You Look. It’s a sure-fire list of ‘ones to watch’.

12.00pm | Tickets: £11

Where do Your Crimes come from?

How did they think of THAT…? Unpick the criminal masterminds behind the bestsellers.

Known for being an all-round lovely chap, Festival favourite Mark Billingham chairs a panel who are also rather lovely. So what inspires their murderous meanderings? Unpick the ‘dark mind’ behind the charming façade of Sarah Hilary, whose brutal but deeply moral books have garnered awards and acclaim. Steve Mosby, the tattoo’d crusader, does disturbing brilliantly. He studied philosophy and did a series of admin jobs (Excel spreadsheets can drive you to murder) before writing full time. The Independent said of award-winning Belinda Bauer that she took ‘the psychological thriller into new territory’. That says something in a well-trod ground. Where does she get her ideas? Finally, get ensnared with Melanie Raabe; the unique premise of her in-demand debut The Trap caused a stir amongst Hollywood producers.

2.00pm | Tickets: £11

Carrying The Torch

It isn’t just here at the Old Swan Hotel that the spirit of the woman who gave butlers a bad rep lingers. Agatha Christie’s famous detective Poirot is reincarnated by Sophie Hannah, with critics praising her for doing the ‘grande dame of crime proud’. The New York Times and Sunday Times top ten bestseller, Ruth Ware, was inspired by Christie, watching Poirot and Miss Marple as a child, before devouring Christie’s books.
Switching the focus from Cumberbatch’s Sherlock reboot Michelle Birkby focuses on The Women of Baker Street, with her Mrs Hudson and Mary Watson investigations series. Awarded an OBE for her services to the arts, award-winning novelist, playwright, actress and theatre-maker Stella Duffy, who spent her childhood in New Zealand, is completing an unfinished novel by New Zealand’s Queen of Crime, Ngaio Marsh. Rounding up the suspects and checking their alibis is chair Andrew Wilson who has A Talent for Murder – his compelling series with Agatha Christie at its heart.

3.30pm | Tickets : £11

Dennis Lehane

The Guardian wrote ‘he can barely write a shopping list without Hollywood optioning it.’ From working-class Boston, Lehane has achieved high literary acclaim with his New York Times bestsellers, his New York Times bestsellers include Gone, Baby, Gone, Mystic River, Shutter Island, and The Drop – all made into award-winning movies.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck and Tom Hardy lined up to star in his adaptations. To add to his too-cool-for-school status, he was a staff writer on the acclaimed HBO series, The Wire. His latest, Since We Fell, is considered one of his best, a novel of profound psychological insight. Before becoming a full-time writer, Lehane worked as a counsellor with mentally handicapped and abused children, waited tables, parked cars, drove limos, worked in bookstores and loaded tractor-trailers. Mystic River prompted Elmore Leonard to declare: ‘Boy does he know how to write’ and Michael Connolly dubbed him the ‘heir apparent’.
Don’t miss your chance to get an insight into one of the most electrifying writers of the genre.

5.00pm | Tickets: £14

Digging up the Past

How’s this for an appetiser?! A dead body on the marshes, an ancient curse and a buried secret. Elly Griffiths, author of the award-winning Ruth Galloway books, scripts an archaeological mystery, with a little help from Francis Pryor of Time Team fame.
Switch the wine glasses and double bluff in this delightfully devious dinner, with one of these devious authors seated at your table to help you deduce the mystery over dessert…John Gordon Sinclair, Neil White, Leye Adenle, Rod Reynolds, Sarah Ward, Ruth Ware, Lesley Thomson, Mark Mills, Brian McGilloway, Steph Broadribb, Lin Anderson, Sue Wilkins, Martin Walker, Kaite Welsh, Paula Daly, AA Dhand, and Abir Mukherjee.

6.15pm | Tickets: £32

Stuart MacBride & Peter May

Stuart MacBride has had a bash at studying architecture, working offshore, being a graphic designer, a professional actor, an undertaker, a web designer and finally circling the career drain by becoming a project manager for a huge IT company. MacBride has since gone on to become the bestselling author of the Logan McRae and Ash Henderson novels and has also published a near-future thriller, a short story collection, a couple of novellas, and a slightly twisted picture book for slightly twisted children.
Peter May is the multi award-winning author of the internationally bestselling Lewis Trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides, the China Thrillers, featuring Beijing detective Li Yan, as well as the critically-acclaimed Enzo Files, with Scottish forensic scientist Enzo MacLeod. One of Scotland’s most prolific television dramatists, he garnered more than 1000 credits in 15 years as scriptwriter and script editor on prime-time British television drama, before quitting television to concentrate on his first love, writing novels.

8.30pm | Tickets: £14

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: £11

Sunday 23 July 2017


TV Panel: Vera

Now pet, not since Columbo has the trench coat been so in vogue, topped with a floppy fishing hat. ‘When I go shopping for Vera’s costume,’ Brenda Blethyn said, ‘if the shop assistant ever says, ‘That looks lovely on you madam’, I think, ‘Right, well, I’ll have to get something else then’.’ The unglamorous, shambolic but effective DCI Vera Stanhope has attracted a legion of fans with the flagship ITV drama starring the very glamorous, stylish and double Oscar-nominated actress. Ann Cleeves – the visionary behind Vera – has sold over 1.5 million books worldwide.
She celebrates the publication of 30 books in 30 years with her latest, Cold Earth, part of her Shetland series – also a major TV series. Ann and Brenda will be joined on stage by Kenny Doughty, who plays Vera’s right-hand man, DS Aiden Healy. Stomping metaphorically across the moor with cast and author, is BBC Breakfast and Watchdog’s Steph McGovern, who’ll dig deep into the heart of the nation’s much-loved Detective Inspector.

10.00am | Tickets: £14

Stranger than Fiction

Writers have an uncanny knack of predicting the future, exploring our dark fears; Val McDermid based a psycho on Jimmy Savile long before his guilt came to light. Probability analysis or crystal ball-gazing? Sometimes life is stranger than fiction – demonstrated by that episode of The Simpsons that jokingly predicted a Donald Trump presidency.
This panel features crime authors who take the temperature of the body politic, check the patient has a fever, and make a case for the possible outcome. One of Britain’s leading crime novelists, Chris Brookmyre’s Want You Gone centres on online blackmail,and his next novel is a sci-fi/crime crossover, Places in the Dark. Kati Hiekkapelto is the punk singer/crime writer whose master’s thesis was on racist bullying. She explores social and political themes around immigration in her page-turning crime stories. Eva Dolan tackles similar territory in her novels featuring the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit, which simmer with racial tension- her novels featuring the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit. Screenwriter and novelist Sarah Lotz taps into the apocalyptic with The Three, in which US Bible Belt hysteria threatens to engulf the world. Her latest, The White Road, focuses on disaster at the summit of Everest.
Ex-publisher turned crime author, NJ Cooper keeps everyone calm as chair.

11.30am | Tickets: £11


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

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 (21 July) - £90 per person

Saturday Rover (22 July) - £90 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.






The 2016 Winners

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. Praised widely for its astonishing twist, overseas rights have now sold in 30 countries. Clare was presented the award by title sponsor Simon Theakston and broadcaster Mark Lawson at the opening night of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.


The annual Festival, hosted in Harrogate, is the world’s biggest celebration of the genre. She beat off stiff competition from the shortlist of six, 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 30 April 2016.


A special presentation was made to Val McDermid – the winner of the seventh Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award. McDermid joins Sara Paretsky, Lynda La Plante, Ruth Rendell, PD James, Colin Dexter and Reginald Hill as recipients of the Award. Val said: “It’s an honour and a thrill to receive this award. The community of writers and readers at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is unlike any other in its warmth and generosity and so this means a huge amount to me. This year sees the publication of my 30th novel and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate that.”


Crime writer Mark Billingham paid tribute to Val at the awards ceremony, he said: “It’s fitting that Val should receive this award at a festival she was instrumental in starting, and it’s one that is richly deserved. She has represented this genre quite brilliantly all over the world, both in person and through her novels, which have earned her legions of fans and a place among the very greatest crime writers of all time. She is the Queen of Crime, and long may she reign over us.” 

Crime writer Mark Billingham paid tribute to Val at the awards ceremony, he said: “It’s fitting that Val should receive this award at a festival she was instrumental in starting, and it’s one that is richly deserved. She has represented this genre quite brilliantly all over the world, both in person and through her novels, which have earned her legions of fans and a place among the very greatest crime writers of all time. She is the Queen of Crime, and long may she reign over us.”

J.K. Rowling, who writes crime fiction under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, sent a message of support, saying: “I’d like to add my note of congratulations to my friend and colleague Val McDermid, for her justly deserved Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award. She has been showing us all the way for a long time now. One of Robert’s proudest moments was receiving a favourable review from the great McDermid, who received a thank you note in fake handwriting, only to receive one two weeks later in my real handwriting when I was unwillingly unmasked.” 

Val McDermid is one of the biggest names in crime writing. Her novels have been translated into 30 languages, and sold over 10 million copies worldwide. 


Val has created many notable characters such as journalist, Lindsay Gordon and the private investigator, Kate Brannigan. One of her most enduring creations is the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series, which were adapted in the highly successful TV drama Wire in the Blood, starring Robson Green. Her 30th novel, Out of Bounds, is published next month. 

McDermid co-founded the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival with the leading arts organisation, Harrogate International Festivals, and literary agent Jane Gregory, in 2003. Simon Theakston added: “It gives us enormous delight to celebrate Val McDermid’s remarkable career. Val is very much the heart and soul of our festival. Her generosity to readers and authors alike, her role as a champion of the crime genre, and her support for new talent, are all qualities to be admired. She is unique, not only as the only author to sponsor a football team – her beloved Raith Rovers – but for remaining grounded and inclusive, amidst her enormous success.”

Past Winners


Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year - Clare Mackintosh, I Let You Go


Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year - Sarah Hilary, Someone Else's Skin


Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year - Belinda Bauer, Rubbernecker


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