Tuesday 14 March 2023

CrimeFest Announce 2023 Award Shortlists


CrimeFest, one of Europe’s leading crime writing conventions, has announced the shortlists for its annual awards.

Now in its 16th year, the awards honour the best crime books released in 2022 in the UK.

The awards feature the hotly-contended Specsavers Debut Crime Novel Award which offers a £1,000 cash prize.

This year sees former detective turned advisor, Graham Bartlett, on the debut shortlist. Bartlett is known for advising some of the biggest authors in the crime genre, including Peter James, Mark Billingham, and Elly Griffiths, to help inject reality into their plots involving a crime or police officer. Now, Bartlett has put himself on the line with his debut, Bad for Good.

He's not the only former member of the police on the shortlist. John Sutherland served in a variety of ranks for the Met Police before he retired in 2018, and is shortlisted for his debut, The Siege.

They face strong competition from six other shortlisted authors, including Canada’s vice president and editorial director of the publishing house Simon & Schuster, Nita Prose, with her debut The Maid, which was a No.1 New York Times bestseller, a BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime and has already picked up the Ned Kelly Award for Best International Crime Fiction.

The eDunnit Award for the best e-book, sees giants of the genre in contention, including Ian Rankin for A Heart Full of Headstones, Sara Gran for The Book of the Most Precious Substance, Michael Connelly with Desert Star and Chris Brookmyre for The Cliff House.

The H.R.F Keating Award for best biographical or critical book on crime fiction sees TV’s Queen of History, Lucy Worsley, take on the Queen of Crime with Agatha Christie: A Very Elusive Woman.

A Private Spy, The Letters of John le Carré 1945-2020, edited by Tim Cornwell, is also shortlisted, as is crime fiction expert Barry Forshaw’s Simenon, The Man, The Books, The Films: A 21st Century Guide on the legendary and influential crime writer.

The Last Laugh Award sees Mick Herron’s Bad Actors on the shortlist. The Jackson Lamb series of dysfunctional British intelligence agents has become a major adaptation for Apple TV, starring Oscar-winner Gary Oldman. Herron’s up against Elly Griffiths with The Locked Room, Antti Tuomainen with The Moose Paradox, and the late Christopher Fowler for Bryant and May’s Peculiar London.

Elly Griffiths also features in the Best Crime Novel for Children (aged 8-12) shortlist with A Girl Called Justice: The Spy at the Window. She’s up against the acclaimed Anthony Horowitz for Where Seagulls Dare: A Diamond Brothers Case and M.G. Leonard’s Spark.

Nominees for the Best Crime Novel for Young Adults (aged 12-16) include Holly Jackson with Five Survive, Finn Longman’s The Butterfly Assassin and Sophie McKenzie’s Truth of Dare.

Adrian Muller, Co-host of CrimeFest, said: “The Specsavers Debut Novel Award has become one of the most coveted, and we’d like to thank Specsavers for their on-going support in celebrating new talent. We are also proud to be one of the few genre awards that recognise and celebrate e-books, humour, children, and Young Adult crime fiction novels. Our inclusive awards reflect the values of our convention, and showcase the incredible diversity and reach of the genre which dominates today’s cultural landscape.

Hosted in Bristol, CrimeFest is one of the biggest crime fiction events in Europe, and one of the most popular dates in the international crime fiction calendar, with circa 60 panel events and 150 authors attending over four days.

Featured Guests at the convention this May are Mark Billingham and Elly Griffiths.

Leading British crime fiction reviewers and reviewers of fiction for children and young adults, alongside the members of the School Library Association (SLA), form the CrimeFest judging panels.

CrimeFest was created following the hugely successful one-off visit to Bristol in 2006 of the American Left Coast Crime convention. It was established in 2008. It follows the egalitarian format of most US conventions, making it open to all commercially published authors and readers alike.

 All category winners will receive a Bristol Blue Glass commemorative award.

The 2023 Shortlists in full


In association with headline sponsor, the Specsavers Debut Crime Novel Award is for debut authors first published in the United Kingdom in 2022. The winning author receives a £1,000 prize.

- Amen Alonge for A Good Day to Die (Quercus)

- Graham Bartlett for Bad for Good (Allison & Busby)

- Nita Prose for The Maid (HarperCollins)

- Oriana Rammuno (translator: Katherine Gregor) for Ashes in the Snow (HarperCollins)

- Joachim B. Schmidt (translator: Jamie Lee Searle) for Kalmann (Bitter Lemon)

- Hayley Scrivenor for Dirt Town (Macmillan)

- John Sutherland for The Siege (Orion Fiction)

- Stacy Willingham for A Flicker in the Dark (HarperCollins)



The eDunnit Award is for the best crime fiction ebook first published in both hardcopy and in electronic format in the United Kingdom in 2022.

- Chris Brookmyre for The Cliff House (Abacus)

- Michael Connelly for Desert Star (Orion Fiction)

- M.W. Craven for The Botanist (Constable)

- Sara Gran for The Book of the Most Precious Substance (Faber & Faber)

- Ian Rankin for A Heart Full of Headstones (Orion Fiction)

- Peter Swanson for Nine Lives (Faber & Faber)


The H.R.F. Keating Award is for the best biographical or critical book related to crime fiction first published in the United Kingdom in 2022. The award is named after H.R.F. ‘Harry’ Keating, one of Britain’s most esteemed crime novelists, crime reviewers and writer of books about crime fiction.

- J.C. Bernthal & Mary Anna Evans for The Bloomsbury Handbook to Agatha Christie (Bloomsbury Academic)

- John le Carré (edited by Tim Cornwell) for A Private Spy: The Letters of John le Carré 1945-2020 (Viking)

- Martin Edwards for The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and their Creators (Collins Crime Club)

- Barry Forshaw for Simenon: The Man, The Books, The Films (Oldcastle Books)

- Sian MacArthur for Gender Roles and Political Contexts in Cold War Spy Fiction (Palgrave Macmillan)

- Lucy Worsley for Agatha Christie: A Very Elusive Woman (Hodder & Stoughton)


The Last Laugh Award is for the best humorous crime novel first published in the United Kingdom in 2022.

- Christopher Fowler for Bryant & May's Peculiar London (Doubleday)

- Elly Griffiths for The Locked Room (Quercus)

- Mick Herron for Bad Actors (Baskerville)

- Cara Hunter for Hope to Die (Viking)

- Mike Ripley for Mr Campion's Mosaic (Severn House)

- Antti Tuomainen for The Moose Paradox (Orenda Books)


This award is for the best crime novel for children (aged 8-12) first published in the United Kingdom in 2022.

 - Elly Griffiths for A Girl Called Justice: The Spy at the Window (Quercus Children's Books)

- Anthony Horowitz for Where Seagulls Dare: A Diamond Brothers Case
(Walker Books)

- Sharna Jackson for The Good Turn (Puffin)

- M.G. Leonard for Spark (Walker Books)

- Robin Stevens for The Ministry of Unladylike Activity (Puffin)

- Sarah Todd Taylor for Alice Éclair, Spy Extraordinaire! A Recipe for Trouble (Nosy Crow)


This award is for the best crime novel for young adults (aged 12-16) first published in the United Kingdom in 2022.

- Holly Jackson for Five Survive (Electric Monkey)

- Patrice Lawrence for Needle (Barrington Stoke)

- Finn Longman for The Butterfly Assassin (Simon & Schuster Children's)

- Sophie McKenzie for Truth or Dare (Simon & Schuster Children's)

- Ruta Sepetys for I Must Betray You (Hodder Children's Books)

- Jonathan Stroud for The Notorious Scarlett and Browne (Walker Books)

CrimeFest runs at the Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel from 11-14 May, 2023. For details and to book, go to: https://www.crimefest.com/



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