Tuesday 16 April 2024

CrimeFest Awards Short Lists Announced

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

The awards began 16 years ago when CrimeFest launched in 2008; they honour the best crime books released in the UK in the last year, and feature the hotly-contended Specsavers Debut Crime Novel Award which offers a £1,000 cash prize.

Authors in contention for the £1k prize include the Times Radio presenter and former editor of the Times Literary Supplement, Stig Abell, for his fiction debut, Death Under a Little Sky. Jo Callaghan is nominated for her BBC Between the Covers Book Club pick, In the Blink of An Eye, a daring, original debut featuring an AI detective. Jo Callaghan works as a senior strategist researching the future impact of AI and geonomics. 

Also, up for the debut award are Megan Davis described by Waterstones as an ‘eclectic, cut throat new voice in thriller writing’ with The Messenger; Jenny Lund Madsen with her darkly funny Thirty Days of Darkness, the critically acclaimed historical crime debut Needless Alley by Natalie Marlow; and the pitch-black Death of a Bookseller, by Alice Slater.

Adrian Muller, Co-host of CrimeFest, said: “The Specsavers Debut Novel Award has become one of the most highly anticipated awards of the genre, and we’d like to thank Specsavers for their on-going support in celebrating new talent.

The shortlist for the CrimeFest H.R.F. Keating Award for the best biographical or critical book includes explorations of icons of the genre including Steven Powell for Love Me Fierce in Danger: The Life of James Ellroy; Nicholas Shakespeare for Ian Fleming: The Complete Man, and Adam Sisman for The Secret Life of John Le Carré

CrimeFest’s Last Laugh Award for best humorous crime novel sees bestselling authors in contention, including Mark Billingham for The Last Laugh; Mick Herron with The Secret Hours; and Elly Griffiths for The Great Deceiver. They’re joined by authors Mike Ripley, Jesse Sutanto and Antti Tuomianen.

Nominated for the best crime fiction e-book published in 2023 for the E-Dunnit Award are Rachel Abbott’s Don't Look Away; Jane Casey for The Close; Marin Edwards’ Sepulchre Street; Christina Koning for Murder at Bletchley Park; Laura Lippman’s Prom Mom; and The Devil's Playground by Craig Russell.

This nominees for the CrimeFest Best Crime Novel for Young Adults (aged 12-16) include Jennifer Lynn Barnes for her TikTok sensation, The Brothers Hawthorne, which combines puzzles, plot twists, and romance. 

She’s up against the bestselling author Ravena Guron, the ‘trailblazing’ blockbuster Promise Boys by Nick Brooks; the international bestseller Karen M. McManus for One of Us is Back; and Elizabeth Wein’s 1937 murder mystery featuring solo female pilot Stella North, Stateless. 

Adrian Muller said: “We are proud to be one of the few genre awards that recognise and celebrate children, and young adult crime fiction. This category has really boomed in recent years. The top-selling female author of crime fiction in the UK last year was Holly Jackson, and we’re thrilled to host Holly and fellow author, Robin Stevens, at talks for state schools in Bristol this May. The genre is a fantastic gateway into reading.

Robin Stevens is also shortlisted for the CrimeFest Award for Best Crime Novel for Children (ages 8-12) for The Ministry of Unladylike Activity 2: The Body in the Blitz, published by Puffin, which celebrates the 10th anniversary of the bestselling series that has sold 2 million copies in the UK to date. 

She’s up against a strong shortlist that includes J.T. Williams, Lis Jardine, Beth Lincoln, and the footballer Marcus Rashford for The Breakfast Club Adventures: The Ghoul in the School, co-written by Alex Falase-Koya.

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.

The winners of the 2024 CrimeFest Awards will be announced at a gala dinner hosted during CrimeFest on Saturday 11 May at the Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel.

Hosted in Bristol, CrimeFest is the biggest crime fiction convention in the UK, 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, from 9-12 May.

This year also features the CrimeFest Best Adapted TV Crime Drama Award, which celebrate dramas based on a book screened in 2023. 

Shortlisted shows include Amazon’s Reacher, based on books by Lee Child; the BBC’s Shetland, and ITV’s Vera, based on the books by Ann Cleeves; Apple TV’s Slow Horses, adapted from Mick Herron’s series; The Serial Killer’s Wife on Paramount by Alice Hunter; and Dalgliesh, based on the books by P.D. James.

The convention will feature a panel that pays homage to P.D. James with author Frances Fyfield, the Sunday Times chief fiction critic Peter Kemp, playwright and crime author, Simon Brett, and PD James’ granddaughter, Dr Beatrice Groves. 

Featured Guests for 2024 are author of the international hit Murdle - G.T. Karber - who will host a live Murdle event in a rare UK appearance; Diamond Dagger winners James Lee Burke and Lynda La Plante, the acclaimed American author Laura Lippman; and the seminal Scottish author, Denise Mina. 

The line up also features Ajay Chowdhury, Cathy Ace, Janice Hallett, Abir Mukherjee, Vaseem Khan, Holly Jackson, Kate Ellis, Ruth Dudley Edwards, and Martin Edwards.

CrimeFest was created following the hugely successful one-off visit to Bristol in 2006 of the American Left Coast Crime convention. 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 2024 CrimeFest Award 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 2023. The winning author receives a £1,000 prize. 

Death Under a Little Sky by Stig Abell (Hemlock Press/HarperCollins)

In The Blink Of An Eye  by Jo Callaghan (Simon & Schuster)

The Messenger by Megan Davis  (Zaffre)

Thirty Days of Darkness by Jenny Lund Madsen translated by Megan Turney (Orenda Books)

Needless Alley by Natalie Marlow (Baskerville)

Death of a Bookseller by Alice Slater  (Hodder & Stoughton)


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 2023. 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.

Contemporary European Crime Fiction: Representing History and Politics by M, J, F & A Dall'Asta, Migozzi, Pagello & Pepper (Palgrave)

Ocular Proof and the Spectacled Detective in British Crime Fiction by Lisa Hopkins (Palgrave)

 How To Survive a Classic Crime Novel  by Kate Jackson (British Library Publishing)

Love Me Fierce In Danger: The Life of James Ellroy by Steven Powell (Bloomsbury Academic)

Ian Fleming: The Complete Man by Nicholas Shakespeare (Harvill Secker)

The Secret Life of John Le Carré by Adam Sisman (Profile Books)


The Last Laugh Award is for the best humorous crime novel first published in the United Kingdom in 2023.

The Last Dance by Mark Billingham (Sphere)

The Great Deceiver by Elly Griffiths (Quercus)

The Secret Hours by Mick Herron  (Baskerville)

Mr Campion's Memory by Mike Ripley (Severn House)

Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Sutanto (HQ)

The Beaver Theory by Antti Tuomianen  (Orenda Books)


For the best crime fiction ebook first published in both hardcopy and in electronic format in the United Kingdom in 2023.

Don't Look Away  by Rachel Abbott (Wildfire)

The Close by -Jane Casey (HarperCollins)

Sepulchre Street by Martin Edwards(Head of Zeus)

Murder at Bletchley Park by Christina Koning (Allison & Busby)

Prom Mom by Laura Lippman (Faber & Faber)

The Devil's Playground by Craig Russell (Constable)


This award is for the best crime novel for children (aged 8-12) first published in the United Kingdom in 2023.

Mysteries At Sea: Peril On The Atlantic by A.M. Howell  (Usborne Publishing)

The Detention Detectives by Lis Jardine  (Penguin Random House Children's UK)

The Swifts by Beth Lincoln (Penguin Random House Children's UK)

 The Breakfast Club Adventures: The Ghoul in the School by Marcus Rashford (with Alex Falase-Koya) (Macmillan Children's Books)

The Ministry of Unladylike Activity 2: The Body in the Blitz by Robin Stevens (Penguin Random House Children's UK)

The Lizzie and Belle Mysteries: Portraits and Poison by J.T. Williams (illustrated by Simone Douglas) (Farshore)


This award is for the best crime novel for young adults (aged 12-16) first published in the United Kingdom in 2023.

The Brothers Hawthorne by Jennifer Lynn Barnes  (Penguin Random House Children's UK)

Promise Boys by Nick Brooks (Macmillan Children's Books)

This Book Kills by Ravena Guron (Usborne Publishing)

Catch Your Death by Ravena Guron (Usborne Publishing)

One of Us is Back by Karen M. McManus (Penguin Random House Children's UK)

Stateless by Elizabeth Wein (Bloomsbury YA)


This award is for the best television crime drama based on a book, and first screened in the UK in 2023. 

Dalgliesh (series 2), based on the Inspector Dalgliesh books by P.D. James (Channel 5)

Reacher (series 2), based on the Jack Reacher books by Lee Child (Amazon Prime)

Shetland (series 8), based on the Shetland books by Ann Cleeves (BBC)

Slow Horses (series 3), based on the Slough House books by Mick Herron (Apple)

The Serial Killer's Wife, based on the Serial Killer books by Alice Hunter (Paramount+)

Vera (series 12), based on the Vera Stanhope books by Ann Cleeves (ITV)


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