Harrogate Dispatches #1: Clare Mackintosh, Val McDermid

crime-logo-e1434622076626And so it began. On a sultry, humid evening in the Victorian spa town of Harrogate in Yorkshire, the great and the good (and me) gathered in the historic Old Swan hotel ballroom to find out who (or what)  would be crowned this year’s Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel Of The Year. It was a stunning shortlist and there was a stunning winner, as well as a richly deserved recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

As I mentioned, the shortlist for this year’s award (last year won by friend of the site, Sarah Hilary), featured some crime-writing heavyweights.

There was Mark Billingham for Time Of Death, Robert Galbraith’s Career Of Evil, Eva Dolan’s Tell No Tales, Renee Knight for Disclaimer, Clare Mackintosh for I Let You Go and Adrian McKinty’s Rain Dogs.

With Mark Lawson ably and entertainingly comparing, we were treated to mini interviews with the each nominees (all except for Robert Galbraith, whose alter ego was back in London dealing with someone called Harry).

Before the winner was announced, Mark introduced another Mark onto the stage – Billingham – to introduce this year’s Lifetime Achievement recipient – the brilliant Val McDermid. Billingham’s introduction of his friend was touching and funny, and underlined just how extraordinary McDermid is. Oxford at 16 (16?!), a journalist in smoke-filled, misogynist newspaper news desks in the bad, old 1970s (her nickname was Killer back in the day), her amazing literary career and her love for Raith Rovers. Having been to Harrogate pretty much every year for five years, I can’t think of a better or more deserving winner of this award.

And then it was onto the Crime Novel Of The Year. In the end Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go was called out as the winner, and a very popular and deserving choice it was too. There were tears. And, late into the night on the hotel lawn, there was Mackintosh, taking it all in, sitting in a deck chair and drinking from her tankard trophy.



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