The shortlist for this year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year prize has been confirmed.

Chosen by a public vote and the prize Academy, the titles in contention for this year’s prize are as follows:

–  My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Atlantic Books)

–  Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald (Orenda Books)

–   The Lost Man by Jane Harper (Little, Brown Book Group, Little, Brown)

–    Joe Country by Mick Herron (John Murray Press)

–  The Chain by Adrian McKinty (Orion Publishing Group, Orion Fiction)

–   Smoke and Ashes by Abir Mukherjee (VINTAGE, Harvill Secker)

The announcement comes as research is released from  Nielsen Book highlighting the rise in popularity of people reading crime fiction –  a trend led by younger readers and men. Alongside an increase in the overall number of crime and thriller novels in the bestseller charts, even more people are turning to the genre in lockdown, particularly younger readers (18-44). Of the three quarters saying that their fiction interests have changed, 26% say that crime and thriller has become their genre of choice.

Oyinkan Braithwaite is the only remaining debut author in contention for the prize for the Booker nominated My Sister, the Serial Killer. The five other authors on the shortlist are all previous contenders, with Mick Herron picking up a fifth nomination with Joe Country.

Elsewhere, Abir Mukherjee is vying for the title with Smoke & Ashes, described by The Times as one of the best crime novels since 1945. Accountant turned bestseller, Mukherjee was shortlisted in 2018 for the first book in the Wyndham & Banerjee series set in Raj-era India, The Rising Man

Meanwhile, authors making it through to the shortlist for the first time include Glasgow’s Helen Fitzgerald for Worst Case Scenario, which marks her first appearance on the Theakston list since The Cry, adapted into a major BBC drama starting Jenna Colman, was longlisted in 2013. Adrian Ginty has managed to pick up a second nomination for the prize for The Chain. The final title to shortlisted  is The Lost Man by former journalist Jane Harper, who was previously longlisted for her debut The Dry in 2018.

The public vote for the winner is now open on  www.harrogatetheakstoncrimeaward.com, with the champion set to be revealed in a virtual awards ceremony on Thursday 23 July marking what would have been the opening evening of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. The legendary gathering – which formed part of Harrogate International Festival Summer Season – was cancelled, with much sadness, due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The winner will receive £3,000 and an engraved oak beer cask, hand-carved by one of Britain’s last coopers from Theakstons Brewery.