Robert Galbraith novel short-listed for major crime writing award

Author JK Rowling. Picture: Getty Images
Author JK Rowling. Picture: Getty Images
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She has garnered boundless praise and received numerous accolades over an illustrious writing career for her children’s books

Now, under the guise of her male pseudonym Robert Galbraith, JK Rowling has been shortlisted for a crime-writing prize.

Writers exist in a vacuum of self-doubt. It doesn’t matter how many books you compose, you see it as a misshapen thing with warts

Val McDermid

The Edinburgh-based Harry Potter author has been nominated for Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year for her work Career Of Evil.

The book is the third novel in the Cormoran Strike series, which is being adapted for a new BBC television series. Strike is an injured war veteran turned private investigator working in contemporary London.

It is described as “a fiendishly clever mystery with unexpected twists around every corner, it is also a gripping story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives.”

Rowling has been writing crime novels under the name of her thrill-seeking counterpart since 2013.

This would be the second award for the fiction writer, as The Cuckoo’s Calling received the Los Angeles Book Times prize in the Mystery/Thriller category in 2013. It was first published in April that year and was the first in the series of books under Rowling’s pseudonym.

The six-strong nomination list includes two-time winner Mark Billingham, for his 13th entry to the Tom Thorne series Time of Death. Billingham took home the award in 2005 and 2009.

Other are Tell No Tales by Eva Dolan, a story about the murder of migrant workers, Rain Dogs by Aidrian McKinty, the fifth book in the Sean Duffy thriller series which is set in 1980s Belfast, former TV documentary maker Renee Knight’s debut novel Disclaimer and ex-police officer Clare MacKintosh for her debut effort I Let You Go.

Kirkcaldy-born Val McDermid will be presented with the “outstanding contribution to crime fiction” award at a ceremony in July at the opening of the 14th Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.

Oxford-educated McDermid is best known for her series of novels featuring Dr Tony Hill and Carol Jordan.

On winning the award, McDermid said: “They are always meaningful because writers exist in a vacuum of self-doubt. It doesn’t matter how many books you compose, you see it as a misshapen thing with warts, so when you get that recognition it’s reassuring you’re not wasting your time.”

Paying tribue to the Scot, judge Simon Theakston said: “As a writer, she is rightfully know as the Queen of Crime. Val is very deserving of this accolade in the pantheon of legendary crime authors.”

The winner will be decided by a panel of judges as well as a public vote and receive a £3,000 cash prize as well as a hand-crafted, engraved oak beer cask made by Theakston’s Old Peculiar.

Gemma Rowland, from Harrogate international festivals, said “2016’s winner will join the list of game-changing authors who have won one of the most-coveted awards over the last decade, including Denise Mina, Lee Child and Sarah Hilary.”