BRITAIN'S biggest prize for an unpublished writer was last night won by a novel about a serial killer inspired by a real-life series of murders in Dundee 30 years ago.
Chris Longmuir, from Angus, was last night awarded the 10,000 Dundee International Book Prize for her novel Dead Wood.
The novel, which will be published today by Polygon as part of the prize, features a boy who becomes psychologically damaged as a result of discovering one of the bodies of the two girls murdered in Templeton Woods in the late 1970s.
The two murders in the woods – of 18-year-old Carol Lannen and 20-year-old nursery nurse Elizabeth McCabe – remain unsolved to this day.
Neither of the victims are mentioned by name in the book and Mrs Longmuir said she tried hard not to be too specific about the real-life murders. Apart from the scene in which the boy, as part of a gang of children playing in Templeton Woods, discovers a body there, the rest of the book is set in the near-present, in which he has grown up to be a serial killer himself.
"I don't want to cause distress to anyone, and that was the only concern I had about this book," she said yesterday. "But given the actual plot of the book I couldn't do without mention of the murders."
A retired social worker, Mrs Longmuir has written short stories for various magazines, but Dead Wood is her first novel.
It was chosen ahead of 130 other novels submitted from all over the world.
Mrs Longmuir, who began writing short stories 20 years ago, has written three other novels. She entered two of them unsuccessfully for the Dundee International Book Prize in previous years.