By Ann Evans



Welcome to the Old Swan



A gathering of the biggest criminal minds around descended on Harrogate at the recently. Nothing to panic over however, as it was a get together of crime writers and crime readers for the 16th Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.


The 4-day event was hosted by top crime author Lee Child, famous for his Jack Reacher novels; and heading the line-up of crime novelists were John Grisham and Don Winslow. There was, in fact a fantastic line up of authors from around the UK abroad including Laura Lippman, Sophie Hannah, Nicci French, Denise Mina, Val McDermid, Sue Black, Linwood Barclay Martyn Waites, Mark Billingham and many more.



Margaret Mather, Lee Child and Ann Evans


The festival took place as always at The Old Swan Hotel where Agatha Christi was found when she mysteriously disappeared for 11 days in 1926.


The festival had a full and varied programme of authors in conversation, author panels, an Author Murder Mystery Dinner scripted and introduced by Lee Child and enacted by authors. There was even a Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers band who had the entire room bopping to their music on the Friday evening. There were special events going on in the Incident Room, authors signing their books and lots more.




Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers Band fronted by Val McDermid and Mark Billingham


Amongst the highlights was Lee Child in conversation with John Grisham which took place in the beautiful Royal Hall, Harrogate, and filling every  – and entirely filled it.


TV’s Pointless presenter, Richard Osman teamed up with Laura Lippman, Martyn Waites and Mark Billingham for a light-hearted Room 101 event where the writers chose the most annoying things about crime fiction to put into room 101. Not surprisingly 1 star reviews went down the pan!



Relaxing at Harrogate


A Late Night Quiz hosted by Val McDermid and Mark Billingham saw writers, readers and reviewers vying against one another to take the top spot.


Popular TV presenter, Steph McGovern chaired a panel of writers who seem inspired by cold climates. She chatted to Yrsa Siguroardottir – an award winning, No 1 best-selling author in Iceland; Samuel Bjork a novelist, playwrite and singer from Scandinavia and popular novelist Ann Cleaves – well known for her TV adaptations of her novels for the Vera, Shetland and Cold Earth series.


Another highlight was the announcement of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, which was scooped by Stay Sherez with his novel The Intrusions.   Now in its 14th year the Award is considered one of the most coveter crime writing prizes in the country. Stay was presented the award by Simon Theakston and broadcaster Mark Lawson at the opening night of the festival.




Book signings


Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is the biggest celebration of the crime genre and a is also renowned as the friendliest of festivals where crime readers and crime authors can mingle and chat, relaxed in the delightful setting of Agatha Christie’s old haunt – The Old Swan at Harrogate.