Chris Whitaker wins top crime novel award in Harrogate
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Last updated Jul 22, 2021
Chris Whitaker and winning book

Chris Whitaker’s book has won the prestigious crime novel of the year award on the opening night of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.

The four-day event, organised by the arts charity Harrogate International Festivals, is widely recognised as the biggest in crime writing.

We Begin at the End, a story of crime, punishment, love and redemption set in California, is credited by Whitaker for saving his life after he was mugged and stabbed as a teenager.

Whitaker, who received the prize at the Old Swan Hotel tonight, was nominated for the award for the first time. He was chosen by a public vote, the prize academy and a panel of expert judges.

He received £3,000 and an engraved oak beer cask.

Northern Irish author Brian McGilloway’s political thriller The Last Crossing, which explores The Troubles from the perspective of former operatives who like to think they have moved on, was highly commended.


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Simon Theakston, executive director of T&R Theakston, said:

“The contest for this year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award has been fiercely fought – a reflection of the outstanding quality of all the longlisted and shortlisted crime fiction published within the last year.

“I offer Chris Whitaker my hearty congratulations for clinching the title on his first ever nomination for his powerful and insightful We Begin at the End.”

Special presentations were also made to Ian Rankin and Mark Billingham, the winners of the outstanding contribution to crime fiction award for 2021 and 2020 respectively.

Mr Rankin said:

“It’s such a privilege and an honour to receive this award, and especially to be in Harrogate to receive it in person.

“I’ve been a published writer for over thirty years but this past year has been uniquely challenging – for writers, readers and booksellers. It’s heartening to see the Theakston festival rise like a phoenix. Books continue to provide us with that wonderful mix of food for thought and escapism. I couldn’t be prouder to be a crime writer.”

The festival continues until Sunday. Special guests include Mark Billingham, Ann Cleeves, Elly Griffiths, Mick Herron, Clare Mackintosh, Val Mcdermid and Richard Osman.

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