12:22 AM 13th May 2024

Winners Of 2024 CrimeFest Awards Announced

Stig Abell 
Photo: Chris McAndrew
Stig Abell Photo: Chris McAndrew
CrimeFest, one of Europe’s crime fiction conventions, has announced the winners of its annual awards.

Now in their 16th year, the awards, which honour the best crime books released in the UK last year, were announced at a gala dinner event during CrimeFest in Bristol [Saturday 11 May].

The winner of the highly anticipated Specsavers Debut Crime Novel Award, and £1,000 prize, is Stig Abell for Death Under a Little Sky published by Hemlock Press (HarperCollins).

The gripping crime debut from the Times Radio journalist features London detective Jake Jackson, who discovers that murder lurks even in the most idyllic English locations when a village treasure hunt turns deadly.

Bestselling crime authors have heaped praise on the debut including Lee Child, who described it as “truly excellent,” Ann Cleeves who found it “totally immersive” and Vaseem Khan who described it as “beautifully written.”

It was an incredibly strong shortlist for the judging panel this year, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading all nominated titles. Stig Abell’s debut clinched the top spot. It offers a different slant to the usual detective mysteries, and I was compelled to finish the book and get to the end, which I didn’t guess. His mesmerising prose and deft plot made Death Under a Little Sky unputdownable. Dame Mary Perkins, co-founder of Specsavers

The eDunnit Award for the best e-book goes to Laura Lippman for Prom Mom, published by Faber & Faber. The acclaimed Baltimore author is a two-time CrimeFest eDunnit Award winner for Wild Lake (2017) and Sunburn (2019) and has won the Agatha, Anthony, and Edgar awards.

Prom Mom tells the story of Amber Glass, desperately trying to get away from her tabloid past but compulsively drawn back to the prom date who destroyed everything. The LA Times described it as “one of Lippman’s most seductively mesmerising novels.”

Winner of the H.R.F Keating Award for best biographical or critical book on crime fiction is The Secret Life of John Le Carré by Adam Sisman, published by Profile Books.

A Financial Times and Spectator Book of the Year, it’s been praised for providing new insights into the author who created George Smiley, revealing a hidden perspective on the life and work of the spy-turned-author.

The Last Laugh Award goes to Mick Herron for The Secret Hours, published by Baskerville. Herron is a multiple CrimeFest Award winner; he received the 2023 CrimeFest Award for Best Adapted TV Crime Drama for Slow Horses; the 2022 CrimeFest Last Laugh Award for Slough House; and the 2018 CrimeFest Last Laugh Award for Spook Street.

Praised as ‘pure class,’ by Ian Rankin, The Secret Hours was an instant Sunday Times bestseller. The mesmerising espionage thriller is dripping in wry wit and unexpected twists, as a parliamentary inquiry into the intelligence services turns lethal.

Best Crime Novel for Young Adults, aged 12-16, is awarded to Elizabeth Wein for Stateless, which features a group of young pilots who face intrigue and sabotage in a race around Europe in this thrilling murder mystery, from the bestselling author of Code Name Verity. Stateless was praised by the Guardian for its, “intriguing, page-turning plot.”

Best Crime Novel for Children, aged 8-12, goes to J.T. Williams for The Lizzie and Belle Mysteries: Portraits and Poison published by Farshore. It’s the second book in the middle grade mystery series that’s inspired by real Black British historical figures, which sees two resourceful amateur sleuths become embroiled in a deadly conspiracy stalking the streets of eighteenth-century London.

Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate, Joseph Coelho, praised the series as a “must read” and The Observer praised its “atmospheric setting.”

The Thalia Proctor Memorial Award for Best Adapted TV Crime Drama goes for the second year running to Slow Horses (season 3), based on the Slough House books by Mick Herron. Produced by See-Saw, shown on Apple TV+, the drama, which follows a dysfunctional and disgraced team of MI5 agents, stars Gary Oldman.

The award is named in honour of Thalia, a CrimeFest team member and a much-loved figure in the world of crime fiction, and is decided by public vote.

Crime fiction is recognised as the biggest selling and most influential genre in publishing. As ever, this year’s nominees reflect the genre’s power, reach and popularity, and it was a hotly contested shortlist. We congratulate all 2024 winners, and would especially like to thank Specsavers for their on-going support in celebrating new talent, with the Debut Award. We’re especially proud too to be one of the few genre awards that recognise children’s and Young Adult authors. They do a vital job in enticing children and young people into reading, offering much-needed escapism, connection, and adventure. Adrian Muller, Co-host of CrimeFest

CrimeFest was created following the hugely successful one-off visit to Bristol in 2006 of the American Left Coast Crime convention. Established in 2008, it follows the egalitarian format of most US conventions, making it open to all commercially published authors and readers alike.