Crime writer shortlisted for major literary prize

Crime writer Abir Mukherjee has been shortlisted for a major literary prize.

Mukherjee’s third book, Smoke and Ashes is one of six titles in contention for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Now in it’s 16th year the most coveted prize in crime fiction, presented by Harrogate International Festivals, represents crime writing at its best.

Smoke and Ashes is the third book in the critically acclaimed Wyndham and Banerjee series. Set in 1921, it follows the story of Captain Sam Wyndham and his battle with a serious addiction to opium that he must keep secret from his superiors in the Calcutta police force. The book was chosen the The Times as one of 100 best crime novels since 1945.

Accountant turned author, Mukherjee who took up writing in 2013 aged 39, was delighted by the news. He said:

“I’m thrilled that Smoke and Ashes has made the shortlist for the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year. It’s set during the Indian fight for independence and features some of the real heroes of that struggle. It’s a part of history which we in Britain don’t talk enough about and I hope people can enjoy the book while also hopefully learning a bit about this pivotal time.”

The full shortlist of six titles includes:

  • My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Atlantic Books)
  • Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald (Orenda Books)
  • The Lost Man by Jane Harper (Little, Brown Book Group, Little, Brown)
  • Joe Country by Mick Herron (John Murray Press)
  • The Chain by Adrian McKinty (Orion Publishing Group, Orion Fiction)
  • Smoke and Ashes by Abir Mukherjee (Vintage, Harvill Secker)

Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said: “Seeing the huge variety and originality within this shortlist, it comes as no surprise to hear that crime fiction is dominating our lockdown reading habits. Offering both escapism and resolution, these exceptional titles transport readers around the world and I can’t wait to see where we settle on 23 July when one of these extraordinary authors takes home the 2020 Theakston Old Peculier cask.”

The public vote for the winner is now open with the champion set to be revealed in a virtual awards ceremony on Thursday 23 July marking what would have been the opening evening of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.

The winner will receive £3,000 and an engraved oak beer cask, hand-carved by one of Britain’s last coopers from Theakstons Brewery.