The 2014 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate

17 JK Rowling as crime novelist Robert Galbraith with bestselling crime writer Val McDermid

17 JK Rowling as crime novelist Robert Galbraith with bestselling crime writer Val McDermid - Credit: Archant

Stars of crime fiction gather in Harrogate for one of the most celebrated festivals of its kind in Europe

It was a heady few days in Harrogate as the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival celebrated its 12th anniversary with some of the biggest names in the writing and publishing world. Belinda Bauer scooped the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, one of the most coveted crime writing prizes in the country, for her book Rubbernecker. The CWA 2010 Gold Dagger Award-winning author received glowing reviews for Rubbernecker about Patrick Fort, a medical student dealing with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Title sponsor Simon Theakston and broadcaster Mark Lawson presented the award at the opening night of the annual festival, the world’s biggest celebration of the genre, at the Old Swan, Harrogate.

Bauer beat off competition from the shortlist of six, whittled down from a longlist of 18 titles published by British and Irish authors over the last year. ‘It feels like a very lucky accident to win this award when my fellow shortlisted authors seem so much smarter than me, I’m delighted,’ said Bauer, She collected a £3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade oak cask provided by Theakstons Old Peculier.

Simon Theakston, executive director of T&R Theakston, said: ‘It was a very tough decision as it is every year as all the books on the shortlist were outstanding but I’m delighted to hand the trophy to Belinda.’

A special presentation was made to Lynda La Plante - the winner of the fifth Theakstons Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award. ‘I am delighted to be at the festival this year and it is a great honour to be the recipient of such a prestigious award,’ she said. ‘I’ve decided to dedicate my award to the late Verity Lambert, who had faith in me at the very start of my writing career when she commissioned Widows. Also to the readers of my books and viewers of my television productions, they give me such enthusiastic and valuable feedback and without them I wouldn’t have this wonderful career that I enjoy so much.’ La Plante joins Ruth Rendell, PD James, Colin Dexter and Reginald Hill as recipients of the award.

Simon Theakston added: ‘It’s also a great privilege to welcome Lynda La Plante to Harrogate to collect her award which acknowledges her huge contribution not only to crime fiction, but to British culture as a whole with her iconic television oeuvre.’

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As if that wasn’t enough fans of JK Rowling queued for hours to ensure they got their tickets for an exclusive appearance by the author as Robert Galbraith, bestselling crime writer. JK Rowling appeared in conversation with fellow crime writer Val McDermid at the Royal Hall, Harrogate. The event, in front of an audience of about 1,000 people, was her first and only UK appearance this year as Robert Galbraith. Demand for tickets came from all over the world and sold out in just 90 minutes with some fans camping overnight for tickets. A live streaming room was created at the festival’s hotel partner, the Old Swan Hotel, to accommodate the unprecedented demand.

Rowling was on stage to talk about her second crime novel - The Silkworm - featuring detective, Cormoran Strike. The book, published in June, went straight to the top of the Sunday Times bestseller list and has received much critical acclaim. Val McDermid previously said of the first book, before the true identity of Robert Galbraith was revealed: ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling reminds me why I fell in love with crime fiction in the first place.’

JK Rowling said: ‘I’m thrilled to have appeared at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival for many reasons, foremost of which is to have shared a stage with a true master of the genre, Val McDermid. It is a particularly fitting venue for Robert’s first appearance because part of The Silkworm is set in Harrogate and its environs.’

Other special guests at the festival included Ann Cleeves, Mark Billingham, Sophie Hannah, SJ Watson, Laura Lippman, John Harvey, Peter May and Denise Mina.


The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is Europe’s largest event dedicated to the celebration of crime fiction. Taking place annually over four days each July, the festival features over 80 best-selling UK and international crime authors and over 20 events. It is organised and promoted by the north of England’s leading arts festival organisation, Harrogate International Festivals and is now in its tenth year.