Big names miss out as debut authors shortlisted for top crime fiction prize

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Some of the biggest names in crime fiction have failed to make the cut as two debut authors were announced among a five-person shortlist for the McIlvanney Prize.

The accolade, previously called the Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award, is named in memory of William McIlvanney, often described as the godfather of tartan noir.

This year’s shortlist for the prize coincides with the publication on Thursday of the author’s final book, The Dark Remains, which was completed with the help of Ian Rankin.

Whittled down from a longlist of 13, the finalists include 2015 winner of the award Craig Russell, established names Stuart MacBride and Alan Parks and two debut authors, Emma Christie and Robbie Morrison.

Robbie Morrison
Debut author Robbie Morrison was shortlisted (Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival/PA)

The award judges described Russell as “an author who never disappoints and always gets to the heart of a story”.

They praised The April Dead by Parks for “continuing to innovate” and said they “enjoyed the well-drawn characters and cliffhanger ending”.

The Coffinmaker’s Garden by MacBride was described as “a dark, edgy and original novel, full of action and a great sense of place with just the right kind of humour”.

Edge of the Grave by Morrison was “a compelling exploration of gangland Glasgow, with a brilliant sense of period”, the judges said.

While The Silent Daughter by Christie was said to have taken the domestic noir genre and offered “something fresh and different with well controlled characters”.

The winner will be revealed at the Albert Halls in Stirling on September 17.

The McIlvanney Prize judges this year include Karen Robinson, formerly of The Times Crime Club, Ayo Onatade, winner of the CWA Red Herring Award and freelance crime fiction critic, and Ewan Wilson, crime fiction buyer from Waterstones Glasgow.

The shortlist was announced by the Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival, which is scheduled to take place in Stirling from September 17-19.

The shortlist for the McIlvanney Prize 2021 is:

Edge of the Grave, Robbie Morrison (Macmillan)
The Silent Daughter, Emma Christie (Welbeck)
The Coffinmaker’s Garden, Stuart MacBride (HarperCollins)
Hyde, Craig Russell (Constable)
The April Dead, Alan Parks (Canongate)

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