Winner of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writingprize announced tonight: Stav Sherez wins with The Intrusions

Stav Sherez
Stav Sherez

Stav Sherez has tonight scooped the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award for The Intrusions.

Now in its 14th year, the award is considered one of the most coveted crime writing prizes in the country.

The Intrusions by Stav Sherez was a 2017 Guardian and Sunday Times book of the year, dubbed ‘A Silence of the Lambs for the internet age’ by Ian Rankin. The book was acclaimed by critics for its echoes of Emile Zola and influences from Graham Greene to Dostoyevsky.

Stav was presented the award by title sponsor Simon Theakston and broadcaster Mark Lawson at the opening night of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. The annual Festival, hosted in Harrogate, is the world’s biggest celebration of the genre.

Stav said: “I’m so shocked. Thank you so much for everyone who reads books, everyone who buys books, and talks about them. The world is full of hardships, but we have so much great stuff in culture and it means so much that there’s something to hide in.”

Stav talked about the inspiration of social media offering a new vein of storytelling and criminality.

“The Intrusions are the stuff we have all around us – all the static and scatter of TV and phones – everything is impinging on our consciousness and you don’t have time to think. So many great crime writers have come before us that have used all the great plots – Christie,

“James Ellroy – it’s good to have new criminality to deal with. But it’s not only criminality, the internet is affecting politics, it’s affecting elections, it affects us and our kids.”

Sherez beat stiff competition from the shortlist of six, whittled down from a longlist of 18 crime novels published by UK and Irish authors whose novels were published in paperback from 1 May 2017 to 30 April 2018.

The 2018 Award is run in partnership with T&R Theakston Ltd, WHSmith, and The Mail on Sunday.

Stav Sherez collected a £3,000 cash prize, as well as a hand-made, engraved oak beer cask made by Theakston Old Peculier.

The winner was decided by the panel of judges, comprising literary and media figures chaired this year by Lee Child, alongside a public vote.

The Intrusions is structured around the lead character – Carrigan’s - visits to the hospital to visit his mother who suffered a stroke.

Stav said: “I didn’t know anyone who died from a stroke, then a year into writing the book my dad had his first stroke, and was in and out of hospital rewriting scenes I’d already imagined. Philip Roth in his book at his father’s death was shocked at himself writing notes, in a way it’s remembering the dead, making sure their stories are never lost, which is in a way is what all literature is about.”

A special presentation was made to John Grisham - the winner of the ninth Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award.

Grisham joins Lee Child, Val McDermid, Sara Paretsky, Lynda La Plante, Ruth Rendell, PD James, Colin Dexter and Reginald Hill as recipients of the Award.

John Grisham said: “About 20 years ago I attended a Chelsea football match with my close friend and editor, Oliver Johnson. Afterwards, we retired to a pub and I had my first pint of Theakston Old Peculier. Others followed. It’s my favourite beer in the world.”

He added: “I want to thank you for your loyal readership over the years, because of you, the readers, people like myself and Lee Child are lucky enough to do what we do. Thank you very much.”

Title sponsor and executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said: “We’re particularly delighted to honour John Grisham. He is truly a giant of the genre, having sold 300 million books worldwide, with nine of his novels being adapted by Hollywood.

“His appearance at the Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival marks the first time he’s visited Yorkshire, something that will be remembered in Harrogate history for many years to come. The fact that he is a devotee of Old Peculier only adds to our delight.”

The shortlist in full:

Mick Herron, Spook Street

Val McDermid, Insidious Intent

Denise Mina, The Long Drop

Abir Mukherjee, A Rising Man

Stav Sherez, The Intrusions

Susie Steiner, Persons Unknown