Former policewoman Clare Mackintosh has beaten JK Rowling to the Theakstons Old Peculier crime novel of the year award.
Harry Potter author Rowling was shortlisted for Career Of Evil, written under her pen name Robert Galbraith, but lost out to Mackintosh with her debut thriller, I Let You Go.
Mackintosh spent 12 years in the police force but left in 2011 and became a full-time writer.
The crime-writing prize is now in its twelfth year, with previous winners including Val McDermid, Lee Child, Mark Billingham, Sarah Hilary and Denise Mina.
Mackintosh, who will receive £3,000, beat off competition from a shortlist of six British and Irish authors whose novels were published in paperback between May 1 2015 and April 30 2016.
Clare Mackintosh has scooped the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award for her first thriller I Let You Go (Sphere). Meanwhile, Val McDermid was honoured for her outstanding contribution to crime fiction.
Mackintosh was presented the award by title sponsor Simon Theakston and broadcaster Mark Lawson tonight (21st July) at the opening night of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. Mackintosh collected a £3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade, engraved oak beer cask made by Theakston Old Peculier.
Mackintosh spent 12 years in the police force, including time on CID, and as a public order commander. She left the police in 2011 and now writes full time.
Mackintosh beat off competition from the five other shortlisted titles which were Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty (Serpent’s Tail), Career Of Evil by Robert Galbraith (Sphere), Time Of Death by Mark Billingham (Sphere), Tell No Tales by Eva Dolan (Harvill Secker) and Disclaimer by Renee Knight (Black Swan).
A special presentation was made to Val McDermid – the winner of the seventh Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award. McDermid joins Sara Paretsky, Lynda La Plante, Ruth Rendell, PD James, Colin Dexter and Reginald Hill as recipients of the prize.
McDermid said: “It’s an honour and a thrill to receive this award. The community of writers and readers at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is unlike any other in its warmth and generosity and so this means a huge amount to me. This year sees the publication of my 30th novel and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate that.”