CrimeFest, one of Europe’s leading crime writing conventions, has announced the shortlists for its annual awards.

Now in its 15th year, the awards honour the best crime books released in 2021 in the UK.

The awards include the Specsavers Debut Crime Novel Award, the winner of which receives a £1,000 prize. A further £1,000 prize fund is also awarded to the Audible Sounds of Crime Award, sponsored by Audible.

All category winners will receive a Bristol Blue Glass commemorative award.

Up for the hotly-contended Specsavers Debut Crime Novel Award is Saima Mir for The Khan, which was a Times and Sunday Times Crime Novel of the Year in 2021. Featuring lawyer Jia Khan, the novel has been praised as a dark, gripping thriller with an unforgettable heroine, and dubbed a “once-in-a-generation crime thriller”.

Mir faces strong competition from five other shortlisted authors, including Abigail Dean for Girl A, which became a Sunday Times global bestseller. Dean was claimed as “the biggest literary fiction voice of 2021”. The book is soon to be a TV show, directed by Chernobyl’s Johan Renck.

The winner of the Audible Sounds of Crime Award will be voted for by Audible UK listeners. This year, Richard Osman returns to the shortlist with The Man Who Died Twice read by Lesley Manville, after winning in 2021 for his phenomenal debut smash-hit, The Thursday Murder Club. Osman is up against big-hitters including Lee and Andrew Child, Paula Hawkins and Liane Moriarty.

Abigail Dean’s Girl A also features on the Audible Sounds of Crime shortlist. Dean is the only author up for three CrimeFest awards. Girl A is also in contention for the eDunnit Award for the best e-book, alongside bestselling authors Michael Connelly and Megan Abbot, as well as Gianrico Carofiglio for The Measure of Time, which was shortlisted for Italy’s most prestigious literary award, the STREGA prize.

Shortlisted for the H.R.F Keating Award for best biographical or critical book on crime fiction are books that focus on icons of the genre, including Ian Fleming’s nephew – James Fleming – for Bond Behind the Iron Curtain, and Patricia Highsmith: Her Diaries and Notebooks, which was published for the centenary of her birth in 2021. Richard Bradford’s acclaimed Devils, Lusts and Strange Desires: The Life of Patricia Highsmith also makes the list.

The Last Laugh Award sees Mick Herron’s Slough House on the shortlist. The Jackson Lamb series of dysfunctional British intelligence agents is due to be screened by Apple TV this April, starring Oscar-winner Gary Oldman. He’s up against stalwarts of the genre, including Simon Brett for An Untidy Death and Christopher Fowler with London Bridge is Falling Down.

Best Crime Novel for Children, aged 8-12, features giant of the genre Anthony Horowitz for Nightshade, from his popular Alex Rider series. The nominees also include the multi-award-winning Frank Cottrell-Boyce with Noah’s Gold, Alexandra Page’s charming Wishyouwas and M.G. Leonard’s birdwatching detective, Twitch.

Best Crime Novel for Young Adults, aged 12-16, features C.L. Taylor’s The Island, dubbed Lost meets The Hunger Games. Faridah Àbíké Íyímídé’s Ace of Spades also makes the list. An instant New York Times bestseller, Ace of Spades is described as Gossip Girl meets Get Out, and was nominated for the Carnegie Medal 2022.

Adrian Muller, Co-host of CrimeFest, said: “After two years of hosting our awards online due to Covid restrictions, we’re thrilled we will be announcing and celebrating the winners of 2022’s CrimeFest Awards in person at our convention in Bristol in May. These shortlists show how valuable books have been to all ages, particularly in times of isolation, as sources of escapism, entertainment and enrichment. We’d like to thank Audible and Specsavers for their on-going support of these awards.”

CrimeFest has had to postpone its 2020 and 2021 conventions, due to Covid restrictions. Hosted in Bristol, it is one of the biggest crime fiction events in Europe, and one of the most popular dates in the international crime fiction calendar, with circa 60 panel events and 150 authors over four days.

Leading British crime fiction reviewers and reviewers of fiction for children and young adults, alongside the members of the School Library Association (SLA) form the CrimeFest judging panels, aside from Audible Sounds in which Audible listeners establish the shortlist and the winning title.

Co-host of CrimeFest, Donna Moore, added: “We are proud to be one of the few genre awards that recognise e-books and audiobooks, humour, children and Young Adult crime fiction novels. We aim to be the most inclusive of awards to reflect the values of our convention, and the incredible diversity and reach of the genre which dominates the cultural landscape.”

CrimeFest was created following the hugely successful one-off visit to Bristol in 2006 of the American Left Coast Crime convention. It was established in 2008. It follows the egalitarian format of most US conventions, making it open to all commercially published authors and readers alike.

The 2022 Shortlists in full


In association with headline sponsor, the Specsavers Debut Crime Novel Award is for crime novels by previously unpublished authors bring vital fresh blood to the genre.

Abigail Dean, Girl A (HarperCollins)
Janice Hallett, The Appeal (Viper)
Saima Mir, The Khan (Point Blank)
Rahul Raina, How to Kidnap the Rich (Abacus/ Little, Brown Book Group)
Lara Thompson, One Night, New York (Virago/Little, Brown Book Group)
David Heska Wanbli Weiden, Winter Counts (Simon & Schuster)


The Audible Sounds of Crime Award is for the best unabridged crime audiobook available for download from, Britain’s largest provider of downloadable audiobooks.

Lee and Andrew Child, Better Off Dead read by Jeff Harding (Penguin Random House Audio)
Abigail Dean, Girl A read by Holliday Grainger (HarperFiction)
Paula Hawkins, Slow Fire Burning read by Rosamund Pike (Penguin Random House Audio)
Lisa Jewell, The Night She Disappeared read by Joanna Froggatt (Penguin Random House Audio)
Liane Moriarty, Apples Never Fall read by Caroline Lee (Penguin Random House Audio)
Richard Osman, The Man Who Died Twice read by Lesley Manville (Penguin Random House Audio)
K.L. Slater, The Marriage read by Lucy Price-Lewis (Audible Studios / Bookouture)
Karin Slaughter, False Witness read by Kathleen Early (HarperCollins)


The eDunnit Award is for the best crime fiction eBook

Megan Abbott, The Turnout (Virago/ Little, Brown Book Group)
Gianrico Carofiglio, The Measure of Time (Bitter Lemon Press)
Michael Connelly, The Dark Hours (Orion Fiction)
Abigail Dean, Girl A (HarperCollins)
Cath Staincliffe, Running Out of Road (Constable/ Little, Brown Book Group)
Andrew Taylor, The Royal Secret (HarperCollins)


The H.R.F. Keating Award is for the best biographical or critical book related to crime fiction. The award is named after H.R.F. ‘Harry’ Keating, one of Britain’s most esteemed crime novelists.

Lucy Andrews, The Detective’s Companion in Crime Fiction: A Study in Sidekicks (Palgrave Macmillan)
Richard Bradford, Devils, Lusts and Strange Desires: The Life of Patricia Highsmith (Bloomsbury, Caravel)
James Fleming, Bond Behind the Iron Curtain (The Book Collector)
Patricia Highsmith, Patricia Highsmith: Her Diaries and Notebooks (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Carla Valentine, Murder Isn’t Easy: The Forensics of Agatha Christie (Sphere/ Little, Brown Book Group)
Stephen James Walker, Hank Janson Under Cover (Telos Publishing Ltd)


The Last Laugh Award is for the best humorous crime novel.

Simon Brett, An Untidy Death (Severn House)
Andrea Camilleri, Riccardino (Mantle)
Christopher Fowler, Bryant & May: London Bridge is Falling Down (Doubleday)
Janice Hallet, The Appeal (Viper)
Mick Herron, Slough House (Baskerville, John Murray Press)
Antti Tuomainen, The Rabbit Factor (Orenda Books)


This award is for the best crime fiction novel for children (aged 8-12)

Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Noah’s Gold (Macmillan Children’s Books)
Maz Evans, Vi Spy: Licence to Chill (Chicken House)
Anthony Horowitz, Nightshade (Walker Books)
Anthony Kessel, The Five Clues (Crown House Publishing)
Jennifer Killick Crater, Lake Evolution (Firefly Press)
M.G. Leonard, Twitch (Walker Books)
Alexandra Page, Wishyouwas: The Tiny Guardian of Lost Letters illustrated by Penny Neville-Lee (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
Ella Risbridger, The Secret Detectives (Nosy Crow)


This award is for the best crime fiction novel for young adults (aged 12-16).

Faridah Àbíké Íyímídé, Ace of Spades (Usborne Publishing)
Angeline Boulley, Firekeeper’s Daughter (Rock the Boat)
Andreina Cordani, The Girl Who … (Atom/ Little, Brown Book Group)
William Hussey, The Outrage (Usborne Publishing)
Holly Jackson, As Good As Dead (Electric Monkey)
Patrice Lawrence, Splinters of Sunshine (Hodder Children’s Books)
Jonathan Stroud, The Outlaws of Scarlett & Browne (Walker Books)
C.L. Taylor, The Island (HQ)