Former Uber driver and bartender Adrian McKinty has been awarded the UK’s most prestigious accolade in crime writing, the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.
His best-selling thriller The Chain sees parents forced to abduct children to save the lives of their own.
The success comes after Adrian’s family were evicted from their home, forcing him to put down his pen and find work as a taxi driver and bartender to make ends meet.
Persuaded to give his dream one last go, Adrian began writing what would become his smash hit sensation The Chain, now a bestseller in more than countries with move rights snapped up by Universal in a seven-figure deal.
“I am gobsmacked and delighted to win this award. Two years ago, I had given up on writing altogether and was working in a bar and driving an Uber, and so to go from that to this is just amazing,” said Adrian.
“People think that you write a book and it will be an immediate bestseller. For 12 books, my experience was quite the opposite, but then I started this one. It was deliberately high concept, deliberately different to everything else I had written, and I was still convinced it wouldn’t go anywhere, but now look at this. It has been completely life changing.”
The news was revealed in a virtual awards ceremony on what would have been the opening night of Harrogate’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, which was cancelled due to the pandemic. in Harrogate.
Instead, the announcement of the trophy has marked the launch of the HIF Weekender, Harrogate International Festival’s free virtual festival bringing world-class culture to everyone at home, featuring performances and interviews with internationally acclaimed musicians, best-selling authors and innovative thinkers.
Described by US crime writer Don Winslow as “nothing short of Jaws for parents” The Chain was chosen by public vote and the prize Judges, triumphing against a shortlist, including books from Oyinkan Braithwaite, Helen Fitzgerald, Jane Harper,Mick Herron and Abir Mukherjee.
The UK is experiencing a boom in crime fiction, with the genre exploding in popularity during lockdown and sales soaring since bookshops have reopened.
Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said: “Looking at the titles in contention for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2020, it is clear to see why crime fiction remains the UK’s genre of choice.
“Adrian McKinty is a writer of astonishing talent and tenacity, and we could not be more grateful that he was persuaded to give his literary career one last shot because
“The Chain is a truly deserving winner.“While we might be awarding this year’s trophy in slightly different, digital circumstances, we raise a virtual glass of Theakston Old Peculier to Adrian’s success, with the hope that we can do so in person before too long, and welcome everyone back to Harrogate next year for a crime writing celebration like no other.”
Adrian, who was previously nominated in 2011, 2014 and 2016 for his Sean Duffy series, will receive £3,000 and an engraved oak beer cask, hand-carved by one of Britain’s last coopers from Theakstons Brewery.
The full shortlist was ...The Chain by Adrian McKintyMy Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan BraithwaiteWorst Case Scenario by Helen FitzgeraldThe Lost Man by Jane HarperJoe Country by Mick HerronSmoke and Ashes by Abir Mukherjee