The best things about CrimeFest 2015

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Maj Sjowall shares some crime writing advice with Lee Child.

With its ancient port, the city of Bristol in the West of England used to welcome merchants from all around the world. They came to trade trinkets, wool, corn and cotton and even people. Those days are long gone, but this weekend the city was inviting visitors from around the globe once again, and they came to talk about crime. Over 400 authors, agents, publishers and crime fiction fans converged on the city for a jam-packed four days, which offered plenty of discussion points. In fact, there were over 50 curated panels and speaking events. Crime Fiction Lover’s excellent contributor Raven was on hand for the entire event, and she sent in this report on the best things that happened between 14 and 17 May at CrimeFest 2015.

1 – International Dagger shortlist
The event itself attracted people from dozens of different nationalities, and that worldwide theme chimed merrily with the CWA’s unveiling of an interesting shortlist for its International Dagger award. From Scandinavia to South Africa, this incredibly strong list of the cream of international crime writing includes Falling Freely as if in a Dream by Lief GW Persson (Sweden), Camille by Pierre Lemaitre (France), Cobra by Deon Meyer (South Africa), Arab Jazz by Karim Miské (France), The Invisible Guardian by Delores Redondo (Spain) and Into a Raging Blaze by Andreas Norman (Sweden). Click here to see the other Dagger shortlists.


Yrsa Sigurdardottir with the 2015 Petrona Award.

2 – The Petrona Award
Maxine Clarke led the way in blogging about Scandinavian crime fiction under the pseudonym Petrona. Sadly she passed away in 2012 and in her honour the Petrona Award is given at CrimeFest to highlight the best of Scandinavian crime fiction. This year, it goes to Icelandic author Yrsa Siggurdottir for her book The Silence of the Sea. Congratulations, Yrsa!

3 – Lee Child interviewing Maj Sjowall
This was the absolute must-see discussion of the entire event, with the master of the contemporary crime thriller in conversation with the godmother of Scandinavian crime fiction. Every person in the room was held utterly spellbound hearing Maj Sjowall, co-creator of the Martin Beck series, discussing her life and career, and her special writing relationship with Per Wahloo.

4 – Debut authors in the spotlight
Most crime fiction events feature a new blood panel, but CrimeFest 2015 literally had a succession of them. They highlighted the stand out debut novelists of the last year or so, and revealed the routes they took to get published. Legal thrillers, police procedurals, American noir, historical novels and at all points in between, the crime fiction genre is in rude health thanks to the diverse collection of new voices.

crookedherring2005 – The CrimeFest Awards
And CrimeFest 2015 wouldn’t have been complete without its own set of honours. Robert Galbraith won the Audible Sound of Crime Award for The Silkworm audiobook, while the eDunnit Award for the best crime fiction ebook went to Charles Cumming for A Colder War. If you like a giggle with your crime fiction, try Crooked Herring by LC Tyler because it won the Goldsboro Last Laugh Award. On the non-fiction side there was the HRG Keating Award which covers biographies and critical books relating to crime fiction. This prize was won by Clare Clarke for Late Victorian Crime Fiction in the Shadows of Sherlock (Crime Files) – a worthy winner indeed.

Did you attend CrimeFest 2015? Let us know what your favourite aspects of it were in the comments below. Click here for more crime fiction events.

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