McIlvanney Prize Longlist 2021

PRESENTING THE LONGLISTED BOOKS FOR 2021’S MCILVANNEY PRIZE

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You can also click on the covers to purchase the books from Waterstones.

The Cut by Chris Brookmyre

Millie Spark can kill anyone.

A special effects make-up artist, her talent is to create realistic scenes of bloody violence.

Then, one day, she wakes to find her lover dead in her bed.

Twenty-five years later, her sentence for murder served, Millicent is ready to give up on her broken life – until she meets troubled film student and reluctant petty thief Jerry.

Together, they begin to discover that all was not what it seemed on that fateful night … and someone doesn’t want them to find out why.

The Silent Daughter by Emma Christie

Deceit runs in the family…

Chris Morrison is facing his worst nightmare.

His wife is in a coma.

His daughter is missing.

And the only thing more unsettling than these two events…is what might connect them.

Some secrets can change a family for ever.

Before the Storm by Alex Gray

Inspector Daniel Kohi of the Zimbabwean police force returns home one night to find his worst nightmare has been realised. His family dead, his house destroyed, and in fear for his life, he is forced to flee the country he loves.

Far away in Glasgow, DSI William Lorimer has his hands full. Christmas is approaching, the city is bustling, and whilst the homicide rate has been relatively low, something much darker is brewing. Counter-Terrorism have got wind of a plot, here in Lorimer’s native city, to carry out an unspeakable atrocity on Christmas Eve. They need someone with local knowledge to help them root it out and who better than the head of the Scottish Major Incidents Team.

But the investigation is complicated by a spate of local murders, and by the rumours that someone is passing information to criminal organisations from inside the police force. Soon Lorimer finds himself in desperate need of assistance. Then he meets an extraordinary man – a refugee from Zimbabwe whose investigative skills are a match for Lorimer’s own…

Dead Man’s Grave by Neil Lancaster

This grave can never be opened.

This murder can never be forgotten.

This killer can never be caught.

The head of Scotland’s most powerful crime family is brutally murdered, his body dumped inside an ancient grave in a remote cemetery.

Detectives Max Craigie and Janie Calder arrive at the scene, a small town where everyone has secrets to hide. They soon realise this murder is part of a blood feud between two Scottish families that stretches back to the 1800s. One thing’s for certain: it might be the latest killing, but it won’t be the last…

As the body count rises, the investigation uncovers large-scale corruption at the heart of the Scottish Police Service. Now Max and Janie must turn against their closest colleagues – to solve a case that could cost them far more than just their lives…

The Coffin Maker’s Garden by Stuart Macbride

A village on the edge…

As a massive storm batters the Scottish coast, Gordon Smith’s home is falling into the North Sea. But the crumbling headland has revealed what he’s got buried in his garden: human remains.

A house full of secrets…

With the storm still raging, it’s too dangerous to retrieve the bodies and waves are devouring the evidence. Which means no one knows how many people Smith’s already killed and how many more he’ll kill if he can’t be stopped.

An investigator with nothing to lose…

The media are baying for blood, the top brass are after a scapegoat, and ex-Detective Inspector Ash Henderson is done playing nice. He’s got a killer to catch, and God help anyone who gets in his way.

The stunning new thriller featuring Ash Henderson from No. 1 Sunday Times bestseller Stuart MacBride.

Still Life by Val McDermid

The bodies never stay buried forever …’On a freezing winter morning, fishermen pull a body from the sea. It is quickly discovered that the dead man was the prime suspect in a decade-old investigation, when a prominent civil servant disappeared without trace. DCI Karen Pirie was the last detective to review the file and is drawn into a sinister world of betrayal and dark secrets.

But Karen is already grappling with another case, one with even more questions and fewer answers. A skeleton has been discovered in an abandoned campervan and all clues point to a killer who never faced justice – a killer who is still out there.

In her search for the truth, Karen uncovers a network of lies that has gone unchallenged for years. But lies and secrets can turn deadly when someone is determined to keep them hidden for good…

Bad Debt by William McIntyre

Defence Lawyer Robbie Munro’s wife has been stalked by a witness in a trial she is prosecuting. When the stalker is killed and Robbie is charged with murder his friends are only too willing to come up with schemes to prove his innocence.

In the end though, will it be his enemies who make the difference?

The Less Dead by Denise Mina

When Margo goes in search of her birth mother for the first time, she meets her aunt, Nikki, instead. Margo learns that her mother, Susan, was a sex worker murdered soon after Margo’s adoption. To this day, Susan’s killer has never been found.

Nikki asks Margo for help. She has received threatening and haunting letters from the murderer, for decades. She is determined to find him, but she can’t do it alone…

A brilliant, thought-provoking and heart-wrenching new thriller about identity and the value of a life, from the award-winning author of The Long Drop and Conviction.

How to Survive Everything by Ewan Morrison

My dad taught us to be prepared for whatever was coming. He said we should know the facts about how long we could survive without food, water or fresh air, and to remember that we couldn’t live at all without hope. It was better, he said, to be ahead of the game. Better to be ten years too early than one minute too late. That’s why he did what he did, on that morning…

Inspired by her father’s advance planning and her own ingenuity and courage, this is one teenage girl’s survival guide for navigating life under a new, even more deadly pandemic from the confines of a prepper compound. Will she ride out the collapse of everything she knows, and how can she save her family – and sanity?

Edge of the Grave by Robbie Morrison

When Charles Geddes, son-in-law of one of the city’s wealthiest shipbuilders, is found floating in the River Clyde with his throat cut, his beautiful widow Isla Lockhart asks for Inspector James Dreghorn to lead the murder case.

Dreghorn has a troubled history with the powerful Lockhart family that stretches back to before the First World War and is reluctant to become involved. But facing pressure from his superiors, he has no choice in the matter.

The investigation takes him and his partner ‘Bonnie’ Archie McDaid from the flying fists and flashing blades of the Glasgow underworld to the backstabbing upper echelons of government and big business in order to find out who wanted Charles Geddes dead and why. As the case deepens, the pair will put their lives on the line in the pursuit of a sadistic killer who is ready to strike again…

The April Dead by Alan Parks

In a grimy flat in Glasgow, a homemade bomb explodes, leaving few remains to identify its maker.

Detective Harry McCoy knows in his gut that there’ll be more to follow. The hunt for a missing sailor from the local US naval base leads him to the secretive group behind the bomb, and their disturbing, dominating leader.

On top of that, McCoy thinks he’s doing an old friend a favour when he passes on a warning, but instead he’s pulled into a vicious gang feud. And in the meantime, there’s word another bigger explosion is coming Glasgow’s way – so if the city is to survive, it’ll take everything McCoy’s got…


Hyde by Craig Russell

Edward Hyde has a strange gift – or a curse – he keeps secret from all but his physician. He experiences two realities, one real, the other a dreamworld state brought on by a neurological condition.

When murders in Victorian Edinburgh echo the ancient Celtic threefold death ritual, Captain Edward Hyde hunts for those responsible. In the process he becomes entangled in a web of Celticist occultism and dark scheming by powerful figures. The answers are there to be found, not just in the real world but in the sinister symbolism of Edward Hyde’s otherworld.

He must find the killer, or lose his mind.

A dark tale. One that inspires Hyde’s friend…Robert Louis Stevenson.

Waking the Tiger by Mark Wightman

Singapore, 1939: A young Japanese woman is found dead on the dockside, her throat slashed.

A distinctive tiger tattoo is the only clue to her identity.

Who is she? And why are the authorities turning a blind eye?

Inspector Maximo Betancourt is working a new beat, one he didn’t ask for. Following the disappearance of his wife, his life and career have fallen apart.

Once a rising star of Singapore CID, Betancourt has been relegated to the Marine Division, with tedious dockyard disputes and goods inspections among his new duties.

But when a beautiful, unidentified Japanese woman is found murdered in the shadow of a warehouse owned by one of Singapore’s most powerful families, Betancourt defies orders and pursues those responsible. What he discovers will bring him into conflict with powerful enemies, and force him to face his personal demons.