McIlvanney Prize 2022 Longlist Announced!

We are delighted to announce the longlist for the McIlvanney Prize 2022. In Bloody Scotland’s 10th Anniversary year, it seems very fitting that a clear longlist of ten books emerged after the prize readers scores were tallied. Six years ago, the Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award was renamed the McIlvanney Prize in memory of William McIlvanney. The Prize recognises excellence in Scottish crime writing, and includes a prize of £1,000 and nationwide promotion in Waterstones.

The longlisted titles are:
May God Forgive, Alan Parks (Canongate)
The Second Cut, Louise Welsh (Canongate)
A Rattle of Bones, Douglas Skelton (Polygon)
From the Ashes, Deborah Masson (Transworld)
A Matter of Time, Claire Askew (Hodder)
A Corruption of Blood, Ambrose Parry (Canongate)
The Heretic, Liam McIlvanney (Harpercollins)
Rizzio, Denise Mina (Polygon)
The Sound of Sirens, Ewan Gault (Leamington Books)
The Blood Tide, Neil Lancaster (Harpercollins)

The McIlvanney Prize will be judged by Ayo Onatade, winner of the CWA Red Herring Award and freelance crime fiction critic, Janice Forsyth, presenter of the Afternoon Show on BBC Radio Scotland and Ewan Wilson, crime fiction buyer from Waterstones Glasgow. The Glencairn Glass, the world’s favourite whisky glass, is again sponsoring both The McIlvanney Prize and The Bloody Scotland Debut Crime Novel of the Year for 2022.

Finalists for the McIlvanney Prize will be revealed at the beginning of September. The winner will be revealed in Stirling on Thursday 15 September.

The McIlvanney Prize recognises excellence in Scottish crime writing, includes a prize of £1000 and nationwide promotion in Waterstones. Previous winners are Craig Russell with Hyde in 2021, Francine Toon with Pine in 2020, Manda Scott with A Treachery of Spies in 2019 (who chose to share her prize with all the finalists), Liam McIlvanney with The Quaker in 2018, Denise Mina with The Long Drop 2017, Chris Brookmyre with Black Widow 2016, Craig Russell with The Ghosts of Altona in 2015, Peter May with Entry Island in 2014, Malcolm Mackay with How A Gunman Says Goodbye in 2013 and Charles Cumming with A Foreign Country in 2012.

The initial longlisting is handled by over 100 crime fiction readers from all over Scotland including booksellers, bloggers, librarians and festival-goers and the longlist is then handed to the high-profile team of judges to decide on the eventual winner.

We have also revealed our Scottish Crime Debut of the Year 2022.

You can find out more about each longlisted book here.

McIlvanney Prize 2017 judges!

We're excited to reveal the McIlvanney Prize 2017 judges as Susan Calman and Craig Sisterson, chaired by Lee Randall.

Susan said: ‘I am absolutely delighted to be on the judging panel for the McIlvanney Prize this year.  I’m an avid fan of Scottish Crime fiction and this is less a chore and more a dream come true.  I can’t wait to get stuck in, reading the wonderful books produced this year.’  

She joins Lee Randall, last year a judge, now promoted to chair: ‘I was honoured to be asked to chair the judging panel for this year’s McIlvanney Prize. I’ve always known — and it was reinforced when I programmed this year's first Granite Noir festival, for Aberdeen — that crime writers and their readers are a special breed. I relish the opportunity to dive into a longlist created by these same readers. I suspect that this year’s panel will have tough choices to make, given the abundance of talent out there, but look forward to the challenge.’

They are joined by Craig Sisterson, founder of New Zealand’s Ngaio Marsh Awards who said: ‘William McIlvanney raised the crime writing bar for Scottish writers and those further afield. It's an absolute honour to be a judge for this year's McIlvanney Prize, which celebrates his outstanding legacy - as evidenced by the strength and quality of modern Scottish crime writing. I'm looking forward to some excellent reading and vigorous debate with my fellow judges.’

The prize is open for submissions until April 28th and full info can be found here: 

Chris Brookmyre wins McIlvanney Prize 2016


The late, great William McIlvanney described Bloody Scotland, which opens this evening, as the most ‘friendly‘ and ‘supportive’ festival he had ever been to.

Bloody Scotland 2016 is dedicated in his honour and tonight his online gambling brother Hugh McIlvanney OBE reveals that the winner of the inaugural Mclvanney Prize (previously Scottish Crime Book of the Year) is Black Widow by Chris Brookmyre.

The judges - journalist, Lee Randall, award-winning librarian, Stewart Bain and former editor of The Scotsman and The Times Scotland, Magnus Linklater – described Black Widow as:

like watching Olympic diving – just when you think the plot can’t twist again, it takes a new turn. Even the twists have twists. With a theme of cyber-abuse, this shows an author taking a long running series to new heights.’

Brookmyre first came to prominence in 1996 with his debut Quite Ugly One Morning which went on to be televised with James Nesbitt of Cold Feet fame in the role of Jack Parlabane. It won the Critics’ First Blood Award for Best Crime Novel of the Year and 20 years later Black Widow has not only won The McIlvanney Prize but is shortlisted for the prestigious CWA Gold Dagger Award to be announced on 11 October.

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon tweeted in February that her husband had bought Black Widow for her as a Valentine’s present and she stayed up until 2am to finish it.

The McIlvanney Prize recognises excellence in Scottish crime writing, includes an award of £1000 and nationwide promotion in Waterstones.

Buy Black Widow from Waterstones.

McIlvanney Prize finalists

We're excited to reveal the four finalists of the McIlvanney Prize 2016.


Black Widow - Chris Brookmyre
The Jump - Doug Johnstone
Val McDermid - Splinter the Silence
E. S. Thomson - Beloved Poison

Judges Lee Randall, Stewart Bain & Magnus Linklater said of the finalists:

Black Widow by Chris Brookmyre - this novel is like watching Olympic diving – just when you think the plot can’t twist again, it takes a new turn.  Even the twists have twists.  With a theme of cyber-abuse, this shows an author taking a long running series to new heights.

Splinter the Silence by Val McDermid - set in a totally believable world of internet trolling, this novel features established characters but moves their relationship into a new place, suffused with longing.  Easily accessible, even to those readers who have not been introduced to earlier books in the series.

The Jump by Doug Johnstone a taut psychological thriller with a powerful and absorbing narrative which makes this work a compelling read. The reader is drawn into a family drama, suicide, murder -- and a plot whose outcome remains nail-bitingly unresolved until the final pages.

Beloved Poison by E. S. Thomson - an ambitious and original novel, full of vivid historical detail about Victorian medicine, and a richly gothic atmosphere, with a large cast of wonderfully named characters, including the strong lead character.

The winner of the Scottish Crime Book of the Year will be awarded The McIlvanney Prize in memory of William McIlvanney at the opening ceremony of Bloody Scotland. His brother, Hugh McIlvanney OBE, will present the award on Friday 9th September to the winner and all four finalists will be presented with a full set of Laidlaw novels.

For full info on the longlist go here.

There is also more information available in the press release.

Doug Johnstone: 5 albums to write crime by

doug-j2-300x200McIlvanney Prize longlister Doug Johnstone told us his top 5 albums that he listens to while writing. 

I mostly listen to instrumental music when writing, as I find it hard to concentrate if there are vocals and lyrics. I like to listen to stuff that’s maybe a wee bit unsettling or offbeat too, just to set the vibe for the nasty things in the books.


Boards of Canada, ‘The Campfire Headphase’

Two Scottish brothers who make electronica that sounds like a false memory from the 1970s. Retro but also futuristic, somehow comforting but also unnerving. I love all their music, but this is their best album.

Mogwai, ‘Les Revenants’

Again, I love all of Mogwai’s music, but I find myself returning to this record over and over again. It’s their soundtrack to the melancholic French drama of the same name, beautifully understated, but still disturbing.

Jon Hopkins, ‘Late Night Tales’

Hopkins is a brilliant producer and soundtrack composer, and this is a mix album of other people’s music that he’s weaved together. It’s a beautiful example of how to evoke mood through sounds, so skillfully put together, it’s a real journey from start to finish.

LCD Soundsystem, ‘45.33’

LCD Soundsystem are an amazing punk-dance outfit from NYC. Their regular music is full of poignant lyrics and vocals by frontman James Murphy, but this continuous mix is one of the finest and funkiest soundtracks to life imaginable.

The Avalanches, ‘Since I Left You’

This album was allegedly made up entirely of samples from other records, and I could believe it. A leftfield Australian collective, they disappeared after this amazing album, which is a patchwork of wobbly beats and scratchy mash-ups.

Doug Johnstone will be appearing at Bloody Scotland in Writing Orkney on Sunday 11th Sept, 1:30pm and at our Scotland vs England football match.

Douglas Skelton on 'The Buddy System'

Douglas-SkeltonMcIlvanney Prize longlister Douglas Skelton wrote a blog for us about the importance of sidekicks in crime writing, or, as he calls it, 'the buddy system'.

Holmes had his Watson, Sexton Blake had Tinker (before Lovejoy inherited him), Poirot had Captain Hastings, Nero Wolfe had Archie, Batman had Robin.

I am, of course, talking sidekicks. The assistant.

Generally speaking, the pal was there mostly to allow the incisive mind of the sleuth to show off. (‘Holmes, you astound me!’) He, or very occasionally, she, was a foil, perhaps even acted as a muse – or simply to amuse. (Step forward Nigel Bruce.) Sometimes, they might handle the rough stuff. (‘Do you have your service revolver, Watson?’)

But it’s all changed now. The sidekick has grown up and tends to be far more hands-on than before, not just in handling the action but in actually solving the crime.

As a Scot I like to think the notion of the buddy system was created by Arthur Conan Doyle, but really it goes back to Edgar Allan Poe and ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’. Dupin had a chum. He wasn’t named and it was more or less a bit part, but Dupin needed to show off his ratiocination to someone.

However, it was Doyle who really ran with the sidekick. Or rather, walked at a sedate pace. I don’t see Holmes as much of a runner, despite Mr Cumberbatch’s efforts. Not to mention the energetic Peter Cushing.

There followed an endless stream of super-smart detectives expounding to an all-agog associate. Charlie Chan to Number One Son, Morse to Lewis, Columbo to, well, anyone he was about to collar.

In modern crime fiction the tradition continues, although the inaccurate image of Nigel Bruce’s bumbling Watson has transformed, perhaps most noticeably in TV’s ‘Elementary’ in which the character is not only Holmes’ equal but a woman to boot.

Robert Crais’s Joe Pike is partners with Elvis Cole, but the sidekick role in this duo is interchangeable.

Similarly, John Connolly’s Charlie Parker can call on Louis and Angel when the going gets tough and he needs the tough to get going. But Parker’s more than capable himself.

The point is, nowadays they’re not so much sidekicks as a collaborators. The central protagonist may have to go it alone on occasion or as part of a team.

But he or she will never get by without his pals.

Douglas will be at Bloody Scotland this year in Scotland the Grave on Saturday 10th September, 12:15pm. His book Open Wounds is longlisted for this year's McIlvanney Prize.

Val McDermid: 5 tracks to write crime by


Because it's Bloody Scotland's fifth year we asked McIlvanney Prize 2016 longlister Val McDermid to reveal the top 5 songs that accompany her while she writes her books.

Private Investigations - Dire Straits

Moody and dark, with a great guitar break from Mark Knopfler. I used to listen to this a lot when I was writing the Kate Brannigan private eye novels.

Von - Sigur Ros

I often listen to Sigur Ros when I'm writing. Because their lyrics aren't in English, they don't distract me and I love the way they blend the ethereal vocal with the very strong musical lines.

Struggle for Pleasure - Wim Mertens

I love Wim Mertens music. I find it good for concentration and also quite uplifting, which is always a good antidote to some of the dark places the work takes me. And his voice is quite extraordinary, which is also a good way to get into heads that are far from ordinary.

Dies Irae from the Requiem - WA Mozart

There comes a point close to the end of a book where I need a kick of energy to drive me forward and this is a track that does precisely that. It's a great surge of sound that impels me into action, profoundly serious and quite terrifying too.

Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts - Bob Dylan

This is one of those great story songs. It bounces along with an energy and brio that belies the darkness of the tale it tells. It's always good to be reminded of how to write tantalising mystery into a narrative. And it has one of my all-time favourite lines -- 'The only person on the scene missing was the Jack of Hearts.'

Splinter the Silence by Val McDermid is published by Sphere, £7.99.