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Deanston Scottish Crime Book Of The Year 2013

Anyone who is a regular follower of Fiction Books, will know that my favourite genres are murder/mystery and suspense/thriller. I have discovered over the years, just how proficient and successful that Scottish writers in particular, seem to be in these genres, with the line up for this year’s Deanston Award bearing out that view. A relative ‘who’s who’ of names were in strong contention for this year’s prize, so it was with great surprise and delight that a relative newcomer to the scene won the accolades of his more seasoned competitors and walked off with the title.

Image For Bloody Scotland - Scotland's International Crime Writing Festival


The Deanston Scottish Crime Book Of The Year, is awarded as part of ‘Bloody Scotland’, Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival, held this year in Stirling.

Deanston Distillery’s support of Bloody Scotland fits well with its history and bloody past, which includes connections to the infamous murderers, Burke and Hare.

The award has been commissioned to raise the profile of Scottish crime writing, whilst seeking to increase the recognition and prestige of the genre as a whole. To keep the ethos of the competition as authentic as possible, all authors must either have been born in Scotland, live in the country, or set their entered book within its shores.

The competition for the distinction of winning this coveted title, the trophy presented to the winner and the £1,000 prize money, have attracted some serious contenders from the genre this year, with the shortlist reading like a who’s who of crime writing authors ….

Ann Cleeves – ‘Dead Water’

Gordon Ferris – ‘Pilgrim Soul’

Malcolm MacKay – ‘How A Gunman Says Goodbye’

Denise Mina – ‘The Red Road’

Val McDermid – ‘The Vanishing Point’

Ian Rankin – ‘Standing In Another Man’s Grave’

This exceptionally strong list demonstrates the wealth and diversity of contemporary Scottish crime writing. Many of the authors are already at the top of their game, however new talent is equally well represented and received, as this year’s eventual winner and recipient of the award, Malcolm MacKay discovered.


Image Of Author Malcolm MacKayStornoway is a town on the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. It is the birthplace and home to bachelor Malcolm MacKay, where he still lives with his parents, his father, Malcolm, a painter and decorator and his mother, Elma, who was a home help.

He has only left the islands to visit the mainland City of Glasgow, where his trilogy of books are set, a couple of times in his life. Following a diagnosis of ME, Malcolm was forced to leave mainstream education early in favour of home tuition. He has never had regular employment and has most certainly never been a cold-blooded contract killer, unlike his main protagonist Frank MacLeod. In fact, home was never a very bookish place for Malcolm and he will openly admit that he does very little research for his ‘tartan noir’ stories, simply relying on his very active imagination and the pulp fiction books which he discovered on-line, together with the influence which the classic American crime writers have had on him.

Malcolm relishes his quiet and more relaxed pace of life on the islands and couldn’t really imagine life in the mainstream cut and thrust of the world which he creates for his characters, or for the extreme and dangerous situations in which he places them.

I think that’s how it has to be. The early excitement, the lingering doubt. Without those things, why would you ever try again? The excitement of that first idea, of building a book around it. The doubt about it, pushing you toward that even more exciting next idea. That constant belief that the next idea is the best you’ve ever had is the greatest inspiration.

“It’s a huge and unexpected honour to win the Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year. “At this stage of my career, I still feel like a kid being allowed to sit at the grown-ups’ table when put beside talent like my fellow nominees, so just being nominated was a great thrill for me. The quality of the six shortlisted novels highlights the depth and variety of Scottish crime writing, and the Deanston Award and Bloody Scotland Festival show what a vibrant scene it is.”

THE WINNING BOOK Is the second in the ‘Glasgow Trilogy’


How does a gunman retire? Frank MacLeod was the best at what he does. Thoughtful. Efficient. Ruthless. But is he still the best? A new job. A target. But something is about to go horribly wrong. Someone is going to end up dead. Most gunmen say goodbye to the world with a bang. Frank’s still here. He’s lasted longer than he should have . ..

The breathtaking, devastating sequel to lauded debut ‘The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter’, ‘How a Gunman Says Goodbye’ will plunge the reader back into the Glasgow underworld, where criminal organisations war for prominence and those caught up in events are tested at every turn.

Congratulations on your outstanding success against such fierce competition, Malcolm. I look forward to reading the series as soon as possible.

Written by

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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  • Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival sounds like a fun event Yvonne. I checked out the website and it looks like they have some nice events going on there. Malcolm MacKay sounds like an author to look out for. Great post!

    • Hi Naida,

      I keep talking about attending one or two of the many Crime Writing Festivals which take place all over the country, but I never I never seem to get past the talking about it stage! Fellow bloggers who have attended similar events, both here and in the US, have nothing but praise for them, as well as nabbing themselves some fantastic giveaways into the bargain!

      Malcolm MacKay is a definite for my reading list and although he doesn’t as yet have his own website, here is the link to his panmacmillan page, where you can check out all three of the books in the ‘Glasgow Trilogy’ and find out a few more bits of trivia about Malcolm …


      Thanks for stopping by, I hope that you are having a good week so far.

  • Yvonne, what a nice write up on this event and the winner! I want to go to this event something fierce! Maybe next year! I hope new author James Oswald wins next year!

    • Hi Peggy,

      You set the teaser by mentioning another new to me author, knowing that I would just have to go and check him out! Now I have another author and series of books to add to my toppling TBR pile and wishlist that is longer than a roll of wallpaper! LOL

      Seriously, I am loving the sound of the D.I. McLean series, although I think I shall pass on the fantasy epic. Thank you so much for the recommendation and who knows … maybe we shall see James’s name up there on the award shortlist next year!

      Thanks for stopping by, it is always good to hear from you.

    • Hi Carolyn,

      As I said, it seems as though the Scots have a real knack for writing a great crime thriller and as a nation, appear able to turn out new authors on a regular basis, almost all of whom are more than competent in the genre.

      They almost all seem to have the same blueprint for a successful story: gritty characters who generally have more personal problems than anyone I know; straight talking narrative with down to earth scene of crime descriptions; and storylines which deal openly and candidly with just about every sordid and dysfunctional facet of society.

      From the Deanston short list I knew of all but two of the authors; Gordon Ferris and of course Malcolm MacKay, both of whom are now on my own ever-growing list.

      I don’t know which, if any, of the list authors you have read, but I think that anyone who loves a gritty, no holds barred, thriller, needs to read an Ian Rankin novel at some point in their lives.

      Thanks for continuing to support Fiction Books, it is always good to talk with you.

  • I’m current with Ian Rankin – and my husband loves them, too. We’ve also read most of McDermid and Mina. I’m going to search out the others for winter reading. They say we can expect a lot of rain and cold this winter, so I want to be prepared with a pile of books, a charged Kindle, some candles, a few bags of cheese crunchies, the gas fireplace, and a bottle of ________. I’ll let you fill in the blank with your favorite beverage.

    • Hi Carolyn,

      If you are looking to stock up on your winter reading material, then another excellent book I can recommend is ‘Primal’ by one of your fellow compatriots, Deborah Serra. I have just finished reading this one and along with your own book ‘Sea Of Regret’, is in my review pending pile. In fact, the synopses are not all that dissimilar between the two, although ‘Primal’ might just have the edge in the violence stakes. As an edge-of-the-seat, psychological thriller, I don’t think you will be disappointed.


      Autumn is definitely in the air, here in the UK, although they are forecasting quite a warm and sunny weekend, so we shall need to be making the most of it, as once things take a turn for the worse, there will be no stopping them!

      Ours is a nice bottle of Chardonnay … Cheers!

  • My favorite genre is thriller/mystery/ suspense too, so this post was very interesting to me. I don’t know if I’ve ever read one by a Scottish author though. I’ll have to remedy that.

    • Hi Vicki,

      You really should try a good thriller by a Scottish author, it seems to be the one genre that transcends any language barriers between UK and US English and I don’t think that you would be disappointed with some of the gritty storylines, if you are an avid follower of the genre.

      Any of the authors on the list would be a good place to start, although it is a close call as to whether Ian Rankin or Val McDermid, is the most popularly read of them all!

      Thanks for stopping by, I always appreciate your comments.

  • I am an avid Ian Rankin fan, but otherwise am a novice when it comes to reading Scottish mysteries and thrillers. I just got my first Denise Mina book and look forward to reading more from this fascinating subgenre. Now that I know about theDeanston award, I have a great source for inspiration.

    • Hi Gilion,

      It must seem to the casual observer that I am a walking, one man advocate for Scottish writing and authors …. it is simply that, in the crime/trhiller genres, to my mind Scottish authors have that ‘gritty’ writing style that is all their own and a whole bunch of ‘gutsy’ detective characters to back them up.

      If you enjoy Ian Rankin’s style, then you should definitely try a Val McDermid book and another author who has only just come to mind, Stuart MacBride. Stuart not only has a very successful track record in crime solving, helped by his character Logan McRae, but he also has a very dry and acerbic wit and sense of humour …


      Thanks for taking the time to comment, I always appreciate it.

Written by Yvonne