Longlist for major UK crime writing award shows more even gender balance, with Susan Hill, Val McDermid and Martina Cole in running

Women have made a much stronger showing in the competition for this year’s major UK crime award, with blood, guts and gore from authors including Susan Hill, Val McDermid and Martina Cole all in the running for the prize.

Last year only two women – former winner McDermid and Mo Hayder – were shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier crime novel of the year award, with Mark Billingham eventually emerging triumphant from a line-up of 14. This year the gender distribution is far more even, with nine women up against 11 men on the longlist for the £3,000 prize.

McDermid, who earlier this year won the Cartier Diamond Dagger award, honouring her “outstanding achievement in the field of crime writing”, makes the running for A Darker Domain, about a child who was kidnapped 25 years ago at the height of the miners’ strike. Hill was picked for Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Serrailler’s latest outing, The Vows of Silence, Hayder for gory thriller Skin and Cole for The Business, a story of drugs and prostitution in London’s East End.

Geezer Girls by Dreda Say Mitchell, Tania Carver’s The Surrogate, Elly Griffiths’s The Crossing Places, Caro Ramsay’s Singing to the Dead and husband-and-wife writing duo Nicci French’s Until It’s Over complete the list of women up for the crime prize.

They will be facing tough competition from Billingham, who has won the award twice, bestselling authors Peter Robinson and Ian Rankin, and Tom Rob Smith, whose contender Child 44 was longlisted for the Booker prize.

The award is opened today to a public vote at theakstons.co.uk, with the winner to be announced on 22 July. They will take home a handmade, engraved beer barrel from Theakstons, as well as the £3,000 award money.

Judge Simon Theakston said this year’s longlist was “one of the strongest yet”, and a “real reflection of both readers’ tastes and the current fantastic shape of British crime fiction”.

The longlist in full:

In the Dark by Mark Billingham

If It Bleeds by Duncan Campbell

The Surrogate by Tania Carver

The Business by Martina Cole

A Simple Act of Violence by RJ Ellory

Until It’s Over by Nicci French

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

Cold in Hand by John Harvey

Skin by Mo Hayder

Vows of Silence by Susan Hill

The Dying Breed by Declan Hughes

Dead Tomorrow by Peter James

Target by Simon Kernick

A Darker Domain by Val McDermid

Gallows Lane by Brian McGilloway

Geezer Girls by Dreda Say Mitchell

Singing to the Dead by Caro Ramsay

Doors Open by Ian Rankin

All the Colours of Darkness by Peter Robinson

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

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