IN crime writing terms, he’s the man of the moment, having created and penned all five series of the BBC’s smash hit police drama Line of Duty.

And this summer Jed Mercurio will be talking about his work, which also includes massive ratings-puller The Bodyguard, at the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival.

The event also features Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in conversation with the queen of crime writers, Val McDermid, at Agatha Christie’s old haunt in Harrogate.

Harrogate Crime Writing Festival takes place in July at the Old Swan Hotel- where Agatha Christie famously disappeared for 11 days in 1926, resulting in a public furore. This year’s event has a glittering line-up. If Jed Mercurio, Val McDermid and Nicola Sturgeon aren’t enough for you, how about Jo Nesbo, who will be in Harrogate to launch his new Harry Hole thriller, Knife? The line-up also includes other top crime writers - Ian Rankin, James Patterson, Jeffery Deaver, Harlan Coben, Eva Dolan among them.

Author Mari Hannah, who is reader-in-residence at the festival, said: “The programming committee has a reputation for attracting the finest crime writers from around the world and we’ve done it again. The response to this year's line-up is incredible.”

The opening night features the 'crime-writing Oscars', with the 15th Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award hosted by Mark Lawson. In all, around 90 authors from across the world are taking part in the festival, from Australia’s hottest author Jane Harper to Scottish writer Denise Mina, and Alex North, the pseudonym behind The Whisper Man, pitched as 2019’s biggest thriller.

Val McDermid’s annual New Blood panel - one of the most anticipated events in publishing -features four hand-picked debuts selected by the queen of crime. Her 2019 picks are Gytha Lodge’s She Lies In Wait, Holly Watt’s To The Lions, Chris Hammer’s Scrublands, and Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister The Serial Killer.

* The 2019 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is at the Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, from July 18-21. For tickets call (01423) 562303 or go to

* The Parisian by Isabella Hammad, published by Jonathan Cape, priced £14.99.

STARTLING to think this ambitious tour-de-force was written by someone at the start of their literary career. Weaving together history and personal tragedy, this debut novel from Isabella Hammad starts with Midhat, a Palestinian teenager studying in France at the outbreak of the First World War. Having fallen disastrously in love, he returns home and settles down to a life worthy of his father's expectations, while Palestine struggles for independence. But an unexpected betrayal, surfacing years later, threatens to unravel the life he has built. Complicated and panoramic, yet with even the tiniest of details meticulously observed, this debut follows the changing desires of a boy as he is moulded into a man, the irresistible pull of family loyalty and the search for peace, as much within, as on, the global stage.

* The Language Of Birds by Jill Dawson, published by Sceptre, priced £18.99.

JILL Dawson's latest novel is based on the story of Lord Lucan, set in 1970s London. Mandy and Rosemary are nannies for aristocratic families and the book explores the freedom enjoyed by young women escaping small villages to enjoy the anonymity of the big city. Both Mandy and Rosemary have had mental health problems and Mandy is sympathetic to her boss Katharine, Lady Morven, who is struggling with depression, while Rosemary is more inclined to side with the charismatic Earl. Dawson brings Mandy's warm character fully to life, while Rosemary's gullible, eager-to-please Norland nanny persona is intriguingly irritating. The story is of domestic details, family dramas, private detectives, country house holidays and occasional chilling tension pointing towards tragedy, all brilliantly told.