Over a Barrel and Under the Table
British writers and Southern writers have a lot in common – there's an odd fascination with the dark side of life, mixed with an earthy pragmatic attitude, overlaid with a sense of humor. And both Brits and Southerners have been known to enjoy a tipple...or two.
Never is that more true than in the world of mystery writers. The awards that mystery aficionados bestow on their favorite authors are a perfect example of that dark whimsy, with honors such as a dagger, a teapot, a skull, or a barrel. At least the dagger and the skull make some sort of sense.
The teapot is for the Agatha Award, presented by Malice Domestic and meant to signify Ms. Christie's veddy British history. The barrel is my favorite, and this year it was presented to one of my favorite writers.
The fine old oak barrel (in miniature, of course) is presented at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, England. Theakston Brewery has been producing Old Peculier beer in Yorkshire since the 1890s, and the little cask represents that long history. What it has to do with mystery writing is beyond me.
Denise Mina won the award this year for her book The End of the Wasp Season, which I loved. That book was also shortlisted for one of the coveted CWA Dagger Awards last year, and I reviewed it here.
Above is Mina with her Old Peculier. Judging by the photos from the Theakstons, perhaps the honorary casks were originally full when they were presented.
I've been to the Malice Domestic convention, which was fun but a little staid. I was able to meet Lindsey Davis and Peter Lovesey and that made the weekend entirely worthwhile.
But I get the feeling that I would have more fun at the Theakstons, and I have now added that festival to my bucket list. So if you're looking for me in the middle of July next year, I'll be in Yorkshire. Probably under a table.