Three Cumbrian authors are in contention to win the UK’s most prestigious crime writing award.

Mike Craven, David Mark and Claire Askew have made the longlist of the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Gold Dagger award.

This is given to what the CWA’s judging panel regards as the best crime novel of the year.

The award was created in 1955. Previous winners include John le Carré, Ruth Rendell, Dick Francis, Colin Dexter, Patricia Cornwell, Val McDermid and Ian Rankin.

The late Reginald Hill from Carlisle won in 1990 for his Dalziel and Pascoe novel Bones and Silence.

Mike Craven lives in Carlisle and is a former head of Cumbria’s probation service.

He is longlisted for The Puppet Show, which features a serial killer burning people alive in Lake District stone circles.

This is the first of Mike’s novels with publisher Little, Brown, for whom he writes as MW Craven.

It is also his first to feature Detective Sergeant Washington Poe, who lives in the Cumbrian countryside near Shap.

Mike said: “My agent and my editor are still celebrating the book being longlisted so it’s obviously as big a deal as I thought it might be.

“I’m incredibly proud that all the hard work of everyone involved in getting The Puppet Show in the hands of readers and judges has paid off.

“I’m also delighted that Cumbria will benefit from the increased exposure this type of award generates.

“Publishing is very much a London-centric business, but they all know about Cumbria now.”

David Mark grew up in the Morton area of Carlisle and spent more than 15 years as a journalist, beginning in the 1990s at The Cumberland News and the News & Star.

He spent seven years as a crime reporter with The Yorkshire Post, walking the Hull streets that now feature in his novels about Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy.

David has been longlisted for the eighth McAvoy novel, Cold Bones.

Dead Pretty, the fifth in the series, was longlisted in 2016.

He said: “Writing is a solitary pursuit and it can take a long time between typing the words ‘The end’ and finding out whether readers are going to enjoy what you’ve served up.

“It’s nice to get a nod from your peers letting you know you’ve done a good job.

“I’ve been longlisted before so I don’t want to jinx this by considering actually winning, but I’m certainly allowing myself to smile a little more today.”

Claire Askew is longlisted for All The Hidden Truths, which has also made the CWA longlist for best debut novel. It is set in the aftermath of a mass shooting at a fictional Edinburgh college.

Claire lives in the Scottish capital. Her parents John and Chris live at Wetheral. Claire is a regular visitor there and much of All The Hidden Truths was written in the village.

It was influenced by the 1996 Dunblane Primary School shooting. Claire was a primary school pupil in Kelso at the time.

She said: “It is a huge privilege to know that the CWA judges have read my novel at all, let alone that they felt it was worthy of two longlistings.

“All The Hidden Truths has been longlisted for other awards. It also won the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress.

“However, the CWA Daggers are a bit special. They exist to recognise the best in crime fiction specifically.

“With these longlistings, I feel like I can say I’ve written not just a good book, but a good crime book, and that’s a very gratifying feeling.”

Claire is also a poet and a writing tutor who works with hard-to-reach groups including adults who struggle with literacy, refugees, homeless adults and offenders

Fifteen authors are on the Gold Dagger longlist and 10 are on the best debut novel longlist.

Shortlists will be announced in the summer. Winners will be announced at an award ceremony in London on October 24.

n Mike Craven’s second Washington Poe novel, Black Summer, is published on Thursday, June 20. A launch event takes place at the Old Fire Station, Carlisle, at 7.30pm that day. Admission is free and no ticket is required.

David Mark’s new novel, The Mausoleum, is a standalone thriller. Set in Gilsland in 1967, it concerns the mysterious appearance and disappearance of a corpse.

Claire Askew’s next novel, What You Pay For, is published on August 22. It features DI Helen Birch, one of her characters from All The Hidden Truths.