Two Cumbrian authors have been shortlisted for the UK’s most prestigious crime writing award.

Mike Craven and Claire Askew are on the six-person list for 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 Dagger Awards were created in 1955 to recognise various categories of crime writing.

Previous winners of the Gold Dagger include John le Carré, Ruth Rendell, Dick Francis, Colin Dexter, 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 shortlisted 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: “I’m pretty shocked to be shortlisted. I genuinely didn’t think I would make the cut from the longlist of 15.

“The first I knew about it was when I was congratulated on Twitter. My social media feeds went berserk.

“The Dagger Awards are pretty much the most prestigious awards there are. And the Gold Dagger is the most prestigious of them all as it’s for the best crime novel of the year.

“Maybe the lifetime achievement award - the Diamond Dagger - tops it, but that’s not for a book, it’s for a body of work.

“I’m told that being on the shortlist is a massive boost to your profile. I’m happy with that as, like all authors, name recognition is key.

“It will certainly help my agent when it comes to the Frankfurt Book Fair in October. We have 12 foreign deals now but this will help to bag more.”

Claire Askew is shortlisted for All The Hidden Truths, which is set in the aftermath of a mass shooting at a fictional Edinburgh college.

The book is also shortlisted for the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger. This is for the best crime novel by a first-time author.

Claire lives in Edinburgh. 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: “I am hugely honoured that All The Hidden Truths has been shortlisted in two categories at the Dagger Awards.

“When you’re writing a first novel, you’re never sure if you’ve got it right until it goes out into the world, so this is such a huge confidence boost.

“I very much hope it helps put All The Hidden Truths into the hands of readers who will love it.”

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.

Carlisle author David Mark made the Gold Dagger longlist for Cold Bones, the eighth novel in his series about Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy.

Dagger Award winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on October 24.

The Puppet Show has also been shortlisted in the Best Crime Novel category at the 2019 Amazon Publishing Readers’ Awards.

Other authors on the shortlist of five include Ian Rankin.

The winners will be announced at the Capital Crime Festival in London on September 26. They will be decided by votes from festival pass holders, who can vote from now until September 19.

Mike Craven’s second Washington Poe novel, Black Summer, has just been published.

Claire Askew’s second novel, What You Pay For, will be published on August 22.

It features DI Helen Birch, one of her characters from All The Hidden Truths.