A DARWEN-born thriller writer has been shortlisted for the crime novel of the year award.

Former Darwen Moorland High School pupil Sharon Bolton, who writes under the name S J Bolton, is one of six authors competing for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award 2012.

Sharon’s novel Now You See Me is up against titles by established crime writers such as John Connolly and newcomer S J Watson.

It is the second year running that she has been on the prestigious shortlist, after narrowly missing out on the award last year to best-selling author Lee Child.

The overall winner will be decided by a public vote and a panel of experts which comprises actor David Morrissey, Theakston’s crime writing festival chairman Mark Billingham, Daily Mirror literary editor and crime novelist Henry Sutton, Asda fiction buyer Ruth Lewis, and Simon Theakston, executive director of Theakston’s.

A promotional campaign will highlight the six finalists with the books being available in Asda stores nationwide.

Members of the public have until Tuesday, July 17, to cast their vote before the winner is announced on Thursday, July 19.

The winner will receive a £3,000 cash prize as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston brewery.

The award was created to celebrate the best in crime writing and is open to British and Irish authors whose novels were published in paperback from June 1, 2011 to May 31, 2012.

Simon Theakston said: “It’s great to see crime writing in such rude health, although it doesn’t make the job of picking a winner any easier!”

Sharon Bolton, who trained as an actress and dancer, and later went on to pursue a career in public relations and marketing, now lives near the Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire border with her husband and son.

She has written five thrillers. Now You See Me features a detective on the trail of a Jack the Ripper-style serial killer.

To vote in the awards, visit www. theakstons.co.uk.