WELCOME to The Northern Echo’s new Book Club page. Here, we hope to share the best in all things reading and writing – both from professional authors and writers, and you, our readers.

This week, we look at two North Yorkshire festivals which are a must-visit for literature fans – the big-hitting Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, and the ever-popular Richmond Walking and Book Festival, which combines writing talks and events with the great outdoors.

The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – the world’s largest and most prestigious celebration of crime fiction – has revealed its full programme bursting with unmissable talks and panel discussions featuring the hottest stars of crime fiction, curated by Festival Programming Chair Ian Rankin OBE.

Taking place from July 22 to 25 at the Old Swan Hotel – the infamous scene of Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance in 1926 – the festival features crime-writing royalty in the form of one-on-one interviews with some very special guests and group discussions that go to the heart of what’s happening in crime fiction right now.

This year’s panel discussions take in everything from the perennial appeal of historical crime fiction to the rise of cutting-edge science and tech; the demise of the police procedural to Agatha Christie’s inimitable genius; and the appeal of both gung-ho action heroes to slick political thrillers – and so much more.

Special guests include producer and presenter Richard Osman with the second instalment in his record-breaking cosy crime caper The Thursday Murder Club series; espionage expert Mick Herron, author of the highly acclaimed Slough House series; mystery maestro Elly Griffiths and her latest Ruth Galloway whodunnit; fan favourite Vera and Shetland author Ann Cleeves; the masterful Mark Billingham with his Tom Thorne prequel Cry Baby; and an in-conversation with the queens of domestic noir Clare Mackintosh and CL Taylor.

Ian Rankin, best-selling Rebus author, said: “It is with great pleasure that I can finally share with you the full programme for Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 2021.

“After nearly a year-and-a-half of successive lockdowns and restrictions, it is going to be absolutely marvellous to be able to safely gather together and celebrate the genre that we all love so dearly.”

Chief executive of Harrogate International Festivals, Sharon Canavar, said: “It has been a real journey to bring this year’s festival to life – working in festivals during Covid is not for the faint-hearted! “Ian Rankin has brought together a killer line-up of special guests and thought-provoking panels that explore our beloved crime genre in a completely unique way. We are so grateful and proud that – after so many challenges – we are at long last able to share this programme with the public.”

Simon Theakston, executive director of Theakston, said: “It’s finally here – the crime fiction event of the year! What an incredible line up of criminal masterminds and devious debutants! We are always so proud to support the biggest and best crime writing festival in the world and this year’s event feels like a long time coming. We can’t wait to welcome you to Harrogate this summer and look forward to seeing you there, with a glass of Old Peculier in hand, of course!”

Tickets are available at https://harrogateinternationalfestivals.com.

Tickets for this year’s Richmond Walking and Book Festival are now on sale, for events taking place from September 18 to 26.

Speakers include Baroness Hale, BBC Scotland’s Sally Magnusson, Radio 4’s Claudia Hammond, Horrible Histories’ researcher Henri Ward, AA Dhand, many local authors and experts some of whom are speaking at a new Daytime Talks Programme at The Station, Richmond.

Children’s events and a display of their writing also feature as well as An Encore Programme in October that includes UK Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage.

A choice of walks from Richmond into the northern Dales and surrounding area is available including firm favourites such as the ‘Feldom Wander’ and ‘Fremington Edge and Calver Walk’ as well as new walks including ‘Richmond’s Racing Heritage’ and ‘Masham Circular’. A choice of town walks and shorter walks is also available.

Now run as a charity, the Richmond Walking and Book Festival also has a new Friends Scheme and many of this year’s events link with Richmond’s 950th anniversary celebrations.

Tickets are available from www.booksandboots.org; the Richmond Information Centre and, when hosting an event, the Georgian Theatre Royal.

Barbara Gravenor, chair of the festival, said: “It is wonderful to be able to go ahead with this year’s festival, particularly as we have a very exciting programme of events. We hope we have something for everyone including new and favourite walks as well as a range of interesting and stimulating speakers. We look forward to welcoming you to our festival.”