DRUIDS, rock stars and sinister cyberspace all feature in this summer’s eclectic shortlist for the Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the Year.

Authors Christopher Brookmyre, Lin Anderson, Louise Welsh, Ann Cleeves, Craig Russell and Matt Bendoris are all in the running for the prestigious prize, it was announced today.

The diversity of the books on the list is “testament to the strength, variety and diversity of crime writing in Scotland”, according to Bloody Scotland director Dom Hastings.

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“You can travel from a misty midsummer night in Shetland to a high-security prison in the middle of an outbreak; experience the mysteries of a Druidic stone circle and the cut-throat anonymities of cyberspace, go on tour with a famous rock band or track down a long-lost killer,” he said.

“It’s a bit of a spooky list this year, with several of the novels flirting with the supernatural; also, interestingly, four of the titles are anchored by long-standing protagonists, proving that innovation and excellence still flourish in ongoing series fiction.

“All in all, it’s a phenomenally strong showing, demonstrating that crime fiction in Scotland is still in rude, bloody health.”

Christopher Brookmyre has been shortlisted for Dead Girl Walking, which sees the return of much-loved journalist Jack Parlabane who, at his lowest-ever ebb, is asked to track down a beautiful and famous musician who has disappeared.

“I feel like I can bring so much more to the character these days, so it is a massive, gore-spattered seal of approval to have made the Bloody Scotland shortlist,” said Brookmyre.

Lin Anderson, whose short story Dead Close was chosen for the Best of British Crime 2011 and is currently in development as a feature film, has been nominated for Paths Of The Dead, in which forensic expert Dr Rhona MacLeod investigates a murder in spiritualist and Druidic circles.

Ann Cleeves is the author behind ITV’s Vera and BBC One’s Shetland. She has written more than 25 novels, and is the creator of detectives Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez. Her short-listed novel Thin Air follows a group of old university friends, re-uniting on Unst in Shetland for a wedding, which is held up when one of them disappears.

Craig Russell, best-selling author of the Jan Fabel thrillers set in Hamburg, and the Lennox thrillers set in 1950s Glasgow, is nominated for The Ghosts Of Altona, in which Fabel is haunted by the discovery of a body from his first case 15 years ago.

Russell said: “The crime novel in Scotland is evolving into something much broader and more varied than ever before and this is the most interesting time and place to be writing in the form, making it a huge honour for The Ghosts Of Altona to have been shortlisted.”

Louise Welsh is the author of seven novels, including The Cutting Room, The Girl On The Stairs and A Lovely Way To Burn. Her nominated book, Death Is A Welcome Guest, is the second of her Plague Times trilogy, following comedian Magnus McFall through a post-apocalyptic Britain ravaged by a mysterious disease known as “the sweats”.

A newspaper journalist and author of Killing With Confidence, Matt Bendoris is shortlisted for his latest novel, DM For Murder, which sees US police officers and British journalists race to track down a Twitter killer.

The winner of the award will be announced at a gala dinner on September 12 as part of the Stirling-based Bloody Scotland crime writing festival.

This year’s judges of the award, which includes a prize of £1000 and nationwide promotion in Waterstones, are journalist Magnus Linklater, broadcaster Sally Magnusson and Caron Macpherson of Waterstones Argyle Street, Glasgow.

Previous winners are Peter May with Entry Island in 2014 and Malcolm Mackay with How A Gunman Says Goodbye in 2013.