VAL McDermid and Denise Mina are among five writers whose novels have been shortlisted to be named Scottish crime book of the year.
Craig Russell, a former winner of the prize, Craig Robertson, one of the founders of the Bloody Scotland festival, and Jay Stringer are also in the running for the McIlvanney Prize.
They were whittled down from a 12-strong longlist featuring some of the leading names in crime fiction, including Ian Rankin and Ann Cleeves.
The winner will be announced at the opening reception of the Bloody Scotland crime-writing festival at Stirling Castle on Friday September 8.
This will be followed by a torchlight procession led by Ian Rankin on his way down to his event celebrating 30 years of Rebus.
The award, in memory of writer William McIlvanney, recognises excellence in Scottish crime-writing and includes a prize of £1,000 and nationwide promotion in Waterstones.
The panel of judges includes comedian Susan Calman, writer Craig Sisterson and Lee Randall, programmer of the Granite Noir crime-writing festival and chairwoman of the judges.
She said: “It’s always an honour to judge the prize and this year I especially enjoyed encountering writers whose work was new to me.”
Mr Sisterson said: “Reading the books for the prize has been a pleasure and a privilege, and has convinced me that tartan noir is a sparkling gem on the global crime-writing stage.”
Previous winners include Chris Brookmyre with Black Widow in 2016, Craig Russell with The Ghosts of Altona in 2015 and Peter May with Entry Island in 2014.
This year’s shortlisted books are Out of Bounds by Val McDermid, The Long Drop by Denise Mina, The Quiet Death of Thomas Quaid by Craig Russell, Murderabilia by Craig Robertson and How to Kill Friends and Implicate People by Jay Stringer.
Bloody Scotland takes place in Stirling between September 8 and 10.