Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ngaio Marsh Award Shortlist

Five outstanding novels full of mystery and intrigue have been announced as the shortlist for the 2015 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel, which will be presented at a WORD Christchurch event in late September.

I was thrilled to be part of the judging process. I feel thankful to have had the opportunity to read books that don't always make their way to the States. The sheer diversity of the books on the longlist made this an arduous but enjoyable task for me and for all the judges. Thank you, Craig, for all the work you do for this important award.

“The five books on this year’s shortlist are a superb showcase of New Zealand writing talent,” says Judging Convenor Craig Sisterson. “A few years ago it was common to question the quality of crime writing in this country, but these authors clearly demonstrate that our tales and our writers stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best in the world. The shortlist contains a diverse range of styles and stories, but each book melds page-turning entertainment with an undercurrent of deeper issues that go the very heart of our communities and society.”

After much deliberation, the international judging panel has selected the following five finalists:

FIVE MINUTES ALONE by Paul Cleave (Penguin NZ)
THE PETTICOAT MEN by Barbara Ewing (Head of Zeus)
SWIMMING IN THE DARK by Paddy Richardson (Upstart Press)
THE CHILDREN’S POND by Tina Shaw (Pointer Press)
FALLOUT by Paul Thomas (Upstart Press)

The judges praised Cleave’s FIVE MINUTES ALONE as “gritty and thoroughly absorbing”, a “one-sitting” novel that “evokes complex feelings regarding retribution and morality”. Ewing’s THE PETTICOAT MEN is “an immaculately researched” take on a real-life 1870s event that is “spirited, full of strong characters” and “a joy to read”. The panel hailed SWIMMING IN THE DARK as “an elegantly delivered, disturbing, and ultimately very human tale” that showcased Richardson’s talent for “damaged characters and tackling grey areas”. Tina Shaw authors a “mesmerising” character study in THE CHILDREN’S POND, using deft and spare language to craft a tale with a sublime sense of both place and menace that is “a delight to read”. Paul Thomas’s FALLOUT is “compelling and character-rich”, a “superb continuation” of the Ihaka series; “excellent writing... funny, but also serious.”

The Ngaio Marsh Award is made annually for the best crime, mystery, or thriller novel written by a New Zealand citizen or resident. This year’s winner will receive the Ngaio Marsh Award trophy, a set of Dame Ngaio’s novels courtesy of her publisher HarperCollins, and a cash prize provided by WORD Christchurch.

The Award’s namesake, Dame Ngaio Marsh, was a Christchurch mystery writer and theatre director renowned worldwide as one of the four “Queens of Crime” of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. More than thirty years after her death her books remain in print and beloved by many generations of readers. The Ngaio Marsh Award was established in 2010 with the blessing of Dame Ngaio’s closest living relative, John Dacres-Manning.

For more information on the Ngaio Marsh Award, go to www.facebook.com/NgaioMarshAward or email ngaiomarshaward@gmail.com, or to contact the Judging Convenor directly: craigsisterson@hotmail.com