The year’s best local crime writing: Ngaio Marsh Award longlist revealed

by The Listener / 22 May, 2018

New writers and returning veterans ensure the Ngaio Marsh Award isn’t just a case of rounding up the usual suspects.

The nominees for this year’s Ngaio Marsh Award – the leading prize in New Zealand crime-writing – have been announced with ten writers named in an eclectic longlist.

The nominated books include Baby by Annaleese Jochems, who won the Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction at last week’s Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

Jochems, in her early twenties, is the youngest contender while the oldest is Edmund Bohan, who is in his early eighties. His historical detective novel The Lost Taonga marked the return of his colonial cop Inspector Patrick O’Rorke after a fifteen year gap and five previous escapades.

Also on the comeback trail is UK-based expatriate writer Stella Duffy whose The Hidden Room, her first crime novel in more than a decade, made the longlist. More recently, Duffy completed and published Money in the Morgue, an unfinished Dame Ngaio Marsh story set in Christchurch.

Past winners who are up again this year include Paul Cleave (A Killer Harvest) who has won the award three previous times and Finn Bell (The Easter Make Believers) who won the best first novel category last year.

Awards founder and Listener crime writing reviewer Craig Sisterson said a record 69 books had been entered into the fiction categories of the awards.

“Along with a surge in first-time Kiwi authors choosing to write tales of crime, mystery and suspense – more than fifty new voices in the past three years – it’s been great to see more experienced local authors veering to the darker side as well as past crime writers returning to the fold.”

The full longlist

Marlborough Man by Alan Carter (Fremantle Press)

Baby by Annaleese Jochems (Vitoria University Press)

See You In September by Charity Norman (Allen & Unwin)

The Lost Taonga by Edmund Bohan (Lucano)

The Easter Make Believers by Finn Bell

The Only Secret Left To Keep by Katherine Hayton

Tess by Kirsten McDougall (Victoria University Press)

The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackell (Mary Egan Publishing)

A Killer Harvest by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press)

The Hidden Room by Stella Duffy (Virago)

After the deliberations of a panel of international judges, the finalists will be named in July and the winners announced during the writers’ festival, WORD Christchurch, in late August.

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