Winners of the Ngaio Marsh Awards for Best Crime Novel and Best First Novel

by Sally Blundell / 27 August, 2016
Christchurch crime writer Paul Cleave has walked away once again with the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel.
Paul Cleave.
Paul Cleave.


Christchurch crime writer Paul Cleave has walked away once again with the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel. Awards judge Ruth Todd described Cleave’s standalone thriller Trust No One as “a stunningly audacious example of the genre that functions as a literary hall of mirrors”.

The book tells the story of famous crime writer Jerry Grey who struggles to differentiate between his own reality and the frightening plotlines he's created for the page: did he commit the brutal murders in his books as he claims? Or is this a symptom of his recent diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer?

The judges, an international panel of crime fiction critics, authors and editors from New Zealand, Australia, the US, the UK and the Nordic countries, described it as novel that transcends its genre; “that not only expertly examines mental illness but forces one to reassess what is real and what is not.”

Other finalists for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel were: Inside the Black Horse by Ray Berard, Made to Kill by Adam Christopher, The Legend of Winstone Blackhat by Tanya Moir and American Blood by Ben Sanders.

Ray Berard.
Ray Berard.


The inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel went to Berard for Inside the Black Horse. A former TAB area manager, the Christchurch writer used real life incidents and characters from this role as inspiration for his tale beginning with an armed robbery interrupting a drug deal in Rotorua.

According to the judges, Berard’s book is a “lucid and potent portrait of good people and gangsters that is unmistakably Kiwi in flavour and tone, a gritty yet composed crime story.”

Other finalists for the new Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel were: The Fixer by John Daniell, The Gentlemen’s Club by Jen Shieff and Twister by Jane Woodham.

This year’s awards, says judging convenor Craig Sisterson, attracted a record number of entrants. “Not only are our local authors producing novels of exceptional international quality, they are breaking the shackles of convention and stretching the boundaries of genre to explore crime storytelling in unique and exciting ways.”

While every finalist was a strong contender, he says, the two winners are “cracking great crime tales.”

The winners of the Ngaio Marsh Awards, now in its seventh iteration, were announced at the end of the annual Great New Zealand Crime Debate at the 2016 WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival.

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