For the third year in a row, I’ve agreed to serve as a judge in New Zealand’s annual Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel competition. Named after the renowned author of the Roderick Alleyn mystery series, this prize has been presented in the past to Alix Bosco (aka Greg McGee), Paul Cleave, Neil Cross, Paul Thomas, and Liam McIlvany. Two of those same authors have also made the 2015 longlist of contenders, which judging convenor Craig Sisterson says features works “ranging from dark and violent thrillers to quieter mysteries and character studies tied up with crime, as well as a range of geographic and chronological settings.” Sisterson just posted the names of the nine nominees in his blog, Crime Watch. They are:
• Drowning City, by Ben Atkins (Random House)
• Five Minutes Alone, by Paul Cleave (Atria)
• Databyte, by Cat Connor (Rebel e-Publishers)
• The Petticoat Men, by Barbara Ewing (Head of Zeus)
• A History of Crime: The Southern Double-Cross, by Dinah Holman (Ravensbourne)
• Trilemma, by Jennifer Mortimer (Oceanview)
• Swimming in the Dark, by Paddy Richardson (Upstart Press)
• The Children’s Pond, by Tina Shaw (Pointer Press)
• Fallout, by Paul Thomas (Upstart Press)
I’m particularly pleased to see Thomas’ Fallout make the cut, not simply because I have already begun reading his latest novel about Maori police detective Tito Ihaka (it’s due out in the States from Bitter Lemon Press in April), but because I much enjoyed his previous entry in that series, the Marsh Award-winning Death on Demand. Richardson and Cleave are familiar to me from previous judgings, as well, but the rest are authors whose work I haven’t yet read. This is among the genuine joys of participating in a contest such as this, that I am
exposed to new writers whose novels I might later wish to follow on my own. The only hardship is that the longlist seems to be increasing in length each year. In 2013, I had to read and choose between only four books. Last year it was eight, and for 2015 my six fellow judges and I will have to evaluate nine works. That will require even more concentration and organization than before, if we’re to get through all of the nominees within a couple of months; Sisterson is hoping we’ll be able to narrow down a list of finalists in time to announce it at New Zealand’s Dunedin Writers Festival in May.
If you’d like to keep up with the Ngaio Marsh Award process via Facebook, the appropriate page to “like” is here.
READ MORE: “The Ngaio Marsh Award: Roll of Honour,” by Craig Sisterson (Crime Watch).