Back in 1996, when the very first Ned Kelly Awards for crime writing were launched in Australia, it was in fact a New Zealander, Paul Thomas, who jointly won the inaugural award for Best Novel - for his second comic crime novel, INSIDE DOPE.
Thomas, shared the award with Barry Maitland, and then went on to write a third crime novel starring Detective Tito Ihaka, a Maori police detective based in Auckland (GUERILLA SEASON), then two Sydney-based crime novels (FINAL CUT, 1999 and THE EMPTY BED, 2002), and a crime-tinged collection of short stories (SEX CRIMES, 2003), before hanging up his crime-writing pen/keyboard, and concentrating on journalism, sports biographies, and other books. You can read more about Paul Thomas in my biographical post on him here.
Thomas's crime novels are out-of-print, and lately you could only find them via second hand stores (I have four of the six on my bookshelves). However in a great piece of news, publishers Hachette have recently announced they are now re-releasing the three Detective Ihaka novels (OLD SCHOOL TIE, INSIDE DOPE, and GUERILLA SEASON), as a three-in-one book set in August!
This is fantastic, and further strengthens the amount of Kiwi crime available on our booksellers' shelves. I understand THE IHAKA TRILOGY (which will just be the price of a normal single book, even though it contains all three) will be available from 1 August, and that Paul Thomas may be attending and appearing at The Press Christchurch Writers Festival in early September as well, which is fantastic news. Kiwi crime just seems to be going from strength to strength, incrementally building some real momentum, and it's great to see one of the stars of years gone by being back, readily available, again. I am hoping this may also be a sign that Thomas is at last working on a new crime novel as well. Fingers crossed.
Have you read Paul Thomas's comic crime thrillers, or seen the Ihaka telemovies? If so, what do you think? Do you like your crime to have a bit of comedic bite? What do you think of the return of a Kiwi crime stalwart to the booksellers' shelves? What other Kiwi authors from the past couple of decades would you like to see republished or return? Thoughts and comments welcome.