Friday, November 19, 2010

Whodunnit and Whowunnit?

The final details of the Whodunnit and Whowunnit? event, where the inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel will be presented, have now been confirmed, with some adjustments to the author panel and confirmation of the prizes the inaugural winner will receive.

You can read the full press release below.

Inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime novel to be presented this month
THE PRESENTATION of the inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel, which was postponed when The Press Christchurch Writer’s Festival was cancelled due to the Canterbury earthquake, has been rescheduled for Tuesday, 30 November.

The Award will now be presented at the conclusion of the ‘Whodunnit and Whowunnit?’ event, a cocktail function and author panel where three of New Zealand’s most outstanding crime writers will discuss storytelling, the state of modern mystery writing, and the books industry in general, to be held amongst the relaxed atmosphere of Visions on Campus Restaurant at CPIT city campus.

2010 Ngaio Marsh Award finalists Neil Cross (Burial) and Vanda Symon (Containment) will be joined by Christchurch’s own internationally best-selling crime writer Paul Cleave (The Cleaner, Blood Men) on the panel, which will be hosted by crime fiction reviewer and commentator Craig Sisterson. See below for more information on the three author panelists. The full details of the event are:

Whodunnit and Whowunnit?
with the presentation of the first-ever Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel
7:30pm, Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Visions on Campus Restaurant, CPIT, cnr Madras St & Ferry Road, Christchurch
Tickets $10, includes a glass of wine and nibbles
Drinks start at 7pm, author panel at 7:30pm
Contact: Ruth Todd 03 384 4721 or

“We're really pleased that we've been able to keep the rescheduled presentation of the first-ever Ngaio Marsh Award in Christchurch," said Judging Convenor Craig Sisterson. "Not only because it was the birthplace and hometown of Dame Ngaio, but because of the fantastic support this new award has had from several people involved with the Christchurch Writers Festival. I really hope that booklovers in Canterbury will come along for what should be a very enjoyable evening, celebrating some of the truly world-class writers we have here in New Zealand."

The 2010 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel is made for the best crime, mystery, or thriller novel written by a New Zealand citizen or resident. A panel of seven local and international judges considered the best of locally written crime and thriller fiction published last year. The three finalists, who were named in the lead-up to The Press Christchurch Writer’s Festival, are:
  • Cut & Run by Alix Bosco;
  • Burial by Neil Cross; and
  • Containment by Vanda Symon.
The international judges said Cut & Run was “complex and suspenseful” and had “scenes and incidents which are jaw-droppingly good”, that Burial “maintained the tension and the atmosphere from beginning to end, keeping the atmosphere creepy”, and that Containment had “an attractive series heroine (feisty but vulnerable)” while starting with a “superb” opening scene that by itself would make the judge “want to read more Vanda Symon”.
The winner of the inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel will receive:
  • a distinctive handcrafted trophy designed and created by New Zealand sculptor and Unitec art lecturer Gina Ferguson (see photo);
  • a selection of Dame Ngaio-related books courtesy of HarperCollins, her long-time publisher (being 20 Inspector Alleyn mysteries, her autobiography Black Beech & Honeydew, and the acclaimed recent biography Ngaio Marsh: Her Life in Crime by Dr Joanne Drayton); and
  • a cheque for $500 courtesy of the Christchurch Writers Festival Trust.
“There were a number of high-quality crime novels published last year, and it has been a tough decision for the judges,” said Sisterson. “It is fantastic to see crime writing of this quality being produced by New Zealand writers, and great that the Award recognises both the best of our current authors, while also honouring the memory of one of our country’s true literary legends, who we have perhaps underappreciated in the past.”
The Award’s namesake, Dame Ngaio Marsh, is renowned worldwide as one of the four “Queens of Crime” of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, having published 32 novels featuring Inspector Roderick Alleyn between 1934 and her death in 1982.
Christchurch’s Paul Cleave is one of New Zealand’s most successful authors internationally, with his dark thrillers already being published in 14 countries and translated into 10 languages. His debut, The Cleaner, was the number one best-selling crime novel on Amazon Germany for 2007, and was one of the biggest and fastest selling debuts to ever come out of New Zealand. Both The Cleaner and Cemetery Lake have featured in The New Zealand Listener’s annual 100 Best Books list, and his latest thriller Blood Men was signed up by a large US publisher and launched in the United States this year.
Wellington-based Neil Cross has written several acclaimed novels, including the Booker Prize long-listed Always the Sun, Burial (finalist for the 2010 Ngaio Marsh Award), and his latest, Captured, as well as the best-selling memoir, Heartland. He was also lead scriptwriter for series six and seven of the BBC spy drama series, Spooks, and is the creator of the new BBC crime thriller series, Luther, which has screened in Britain and the United States this year.
Vanda Symon is the author of an acclaimed home-grown mystery series set in Otago and Southland featuring feisty detective heroine Sam Shephard, including Overkill, The Ringmaster (one of the New Zealand Listener’s 100 Best Books of 2008), and Containment (finalist for the 2010 Ngaio Marsh Award). A former pharmacist, Symon also hosts Write On, a local radio show in Dunedin focused on writers and the world of books. Her fourth Sam Shephard novel, Bound, will be released early next year.

For more information, please contact:
Craig Sisterson: or (021) 184 1206


  1. Great to read the article devoted to the upsurge in crime writing in New Zealand and the acknowledgement given to you.