Friday, April 27, 2012

GONE by Mo Hayder wins Edgar Award!

The Mystery Writers of America (MWA) is proud to announce the winners of the 2012 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2011. The Edgar® Awards were presented to the winners at the MWA's 66th Gala Banquet, April 26, 2012 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.

Gone by Mo Hayder (Grove/Atlantic – Atlantic Monthly Press)

Bent Road by Lori Roy (Penguin Group USA - Dutton)

The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett (Hachette Book Group – Orbit Books)

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard (Random House - Doubleday)

On Conan Doyle: Or, the Whole Art of Storytelling by Michael Dirda (Princeton University Press)

“The Man Who Took His Hat Off to the Driver of the Train” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Peter Turnbull (Dell Magazines)

Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby (Scholastic Press)

The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall (Random House Children’s Books – Knopf BFYR)

The Game’s Afoot by Ken Ludwig (Cleveland Playhouse, Cleveland, OH)

“Pilot” – Homeland, Teleplay by Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon & Gideon Raff (Showtime)

"A Good Man of Business" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by David Ingram (Dell Magazines)

Martha Grimes

M is for Mystery Bookstore, San Mateo, CA
Molly Weston, Meritorious Mysteries

Joe Meyers of the Connecticut Post/Hearst Media News Group


(Presented at MWA’s Agents & Editors Party on Wednesday, April 25, 2012)
Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry (Crown Publishing Group)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book launch: Vanda Symon's THE FACELESS

Something very exciting is happening in the southern New Zealand city of Dunedin tomorrow night: the official launch of Vanda Symon's fifth crime novel, and first standalone thriller, THE FACELESS.

Penguin New Zealand and the University Book Shop invite you all to the launch of THE FACELESS at the University Book Shop on 378 King Street, Dunedin, at 6pm (Friday 27 April 2012).

I have just finished THE FACELESS this week, and it truly is terrific. While I am a big fan of Symon's series starring 'stroppy' Dunedin detective Sam Shephard, and so missed Sam - and the touches of humour in those books - a little, THE FACELESS really is a terrific, well-paced, well-plotted, thriller that delves not only into a gripping storyline but issues of homelessness, domestic drudgery, suppressed rage, loyalty, grief and loss (and ways of dealing, or not, with them), and how in cities we are surrounded by 'the faceless', whether they be people we pass on the street, who spend their days punching the clock in offices, or live rough on the tougher edges of urban society.

It's dark, much much darker than any of Symon's other work, but really, really good. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes a great, gripping thriller. I'm gutted I can't be at the book launch tomorrow night, but hopefully lots of Kiwi crime fiction fans in the vicinity will pop along to support Symon and what is a really great book.

RSVP to The University Book Shop on 03 477 6976, or

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lest we forget: a special day downunder

Down here in New Zealand and Australia, and for others all around the world who have links to our two nations, the 25th of April is a very special, and sombre day; ANZAC Day. It is a day when we pause and remember the soldiers, sailors, and others who have served (and are still serving) our countries in wars and conflicts all over the world.

Ninety-seven years ago to this very day, our two nations first fought side by side under the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) banner – our soldiers landing together at dawn on a desolate beach on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. It was a military bungle by the British commanders - but the attitudes, actions, and courage of the Australian and New Zealand soldiers both at Gallipoli and over the many battles and years since, stoked a burgeoning sense of independent identity and nationhood.

Despite being so far away from the conflict, and in no direct danger ourselves, more than 100,000 New Zealand troops and nurses served overseas during the First World War, from a population of just over one million. 42% of men of military age served. And over the past century, Australia and New Zealand have contributed greatly on the world stage in many ways and in many diverse areas, generally 'punching far above our weight' given our geographic isolation and small populations - and in some ways this can be traced back to the values associated with 'the ANZAC tradition'.

This time last year I was huddled against the cold on the Gallipoli peninsula, awaiting the dawn, amongst thousands of New Zealanders and Australians who'd made the pilgrimage. It was a surreal and special experience, and it affected me far more, and differently, than I expected. Amongst many realisations on what was a very special trip to Turkey was this: ANZAC Day is really about three countries, not just two.

Every year the Turkish people open up their arms and hearts to the descendants and fellow countrymen of an invading force that landed on their shores with the express intent of over-running them, of beating them down and back (if, in our eyes, for a very good cause). How special a place is Turkey? How many countries would host, create, and maintain a memorial for people who came trying to kill their fellow countrymen? War is a horrible, horrible thing, for whatever reason it is fought. How many commanders would, years later, say this of the men who he fought against:
Heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives! You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
Turkey is a very special place, for many, many reasons. It is full of history, from Greek and Roman times, Biblical times, the Ottoman Empire, and much more. Of course, it is a place many New Zealanders and Australians feel some connection to, too, for more recent history.

Outside of my writing about crime fiction and crime writers, I also write other articles for a number of publications. In the past few years I've been fortunate enough to get to write a couple of features about the Anzac tradition and Anzac Day, including one about my trip there last year. If you get a chance today, please click on the links below and give them a read (especially the second one):

Friday, April 20, 2012

Penny, Robinson and Deverell amongst Arthur Ellis finalists

Today (NZT) the Arthur Ellis Awards shortlists were announced by Crime Writers Canada at a series of events across the country. The Best Novel category has an impressive line-up of award-winning authors this year, with the likes of William Deverell, the doyen of Canadian crime fiction, going head-to-head with Louise Penny, Peter Robinson, Alan Bradley, and Robert Rotenberg.

Here's the full list of shortlisted novels and works.

Best Crime Novel

A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny
Before the Poison by Peter Robinson
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
I'll See you in My Dreams by William Deverell
The Guilty Plea by Robert Rotenberg, Simon & Schuster

Best First Novel
The Man Who Killed by Fraser Nixon
The Survivor by Sean Slater
The Water Rat of Wanchai by Ian Hamilton
Tight Corner by Roger White
Watching Jeopardy by Norm Foster

Best Crime Book in French
La chorale du diable by Martin Michaud
Pwazon by Diane Vincent
Pour Ne Pas Mourir ce soir by Guillaume Lapierre-Desnoyers

Best Juvenile or Young Adult Crime Book
Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones
Charlie's Key by Rob Mills
Empire of Ruins by Arthur Slade
Held by Edeet Ravel
Missing by Becky Citra

Best Crime Nonfiction
A Season in Hell by Robert Fowler
Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives Through the Secret World of Stolen Art by Joshua Knelman
The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by Steven Laffoley
The Pirates of Somalia by Jay Bahader
The Weasel: A Double Life in the Mob by Adrian Humphreys
Best Crime Short Story
A New Pair of Pants by Jas. R. Petrin, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
Beer Money by Shane Nelson, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
The Girl with the Golden Hair by Scott Mackay, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
The Perfect Mark by Melodie Campbell, Flash Fiction Magazine
What Kelly Did by Catherine Astolfo, North Word Magazine

Best Unpublished First Novel - “Unhanged Arthur”
Gunning for Bear by Madeleine Harris-Callway
Last of the Independents by Sam Wiebe
Snake in the Snow by William Bonnell
The Rhymester by Valerie A. Drego
Too Far to Fall by Shane Sawyer

The awards will be presented at a special gala dinner, celebrating 30 years of Crime Writers Canada, in Toronto on 31 May 2012. Congratulations, and good luck, to all the shortlisted authors.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Podcast: Stephen Ross reads "Boundary Bridge"

Acclaimed New Zealand short mystery fiction writer Stephen Ross has been published several times in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, along with other prestigious mystery publications. He was a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Short Story last year, and is currently working on a full-length crime novel.

Now, you can listen to a podcast of him reading his intriguing story "Boundary Bridge", from the March 2010 issue of AHMM, complete with original music written and performed by Ross.

"Boundary Bridge" is one of the few short stories Ross has ever set in his native New Zealand. It recounts the travails of an American screenwriter living in New Zealand. You can listen to the podcast here.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Crime Fiction round-up in today's Herald

Today, my latest crime fiction round-up for the Herald on Sunday, one of New Zealand's biggest-selling newspapers, was published (see above). For those that aren't in the Herald on Sunday distribution area, here are the three reviews in the round-up:

CATCH ME by Lisa Gardner
Boston detective DD Warren is approached by a woman who thinks she’s going to be killed in four days, because her two best friends have been killed on that date in past years. At the same time Warren is investigating a series of slayings of child molesters. Are the cases linked? Is the woman crazy? Catch Me is told from the alternating perspectives of the two female leads, but is also packed with plenty of other interesting and layered characters, and flashes of insight into wider human desires, fears, and more. An engaging and emotionally tense page-turner that hooks you early and doesn’t let go.

DEATH ON DEMAND by Paul Thomas
Five years after being exiled to the Wairarapa following his handling of the hit and run death of a prominent businesswoman, coupled with a bathroom brawl with a colleague, Detective Tito Ihaka finds himself recalled to the big smoke. The hit and run victim’s terminally ill husband confesses to hiring an unknown hit man, before being murdered himself. Ihaka, slightly matured but still a maverick, dances through a minefield of police politics, old grudges, blackmail and gangs as he hunts a faceless killer. Filled with helter-skelter storylines, witty dialogue, and captivating characters, Death on Demand is a very welcome return for author and hero alike. A rollicking read.

NOBODY DIES by Zirk van den Berg
Several years ago, Namibian-born Kiwi Zirk van den Berg’s debut thriller (in English) was published to high acclaim, before becoming ‘hard to find’. Now, at last, it is widely available as an e-book. A South African cop has found an easy way to make criminals in the witness protection programme impossible to find; she kills them rather than relocating them. When Daniel, a relatively innocent man, is placed in her ‘care’, he must find a way to survive not only the crime boss who is after him, but his ‘protector’. An absorbing, tense tale that brings the expanses of South Africa to life on the page, along with the grey areas in human hearts and minds. Terrific.


Thanks to Herald on Sunday Books Editor Nicky Pellegrino for allowing me to reprint the reviews online here on Crime Watch. What do you think of this month's books? Have you read any? Comments welcome.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Currently reading: THE FACELESS

A very exciting package was delivered to me at work today; a review copy of Vanda Symon's upcoming standalone thriller, THE FACELESS. With four terrific crime novels starring sparkplug detective Sam Shephard already under her belt, Symon has taken a different turn with THE FACELESS - a standalone dark kidnapping thriller set in Auckland, and told from multiple perspectives.

Here's the blurb:
Bradley is a middle-aged man trapped in middle-class New Zealand. He is in a job that he hates, working day after day to support his wife and two children. One day when it all gets too much, Bradley picks up a teenage hooker in downtown Auckland. Unfortunately he can't keep it up and then she laughs at him. That was a mistake. He beats her, ties her up and takes her to an abandoned warehouse that he owns. But then he doesn't know what to do.

Max is homeless. He eats from rubbish bins, bums cigarettes from anyone and anywhere, including the footpath, and he doesn't smell that fresh. But Max has one friend and she has gone missing. If he is to find her he is going to have to call on some people from his past life and re-open old wounds that have remained unhealed for a long time.
A hard-hitting and fast-paced thriller from Vanda Symon, New Zealand's 'Queen of Crime'.
Great stuff. I am very much looking forward to reading this. That's it from me - just had to share my excitement with you all.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Review: BOLD BLOOD by Lindy Kelly

Well, since it's Easter Weekend and I don't have anything Easter-themed to write about, crime fiction-wise, I thought I'd be inspired by the fact I've headed home to Nelson for the weekend, and re-share a review of a Nelson-set crime novel, BOLD BLOOD by Lindy Kelly (who also lives in the region).

BOLD BLOOD by Lindy Kelly (HarperCollins, 2009)
Horse-loving journalist, poet and children’s author Lindy Kelly adopts the old adage, ‘write what you know’, with her crime debut BOLD BLOOD, parlaying her youthful experience as an international eventing rider into a suspense tale set amongst the stables, saddles and sorrels of the New Zealand equestrian world.

Dr Caitlin Summerfield is happily living a hectic Wellington lifestyle, accessorised with overseas travel and a rich boyfriend. Her rural Nelson childhood has been left far behind, along with her emotionally abusive mother.

A fall and a phone call destroy Caitlin’s reverie, and she takes the bunny-hop flight across Cook Strait to return ‘home’. Playing caretaker at her comatose mother’s horse farm, helped by rugged neighbour Dom and multi-pierced teenage groom Kasey, Caitlin scratches beneath the surface of high-tech horse trailers and well-fed thoroughbreds to discover looming financial ruin, and a shot at a million-dollar breeding contract. A contract someone is willing to do anything for. Even kill.

Having published more than 100 short stories, sixteen children’s books, 36 poems, and had her writing feature on National Radio and performed on stage, Kelly told me she had one goal for her first adult thriller. “I wanted to write the sort of book that I like to curl up with for sheer pleasure… something with excitement and adventure, likable strong characters… a few mysteries, a bit of romance, humour, and passion.”

Overall she succeeds, spinning an engaging tale that carries the reader along. She strikes a nice balance - peppering local references, without over-seasoning in any contrived attempt to foist ‘Kiwi-ness’ onto a universal story. Populating a plot of assaults, arsons, horse theft and murder with a diverse cast, Kelly impresses most with her rich portrait of life in the eventing world, along with the way the horses aren’t mere props; but full-blown characters with personalities in their own right.

Although there is the occasional plot misstep, BOLD BLOOD is a good debut – a must read for horse-lovers, and an enjoyable read for anyone.


Related stories:
Other reviews of BOLD BLOOD:

Have you read BOLD BLOOD? Do murder mysteries set in the equestrian world interest you?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Top Notch: classic British thrillers for modern readers

From Ngaio Marsh Award judge and crime fiction afficianado Mike Ripley:

Ostara Publishing’s Top Notch Thriller imprint is proud to announce the reissue of two bestselling novels from the man once described as “the thriller-writer discovery of the Seventies”, Duncan Kyle.

Duncan Kyle (John Broxholme, 1930-2001) shot to fame in 1970 with his debut thriller A Cage of Ice and by the time Terror’s Cradle was first published in 1975 he was being ranked alongside Alistair Maclean and Desmond Bagley and by 1976 was Chairman of the Crime Writers Association.

The new TNT editions of Duncan Kyle’s A Cage of Ice and Terror’s Cradle are now available as print-on-demand trade paperbacks and as eBooks. Kyle’s classic World War II thriller Black Camelot was published by Top Notch in 2010.

A new feature on The Guile of Duncan Kyle can now be found on the Ostara website at which provides background on the ‘discovery’ of Kyle’s debut thriller by an insomniac publisher (!), how the author’s first novel was written for a bet in one week and the secret of the legendary Duncan Kyle Martini…
In less than three years, Top Notch Thrillers have published 24 ‘Great British Thrillers’ which did not deserve to be forgotten, from authors including: Geoffrey Household, Victor Canning, Francis Clifford, John Gardner, Adam Hall and Brian Callison.

The Series Editor is crime writer and critic Mike Ripley, who writes the monthly Getting Away With Murder column on

FORTHCOMING TITLES: Berkely Mather’s ripping yarn The Pass Beyond Kashmir (1960) and David Brierley’s classic cold war spy thriller Big Bear, Little Bear (1981) set in 1948 Berlin.

All Top Notch Thrillers are available direct via Amazon or and can be ordered through bookshops.For further information:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Images from Jane Campion's "Top of the Lake" series

Earlier this year, I shared the news that award-winning film director Jane Campion (The Piano, Bright Star) was helming a mystery thriller TV series set in and around the beautiful Southern Lakes area of New Zealand. It will star some terrific actors, including Oscar winner Holly Hunter (Saving Grace, The Piano), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men), Lucy Lawless (Spartacus, Xena: Warrior Princess), David Wenham (The Lord of the Rings), and several other familiar faces. Campion has said about the project that: “It’s a detective story that’s very much influenced by the landscape around Glenorchy and explores ideas about paradise and community".

The fictional six-part series called "Top of the Lake" centres on detective Robin Griffin (Moss) as she loses herself investigating the disappearance of the 12-year-old pregnant daughter of a local drug lord in remote, mountainous New Zealand.  Producer Phillipa Campbell said the mystery story, written by Campion and Gerard Lee (Sweetie), was "about people living on the edge of the wilderness, so it's a psychic space in a way and that position offers up the characters opportunities and also challenges and that's what the story explores."

Now the popular Indie Wire website has shared some set photos, including the one above, along with more news about the exciting project. You can see and read more here.
In recent weeks filming has moved to central Queenstown. You can read more here:

Top of the Lake from See-Saw Films is being co-produced by UKTV in New Zealand and Australia, BBC Two in the UK and Sundance Channel in the United States.

Do you like the sound of Top of the Lake? It looks like a fairly female-centric thriller series (and Campion is known for creating stories with strong female roles) - does that appeal? Comments welcome.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Dinner with Paddy and Vanda

Next month, the Dan Davin Literary Foundation (which supports and promotes creative writing in Southland) is hosting a special Book Lovers Dinner with Kiwi crime writers Paddy Richardson and Vanda Symon as part of its popular Readers & Writers Alive! series. Here are the details:

Book Lovers Dinner with crime writers Vanda Symon & Paddy Richardson

New Zealand is home to a growing number of crime writers among them two Dunedin based authors Vanda Symon and Paddy Richardson. Enjoy a delicious two course buffet and listen to Vanda and Paddy talk about how they came to be crime writers and the growth in popularity of New Zealand crime writing.

Vanda Symon is the best selling crime writer of the Detective Sam Shephard series of novels that are set in Dunedin. She is heavily involved in the New Zealand Society of Authors, is a radio broadcaster, avid fencer, and a PhD candidate at the University of Otago where she is researching the Communication of science through the crime fiction of Ngaio Marsh.

Paddy Richardson has moved into the crime fiction genre with her last two novels Hunting Blind and Traces of Red which were listed amongst the Nielsen best-seller ratings. Hunting Blind was a finalist in the Ngaio Marsh Awards 2011.

Ticket includes a two course meal.
The Cabbage Tree, Dunn Road, Otatara
Thursday, 10 May 6.30pm
Duration 120 minutes
Tickets $45

Booking essential
Contact: Rebecca

Phone: 027 2252664

Looks like it will be a terrific night. Great to see various literary and books groups, organisations, and festivals embracing some of our terrific local crime writers.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Earthquakes-inspired publisher releases Kiwi crime

Although I read a lot of crime fiction, it's not all I read. Last year, I reviewed a children's picture book for WildTomato magazine, CURLY FROM SHIRLEY: THE CHRISTCHURCH DOG. A delightful tale penned as a fundraiser for earthquake recovery, it was released exactly one month after the deadly February 22, 2011 earthquake that devastated the Christchurch CBD and suburbs.

That book was the first from Pear Jam Books, a publisher that also 'rose from the ashes' of the Christchurch 'quakes. In the year since , Pear Jam Books, an innovative publisher that looks to provide a variety of reading experiences (Play; Ebook; Audio; Read) has published another 13 titles, largely in the children's and young adult sphere - but also a debut adult crime thriller by Jack Eden, FURT BENT FROM ALDAHEIT. Here's the blurb:
His name isn’t Furt Bent, and he isn’t from Aldaheit. He’s the persona that Osgood Sneddon invented for himself to rise above the mundane, and extricate himself from trouble when a moment’s misunderstanding lands him on the wrong side of the law.

Specifically, he falls on the wrong side of Hubbard - and that’s the wrong place to be. Detective Inspector Hubbard is poisonous, profane and effective, and he doesn't let the truth get in the way of a result.

Furt Bent, shaped by the folly of youth and the front yards of Australasia's nastiest prisons, becomes his nemesis.

They stalk each other across the pages of this dark, artfully written novel in a story resonant with authenticity. Savour the bitter piquancy, where Underbelly meets Shawshank
In a blog post, Eden says the book was inspired somewhat by his experiences as a young cadet journalist in 1970s New Zealand, when he wrote about the infamous Crewe murders, and then-imprisoned Arthur Allan Thomas (including interviewing Thomas's wife), who was later pardoned. Says Eden:
"A few days after I ran the story, two policemen involved in the investigation visited me. They made it clear they weren't happy with the story. Stuff happened, as it does. Soon after I left the township and my little newspaper, and headed north to other adventures...

Meeting the McGuires, interviewing Vivien Thomas and the subsequent events stayed with me. Furt Bent from Aldaheit is a work of fiction, but it is fair to say it was inspired by those events."
You can read more about the book here.