Friday, May 8, 2015

Paul Thomas with his Ngaio Marsh Award

While back in New Zealand visiting friends and family, I recently I had the pleasure of catching up with 'the Godfather of Kiwi crime fiction' at his home in Wellington. I took the opportunity to take this snap of him with his 2013 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel - unfortunately 2013 was the only year we didn't have a major event to name and celebrate the award winner, so there wasn't a photo of Paul with his award up until now. Long overdue, and nice to get it done.

Paul Thomas won the 2013 Ngaio Marsh Award for his outstanding novel, DEATH ON DEMAND, which after a fifteen-year absence saw the welcome return of Detective Tito Ihaka - described by Ian Rankin as "violent, funny, profane... a terrific maverick cop!"

Back in December 2013, announcing the award, I said: “Ihaka is a tremendous character in New Zealand fiction, an anarchic knight errant of a copper who gives readers a feeling of a time bomb waiting to detonate... It was terrific to see Thomas bring him back in DEATH ON DEMAND, particularly as that duo forever changed the landscape of New Zealand crime writing in the mid-1990s, tearing our genre from its cosy confines into mayhem-filled modernity.”

The 2013 judging panel, consisting of crime fiction experts from New Zealand and overseas, called DEATH ON DEMAND “clever, beautifully written, and highly entertaining”. One international judge praised Thomas’s “strong sense of place” in the “densely plotted and humorous tale”, while another said she “learned a lot about New Zealand: class, race, and more... this was a real classic mystery ... I can’t wait to read the rest of the series”. Ihaka was described by the judges as “a unique character in the cop world”, a man whose “determination to do things his way is appealing, and so is his readiness to say exactly what he thinks, even when the result is crashing rudeness”.

The follow-up, FALLOUT, has been longlisted for the 2015 Ngaio Marsh Award, and is now available in North America and the United Kingdom, with recently released editions from Bitter Lemon Press. To be honest, I think FALLOUT is better than DEATH ON DEMAND, so it will be interesting to see if Paul Thomas might become the first-ever two-time winner of the Ngaio Marsh Award later this year.

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