Thursday, September 15, 2022

Giving victims a voice: debut novel sweeps 2022 Ngaio Marsh Awards

 


Giving victims a voice: debut novel sweeps 2022 Ngaio Marsh Awards  

History was made at a special WORD Christchurch event on Thursday night as Taranaki author Jacqueline Bublitz’s first novel was revealed as the winner of both categories of the 2022 Ngaio Marsh Awards 

In the thirteenth instalment of Aotearoa’s annual awards celebrating excellence in crime, mystery, and thriller writing, Bublitz scooped both the Best First Novel and Best Novel prizes for BEFORE YOU KNEW MY NAME (Allen & Unwin). It is the first time any Kiwi storyteller has won both fiction categories. 

“Beautifully heart-breaking, stylishly written, and boldly pushing the envelope of crime fiction,” said the international judging panels. “Bublitz delivers a beguiling tale with great characterisation: Alice and Ruby are wonderful. This is a tragic but warm-hearted crime novel that gives victims agency and voice.” 

Ngaio Marsh Awards founder Craig Sisterson noted that while a few excellent debuts have been shortlisted for both categories over the past several years, BEFORE YOU KNEW MY NAME is the first book to ever win two Ngaio Marsh Awards. Bublitz also joins Christchurch author and international bestseller Paul Cleave, a three-time Best Novel winner, as the only Kiwi storytellers with multiple Ngaios. So far. 

“It’s a remarkable achievement by Jacqueline,” added Sisterson, “especially given the strength of the Best Novel category this year, which included past Ngaios winners in Cleave and RWR McDonald, a four-time finalist in Ben Sanders, a two-time Ockhams longlistee in Kirsten McDougall, and a many-times New York Times bestseller in Nalini Singh. Our judges really loved many different books, it was a tough decision.” 

The international judging panels for this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards comprised leading crime fiction critics, editors, and authors from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England, Scotland, and the United States.  

While BEFORE YOU KNEW MY NAME shares an inciting incident familiar to any viewer of US cop shows – a jogger in New York City finds the body of a young woman – in her debut Bublitz flips the script by taking readers deep into the lives of Alice and Ruby, the victim and the jogger, rather than the detectives. 

On Thursday night, Bublitz was presented with the Best First Novel prize by bestselling Australian author Michael Robotham, then the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel by Scottish queen of crime Val McDermid. Before the audience found out whowunnit, Robotham and McDermid had entertained attendees in a thrilling panel with past Ngaios winner JP Pomare, as part of the trio’s Crime After Crime tour of New Zealand.  

The two Ngaio Marsh Awards add to a list of accolades for Bublitz’s debut that include winning General Fiction Book of the Year at the ABIA Awards, being shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger in the UK, and winning the Debut Crime and Readers’ Choice prizes at the Davitt Awards of Sisters in Crime Australia.  

Before it was published, Bublitz worked on BEFORE YOU KNEW MY NAME for several years, including living in New York City, “ostensibly for research” in 2015, and persisting through dozens of rejections. She finally completed the novel in the aftermath of her beloved father’s death in 2019, after returning to New Zealand from two decades in Melbourne. “I realised what I was trying to say, which is look at what we lose when this kind of crime happens,” she said. “I was going through my own experience of loss and thinking about mortality, and I changed some of the narrative and became a lot more clear on Alice’s journey.” 

Bublitz’s prizes include two trophies, $1,000 courtesy of WORD Christchurch, long-time partner of the Ngaio Marsh Awards, and a cash prize from the Ngaios. Her book is released in US hardcover in November.  

For more information about this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards winner or the Ngaio Marsh Awards in general,  please contact the Judging Convenor, Craig Sisterson. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Review: RAZORBLADE TEARS

RAZORBLADE TEARS by SA Cosby (Headline, 2021)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

A black father and a white father join forces on a crusade for revenge against the people who murdered their gay sons, by S.A. Cosby, the award-winning author of Blacktop Wasteland.

Back in the first year of the pandemic, 2020, heist thriller-cum-rural noir BLACKTOP WASTELAND was arguably the crime novel of the year (later reinforced by it winning numerous awards in 2021) and its author SA Cosby the breakout star. It was deservedly feted across the world by readers, critics, and awards judges as heralding the arrival of a striking voice. But Cosby was no overnight success, he'd been working on his craft for twenty years before the wider reading world began to take big notice. 

BLACKTOP WASTELAND was a superb, snarling tale, bringing a fresh perspective to rural noir and infused with striking characters, plenty of action, and important underlying themes. It did leave a big question though – what would the blue-collar Virginia author do next, now he’d set the bar so high? 

Last year we got our answer, and somehow, incredibly, RAZORBLADE TEARS was even better. 

Quite simply, it's an astonishing novel. A tour de force of crime storytelling. 

Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee are two quite different men in the rural South, though they’ve a few things in common: they both know what it’s like behind bars, and they’re both fathers to gay sons who they loved but struggled to fully accept. A black man and a white man brought together by the murder of their boys, who’d married each other, Ike and Buddy Lee embark on a no-holds-barred search for those responsible. And are forced to confront their own prejudices along with those of others.

This is a Southern Gothic revenge thriller of the most outstanding kind: violent, thoughtful, emotionally hard-hitting, and brilliant. Cosby writes with a poetic ferocity, and RAZORBLADE TEARS is a modern masterpiece. Run don't walk to get it from your local bookshop or library, if you haven't devoured it already. I'll be pre-ordering anything Cosby writes in future. 

We're witnessing the ascent of a bright new star in our genre. 

Craig Sisterson is a lawyer turned features writer who's interviewed hundreds of crime writers and talked about the genre on national radio, top podcasts, and onstage at festivals on three continents. He's been a judge of Australian, Scottish, and NZ crime writing awards, and is co-founder of Rotorua Noir. He's the author of the HRF Keating award-shortlisted non-fiction book SOUTHERN CROSS CRIME, and the series editor of acclaimed anthology DARK DEEDS DOWN UNDER. You can heckle him on Twitter. 

Monday, August 8, 2022

Review: DIRT TOWN

DIRT TOWN by Hayley Scrivenor (Macmillan, 2022)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

On a sweltering Friday afternoon in Durton, best friends Ronnie and Esther leave school together. Esther never makes it home.

Ronnie's going to find her, she has a plan. Lewis will help. Their friend can't be gone, Ronnie won't believe it.

Detective Sergeant Sarah Michaels can believe it, she has seen what people are capable of. She knows more than anyone how, in a moment of weakness, a person can be driven to do something they never thought possible.

Lewis can believe it too. But he can't reveal what he saw that afternoon at the creek without exposing his own secret.

While deadly deeds in remote Australian small-towns surrounded by heat-struck landscapes have become more familiar to international readers in recent years thanks to the likes of Jane Harper, Chris Hammer, and Gabriel Bergmoser - not to mention the Quiet King of Aussie Crime, the great Garry Disher - newcomer Hayley Scrivenor shows there’s still plenty of mileage and fresh takes left in ‘Outback Noir’. 

Scrivenor’s excellent debut DIRT TOWN (DIRT CREEK in the United States, where it's published by Flatiron Books) is an intimate portrait of a community torn asunder by the disappearance of 12-year-old Esther Bianchi, told via kaleidoscopic narration.

Readers are plunged into Durton, a sunburnt rural town of ‘dirt and hurt’, via the eyes of Sydney detective and missing persons expert Sarah Michaels, called in to investigate Esther’s disappearance, along with several other narrative viewpoints, including Esther’s mother Constance, Esther’s two school friends Veronica “Ronnie” Thompson and Lewis Kennard, and an omniscient ‘We’: a Greek chorus of unidentified Durton children.

This latter device, along with several other aspects including Michaels’ sexuality and relationship history, bring a fresh perspective to an increasingly familiar if fascinating backdrop. But the greatest triumph of DIRT TOWN aka DIRT CREEK is the exquisite characterisation, as Scrivenor deftly brings a variety of townsfolk to vivid life, along with the intricate tapestry of their connections, secrets, feuds, prejudices, and (mis)perceptions. 

In such a tiny town, people know so much about their neighbours, but can be oh-so-wrong about them too. Esther’s disappearance is the violent tremor that sheers open the dusty veneer of Durton, and as Detective Sergeant Michaels and her partner Smithy dig into the cracks, they’re confronted with a clear suspect – Esther’s father – along with plenty of other wrongdoing. 

But why is Esther’s friend Lewis reluctant to share what he saw on the day of Esther’s disappearance? And what is really going on behind some of the town’s closed doors? 

Scrivenor deftly juggles her multiple narrators, building tension and her piercing portrait of the town. 

A character-centric crime novel imbued with hurt and heart.

Craig Sisterson is a lawyer turned features writer from New Zealand, now living in London. He’s interviewed hundreds of crime writers and talked about the genre on national radio, top podcasts, and onstage at festivals on three continents. He's been a judge of Australian, Scottish, and NZ crime writing awards, and is co-founder of Rotorua Noir. He's the author of the HRF Keating award-shortlisted non-fiction book SOUTHERN CROSS CRIME, and the series editor of acclaimed anthology DARK DEEDS DOWN UNDER. You can heckle him on Twitter. 

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Review: BOY FALLEN

BOY FALLEN by Chris Gill (PRNTD Publishing, 2022)

Reviewed by Alyson Baker

When the body of wealthy teen and aspiring photographer Evan Wiley is found faceup at the base of Taonga Falls, one thing is immediately clear: he didn’t jump.

Detective Brooke Palmer races down to the struggling New Zealand town she once called home to comfort her oldest friend – Evan’s mother.

But when Brooke learns Evan had been hanging out with a boy who used to bully him, she quickly gets drawn into the case. She fears this dangerous new friendship may have cost Evan his life – or at the very least, his heart.

And as Brooke confronts her own past, she is reminded that in Taonga, even those who have it all can hit rock bottom.

Brooke Palmer flies down from Auckland to visit her West Coast hometown, Taonga. Far from the ‘treasure’ suggested by the name, Taonga holds bitter memories for Brooke – it is where her 15-year-old brother, Jack, was murdered 19 years before. Brooke and her family are still traumatised by their loss, and Brooke still hates the man serving out his sentence for her brother’s murder. She has returned because Evan, the son of her best friend, has been found dead – it appears he is another young man murdered in Taonga.

Brooke is now a detective in Auckland, and although she is back for her friend Lana, she agrees to help Christchurch Detective Tane Collins find out what happened to Evan, and why. Boy Fallen is a police procedural, but from the point of view of an incredibly invested cop who finds it hard to put aside her personal feelings when investigating. Interspersed are episodes from Evan’s point of view – the first an intrusion in the text, but then a tense addition to the narrative, mirroring what the police are discovering about Evan’s life, and the incidents leading to his death.

To Brooke’s surprise there is no shortage of suspects for Evan’s murder; Evan had been surrounded by a variety of people who had reasons to want him gone. She knows Taonga is not immune to the divide between rich and poor evident elsewhere in Aotearoa; her brother had suffered the jealousy and resentment from the less well-off in town. And like Jack, Evan had been bullied at school. He had been planning on getting away, but when things looked like he might find happiness in Taonga, other forms of prejudice descended, even from those who should have been supporting him.

BOY FALLEN is an incredibly atmospheric read. The cold and rain of the West Coast shroud the tragic community, the frequent drives to Christchurch lead to disturbing prison visits and unsatisfactory interviews, and then back to the grief and hostility of Taonga. Collins is dealing with his own family problems, and neither he nor Brooke have time out from the relentless drive to find Evan’s killer. Brooke promises Lana they’ll solve the case before Brooke goes back to Auckland, a promise that weighs heavily on her mind.

The characters are in turns awful, misunderstood, flawed, sympathetic, and puzzling. And many go terribly astray. The reader witnesses Evan’s world spinning out of control, to a place where he can’t see a way out – until it’s too late. The homing in on various subjects, coupled with seeing Evan’s experience with them, leads to a nerve-wracking read. And when the culprit is finally revealed it throws a whole different perspective on the narrative. Brooke and the reader revisit everything they have known about the causes of the violent goings-on in Taonga. 

BOY FALLEN is a sad read, it is about how difficult teenage years can be, both for youth and their caregivers. It is about how the human desire to fit in can ironically lead to greater isolation. And how prejudice can go both ways. A great and moving piece of #YeahNoir

Alyson Baker is a crime-loving former librarian in Nelson. This review first appeared on her blog, which you can check out here

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Review: 1979

1979 by Val McDermid (Little, Brown, 2021)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

1979. It's the winter of discontent, and Allie Burns is chasing her first big scoop. One of few women in the newsroom, she needs something explosive for the boys' club to take her seriously.

Soon Allie and fellow reporter Danny Sullivan are making powerful enemies with their investigations - and Allie won't stop there. When she discovers a terrorist threat close to home, she devises a dangerous plan to make her name.

But Allie is a woman in a man's world . . . and putting a foot wrong could be fatal.

Back in the ‘Golden Age of Detective Fiction’ there were four leading authors dubbed the Queens of Crime: Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham, and Dorothy L Sayers. Their output thrilled readers and critics alike, then and since, and has been enjoyed by generations. Chatting to some fellow critics and awards judges a while back, we wondered who’d be the modern, living equivalents?

For me, you write the names Val McDermid and Sara Paretsky with permanent marker, then debate the other two spots (with many marvelous contenders). Pioneers both, McDermid and Paretsky have continued to elevate the crime genre thirty five-plus years on from their debuts. 

Scottish author McDermid continues to push herself to new heights, a decade after she received the prestigious Cartier Diamond Dagger, which honoured her outstanding career in crime fiction and impact on our genre. Recently she has taken the protagonists of both her active, long-running series (cold case detective Karen Pirie in one series, psychologist Tony Hill and chief detective Carol Jordan in the other) through some fascinating arcs. Audacious ones, even, in the latter case.

Now, McDermid launches her first new series in almost twenty years, and it’s a belter from the beginning. In 1979, young Glasgow reporter Allie Burns is keen to make a mark in her misogynistic newsroom, so when her colleague Danny Sullivan asks for help on a story linking powerful businessmen to criminal activity, she leaps at the chance. Meanwhile Allie may have uncovered a homegrown terrorist threat relating to cries in some quarters for Scottish nationalism and independence. Will Allie and Danny’s investigations become career-making stories, career-ending ones, or worse?

McDermid masterfully immerses readers in late 1970s Glasgow, a time of rising political tensions and a changing society, delivering a compulsive novel that’s further enriched by the echoes of McDermid’s own past as a pioneering journalist battling against prejudice on multiple fronts in that era. It's a troubled time, with the threat of terrorism from across the Irish Sea, and perhaps closer to home, and the looming presence of Margaret Thatcher ascending to power in the UK, upturning life as many knew it. 

Allie Burns is a fascinating centrepiece who's easy to follow, and if McDermid hadn't already confirmed 1979 was kickstarting an ongoing series, both she as a character and readers alike would be yelling for one. An excellent tale from a storyteller who continues to set the bar high. 

Craig Sisterson is a lawyer turned features writer from New Zealand, now living in London. He’s interviewed hundreds of crime writers and talked about the genre on national radio, top podcasts, and onstage at festivals on three continents. He's been a judge of Australian, Scottish, and NZ crime writing awards, and is co-founder of Rotorua Noir. He's the author of the HRF Keating award-shortlisted non-fiction book SOUTHERN CROSS CRIME, and the series editor of acclaimed anthology DARK DEEDS DOWN UNDER. You can heckle him on Twitter. 

Friday, August 5, 2022

Review: DON'T KNOW TOUGH

DON'T KNOW TOUGH by Eli Cranor (Soho Press, 2022)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

Friday Night Lights meets Southern Gothic, this thrilling debut is for readers of Megan Abbott and Wiley Cash. In Denton, Arkansas, the fate of the high school football team rests on the shoulders of Billy Lowe, a volatile but talented running back. Billy comes from an extremely troubled home: a trailer park where he is terrorized by his unstable mother’s abusive boyfriend. Billy takes out his anger on the field, but when his savagery crosses a line, he faces suspension.

Without Billy Lowe, the Denton Pirates can kiss their playoff bid goodbye. But the head coach, Trent Powers, who just moved from California with his wife and two children for this job, has more than just his paycheck riding on Billy’s bad behavior. As a born-again Christian, Trent feels a divine calling to save Billy—save him from his circumstances, and save his soul.

Then Billy’s abuser is found murdered in the Lowe family trailer, and all evidence points toward Billy. Now nothing can stop an explosive chain of violence that could tear the whole town apart on the eve of the playoffs.

It’s the voice that grabs you first in Arkansas teacher and former quarterback Eli Cranor’s astonishing debut novel. Billy Lowe, a tough teen who shoulders the dreams of many in the backwater of Denton, Arkansas. A high school running back who lives in a trailer park and gets his neck used as an ashtray by the abusive boyfriend of his mother, who unleashes his rage on the football field. And sometimes off.

California high school coach Trent Powers didn’t envisage Denton in his plans, a town of poultry farms and trailer parks. But after he was banished by his father-in-law, it may be his last-chance saloon. His wife Marley wants a state title even more than he does: it’s their ticket to escape, to reclaim some of what they should have had. Billy’s a simmering volcano, but they need him. He crosses the line, but Trent takes him into his home, seeking redemption as well as wins. Then the rotting body of Billy’s abuser is found. Everyone has secrets, and is scrabbling to survive. Not all will.

Cranor delivers a powerful tale full of darkness, desperation, and humanity. 

DON'T KNOW TOUGH is an exceptional slice of Southern Gothic that heralds the arrival of a terrific new voice in rural noir. Cranor takes readers into the grimy underbelly of high school sports, but this tale is about far more than football. A clash of values and principles, between characters and within them. Evocative prose throughout, and an extraordinary first-person voice in Billy’s passages. 

A triumph of a debut.

Craig Sisterson is a lawyer turned features writer who's interviewed hundreds of crime writers and talked about the genre on national radio, top podcasts, and onstage at festivals on three continents. He's been a judge of Australian, Scottish, and NZ crime writing awards, and is co-founder of Rotorua Noir. He's the author of the HRF Keating award-shortlisted non-fiction book SOUTHERN CROSS CRIME, and the series editor of acclaimed anthology DARK DEEDS DOWN UNDER. You can heckle him on Twitter. 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Review: THE PERFECT CRIME

THE PERFECT CRIME, edited by Vaseem Khan & Maxim Jakubowski (Penguin, 2022)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

Around the world in 22 murders… MURDER. BLACKMAIL. REVENGE

From Lagos to Mexico City, Australia to the Caribbean, Toronto to Los Angeles, Darjeeling to rural New Zealand, London to New York – twenty-two bestselling crime writers from diverse cultures come together from across the world in a razor sharp and deliciously sinister collection of crime stories.

Featuring: Oyinkan Braithwaite, Abir Mukherjee, S.A. Cosby, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, J.P. Pomare, Sheena Kamal, Vaseem Khan, Sulari Gentill, Nelson George, Rachel Howzell Hall, John Vercher, Sanjida Kay, Amer Anwar, Henry Chang, Nadine Matheson, Mike Phillips, Ausma Zehanat Khan, Felicia Yap, Thomas King, Imran Mahmood, David Heska Wanbli Weiden and Walter Mosley.

A few years ago, a good friend in the crime writing community told me about attending a Bouchercon and being struck by how in a conference with well over a thousand mystery readers and writers in attendance, she was one of only three black people in the room. A stark reminder of the work needed in our favourite genre, along with many others, to welcome and support a diverse array of different voices.

Fortunately, as THE PERFECT CRIME shows, progress has been made (belatedly), and while the work must continue there’s now a host of crime writers of colour all over the world bringing exceptional voices, fresh perspectives, and greater breadth and depth to a genre that’s been hugely popular for a century plus.

Editors Vaseem Khan (author of the Baby Ganesh Detective Agency novels) and Maxim Jakubowski have curated an exceptional collection of 22 stories from black, Hispanic, Asian, and indigenous authors on several continents. From legends like Walter Mosley and Mike Phillips to newer stars like SA Cosby, Oyinkan Braithwaite, Nadine Matheson, John Vercher, Sheena Kamal, Rachel Howzell Hall, and JP Pomare, The Perfect Crime is a wonderful showcase of superb crime writing. And frankly, it’s further evidence that there’s no excuse nowadays for any major event to have all-white line-ups.

Could the best crime book of the year be a short story collection rather than a novel? There may be a debate to be had after reading The Perfect Crime. It’s a high-quality buffet of voices and perspectives historically overlooked, spanning locations from Lagos to the Caribbean, Toronto to Darjeeling.

In “Hooch”, Lakota author David Heska Wanbli Weiden takes us into the dangerous world of reservation bootlegging. Sulari Gentill offers a bite-sized rural mystery set in 1920s Australia in “A Murder of Bridges”. Cosby delivers a gritty, evocative tale with “The Mayor of Dukes County”, Pomare gives us a tale of revenge on a New Zealand sheep farm in “For Marg”, Silvia Moreno-Garcia takes us into mid-century Mexico, and Khan transports a classic mystery into the tea fields of mountainous India.

There are gems galore in this excellent anthology – it’s a veritable treasure trove which you could enjoy by dipping in and out of or devouring straight through. A must-have for mystery lovers’ shelves.

Craig Sisterson is a lawyer turned features writer who's interviewed hundreds of crime writers and talked about the genre on national radio, top podcasts, and onstage at festivals on three continents. He's been a judge of Australian, Scottish, and NZ crime writing awards, and is co-founder of Rotorua Noir. He's the author of the HRF Keating award-shortlisted non-fiction book SOUTHERN CROSS CRIME, and the series editor of acclaimed anthology DARK DEEDS DOWN UNDER. You can heckle him on Twitter. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Review: EVERYONE IN MY FAMILY HAS KILLED SOMEONE

EVERYONE IN MY FAMILY HAS KILLED SOMEONE by Benjamin Stevenson (Penguin, 2022)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

I was dreading the Cunningham family reunion even before the first murder. Before the storm stranded us at the mountain resort, snow and bodies piling up. The thing is, us Cunninghams don't really get along. We've only got one thing in common- we've all killed someone.

My brother. My step-sister. My wife. My father. My mother. My sister-in-law. My uncle. My stepfather. My aunt. Me 

It’s clear that award-winning Australian author and standup comedian Benjamin Stevenson is having plenty of fun in his latest mystery novel. After establishing himself with two very good books – the first a true crime-entwined tale set amongst the vineyards of the Hunter Valley, its sequel an ingenious thriller about one million people watching a TV presenter kill themselves on air – Stevenson soaks deeply into the history of the mystery genre with EVERYONE IN MY FAMILY HAS KILLED SOMEONE. 

And it’s fabulous.

Ernest ‘Ernie’ Cunningham is a struggling author of crime writing ‘how-to’ guides with a fractured relationship with his infamous family. But he can’t avoid the call to a snowy mountain resort for a ‘modern family’ reunion to mark the release of his brother Michael from prison. It’s a tension-filled weekend from the very beginning. So far, so Agatha Christie. It’s a stressful situation not least because Michael is now with Ernie’s wife, many in the family blame Ernie for Michael being in prison – he did testify, after all – and as the title says, everyone in the Cunningham family has killed someone. “Some of us, the high achievers, have killed more than once,” Ernie tells readers early on. So when a body is uncovered in the snow, seemingly burned despite the icy surrounds, suspects aren’t thin on the ground.

Stevenson delivers a startlingly clever mystery that delights in the longstanding tropes and traditional ‘rules’ of the genre. At the start he outlines Catholic priest and mystery author Ronald Knox’s famous ‘Ten Commandments of Detective Fiction’ from the late 1920s (Knox was a member of the famed Detection Club, alongside the likes of Christie, Dorothy L Sayers, and GK Chesterton). Of primacy: play fair. Our narrator Ernie even tells us from the start that there will be many deaths, and on what pages they’ll occur. Having tied his own hands a little, Stevenson then performs some brilliant sleight of hand and storytelling – giving the readers far more than usual, but still managing to surprise and delight. 

EVERYONE IN MY FAMILY HAS KILLED SOMEONE harkens back to Golden Age classics while still providing plenty of freshness and modern perspective. It’s a book that dances with ‘meta’, and is very, very good. Highly recommended. 

Craig Sisterson is a lawyer turned features writer who's interviewed hundreds of crime writers and talked about the genre on national radio, top podcasts, and onstage at festivals on three continents. He's been a judge of Australian, Scottish, and NZ crime writing awards, and is co-founder of Rotorua Noir. He's the author of the HRF Keating award-shortlisted non-fiction book SOUTHERN CROSS CRIME, and the series editor of acclaimed anthology DARK DEEDS DOWN UNDER. You can heckle him on Twitter.