Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ngaio Marsh Award: An Excellent Eight

Alix Bosco, Paul Cleave, Neil Cross, Paul Thomas, and ??

On the evening of Saturday, 30 August, the fifth recipient of the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel will be announced following the Great New Zealand Crime Debate event at the WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival 2014.

It is fitting that what may be shaping up as the toughest decision for the judging panel in the five instalments of New Zealand's own indigenous crime, mystery, and thriller writing award, will culminate in a presentation made at the Christchurch Festival. As it is at that festival, in the home of Dame Ngaio, that the inaugural winner was scheduled to be revealed, until the September 2010 earthquakes intervened. The WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival has been a great supporter of the Award and local crime writing since the beginning, every year, even though the festival is biennial, which is terrific. Thank you to everyone involved.

Eight excellent novels are in the running for this year's Award, with an international panel of crime fiction aficionados currently working on whittling down a terrific longlist to find the finalists and a winner. There have been some very close calls and tough decisions in the four years of the Award thusfar, but this could be the most unpredictable year yet. It is without doubt the deepest and most diverse longlist in the Award's history.

The finalists will be announced in August, in the lead-up to the award presentation later that month. However, given the quality of this year's longlist, I think it is only fair that we take a moment to recognise all eight of the books that remain in consideration, as all are worthy of accolades, and all would provide an intriguing read for crime fiction lovers around the world.

So here is the official announcement of the eight longlisted titles for the 2014 Ngaio Marsh Award:

  • THE LUMINARIES by Eleanor Catton
  • JOE VICTIM by Paul Cleave
  • THE BECKONING ICE by Joan Druett
  • FREDERICK'S COAT by Alan Duff
  • MY BROTHER'S KEEPER by Donna Malane
  • WHERE DEAD MEN GO by Liam McIlvanney
  • CROSS FINGERS by Paddy Richardson
  • ONLY THE DEAD by Ben Sanders

That's one heck of a line-up. How you cut it down to finalists, let alone a winner, I do not know. I can certainly see how readers will have massively divergent opinions on their favourites amongst this wide-ranging list. I don't even know myself which book I'd choose to win. 

I will have a little more to say about each finalist in due course. But for now, let me just congratulate all of the authors, for although their novels may be very different, each is a high quality work that is very deserving of praise and recognition. As someone who has become involved, in a periphery way, with New Zealand crime, mystery, and thriller writing over the past few years, I am so pleased that our take on the popular genre has continued to grow in breadth, depth and diversity. I am very curious and excited to find out who will become the fifth recipient of the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel. 

You can find out more about the presentation event, along with the entire programme for the upcoming WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival, here. You can follow the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel on Facebook by liking its page here

Have you read any of the longlisted books? I would be interested in your favourites, what you liked, or what you thought of any of them, as it is such a diverse selection this year, so please feel free to leave a comment. I'd love to know what you think. 


  1. Just wondering if the title for Donna Malane is an error? Is her 2013 book not My brother's keeper?

  2. Ugh, yes, you are right. Mea culpa. That'll teach me to write blog posts in the wee small hours - conflated Donna's first book (which was about the murder of the heroine's sister). Oop. Fixed now, thanks for the heads-up. Ridiculous - I have MY BROTHER'S KEEPER featured a few times on this website elsewhere too. Thanks for letting me know. Great book by the way.

    1. No problem - great blog :-) I now have the Joan Druett on order. Thanks.