Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Event: Ngaio Marsh Award winner announcement

It's not long until we'll know which fantastic writer has scooped the 2015 Ngaio Marsh Award. 

An event celebrating the five finalists and announcing the winner will be held in Christchurch, Dame Ngaio's birthplace and hometown, on Sunday 4 October. The team at WORD Christchurch have created a terrific evening which will honour the finalists and Dame Ngaio's memory in a number of unique ways.

It's going to be a highlight of the upcoming New Zealand books calendar, and I'll be revealing specific details of the evening itself here on Crime Watch very soon. Until then, a bit more mystery... appropriate really.

Back in July, five outstanding novels, full of mystery and intrigue, were announced as the 2015 shortlist:
FIVE MINUTES ALONE by Paul Cleave (Penguin NZ)
THE PETTICOAT MEN by Barbara Ewing (Head of Zeus)
SWIMMING IN THE DARK by Paddy Richardson (Upstart Press)
THE CHILDREN’S POND by Tina Shaw (Pointer Press)
FALLOUT by Paul Thomas (Upstart Press)

As I said then, the shortlist is a superb showcase of New Zealand writing talent. It isn't that long ago that it was common to question the quality or heritage of New Zealand crime writing, but these authors clearly demonstrate that our tales and writers stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best in the world.

For me, the shortlist contains a diverse range of styles and stories, but each book melds page-turning entertainment with an undercurrent of deeper issues that go the very heart of our communities and society.

Each year the Ngaio Marsh Award is blessed to have a terrific judging panel. In 2015, there are seven judges; crime fiction experts from the UK, USA, Iceland, Australia, and New Zealand.

The judges praised Cleave’s FIVE MINUTES ALONE as “gritty and thoroughly absorbing”, a “one-sitting” novel that “evokes complex feelings regarding retribution and morality”. Ewing’s THE PETTICOAT MEN is “an immaculately researched” take on a real-life 1870s event that is “spirited, full of strong characters” and “a joy to read”.  The panel hailed SWIMMING IN THE DARK as “an elegantly delivered, disturbing, and ultimately very human tale” that showcased Richardson’s talent for “damaged characters and tackling grey areas”. Tina Shaw authors a “mesmerising” character study in THE CHILDREN’S POND, using deft and spare language to craft a tale with a sublime sense of both place and menace that is “a delight to read”. Paul Thomas’s FALLOUT is “compelling and character-rich”, a “superb continuation” of the Ihaka series; “excellent writing… funny, but also serious.”

It's going to be a very close call as to which book takes home the prize.

Do you have a favourite? 

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