Friday, July 27, 2018

Introducing the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards finalists

Earlier this month, the finalists for the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards were announced: ten really interesting reads from Kiwi authors spanning the crime, thriller, and suspense spectrum. Over the next month, in the lead-up to the WORD Christchurch Festival, the finalists are going to be highlighted by book websites and blogs in several countries.

You can follow the blog tour with the #yeahnoir and #2018Ngaios hashtags on Twitter, to see interviews with the finalist authors, reviews of the finalist books, and more. You can also follow the Ngaio Marsh Awards pages on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with all the happenings.

To kick things off, I thought I'd give you a bit of an introduction to this year's finalists.

MARLBOROUGH MAN by Alan Carter: the fourth crime novel and first set in New Zealand from award-winning novelist and television documentary maker Carter, who grew up in the north of England before immigrating downunder almost thirty years ago. In recent years Carter has made his home on a farm in a rural valley in the scenic 'Top of the South' of New Zealand, the setting for MARLBOROUGH MAN. Nick Chester is a cop in hiding, living life half a world away from where he spent years chasing bad guys. Is he now the one being chased? Nick now lives in a sometimes-paradise, but young kids have been going missing, and his own past is coming back to haunt him.

You can read reviews of MARLBOROUGH MAN here and here.

THE FLOATING BASIN by Carolyn Hawes: the debut novel from journalist and history buff Hawes, who lives on the ‘wild West Coast’ of New Zealand’s South Island. Hawes began as a non-fiction writer, publishing the book GREAT EXPECTATIONS: THE COLONISATION OF BULLER back in 2004, a look at the early days of European settlement in that rugged region. In THE FLOATING BASIN, Hawes sets a murder mystery against a small town that still has a frontier feel even in modern times. When a body emerges from the town's tidal lagoon, local cop Ru Clement is tasked with finding the killer and must navigate a cast of eccentric small-town characters and past secrets to uncover the truth.

You can read a review of THE FLOATING BASIN here.

SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER by Charity Norman: the fifth novel from a former lawyer who was born in Uganda, grew up in vicarages in England, and emigrated with her family to New Zealand soon after the millennium. Charity lives in the Hawke’s Bay on the sunny eastern coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Her earlier novel AFTER THE FALL was featured by the Richard & Judy Book Club. In SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER Cassy is travelling in New Zealand before her best friend’s wedding. After a relationship breakup, she accepts an invite to stay in a seemingly idyllic farming community. But is it a collective or a cult? As she separates from her past life, her parents get frantic with worry.

You can read a review of SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER here.

BROKEN SILENCE by Helen Vivienne Fletcher: the first young adult thriller from Wellington poet, playwright, and kids picture book author Fletcher, who also runs creative writing and storytelling workshops for children. She’s also a past shortlistee for the prestigious Joy Cowley Award for children’s storytelling. In BROKEN SILENCE, seventeen year old Kelsey’s life is in disarray – she has an absent father, a very ill mother, and an abusive boyfriend. When her boyfriend ends up in a come in hospital thanks to a stranger who’d gotten in touch with Kelsey then stepped in ‘to help’, Kelsey wonders what she’s gotten herself into. Is the stranger her saviour, or something far more sinister?

You can read a review of BROKEN SILENCE here.

TESS by Kirsten McDougall: the second novel from Wellington publicist McDougall is a compact gothic suspense tale that has received high acclaim from both the ‘literary’ and crime/thriller/suspense parts of the books world. Longlisted for the Acorn Prize for Fiction along with being shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel, TESS centres on a titular runaway who gets picked up by a lonely middle-aged man while hitch-hiking around the ‘backblocks’ of New Zealand’s North Island. She’s reluctantly drawn into the man’s family troubles, while experiencing an unfamiliar lifestyle. But what is Tess running from, and what secrets are the man and others hiding?

You can read a review of TESS here.

ALL OUR SECRETS by Jennifer Lane: the debut novel from a prize-winning short story writer and copywriter from Wellington. Lane grew up in Australia, and her short stories have been published in journals and magazines on both sides of the Tasman. ALL OUR SECRETS is set in the fictional Australian small town of Coongahoola and has also been longlisted for the Ned Kelly Award. Adolescent Gracie has to be more mature than her years, thanks to her troubled family, and when the town’s infamous ‘River Children’ begin vanishing, Gracie’s life spirals out of control. For she knows what no one else does: who is responsible. But what can a bullied young girl do?

You can read a review of ALL OUR SECRETS here.

A KILLER HARVEST by Paul Cleave: this tenth novel from three-time Ngaio Marsh Award winner Paul Cleave, whose books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, is his most inventive yet. A KILLER HARVEST is like magical realism meets crime fiction, with a teenage hero. Joshua is a blind teen who thinks he’s cursed: his biological parents died, he lost his eyesight, and now his adopted father has been killed in the line of duty, a cop trying to catch a serial killer. Joshua regains his sight thanks to an innovative transplant, but starts getting troubling visions of violent acts. Meanwhile the killer’s accomplice is looking for revenge, and has Joshua in his crosshairs.

You can read a review of A KILLER HARVEST here.

THE SOUND OF HER VOICE by Nathan Blackwell: a debut novel that drips authenticity as it delves into the darker side of modern-day policing, written by a pseudonymed author who spent ten years in the New Zealand police force before turning to the page. ‘Nathan Blackwell’ was a detective who undertook covert operations and investigated drug manufacture, child abuse, corruption, rape, and murder. In THE SOUND OF HER VOICE, Detective Matt Buchanan fears he’s been on the job too long, accumulating pain from all the sickness he’s seen, the unsolved murders and missing young girls. As he chases leads and finds connections, can he survive looking into the abyss?

You can read a review of THE SOUND OF HER VOICE here.

THE HIDDEN ROOM by Stella Duffy: a very welcome return to the crime scene after more than a decade away for a CWA Dagger Award-winning queen of ‘tart noir’. London-based Duffy, who grew up in a sawmilling small town in rural New Zealand, had focused on historical and literary novels, among other projects, following her groundbreaking Saz Martin crime series. In THE HIDDEN ROOM, Laurie and Martha have a nice life in the British countryside with their three kids, until a dangerous man from Laurie’s past makes a sudden reappearance. What really happened back then, and can Laurie keep her family safe now? How far would she go to protect the people she loves?

You can read reviews of THE HIDDEN ROOM here and here.

NOTHING BAD HAPPENS HERE by Nikki Crutchley: the debut from Cambridge author Crutchley, who previously worked as a librarian in New Zealand and overseas. She also worked for Oxford University Press in the UK and was regional winner for New Zealand Flash Fiction Day in 2016 and 2017. NOTHING BAD HAPPENS HERE centres on ambitious journalist Millie Hatcher, who is among the media hordes who descend on Castle Bay, a small holiday town in the scenic Coromandel, after the body of a missing tourist is found. Following an anonymous tip, Millie tries to solve the case herself. Then another woman goes missing, and it’s clear the danger isn’t over in the seemingly idyllic town.

You can read reviews of NOTHING BAD HAPPENS HERE, well, here and here.

Check out Sarah Hardy's great blog By The Letter Book Reviews tomorrow for the next instalment in this year's blog tour, a review of one of our Best Novel finalists, a really cracking read.

How many of our ten finalists have you read?

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