A ‘long shortlist’ for Sisters in Crime’s 16th Davitt Awards for best crime books

Sisters in Crime has announced its shortlist for its 16th Davitt Awards for best crime books but, at 28 books, the list is rather long.

“The reason for such a long shortlist is simple,” says Jacqui Horwood, the Davitt Judges wrangler. “There are just so many outstanding debut books. The crime writing sorority is bursting with new and exciting authors with so many different takes on the genre – from Kathryn Barker’s genre-bending young adult novel, In the Skin of a Monster to Caroline de Costa’s depiction of psycho-sexual depravity in Cairns (Double Madness) and Ann Turner’s more literary approach with The Lost Swimmer.

“The sleuths are equally diverse, ranging from Anne Buist’s bi-polar forensic psychiatrist in Medea’s Curse to Emma Viskic’s deaf P I (Resurrection Bay) and J. M. Green’s grungy social worker, Stella Hardy (Good Money). There are, of course, some cops but they also defy the stereotypes. J. M. Peace’s character in Time to Run is a female police officer who is abducted and the author brings her own experience as a cop on the Sunshine Coast to create a riveting plot.”

Horwood said there were as many young adult and children’s crime books in contention this year but the standard was again outstanding.

“Non-fiction crime also packed a punch this year and we had trouble winnowing down the list. All round, the judges were thrilled by the enormous variety of protagonists, plots, places and perspectives and the high standard of writing.”

Booktopia, Australian pre-eminent online bookseller, is sponsoring this year’s Davitt Awards.

Australian crime writer Liane Moriarty will present the awards at a gala dinner at Melbourne’s Thornbury Theatre on Saturday 27 August, 7pm. After talking about her ‘life in crime’ with true crime author Vikki Petraitis, Moriarty will present six awards: Best Adult Novel; Best Young Adult; Best Children’s Novel; Best Non-fiction Book; Best Debut Book (any category); and Readers’ Choice (as voted by the 600 members of Sisters in Crime Australia). Book for the Davitts Award ceremony by 22 August: https://davittawards2016.eventbrite.com

Moriarty won last year’s Davitt (Best Adult Novel) for Big Little Lies, which has sold over one million copies in the US alone. Moriarty became the first Australian author to have a novel debut at number one on the New York Times bestseller list. Rights were acquired by Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon who have both taking roles in the eight-episode TV series, scripted by David E Kelley, with HBO winning the screen rights, after a battle with Netflix. It goes to air next year.

The Davitts, named after Ellen Davitt, the author of Australia’s first mystery novel, Force and Fraud, in 1865, cost publishers nothing to enter.

The awards are handsome carved polished wooded trophies featuring the front cover of the winning novel under perspex. No prize money is attached.

The judging panel for 2016 comprises Jacqui Horwood, Maggie Baron, Michaela Lobb, Deborah Crabtree, Deb Force, and Debbie Stephen.

Previous Davitt Awards have been presented by UK crime writer Sophie Hannah; South African crime writer Lauren Beukes (2014); New Zealand crime writer Vanda Symons (2013); Swedish crime writer Ǻsa Larsson (2012); Singaporean crime writer Shamini Flint (2011), Scottish crime writer Val McDermid (2003 & 2010); Justice Betty King (2009); Judge Liz Gaynor (2008); Walkley-winning investigative journalist Estelle Blackburn (2007); true crime writer Karen Kissane (2006); Sisters Inside’s Debbie Killroy (2005); US crime writer Karin Slaughter(2004); ACTU President Sharan Burrow (2002) and Chief Commissioner, Victoria Police Christine Nixon (2001).

Come 22 September, Sisters in Crime Australia will have been operation for 25 years. It has chapters in three states and holds regular events in Melbourne dissecting crime fiction on the page and screen. It also hosts a popular annual short-story competition, the Scarlet Stiletto Awards.

The shortlist follows.

Media comment: Jacqui Horwood on 0449 703 503; jacqui.horwood@gmail.com

Info: www.sistersincrime.org.au

 Davitt Awards – Shortlist 2016

Adult novels (6)

  • Anne Buist, Medea’s Curse: Natalie King, Forensic Psychiatrist (Text Publishing)
  • Candice Fox, Fall (Penguin Random House)
  • Sulari Gentill, Give the Devil His Due (Pantera Press)
  • Bronwyn Parry, Storm Clouds (Hachette Australia)
  • J. M. Peace, Time to Run (Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Emma Viskic, Resurrection Bay (Echo Publishing)

Young Adult Novels (4)

  • Kathryn Barker, In the Skin of a Monster (Allen & Unwin)
  • Fleur Ferris, Risk (Penguin Random House)
  • Ellie Marney, Every Move (Allen & Unwin)
  • Maureen McCarthy, Stay with Me (Allen & Unwin)

Children’s Novels (3)

  • Susan Green, Verity Sparks and the Scarlet Hand (Walker Books Australia)
  • Catherine Jinks, Theophilus Grey and the Demon Thief (Allen & Unwin)
  • R. A. Spratt, Friday Barnes 2: Under Suspicion (Penguin Random House)

Non-Fiction (6)

  • Carol Baxter, Black Widow (Allen & Unwin)
  • Cheryl Critchley and Helen McGrath, Why Did They Do It? (Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Kate Kyriacou, The Sting (Echo Publishing)
  • Alecia Simmonds, Wildman (Affirm Press)
  • Sue Smetherst, Behind Closed Doors (Simon & Schuster)
  • Sofija Stefanovic, You’re Just Too Good to Be True (Penguin Random House)


Debut (9)

  • Kathryn Barker, In the Skin of a Monster (Allen & Unwin)
  • Anne Buist, Medea’s Curse: Natalie King, Forensic Psychiatrist (Text Publishing)
  • Tania Chandler, Please Don’t Leave Me Here (Scribe)
  • Caroline de Costa, Double Madness (Margaret River Press)
  • Fleur Ferris, Risk (Penguin Random House)
  • J. M. Green, Good Money (Scribe)
  • J. M. Peace, Time to Run (Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Ann Turner, The Lost Swimmer (Simon & Schuster)
  • Emma Viskic, Resurrection Bay (Echo Publishing)