A record 96 crime books to shoot out for Sisters in Crime’s 15th Davitt Awards

Davitt judges’ wrangler, Jacqui Horwood, said that there had been an explosion of women’s crime writing over the past 15 years.

Hannah Kent won the 2104 Davitt (Readers’ Choice) for Burial Rites

“When the Davitt Awards were set up back in 2001, there were only seven books competing , though admittedly non-fiction crime books weren’t then in contention. Last year, numbers had climbed to 76 books but in one short year they’ve grown by another 20. The increase is gobsmacking,” Horwood said.

“Australian women are turning to crime above all other genres, it seems, because crime offers so many possibilities. It really is a broad church (the television crime series was appropriately titled). All tastes and proclivities are catered for, from hard-boiled to cosy, from serial killers to crime capers. Ebooks are also now part of the mix.”

Horwood said that last year Sisters in Crime had decided to establish a separate award for children’s crime novels.

“It seemed unfair to expect children’s fiction to compete with Young Adult fiction but we didn’t expect children’s books to soar in numbers and popularity. This year, there are 20 children’s crime novels, six more than in the Young Adult category,” Horwood said.

“Many of us in Sisters in Crime aren’t all that surprised since we cut our teeth on The Famous Five, Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. In fact, we’re thrilled that a whole new generation of crime readers and writers is being nurtured by the likes of Jen Storer, Jennifer Walsh, Catherine Jinks and Sally Rippin.”

Six Davitt Awards will be presented by a major UK crime writer at gala dinner in Melbourne on Saturday 29 August : 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 650 members of Sisters in Crime Australia).

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.

Horwood said that the Davitts have played a key role in getting women’s crime writing better recognised.

“The Davitts have also encouraged Australian publishers to take a punt on crime books produced by women locally, instead of just importing the latest blockbusters from overseas. It’s a gamble that has paid off,” she said.

The judging panel for 2015 comprises:

·         Maggie Baron: Former forensic scientist and avid crime reader, Maggie brings a strong analytical perspective to the craft of judging.

·         Deborah Crabtree:Deborah is a writer, reviewer and bookseller at Readings Carlton. An ex-Kill City dame and past Ned Kelly judge, Deborah has returned to the literary crime scene to check out how the sisters do it and whether they can get away with it.

·         Jacqui Horwood: Jacqui is a former public servant and newly minted librarian. She likes her crime hard boiled and her eggs sunny side up.

·         Sylvia Loader: Sylvia has been reading crime for more than sixty years and is still searching for the ideal way of disposing of a husband.

·         Michaela Lobb:Michaela formerly worked as a proof reader for freelance writers and has a degree in journalism and writing and certificates in editing and publishing. She began her career as a devoted crime reader at age 11 when she transitioned from Trixie Belden to Agatha Christie.

·         Dr Shelley Robertson:Shelley has been a forensic pathologist for over 25 years, with extensive experience in the investigation of unnatural deaths and giving expert evidence in court. She has written a number of articles published in true crime anthologies and been a Davitt Judge and Sisters in Crime member for many years.

Previous Davitt Awards have been presented by South African crime writer Lauren Beukes (2014); New Zealand crime writer Vanda Symons (2013); Swedish crime writer Asa Larsson (2012); Singapore crime writer Shamini Flint (2011), Scottish crime writer Val McDermid (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); Val McDermid (2003); , ACTU President Sharan Burrow (2002) and Chief Commissioner, Victoria Police (2001Christine Nixon,).

Sisters in Crime Australia was set up 24 years ago, has chapters in different 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.

Voting by Sisters in Crime members for the Davitt (Readers’ Choice) closes on 27 July.

A short list will be announced in late July.

The long list follows.

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

Adult novels (44)

·         Sarah Barrie, Deadly Secrets (Harlequin MIRA – Harlequin)

·         Honey Brown, Through the Cracks (Penguin Books Australia)

·         Kimberley Brown, Trusting a Stranger (Escape Publishing –Harlequin) ebook, Debut

·         Carla Caruso, Pretty Mess: An Astonvale novel (HarperCollins Australia) ebook, Debut

·         Melanie Casey, Craven (Pantera Press)

·         Lee Christine, In Safe Arms (Escape Publishing – Harlequin) ebook

·         Sandy Curtis, Grievous Harm (Clan Destine Press)

·         Wendy L Curtis, Above and Beyond (Escape Publishing–Harlequin) ebook, Debut

·         Karen Davis, Deadly Obsession (Simon & Schuster)

·         Livia Day, Drowned Vanilla (Twelfth Planet Press)

·         Joy Dettman, Tying of Threads (Pan Macmillan Australia)

·         Ilsa Evans, Forbidden Fruits: A Nell Forrest mystery (Momentum Press) ebook

·         Sarah Evans, Killing Kindness (Clan Destine Press) ebook

·         Sarah Evans, Operation Paradise (Clan Destine Press) Debut

·         Jaye Ford, Already Dead (Random House)

·         Candice Fox, Eden (Random House)

·         Candice Fox, Hades (Random House) Debut

·         Kathryn Fox, Fatal Impact (Pan Macmillan Australia)

·         Anna George, What Came Before (Penguin Books Australia) Debut

·         Sulari Gentill, A Murder Unmentioned (Pantera Press)

·         Helen Goltz, Graveyard of the Atlantic (Atlas Productions)

·         Nina Hamilton, Rescue Nights (Escape Publishing – Harlequin) ebook

·         Annie Hauxwell, A Morbid Habit (Penguin Books Australia)

·         Katherine Howell, Deserving Death (Pan Macmillan Australia)

·         Anna Jaquiery, The Lying-down Room (Picador – a Pan Macmillan imprint) Debut

·         Wendy James, The Lost Girls (Penguin Books Australia)

·         Rebecca Jessen, Gap (University of Queensland Press) Debut

·         Kathryn Ledson, Monkey Business (Penguin Books Australia)

·         Gabrielle Lord, Dishonour (Hachette Australia)

·         Sophie Masson, Trinity #1: The Koldun Code (Momentum Press – a Pan MacMillan imprint)

·         Lily Monadjemi, The Scent of Love (Austin Macauley Publishers) Debut

·         Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies (Pan Macmillan Australia)

·         Maris Morton, The Herb Gardener (Odyssey Books)

·         Malla Nunn, Present Darkness (Xoum Publishing)

·         P M Newton, Beams Falling (Penguin Books Australia)

·         Ainslie Paton, Floored (Escape Publishing – Harlequin) ebook

·         Josephine Pennicott, Currawong Manor (Pan Macmillan Australia)

·         Elisabeth Rose, Evidence of Love (Escape Publishing – Harlequin) ebook

·         Deborah Sheldon, Dark Waters (Cohesion Press) ebook

·         Vanessa Skye, Broken (The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House)

·         Nicole Trope, The Secrets in Silence (Allen & Unwin)

·         Sandi Wallace, Tell Me Why (Clan Destine Press) Debut

·         Felicity Young, The Scent of Murder (HarperCollins Australia)

·         Helene Young, Safe Harbour (Penguin Books Australia)

Young adult novels (14)

·         Alexandra Adornetto, Ghost House (HarperCollins Australia) Debut

·         Christine Bongers, Intruder (Woolshed Press – a Random House imprint)

·         Kaz Delaney, Almost Dead (Allen & Unwin)

·         Rebecca James, Cooper Bartholomew Is Dead (Allen & Unwin)

·         Justine Larbalestier, Razorhurst (Allen & Unwin)

·         Rebecca Lim, The Astrologer’s Daughter (Text Publishing) Debut

·         Ellie Marney, Every Word (Allen & Unwin)

·         Sophie Masson, Emilio: Through my eyes (Allen & Unwin)

·         Sophie Masson, The Crystal Heart (Random House)

·         Pamela Rushby, The Ratcatcher’s Daughter (HarperCollins Australia) Debut

·         Jessica Shirvington, Corruption (HarperCollins Australia)

·         Jessica Shirvington, Disruption (HarperCollins Australia)

·         Frances Watts, The Raven’s Wing (HarperCollins Australia)

·         Nova Weetman, The Haunting of Lily Frost (University of Queensland Press) Debut

Children’s Novels (20)

·         Lollie Barr, The Adventures of Stunt Boy and His Amazing Wonder Dog Blindfold (Pan Macmillan Australia) Debut

·         Ursula Dubosarsky, Talkative Tombstone #6: The CrypticCasebook (Allen & Unwin)

·         Elizabeth Farrelly, Caro Was Here (Walker Books) Debut

·         Jacqueline Harvey, Alice-Miranda in Japan (Random House)

·         Catherine Jinks, Saving Thanehaven (Allen & Unwin)

·         Sofie Laguna, Do You Dare? Fighting Bones 1836 (Penguin Books Australia)

·         Alison Lloyd, Do You Dare? Bushranger Boys 1841 (Penguin Books Australia)

·         Deryn Mansell, Tiger Stone (Black Dog Books – a Walker Books Australia imprint) Debut

·         Belinda Murrell, The Sequin Star (Random House)

·         Eileen O’Hely, Kitten Kaboodle Mission 1: The Catier Emerald (Walker Books) Debut

·         Eileen O’Hely, Kitten Kaboodle Mission 2: The Lightning Opal(Walker Books)

·         Sally Rippin, Billie B Mystery #2: Code Breaker (Hardie Grant Egmont)

·           Sally Rippin, Billie B Mystery #3: Playground Detectives (Hardie Grant Egmont)

·           Sally Rippin, Billie B Mystery #4: Strawberry Thief (Hardie Grant Egmont)

·           Sally Rippin, Billie B Mystery #5: Stolen Stash (Hardie Grant Egmont)

·           Sally Rippin, Billie B Mystery #6: Treasure Hunt (Hardie Grant Egmont)

·           Judith Rossell, Withering-by-Sea (HarperCollins Australia)

·           R A Spratt, Friday Barnes: Big trouble (Random House)

·           Jen Storer, Truly Tan #4: Freaked! (ABC Books – a HarperCollins Australia imprint)

·           Jennifer Walsh, Crooked Leg Road (Allen & Unwin)

Non-Fiction Books (18)

·           Lindy Cameron and Fin J Ross, Murder in the Family: 15 horrifying accounts of domestic tragedy  (The Five Mile Press)

·           Amy Dale, The Fall (Random House) Debut

·           Suzanne Falkiner, Mrs Mort’s Madness: The true story of a Sydney scandal (Xoum Publishing)

·           Vashti Farrer, Ellen Thomson: Beyond a reasonable doubt (Halstead Press)

·           Victoria Heywood, Lethal Lovers (The Five Mile Press)

·           Amanda Howard, Murder on the Mind: An insight into the minds of serial killers and their crimes (New Holland)

·           Xanthé Mallett, Mothers Who Murder: And infamous miscarriages of justice (Ebury Press – a Random House imprint)

·           Debi Marshall, The Family Court Murders: Four murders.Five bombings. No convictions (Ebury Press – a Random House imprint)

·           Michaela McGuire, Last Bets (Melbourne University Publishing)

·           Belinda Neil, Under Siege (Harlequin MIRA – Harlequin)

·           Megan Norris, Love You to Death: A story of sex, betrayal and murder gone wrong (The Five Mile Press)

·           Eileen Ormsby, Silk Road (Pan Macmillan Australia) Debut

·           Caroline Overington, Last Woman Hanged (HarperCollins Australia)

·           Virginia Peters, Have You Seen Simone? The story of an unsolved murder (Nero)

·           Sue Turnbull, The TV Crime Drama (University of Edinburgh Press)

·           Emily Webb, Murder in Suburbia: Disturbing stories from Australia’s dark heart (The Five Mile Press)

·           Robyn Windshuttle, Dancing with a Cocaine Cowboy (Allen & Unwin) Debut

·           Julie Szego, The Tainted Trial of Farah Jama (Wild Dingo Press) Debut