A tsunami of crime – 127 books contend for Sisters in Crime’s 19th Davitt Awards


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A record 127 books are in contention for Sisters in Crime Australia’s 19th Davitt Awards for best crime and mystery books by Australian women. This figure tips last year’s record by 16. An astonishing 73 adult crime novels have been entered. Almost  half – 49 books in total – are debut offerings.

This year the Davitts are again sponsored by Swinburne University of Technology.

“It’s not just a crime wave – it’s a tsunami,” says Davitt judges’ wrangler, Jacqui Horwood.

“More and more women are turning to crime – and for good reason. Crime is the most popular – and best-selling – literary genre and it’s a broad church. Crime allows authors to apply the blow torch to contemporary issues whether it’s the gendered nature of so much violence or the dangers lurking in the dark web,” she said.

“When a lot of fiction has literally lost the plot (and a large readership), crime writing stands tall with compelling narratives, a keen sense of place, strong female characters and an acute sense of justice. And it’s not all deadly serious – there is lots of fun, lots of humour, and lots of irony. It’s just that the outcome is often deadly.”

Horwood said that a number of trends were already evident in this year’s Davitt entries.

“Crime continues to move from the mean streets of Australia’s major cities to small towns and the outback as evident in the books by Jane Harper, Aoife Clifford, Sandi Curtis, Sue Williams and Ellie Marney,” she said.

“Historical mysteries are increasingly popular with books such as Deborah Burrows’ ‘Ambulance Girl’ series set in the London Blitz and M J Tjia’s series featuring the 1860s’ London Eurasian courtesan sleuth. Often these books have a foot in both the past and present. L J M Owen’s novels skip from ancient cultures to modern-day Canberra while Kirsty Manning’s The Jade Lily is set in both wartime Shanghai and 2016 Melbourne and Toni Jordan’s book is located in 1938 New York and 1986 Brisbane.”

What Sisters in Crime calls ‘Tropic Noir’ is also in vogue, Horwood said.

“Crime has moved to the Tropics with Caroline de Costa’s series in Cairns and Candice Fox’s Crimson Lake books set nearby. Out in the Pacific, B M Allsop’s self-published police procedurals set in Fiji have met with much acclaim,” she said.

“Sisters in Crime is also pleased to see 17 Young Adult novels, 15 children’s novels and 22 non-fiction books in the mix. A lot of journalists have turned to crime – with some, like Rachael Brown, turning their award-winning podcasts into books.”

Horwood said that the number of crime books by Australian women had exploded over the past 19 years.

“Back in 2001 when the Davitts were launched at SheKilda, Sisters in Crime’s 10th anniversary convention, only seven books were in contention, though it’s true that non-fiction crime books weren’t then included. Nevertheless, a seventeen-fold increase in 19 years bears witness to just how the women’s crime writing wave has become seismic,” she said.

Australian women’s crime writing was continuing to meet with global acclaim, Horwood said.

“More than a million copies of Jane’s Harper’s debut book, The Dry, have been sold worldwide. The book won two Davitts in 2017, the CWA Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel, the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year, the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year and the Australian Indie Awards Book of the Year. Filming of The Dry in the Wimmera started in March with Eric Bana in the lead role,” she said.

The Dry is being produced by Reese Witherspoon who co-produced and co-starred in the Big Little Lies series with Nicole Kidman. The drama was based on the work of Liane Moriarty, the 2015 Davitt best adult novel winner. In June, HBO will be screening the second series which, this time round, also features Meryl Streep. Kidman will star in an adaptation of the Moriarty’s latest novel, Nine Perfect Strangers, which is under contention for this year’s Davitts.”

The film, Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears, based on Kerry Greenwood’s Davitt Award-winning series, is out later this 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 2019 comprises YA expert and author Dr Kelly Gardiner, forensic specialist Debbie Stephen and Sisters in Crime national convenors Moraig Kisler and Pauline Meaney and former convenors, librarian Jacqui Horwood and public servant Michaela Lobb.

Details of the Davitt Awards ceremony will be announced shortly. Voting for Readers’ Choice Award by Sisters in Crime members will open on 10 June.

A short list will be announced in early July. The long list follows. (PDF)

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


Women’s crime books in contention for the 2019 Davitt Awards (PDF)


Adult crime novels (73 titles)

B M Allsop, Death by Tradition (Fiji Islands Mysteries #2) (Coconut Press)

L M Ardor, The Practice Baby (Critical Mass) Debut

Sarah Bailey, Into the Night (Allen & Unwin)

Joanna Baker, The Slipping Place (Impact Press)

Sarah Barrie, Blood Tree River (HQ Fiction, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Australia)

Anne Buist, This I Would Kill For (Text Publishing)

Deborah Burrows, Ambulance Girls Under Fire (Ebury Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House UK)

D M Cameron, Beneath the Mother Tree (MidnightSun Publishing) Debut

B M Carroll, The Missing Pieces of Sophie McCarthy (Penguin Random House UK) Debut

Belinda Castles, Bluebottle (Allen & Unwin) Debut

Phillipa Nefri Clark, The Secrets of Palmerston House (Phillipa Nefri Clark)

T M Clark, Nature of the Lion (Mira, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Australia)

Aoife Clifford, Second Sight (Simon & Schuster)

Shannon Curtis, Hope Echoes (Escape Publishing, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Australia)

Megan Daymond, Just Play Along (Andy Knight #1) (Fracture Publishing) Debut

Caroline de Costa, Missing Pieces (Wild Dingo Press)

Pip Drysdale, The Sunday Girl (Simon & Schuster) Debut

Kirsty Ferguson, What Lies Beneath Us (Elephant Tree Publishing) Debut

Candice Fox, Redemption Point (Penguin Random House)

Susi Fox, Mine (Penguin Random House) Debut

Brigid George, Disguising Demons (Dusty Kent Mystery #4) (Potoroo Publishing)

Megan Goldin, The Escape Room (Penguin Random House)

Kerry Greenwood, The Spotted Dog (Allen & Unwin)

T J Hamilton, Echoes of the Past (Escape Publishing, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Australia)

Jane Harper, The Lost Man (Pan MacMillan Australia)

Narrelle M Harris, A Dream to Build a Kiss On (Improbable Press)

Rowena Holloway, Less You Know (Ashes to Ashes #2) (Fractured Press)

A K Jenkins, A Certain Kind of Justice (Equine Press) Debut

Gail Jones, The Death of Noah Glass (Text Publishing) Debut

Jennie Jones, A Place with Heart (Rangelands Series #2) (Mira, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Australia)

Toni Jordan, The Fragments (Text Publishing) Debut

Krissy Kneen, Wintering (Text Publishing) Debut

Katherine Kovacic, The Portrait of Molly Dean (Echo Books, an imprint of Bonnier Books UK) Debut

Jennifer Lane, All Our Secrets (Clan Destine Press) Debut

Janet Lee, The Killing of Louisa (University of Queensland Press) Debut

Leisl Leighton, Dangerous Echoes (Escape Publishing, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Australia)

Tessa Lunney, April in Paris, 1921 (HarperCollins Publishers Australia) Debut

Kate Lyons, The Far-Back Country (Allen & Unwin)

Kirsty Manning, The Jade Lily (Allen & Unwin) Debut

Lynne Vincent McCarthy, Lonely Girl (Pan MacMillan Australia) Debut

Fleur McDonald, Fool’s Gold (Allen & Unwin)

Fleur McDonald, Where the River Runs (Allen & Unwin)

Kerry McGinnis, The Heartwood Hotel (Penguin Random House)

Dervla McTiernan, The Rúin (HarperCollins Publishers Australia) Debut

Margaret Morgan, The Second Cure (Penguin Random House) Debut

Liane Moriarty, Nine Perfect Strangers (Pan MacMillan Australia)

Prue Moriarty, The Hunt for Code Polaris (P Lynch) Debut

Kate Morton, The Clockmaker’s Daughter (Allen & Unwin)

Sarah Myles, The Wolf Hour: A novel of Africa (Allen & Unwin) Debut

Emily O’Grady, The Yellow House (Allen & Unwin) Debut

Caroline Overington, The Ones You Trust (HarperCollins Publishers Australia)

L J M Owen, Egyptian Enigma (Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth #3) (Echo Books, an imprint of Bonnier Books UK)

Shirley Patton, The Secrets We Keep (HQ Fiction, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Australia) Debut

Beth Prentice, Lethal Tide (Aloha Lagoon Mysteries #10) (Gemma Halliday Publishing)

Elisabeth Rose, The House at Flynn’s Crossing (Escape Publishing, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Australia)

Annie Seaton, Whitsunday Dawn (Mira, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Australia)

Janice Simpson, A Body of Work (Hybrid Publishing)

Angela Slatter, Restoration (Quercus Books, UK)

Anna Snoekstra, The Spite Game (HQ Fiction, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Australia)

Karen Lee Street, Edgar Allan Poe and the Jewel of Peru (Poe and Dupin Mysteries #2) (Pegasus Books)

Holly Throsby, Cedar Valley (Allen & Unwin)

M J Tjia, A Necessary Murder (Heloise Chancey Mystery #2) (Pantera Press)

Tiffany Tsao, Under Your Wings (Penguin Random House) Debut

Susan Vinson, Silver Souls (Sid Harta Publishers) Debut

Sandi Wallace, Into the Fog (Taut Press)

Christine Wells, The Juliet Code (Penguin Random House)

Anna Willett, Cruelty’s Daughter (The Book Folks)

Anna Willett, Small Town Nightmare (The Book Folks)

Sue Williams, Live and Let Fry (Text Publishing)

Lee Winter, Under Your Skin (On the Record #2) (Ylva Publishing)

Sandra Winter-Dewhirst, Royal Murder (Rebecca Keith Mystery #2) (Wakefield Press)

Laura Elizabeth Woollett, Beautiful Revolutionary (Scribe Publications)

Helene Young, Return to Roseglen (Penguin Random House)


Young Adult crime novels (17 titles)

Fiona Bell, Water Hole (University of Queensland Press) Debut

Sarah Epstein, Small Spaces (Walker Books) Debut

Fleur Ferris, Found (Penguin Random House)

Eleni Hale, Stone Girl (Penguin Random House) Debut

Kate Hendrick, The Finder (Text Publishing) Debut

Hayley Lawrence, Inside the Tiger (Penguin Random House) Debut

Ellie Marney, All Aces (Circus Hearts #3) (Bearded Lady Press)

Ellie Marney, All Fall Down (Circus Hearts #2) (Bearded Lady Press)

Ellie Marney, All the Little Bones (Circus Hearts #1) (Bearded Lady Press)

Ellie Marney, White Night (Allen & Unwin)

Tania Pennell, Somewhere on the Long Flat Black Road (Liston Galleries)

Gabrielle Reid, The Things We Can’t Undo (Ford Street Publishing) Debut

Rachel Sanderson, Mirror Me (Rachel Sanderson)

Anna Snoekstra, Mercy Point (Angus & Robertson, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Australia)

Allayne Webster, The Centre of My Everything (Penguin Random House)

Sue Whiting, Missing (Walker Books) Debut

Lili Wilkinson, After the Lights Go Out (Allen & Unwin)


Children’s crime novels (15 titles)

Sandra Bennett, Secrets Hidden Below (The Adamson Adventures #1) (Elephant Tree Publishing) Debut

Jacqueline Harvey, Breaking News (Kensy and Max #1) (Penguin Random House)

Pauline Hosking, Ghost Light (Cinnamon Stevens #2) (Lilly Pilly Publishing)

Julie Hunt, Shine Mountain (Allen & Unwin)

Rebecca Lim, The Relic of the Blue Dragon (Children of the Dragon #1) (Allen & Unwin)

Katrina Nannestad, The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Provence (The Girl, the Dog and the Writer #2) (ABC Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Australia)

Carly Nugent, The Peacock Detectives (Text Publishing) Debut

Emily Rodda, His Name Was Walter (Angus & Robertson, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Australia)

Judith Rossell, Wakestone Hall (ABC Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Australia)

Sybil Rowlands, Rain Dog (Sid Harta Publishers) Debut

Penni Russon, The Endsister (Allen & Unwin) Debut

R A Spratt, Never Fear (Friday Barnes #8) (Penguin Random House)

R A Spratt, The Mystery of the Squashed Cockroach (The Peski Kids #1) (Penguin Random House)

Jen Storer, Baffled! (Truly Tan #7) (ABC Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Australia)

Ailsa Wild, Squishy Taylor Versus the Mayor (Hardie Grant Egmont)


Non-fiction crime books (22 titles)

Hazel Baron with Janet Fife-Yeomans, My Mother, a Serial Killer (HarperCollins Publishers Australia)

Robin Bowles, Accidental Death (Scribe Publishing)

Tanya Bretherton, The Suitcase Baby (Hachette Australia) Debut

Rachael Brown, Trace: Who killed Maria James? (Scribe Publications) Debut

Rachel Cassidy, Stalked: The human target (Rockpool Publishing) Debut

Karen Collyer, Shame, Guilt and Surviving Martin Bryant (Deep Pacific Press) Debut

Cheryl Critchley and Helen McGrath, Mind Behind the Crime (Pan MacMillan Australia)

Maryrose Cuskelly, Wedderburn: A true tale of blood and dust (Allen & Unwin) Debut

Germaine Greer, On Rape (Melbourne University Press) Debut

Chloe Hooper, The Arsonist (Penguin Random House)

Bri Lee, Eggshell Skull (Allen & Unwin) Debut

Eileen Ormsby, Darkest Web (Allen & Unwin)

Mary Pershall, Gorgeous Girl (Penguin Random House) Debut

Vikki Petraitis, Once a Copper (Wild Dingo Press)

Liz Porter, Crime Scene Asia: When forensic evidence becomes the silent witness (Big Sky Publishing)

Kate Rossmanith, Small Wrongs: How we really say sorry in love, life and law (Hardie Grant) Debut

Deborah Snow, The Lindt Café Siege (Allen & Unwin) Debut

Leigh Straw, Lillian Armfield: How Australia’s first female detective took on Tilly Devine and the Razor Gangs and changed the face of The Force (Hachette Australia)

Grace Tobin, Deal with the Devil: The death of Matthew Levensen and the ten-year search for the truth (Penguin Random House) Debut

Jamelle Wells, The Court Reporter (ABC Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Australia)

Kate Wild, Waiting for Elijah (Scribe Publishing) Debut

Cindy Wockner, The Pastor and The Painter (Hachette Australia)