Crime alert: Davitt Awards shortlist nominations announced

Crime alert: Sisters in Crime has announced its shortlist for its 23rd Davitt Awards for the best crime and mystery books – eight adult novels, four YA adults, three children’s novels, three non-fiction books, and six debut novels (most of which are nominated in other categories).

Judges’ coordinator, Dr Philomena Horsley, said that having 24 books on the shortlist wasn’t all that disproportionate given that 144 books are in contention.

“The Davitt Awards are riding the crest of an enormous wave of popularity for crime writing by Australian women. Women like writing it, the publishers like printing it, and we all love reading it – and increasingly we can enjoy it being translated to the screen. That is no longer just the province of overseas authors such as Ann Cleeves and Val McDermid,” she said.

“The writing is outstanding. And the stories explored blow our minds, opening up so many different worlds from the Vietnamese community in Cabramatta to a stack of country and coastal towns that harbour secrets, crimes, and nefarious locals. We have been particularly impressed by the quality of children’s crime novels which turn old stalwarts such as Enid Blyton on their heads.

“The main regret of the judges is that we all feel that some of our favourite books didn’t make the final cut, despite being wonderful reads. We’re spoilt for choice.”

This year the Davitts are again supported by Swinburne University of Technology. Six Davitt Awards will be presented at a gala dinner on Saturday 2 September by award-winning journalist, true-crime author, and television producer, Debi Marshall, at South Melbourne’s Rising Sun Hotel: Best Adult Novel; Best Young Adult Novel; Best Children’s Novel; Best Non-fiction Book; Best Debut Book (any category); and Readers’ Choice (as voted the nearly 700 members of Sisters in Crime Australia). Booking details to come.

The awards are handsome wooded trophies featuring the front cover of the winning novel under perspex. No prize money is attached. Self-published books are eligible. Books co-authored or edited by men are not.

The judging panel for 2023 comprises Philomena Horsley 2018 Scarlet Stiletto Award winner and medical autopsy expert; Joy Lawn, YA expert and reviewer; Deb Bodinnar, former bookseller; Ruth Wykes, 2016 Scarlet Stiletto winner, author, and editor; and Moraig Kisler, Sisters in Crime’s President, and review editor.

The shortlist is pasted in it’s also available as a pdf.

Voting for the Readers’ Award Choice closes Friday 28 July, 11.59 pm. Information here.

Media comment: Philomena Horsley on 0417 121 771;

More info: Carmel Shute, Secretary & National Co-convenor, Sisters in Crime Australia, on 0412 569 356;


2023 Davitt Shortlist (24) Click here for pdf.

Adult novels (8)

Lucy Christopher, Release (Text Publishing)

Aoife Clifford, When We Fall (Ultimo Press)

Margaret Hickey, Stone Town (Penguin Random House Australia)

Tracey Lien, All That’s Left Unsaid (HQ Fiction) Debut

Dinuka McKenzie, The Torrent (HarperCollins Publishing Australia) Debut

Vikki Petraitis, The Unbelieved (Allen & Unwin) Debut

Hayley Scrivenor, Dirt Town (Pan Macmillan Australia) Debut

Emma Styles, No Country for Girls (Sphere, an imprint of Hachette Australia) Debut

Young Adult novels (4)

Louise Bassett, The Hidden Girl (Walker Books) Debut

Sarah Epstein, Night Lights (Fourteen Press)

Fleur Ferris, Seven Days (Penguin Random House Australia)

Ellie Marney, The Killing Code (Allen & Unwin)

Children’s novels (3)

Deborah Abela, The Book of Wondrous Possibilities (Puffin, an imprint of Penguin Random House Australia)

Charlie Archbold, The Sugarcane Kids and the Red-bottomed Boat (Text Publishing)

Lian Tanner, Rita’s Revenge (Allen & Unwin)

Non-fiction books (3)

Wendy Davis, Don’t Make a Fuss: It’s only the Claremont Serial Killer (Fremantle Press) Debut

Katrina Marson, Legitimate Sexpectations: The power of sex-ed (Scribe Publications)

Megan Norris, Out of the Ashes (Big Sky Publishing)

Debut books (6)

Maryrose Cuskelly, The Cane (Allen & Unwin)

Tracey Lien, All That’s Left Unsaid (HQ Fiction)

Dinuka McKenzie, The Torrent (HarperCollins Publishing Australia)

Vikki Petraitis, The Unbelieved (Allen & Unwin)

Hayley Scrivenor, Dirt Town (Pan Macmillan Australia)

Emma Styles, No Country for Girls (Sphere, an imprint of Hachette Australia)