Twenty-four books crime and mystery books by Australian women are battling it out for Sisters in Crime’s 20th Davitt Awards – seven adult novels, three Young Adult (YA) novels, five children’s novels and nine non-fiction books. Nine books from all categories are competing for the debut award.
Judges’ wrangler, Moraig Kisler, said that the judges had initially been daunted by 124 books in contention.
“However, the quality and breadth of the writing has blown us away. Whether its politics, pharmaceutical companies, children’s playgroups or the world of online trolls, women crime writers know how to apply the blow torch to their narratives,” she said.
“The books are also remarkable for their vivid evocations of place. We have been taken from the green dampness of Galway and the means streets of Cape Town to a migrant ship in the near future and the wild beauty of Bruny Island off Tasmania. Best of all, we have been left breathless by breakneck plots and interesting, complex characters. Our lives are richer for it.”
This year a record 85 adult novels are in contention. A third of all books – 40 books – are by debut crime authors.
Six Davitt Awards will be presented in late September: 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 550+ members of Sisters in Crime Australia). Voting for the latter closes on Friday 14 August. Only financial members are eligible to vote.
2020 Davitt Shortlist
Click on image below for video.
Adult crime novels (7)
Bruny, Heather Rose (Allen & Unwin)
Eight Lives, Susan Hurley (Affirm Press) Debut
Life Before, Carmel Reilly (Allen & Unwin) Debut
Present Tense, Natalie Conyer (Clan Destine Press) Debut
The Scholar, Dervla McTiernan (HarperCollins Australia)
Six Minutes, Petronella McGovern (Allen & Unwin) Debut
The Trespassers, Meg Mundell (University of Queensland Press) Debut
Young Adult crime novels (3)
All That Impossible Space, Anna Morgan (Lothian Children’s Books, a Hachette Australia imprint) Debut
Four Dead Queens, Astrid Scholte (Allen & Unwin) Debut
When the Ground is Hard, Malla Nunn (Allen & Unwin)
Children’s crime novels (4)
The Girl in the Mirror, Jenny Blackford (Eagle Books, an imprint of Christmas Press) Debut
The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Lucerne, Katrina Nannestad (The Girl, the Dog and the Writer #3, ABC Books, a HarperCollins Australia imprint)
Jinxed!: The curious curse of Cora Bell, Rebecca McRitchie (Jinxed #1, HarperCollins Australia)
Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery, Renée Treml (Allen & Unwin) Debut
Non-fiction crime books (5)
Banking Bad: Whistleblowers. Corporate cover-ups. One journalist’s fight for the truth, Adele Ferguson
(ABC Books, ABC Books, a HarperCollins Australia imprint) Debut
Fallen: The inside story of the secret trial and conviction of Cardinal George Pell, Lucie Morris-Marr
(Allen & Unwin) Debut
Fixed It: Violence and the representation of women in the media, Jane Gilmore (Viking, an imprint
of Penguin Random House Australia)
See What You Made Me Do: Power, control and domestic abuse, Jess Hill (Black Inc.) Debut
Troll Hunting: Inside the world of online hate and its human fallout, Ginger Gorman (Hardie Grant
Debut crime books (9)
Banking Bad: Whistleblowers. Corporate cover-ups. One journalist’s fight for the truth, Adele Ferguson (ABC Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Australia)
Bee and the Orange Tree, The, Melissa Ashley (Affirm Press)
Drover’s Wife, The, Leah Purcell (Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Random House Australia)
Eight Lives, Susan Hurley (Affirm Press)
Four Dead Queens, Astrid Scholte (Allen & Unwin)
Life Before, Carmel Reilly (Allen & Unwin)
Present Tense, Natalie Conyer (Clan Destine Press)
Six Minutes, Petronella McGovern (Allen & Unwin)
Troll Hunting: Inside the world of online hate and its human fallout, Ginger Gorman (Hardie Grant Books)
Click 2020 Davitt Awards longlist to download pdf.
It seems likely that the Davitts ceremony will be conducted by Zoom this year. A well-known overseas crime author will present the awards. A new trophy is being designed to mark the 20th anniversary of the awards.
The judging panel for 2020 comprises Philomena Horsley, winner of the 2018 Scarlet Stiletto Award winner and medical autopsy expert; Bec Kavanagh, YA expert; Debbie Stephen, forensic specialist; and Sisters in Crime national co-convenors Karina Kilmore (author and former Herald Sun book editor), Moraig Kisler and Pauline Meaney.
The Davitts are named after Ellen Davitt, the author of Australia’s first mystery novel, Force and Fraud, in 1865. They cost publishers nothing to enter. No prize money is attached.
Previous Davitt Awards have been presented by NZ crime writer Dr Joanne Drayton (2019); Danish thriller writer, Sissel-Jo Gazan (2018); lawyer and true crime writer, Hilary Bonney (2017); Australian crime writer Liane Moriarty (2016); UK crime writer Sophie Hannah (2015); South African crime writer Lauren Beukes (2014); New Zealand crime writer Vanda Symons (2013); Swedish crime writer Äsa Larsson (2012); Singaporean crime writer Shamini Flint (2011), Scottish crime writer Val McDermid (2010 & 2003); 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).
Sisters in Crime Australia was set up 29 years ago and has chapters in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. It also hosts a popular annual short-story competition, the Scarlet Stiletto Awards, which turns 27 this year.
Media comment: Moraig Kisler on 0410 290 670; firstname.lastname@example.org
Other info: Carmel Shute, Secretary, Sisters in Crime, on 0412 569 356; email@example.com