Shortlist for Sisters in Crime’s 15th Davitt Awards announced

Sisters in Crime Australia has announced its shortlist for its 15th Davitt Awards for best crime books by Australian women.

Leading UK crime writer, Sophie Hannah, will present the awards at a gala dinner at Melbourne’s Thornbury Theatre at 7pm, Saturday 29 August. Prior to the presentations, she will discuss her own life in crime with Melbourne author, Angela Savage. Hannah is in Australia for the Melbourne Writers’ Festival.

Twenty-three titles out of the record 96 crime books nominated are shortlisted for six different 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 650 members of Sisters in Crime Australia). Four titles are shortlisted twice as they’re debut books.

Davitt judges’ wrangler, Jacqui Horwood, said that women’s crime writing had surged in both quality and quantity.

“Many of the shortlisted authors are multi-award winners. For instance, Malla Nunn, a previous Davitt adult novel winner, has scored two nominations in the Edgar Award, the top US crime writing competition, plus a RUSA Award for Best Mystery Novel.

“This year, Present Darkness, her fourth novel set in 1950s’ apartheid South Africa, is in contention. Nunn’s fighting it out with two previous Davitt winners, Honey Brown and Sulari Gentill, plus New York Times No. 1 best seller, Liane Moriarty, and 2014 shortlisted author, Ilsa Evans. Both of Ilsa’s novels have the distinction of being e-books,” Horwood said.

“The titles shortlisted in all other categories exhibit a similar high standard. Jen Storer, who is shortlisted for Best Children’s Novel, won last year with another book in her popular Truly Tanseries. Judith Rossell has already won two children’s book awards forWithering-by-Sea.

What’s also remarkable, Horwood said, was the amazing diversity in theme, location, period and mode of investigation.

“The mysteries are variously located in London, Paris, Johannesburg, Chicago, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Hobart, the Blue Mountains and the Australian countryside. Sometimes it’s 1900, the 1930s, or the 1950s but mostly it’s the present. Not all books feature sleuths – and if they do, they’re not always female and hardly any are PIs, these days. They’re more likely to be cops, cafe owners or financial investigators. Quite a few are men.”

The short list is:

Adult Novels

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

·         Ilsa Evans, Forbidden Fruit: A Nell Forrest Mystery (Momentum Press) ebook

·         Sulari Gentill, A Murder Unmentioned (Pantera Press)

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

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

·         Malla Nunn, Present Darkness (Xoum Publishing)

Young Adult Novels

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

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

·         Ellie Marney, Every Word (Allen & Unwin)

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

Children’s Novels

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

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

·         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)

Non Fiction

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

·           Caroline Overington, Last Woman Hanged (HarperCollins Australia)

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

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


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

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

·         Candice Fox, Hades (Random House)

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

·         Rebecca Jessen, Gap (University of Queensland Press)

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

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

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

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

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

The Davitts apply to books published the previous calendar year. Named after Ellen Davitt, the author of Australia’s first mystery novel, Force and Fraud in 1865, the awards cost publishers nothing to enter.

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

“The Davitts have persuaded Australian publishers to risk publishing crime books by Australian women, instead of just importing the latest blockbusters. It’s a gamble that has well and truly paid off,” she said.

The judging panel for 2015 comprises Maggie Baron, Deborah Crabtree, Jacqui Horwood, Sylvia Loader, Michaela Lobb and Dr Shelley Robertson.

Media comment: Jacqui Horwood on 0449 703 503.

Bookings for the Davitt Awards close Monday 24 August. All seats are limited so book early — individually or in tables of up to 10. Click here.

Additional information: Michaela Lobb, 0409 431 397.