Sisters in Crime Australia has announced a shortlist of 25 books for its 19th Davitt Awards for best crime books by Australian women – nine adult novels, five Young Adult (YA) novels, five children’s novels, and six non-fiction books. Twelve titles are also battling it out for the best debut book award.
Jacqui Horwood, the Davitt judges wrangler, admits that the shortlist is rather long.
“However, with 127 books in contention the six judges were overwhelmed with so much outstanding writing to choose from. Many authors are serial offenders,” she said.
“Each category includes previous Davitt winners. In the adult novel category Jane Harper has won three Davitts. YA writers Fleur Ferris and Ellie Marney have both won a Davitt while amongst the children’s writers Judith Rossell has won two and R A Spratt one. In the non-fiction category Chloe Hooper was previously awarded two Davitts – including one for adult fiction with a book (ironically) called A Child’s Book of Crime”.
The scenes of the crime are many and varied, Horwood said.
“Crime continues to march from the mean streets of our cities to the dusty roads of the country and the sandy tracks of the coast. The stories transport us from the parched plains of western Queensland in Jane Harper’s The Lone Man to the damp Tasmanian coast of Krissy Kneen’s Wintering and the croc-infested wetlands of Candice Fox’s fictional FNQ community, soon to be made into a television called Troppo,” she said.
“Amazingly, six of the nine shortlisted adult novels and four of the five YA books are set in rural or regional Australia. The action in Sue Williams’s wonderfully named series continues to take place in Rusty Bore, population 147.”
Horwood said that the judges were particularly impressed with the standard of this year’s non-fiction entries.
“The cases covered are compelling, the writing insightful. Non-fiction books are punching above their weight. Rachael Brown’s, Trace: Who killed Maria James?, for instance, started off life as a podcast but has gone on to spark a new coronial inquiry. Interestingly, the popularity of true crime podcasts is driving people to pick up books to explore the issues further,” she said.
Award-winning New Zealand author, Joanne Drayton, will present the Davitt Awards at a gala dinner at Saturday 31 August, 6.30 for 7.00pm, at South Melbourne’s Rising Sun Hotel. After an ‘in conversation’ with Emma Viskic (who has four Davitts to her name), Dr Drayton will present six Davitt Awards: Best Adult Crime Novel; Best Young Adult Crime Novel; Best Children’s Crime Novel; Best Non-fiction Crime Book; Best Debut Crime Book (any category); and Readers’ Choice (as voted by the 500+ members of Sisters in Crime Australia).
The Rising Sun, Sisters in Crime’s usual meeting place, will be decked out for the occasion with white tablecloths, flowers and candles. Attendees are being advised to ‘frock (or suit) up’.
The Davitts are named after Ellen Davitt, author of Australia’s first mystery novel Force and Fraud (1865) and 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.
This year the Davitts are again sponsored by Swinburne University of Technology.
The judging panel for 2019 comprises YA expert and author Dr Kelly Gardiner, forensic specialist Debbie Stephen and Sisters in Crime convenors Moraig Kisler and Pauline Meaney and former convenors, librarian Jacqui Horwood and public servant Michaela Lobb.
Voting for the Readers’ Choice Davitt Award by Sisters in Crime members closes on 28 July. Only financial members can vote.
Sisters in Crime is also appealing to members and supporters to help fund the Davitts through donations to the Australian Cultural Fund.
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2019 Davitt Awards Shortlist
Adult Crime Novels (9 titles)
Anne Buist, This I Would Kill For (Text Publishing)
Aoife Clifford, Second Sight (Simon & Schuster)
Candice Fox, Redemption Point (Penguin Random House)
Susi Fox, Mine (Penguin Random House) Debut
Jane Harper, The Lost Man (Pan MacMillan Australia)
Krissy Kneen, Wintering (Text Publishing) Debut
Janet Lee, The Killing of Louisa (University of Queensland Press) Debut
Dervla McTiernan, The Rúin (HarperCollins Publishers Australia) Debut
Sue Williams, Live and Let Fry (Text Publishing)
Young Adult Crime Novels (5 titles)
Sarah Epstein, Small Spaces (Walker Books) Debut
Fleur Ferris, Found (Penguin Random House)
Kate Hendrick, The Finder (Text Publishing) Debut
Ellie Marney, White Night (Allen & Unwin)
Lili Wilkinson, After the Lights Go Out (Allen & Unwin)
Children’s Crime Novels (5 titles)
Rebecca Lim, The Relic of the Blue Dragon (Children of the Dragon #1) (Allen & Unwin)
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)
R A Spratt, The Mystery of the Squashed Cockroach (The Peski Kids #1) (Penguin Random House)
Non-fiction Crime Books (6 titles)
Rachael Brown, Trace: Who killed Maria James? (Scribe Publications) Debut
Chloe Hooper, The Arsonist: A mind on fire (Penguin Random House)
Bri Lee, Eggshell Skull (Allen & Unwin) Debut
Mary K Pershall, Gorgeous Girl (Penguin Random House) Debut
Deborah Snow, Inside the Lindt Café Siege (Allen & Unwin) Debut
Kate Wild, Waiting for Elijah (Scribe Publishing) Debut
Debut Crime Books (12 titles)
Rachael Brown, Trace: Who killed Maria James? (Scribe Publications)
Sarah Epstein, Small Spaces (Walker Books)
Susi Fox, Mine (Penguin Random House)
Krissy Kneen, Wintering (Text Publishing)
Kate Hendrick, The Finder (Text Publishing)
Bri Lee, Eggshell Skull (Allen & Unwin)
Janet Lee, The Killing of Louisa (University of Queensland Press)
Dervla McTiernan, The Rúin (HarperCollins Publishers Australia)
Carly Nugent, The Peacock Detectives (Text Publishing)
Mary K Pershall, Gorgeous Girl (Penguin Random House)
Deborah Snow, Inside the Lindt Café Siege (Allen & Unwin)
Kate Wild, Waiting for Elijah (Scribe Publishing)