Women’s crime wave continues – Davitt Awards longlist announced

Swinburne University of Technology logo - media and communications departmentSisters in Crime’s 20th Davitt Awards for the best crime and mystery books by Australian women have 124 books in their sights.

According to judges’ wrangler, Moraig Kisler, the total is three less than last year “but it’s still a hell of a lot. Even with the social isolation imposed by the pandemic, the six Davitt judges are almost six feet under from reading so many books. What keeps us from succumbing is the power of the writing. Whether the books are fiction or non-fiction or aimed at adults, young adults or children, they tell stories that grab you by the throat and never let you go.

“Crime is the world’s most popular literary genre and it’s not hard to see why. Crime stories have the ring of truth – whether they focus on the world of scientific experiments, bad banks or the disappearance of children. They touch our hearts and our intellects and they challenge our notions of justice. They compel us to think about what is happening in our society.”

This year a record 85 adult novels are in contention. A third – 41 books – are debut.

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

Kisler said she was thrilled that the film of Jane Harper’s debut novel, The Dry, which won two Davitt Awards in 2017 and has since sold over a million copies world-wide, would still be screening from 27 August with Eric Bana in the lead.

Pandemic lockdown permitting, six Davitt Awards will be presented at a gala dinner in Melbourne, probably in 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 opens on Friday 12 June, closing Friday 14 August. Only financial members are eligible to vote.

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. A longlist will be published in late May, a shortlist in July.

The awards are handsome carved polished 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 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.

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; moraigkisler@gmail.com

Other information:
Carmel Shute, Sisters in Crime, National Convenor, 0412 569 356 on


Download the PDF: 2020 Davitt longlist

Adult crime novels (85)

Kirsten Alexander, Half Moon Lake (Bantam Australia, an imprint of Penguin Random House Australia) Debut

Rachel Amphlett, Bridge to Burn (Detective Kay Hunter Murder Mystery #7) (Saxon Publishing)

Rachel Amphlett, Cradle to Grave (Detective Kay Hunter Murder Mystery #8) (Saxon Publishing)

Rachel Amphlett, The Friend Who Lied (Saxon Publishing)

Diane Armstrong, The Collaborator (HQ Fiction, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Australia)

Melissa Ashley, The Bee and the Orange Tree (Affirm Press) Debut

Sarah Bailey, Where the Dead Go (Allen & Unwin)

Sarah Barrie, Devil’s Lair (HQ Fiction, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Australia)

Susan Bennett, The Whack Club: Four women are about to start a mob war – and fingernails WILL be broken (Clever Pumpkin)

Violeta M Bagia, Jack of Hart: Wildcard (Hart of Darkness #4) (Violeta M Bagia)

Carmel Bird, Field of Poppies (Transit Lounge)

Isobel Blackthorn, A Prison in the Sun (Canary Islands Mysteries #3) (Next Chapter Publishing)

Ashley Kalagian Blunt, My Name Is Revenge (Spineless Wonders) Debut

Carline Bouilhet, The Samui Conspiracy (Austin Macauley Publishers)

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

Suzanne Cass, Bound by Truth (Suzanne Cass)

Dianah Chorlton, The Vanishing of Venice (Austin Macauley Publishers) Debut

Phillipa Nefri Clark, The Christmas Tree Thief (Charlotte Dean Mysteries #1) (Phillipa Nefri Clark)

Sherryl Clark, Trust Me, I’m Dead (Verve Books)

T M Clark, Cry of the Firebird (Mira, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Australia)

Natalie Conyer, Present Tense (Clan Destine Press) Debut

Tea Cooper, The Woman in the Green Dress (HQ Fiction, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Australia)

Cindy Davies, The Revolutionary’s Cousin (Odyssey Books) Debut

Livia Day, Keep Calm and Kill the Chef (Café la Femme #3) (Twelfth Planet Press)

Caroline de Costa, Blood Sisters (Wild Dingo Press)

Kaz Delaney, Chocolate and Old Lace (Rosie Hart Mystery #1) (Kerry Lane)

Kaz Delaney, Preserving the Evidence (Rosie Hart Mystery #2) (Kerry Lane)

Joy Dettman, Trails in the Dust (Woody Creek Novel #7) (Pan Macmillan Australia)

Sandie Docker, The Cottage at Rosella Cove (Penguin Random House Australia)

Pip Drysdale, The Strangers We Know (Simon & Schuster)

C M Elliot, Sibanda and the Rainbird (Constable, an imprint of Hachette Australia)

Helen FitzGerald, Worst Case Scenario (Orenda Books UK)

Sara Foster, You Don’t Know Me (Simon & Schuster)

Candice Fox, Gone by Midnight (Penguin Random House Australia)

Sulari Gentill, All the Tears in China (Rowland Sinclair Mysteries #9) (Pantera Press)

J M Green, Shoot Through (Scribe Publications)

Sally Hepworth, The Mother-in-Law (Pan Macmillan Australia) Debut

Diane Hester, Die for Me (Slender Thread Publishing)

Suzie Hindmarsh-Knights, Second Chance (Suzie Hindmarsh-Knights)

Rowena Holloway, From the Ashes (Ashes to Ashes #3) (Fractured Press)

Sarah Hopkins, The Subjects (Text Publishing)

Susan Hurley, Eight Lives (Affirm Press) Debut

Nicole Hurley-Moore, Lawson’s Bend (Allen & Unwin)

Wendy James, The Accusation (HarperCollins Publishers Australia)

Catherine Jinks, Shepherd (Text Publishing)

Maggie Joel, Unforgiving City (Allen & Unwin)

Dorothy Johnston, Gerard Hardy’s Misfortune (For Pity Sake)

Kylie Kaden, The Day the Lies Began (Pantera Press)

Julie Keys, The Artist’s Portrait (Hachette Australia) Debut

Lian Knight, Idle Lies (Hybrid Publishers) Debut

Katherine Kovacic, Painting in the Shadows (Echo Publishing)

C A Larmer, After the Ferry (Larmer Media)

Jess Lea, A Curious Woman (Ylva Publishing) Debut

Leisl Leighton, Climbing Fear (CoalCliff Stud #1) (Escape Publishing, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Australia)

Gabrielle Lord, Sisters (Wilkinson Publishing)

Rhonda Matheson-Browne, Bush (Olympia Publishers UK)

Fleur McDonald, Starting from Now (Allen & Unwin)

Fleur McDonald, Without a Doubt (Allen & Unwin)

Kerry McGinnis, The Roadhouse (Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin Random House Australia)

Petronella McGovern, Six Minutes (Allen & Unwin) Debut

Felicity McLean, The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone (4th Estate, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Australia) Debut

Dervla McTiernan, The Scholar (HarperCollins Publishers Australia)

S J Morgan, Hide (MidnightSun Publishing) Debut  

Nicola Moriarty, The Ex (HarperCollins Publishers Australia) Debut

Tara Moss, Dead Man Switch (HarperCollins Publishers Australia)

Meg Mundell, The Trespassers (University of Queensland Press) Debut

Sonia Orchard, Into the Fire (Affirm Press) Debut

L J M Owen, The Great Divide (Echo Publishing)

Beth Prentice, Fatal Break (Aloha Lagoon Mysteries #15) (Gemma Halliday Publishing)

Leah Purcell, The Drovers Wife (Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Random House Australia) Debut

Carolyn Re and Loretta Re, Secrets of the IN-group (Resisters) Debut

Carmel Reilly, Life Before (Allen & Unwin) Debut

Kate Richards, Fusion (Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Random House Australia) Debut

Anna Romer, Under the Midnight Sky (Simon & Schuster) Debut

Elisabeth Rose, The Secrets that Lie Within (Taylor’s Bend #1) (Escape Publishing, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Australia)

Elisabeth Rose, Where There Is Smoke (Taylor’s Bend #2) (Escape Publishing, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Australia)

Heather Rose, Bruny (Allen & Unwin)

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

Jennifer Spence, The Lost Girls (Simon & Schuster)

A M Stuart, Singapore Sapphire (Harriet Gordon Mystery #1) (Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House USA)

Sarah Thornton, Lapse (Text Publishing) Debut

M J Tjia, The Death of Me (Heloise Chancey Mystery #3) (Legend Press UK)

Emma Viskic, Darkness for Light (Caleb Zelic #3) (Echo Publishing)

Anna Willett, Cold Valley Nightmare (The Book Folks UK)

Anna Willett, The Woman Behind Her (The Book Folks UK)


Young Adult crime novels (8)

Joanna Baker, The Elsinore Vanish (Beechworth Trilogy #2) (Soren Press)

K H Canobi, Mindcull (Ford Street Publishing) Debut

Catherine Greer, Love Lie Repeat (Penguin Random House Australia) Debut

Anna Morgan, All That Impossible Space (Lothian Children’s Books, an imprint of Hachette Australia) Debut

Malla Nunn, When the Ground Is Hard (Allen & Unwin)

Tania Park, Stalked (Tania Park Publishing)

Tania Pennell, A Second Helping (Bush N Beach Australia)

Astrid Scholte, Four Dead Queens (Allen & Unwin) Debut


Children’s crime novels (12)

Sandra Bennett, A Lighthouse in Time (The Adamson Adventures #2) (Elephant Tree Publishing)

Jenny Blackford, The Girl in the Mirror (Eagle Books, an imprint of Christmas Press) Debut

Fiona Hardy, How to Make a Movie in 12 Days (Affirm Press)

Jacqueline Harvey, Kensy and Max: Undercover (#3) (Penguin Random House Australia)

Rebecca Lim, The Race for the Red Dragon (Children of the Dragon #2) (Allen & Unwin)

Rebecca McRitchie, Jinxed!: The curious curse of Cora Bell (Jinxed #1) (HarperCollins Publishers Australia)

Katrina Nannestad, The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Lucerne (The Girl, the Dog and the Writer #3)(ABC Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Australia)

Louise Park, Grace’s Secrets (Berbay Books)

Allison Rushby, The Seven Keys (Walker Books)

R A Spratt, Stuck in the Mud (The Peski Kids #3) (Puffin, an imprint of Penguin Random House Australia)

Renee Treml, Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery (Allen & Unwin) Debut

Ailsa Wild, Squishy Taylor and the Secret Envelope (Hardie Grant Egmont)


Non-fiction crime books (19)

Samantha Battams, The Secret Art of Poisoning: The true crimes of Martha Needle, the Richmond Poisoner (Samantha Battams) Debut

Ava Benny-Morrison, The Lost Girls (ABC Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Australia) Debut

Robin Bowles, Death on the Derwent: Sue Neill-Fraser’s story (Scribe Publications)

Tanya Bretherton The Suicide Bride: Mystery of tragedy and family secrets in Edwardian Sydney (Hachette Australia)

Adele Ferguson, Banking Bad: Whistleblowers. Corporate cover-ups. One journalist’s fight for the truth (ABC Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Australia) Debut

Justine Ford, Unsolved Australia: Lost Boys,Gone Girls (Pan Macmillan Australia)

Catie Gilchrist, Murder, Misadventure and Miserable Ends: Tales from a Colonial Coroner’s Court (HarperCollins Publishers Australia) Debut

Jane Gilmore, Fixed It: Violence and the representation of women in the media (Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House Australia)

Ginger Gorman, Troll Hunting: Inside the world of online hate and its human fallout (Hardie Grant Books) Debut

Jess Hill, See What You Made Me Do: Power, control and domestic abuse (Black Inc.) Debut

Sue Ingleton, Making TroubleTongued with Fire: An imagined history of Harriet Elphinstone Dick and Alice C Moon (Spinifex Press) Debut

Xanthé Mallett, Cold Case Investigations (Pan Macmillan Australia)

Kate McClymont (with Vanda Carson), Dead Man Walking: The murky world of Michael McGurk and Ron Medich (Vintage Australia, an imprint of Penguin Random House Australia) Debut

Lucie Morris-Marr, Fallen: The inside story of the secret trial and conviction of Cardinal George Pell (Allen & Unwin) Debut

Vikki Petraitis, Inside the Law: 25 years of true crime writing (Clan Destine Press)

Sue Smethurst and Margaret Harrod, Blood on the Rosary (Simon & Schuster)

Loretta Smith, A Spanner in the Works: The extraordinary story of Alice Anderson and Australia’s first all-girl garage (Hachette Australia) Debut

Leigh Straw, Angel of Death: Dulcie Markham, Australia’s most beautiful bad woman (ABC Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Australia)

Helen Thomas, Murder on Easey Street: Melbourne’s most notorious cold case (Nero, an imprint of Black Inc.) Debut