Poker, poverty, and the power of storytelling: 2023 Ngaio Marsh Award longlist revealed
A poker-playing sleuth, a poet’s gritty take on life on Aotearoa’s poverty line, a rural mystery entwined with heart-wrenching exploration of dementia, and the long-awaited return of a master of neo-noir are among the diverse tales named today on the longlist for the 2023 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel.
Now in their fourteenth season, the Ngaio Marsh Awards celebrate excellence in New Zealand crime, mystery, and thriller writing. They are named for Dame Ngaio Marsh, one of the Queens of Crime of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, who penned bestselling mysteries that entertained millions of global readers from her home in the Cashmere Hills. “I’d like to think Dame Ngaio would be proud of how our modern Kiwi storytellers are continuing her literary legacy, bringing fresh perspectives and a cool mix of fascinating tales to one of the world’s most popular storytelling forms,” says awards founder Craig Sisterson. “In recent years we seem to be going through our own golden age, with our local writers offering a treasure trove of terrific stories for readers at home and all over the world.”
The longlist for the 2023 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel includes a mix of past winners and finalists, several first-time entrants and new voices, and the long-awaited return of one of the leading lights of the early 2000s New Zealand literary scene. “In crime and thriller writing it’s natural for authors to make it really tough on their characters,” says Sisterson, “but our entrants made it tough on our judges too. This year’s longlist is a wonderful showcase of Kiwi creativity, with a great range of stories that explore some deep and very important issues in among the page-turning intrigue and thrills.”
The Ngaio Marsh Awards have celebrated the best New Zealand crime, mystery, thriller, and suspense writing since 2010. The longlist for this year’s Best Novel prize is:
- TOO FAR FROM ANTIBES by Bede Scott (Penguin SEA)
- EXIT .45 by Ben Sanders (Allen & Unwin)
- REMEMBER ME by Charity Norman (Allen & Unwin)
- BLUE HOTEL by Chad Taylor (Brio Books)
- POOR PEOPLE WITH MONEY by Dominic Hoey (Penguin)
- THE DARKEST SIN by DV Bishop (Macmillan)
- THE DOCTOR’S WIFE by Fiona Sussman (Bateman Books)
- MIRACLE by Jennifer Lane
- BETTER THE BLOOD by Michael Bennett (Simon & Schuster)
- IN HER BLOOD by Nikki Crutchley (HarperCollins)
- THE PAIN TOURIST by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press)
- BLOOD MATTERS by Renée (The Cuba Press)
- THE SLOW ROLL by Simon Lendrum (Upstart Press)
- PAPER CAGE by Tom Baragwanath (Text Publishing)
The longlist is currently being considered by an international judging panel of crime and thriller writing experts from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. Finalists for Best Novel, Best First Novel, and Best Non-Fiction will be announced in August, with the finalists celebrated and the winners announced as part of a special event held in association with WORD Christchurch later in the year.
For more information on this year’s Best Novel longlist, or the Ngaio Marsh Awards in general, please contact email@example.com, or founder and judging convenor Craig Sisterson, firstname.lastname@example.org
It is 1951, and Jean-Luc Guéry has arrived in Indochina to investigate the murder of his brother, Olivier, whose body was found floating in a tributary of the Saigon River.
As an avid reader of detective fiction, Guéry is well aware of how such investigations should proceed, but it is not immediately clear that he is capable of putting this knowledge into practice. In addition to being a reporter for an obscure provincial newspaper, he is also a failed writer, an incorrigible alcoholic, and a compulsive gambler who has already squandered a fortune in the casinos of the Côte d’Azur.
Despite his dissolute tendencies, however, and his aversion to physical danger, Guéry does eventually manage to solve the case. In order to do so, he is obliged to enter a world of elaborate conspiracies, clandestine intelligence operations, and organized crime – only to discover, in the novel’s final pages, that the truth behind his brother’s murder is far stranger than he could have imagined.
Marshall Grade returns in an action-packed thrillride through the New York underworld.
When a former NYPD colleague is shot dead in front of him, private investigator Marshall Grade discovers there's far more to the killing than meets the eye.
Ray Vialoux is in trouble. Big trouble. And he needs Marshall Grade's help.
Reluctantly, Grade agrees to meet. Over dinner in a Brooklyn restaurant, he learns that his former NYPD colleague owes money - a lot of money - to the wrong people. But the conversation is cut short by gunfire, and suddenly Ray is lying dead on the restaurant floor.
As Marshall investigates the circumstances leading up to the murder, tracking down the drug dealers, bag men, bent cops and mob players within Ray's orbit, it becomes clear there's far more to the killing than a gambling debt. Just who is responsible for Vialoux's death . . . and why? What secrets are his family hiding? And can Marshall find the answers before his own history marks him as the prime suspect?
In 1987, leather-clad tourist Blanca Nul goes missing in small-town New Zealand. Local reporter Ray Moody, washed-up and over-imbibing, gets a scoop the foreigner modelled for a pornographic magazine. He chases the story but crashes his car and loses his job.
A year to the day after she was reported missing, Blanca is mysteriously sighted a second time. Ray sees a chance to revisit the missing person story and revive his career. The doppelganger death is identified as local goth Amber Drake and labelled a suicide, but Ray is not convinced. He discovers Amber was a risk-taker with a darker purpose. She frequented the notorious S&M club Blue Hotel where the rich and powerful engaged their fantasies in anonymity.
As he searches for the real story Ray will learn how desperate, damaged and lonely people from all walks of life can be, and that the truth is hard-won and painful.
They never found Leah Parata. Not a boot, not a backpack, not a turquoise beanie. After she left me that day, she vanished off the face of the earth.
A close-knit community is ripped apart by disturbing revelations that cast new light on a young woman's disappearance twenty-five years ago.
After years of living overseas, Emily Kirkland returns to New Zealand to care for her father, Felix, who suffers from dementia. As his memory fades and his guard slips, she begins to understand him for the first time - and to glimpse shattering truths about his past. Truths she'd rather were kept buried.
Florence. Spring, 1537.
When Cesare Aldo investigates a report of intruders at a convent in the Renaissance city’s northern quarter, he enters a community divided by bitter rivalries and harbouring dark secrets.
His case becomes far more complicated when a naked man’s body is found deep inside the convent, stabbed more than two dozen times. Unthinkable as it seems, all the evidence suggests one of the nuns must be the killer.
Meanwhile, Constable Carlo Strocchi finds human remains pulled from the Arno that belong to an officer of the law missing since winter. The dead man had many enemies, but who would dare kill an official of the city’s most feared criminal court?
As Aldo and Strocchi close in on the truth, identifying the killers will prove more treacherous than either of them could ever have imagined . . .
Monday Woolridge is a fighter with a face covered in scars and life full of debt.
Her Avondale flat has no furniture, her father’s dead, her catatonic mother’s in an expensive nursing home and her kickboxing gym is going to Thailand.
Monday's shitty bartending job pays fifty cents over minimum wage, and she desperately needs another way to generate income.
Dealing drugs off the dark web with her flatmate JJ looks like it's working – until it really doesn’t, and the pair have to flee Tamaki Makaurau to escape the gangsters, the vampires and the ghosts of Monday’s past.
This is a pacy, heart-twisting, punch-in-the-guts, darkly comic novel that captures life on the poverty line in Aotearoa now.
Nothing in Stan Andino's unremarkable life could prepare him for the day he discovers his wife in the living room, naked except for a black apron, bleaching out a stain in the carpet that only she can see.
A CT scan one week later explains the seemingly inexplicable; Carmen Andino has a brain tumour.
As Stan and their teenage sons grapple with the diagnosis and frightening personality changes in their wife and mother, Austin Lamb, close friend and local doctor, does everything possible to assist the family in crisis.
Months later, just when it feels as though life couldn't possibly get any worse for the Andinos, the body of Austin Lamb's wife Tibbie is discovered at the bottom of the Browns Bay cliffs.
Born in the middle of Australia’s biggest-ever earthquake, Miracle is fourteen when her world crumbles. Thanks to her dad’s new job at Compassionate Cremations — which falls under suspicion for Boorunga’s spate of sudden deaths — the entire town turns against their family. Miracle is tormented by her classmates, even by Oli, the boy she can’t get out of her head. She fears for her agoraphobic mother, and for her angelic, quake-damaged brother, Julian.
When Oli plays a cruel trick on Miracle, he sets off a chain of devastating events. Then her dad is arrested for a brutal attack. Miracle takes the full weight on her shoulders. How can she convince the town of her dad’s innocence?
A DETECTIVE IN SEARCH OF THE TRUTH
Hana Westerman is a tenacious Ma¯ori detective juggling single motherhood and the pressures of her career in Auckland’s Central Investigation Branch. When she’s led to a crime scene by a mysterious video, she discovers a man hanging in a secret room. As Hana and her team work to track down the killer, other deaths lead her to think that they are searching for New Zealand’s first serial killer.
A KILLER IN SEARCH OF RETRIBUTION
With little to go on, Hana must use all her experience as a police officer to try and find a motive to these apparently unrelated murders. What she eventually discovers is a link to an historic crime that leads back to the brutal bloody colonisation of New Zealand.
A CLASH BETWEEN CULTURE AND DUTY
When the pursuit becomes frighteningly personal, Hana realises that her heritage and knowledge are their only keys to finding the killer.
THE PAST NEVER TRULY STAYS BURIED
But as the murders continue, it seems that the killer's agenda of revenge may include Hana – and her family . . .
WELCOME TO THE DARK SIDE OF PARADISE.
Two missing girls, two decades apart. Only one person knows the truth ...
Jac Morgan never planned on going back to her hometown. Seven years after the fatal house fire that killed her mother and branded Jac a killer she's back - but for only one reason. Her sister, Charlie, has gone missing. Charlie's the only good thing in Jac's life, and she doesn't believe she would ever run away. Jac is certain the answer to her sister's disappearance is somewhere in the town.
Because twenty years ago, another teenage girl went missing. Paige Gilmore, beautiful and talented daughter of eccentric matriarch, Iris Gilmore, disappeared on the annual Gilmore Hotel Open Day. As Jac starts the search for Charlie, she is drawn to the Gilmore Hotel - the haunted house of her childhood, a place that holds its own secrets and mysteries and is still home to the enigmatic Iris and her long-suffering daughter, Lisa.
Meanwhile, as Jac desperately hunts for answers to Charlie's disappearance, another Open Day looms, and Jac begins to realise everyone at the hotel has a secret - and that someone is willing to kill to keep the truth from coming out.
A young man wakes from a coma to find himself targeted by the men who killed his parents, while someone is impersonating a notorious New Zealand serial killer … the latest chilling, nerve-shredding, twisty thriller from the author of The Quiet People…
James Garrett was critically injured when he was shot following his parents’ execution, and no one expected him to waken from a deep, traumatic coma. When he does, nine years later, Detective Inspector Rebecca Kent is tasked with closing the case that her now retired colleague, Theodore Tate, failed to solve all those years ago.
But between that, and hunting for Copy Joe – a murderer on a spree, who’s imitating Christchurch’s most notorious serial killer – she’s going to need Tate’s help … especially when they learn that James has lived out another life in his nine-year coma, and there are things he couldn’t possibly know, including the fact that Copy Joe isn’t the only serial killer in town…
Puti Derrell likes running at midnight. During lockdown it was safe but now lockdown is over and Porohiwi doesn’t feel safe anymore – especially when she discovers her estranged grandfather has been murdered and left with a Judas mask on his face.
Puti’s already got a lot on her plate. She’s the new guardian of ten-year-old Bella Rose, who wants to be a private investigator when she grows up, and the new owner of a bookshop called Mainly Crime.
But when there’s a murder closer to home and another of the grandfather’s masks seems to be at the centre of it, Puti and Bella Rose are drawn into the investigation despite themselves. They discover that in matters of blood you often don’t get a choice.
It seemed a simple request. ”Can you find my daughter who has run away?” But for professional gambler O’Malley, life isn’t that simple.
There is the murder of one of his poker partners, the attention of drug dealers, money launderers, the police, the gangs, and just to top it all off there is his intriguing girlfriend Claire, who just seems to be better at part-time sleuthing than he is.
No, nothing is simple for O’Malley.
A brilliantly written and intriguing debut crime novel, set in Auckland and featuring two lead characters with intelligence and empathy who just leave you wanting more to read.
Masterton isn’t a big town. The community’s tight, if not always harmonious. So when a child goes missing it’s a big deal for everyone. And when a second kid disappears, the whole town’s holding their own children that little bit tighter.
Lorraine doesn’t have kids, but she has a nephew. She’s holding him a bit tighter, too, because she works for the police, and she knows they don’t have any idea.
Lo’s not a cop, she’s a records clerk. She sits out back among the piles of paper, making connections, remembering things. Working things out that the actual cops don’t want to hear about.
Until the new investigator, Hayes, arrives from Wellington, and realises Lo’s the only person there with answers to any of his questions. Which is just as well—because the clock is running down for the children of the town.