So on the weekend we (as in the ACWA Committee(link is external) - Rochelle Jackson, Robert Goodman, David Whish-Wilson, Louisa (LA) Larkin, Andrea Thompson, Jacqui Horwood, Deb Crabtree, Georgina Heydon, Meg Vann and I) did a thing. The 2018 Ned Kelly Awards were presented, and I cannot tell you how pleased we are every year to see these awards continuing from strength to strength, acknowledging the best and brightest in our Crime Writing Community giving us a chance to wave certificates, trophies and prize envelopes under their noses.

Along the way we also got to acknowledge Lifetime Achievement Award winners and Jacqui Horwood presented this year's award to Garry Disher in what she called a bit of a fan moment, as it was for all of us. Garry Disher's work is an example of the very best of Australian Crime Writing and every book is received with great anticipation (he said on the night there's a new Wyatt out soon which is particularly welcome news in these parts).

But, these awards, as rewarding as they are for everyone involved, are also, to be frank, a heap of heavy lifting and the Committee behind them are such a great bunch of volunteers. Starting with the judges who approach the mammoth reading task sometimes with a slight gulp, but with the necessary dedication, focus and seriousness of intent to identify the best of the best. And believe me, from experience, the rating, sorting and ranking of so many entries is an overwhelming task sometimes - never approached lightly. 

Then there is the organising group that with practice are starting to pull the thing together every year with aplomb, and a ridiculously large suitcase full of stuff, and judging websites, and spreadsheets and numbers - oh the numbers.... But we're blessed to have a great group of people who step up, step in, get on with it, come up with ideas, do the work, and get it done. We've also had a great working relationship with the lovely people at the Toff in recent years - their staff are accommodating and great fun to work with. And we do love our laughs. This year's storytellers - Christine Nixon, Geoffrey Steward, Tony Birch, Maggie Baron and John Silvester made us laugh (sometimes a lot), made us tear up a bit in places, and just were the icing on the cake, each and every one of them and we're very grateful for their help in making this, as always, something to remember. Then there are our longlisted and shortlisted authors. It's an honour to be able to read your books, and let the world know about your books (as it is the submission lists). The sheer size of the lists is one thing, the quality and the variety is another altogether. We're grateful for your participation in the awards, and for your patience as we haul the systems and processes into place to make it run like an oiled machine - heading towards a well oiled one as fast as we can. 

Congratulations to all our winners - Sarah Bailey, Graham Archer and Sulari Gentill. Thanks for the kind words. Thanks for being there to enjoy the night with us and thanks for the wonderful books you all write.

Recent past winners of Best Crime Fiction include: Adrian McKinty, Dave Warner and Candice Fox. Recent past winners of Best First Crime Fiction include: Jane Harper, Emma Viskic, Jock Serong and Candice Fox.

#terroraustralis / #sunburntnoir / #australiancrimefiction continues to surprise, please and excite us all.



The Australian Crime Writers Association (ACWA) announced the winners of the 2018 Ned Kelly Awards at a packed event at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival on 26 August. This prestigious award celebrates the best of Australian crime fiction and true crime. There are four categories:

Best First Crime Novel

Best Crime Novel

Best True Crime

Lifetime Achievement Award


Winner: Best First Crime Novel – Sarah Bailey, The Dark Lake (Allen & Unwin, RRP $32.99)

The judges described The Dark Lake as ‘a sophisticated first novel with a strong emphasis on character and setting. The victim is given life through the memories and emotions of her childhood friend, now lead investigator of her death.’

Sarah Bailey is a Melbourne based writer with a background in advertising and communications. 


Winner: Best Crime Novel – Sulari Gentill, Crossing The Lines (Pantera Press, RRP $29.99)

The judges described Crossing The Lines as ‘an intricate dance of mystery and psychological suspense that blurs the lines between real and fictional, sanity and insanity, obsession and love.’


Sulari Gentill is author of the award-winning and best-selling Rowland Sinclair Mysteries and the Greek mythology adventure series The Hero Trilogy.


Winner: Best True Crime – Graham Archer, Unmaking a Murder: The Mysterious Death of Anna-Jane Cheney (Penguin, RRP $34.99)

The judges described Unmaking A Murder as ‘a fascinating, detailed and well researched tale of a gross miscarriage of justice by a system more concerned with sustaining the status quo than pursuing justice.’

Graham Archer is an investigative reporter and producer who has worked for the ABC, Channel 9 and is now Director, News and Public Affairs, SA for channel 7. Anna-Jane Cheney worked at the epicentre of the Adelaide legal community and died six weeks before her wedding to Henry Vincent Keogh, who had taken out five insurance policies amounting to $1.2 million over his fiancée’s life and forged her signature on them. Archer became fascinated by the case in which a man could be sentenced to life in prison without him having received a fair trial.

Winner: Lifetime Achievement Award: Garry Disher


Rochelle Jackson, chair of the Australian Crime Writers' Association said: ‘Garry Disher has made an outstanding contribution to Australian crime fiction, using his characters to explore and expose Australian culture. His crime fiction is just one aspect of a long, successful and varied literary career which shows no sign of slowing down.’

Garry Disher has published over fifty titles—fiction, children’s books, anthologies, textbooks, the Wyatt thrillers and the Peninsula Crimes series. He has won numerous awards, including the German Crime Prize (twice) and two Ned Kelly Best Crime novel awards, for Chain of Evidence (2007) and Wyatt (2010). Garry lives on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. His latest novel, Under The Cold Bright Lights, is published by Text Publishing (RRP $29.99)

Future Awards sponsored by Booktopia

Tony Nash, CEO of Booktopia, announced at this year’s Ned Kelly Awards that Booktopia is sponsoring the awards for the next three years. Rochelle Jackson, chair of the Australian Crime Writers' Association said: ‘This is an exciting new chapter for the Ned Kelly Awards and the ACWA. We're delighted to be sponsored by Booktopia and look forward to a building a great rapport now and into the future.’

About the Ned Kelly Awards

The Ned Kelly Awards are Australia’s oldest and most prestigious prizes honouring our published crime fiction and true crime writing. The awards began in 1995 and have become an internationally recognised writing award and has done much to raise awareness worldwide of Australia’s great crime authors.

For more details please contact:    

Judging Co-ordinator, Robert Goodman on 0468 822830 or

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