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The verdicts are in: new Kiwi voices dominate among 2017 Ngaios finalists

By August 15, 2017August 17th, 2017No Comments

There’s fresh blood aplenty in the local crime writing ranks and the usual suspects were nowhere to be found as the 2017 Ngaio Marsh Awards finalists were named on Monday.

Now in their eighth year, the Ngaio Marsh Awards celebrate the best New Zealand crime, mystery, and thriller writing; fiction and non-fiction. “It’s been a remarkable year, and a tough one for our international judging panels,” said awards founder Craig Sisterson. “After record entries last year, we really weren’t sure what to expect in 2017. None of our previous winners were in the running, nor some other great Kiwi crime writers who’d been multiple-times finalists. In fact, eighteen of the nineteen authors who’d been finalists in the first few years of the awards were MIA.”

But instead of a lull, this year’s Ngaios hit a new high-tide mark, powered by a flood of fresh voices joining the genre – both debutant authors and established writers turning to crime.

“Entries in our fiction categories were up fifty percent, and the quality and variety has been really outstanding,” said Sisterson. “New Zealand readers love crime, and our local authors are offering plenty of world-class writing, both traditional detective tales and books stretching the borders.”

The international judging panels (thirteen authors, critics, and editors from five countries) praised the inventiveness and freshness of the stories our Kiwi writers were producing. “Talk about judging apples and pears,” said Paddy Richardson, a two-time finalist and now one of seven judges for the Best Crime Novel category. “It was more like apples, asparagus, avocados, and melons!”

This year’s finalists will be celebrated, and winners announced, at a special WORD Christchurch event to be held on 28 October. “We’re stoked to be working with Rachael King and her team,” said Sisterson. “We’re really grateful that WORD Christchurch have been supporters right from our very first year, and it’s lovely to celebrate our very best crime writers in Dame Ngaio’s hometown.”

The finalists for the 2017 Ngaio Marsh Awards are as follows.


  • Pancake Moneyby Finn Bell
  • Spare Me The Truthby CJ Carver (Zaffre)
  • Red Herringby Jonothan Cullinane (HarperCollins)
  • Marshall’s Lawby Ben Sanders (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Last Time We Spokeby Fiona Sussman (Allison & Busby)


  • Dead Lemonsby Finn Bell
  • Red Herringby Jonothan Cullinane (HarperCollins)
  • The Ice Shroud by Gordon Ell (Bush Press)
  • The Student Body by Simon Wyatt (Mary Egan Publishing)
  • Days are Like Grass by Sue Younger (Eunoia Publishing)


  • In Dark Placesby Michael Bennett (Paul Little Books)
  • The Scene of the Crime by Steve Braunias(HarperCollins)
  • Double-Edged Swordby Simonne Butler with Andra Jenkin (Mary Egan Publishing)
  • The Many Deaths of Mary Dobieby David Hastings (AUP)
  • Blockbuster!by Lucy Sussex (Text Publishing)

Each category winner will receive a Ngaio Marsh Awards trophy and a cash prize.

For more information on the Ngaio Marsh Awards, this year’s finalists or comments from the judges, please contact Craig Sisterson at