The Wild Card: Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist Renée

This year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards shortlist is full of outstanding New Zealand novels that cover a wide range of styles and tones in stories entwined with crime, mystery, thrills, and suspense. And it is going to be a really difficult task for the judges to pick a winner.

Amongst the shortlist for this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards is New Zealand writing icon and legend Renée. Born in 1929 in Napier. After she left school age 12 Renée went on to work in a wide variety of jobs including in a dairy, as a cleaner in an Auckland’s Theatre and as a feature writer and reviewer. After completing a BA in 1979 Renée became more closely involved in community theatre and started writing for the stage. Having written so far over twenty  plays many of them featuring women in leading roles and works that often humanise working-class people.

Renée describes herself as a ‘lesbian feminist with socialist working-class ideals’ and nearly all of her written works expound these beliefs.

As well as numerous plays Renée has published nine fiction works and in 2018 was awarded the Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement. And her fascinating, funny and insightful memoir These Two Hands, initially published in 2017 is due to be reissued with further chapters added in the very near future.

Renée has also tutored creative writing classes and also presents an annual writing guide for those who have or have had cancer and want to write about that experience.

Astonishingly The Wild Card is her first crime novel. Ruby the female lead in The Wild Card is a strong rounded character and the plot revolves round a crime against a Māori state ward. Described by reviewers as “Superb… a gripping read that covers some brutal topics”.

We wish to extend our most heartfelt thank you to Renée for her time and such a great interview. And we wish her and his fellow shortlisted authors good luck in the final awards ceremony.

The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November. Enjoy!

The wild card / Renée
“Ruby Palmer has been dealt a rough hand. She was left in a kete at the back door of the Porohiwi Home for Children when she was a baby, and then at seven she discovered that Betty who stopped the bad stuff happening to Ruby at the Home has drowned. Now in her thirties, Ruby suspects her friend was murdered ¿ her only lead is a notebook that uses the symbols on playing cards to tell a story she can’t understand, but there are other clues too: the man in the balaclava who attacks her when she starts to investigate, and break-ins at the local theatre where Ruby is playing Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. As Ruby goes deeper into the mystery of Betty’s death, she starts to find answers to questions about herself that she hadn’t dared ask before. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The skeleton woman : a romance / Renée
“A baby on the doorstep, a skeleton woman biding time before the truth comes out. Rose Anthony’s life has just become much more complicated. Renee’s latest novel carries the reader on an entertaining roller coaster ride of mystery and intrigue. A rich tapestry of a tale guaranteed to keep the reader hooked from start to finish. Rose Anthony’s life has just become more complicated. There’s a baby abandoned on her doorstep, and long-kept secrets are about to fly into the open…A tightly plotted literary lesbian romance, delightfully told by New Zealand writer Renee.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Kissing shadows / Renée
“When Vivvie Caird is faced by the sight of her beautiful, strong-willed mother lying limp and speechless in a hospital bed, she feels empowered to begin unlocking the mystery that is her fathers legacy. Vivvies nave undertaking soon finds a parallel in her mothers own account of what happened when her husband left home one day, never to return. A family, and a court must confront a devastating event that occurred in the midst of the hard times of last century. This fast-paced, page-turning novel takes the reader into an absorbing and moving world of shadowy relationships and intrigue.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Wednesday to come : trilogy / Renée
” In Wednesday To Come Renee takes four women of four generations in a single family and looks at how they cope with the Great Depression of the 1930s. In Pass It On, Jeannie and Cliff, the two adolescents joined the hunger march in Wednesday to Come, have each grown up and married. Pass It On explores the very different experiences of Jeannie, the political activist, and Cliff’s wife Nell, and traces their relationship from initial distrust to a firm allegiance against the political and economic forces which threaten their families. Jeannie Once, tells the story of Jeannie’s great grandmother living in Victorian era Dunedin.” (Catalogue)

These two hands : a memoir / Renée
“Renee Paule lives in Otaki and teaches her Your Life, Your Story and her Poem a Week workshops there. This is just one version of her life, her story, told in patches, like a quilt.” (Catalogue)

 

 

And below some of the books Renée mentions in her interview.

Gaudy Night : A Lord Peter Wimsey mystery with Harriet Vane / Sayers, Dorothy L.
” The third Dorothy L. Sayers classic to feature mystery writer Harriet Vane, Gaudy Night features an introduction by Elizabeth George, herself a crime fiction master. Gaudy Night takes Harriet and her paramour, Lord Peter, to Oxford University, Harriet’s alma mater, for a reunion, only to find themselves the targets of a nightmare of harassment and mysterious, murderous threats.
Chicago Tribune ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

And then there were none / Christie, Agatha
“Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston is found murdered by a deadly dose of cyanide. The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again… and again…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Artists in crime / Marsh, Ngaio
“In the movies, it’s known as a “meet cute.” But for Inspector Alleyn and Miss Agatha Troy, it’s more like irritation: On the ship back to England, she finds him tedious and dull; he thinks she’s a bohemian cliché. They may be destined for romance, but there’s a murder in the way: No sooner has Alleyn settled in to his mother’s house, eager for a relaxing end to his vacation, then he gets a call that a model has been stabbed at the artists’ community down the road. And the artistic Miss Troy is one of the community’s most prominent and outspoken members. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The mind readers / Allingham, Margery
“Sam Ferris is an ordinary English schoolboy. Well, except for a few things. One: His father is an eminent scientist, based on a military research island off the English coast. Two: Sam is about to be interviewed by a solicitor, giving evidence, in a serious legal matter, against one of his favorite teachers. And three: Sam can read minds. But there’s a four: Sam’s uncle is Albert Campion. And Sam’s story, in all its seemingly unrelated elements, gives his Uncle Albert quite a lot to be curious about. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The broken shore / Temple, Peter
” Shaken by a scrape with death, big-city detective Joe Cashin is posted away from the Homicide Squad to a quiet town on the South Australian coast. Carrying physical scars and not a little guilt, he spends his time playing the country cop, walking his dogs, and thinking about how it all was before. When a prominent local is attacked and left for dead in his own home, Cashin is thrust into a murder investigation. The evidence points to three boys from the nearby aboriginal community, whom everyone wants to blame. Cashin is unconvinced, and soon begins to see the outlines of something far more terrible than a simple robbery gone wrong.”(Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Into the Void: Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist Christina O’Reilly

Continuing our series on this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards shortlist we are delighted to present a video piece from Christina O’Reilly author of Into the Void.

As her accent still shows Christina grew up in England and emigrated to NZ at the age of twelve.  As well as a writer, Christina is a freelance copy editor and proof reader and has had her short stories published in several anthologies.

Christina had written several previous novels   before being longlisted for the 2019 Michael Gifkins memorial prize which gave her the confidence to publish this novel.

Into the void introduces us to DSS John (Archie) Baldrick and DC Ben Travers. The plot revolves round the disappearance of rural banker Richard Harper his disappearance possess many questions is he really dead? or has he been abducted and tortured?   Eventually it all becomes a race against time as the case descends into a mire of murder, violence and obsession.

One review described the book in the following way    “O’Reilly’s characters are all strong, believable people with equally believable domestic lives and troubles. It’s nicely flavoured with New Zealandness without feeing contrived and carries a story which would work in any international setting”.

We want to extend our biggest thank you to Christina for her time and insightful video. And we wish her and her fellow shortlisted author’s good luck in the final awards ceremony.

The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November… Enjoy.

Below are some of the books that influenced Christina and were mentioned in her interview.


The babes in the wood : a Chief Inspector Wexford mystery / Rendell, Ruth
“With floods threatening both the town of Kingsmarkham and his own home and no end to the rain in sight, Chief Inspector Wexford already has his hands full when he learns that two local teenagers have gone missing along with their sitter, Joanna Troy. Their hysterical mother is convinced that all three have drowned, and as the hours stretch into days Wexford suspects a case of kidnapping, perhaps connected with an unusual sect called the Church of the Good Gospel. But when the sitter’s smashed-up car is found at the bottom of a local quarry-occupied by a battered corpse-the investigation takes on a very different hue. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover End in Tears, Ruth Rendell (Audiobook)
“A lump of concrete dropped deliberately from a little stone bridge over a relatively unfrequented road kills the wrong person. The driver behind is spared. But only for a while… It is impossible for Chief Inspector Wexford not to wonder how terrible it would be to discover that one of his daughters had been murdered. Sylvia has always been a cause for concern. Living alone with her two children, she is pregnant again.  The relationship between father and daughter has always been uneasy. But the current situation also provokes an emotional division between Wexford and his wife, Dora.  (Adapted from Overdrive description)

The secret garden / Burnett, Frances Hodgson
“Born in India, the unattractive and willful Mary Lennox has remained in the care of servants for as long as she can remember. But the girl’s life changes when her mother and father die and she travels to Yorkshire to live with her uncle. Dark, dreary Misselthwaite Manor seems full of mysteries, including a very special garden, locked tight for 10 years. With the help of Dickon, a local boy, Mary intends to uncover its secrets.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an Audiobook.

Into the void / O’Reilly, Christina
“How easy is it for a man to simply disappear? When rural banker Richard Harper is reported missing, DSS John (Archie) Baldrick and DC Ben Travers are drawn into the tangled details of the man’s life. Would Harper really have chosen to leave his seriously ill wife, and abandon his pregnant girlfriend? Or is there a real threat behind the abusive emails he’d been receiving from desperate clients in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis? Has he really been abducted, tortured or killed? Or is Richard Harper himself behind everything that has happened? Archie and Travers ultimately face a race against time. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Find out more about the Ngaio Marsh Awards by clicking here.

Girl from the Tree House : Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist Gudrun Frerichs

Continuing our series on this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards shortlist we are delighted to have a video piece from Gudrun Frerichs author of Girl from the Tree House.

Gudrun has a fascinating personal backstory born on a small island near Hamburg she emigrated to New Zealand thirty years ago and worked until her retirement as a psychotherapist she is now a full time writer and describes herself as closet gypsy.

She says that her must have writing aids are a cup of Earl Grey a box of chocolates and the occasional glass of Merlot.

Gudrun’s previous novels include The Golden Girls Romantic Series of Contemporary Women’s novels. About four highly successful friends approaching their golden sixties who live in Auckland.  And the books  join  them as they navigate life’s obstacles.

Girl from the Tree House is a departure from her previous works and revolves around Elizabeth a woman with dissociative identity disorder, who is accused of murder. The novel is set in New Zealand’s West Coast is a fast paced psychological thriller that one reader described as a “superbly written story”.

We want to extend our biggest thank you to Gudrun for her time and insightful video. And we wish her and her fellow shortlisted author’s good luck in the final awards ceremony.

The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November… Enjoy.

Below are some of the books that influenced Gudrun and were mentioned in her interview.


Pippi Longstocking / Lindgren, Astrid
“Pippi is the only girl in the world who can do exactly what she likes. She is nine years old and lives in a cottage with a horse and a monkey. Her friends Tommy and Annika have to go to school and go to bed when they’re told, but they still have time to join Pippi on all her great adventures.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The world’s best Karlson / Lindgren, Astrid
“Smidge is used to Karlson, the funny little man with a propeller on his back, living on the roof. They are firm friends. Now, anytime Karlson pops in, Smidge knows that there’s fun and adventure in store.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The ABC murders / Christie, Agatha
” There’s a serial killer on the loose. His  macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim’s corpse the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place. But if A is for Alice Ascher, and B for Betty Bernard, then who will victim C be? Having begun with Andover, Bexhill and then Churston, there seems little chance of the murderer being caught – until he makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans… Poirot is the man to find out.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

Penhallow / Heyer, Georgette
“Hated for his cruel and vicious nature, ruling his family with an iron hand from his sickbed, tyrannical patriarch Adam Penhallow is found murdered the day before his birthday. His entire family had assembled for his birthday celebration, and every one of them had the ways and means to commit the crime. As accusation and suspicion turn in one direction, then another, the claws and backstabbing come out, and no one is exempt from the coming implosion. The death of menacing old man Adam Penhallow, on the eve of his birthday, seems at first to be by natural causes. When it emerges that he was poisoned, there are more than a dozen prime suspects.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.


Find out more about the Ngaio Marsh Awards by clicking here. You can visit Gudrun’s website by clicking here.

Tugga’s Mob: Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist Stephen Johnson

Continuing our short feature series on this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards, we are delighted to have an exclusive interview and reading by debut novelist and Ngaio Marsh shortlisted author of Tugga’s Mob, Stephen Johnson.

Stephen has a fascinating background, first as a courier and driver for Topdeck Travel, taking passengers from London to Istanbul and then as a television producer for some of New Zealand’s most iconic news and sports programmes. Both of these life experiences inform many of the dramatic devices and locations Stephen uses in this novel. For example, the novel’s investigators are a television current affairs crew rather than the traditional detectives or private investigators.

Stephen describes himself as an accidental author who wrote the book whilst on an empty nest tour of Europe. The plot revolves around Judy Williams, a young backpacker whose dream of exploring Europe on her OE ends tragically in her murder. It is only the discovery of her diary thirty years later that leads to the investigation that finally puts matters to right. Tugga’s Mob has been described by many reviewers as a “compulsive page turner” that vividly brings to life some of Europe’s top tourist destinations.

We want to extend our biggest thank you to Stephen for his time and such a great interview. And we wish him and his fellow shortlisted authors good luck in the final awards ceremony. The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November. Enjoy!

Below are some of the books that influenced Stephen Johnson and were mentioned in his interview:

Secret Seven on the trail / Blyton, Enid
“Something mysterious is going on at Tigger’s Barn, and the Secret Seven are intrigued. Peter thinks it’s all just gossip, but Jack isn’t so sure when he overhears a strange conversation. It looks like the Seven are on the trail of another exciting adventure! Solve the mystery!This edition features the classic text and comes with a Bonus Blyton section at the back with quizzes, puzzles and other bonus extras! .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Call for the dead / Le Carré, John
“After a routine security check by George Smiley, civil servant Samuel Fennan apparently kills himself. When Smiley finds Circus head Maston is trying to blame him for the death, he begins his own investigation, meeting Fennan’s widow. On the very day Smiley is ordered off the enquiry he receives an urgent letter from the dead man. Do the East Germans – and their agents – know more about this man’s death than the Circus previously imagined?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The Ipcress file / Deighton, Len
“Len Deighton’s classic first novel, whose protagonist is a nameless spy – later christened Harry Palmer and made famous worldwide in the iconic 1960s film starring Michael Caine. The Ipcress File was not only Len Deighton’s first novel, it was his first bestseller and the book that broke the mould of thriller writing. For the working class narrator, an apparently straightforward mission to find a missing biochemist becomes a journey to the heart of a dark and deadly conspiracy.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The Bourne identity : a novel / Ludlum, Robert
” His memory is a blank. His bullet-ridden body was fished from the Mediterranean Sea. His face has been altered by plastic surgery. A frame of microfilm has been surgically implanted in his hip. Even his name is a mystery. Marked for death, he is racing for survival through a bizarre world of murderous conspirators–led by Carlos, the world’s most dangerous assassin. Who is Jason Bourne? The answer may kill him. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Headhunters/ Nesbø, Jo
“Roger Brown is a corporate headhunter, but one career simply can’t support his luxurious lifestyle. At an art opening one night he meets Clas Greve, who is not only the perfect candidate for a major CEO job, but also, perhaps, the answer to his financial woes: Greve just so happens to mention that he owns a priceless Peter Paul Rubens painting–and Roger Brown just so happens to dabble in art theft. But when he breaks into Greve’s apartment, he finds more than just the painting.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

A place of execution / McDermid, Val
In the village of Scardale, thirteen-year-old girls didn’t just run away. So when Alison Carter vanished in the winter of ’63, everyone knew it was a murder. Catherine Heathcote remembers the case well. A child herself when Alison vanished, decades on she still recalls the sense of fear. Now a journalist, she persuades DI George Bennett to speak of the hunt for Alison, the tantalizing leads and harrowing dead ends. But when a fresh lead emerges, Bennett tries to stop the story… ‘” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook

The faceless / Symon, Vanda
“Bradley is a middle-aged man trapped in middle-class New Zealand. One day, Bradley picks up a teenage hooker. Unfortunately he can’t keep it up and then she laughs at him. That was a mistake. He beats her, ties her up and takes her to an abandoned warehouse. Max is homeless. He eats from rubbish bins, bums cigarettes from anyone and anywhere, including the footpath. But Max has one friend and she has gone missing. If he is to find her he is going to have to call on some people from his past life and re-open old wounds.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

When she was good / Robotham, Michael
“Criminal psychologist Cyrus Haven and Evie Cormac return. Who is Evie, the girl with no past, running from? She was discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Her ability to tell when someone is lying helped Cyrus crack an impenetrable case. Now, the closer Cyrus gets to uncovering answers about Evie’s dark history, the more he exposes Evie to danger, giving her no choice but to run. Ultimately, both will have to decide if some secrets are better left buried and some monsters should never be named…” (Catalogue)

For more information on Stephen click here.

The Nancys: Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist R.W.R. McDonald

This year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards shortlist is full of outstanding New Zealand novels that cover a wide range of styles and tones in stories entwined with crime, mystery, thrills, and suspense. And it is going to be a really difficult task for the judges to pick a winner.

R.W.R. McDonald’s debut novel The Nancys is one of most unique books among the list. Set in South Otago, the book is about friends, family, a murder  and young girl’s obsession with the Nancy Drew series of books. It’s simultaneously funny, dark, touching and ultimately joyously uplifting.

The charismatic author of The Nancys R.W.R. McDonald took some time out of his busy schedule to do a really special online piece for us and talk to us about The Nancys,  his literary influences, and also give us a very special fireside reading–not to mention introducing us to Harry his cat!

We want to extend our biggest thank you to R.W.R. McDonald for his time and such a great interview. And we wish him and his fellow shortlisted authors good luck in the final awards ceremony.

The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November. Enjoy!

Below are some of the books that influenced R.W.R. McDonald and were mentioned in his interview. You can also borrow a copy of The Nancys here or buy yourself a copy here!

The hidden staircase / Keene, Carolyn
“After receiving a call from her friend Helen Corning, Nancy agrees to help solve a baffling mystery. Helen’s Aunt Rosemary has been living with her mother at the old family mansion, and they have noticed many strange things. They have heard music, thumps and seen eerie shadows on the walls. Could the house be haunted? Will Nancy be able to find  how these mysteries are related?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

Kiss kiss / Dahl, Roald
“Contains stories including The Landlady, William and Mary, The Way up to Heaven, Parson’s Pleasures, Mrs Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat, Royal Jelly, Gregory Progy, Genesis and Catastrophe, Edwards the Conqueror, Pig and The Champion of the World.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Charlie and the chocolate factory / Dahl, Roald
“Mr Willy Wonka is the most extraordinary chocolate maker in the world. And do you know who Charlie is? Charlie Bucket is the hero. The other children in this book are nasty little beasts, called- Augustus Gloop- a great big greedy nincompoop; Veruca Salt- a spoiled brat; Violet Beauregarde – a repulsive little gum-chewer; Mike Teavee – a boy who only watches television. Clutching their Golden Tickets, they arrive at Wonka’s chocolate factory…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook. 

To the lighthouse / Woolf, Virginia
“Set on the beautiful Isle of Skye. To the Lighthouse features the serene and maternal Mrs. Ramsay, the tragic yet absurd Mr. Ramsay, and their children and assorted guests who are on holiday on the Isle of Skye. From the seemingly trivial postponement of a visit to a nearby lighthouse, Virginia Woolf constructs a moving examination of the complex tensions and allegiances of family life and the conflicts within a marriage…. the sea encircles the story in a brilliant ebb and flow” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook. 

The whale rider / Ihimaera, Witi
“This timeless story tells how the courage of one Maori girl in standing against the tide of tradition enables her tribe to become reconnected with their ancestral life force. As her beloved grandfather, chief of the Maori tribe of Whangara, New Zealand, struggles to lead in difficult times and to find a male successor, young Kahu is developing a mysterious relationship with whales, particularly the ancient bull whale whose legendary rider was their ancestor.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

A Saint from Texas [paperback] / White, Edmund
“Yvette and Yvonne Crawford are twin sisters, born on a humble patch of East Texas prairie but bound for far grander fates. Just as an untold fortune of oil lies beneath their daddy’s land, both girls harbour their own secrets and dreams: ones that will carry them far from Texas and from each other. As the decades unfold, Yvonne will ascend the highest ranks of Parisian society as Yvette gives herself to a lifetime of worship. And yet, even as they remake themselves, the twins find that the bonds of family and the past are unbreakable.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Margaret Mahy treasury : eleven favourite stories from the marvellous Margaret Mahy. / Mahy, Margaret
“The Margaret Mahy Treasury contains eleven favourite Mahy stories. In this volume you will find such timeless classics as A Lion in the Meadow, The Witch in the Cherry Tree, The Man Whose Mother was a Pirate and many more. These beautifully illustrated stories are childhood essentials. This book contains a CD of Margaret Mahy reading six of her classic stories.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Nancys / McDonald, R. W. R.
“”Tippy Chan is eleven and lives in a small town in a very quiet part of the world – the place her Uncle Pike escaped from the first chance he got as a teenager. Now Pike is back with his new boyfriend Devon to look after Tippy while her mum’s on a cruise. Tippy is in love with her uncle’s old Nancy Drew books; she wants to be Nancy and solve a real mystery. When her teacher’s body is found beside Riverstone’s only traffic light, Tippy’s moment has arrived.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Find out more about the Ngaio Marsh Awards here. For R.W.R. McDonald’s official site.

Ngaio Marsh Award 2020 longlist announced

You must be able to write. You must have a sense of form, of pattern, of design. You must have a respect for and a mastery over words.

— Ngaio Marsh

Christchurch-born Ngaio Marsh — along with Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, and Margery Allingham — is regarded as one of the “Queens of Crime”. She wrote 32 detective novels between 1934 and 1982, and the early part of her career fell in what is regarded as the ‘golden age of detective fiction’. All of her books feature gentleman detective DCI Roderick Alleyn and often revolve around what were her two other passions — art and theatre. The modern award  bearing her name aims to “recognise excellence in New Zealand crime, mystery and thriller writing”.

This year’s longlist includes some of New Zealand’s best known writers — such as Paul Cleave and Renée — as well as a number of rising stars. The range of styles, approaches and subjects is broad in the extreme, but what unites all of the books chosen is the quality and sheer scope of the writing. Have a browse of the longlist and enjoy!

The longlisted titles are:


Whatever It Takes / Cleave, Paul
“When seven-year-old Alyssa is kidnapped, Deputy Noah Harper decides he will do what it takes to find her — but that means crossing lines he can never come back from. Finding the girl safe isn’t enough to stop Noah from losing his job, his wife, and from being kicked out of Acacia Pines. He’s told if he ever returns, he’ll be put in jail and left there to rot. Now, 12 years later, comes a phone call. Alyssa is missing again and her father wants him to honor the promise he made to her all those years earlier — that he would never let anything bad happen to her again. To find her, Noah is going to have to head back to the pines, and come face to face with the past.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Auē / Manawatu, Becky
“Taukiri was born into sorrow. Auē can be heard in the sound of the sea he loves and hates, and in the music he draws out of the guitar that was his father’s. It spills out of the gang violence that killed his father and sent his mother into hiding, and the shame he feels about abandoning his eight-year-old brother to another violent home. But Arama is braver than he looks, and he has a friend and his friend has a dog, and the three of them together might just be strong enough to turn back the tide of sorrow. As long as there’s aroha to give and stories to tell and a good supply of plasters.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Nancys / McDonald, R. W. R.
“Tippy is in love with her uncle’s old Nancy Drew books, especially the early ones where Nancy was sixteen and did whatever she wanted. She wants to be Nancy and is desperate to solve a real mystery. When her teacher’s body is found beside Riverstone’s only traffic light, Tippy’s moment has arrived. She and her minders form The Nancys, a secret amateur detective club. But what starts as a bonding and sightseeing adventure quickly morphs into something far more dangerous.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook

In the clearing / Pomare, J. P.
“Amy has only ever known what life is like in the Clearing. . That is, until a new young girl joins the group. She isn’t fitting in; she doesn’t want to stay. What happens next will turn life as Amy knows it on its head. Freya has gone to great lengths to feel like a ‘normal person’. In fact, if you saw her go about her day with her young son, you’d think she was an everyday mum. That is, until a young girl goes missing and someone from her past, someone she hasn’t seen for a very long time, arrives in town. As Amy and Freya’s story intertwines the secrets of the past bubble up to the surface. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The wild card / Renée
“Ruby Palmer has been dealt a rough hand. She was left in a kete at the back door of the Porohiwi Home for Children when she was a baby, and then at seven she discovered that Betty who stopped the bad stuff happening to Ruby at the Home has drowned. Now in her thirties, Ruby suspects her friend was murdered, her only lead is a notebook that uses the symbols on playing cards to tell a story she can’t understand, but there are other clues too: the man in the balaclava who attacks her when she starts to investigate, and break-ins at the local theatre where Ruby is playing Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A madness of sunshine / Singh, Nalini
“Golden Cove is a peaceful town. That is until one fateful summer, when tragedy shatters the trust holding the community together. All that’s left are whispers behind closed doors, broken friendships and a silent agreement to never look back. But they can’t run from the past forever. Eight years later, a young woman disappears without a trace, and the residents of Golden Cove wonder if their home shelters something far more dangerous than an unforgiving landscape. The town’s dark past and haunted present are about to collide.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Other longlisted titles are Shadow of Doubt by S. L. Beaumont, Trust me; I’m Dead by Sherryl Clark, One Single Thing by Tina Clough, Girl from the Tree House by Gudrun Frerichs, Hide by S. J. Morgan and The Great Divide by L. J. M. Owen.

The shortlist will be announced later this year.

Ngaio Marsh Award winners 2019

Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 Ngaio Marsh awards! Dame Fiona Kidman has won this year’s award for Best Crime Novel with This Mortal Boy. Best First Novel was awarded to J. P. Pomare for Call Me Evie. The Non Fiction award went to Kelly Dennett for her followup on the disappearance of an Auckland teenager, The Short Life and Mysterious Death of Jane Furlong.

The Ngaio Marsh Awards originated in 2010 for excellence in New Zealand crime, mystery, and thriller writing. In 2016 the award for best First Novel was added and in 2017 another category was also added for the Best Non Fiction.


This mortal boy / Kidman, Fiona (print) (eBook) (eAudiobook)
“Albert Black, known as the ‘jukebox killer’, was only twenty when he was convicted of murdering another young man in a fight at a milk bar in Auckland on 26 July 1955. His crime fuelled growing moral panic about teenagers, and he was to hang less than five months later, the second-to-last person to be executed in New Zealand.But what really happened? Was this a love crime, was it a sign of juvenile delinquency? Or was this dark episode in our recent history more about our society’s reaction to outsiders? This is his story.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverCall me Evie / J.P. Pomare.
“Meet Evie, a young woman held captive by a man named Jim in the isolated New Zealand beach town of Maketu. Jim says he’s hiding Evie to protect her, that she did something terrible back home in Melbourne. In a house that creaks against the wind, Evie begins to piece together her fractured memories of the events that led her here. Jim says he’s keeping her safe. Evie’s not sure she can trust Jim, but can she trust her own memories?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The short life and mysterious death of Jane Furlong / Dennett, Kelly
“The abduction and murder of teenager Jane Furlong is one of New Zealand’s most enduring mysteries. Jane was 17 when she disappeared from Auckland’s Karangahape Road in 1993.  Her body was found in 2012, 20 years later. Court reporter Kelly Dennett became interested after noticing Jane Furlong’s mother, Judith Furlong, sitting alone in a courtroom during a murder trial.” (Adapted from Catalogue)