2014 - Ned Kelly Awards

2014 - Ned Kelly Awards

The Ned Kelly Awards are proud to be sponsored by

Best Fiction

Adrian McKinty

“In his use of humour with the grim realities of Belfast in 1984 coupled with a wonderful constructed locked in mystery, McKinty has produced something quite extraordinary. There’s a fine line between social commentary and compelling mystery and not many writers, crime or literary, can do both.”

Best First Fiction

Candice Fox

“Like a junkyard sculpture, Hades combines a number of current genre tropes into something new and exciting. A little bit Dexter, a little bit procedural, overall a great first novel built on a not-yet hackneyed premise that will have readers looking forward to the sequel.”

True Crime

John Safran

“This is a splendidly entertaining book and Safran a wonderful guide to the weirdness of the American deep south. Like all great mysteries, this story of murder holds tight to its secrets. Always honest, frequently hilarious, Safran’s bumbling adventure never fails to captivate.”

S.D. Harvey Short Story Award

Emma Viskic

A refreshing and suspenseful voice propels the narrative. The female protagonist, preoccupied with the usual domesticity involved in bringing up children, is waiting to die by the hand of a person or persons unknown. This constitutes an oblique approach to the more conventional crime narrative.  The writer achieves subtleties as she describes her four-year old's understandable anxiety at his unpredictable life, ‘Hamish shadowed her, one hand clutching Blue Bear, the other hand down his pants. He'd started wetting the bed after their third move.’ The protagonist’s paranoia is exacerbated as  she encounters a man, when buying the children ice-cream, who offers to pay for them and who calls her ‘Leese’ the same way her criminal ex husband did. There is a twist at the end when the reader discovers both her resourcefulness and her motivations. 

The Ned Kelly Awards are proud to be sponsored by

Best Fiction

P.M. Newton
Book Description:

On the inside, Detective Nhu 'Ned' Kelly is a mess. Stitched up after being shot, her brain's taking even longer to heal than her body. On the outside, though, she's perfect, at least as far as the top brass are concerned. Cabramatta is riding high on the new 'Asian crime wave', a nightmare of heroin, home invasions, and hits of all kinds, and the cops need a way into the world of teenaged dealers and assassins.

They think Ned's Vietnamese heritage is the right fit but nothing in Cabra can be taken at face value. Ned doesn't speak the language and the ra choi – the lawless kids who have 'gone out to play' – are just running rings around her. The next blow could come from anywhere, or anyone. And beyond the headlines and hysteria, Ned is itching to make a play for the kingpin, the person behind it all with the money and the plan and the power.

Judges Comments:

“This is not only an intricate crime mystery but a fascinating exploration of the social, political and economic impact of migration in Sydney’s west. Combined with the psychological aspect, Newton has produced a truly remarkable novel.”

Garry Disher
Book Description:

When Hirsch heads up Bitter Wash Road to investigate the gunfire he finds himself cut off without back-up. A pair of thrill killers has been targeting isolated farmhouses on lonely backroads, but Hirsch’s first thought is that ‘back-up’ is nearby—and about to put a bullet in him.

That’s because Hirsch is a whistleblower. Formerly a promising metropolitan officer, now demoted and exiled to a one-cop station in South Australia’s wheatbelt. Called a dog by his brother officers. Threats; pistol cartridge in the mailbox.

But the shots on Bitter Wash Road don’t tally with Hirsch’s assumptions. The truth turns out to be a lot more mundane. And the events that unfold subsequently, a hell of a lot more sinister.

Judges Comments:

“A masterfully plotted trip into the dark recesses of outback Australia, Disher has created a true outsider detective: a whistleblower who can't trust anyone—including those meant to back him up—on the trail of a pair of sadistic killers.”

Kathryn Fox
Book Description:

When a girl's dead body is found in a toy box, forensic physician and pathologist Anya Crichton joins the police hunt in her home state of Tasmania for the child's missing mother and sister.

Staying with her increasingly erratic mother, Dr Jocelyn Reynolds, Anya fears the long shadow of her sister Miriam's disappearance has finally driven her mother past the brink of sanity. But Anya soon discovers that Jocelyn is keeping a deadly secret.

When tests conclude a virulent strain of food poisoning was responsible for the child's death, the outbreak begins to spread. Anya pairs up with Internal Affairs detective Oliver Parke to unravel the sinister connections between the fatal epidemic, a covered-up study, the shady deals of a multinational corporation and the alleged murder of a local scientist. Anya has strayed into a high-stakes game so dangerous the players will kill to keep it quiet. With time running short, Anya must uncover the truth before she is silenced - permanently.

Judges Comments:

“Forensic crime fiction is one of the biggest genres within crime fiction and it is great to have a home grown author who is not only equal to the international bestsellers, but also exceeds many of them.”

Adrian McKinty
Book Description:

Sean Duffy's got nothing. And when you've got nothing to lose, you have everything to gain. So when MI5 come knocking, Sean knows exactly what they want, and what he'll want in return, but he hasn't got the first idea how to get it.

Of course he's heard about the spectacular escape of IRA man Dermot McCann from Her Majesty's Maze prison. And he knew, with chilly certainty, that their paths would cross. But finding Dermot leads Sean to an old locked room mystery, and into the kind of danger where you can lose as easily as winning.

From old betrayals and ancient history to 1984's most infamous crime, Sean tries not to fall behind in the race to annihilation. Can he outrun the most skilled terrorist the IRA ever created? And will the past catch him first?

Judges Comments:

“In his use of humour with the grim realities of Belfast in 1984 coupled with a wonderful constructed locked in mystery, McKinty has produced something quite extraordinary. There’s a fine line between social commentary and compelling mystery and not many writers, crime or literary, can do both.”

Stephen Orr
Book Description:

It was a butcher on smoko who reported the man stashing the kid in the car boot. He didn't really know whether he'd seen anything at all, though. Maybe an abduction? Maybe just a stressed-out father.

Detective Bart Moy, newly returned to the country town where his ailing, cantankerous father still lives, finds nothing. As far as he can tell no one in Guilderton is missing a small boy. Still, he looks deeper into the butcher's story—after all, he had a son of his own once.

But when the boy does turn up, silent, apparently traumatised, things are no clearer. Who is he? Where did he come from and what happened to him?

For Moy, gaining the boy's trust becomes central not just to the case but to rebuilding his own life. From the wreckage of his grief, his dead marriage and his fractured relationship with his father may yet come a chance for something new.

Judges Comments:

“Harrowing, yet hopeful, Stephen Orr plots this novel brilliantly, having you doubting and questioning events in tandem with the main character. It is a great exploration of life in a small rural town and the bonds between fathers and sons.”

Angela Savage
Book Description:

A new case for expat private investigator Jayne Keeney.

As Jayne and Rajiv holiday in Krabi, Jayne can't stop her mind straying to thoughts of the future: a successful business, perhaps even a honeymoon. Who would have thought she could be so content?

But then their tour guide's body is found floating in the shallows and no one can explain the marks around her neck. Jayne and Rajiv are pulled into a case that the police have already decided isn't one: a case that will pull at the seams of their fledgling relationships and lead Jayne into grave danger.  

Judges Comments:

“This manages to tell a complicated and at times very dark story with well-adjusted, and highly likeable investigators, at its core. Added to this are an exotic, evocative setting and a story that is thought-provoking while offering an edge-of-your-seat ride at the same time.”

The Ned Kelly Awards are proud to be sponsored by

Best First Fiction

Alex Hammond
Book Description:

One man's search for justice and redemption plunges him into the violent world of Melbourne's underbelly.

Defence lawyer Will Harris is reluctantly drawn into a bizarre murder trial. A terminally ill man claims to have witnessed the brutal crime – in a vision.

But the looming trial is more than just a media circus: it's Will's first big case since the tragic death of his fiancée.

With the pressure mounting, Will's loyalties are split when his fiancée's sister is charged with drug trafficking.

The strain of balancing both cases takes its toll and Will finds himself torn between following the law and seeking justice.

Judges Comments:

“A gripping legal thriller, Blood Witness is original and tightly written. Courtroom scenes are well handled, and while main character Will Harris initially seems a bit unlikely as an action hero, Hammond sets him up well for the final confrontation.”

Peter Cotton
Book Description:

A federal election campaign is thrown into chaos when a popular government minister goes missing and then turns up dead on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.

With Detective Darren Glass on the case, the investigation into the minister's murder quickly becomes entangled in a game of high-stakes politics. All the while, the body count mounts.

Glass's suspects include some of the most powerful people in the land, With the nation in shock and wanting answers fast, Glass has to negotiate a murky world of shifting allegiances, half-truths, and finger pointing, where everyone has a motive for murder.

And no one is safe - not event he prime minister.  As Election Day nears, Glass risks everything for a breakthrough in the case, and his life is soon hanging by a thread. But if he thought he'd hit rock bottom, he was wrong . . .

Judges Comments:

“A detailed procedural with a stoic, resourceful and, of course, slightly renegade AFP detective supported by a plucky girl-Friday journo, the book explores some interesting what-ifs involving death and kidnapping at the highest levels of Aussie politics.”

Ellie Marney
Book Description:

Rachel Watts has just moved to Melbourne from the country, but the city is the last place she wants to be.

James Mycroft is her neighbour, an intriguingly troubled seventeen-year-old who's also a genius with a passion for forensics.

Despite her misgivings, Rachel finds herself unable to resist Mycroft when he wants her help investigating a murder. He's even harder to resist when he's up close and personal - and on the hunt for a cold-blooded killer.

When Rachel and Mycroft follows the murderer's trail, they find themselves in the lion's den - literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning again...
 

Judges Comments:

“An engaging young adult detective novel that wears its Sherlock Holmes references on its sleeve. The mystery is involving and builds to a thrilling finale at a well-known Melbourne landmark, while Rachel and Mycroft, the male and female leads, are resourceful but (believably) less than super-human.”

Candice Fox
Book Description:

Hades Archer surrounds himself with the things others leave behind. Their trash becomes the twisted sculptures that line his junkyard. The bodies they want disposed of become his problem – for a fee.

Then one night a man arrives on his doorstep, clutching a small bundle that he wants ‘lost'. And Hades makes a decision that will change everything...

Twenty years later, homicide detective Frank Bennett feels like the luckiest man on the force when he meets his new partner, the dark and beautiful Eden Archer. But there's something strange about Eden and her brother, Eric. Something he can't quite put his finger on.

At first, as they race to catch a very different kind of serial killer, his partner's sharp instincts come in handy. But soon Frank's wondering if she's as dangerous as the man they hunt. - See more at: http://www.randomhouse.com.au/books/candice-fox/hades-9780857981172.aspx...

Judges Comments:

“Like a junkyard sculpture, Hades combines a number of current genre tropes into something new and exciting. A little bit Dexter, a little bit procedural, overall a great first novel built on a not-yet hackneyed premise that will have readers looking forward to the sequel.”

The Ned Kelly Awards are proud to be sponsored by

True Crime

Paul Dale
Book Description:

In 2011, an article in The Age accused Detective Paul Dale of nodding ‘off for a quick power nap’ while a notorious gangland figure escaped from the back of an armed robbery squad car in 1990. Only problem was that Paul Dale was never an armed robbery squad detective, and in 1990 was a 20-year-old junior constable, nowhere near the gangland action. But in Dale’s case, the media have never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

From the moment police informer Terry Hodson pointed the finger at Dale to try and weasel his way out of a life sentence on serious drug charges, the Victoria Police have pursued Dale with a vigour rarely seen. Offering millions of dollars to ‘witnesses’ in return for statements, the Victoria Police have yet to convict the former decorated police officer with a single thing.

For the first time, Paul Dale tells his side of the story. When you look at the story behind the story, it is almost beyond belief. Except it happened. 

Judges Comments:

“Dale’s side of the story presents a self-serving but surprisingly gripping account about his family, career, jail time and court appearances since his arrest. Disgraced? has pace and drama, and gives an insight into the psyche of a police officer operating during Melbourne’s gangland wars and his descent into mental anguish.” 

John Kidman & Denise Hofman
Book Description:

Forever Nine chronicles the abduction and murder of Sydney schoolgirl Samantha Knight, who seemingly vanished into thin air from busy Bondi Road, in the late afternoon of August 1986. Her disappearance remained a mystery until 2002 when Michael Anthony Guider pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a 12-year jail sentence. Co-author Denise Hofman met Guider in the mid-1990s and worked closely with him on conservation projects until he was suddenly charged with dozens of child sex offences – and she learned he’d once secretly known Sam. Based on never-before-published eyewitness accounts, Forever Nine is at once an inspiring personal story, a redemptive tale of police blindness, and a vivid portrait of a killer who could soon be free.

Judges Comments:

“This sparingly written recap 20 years on captures the frustration and relentless drive of Sydney school teacher and co-author Denise Hofman. The book creates an unusual extra voice to most true crime case regurgitations and earns a place among must-reads in the annals of harrowing Australian murder mysteries.”

Colin McLaren
Book Description:

On 22nd November 1963, the 35th president of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and his wife Jackie were taking part in a presidential motorcade through Dallas. Thousands lined the streets cheering; others hung out of windows to catch a glimpse of the much-loved First Lady and President. Suddenly, the unthinkable: three shots rang out. In front of the world, John F Kennedy was fatally wounded. Lee Harvey Oswald was caught. But did he fire the fatal bullet? Who REALLY killed JFK?

Fifty years after the tragic events in Dallas, JFK: The Smoking Gun solves the ultimate cold case. With the forensic eye of a highly regarded ex-cop, Colin McLaren gathered the evidence, studied 10,000 pages of transcripts, discovered the witnesses the Warren Commission failed to call, and uncovered the exhibits and testimonies that were hidden until now. What he found is far more outrageous than any fanciful conspiracy theory could ever be.

Judges Comments:

“After four years of research on thousands of documents kept secret for decades, McLaren possibly makes sense of the “second shooter” theory in the JFK assassination in a way that in no way exonerates Lee Harvey Oswald’s shots from the Texas School Book Depository Building. If you lean towards cock-ups rather than conspiracies, then read this.”

John Safran
Book Description:

When filming his TV series Race Relations, John Safran spent an uneasy couple of days with one of Mississippi's most notorious white supremacists. A year later, he heard that the man had been murdered – and what was more, the killer was black.

At first the murder seemed a twist on the old Deep South race crimes. But then more news rolled in. Maybe it was a dispute over money, or most intriguingly, over sex. Could the infamous racist actually have been secretly gay, with a thing for black men? Did Safran have the last footage of him alive? Could this be the story of a lifetime? Seizing his Truman Capote moment, he jumped on a plane to cover the trial.

Over six months, Safran got deeper and deeper into the South, becoming entwined in the lives of those connected with the murder – white separatists, black campaigners, lawyers, investigators, neighbours, even the killer himself. And the more he talked with them, the less simple the crime, and the world, seemed.

Judges Comments:

“This is a splendidly entertaining book and Safran a wonderful guide to the weirdness of the American deep south. Like all great mysteries, this story of murder holds tight to its secrets. Always honest, frequently hilarious, Safran’s bumbling adventure never fails to captivate.”

Eleanor Learmonth & Jenny Tabakoff
Book Description:

Disaster strikes. A ship goes down, a plane crashes, a party of travellers is cut off. But when the panic and confusion subside and the dead are counted, the survivors must find a way to keep surviving. And in desperation, unconstrained by law or conventional authority, the tactics they resort to can be both horrifying and ultimately self-destructive.

Learmonth and Tabakoff outline the physical and neurological changes that typically affect the victims of disaster. Then, using true stories from history as case studies, they investigate the scenario famously imagined by William Golding in Lord of the Flies and borne out by the extraordinary Robbers Cave experiments of the 1950s. As this fascinating book unfolds the awful truth becomes clear. In extremis, humans are capable of a swift descent into murderous savagery that is both hard to believe—and impossible to forget.

Judges Comments:

“This book beautifully combines the rigor of an excellent academic text with the readability of a top-shelf novel. More than anything, what gives this un-put-downable book its power is that it is a precise and illuminating study of human nature in extremis.”

Duncan McNab
Book Description:

Australia has a unique place in the history of outlaw motorcycle gangs, boasting the highest per capita membership in the world, and a biker culture where bombings, drive-by shootings, arson, beatings and murder are regular occurrences.

From the clubs' beginnings in the swinging '60s, their entry into the amphetamine market in the 1970s, through to the 1984 Milperra Massacre that made world headlines, to the Sydney airport brawl between the Hell's Angels and Comancheros and the brutal murder of Anthony Zervas, Outlaw Bikers in Australia tells how these 'one per cent deviants' grew to dominate the recreational drug market and became major players in the international outlaw biker scene.

This is the dramatic story of the rise and rise of Australia's outlaw motorcycle clubs by Duncan McNab, a former New South Wales detective and commentator on outlaw bikers in Australia and overseas. 

Judges Comments:

“McNab has the ability to weave multiple characters and a wide-ranging story into a gripping yarn. What stands out here is McNab’s ability to quickly and deftly bring these fascinating characters to life. Like the very best historian, he takes his reader deep into this disturbing world.”

The Ned Kelly Awards are proud to be sponsored by

Housewarming Louise Bassett
Splinter Emma Viskic
The Scars of Noir Darcy-Lee Tindale
Voices of Soi 22 Roger Vickery
Web Design Emma Viskic