2017 Shortlist

 

The Ned Kelly Awards are proudly supported by:


We're happy to list the shortlist titles selected by our judges for the Ned Kelly Awards in 2017.

Our judging panels are made up of booksellers, book industry luminaries, readers, critics, reviewers and commentators.

Their decisions are final, and the ACWA Committee thanks them most sincerely for their time, care, consideration and professionalism.

Best Fiction

An Isolated Incident
Emily Maquire
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Judges Comments

A devastating book about the consequences of murder of a young woman in a country town, the loss and grief of those left behind, and the appropriation of that loss and grief by others. There is profound humanity in this courageous and important book and a perspective and emotional depth that is rare and challenging.  


Crimson Lake
Candice Fox
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Judges Comments

Ted Conkaffey, the very damaged narrator is a truly original take on the disgraced cop; and his equally damaged offsider Amanda Pharell, an ex-con turned private investigator, is also an original. The crisp writing, the crocodile-infested Queensland setting and the ambiguous friendship of the protagonists make Crimson Lale an outstanding crime novel.


Out of the Ice
Ann Turner
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Judges Comments

Laura is an Australian scientist tasked to document an abandoned whaling station, but a sighting of a young boy in an ice cave sets off a dangerous train of events. The freezing beauty of the remote Antarctic setting contrasts with the bleak, cruel nature of the people Laura encounters as she uncovers the mystery.


Police at the Station and They Don't Look Friendly
Adrian McKinty
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Judges Comments

Sean Duffy has to manage his own domestic turmoil and find his feet as a father while living in strife torn 1980s Northern Ireland and solving a crime that is much more than it seems. In turns lyrical and tender, laugh-out-loud funny, and heart-stoppingly suspenseful, but always wholly engaging this is another strong entry in what was already an outstanding series.  


The Golden Child
Wendy James
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Judges Comments

From a completely original angle The Golden Child deals with parental fears; parental judgement and misjudgement; the dangers of social media and cyber-bullying. The novel is cleverly constructed, the characters are extremely well-drawn, the use of social media as a plot device is very sophisticated, and the resolution is a genuine surprise.


The Rules of Backyard Cricket
Jock Serong
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Judges Comments

This is a personal, Australian tale of two brothers who grew up playing backyard cricket, often violently, against one another. This is a very timely tale given the real world of match fixing, and criminal interest in sport. 

Best First Fiction

Burn Patterns
Ron Elliott
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Judges Comments

A thoroughly enjoyable book with a pacy plot and creeping suspense. The interesting female firefighter-psychologist protagonist was a bold creative move for a male author—and it works. A great read.


Goodwood
Holly Throsby
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Judges Comments

Holly Throsby’s Goodwood is a richly observed book that examines the ebb and flow of a small country town while unraveling the mystery behind two missing people. Buoyed by the lyrical voice of the book’s teenaged narrator, this is nostalgic and quirky without being cloying.


Only Daughter
Anna Snoekstra
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Judges Comments

Anna Snoekstra delivers atmosphere in spades—this is a terrific book with a nicely worked-out plot. Only Daughter is what domestic suspense should be.  


Something for Nothing
Andy Muir
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Judges Comments

Underbelly screenwriter Andy Muir’s enjoyable tale of an abalone poacher delivers a good, solid story. Populating his story with colourful characters, and with a deft hand at atmospheric description, Muir has struck the right balance between tension and entertainment.


The Dry
Jane Harper
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Judges Comments

A nuanced, deftly plotted mystery set in the dry dust of a country town filled with secrets and long-held grudges, The Dry is fast-paced and filled with characters who are flawed and interesting. Harper’s debut is a compulsively readable book. 


The Love of a Bad Man
Laura Elizabeth Woollett
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Judges Comments

Steeped in a love you would never want to experience, this is a darkly original collection of short stories. With terrific atmosphere and well-chosen prose, Woollett takes history’s real bad boys and twists their women into harrowing, fictional accounts of obsessive relationships. 

True Crime

Code of Silence
Colin Dillon with Tom Gilling
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Judges Comments

Colin Dillon is an extraordinary man. He rose to the ranks of the first Indigenous police inspector in the Queensland police force—but that is actually a very small part of his story. When the call was put out for honest police to come forward and tell the Fitzgerald Inquiry about corruption, Colin Dillon made a choice. He would lift the lid on corruption in the Licencing Branch that he had witnessed for years. Dillon’s voice is extraordinary; calm and considered, he relates his navigation of the troubled waters in Queensland policing post-Fitzgerald. Behind his dignified narrative is the price an honest man paid for his decision to break the code of silence.


Denny Day
Terry Smyth
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Judges Comments

An extremely engaging memoir of largely unknown, important figure in our nation’s history, Denny Day provides an important counter-point to the prevailing belief of lack of care and concern for Aboriginal peoples in the early days of the colony of New South Wales, clearly showing that the rule of law was a vital element in many early white community leaders lives.


Getting Away with Murder
Duncan McNab
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Judges Comments

Former NSW Police member McNab opens the casebook on up to 80 murders of gay men in this period, 30 of them still unsolved, in an engaging and non-sensationalist way, tying these crimes together and painting a chilling picture of the ingrained culture of homophobic violence.


Murder at Myall Creek
Mark Tedeschi
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Judges Comments

One of two books in this year’s true crime category on the Myall Creek massacre in 1838, Tedeschi’s professional background as a QC and expert in Australia’s legal history offers a clear-headed, accessible presentation of the trial and its personalities with plenty of historical background and explanation of the law at that time. 


Roger Rogerson
Duncan McNab
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Judges Comments

Duncan McNab’s investigative analysis of the life, career and jailing of ex-police detective Roger Rogerson is a fair and measured undertaking, written around the trial that saw Rogerson and an associate found guilty of murder. A very readable book about a notorious man.


The Drowned Man
Brendan James Murray
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Judges Comments

After a chance encounter outside a fish and chip shop with a sailor from the HMAS Australia, the old man dropped a bombshell: a sailor was murdered and the death was ruled an accident, setting Murray on a long search for the truth. Painstaking research and interviews make for a fascinating read.