Irish-Australian writer Adrian McKinty has won his second Ned Kelly Award for Best Crime Fiction with his intriguingly titled novel, Police at The Station and They Don't Look Friendly.
Number six of his celebrated Sean Duffy series, the story is set during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, and impressed the competition judges for being 'lyrical and tender, laugh-out-loud funny, and heart-stoppingly suspenseful.'
It is the second major award in six months for McKinty, who earlier this year won Best Paperback Original at America's prestigious Edgar awards for his previous novel Rain Dogs.
McKinty collected his award on Friday night in Melbourne at the 22nd Ned Kelly Awards, run by the Australian Crime Writers Association to celebrate the best in fiction and non-fiction crime writing. He told the crowd, 'We're very lucky in Australia to have one of the most talented, most diverse, smartest and funniest crime fiction communities in the world. And to be recognised by my peers like this is an absolutely huge honour.'
Another big winner on the night was Melbourne journalist and writer Jane Harper, whose celebrated debut, The Dry picked up the Ned Kelly Award for best First Fiction. The Dry has been a publishing sensation since being released in May 2016, being Book of the Year and best debut fiction title at Australia's 2017 Indie Book Awards and a multiple prize-winner at the Australian Book Industry Association awards. As well as being sold into more than 20 territories, The Dry has been optioned for a film by Reese Witherspoon. On accepting the award Harper said 'I'm very grateful to the judges for recognising the novel in this way and it's truly an honour to follow in the footsteps of so many wonderful authors who have won this prize in the past. I have followed the Ned Kelly Awards for many years and thoroughly enjoyed books by previous winners, so for The Dry to now be named among them is very special.'
'Reminiscent of Wake in Fright's claustrophobic atmosphere, this terrific portrayal of a country town filled with drought, secrets and long held grudges is deftly plotted, pacey and compulsively readable,' reported the judges.
The Ned Kelly Award for Best True Crime was shared by two titles:
Getting Away with Murder by Duncan McNab and The Drowned Man by Brendan James Murray. Both books have a common theme, but are very different in style, looking at homophobic violence in the community and in the military.
Former policeman McNab opened the casebook on up to 80 murders of gay men in Sydney from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, 30 of which are still unsolved. 'With his comprehensive inside knowledge, he ties these crimes together and paints a chilling picture of an ingrained culture of gay bashing.' Murray's The Drowned Man begins with a chance encounter with an old soldier in a fish 'n' chip shop, and leads the author to investigate whether a gay man was secretly murdered on board HMAS Australia during World War II.
The S.D. Harvey Short Story winner, 'Rules to Live By' by Louise Bassett, will be published in the upcoming edition of the on-line arts magazine Kill Your Darlings.
The Australian Crime Writers Association honoured Peter Corris at the awards, acknowledging his outstanding contribution to the genre over the past 37 years and his retirement from writing in January when he published Win, Lose or Draw – featuring wise-cracking, laconic Sydney private eye, Cliff Hardy.
Fellow author Michael Robotham told the audience that Australian crime writers owed an enormous debt of gratitude to Peter Corris and to Cliff Hardy. 'We are standing on their shoulders. We are here because Peter Corris paved the way. He kicked down doors. He showed publishers that Australian readers wanted to read Australian stories.
Although we're sad to see him go, Peter should be incredibly proud of the prodigious body of work he has generated, thrilling readers but never taking them for granted, and inspiring a generation of writers. Thank you Peter Corris. Thank you Jean Bedford, your wonderful wife and editor. Thank you to your children and grandchildren, who have shared your life.'
The Ned Kelly Awards are Australia's oldest and most prestigious prizes for published crime fiction and true crime writing. First established in 1995, the list of previous winners includes Peter Temple, Shane Maloney, Gabrielle Lord, Garry Disher and Kerry Greenwood.