Ned Kelly Awards 2012 shortlist revealed

The shortlist for Australia’s annual crime writing gongs, The Ned Kelly Awards, was released this week. While the big publishers usually dominate the Neddies, this year it’s a clean sweep – Allen and Unwin, Pan Macmillan, Harper Collins and Random House have carved up the shortlists. Make of that what you will in terms of the state of local crime writing.

The Neddies have three categories: Best First Fiction, Best Fiction and True Crime.

Reflecting a wider trend in publishing, this year’s shortlist for best first crime novel has a distinct dystopian/fantasy feel to it. When We Have Wings by Claire Corbett is a PI story set in a world where people have the ability to fly and genetic engineering is rampant. Kim Westward’s The Courier’s New Bicycle is the story of a bike courier who transports contraband through the alleys of a Melbourne set in the future. Word is it’s good and at the risk of being proven wrong I suspect it may be the one to watch.

The exception is The Cartographer by Peter Twohig, set in Melbourne in 1951 and dealing with a young boy who flees into the city’s sewers after witnessing a violent crime.

Best fiction is a three-way contest between Malcolm Knox’s The Life, JC Burke’s Pig Boy and Barry Maitland’s Chelsea Mansions. Knox’s book depicts a former world champion surfer looking back on his descent into drugs and debauchery. Pig Boy is a YA crime tale set in rural Australia. Maitland’s entry is the latest in the long running series featuring DI Kathy Kolla. I have not read it but people who have tell me it’s a surprisingly solid book given how long the series has been running.

I’m not even going to try and make a prediction on this one. Looking over the long list there’s a few surprising omissions in the best fiction category. Honey Brown’s After the Darkness, Katherine Howell’s Silent Fear and veteran Aussie crime writer Garry Disher’s Whispering Death, did solid business and were well reviewed but all missed out.

Sometimes I think I’m the only person in Australia who does not read true crime, as it’s huge Down Under. Liz Porter’s Cold Case Files: Past Crimes Solved by new Forensic Science is as the title suggests, a new look famous cold cases from the US, UK and Australia. Call Me Cruel by journalist Michael Duffy is a real-life story of murder and domestic violence in New South Wales.

Eamonn’s Duff’s Sins of the Father: The Untold Story Behind Schapelle Corby purports to be the behind the scenes skinny on the Gold Coast beauty school drop out who was busted and jailed for drug running in Bali. This sounds like the most interesting of the three and media hype around Corby could help push it over the line.

The Ned Kelly Awards take place on August 29. Visit the awards website here.

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  1. Bernadette Reply

    I don’t read true crime either Andrew…I don’t even watch it or things based on it like Underbeelly.I like my crime made up…the real stuff gives me nightmares 🙂

    As for the 2 fictional categories of the awards I am a little baffled by the choices but it’s hard to know if my bafflement is legitimate because there’s no selection criteria or anything ese provided to explain the judging process. Stil I’ve only read one of the 6 books in those categories – the Maitland – it was good but not one of my top 6 Australian crime fiction titles read last year. I honestly have very little interest in any of the others as sci-fi/fantasy is not my cup of tea and the Knox sounds dreadfully depressing.

    1. PulpCurry Reply

      Yes, I’m not a massive true crime fan either, although I think some of it is very good. I think you raise an interesting point. It’s hard to know how to respond to some of the shortlist picks because so little is known about how they are picked or who picks them.

  2. Jacqui Reply

    You’re right about the omissions but the lists are surprising in their breadth. I’ve read Kim Westwood’s book which I really liked. I’m no big spec fic reader but I loved her descriptions of an alternative Melbourne. Pig boy is a fantastic book too. I’ve just started When we had wings so can’t comment as yet.

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