With its growing, multi-cultural cities, dusty Outback and prison colony heritage, Australia provides a rich setting for crime fiction. All kinds of talented authors have been nurtured there and each year the country celebrates the best with its Ned Kelly Awards. Here, as part of New Talent November, let’s take a look at five of the best books by up-and-coming Australian authors. Maybe you’ll be tempted to put one or more of them on your TBR list…
The Cartographer by Peter Twohig
The Cartographer took out best first fiction at our Ned Kelly Awards for crime fiction this year. Set in Melbourne in 1951, it centres on a nameless 11-year old boy who flees to the city’s sewers after witnessing a violent crime. The child who narrates the story deals with the trauma of what he’s experienced by drawing on the superhero images he consumes in comics, and on radio and television. The Cartographer is Twohig’s ode to the popular culture influences of his youth and the working class suburb of Richmond in the fifties in which he grew up.
Dark City Blue by Luke Preston
Momentum, Pan Macmillan’s digital only imprint, is a dose of welcome sanity in a country where publishers think selling an ebook for $20 is going to fly. It’s great to see an unashamedly hardboiled crime novel set in my hometown, Melbourne. Dark City Blue was described by one reviewer as ‘noir on No-Doz’. It’s a tale involving a $15 million heist and one good cop, Bishop, going up against a lot of corrupt ones. Preston is a screenwriter by trade and it shows. Minimal words, lots of action. This won’t be the last we’ve heard of Bishop, or Luke Preston.
Buy now on Amazon
Pig Boy by JC Burke
This book has been on my must-read list for a while now. Damon Syles is a bullied young man living in a small rural town. After he is expelled from school on his 18th birthday, he wants to learn how to shoot a rifle and takes a job with Miro, a Bosnian Serb pig shooter with secrets of his own. Her first book was an award winning YA novel, The Story of Tom Brenna. Pig Boy won Burke the gong for best crime novel in this year’s 2012 Ned Kelly Awards. In her acceptance speech on the night Bourke told how, as part of her research, she learnt how to butcher a pig. That’s what I call dedication to the craft of writing.
The Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood
The Couriers’ New Bicycle was one of several cross-genre crime novels released in Australia this year. The story has a distinctly dystopian vibe, covering 20 days in the life of Salisbury Forth, a transgender, amateur PI and courier of contraband hormones in a futuristic Melbourne. Salisbury’s boss wants to know who is competing with him and damaging his business by selling tainted drugs. This is by all accounts a beautifully written story with a totally original spin on the city it is set in.
Buy now on Amazon
The Midnight Promise by Zane Lovett
Lovett is an award-winning short story writer, so it should be no surprise that his debut novel is a collection of 10 interwoven hardboiled crime stories featuring the character of John Dorn. Unmarried and lonely, Dorn scratches together a living as a private inquiry agent, solving the puzzles and dealing with the human dramas that take place on the fringes of society. Criminals, new migrants, losers, con men – they all feature in Dorn’s cases. Ten wonderfully written stories by an author to watch.
Buy now on Amazon
*le sigh* Can’t get most of these in the states…:( The Courier’s New Bicycle is available though, so that’s certainly a plus!