Wednesday, 23 May 2018 19:13

The Ngaio Marsh Awards have celebrated the best New Zealand crime, mystery, thriller, and suspense writing since 2010, and are judged by a panel of crime-, thriller-, and suspense-writing experts from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

The finalists will be announced in July, along with the finalists for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel. The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced as part of a special event at the WORD Christchurch Festival, held from August 29 to September 2, 2018.

“We shattered our record for entries in the Ngaio Marsh Awards this year, with 69 different books entered across our two fiction categories,” says founder and Mystery Scene contributor Craig Sisterson. “Along with a surge in first-time Kiwi authors choosing to write tales of crime, mystery, and suspense—more than 50 new voices in the past three years—it’s been great to see more experienced local authors veering to the darker side as well as past crime writers returning to the fold.”

2018 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel Long List

Marlborough Man, by Alan Carter (Fremantle Press)
Baby, by Annaleese Jochems (VUP)
See You in September, by Charity Norman (Allen & Unwin)
The Lost Taonga, by Edmund Bohan (Lucano)
The Easter Make Believers, by Finn Bell
The Only Secret Left to Keep, by Katherine Hayton
Tess, by Kirsten McDougall (VUP)
The Sound of Her Voice, by Nathan Blackwell (Mary Egan Publishing)
A Killer Harvest, by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press)
The Hidden Room, by Stella Duffy (Virago)

Congratulations to all the worthy contenders! And stay tuned for the finalists announcement in July.

Ngaio Marsh Award Long List Announced
Sunday, 20 May 2018 15:54

Politics makes strange bedfellows—a saying that has never been more true than in the current arena.

But politics mainly stays out of the mystery genre.

While political thrillers abound, most of the time the authors are very careful about not taking sides.

Often a political thriller will not say which political party a character represents. And if the author does use that character to take a stand, sometimes it is done in a way that both sides think that they are being represented.

I think that is because crime fiction rises above so many things. Crime fiction—mysteries, whatever label you want to use—has always been more about the social issues of the day, about making us think about who we are as a society. These novels challenge us to look beyond the plot and see what lies beneath.

So I am very interested in an upcoming short story collection Low Down Dirty Vote and how these authors handle politics. The dozen authors have penned short stories related to voter suppression, including Anthony, Macavity, and Edgar winners such as Catriona McPherson, James Ziskin, David Hagerty (pictured), and Camille Minichino.

I think they will do an excellent job.

I haven’t read the collection yet, but knowing these authors’ works, I think they will challenge the reader without giving away their own views. Low Down Dirty Vote comes out July 4—how appropriate. Even more appropriate, 100 percent of the sales of this book is being donated to the ACLU to help fight voter suppression.

Low Down Dirty Vote also fits in well with the new direction short story collections are taking. I am loving that so many short story collections take a unique theme that the authors embrace with aplomb.

Some of my favorite collections though the years are:

Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns edited by Eric Beetner (Down & Out Books);

Crime + Music: Twenty Stories of Music-Themed Noir (Three Rooms Press);

In Sunlight or in Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper edited by Lawrence Block (Pegasus Books);

The publisher Akashic’s noir collection features short stories set in different cities or regions such as Chicago, Miami, Puerto Rico, San Francisco, the list goes one.

Mystery Writers of America does a terrific collection each year with a different theme.

The annual Bouchercon mystery conference also publishes a short story collection with proceeds going to a nonprofit.

As for a vintage collection, I recommend The Archer Files, The Complete Short Stories of Lew Archer, Private Investigator by Ross Macdonald.

A Vote for Everyone
Oline H. Cogdill
Tuesday, 08 May 2018 12:24

Key West, Florida, isn’t just for winter visitors. It also has a thriving mystery conference each June.

Ace Atkins, the author of 21 novels, will be the guest of honor with other mystery writers and true-crime experts at the 5th Annual Mystery Fest Key West, set for June 22-24 in Key West.

The award-winning Atkins writes the Quinn Colson series as well as continuing the late Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels.

Atkins will be joined by authors Heather Graham, Lisa Black, Nancy J. Cohen, Diane A.S. Stuckart, Alyssa Maxwell, and Charles Todd, among others.

In addition to panels and presentations, the 2018 Fest will include professional publishing and marketing discussions, a mini Conch Train tour, and the annual presentation of the 2018 Whodunit Mystery Writing Competition and Award.

All panels and presentations will take place at the DoubleTree Resort in Key West. Event registration is $195 and includes all panels and presentations, a luncheon, and a brunch at Key West’s historic seaport. For a full Fest schedule, online registration, and links to accommodations visit

Ace Atkins in Key West
Oline H. Cogdill