15 Sep 2019

Top crime writing prize for Dame Fiona Kidman

4:20 pm on 15 September 2019

Writer Dame Fiona Kidman has won the best novel prize at this year's Ngaio Marsh Awards for New Zealand crime writing.

Fiona Kidman.

Dame Fiona Kidman's novel This Mortal Boy took out the top prize in this year's Ngaio Marsh Awards. Photo: Supplied / Robert Cross

The award winners were announced in Christchurch last night.

Dame Fiona won for This Mortal Boy, described as a haunting recreation of the circumstances surrounding the hanging of young Belfast immigrant, Albert "Paddy" Black.

She said she once read an article about another man who was present and had worried his entire life that he had not been able to give evidence in support of Black.

"I was 15 at the time so we were aware of the number of hangings that went on in Mt Eden at that particular time," Dame Fiona said.

"I thought 'well, this doesn't seem as black and white as we thought it was', so I just started digging around for casual curiosity."

She said she used to read a lot of crime fiction when she was young - and still does.

This Mortal Boy won the fiction prize at the New Zealand Book Awards in May and at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards earlier this year.

JP Pomare, who grew up near Rotorua and lives in Melbourne, won the Ngaio Marsh award for best first novel for Call Me Evie.

The work is a psychological thriller about a Melbourne teenager recovering from a traumatic incident in a remote cabin in Maketū.

(From left) Dame Fiona Kidman, Kelly Dennett and J P Pomare

Ngaio Marsh Awards winners - from left Dame Fiona Kidman, Kelly Dennett and J P Pomare. Photo: supplied

Major publishers have announced they will release Call Me Evie in North America and Britain.

Journalist Kelly Dennett's The Short Life And Mysterious Death of Jane Furlong won the prize for best non-fiction.

The late Dame Ngaio Marsh, who died in 1982, made the shortlist for the annual prize which is named after her.

Marsh's unfinished Inspector Alleyn mystery set during World War II, Money in the Morgue, was completed by Stella Duffy and was a finalist for best novel.

Other finalists included Liam McIlvanney for The Quaker, JP Pomare for Call Me Evie, and Jen Shieff for The Vanishing Act.

Andrea Jacka's One For Another and Kelly Lyndon's Crystal Reign were in the finals for the best first novel.

Finalists for the best non-fiction prize included Scott Bainbridge for The Great New Zealand Robbery, Anna Leask for Behind Bars, and Cynric Temple-Camp for The Cause Of Death.

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