Allen & Unwin has scooped Sisters in Crime Australia’s 10th Davitt
Awards for best Australian women’s crime writing presented tonight, as part of
the Melbourne Writers’ Festival.
Allen & Unwin books took out all four awards. Sharp Shooter, the debut
novel by Brisbane-based,
Perth-born writer Marianne Delacourt received the Davitt (Adult Fiction); Justine
Larbalestier won the Davitt (Children’s & Young Adult Fiction
) for Liar; Sydney journalists Candace Sutton
and Ellen Connolly shared the Davitt (True Crime) for Lady Killer while prolific Melbourne
author, Kerry Greenwood was awarded the Davit’s (Readers’ Choice), as voted by
the 500 members of Sisters in Crime, for Forbidden Fruit.
This year 40 crime books competed for the Davitt Awards which were set up by Sisters in Crime in 2001 to
celebrate the achievements of Australian women crime writers. Tartan Noir
crime ‘queen’ Val McDermid presented the awards before a crowd of 140 at
the Celtic Club. For the fourth year running, the awards were sponsored by the
Sisters in Crime spokesperson, Tanya King Carmichael, said that the judges this year
were particularly impressed by the children’s and young adult crime
“Not only were there a high number of children’s and young adult crime novels (10)
this year, but the judges were bowled over by their high calibre. We were
relieved to see more kick-ass female characters this year, and overall, the
plots were tight, complex and original.
“Storylines ranged from the high-tech to the supernatural to romantic to whimsical. It’s
also terrific to see the next generation of young PIs, often in teams of boys
and girls,” she said.
King-Carmichael said that the once again the adult fiction was wide-ranging, with police
procedurals based in Australia and the United States, medical thrillers,
romance-crime novels, tales from after the apocalypse and from the future, books
with supernatural flavour and of course, the ubiquitous private eye story.
“True crime as a sub-genre is even wider-ranging, and its popularity never
diminishing,” she said. “There can be the tendency for some true crime to be
sensational, and run the risk of potentially entering the realms of voyeurism
and exploitation, or at the other end, to end up being newspaper copy. Sisters
in Crime readers demand a more discerning, challenging read, and thankfully they
can find it among the ten contenders for the Davitt (True Crime) award this
King-Carmichael said with Sharp Shooter, the adult fiction award winner, it
was hard to avoid comparisons with the Janet Evanovich
“It even says so on the cover – but we welcome her feisty Tara Sharp and the comedy crime caper novel to Australia with open arms, especially
when it is done so well. Delacourt is a refreshing new and young voice among
this year’s offerings, whose aura-reading PI makes her presence felt. It was
also an invigorating change to have a PI novel set in Perth, which was brought
to life so strongly in Sharp
Shooter,” she said.
Delacourt, who lived in Perth until she was 25, also
writes the multi-award winning Parrish Plessis and Sentients of Orion
speculative fiction series under the name of Marianne de Pierres. Sharp Turn, the second in the Tara Sharp
series, will be out soon.
King-Carmichael praised Candace Sutton and Ellen Connolly for their well-researched account of the decade
between the crime and conviction of Bruce Burrell in Lady Killer:: How Conman Bruce Burrell
Kidnapped and Killed Rich Women for Their Money.
“Sutton and Connelly are enormously respectful of the victims’ families and paint a very real, poignant picture of
their suffering after their loved ones disappear. The narrative provides
excellent information about each of the main characters, with interesting and
“While it is difficult to call this challenging genre ‘enjoyable’, Lady
Killer is very readable and a real page-turner. The judges found it
refreshing that the authors did not attempt to insert themselves into the
Sutton and Connolly followed the case from the beginning. Connolly is the author of true crime thriller, The
Needle in the Heart Murder (for Allen & Unwin). Connolly, previously
with The Sydney Morning Herald,
reporting on crime and courts, now works for The Sunday
King-Carmichael said that competition was fierce this year among the exciting and original batch of children’s and young adult crime novels.
“Justine Larbalestier’s Liar is aimed squarely at the older end of the market, and as such could easily be
picked up and devoured by the discriminating adult reader as well,” she
“This is a book which may not be to the tastes of all readers, but which grabs you by the jugular from the first
page and drags you headfirst into it. It is elegantly and skilfully structured,
told from the point of view of an unreliable main character whose lies and
truths have the reader questioning and re-questioning what they believe and what
they think they believe. This is an extraordinary novel.”
Larbalestier, who divides her life between Sydney and New York, was unable to receive her award in person, as she’s
currently in New York. She sent a message saying she was overjoyed to
be recognised as a crime writer as her book, while “very positively received”,
has been widely been interpreted as being a different genre entirely from the
one she intended it to be.
The judging panel comprised Dr Shelley Robertson (Sisters in Crime member, forensic pathologist), Rosi Tovey
(former owner of Chronicles Bookshop in St Kilda), Dr Sue Turnbull (Head of
Media Studies, La Trobe University, Sisters in Crime national co-convenor and
Sydney Morning Herald crime columnist), Jacqui Horwood and Tanya
King-Carmichael (both Sisters in Crime national
The awards are named after Ellen Davitt (1812-1879) who wrote Australia’s first mystery novel, Force and Fraud, in 1865.
Marianne Delacourt's acceptance speech: “This is the *most* wonderful moment for me and I’d like to celebrate it by thanking some important
“Firstly Val McDermid, whom it’s an honour and a pleasure to meet.
“My publishers Allen and Unwin for their enthusiasm. My editor, Louise Thurtell, indicated that she wanted to buy the book within three days of being
sent the manuscript. It turns out that Louise and I share a love of Monaros and
feisty females, so luckily for me Sharp
Shooter landed on the right desk. Louise has been incredibly patient and
supportive as I make the transition into becoming a crime
“I’d also like to thank my lovely agent, Tara Wynne, for encouraging me to write whatever-the-hell-it-is that I get excited about – and not pushing me into a literary pigeonhole.
“Next, I’d also like to thank Sisters in Crime who have welcomed a science fiction writer into their midst without a drop of blood being spilled,
most particularly Tara Moss, Lindy Cameron, Carmel Shute, and Mandy Wrangles.
I’m excited to be a member of their organisation.
“Lastly, my family in Brisbane who couldn’t be here tonight, especially Bono, Posy and Rosy (and the departed Brains), my pink and grey galahs, without whom Tara Sharp wouldn’t be half the woman she is.”
Sisters in Crime Australia