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Best First Novel
Subcategory of Ned Kelly Awards for Crime Writing
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Winners

2018 winner y separately published work icon The Dark Lake Sarah Bailey , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2017 10894695 2017 single work novel thriller

'There were a few minutes when I was alone with her in the autopsy room. I felt wild. Absent. Before I could stop myself I was leaning close to her, telling her everything. The words draining out of me as she lay there. Her long damp hair hanging off the back of the steel table. Glassy eyes fixed blindly on the ceiling. She was still so beautiful, even in death.

'Our secrets circled madly around the bright white room that morning. Rocking back and forth on my heels as I stood next to her, I knew how far in I was again, how comprehensively her death could undo me. I looked at Rosalind Ryan properly for the last time before breathing deeply, readying myself, letting her pull me back into her world, and I sank down, further and further, until I was completely, utterly under.

'A beautiful young teacher has been murdered, her body found in the lake, strewn with red roses. Local policewoman Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock pushes to be assigned to the case, concealing the fact that she knew the murdered woman in high school years before.

'But that's not all Gemma's trying to hide. As the investigation digs deeper into the victim's past, other secrets threaten to come to light, secrets that were supposed to remain buried. The lake holds the key to solving the murder, but it also has the power to drag Gemma down into its dark depths.

'The Dark Lake is an addictive crime thriller, a mesmerising account of one woman's descent into deceit and madness, and a stunning debut that is already causing a stir around the world.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2017 winner y separately published work icon The Dry Jane Harper , Sydney : Macmillan Australia , 2016 9592721 2016 single work novel detective

'WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?

'Luke Hadler turns a gun on his wife and child, then himself. The farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily. If one of their own broke under the strain, well ...

'When Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is loath to confront the people who rejected him twenty years earlier. But when his investigative skills are called on, the facts of the Hadler case start to make him doubt this murder-suicide charge.

'And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, old wounds are reopened. For Falk and his childhood friend Luke shared a secret ... A secret Falk thought long-buried ... A secret which Luke's death starts to bring to the surface ...' (Publication summary)

2016 winner y separately published work icon Resurrection Bay Emma Viskic , South Melbourne : Echo Publishing , 2015 8683019 2015 single work novel crime

'Caleb Zelic, profoundly deaf since early childhood, has always lived on the outside - watching, picking up telltale signs people hide in a smile, a cough, a kiss. When a childhood friend is murdered, a sense of guilt and a determination to prove his own innocence sends Caleb on a hunt for the killer. But he can’t do it alone. Caleb and his troubled friend Frankie, an ex-cop, start with one clue: Scott, the last word the murder victim texted to Caleb. But Scott is always one step ahead.

'This gripping, original and fast-paced crime thriller is set between a big city and a small coastal town, Resurrection Bay, where Caleb is forced to confront painful memories. Caleb is a memorable protagonist who refuses to let his deafness limit his opportunities, or his participation in the investigation. But does his persistence border on stubbornness? And at what cost? As he delves deeper into the investigation Caleb uncovers unwelcome truths about his murdered friend – and himself.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2015 winner y separately published work icon Quota Jock Serong , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2014 7183328 2014 single work novel crime

"HIS HONOUR: Mr Jardim, withdraw that comment immediately.

MR JARDIM: Your Honour, I'm not withdrawing it because it's got nothing to do with the merits of this case, just as your small-minded treatment of my client has got nothing to do with the merits of the case. I mean, could you have cocked this thing up any worse? Bloody helpless kid and you know she's back out on the street now. You're known throughout the state as a heartless old prick and a drunk, and seeing I've gone this far, your daughter-in-law's appointment to the court is widely viewed as a grubby political payoff. Today's pretty much the lowest I've seen you stoop but it's been a rich field of excrem—

HIS HONOUR: Senior, will you have Mr Jardim removed?

Charlie Jardim has just trashed his legal career in a spectacular courtroom meltdown, and his girlfriend has finally left him. So when a charitable colleague slings him a prosecution brief that will take him to the remote coastal town of Dauphin, Charlie reluctantly agrees that the sea air might be good for him.

The case is a murder. The victim was involved in the illegal abalone trade and the even more illegal drug trade. And the witnesses aren't talking.

And as Dauphin closes ranks around him, Charlie is about to find his interest in the law powerfully reignited." (Publisher's blurb)

2014 winner y separately published work icon Hades Candice Fox , North Sydney : Random House , 2014 6867696 2014 single work novel thriller crime (taught in 1 units)

'A dark, compelling and original thriller that will have you spellbound from its atmospheric opening pages to its shocking climax. Hades is the debut of a stunning new talent in crime fiction.

'Hades Archer, the man they call the Lord of the Underworld, surrounds himself with the things others leave behind. Their trash becomes the twisted sculptures that line his junkyard. The bodies they want disposed of become his problem – for a fee.

'Then one night a man arrives on his doorstep, clutching a small bundle that he wants ‘lost'. And Hades makes a decision that will change everything...

'Twenty years later, homicide detective Frank Bennett feels like the luckiest man on the force when he meets his new partner, the dark and beautiful Eden Archer. But there's something strange about Eden and her brother, Eric. Something he can't quite put his finger on.

'When the two detectives are called to the scene of an attempted drowning, they find a traumatised victim telling a story that's hard to believe - until the divers start bringing up bodies.

'Frank is now on the hunt for a very different kind of serial killer: one who offers the sick and dying hope at murderous cost. At first, his partner's sharp instincts come in handy. Soon, he's wondering if she's as dangerous as the man they hunt.' (Publisher's blurb)

2012 winner y separately published work icon The Cartographer Peter Twohig , Sydney : Fourth Estate , 2012 Z1828478 2012 single work novel

'Set in Melbourne in the 1950s, a 11-year-old boy witnesses a murder when he is spying through a window of a strange house.

'In the following weeks he comes to map out all the significant adventures he has in the labyrinthine city, trying to make sure he doesn't cross the path of the murderer, who he believes wishes to silence and dispose of him. Comics and superheroes inform his strategies for avoiding the bogeyman, as does the memory of his twin brother, Tom, who recently died in a tragic accident.' (From the publisher's website.)

2011 winner y separately published work icon Prime Cut Alan Carter , Fremantle : Fremantle Press , 2011 Z1752572 2011 single work novel crime 'Meet Cato Kwong — disgraced cop and ex-poster boy for the police force. Banished to the stock squad after the fallout from a police frame-up, Cato is brought in from the cold to solve the case of a torso washed up on the wild shores of the Great Southern Ocean. But Cato faces powerful opposition when his investigation lifts the lid on the exploitation of migrant workers and disturbs an even darker criminal mind.' (From the publisher's website.)
2010 winner y separately published work icon King of the Cross Mark Dapin , Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia , 2009 Z1634315 2009 single work novel crime 'King of the Cross is a dazzling novel that explores the criminal world of Jacob Mendoza: legendary Godfather of Kings Cross and for more than four decades, Australia's most powerful and notorious crime figure. To record his epic life story he employs a hapless young reporter from the Australian Jewish Times. As Mendoza unfolds his seductive story of thugs and drugs, murders and mysteries, bikers, bent cops and girls, girls, girls, it emerges that he's not the only one with a past. And as the memoir takes shape, other more terrifying criminals are circling the kingdom that Mendoza built.' (From the publisher's website.)
2009 winner y separately published work icon Ghostlines The Ghostwriter Nick Gadd , Carlton North : Scribe , 2008 Z1515939 2008 single work novel crime thriller 'Philip Trudeau, a once-respected investigative journalist, has stepped on the wrong toes. With his personal life and health deteriorating around him, he is consigned to a suburban newspaper where he writes "filler" local news articles to be slotted in among the real-estate and restaurant advertisements. Sent to cover what appears to be a tragic-yet-routine death at a level crossing, Philip is drawn into a multilayered mystery that involves art theft, political intrigue and business corruption ... not to mention murder.' (Publisher's blurb)
2008 winner y separately published work icon The Low Road Chris Womersley , Carlton North : Scribe , 2007 Z1424551 2007 single work novel thriller

'A young petty criminal, Lee, wakes in a seedy motel to find a bullet in his side and a suitcase of stolen money next to him, with only the haziest memory of exactly how he got there. Soon he meets Wild, a morphine-addicted doctor who is escaping his own disastrous life. The two men form an unwilling, unlikely alliance and set out for the safety of a country estate owned by a former colleague of Wild's named Sherman.

'As they flee the city, they develop an uneasy intimacy, inevitably revisiting their pasts even as they desperately seek to evade them. Lee is haunted by a brief stint in jail, while Wild is on the run from the legacy of medical malpractice. But Lee and Wild are not alone: they are pursued through an increasingly alien and gothic landscape by the ageing gangster Josef, who must retrieve the stolen money and deal with Lee to ensure his own survival. By the time Josef finally catches up to them, all three men have been forced to confront the parts of themselves they sought to outrun.' (Publisher's blurb)

2007 winner y separately published work icon Diamond Dove Moonlight Downs Adrian Hyland , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2006 Z1286202 2006 single work novel crime Emily Tempest has been away from Central Australia for along time--uni, travel, dead-end jobs. Finding trouble all over the world. Now she's back at Moonlight Downs, the community where she grew up, half in the Aboriginal world, half in the white. And true to form, there's trouble. An old friend brutally murdered and mutilated. An old enemy the only suspect. Until Emily starts asking questions. (Backcover)
2006 winner y separately published work icon Out of the Silence : A Story of Love, Betrayal, Politics and Murder Wendy James , Milsons Point : Random House , 2005 Z1220342 2005 single work novel historical fiction
2005 winner y separately published work icon A Private Man Malcolm Knox , Milsons Point : Vintage Australia , 2004 Z1094497 2004 single work novel thriller
2004 joint winner y separately published work icon Junkie Pilgrim Wayne Grogan , Blackheath : Brandl and Schlesinger , 2003 Z1063346 2003 single work novel crime
2004 joint winner y separately published work icon The Walker Jane R. Goodall , Sydney : Hodder Headline , 2004 Z1108284 2004 single work novel crime thriller

Detect'ive Briony Williams is a rookie appointed to an all-male team investigating a bizarre murder at an anatomy college in Bloomsbury. Her superiors constantly make her feel left out. But a killer obsessed with following Jack the Ripper soon changes that. The killer is a practised anatomist with a theatrical streak. He arranges his victims bodies in cruel parodies of famous satirical engravings by Hogarth. As the summer and the swinging 60s wind to a terrible climax, this multi-layered thriller brings the startling and terrible strands of the story together. ' (Publication summary)

2003 winner y separately published work icon Blood Redemption Alex Palmer , Pymble : HarperCollins , 2002 Z976276 2002 single work novel crime
1997 joint winner y separately published work icon Bad Debts Peter Temple , Pymble : HarperCollins , 1996 Z191767 1996 single work novel crime

'When Jack Irish, criminal lawyer turned debt collector, receives a mysterious message from an ex-client, he is too immersed in his misery over Fitzroy's latest loss to take much notice. The next thing Jack knows, the ex-client is dead and he is drawn into a dangerous investigation.' (Publication summary)

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