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Winners

2017 joint winner y separately published work icon The Drowned Man : A True Story of Life, Death and Murder on HMAS Australia Brendan James Murray , Richmond : Echo Publishing , 2016 11580105 2016 single work biography

'A chance encounter in a fish-’n’-chip shop set Brendan Murray on the trail of a mystery. Had a gay man been secretly murdered on HMAS Australia during the Second World War?

'The veteran he spoke to was certain. ‘I knew about it,’ he said. ‘We all did.’

'But was the story true? If so, who was the dead man? And why was it so hard to find out?

'The Drowned Man is a search for the answer, almost stymied by cover-up and silence. In the end, it brings us to the lies that have shrouded our understanding of war, and especially of war at sea.

'As one of the survivors poignantly says, ‘I want to pass it on to the next generation. What it was like. What it was really like.’'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2016 winner y separately published work icon Certain Admissions : A Beach, A Body And A Lifetime Of Secrets Gideon Haigh , Australia : Penguin , 2015 9745069 2015 single work biography crime

'On a warm evening in December 1949, two young people met by chance under the clocks at Flinders Street railway station. They decided to have a night on the town. The next morning, one of them, twenty-year-old typist Beth Williams, was found dead on Albert Park Beach. When police arrested the other, Australia was transfixed: twenty-four-year-old John Bryan Kerr was a son of the establishment, a suave and handsome commercial radio star educated at Scotch College, and Harold Holt's next-door neighbour in Toorak.

'Police said he had confessed. Kerr denied it steadfastly. There were three dramatic trials attended by enormous crowds, a relentless public campaign proclaiming his innocence involving the first editorials against capital punishment in Australia. For more than a decade Kerr was a Pentridge celebrity, a poster boy for rehabilitation – a fame that burdened him the rest of his life. Then, shortly after his death, another man confessed to having murdered Williams. But could he be believed?'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2015 winner y separately published work icon This House of Grief Helen Garner , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2014 7674634 2014 single work non-fiction (taught in 3 units)

'Anyone can see the place where the children died. You take the Princes Highway past Geelong, and keep going west in the direction of Colac. Late in August 2006, soon after I had watched a magistrate commit Robert Farquharson to stand trial before a jury on three charges of murder, I headed out that way on a Sunday morning, across the great volcanic plain.

'On the evening of 4 September 2005, Father’s Day, Robert Farquharson, a separated husband, was driving his three sons home to their mother, Cindy, when his car left the road and plunged into a dam. The boys, aged ten, seven and two, drowned. Was this an act of revenge or a tragic accident? The court case became Helen Garner’s obsession. She followed it on its protracted course until the final verdict.

'In this utterly compelling book, Helen Garner tells the story of a man and his broken life. She presents the theatre of the courtroom with its actors and audience, all gathered for the purpose of bearing witness to the truth, players in the extraordinary and unpredictable drama of the quest for justice.

'This House of Grief is a heartbreaking and unputdownable book by one of Australia’s most admired writers.' (Publication summary)

2014 winner y separately published work icon Murder in Missisippi : The True Story of How I Met a White Supremacist, Befriended His Black Killer and Wrote this Book John Safran , Melbourne : Penguin , 2013 6453296 2013 single work biography

'When filming his TV series Race Relations, John Safran spent an uneasy couple of days with one of Mississippi's most notorious white supremacists. A year later, he heard that the man had been murdered – and what was more, the killer was black.

'At first the murder seemed a twist on the old Deep South race crimes. But then more news rolled in. Maybe it was a dispute over money, or most intriguingly, over sex. Could the infamous racist actually have been secretly gay, with a thing for black men? Did Safran have the last footage of him alive? Could this be the story of a lifetime? Seizing his Truman Capote moment, he jumped on a plane to cover the trial.

'Over six months, Safran got deeper and deeper into the South, becoming entwined in the lives of those connected with the murder – white separatists, black campaigners, lawyers, investigators, neighbours, even the killer himself. And the more he talked with them, the less simple the crime, and the world, seemed.

'Murder in Mississippi is a brilliantly innovative true-crime story. Taking us places only he can, Safran paints an engrossing, revealing portrait of a dead man, his murderer, the place they lived and the process of trying to find out the truth about anything.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2012 winner y separately published work icon Sins of the Father : The Untold Story Behind Schapelle Corby's Ill-Fated Drug Run Eamonn Duff , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2011 6698660 2011 single work biography

'A senior investigative journalist reveals the explosive results of his three year probe into Australia's most famous drug case. A reckless father, his dark past, an Adelaide drug trafficker and the Gold Coast beauty school dropout who kept her mouth shut. This is the explosive untold story of Schapelle Corby and how she took the rap for her father's drug syndicate.

The result of a three year investigation, Sins of the Father returns to the beginning of Australia's most famous drug case, to a time when nobody had ever heard the name Schapelle Corby. Finally, the missing pieces of the jigsaw fall into place as we are led, step by step, through the important weeks, days, and hours leading up to her dramatic arrest.

Shedding new light on her long-held claims of innocence, this is the book Schapelle's army of supporters do not want you to read.' (Publisher's blurb)

2009 winner y separately published work icon The Tall Man : Death and Life on Palm Island Chloe Hooper , Camberwell : Hamish Hamilton , 2008 Z1483259 2008 single work prose (taught in 11 units) In November 2004, in the small township of Palm Island in the far north of Queensland, Detective Hurley arrested Cameron Doomadgee for swearing at him. Doomadgee was drunk. A few hours later he died in a watch-house cell. According to the inquest, his liver was so badly damaged it was almost severed. (Source: Trove)
2005 joint winner y separately published work icon Mr Big : The True Story of Lennie McPherson and His Life of Crime Tony Reeves , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2005 Z1176240 2005 single work biography
2005 joint winner y separately published work icon Joe Cinque's Consolation Helen Garner , Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia , 2004 Z1132428 2004 single work prose (taught in 26 units)

'In October 1997 a clever young law student at ANU made a bizarre plan to murder her devoted boyfriend after a dinner party at their house. Some of the dinner guests - most of them university students - had heard rumours of the plan. Nobody warned Joe Cinque. He died one Sunday, in his own bed, of a massive dose of rohypnol and heroin. His girlfriend and her best friend were charged with murder. Helen Garner followed the trials in the ACT Supreme Court. Compassionate but unflinching, this is a book about how and why Joe Cinque died. It probes the gap between ethics and the law; examines the helplessness of the courts in the face of what we think of as 'evil'; and explores conscience, culpability, and the battered ideal of duty of care.' (Source: Pan Macmillan website)

Garner takes 'a deliberately subjective and "literary" approach' to her material with an 'emphasis on a sympatheitic authorial persona as the source of the reader's perspective' (Susan Lever 'The Crimes of the Past: Anna Funder's Stasiland and Helen Garner's Joe Cinque's Consolation'. Paper delivered at the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL) conference 2006).

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2004 winner y separately published work icon Killing Juanita : A True Story of Murder and Corruption Peter Rees , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2004 13652187 2004 single work biography

'On the morning of 4 July 1975, Juanita Nielsen, a wealthy heiress, Sydney newspaper publisher and anti-development campaigner went to appointment at a Kings Cross nightclub and simply disappeared. For over a quarter of a century, the Juanita Nielsen case has remained one of Australia's great unsolved murder mysteries.

Written with all the suspense and drama of the best crime fiction, Killing Juanita is the true story of that crime and of the characters involved: Loretta Crawford, drag queen and night club receptionist, the last person to see Nielsen alive; powerful businessman and property developer, Frank Theeman; his involvement with legendary Kings Cross figures James McCartney Anderson and Abe Saffron; and hired hands like Eddie Trigg for whom Juanita Nielsen's murder was no loss to society as all'.

It is also a story about greed, police corruption, dirty politics and cover-ups. From failed police investigation to reinvestigation more than two decades later, from coronial inquest to federal parliamentary inquiry, Killing Juanita is an unflinching examination of a crime that remains a shameful blot on the administration of justice. It finally puts to rest the mystery of Juanita Nielsen's disappearance.' (Source: Publisher's blurb)

2003 winner y separately published work icon Blood Stain Peter Lalor , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2002 Z1001011 2002 single work biography crime Biography of Katherine Knight who became the first Australian woman to be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for the horrific murder of her lover John Price.
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