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Poker, poverty, and the power of storytelling: 2023 Ngaio Marsh Award longlist revealed


A poker-playing sleuth, a poet’s gritty take on life on Aotearoa’s poverty line, a rural mystery entwined with heart-wrenching exploration of dementia, and the long-awaited return of a master of neo-noir are among the diverse tales named today on the longlist for the 2023 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel.


Now in their fourteenth season, the Ngaio Marsh Awards celebrate excellence in New Zealand crime, mystery, and thriller writing. They are named for Dame Ngaio Marsh, one of the Queens of Crime of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, who penned bestselling mysteries that entertained millions of global readers from her home in the Cashmere Hills.


“I’d like to think Dame Ngaio would be proud of how our modern Kiwi storytellers are continuing her literary legacy, bringing fresh perspectives and a cool mix of fascinating tales to one of the world’s most popular storytelling forms,” says awards founder Craig Sisterson. “In recent years we seem to be going through our own golden age, with our local writers offering a treasure trove of terrific stories for readers at home and all over the world.”


The longlist for the 2023 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel includes a mix of past winners and finalists, several first-time entrants and new voices, and the long-awaited return of one of the leading lights of the early 2000s New Zealand literary scene.


“In crime and thriller writing it’s natural for authors to make it really tough on their characters,” says Sisterson, “but our entrants made it tough on our judges too. This year’s longlist is a wonderful showcase of Kiwi creativity, with a great range of stories that explore some deep and very important issues in among the page-turning intrigue and thrills.”


The Ngaio Marsh Awards have celebrated the best New Zealand crime, mystery, thriller, and suspense writing since 2010.


The longlist for this year’s Best Novel prize is:

• TOO FAR FROM ANTIBES by Bede Scott (Penguin SEA)

• EXIT .45 by Ben Sanders (Allen & Unwin)

• REMEMBER ME by Charity Norman (Allen & Unwin)

• BLUE HOTEL by Chad Taylor (Brio Books)

• POOR PEOPLE WITH MONEY by Dominic Hoey (Penguin)

• THE DARKEST SIN by DV Bishop (Macmillan)

• THE DOCTOR’S WIFE by Fiona Sussman (Bateman Books)

• MIRACLE by Jennifer Lane

• BETTER THE BLOOD by Michael Bennett (Simon & Schuster)

• IN HER BLOOD by Nikki Crutchley (HarperCollins)

• THE PAIN TOURIST by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press)

• BLOOD MATTERS by Renée (The Cuba Press)

• THE SLOW ROLL by Simon Lendrum (Upstart Press)

• PAPER CAGE by Tom Baragwanath (Text Publishing)


The longlist is currently being considered by an international judging panel of crime and thriller writing experts from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. Finalists for Best Novel, Best First Novel, and Best Non-Fiction will be announced in August, with the finalists celebrated and the winners announced as part of a special event held in association with WORD Christchurch later in the year.

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