Fiona Sussman became the first female author to win the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel, for The Last Time We Spoke, Booksellers New Zealand reported. The international judging panel praised the winning novel for being "laden with empathy and insight.... A challenging, emotional read, harrowing yet touching, this is brave and sophisticated storytelling."
Self-published e-book author Finn Bell won the Best First Novel category, for Dead Lemons. The judges called him "a wonderful new voice in crime writing" who "delivers a tense, compelling tale centered on an original, genuine, and vulnerable character."
Michael Bennett won the inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Nonfiction, for In Dark Places, which the judges called "a scintillating, expertly balanced account of one of the most grievous miscarriages of justice in New Zealand history."
Award founder Craig Sisterson commented: "Each of our winners this year is a remarkable storyteller who uses crime writing as a prism through which to explore broader human and societal issues. When we launched in 2010, we wanted to highlight excellence in local crime writing, beyond traditional ideas of puzzling whodunits or airport thrillers. Our 2017 winners emphasize that broader scope to the genre, and showcase the inventiveness and world-class quality of our local storytellers."