McIlvanney wins 2014 NGAIO MARSH Award

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Liam McIlvanney’s WHERE DEAD ME GO has been awarded for the Ngaio Marsh award for the Best New Zealand Crime Novel.

After three years in the wilderness, hardboiled reporter Gerry Conway is back at his desk at the Glasgow Tribune. But three years is a long time on newspapers and things have changed – readers are dwindling, budgets are tightening, and the Trib’s once rigorous standards are slipping. Once the paper’s star reporter, Conway now plays second fiddle to his former protege, crime reporter Martin Moir. But when Moir goes AWOL as a big story breaks, Conway is dispatched to cover a gangland shooting. And when Moir’s body turns up in a flooded quarry, Conway is drawn deeper into the city’s criminal underworld as he looks for the truth about his colleague’s death. Braving the hostility of gangsters, ambitious politicians and his own newspaper bosses, Conway discovers he still has what it takes to break a big story. But this is a story not everyone wants to hear as the city prepares to host the Commonwealth Games and the country gears up for a make-or-break referendum on independence. In this, the second book in the Conway Trilogy, McIlvanney explores the murky interface of crime and politics in the new Scotland.

Others on the short list:
JOE VICTIM by Paul Cleave
FREDERICK’S COAT by Alan Duff
MY BROTHER’S KEEPER by Donna Malane

The judging panel, consisting of crime fiction experts from New Zealand, Australia, and the United States, called WHERE THE DEAD MEN GO “a thought-provoking novel with very real characters and a fascinating, complex plot”. McIlvanney puts a lot into this book: the state of the news media, what it takes to be a good reporter, politics, family life, and even a New Zealand connection, said one judge. “Excellent writing makes it all fit together very nicely indeed.” Conway was described by the judges as “an unlikely hero perhaps, as the mainstream media around the world are going down the gurgler… he keeps digging away like a real reporter should, even when his bosses are less than supportive.”

The Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel, established in 2010, is named for Dame Ngaio Marsh, who is renowned worldwide as one of the four Queens of Crime of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Dame Ngaio published 32 novels featuring Inspector Roderick Alleyn between 1934 and her death in 1982. With sales in the millions, and her books still in print to this day, Dame Ngaio is one of New Zealand’s most successful authors in history. Dame Ngaio’s closest living relative, John Dacres-Manning, gave his blessing for the New Zealand crime writing award to be named in her honour, saying that “I know that Dame Ngaio would be so proud… to know that her name is associated with the award”.

In addition to the award itself, McIlvanney wins a set of Dame Ngaio’s novels, courtesy of HarperCollins, and a cheque for $1,000 from the Christchurch Writers’ Festival Trust.