Emma Viskic has picked up three Sisters in Crime Australia Davitt Awards for her debut novel Resurrection Bay. The Davitt Awards are named after Ellen Davitt, who brought the mystery genre to Australia with her 1865 novel Force and Fraud. Viskic is the first author in the award’s 16-year history to score the trifecta of Best Adult Novel, Best Debut Book, and the Readers’ Choice Award, which is voted by the 600 members of Sisters in Crime Australia. Resurrection Bay follows Caleb, who has been deaf since childhood, his 57-year-old ex cop friend, Frankie, and Caleb’s Koori ex-wife. The action kicks off when Caleb’s childhood friend, Gary, is murdered.
Davitt Award judge Jacqui Horwood told Good Reading, ‘The book’s appeal, I think, lies with the creation of Caleb. He is a unique character – one with a disability who we are never asked to pity or patronise. The book demonstrates that society is what can be disabling, rather than a person’s attribute. Caleb is flawed, loyal and resourceful. The book also has strong female and Aboriginal characters who are funny, political and community-minded.’
Liane Moriarty presented Viskic, who is currently working on a sequel to Resurrection Bay, with her awards.
Viskic shared the Best Debut novel prize with Fleur Ferris, whose novel Risk also won the Davitt for Best YA Novel. Ferris has worked as a police officer and paramedic, and her winning novel is about an online predator. Other winning novels included R A Spratt’s Friday Barnes 2: Under Suspicion for Best Children’s Book and Wild Man by Alecia Simmonds for Best Non-Fiction. Wild Man is a true crime story that unravels the bizarre police shooting of a man who attacked a crowd of punters with a crossbow at a festival called the School of Happiness.
On top of the Davitt Awards hat-trick, Resurrection Bay has also taken out the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction. Rock star turned crime writer Dave Warner was awarded Best Fiction category for his outback thriller Before it Breaks. Read our profile on Dave here.
Jacqui Horwood says that Aussie crime is expanding in scope and success.
‘Crime writing in Australia has broadened so much that the old hard-boiled vs. cosies dichotomy really doesn’t exist anymore. Books are set all over Australia – well beyond Melbourne and Sydney – and all over the world. Lead characters can still be private investigators and police officers but they can also be artists, serial killers, forensic specialists and pastry chefs. Crime crosses genres and there’s been a huge growth in ‘crimance’ (crime/romance) and great books that cross into the speculative fiction, urban fiction and fantasy areas.’