The Ngaio Marsh Award for best New Zealand crime novel was to have been presented in Christchurch on Sept. 10, but a magnitude-7.1 earthquake delayed things. But tonight, seismic conditions permitting, the inaugural honor will go to one of the following:
- Burial by Neil Cross (Simon & Schuster)
- Containment by Vanda Symon, (Penguin)
As recently as Bouchercon 2010 in October, participants were unsure of the who and the what. Then, on five weeks' notice, Nicol assembled a roster that included Antony Altbeker, Wessel Ebersohn, Richard Kunzmann, Sarah Lotz, Chris Marnewick, Deon Meyer, Sifiso Mzobe, Mike Nicol, Margie Orford, Martin Welz and Detectives Beyond Borders friends Jassy Mackenzie, Michael Sears, Roger Smith and Stanley Trollip — pretty damn close to a who's who of one of the world's most dynamic crime-fiction scenes. Hell, even Nicol's program notes make entertaining reading.
That was the country's first crime-fiction festival, and I hope they won't hold too many more without me. So, crime fans, even though the world may be going to hell, this is a week to rejoice at two signs of our favorite genre's vitality and widespread appeal.
© Peter Rozovsky 2010