One of the real pleasures I’ve enjoyed this year has been the opportunity to serve on the panel for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel. As New Zealand’s highest awards for crime fiction, the Ngaio Awards are prestigious, and I was privileged to be a part of it.
Because of that great experience, I’ve decided to share a bit about Ray Berard, winner of this year’s inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel and this year’s Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel. And I’m delighted to contribute this brief glimpse to the terrific New (to me, anyway) Authors meme, hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise. You’ll want that blog on your blog roll if you’re at all interested in crime fiction. It’s a great resource for reviews and news.
Originally from Canada, Berard took his degree from McGill University. Since he emigrated to New Zealand, he’s been a member of the New Zealand authors association, and now makes his home in Christchurch.
Inside the Black Horse, Berard’s first novel, was inspired by his experiences supervising TAB (Totalisator Agency
Board) off-course betting outlets for the New Zealand Racing Board. The focus of the action is The Black Horse, a small-town North Island pub that also offers TAB services. The pub is owned and run by a recently-widowed Māori, Toni Bourke, who has two children and doing her best to make a good life for them. One night, Pio Morgan robs the place. He’s desperate because he’s in heavy debt to the leader of a local gang, and his life is in danger if he doesn’t come up with the money. So he’s targeted The Black Horse. The robbery and the violence that come with it touch of a chain reaction of events that impact several people who are in the pub at the time. We see the consequences for Pio, Toni, Pio’s brother Kincaid ‘King,’ PI Brian Duncan, and others. We also see how their lives end up intersecting.
No word yet (at least I haven’t heard anything) on whether Berard will do a follow-up with some of these characters, but it would certainly be interesting if he does.
Want to know a bit more about Ray Berard? It’s right here.
Want to know more about Inside the Black Horse? Check it out here.
*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Split Enz’ I Got You.