Sydney Crime Fiction

Relatively little crime fiction based in Sydney was published before the Australian publishing boom of the 1980s. Exceptions included the 18 books by two sisters known as Margot Neville, starting in 1945, and the books by Pat Flower from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Murder of a Nymph

In the 1980s and 1990s three writers achieved prominence: Jon Cleary with his Scoby Malone series, Gabrielle Lord with a number of standalone books (later followed by two series), and Peter Corris with over 40 Cliff Hardy novels. A number of other writers came and went in that period without achieving more than passing recognition.

More recently Katherine Howell has done well with her series about detective Ella Marconi, although this is now concluded.


It is interesting that crime writers have made so little use of the drama involved in the massive changes Sydney has seen in recent years, as one of the fastest growing and most ethnically diverse of Western cities. Two exceptions are P.M.Newton (Beams Falling) and Michael Duffy (Drive By), whose novels about Vietnamese and Lebanese people respectively have attracted attention but whose sales have so far not broken out from behind the commercial barrier where most Australian crime fiction exists. It is probably fair to say that most readers still do not see the crime novel as having anything original to say about Sydney. This has been brought home by the major critical and commercial success of Peter Temple with his more recent books set in Melbourne.