Monday 12 November 2018

The Rise and Rise of Aussie-Based Thrillers

by Tory Hayward

Its fair to say that one of the few areas in which Australian cultural cringe has been quietly thriving is the genre of Aussie-based suspense, mystery, crime and thrillers. It's always felt a bit daggy somehow. A bit try-hard.

Australian romance, especially rural romance is a different matter entirely. Loved to the level of iconicism, these stories are enduringly popular. Australian horror is similar. But when it comes to police investigations, conspiracy, murder and elite agents... aside from a couple of stand out authors, well, its just never taken off as a genre.

This has always bemused me somewhat. Its always seemed that Australia would be a perfect base for this kind of story. While we may be a small nation, culturally we have everything required for a 'westernised' thriller, but with the added interest of being Asia-Pacific based, with a tyrannical environment that can add isolation and complication at every turn. In a genre heaving with US and UK based FBI / CIA / NCIS / MI6 etc etc stories there is so much freshness to be found in Australia as a location.

So thank goodness Aussie based thrillers are starting to follow their romance and horror based cousins out of the doldrums and into the spotlight.

This slow growing popularity reached a tipping point in 2016 with the novel The Dry, by Jane Harper, and the hugely successful Canberra based tv mini-series The Code. Since then there has been a dignified but persistent scramble by publishers to acquire Aussie based crime and thrillers.

Scrublands by Chris Hammer, The Nowhere Child by Christian White, Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra, The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey, and Crimson Lake by Candice Fox followed on the heels of The Dry. Award winning and hugely popular, these novels have all started to define the genre and in doing so have piqued the interest of scriptwriters globally.

I, for one, am excited to see what local writers produce over the coming years (decades?!), and to watch them take ownership on the worldwide stage.

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Take care


  1. It's good to see Australian authors doing well in all genres. It just reminds us about the peaks and waves of popularity and how quickly they change and then change again.

  2. Great post, Tory! I'd never actually considered this, so it's a thought-provoking post! Cassandra is also right about the peaks and waves of popularity.

  3. I love Aussie based thrillers, and love it when they toss a bit of romance in - Bronwyn Parry is superb at this. I'm reading 'The Lost Man' by Jane Harper at the moment and finding it tough but compelling.

  4. Australia has so much to offer when it comes to story settings. Especially in thrillers and suspense. And authors like Jane Harper and Bronwyn Parry bring the settings to life. Loving their books.

  5. Scrublands and The Dry were very enjoyable reads for me. I also love Bronwyn Parry's books. Long may the Aussie thriller reign!


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