By Frances Atkinson
A BOOK that set out to give a voice to a woman killed by her husband won two awards last night at Sisters in Crime’s Davitt awards.
Karen Kissane, law and justice editor of The Age, won Best True Crime for her book Silent Death: The Killing of Julie Ramage, which also shared the Readers’ Choice award with Melbourne author Kerry Greenwood’s novel Devil’s Food.
Sydney Bauer’s Undertow won Best Adult Crime novel and Jaclyn Moriarty won Best Young Adult Crime novel for The Betrayal of Bindy Mackenzie.
In July 2003, mother-of-two Julie Ramage was strangled by her husband, James. He confessed to the murder but pleaded not guilty on grounds of provocation and was sentenced to 11 years for manslaughter.
At the Davitt awards ceremony at Melbourne’s Celtic Club, Kissane said she had found the case “fascinating in terms of what had happened inside this complicated, messy marriage”.
She said her book was “partly an attempt to give a voice to a woman who had been silenced forever. She was silenced physically by the husband who killed her, and silenced metaphorically, a second time, by the rules of evidence of a legal system that proved unable to provide her with justice.”
Sisters in Crime was formed at Melbourne’s Feminist Book Festival in September 1991 to promote women’s crime fiction.
This year’s awards attracted 38 books written by women. Bauer thanked organisers for their “unwavering, dedicated, enthusiastic support for female crime writers”.
Dr Sue Turnbull said the judges had come up with “the Connex test” to establish the success of the entries – “whether or not the book was engaging enough to distract the reader from the tedium of travel on Melbourne’s public transport system”.
First published in The Age.