Thomas, Paul

Thomas, Paul



In Brief

Paul Thomas is a novelist, scriptwriter, journalist and sports biographer. Thomas has also worked as an editor, public relations executive and a consultant. He is a prolific writer who has written numerous novels, select sports biographies and a collection of short stories. As a celebrated crime writer, Thomas is known for the comedic and satiric qualities of his books as well as his crisp realism. He is a regular columnist for the New Zealand Listener and the New Zealand Herald. Paul Thomas is based in the Wairarapa.


Thomas, Paul (1951- ) is a novelist, scriptwriter, journalist and sports biographer.

Thomas was born in Harrogate, Yorkshire. He was educated at the University of Auckland. Before turning to writing full-time Thomas worked as a journalist, editor, public relations executive and a consultant.

A prolific writer, Thomas’ novels include Dirty Laundry (also known as Old School Tie, 1994), Inside Dope (1995), Guerrilla Season (1996), Final Cut (1999), The Empty Bed (2002) and Sex Crimes (2003). Inside Dope was the winner of the Ned Kelly Award for Best Crime Novel 1996.

Although Thomas has been celebrated as a crime writer, he is characterized as ‘a writer of wild, blackly comedic thrillers’. Critics agree that much of what defines Thomas as a writer is his sense of the comic and the satiric. In Writing Gothic Matilda: The Amazing Visions of Australian Crime Fiction, Michael Pollack and Margaret MacNabb write about Thomas’ early novels: ‘These comic novels leave the reader laughing, that’s for sure. The sparkling dialogue, absurd situations and all the crackling one-liners are pure entertainment. But there is always the shadow of doubt falling over the page…After reading Paul Thomas… one never reads a newspaper or watches a television newscast with the quite the same degree of innocence again.’

With The Empty Bed (2002) Thomas’ writing shifts, becoming less funny and more ‘real’. Writing in the Evening Post Juliet Ashton argues that ‘Thomas doesn’t put a foot wrong in this bleakly brilliant depiction of a marriage unravelling… That makes the book sound very grim. But in fact it’s a compulsive and acerbic read.’ Crime Factory claims that with this novel ‘Thomas turns to a more classic style of crime writing’ whilst at the same time ‘there are elements of the psychological novel, now raised to an art form.’

In addition to his novels, Thomas’ short stories have appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Financial Review, Metro, The Eye, Australian Penthouse and The New Zealand Herald. He has also written the screenplay for the TV movie Ihaka: Blunt Instrument.

Best known as a fiction writer, Thomas began his writing career as a journalist and a collaborator on a number of sporting biographies including: Christmas in Rarotonga (with John Wright, 1990); Running on Instinct (with John Kirwan, 1992); Straight from the Hart (with John Hart, 1993); Change of Hart (with John Hart, 1997); and A Whole New Ball Game (2003).

Sex Crimes is a collection of blackly humorous stories which explore the unpredictable and sometimes fatal consequences that can result from the pursuit of sex. 'A master of plot, pace and the killer one-liner' Marele Day.

Paul Thomas participated in the 2004 Book Council WOW (Words on Wheels) tour of the deep South.

Work in Progress (2006) was published by Random House New Zealand.

Death on Demand was published in 2012 by Hachette New Zealand. Death on Demand is the long-awaited fourth book in the Ihaka series, which also includes Old School Tie, Inside Dope and Guerilla Season.

Death on Demand
was UK crime fiction guru Mike Ripley's crime novel of the year, and won the 2013 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel.

His novel Fallout (Upstart Press), part of the popular Ihaka series, was published in 2014 and was shortlisted for the 2015 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel.

Listen to Stephen Stratford, Stephanie Jones and Graham Beattie discuss the 2015 Ngaio Marsh Award For Best Crime Novel shortlist here.

Thomas is currently working on the sixth Ihaka novel. He regularly writes for the Listener and the New Zealand Herald.

Paul Thomas lives in Martinborough.

Last updated May 2016.

Updated January 2017.