Sydney-based Michael Robotham won the British Gold Dagger award for his novel Life or Death.
Former journalist Mr Robotham defeated prominent writers including JK Rowling – writing as Robert Galbraith – and Stephen King for the honour.
Life or Death, his 10th novel, is the story of a prisoner who escapes shortly before he is due to be released.
Mr Robotham, who lives in Sydney, said he was grateful for the respect of his fellow writers.
“For all the fact that it’s lovely to have commercial success, to sell lots of books, to be able to be a full-time writer, something like the Dagger makes you feel you have the respect of your peers and you are part of a long tradition of very fine writers,” he said.
Mr Robotham said that many of the autobiographies he ghost-wrote while in Britain of “the great, the good and the less good” assisted him in his novel writing.
“I was very comfortable capturing the voice and making the characters live and breathe on the page and making them seem very real because I had written for so many real people over that 10-year period,” he was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald as saying.
One of his subjects was the imprisoned performer Rolf Harris who was jailed last year for 12 indecent assaults on four girls, one aged just seven or eight.
Mr Robotham said that he felt betrayed by Harris and “beat himself up enormously” about it.