CrimeFest’s Flashbang

Definition #1 n. A hand grenade that produces a very bright flash and a loud explosion, but no shrapnel and minimal explosive force, to disorient the target.

Definition #2 An original crime story in 150 words. A contest judged by international bestseller and gun-slinger,  Zoë Sharp.

Definition #3 Your chance to win a pair of weekend passes to CrimeFest and other fantastic prizes perfect for writers and crime fans.

Go here for details of how to enter and what you can win.

Court is in session

CrimeFest’s Flashbang 2015 has closed. Thanks to everyone who entered. We received exactly 100 stories, which our judges are now reading with relish. Entries came from far and wide, including Switzerland, Canada, Belgium and the USA. We will publish a longlist here on 7 April. The shortlist will be published on 21 April and final winners announced live at the Crime Writing Day on 15 May. Good luck to everyone involved.

Hanging by a Thread

Dolores Gordon-Smith has written nine crime novels, published by Severn Books. She has kindly given us permission to publish this story, which she was inspired to write after reading about the Flashbang contest.

Hanging By A Thread

After the Armistice, Steve plunged everything into the Fisherman’s Rest. A murder in the hotel would ruin him.

Judging by the state of the room, Henry Blewitt, Sir Ernest Blewitt’s twin brother, had disturbed a burglar who’d strangled him with the curtain cord.

Sir Ernest, rich , reclusive and crazy about spiritualism, wept. Unkind people said he talked to spirits because he bored the living to death. He was eccentric enough, Steve saw, to wear black laces with brown shoes.

“Henry!” he sobbed, pulling out a handkerchief.

A brown snapped shoelace fell to the floor.

Steve saw it and knew.

Sir Ernest was rich; Henry was poor. Easy for Henry to be Ernest. Easy for Henry to kill him and change clothes – but the shoelace snapped. Henry had used his own laces to tie his brother’s shoes.

You could say, thought Steve, Henry will be hanged by a thread.

Longlisted 2014

Chipping Away by Diane Simmons

It had taken four years. A gradual erosion. It started with a frown over his haircut, a shoe choice scoffed at, a book purchase mocked.

It took two years before their friends began to express concern about his well-being. It was another year before she sought advice from his parents, another three months after that before he relented and visited a doctor, two more months before he finally started taking his anti-depressants.

Sophie talked to anyone who’d listen about her husband’s depression, cried when there was someone there to see. She researched therapies, borrowed books from workmates, left the trail of a caring wife. When there was no one there to see, she carried on chipping away, confusing him with cuddles and derision.

When he was found dead from an overdose four years from her first frown, no one suspected it wasn’t suicide.

They’d all seen it coming.

Longlisted 2014

Close to Home by Keith B Walters

Comforting hands on shoulders.

Knowing looks said sorry without words.

Endless cups of tea.

DI George Haven had been here countless times.

Stepping outside to allow the grieving family some peace, he took a deep breath.

Another stabbed teenager, another pointless loss of life.

But this time he felt something else, deeper, somehow darker.

Peering through the garden shed window he saw a desk and a stack of notebooks. The boy’s mother was a writer, this was her office.

Haven noted the door was unlocked, went in and started through the notebooks, discovering not everything in them was fiction.

He read of the mother’s wish that she’d only had one child.

She’d never wanted twins.

Haven looked up.

Someone was at the window.

The surviving brother staring at him.

The boy’s eyes told him more than blood-soaked hands would have.

He loved his mother.

Would do anything for that love.


Longlisted 2014

What You See by Pete Waterhouse



Uploaded: 3 March 2014 by DoctorScalpel


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Uploaded 10 March 2014 by DoctorScalpel


Longlisted 2014

Escape Route by Debra Ramsdale

The results of the DNA evidence were on DCI Smith’s desk. He already knew what they were. Well, he would, wouldn’t he? But whoever put them there hadn’t made the connection. Common name, after all.

Local newspaper headlines of “Breakthrough in Sandiford Sex Monster Case” heralded a new phase in the investigation. Media frenzy about to begin.

But the last one had fought back. That hadn’t happened before. He had to explain the scratches on his face as the cat getting over playful. But his skin was under her nails.

His DNA was on the database from his days working in the Murder Squad.

He heard footsteps coming down the hall, echoing, getting closer.

He looked out above the skyline from the top floor.

The rain splattered window slid open silently for him.

He looked down; the police station car park was empty.

He was gone before the door opened.


Longlisted 2014

A Killer Sequel by Lu Greer

@BiggestFan I’m your biggest fan @AuthorX. Give me a shout out?

@BiggestFan Why no reply, @AuthorX?
@BiggestFan I’m going to your book signing tonight @AuthorX, I know you’ve got my messages. Please say hi. 

@BiggestFan Why did you act like you don’t know me @AuthorX? So others don’t get jealous?

@BiggestFan I haven’t heard from you in weeks, @AuthorX. Don’t make me get your attention the way I did last time.

@BiggestFan The first book only had one killing to copy. The second has eight. Do you want this on your conscience @AuthorX?

@AuthorX Sorry for the slow reply @BiggestFan, been busy writing a new book– a woman’s stalker pushes her too far one night.

@AuthorX@BiggestFan If you don’t get a chance to read it; she kills him and buries him in a field when he threatens to go on a killing spree. You’re going to love it.


Longlisted 2014

Inkblots by Susi Holliday

“Tell me what you see.”
“Circles. Dark. Cylinders maybe. Like the barrels of a gun…”
“A gun?”
“Yes, a shotgun. That’s exactly it. Smoke swirling out of the ends. It’s beautiful…” She pauses. “What do you think this means?”
“Probably not what you think.”
“Everyone thinks psychology is obvious, you know… red blotch: blood. Anything dark: bad. Blah blah. That’s not what Rorschach had in mind. It’s much more complex than that…”
“So this fugue. This breakdown. It’s got nothing to do with me shooting my husband last night?”
“Ah. Did you? Well I guess this changes things…”

Longlisted 2014

Secrets by Christine Laurenson

I cook when mum can’t; when dad hits her too hard. I made him curry tonight. He likes that. Then I gave mum her sleeping tablets. She didn’t feel like eating. Said it hurt to breathe. Think her ribs might be broken.

It’s swimming club tonight, so I’ll get away for a couple of hours. They don’t need me and I don’t want to stay here. I sneak out, so Dad can’t stop me, or talk to me, or touch me again… Our secret, he said, when I cried. But I told Aunt May, mum’s sister. She understands.

I drop the jar in the bin outside the corner shop. Aunt May is a good cook. She told me that you can make cheap curry sauce taste so much better with a dollop of peanut butter. I’m only eight. Way too young to understand about Dad’s nut allergy. Aunt May says.

Results 2014

The winners of CrimeFest’s Flashbang 2014 contest were announced live at Crimefest on 16 May 2014. We were delighted that two of the three winners were able to receive the news of their success at the end of the Crime Writing Day which formed part of their prize. The full results are published below. Thanks to everyone who entered, congratulations to the winners and runners-up, and to all those who made the shortlist, and the longlist. You can read every one of these stories by clicking on its title below.

1st Prize

A Bridge Too Far by Kevlin Henney

2nd Prize

Double Whammy by Charlotte Sing

3rd Prize

A Sawn-Off Shotgun Wedding by Barbara Weeks


Serial Dating by John O’Connor

Zero Tolerance by Simon Jenner


Secrets by Christine Laurenson

Inkblots by Susi Holliday

Serial Dating by John O’Connor

A Killer Sequel by Lu Greer

Zero Tolerance by Simon Jenner

What You See by Pete Waterhouse

Double Whammy by Charlotte Sing

Chipping Away by Diane Simmons

A Bridge Too Far by Kevlin Henney

Close to Home by Keith B Walters

Escape Route by Debra Ramsdale

A Sawn-off Shotgun Wedding by Barbara Weeks

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