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.

Runner-up 2016

Emma Bladen served up this slice of feline ferocity.

Good Fluffy

Peter Caldecott liked to torture cats, and Fluffy knew it.

So with great satisfaction Fluffy liked to sit on Peter’s rear windowsill and watch his every move through narrowed eyes.

Fluffy could see everything as she peered through the gap between Peter’s blinds.

Especially the day he strangled Jenni Nguyen, the council environment officer he’d lured to his home office for a friendly drink. Peter was a property developer, and Jenni had been about to discover he’d fiddled the test results on polluted land, to build a hospital.

Jenni struggled against her attacker’s hulking frame until she could fight no more, and her body stilled and began to bruise and stiffen.

Fluffy saw it all.

And so, as it happened, did Fluffy’s owner.

An astonished Sergeant Mick Murphy watched wide-eyed that afternoon at the footage beaming direct to his station computer from the tiny camera he’d hung on Fluffy’s collar.

Runner-up 2016

Amanda Quinn packed a punch in a handful of well-chosen words.

Weight of Evidence

‘My paperweight,’ says Gran, ‘from when I was at Turner’s.’

I’d heard her talk of Mr Turner before, of course. And what the others had said about her and him.

‘Did they ever find out what happened… your friend—’

‘A mystery,’ she says, holding it up to catch the light.

Third prize 2016

Third prize went to Ruth Gallogly for this twisted tale of wedded bliss.

Police Issue

There was a bright beam of light and my husband’s breath hissing out.

“Don’t move,” he said in his best police chief voice, as if I would, glass shattered around me, my robe soaking up the blood pooling by my bare feet.

“You okay?”

I nodded.

He bent down over the body, took in the scene as he would at any crime. His flashlight illuminated the glass embedded in the man’s throat before swinging up to the missing bulb. “You did this?”

Such disbelief. He always forgets I was the one who got him through police training.

“It shattered, when he grabbed me. I’d turned on the light but it went out when I came down.”

He reached out, lifted me over the body. “Come.  We need to call this in.”

I didn’t look back at my silenced lover as I climbed the basement stairs, my husband’s hand gripping mine.

Second prize 2016

Rebecca Stanley took second prize with her blade-sharp story of revenge.

Friends Reunited

You were bigger and stronger – more powerful than me in every way. Your chubby fingers dug into my skinny arm as you smiled on the outside. The teacher was so pleased you took me under your wing, she never noticed me suffocating. You told Josie I wasn’t her friend anymore and she believed you. By the end, I learned to laugh too when she cried and wet her pants. We never talk about Josie, do we?

Lots of water under the bridge since then of course; husbands, kids, ex-husbands, grandkids – the whole works.  Now here we sit: Alone, you and me; husbands gone; kids too busy to visit. Now it’s my turn. My turn to dig my nails into your flesh, my turn to speak for you because you can’t any longer. Now it’s your turn to wet your pants. Terrible things, these strokes. And look; here comes Josie.

Winning story 2016

First prize went to Graham Southorn for this old-fashioned tale of modern misdemeanours.

Smooth Criminal

With a dark grey striped pullover paired with a red and white neckerchief, slacks and brown suede loafers, few ex-cons have ever been better dressed. Cary Grant stared out of the framed photo, which took pride of place over Lucas Botto’s desk. Botto pondered the picture, a still from Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief. He’d enjoy being a cat burglar on the French Riviera, he thought. Clambering over rooftops might not be the safest way to earn a living but the glamour, scenery, and climate would compensate. If he was being honest, he could also use the exercise. Botto reached into a box of fried chicken for a nugget, dribbling barbecue sauce down his T-shirt as he bit into it. “This one’s for you, Cary,” he said, pressing Enter on a computer keyboard. His software sprang into action, silently harvesting thousands of credit card numbers from the internet.

Shortlist 2016

Here, in no specific order, is our shortlist. Many congratulations to all who made it through. Winners will be picked by Zoe Sharp and announced live at CrimeFest’s Crime Writing Day on 20 May. Good luck.

Police Issue

Smooth Criminal

Good Fluffy

Weight of Evidence

Friends Reunited

Longlist 2016

Here, in no specific order, is our longlist. Many thanks to all who entered and congratulations to everyone who made it through. Shortlist will be up on or by 22 April. Good luck.

 

Police Issue

Death Row Express

Sussed

Smooth Criminal

Good Fluffy

Weight of Evidence

Lightweight

Samson

Friends Reunited

Psychology

Baby Face

Lonely Hearts

 

Court is in session

CrimeFest’s Flashbang 2016 has closed. Thanks to everyone who entered. We received 89 stories, which our judges are now reading with vim. Entries came from far and wide, including Italy, Switzerland, Canada and the USA. We will publish a longlist here on 8 April. The shortlist will be published on 22 April and final winners announced live at the Crime Writing Day on 20 May. Good luck to everyone involved.

Crime Writing Basics

Via Sarah Hilary’s blog:

If you’re an aspiring crime writer, do sign up for Crime Writing Basics, an online course starting 21 September 2015. I’ll be popping in to lend a steer and some cheers, plus a critique for one (or more) of the writers who submit work at the end of the course. The course tutor is Tom Bromley. The first of these courses was run in association with BritCrime and proved a big hit with students. Now it’s time to go around again.

More details about BritCrime can be found here.

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