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.

NB: Flashbang is currently taking a break. Thank you for reading.



Runner-up 2017

Charlotte Sing wants us all to beware.

Authors Beware

The Characters stopped arguing. The main Protagonists had pulled rank and eventually the Antagonist gave in. The Minor Characters sighed. They had the most to lose, for who would remember them?

Clare brought them all to order. She loved being a bossy DI. ‘Listen up. She won’t change her mind. She’s bored with us. Wants a new challenge but I’m damned if she’s going to get away with…’ Her voice broke.

Fran took over, faithful sidekick to the last. ‘Concentrate. We have to stop the words. Make her go there and look for herself.’

The coroner recorded death by misadventure: a fall from an icy mountain path while the author was checking details for the latest novel in her long-running crime series. Tragic.

The Characters remained forever in limbo. No writer has managed to complete the story – and live.

Runner-up 2017

Debra Ramsdale has her eye on an unusual suspect.


The press release was carefully written.  Five women dead, reason to believe they were linked, no mention of the trophy gathering.

That was between the cops and the killer.

Superintendent Rose Power was desperate for a breakthrough, eight months, five bodies and no bloody suspect. Retirement was not an option until this was over.

The local evening paper wanted to run a double page spread on the case. She agreed to meet Mike Stubbs, their crime editor.

They had known each other for years.

The feature was agreed and they strolled through town, back to their cars.

“I hope it helps, Rose. God knows, we need him off the streets.  Sick bastard needs more than his bloody ear cutting off.”

Rose’s blood ran cold. Her pension was either going to come faster than she thought or not at all.

That was no slip of the tongue.

Runner-up 2017

Denise Beardon tells a cautionary tale.

The Sleepover

Emma and Tia follow the dance routine. Onesies skewed, their red hot faces fixed in concentration. Thirteenth birthday party friends surround them: loll on sofas, stuff mouths with pizza, slurp fizzy drinks.

Beds blown up with pumps, sleeping bag snake games, torch-lit ghost stories. The girls settle at midnight. Lights out.

Nine slender polyester breathing humps asleep across the floor. The first gentle snore.

A small screen, blue and purple, flickers inside her sleeping vessel. Emma frowns.

Hey babe

Hey I know ur there

Leave me alone

I wanna see you

Go away

Snapchat me naked

like u did b4


Or don’t. Then the whole school will know


Emma wriggles her upper half out of the bag, unzips her onesie, unclasps her bra. Selfie. Click. Send.

Her stalker shares it among his friends.

Except one boy says no and tells his parents. That is how this nightmare ends.

Third prize 2017

Third prize went to Tracey Walsh for this tea and biscuits tale with a twist.

Life Sentence

‘Not guilty.’

Although expected, those words hit me right between the eyes.

On the pavement outside Manchester Crown Court I watched as the accused, now the acquitted, was greeted rapturously by family and friends.

The DCI and FLO came round later to offer apologies. I did what was expected of me, made tea, offered biscuits, said I understood. I didn’t.

I took my own swift justice a week later. A hit and run to balance the books for my son’s murder. I slept soundly, the first time in a year.

I’ve been waiting for the police knock ever since that night and here they are. Should there be tea and biscuits this time? What’s the etiquette regarding a murder arrest?

‘Mrs Kershaw, we wanted to tell you before it hits the news. We’ve charged someone with Ben’s murder. He’s pleading guilty, no trial to suffer through this time.’

Second prize 2017

Christine Laurenson took second prize with her chilling tale of Nordic noir.

Fire and Ice

‘He always comes back.’

‘Ingrid’s twenty six, a PhD., brilliant and beautiful.’

‘Exactly. She’ll get bored.’

‘Maybe… but he’ll only come back if she leaves him.’

‘You’d take him back?’

‘I overheard them talking. About selling the house.’

‘But it’s your house too!’

‘It’s in his name.’

We link arms, and watch the procession.

‘Galley’s looking great this year. Well done!’

‘Didn’t do much. Few bits here and there.’

‘Bet you did more than you’re letting on.’

We watch the galley being lowered into the water and I start to relax.

Took me all night to finish off that decking; I have the splinters to prove it.

Flaming torches sail through a dark sky. The galley erupts into flame and begins to drift away. It looks beautiful.

And it does seem fitting, for a Nordic woman like Ingrid, to have a proper Viking burial.

Winning story 2017

First prize went to Louise Mangos for this touching tale of vengeance.

Blind Love

You learn to adapt when it happens at an early age. You memorise every wall of your flat and each corner of your furniture. Light switches are redundant when he’s not at home.

You hear when he’s a hundred yards from the door. His keys jangle like tiny cathedral bells. His guilt gusts in on the evening chill. She wears no perfume when he’s been with her, but there’s no hiding the musky odour of passion.

You know where all the buttons are on the stove. The radio helps you keep track of time. You smell the oil when it’s ready for frying. At the back of the fridge is a chicken breast, forgotten for a number of weeks. Slathered in your coriander and paprika sauce, you gauge the meat in the pan by the suppleness at your fingertips.

Revenge is best served half-cooked.

Results 2017

The winners of CrimeFest’s Flashbang 2017 contest were chosen by Zoe Sharp and announced live at CrimeFest on 19 May. 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 longlist.

1st Prize 

Blind Love by Louise Mangos

2nd Prize

Fire and Ice by Christine Laurenson

3rd Prize

Life Sentence by Tracey Walsh


The Sleepover by Denise Beardon

Tragus by Debra Ramsdale

Authors Beware by Charlotte Sing


Protection by Deborah Lee Singer

Tragus by Debra Ramsdale

Authors Beware by Charlotte Sing

Blind Love by Louise Mangos

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures by Rob Scragg

Fire and Ice by Christine Laurenson

Life Sentence by Tracey Walsh

Masterchef Final by Jenny Woodhouse

Housekeeping by Louise Sharland

The Sleepover by Denise Beardon

Dead Spot by David Clarke

Runaway by Mark Dalligan

Shortlist 2017

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 19 May. Good luck.



Authors Beware

Blind Love

Fire and Ice

Life Sentence

The Sleepover

Longlist 2017

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 21 April. Good luck.




Authors Beware

Blind Love

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

Fire and Ice

Life Sentence

Masterchef Final


The Sleepover

Dead Spot


Court is in session

CrimeFest’s Flashbang 2017 has closed. Thanks to everyone who entered. We received 70 stories, which our judges are now interrogating in detail. Entries came from far and wide, including Austria, Canada, Shetland and the US. 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 19 May. Good luck to everyone involved.

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