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.

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