1st Prize: Search History by Iain Rowan is a story that might have escaped my eye on first glance. In fact there was a split second when I wondered if it was spam. Then I read it properly. Twice. Each time I got goose-bumps, because it was a) clever, b) innovative, c) creepy. Especially the ending. Very, very creepy. Crime writers are often accused of working to a formula, within set parameters. There's a dead body, there's a motive, there's an accused. And so on. There's some truth to this. But what it means is that the best writers can play with the format, with the rules of writing, and produce something startling as a result. Iain Rowan's done exactly that, and I'm thrilled that he won first prize: a pair of weekend passes to CrimeFest.
2nd Prize: Mirror on a Stick by Frances Gapper is a story I loved the second I saw it. Beguiling, mischievous, wicked at the end and terrorising in its penultimate line. From the first word onwards, the reader knows he/she is in the hands of a masterful storyteller. The fact that it's such a contrast to the winning story - in structure, in style, in content - helps to highlight crime's broad canvas. Frances won DVDs of The Killing plus a signed copy of David Hewson's new novelisation.
3rd Prize: The Magician by Nettie Thomson is an elegant and intelligent tale of illusion and deception. Another confident and compelling piece of writing. Nettie won a selection of crime books by Italian small press, Hersilia.
We will publishing the runners-up and the shortlisted entries at Flashbang over the next week. Do please pop across and read, as each one is a treat.
In addition, the top three stories are being published as part of a special free e-book being compiled for National Flash Fiction Day on May 16th.
Given the success of Flashbang in its inaugural year, we intend to repeat the contest for 2013. So start thinking up those crime flashes, to wow us.