Last Saturday I had the pleasure of presenting certificates to the shortlisted entrants of the Southern Area Young Crime Writers' Competition organised by the Crime Writers' Association of Great Britain and supported by the Library Service. It was so lovely to meet so many young people who enjoy writing and reading and it was an incredibly difficult task choosing a winner. In the end I was forced to choose between two stunning entries.
I awarded a Highly Commended to the runner up George Neame, a hugely talented young writer whose command of English was superb. His entry was entitled "The Secret of Seven West Street". It was extremely well written and his style lends him greatly to writing novels. I expect to see his novels on the bookshop shelves and Internet some day in the not too distant future.
George’s story is a police procedural. Police officers Jones and Redwood are called to investigate the murder of a young man in a dark alley only to discover that behind his death is a terrible secret that his killer dare not have exposed.
And the Winner is Natasha White for her excellently crafted short story with a unique sense of time and place and a wonderful twist in the tale. Natasha White’s entry is called "Anything for Money." It is beautifully written with a great structure by someone who clearly has an eye for story telling. It has humour and style and flows in an incredible and impressive way.
The Reverend Beadle trips over a body in his church and is horrified to discover it’s his sister. He rushes out to call the police but on his return to the church finds the body has vanished. The bell ringer and grave digger deny ever seeing it but the Reverend knows that the theft of money his sister has raised to repair the church roof is behind her death. When he discovers her killer he is silenced forever... or is he?
I wouldn't dream of spoiling the ending by telling you.
Congratulations to them both and to everyone who was shortlisted. Fingers crossed for Natasha White, winner of the Southern Region, who will now compete with the other regional winners for the national prize, which will be announced in June during National Crime Fiction Week (14-21 June).