Image of A screenshot of a Zoom meeting
Judges Emily Winslow Stark (top centre left) and Tabitha Siklos (top centre right) chose A Murder of Crow Witnesses by James McCarthy (far left) as the winning entry.

Winner announced in College short story competition

Judges Emily Winslow Stark and Tabitha Siklos awarded the top prize to A Murder of Crow Witnesses by James McCarthy at a virtual ceremony last week.

The theme of this year's College short story competition was crime, following the inaugural ghost story competition last year. Contestants were invited to submit a short story (1000-2000 words), set in Cambridge, in which the commission or solving of a crime is central. 

Crime novelist Emily Winslow Stark and researcher/author Tabitha Siklos judged the competition, having also hosted a crime fiction writing workshop last year. The winning story can be found below along with excerpts from other entries which were read on the night.

Winning entry: 'A Murder of Crow Witnesses' by James McCarthy

“The winning story is a brilliantly-executed mystery, with an intriguing plot, cracking dialogue and well-formed characters. We hope this is just the beginning for DS Shane O’Donald crime stories” say the judges. James McCarthy was presented with a copy of The Cambridge Murders by Glyn Daniel.

Read the winning story.

Other highly commended entries

The judges were delighted by the breadth and quality of the entries. They said: “The stories cover illicit love, stalking, poison, the perils of punting, beetle specimen disappearances, an academic's revenge, melon theft, cow stealing, and crows as witnesses to murder. They’re inventive, succinct, engaging, and recounted with verve and confidence.”

The judges specially commended Natan Maurer’s How to Steal a Cambridge Cow in Ten Easy Steps as ‘Most Creative’ and Ella Curry’s Is it a Crime? as ‘Most Beautiful’.

The entries:

  • How to Steal a Cambridge Cow in Ten Easy Steps by Natan Maurer, undergraduate (2019)
  • Is it a Crime? by Ella Curry, undergraduate (2019)
  • A Present for Christmas by David Hanke, Emeritus Fellow
  • Love in the Time of COVID by Jean Bacon, Emeritus Fellow
  • A Murder of Crow Witnesses by James McCarthy, partner of the Master
  • Stranger than Fiction by Lisa Rowe, staff
  • The Jewel Scarabs by Hannah Charlotte Copley, postgraduate (2019)
  • My Night by Leonie Mayk, partner of a postgraduate
  • The Fisherman by Will Jones, undergraduate (2018)

Read the judges' excerpts from these entries, or the full entries.