The Crime Readers' Association

Short Stories by CWA Authors


Sharp

by Helen Cooper

The salon is the only place I hum. Before the other hairdressers arrive, before the customers come, a tune trembles in my throat, a soundtrack to my routine of shining and sharpening. I polish up the mirrors and they show […]

A VILLAIN’S TALE

BY KEITH MORAY

‘From Hell, Hull and Halifax, Good Lord, deliver us!’ My old father used to recite that to me. ‘Hell, because there be’nt no redemption from there, Hull because of that fast-flowing river that drowns so many, and Halifax because they’ll […]

The Mist Rolling In

by J G Harlond

“We can live off the land here.” “On what?” “Look down at your feet, Dan. Rocket, lamb’s leaf lettuce. Look up. Blackberries. There’ll be other fruits in spring and summer. Apples, damsons. Strawberries under the hedge.” “You want to turn […]

Poetic Justice

by Trevor d'Silva

Bradford Village – Summer, 2017 “Argh, there’s a body… a blooming body,” Melvyn shouted as he staggered backwards. His hard hat slipped off his head and his torch clattered to the floor. The other men turned to look at their […]

The Tennis Girls

by P J Quinn

He often sat in the park, especially when Wimbledon was on TV. It amused him to see how many people dug their racquets out of cupboards for a few weeks. He liked to watch the girls playing on the old […]

’Twas the Night Before Christmas (Revisited)

by Paul A. Freeman

’Twas the night before Christmas; ’twas quiet as heck; I’d been down the boozer and felt like a wreck.   The lights on the front of our semi looked brill, though I dreaded next month’s electricity bill.   The fir […]

Turkey with All the Trimmings

by Jane Finnis

It was quite late on Christmas Eve when I realised I’d forgotten to buy sausage meat to stuff the turkey. My heart sank. I’d eleven hungry people to feed tomorrow, and I’d promised to give them a perfect old-fashioned Christmas […]

The Last Assignment

by J G Harlond

Sierra Nevada, California. Winter, 2025 The wind thrummed through the gap around the shutters, making the rough wooden boards rattle in such a way as to set off a rhythm in his head. He strummed an imaginary guitar with the swollen […]

The Spirit of Christmas

by Keith Moray

Trevor Stanley had never liked Christmas. Not even when Vanessa his wife was alive, even though she loved it and he had loved her. He used to put a smile on his face and pretend for her sake. Well, for […]

Meeting Mary

by Andy Griffee

The cold mist that hugged the Severn had reduced my visibility to a few metres and several large whiskies had blurred what was left. I shivered and thrust my hands deeper into the pockets of my coat where an unopened […]

The Christmas Samaritan

by Alex Chaudhuri

Just on 11 p.m. and still another thirty minutes to go. Ian cursed his boss for keeping him at the office so late on Christmas Eve. The man was a bloody slave-driver. No wonder his wife and kids wanted nothing […]

Christmas Socks 

by Miranda Rijks

Maddie closed the bedroom door gently and leaned against it, letting silent tears slip down her cheeks. When she first started caring for Dora, she found the old woman cantankerous and judgemental, and she sympathised with Dora’s family members who […]

Between the Flakes

by Roger A Price

I awoke around 9 a.m. Not that I’d slept much; my legs had ached on and off all night. I just couldn’t seem to keep them still. When I did doze, all I dreamt about was getting my next fix […]

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

by Cathy Ace

‘John Evans is dead. Notice here in the paper. Poor dab.’ Gladys Pritchard waved the newspaper in front of her husband. ‘Good riddance,’ muttered her spouse. Gladys tutted. ‘Died peacefully last Thursday, it says. We only visited him the night […]

Happy Christmas

By David Stuart Davies

While caught up in the maelstrom of Christmas shoppers in the big department store, buffeted, crushed and elbowed by the desperate purchasers, Edna Burrows began to feel claustrophobic. Perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea after all coming out late […]

Lantern Jack by Christopher Fowler

A classic ghost story for Hallowe'en and long winter nights

No, please, you were before me. Age before beauty, ha ha. I’m in no rush to be served. The barmaid knows me, she’ll get around to looking after me soon enough. This is my local. I’m always in here on […]

The Yacht Trip by Fiona Veitch Smith

A spooky ghost story to make your spine tingle

It was the silken sand slipping through my sandals. It was the cloud-filtered sun caressing my back. It was the heavy breathing of the North Sea surf. It was every summer holiday and every dream of every winter’s night. It […]

Blind Corner by Simon Mawdsley

A spooky story - and adapted for the stage

I wake with a jolt. In a fog of panic, I struggle to comprehend where I am, what time it is, whether anything is real. Like a diver emerging from deep water, I gasp a lungful of air. My fingertips […]

A Death on the Oudegracht by Sanjay Dharwadker

A spooky tale of the Indian past in modern-day Utrecht

Inspector Bloemendal was already at the café when I arrived. He did not smile, and we did not shake hands. I just sat down across from him, removed my mask and he began to talk. It had been a long […]

Mr. Who Passes Through by Alice K Boatwright

Flash fiction can be spooky too!

A suburban house with high ceilings and big windows, set in a spacious garden surrounded by fir trees, is not the sort of place where you expect to meet a ghost.  Or speaking for myself, where I would expect to […]

The Scrapbook by the Mulgray Twins

A spooky story for Hallowe'en – and for Burns Night too.

Nancy’s finger jabbed angrily at the smug face smiling arrogantly up at her from the page in her scrapbook. Her lips tightened in a grim line. At the top of a fresh page in neat but curiously old-fashioned handwriting she […]

Fears of a Clown by Jason Monaghan  

Murder plans at Hallowe'en

It was a good night to be a serial killer. I chose a character from an old slasher movie, the one who wears an ice hockey mask and goes around killing teenagers for no particular reason and gets away with […]

McCormick Street by Reagan Rothe

Spooky ghost story for Hallowe'en

First Street   Jane Simmons continued browsing through rows and rows of used clothes hung on iron hangers that dangled from an old, ten-foot ladder. Each end of the climbing mechanism was supported by smaller ladders, serving as its temporary […]

Out of Time by Dea Parkin

Classic ghost story, based on a true event

It was a small tour group, the first of the day. Just one family, a youngish couple with two children, both aged under ten, I guessed. We’d moved from the dark hall downstairs with the smoky fire – a hole […]

Lost Souls by Peter DiChellis

Classic crime and ghost story perfect for long winter nights

Rural Northern California, USA, July 2002. “The ghost of a murdered woman wakes me up every night. She whispers painful secrets, hidden years ago. She plans to tell me who killed her.” The wiry man with the befuddled expression hadn’t […]

Ghosts, a Logan Bishop story by Luke Deckard

Ghost story with a medium for Hallowe'en

London, October 1920   Anniversaries make it worse. But when you can’t forget, celebrating is all there is. I pour two small glasses of Johnnie Walker. Amber liquid splashes on the desk and I wipe it away with my hand […]

The Cats of Capriale, by J G Harlond

A spooky story with witches

They staggered down the deep steps of the coach as if they’d been at sea for a week. Edna was particularly wobbly, her shorter leg ached terribly and she was close to tears. The driver was far too young and […]

The Silent Witness by Marsali Taylor

A classic ghost story for Hallowe'en and long winter nights

I was just laying a race mark when I caught sight of Fred Fisher, leaning up against a strainer. He was less than twenty yards away from me, because I’d been teaching my advanced class about how the wind bends […]

Crimes at Midnight by Graham Brack

A classic ghost story for Hallowe'en and long winter nights

I, James Baxter Lorimer, physician, of Inverculter House in the City of Edinburgh, set forth by my own hand my history for fear that I will not survive this night, that an account of the events which have led to […]

The Key, by N M Brown

DC Heather Armitage made frequent glances at her watch as she paced around the kitchen of her stone cottage on the edge of the moor. Dressed in a pair of faded jeans and a shapeless jumper,  she held an open […]

Death on the Doorstep, by Brian Price

Monday 18 May, 7.30am   When John Tregorran’s border collie shot off along the path ahead of him he assumed she’d seen a rabbit. But as soon as he caught up with the dog he realised something was seriously wrong. […]

The Imaginant, by Kate Ellis

‘You can do whatever you like. Be whoever you want to be.’ Nick’s mum had repeated these words until he came to believe them. She’d called it the creed of the imagination and its disciples were ‘imaginants’ who could transcend […]

Maisie, by Mac Logan

A drop of blood dribbled down Brian’s sole, untrimmed, nose hair. The red bead trickled like dew on slender grass, bending a frail shoot. Maisie, in a powder-blue cashmere sweater, watched his snout twitch. The beginnings of a sneeze made […]

The Lady Suliena, by Marsali Taylor

– being a detective chronicle of Rupert, Prince Palatine.   It was my aunt who brought me into the affair of the automaton.  The court had had a great craze for chess that season, and I was playing with my […]

The Black Out, by A.A. Chaudhuri

  ‘How could you do it, Mum?’ I stare at my daughter sitting across from me in the visitors’ room. Her trust in me irretrievably shattered. Pain, hurt, confusion etched across her lovely face. Disappointment, also. Disappointment that the one […]

THE FIRST HIT by Jeff Dowson

The black Lexus was parked overlooking the Gorge. On the Heights. The uber-expensive, everyone else can piss off, privately policed domain which sat above the heaving mass of the old town. Close enough for residents to eavesdrop on the real […]

The Joke, by Trevor D’Silva

It was Wednesday morning. The high-pitched trill of my mobile woke me from a fog of dreams. Groggily, and wiping the grit from my eyes, I answered. “Hello?” “Mr Hawkins?” The sombre tone doing more to wake me than a […]

Crime Writers, by J G Harlond

“I had no idea,” she said. “He didn’t tell me anything. He didn’t tell me anything about anything, that was our problem.” DS Brown looked her in the eye. Josephine turned from his appropriately brown-eyed gaze. “Secretive, was he?” the […]

Food by Hand, by Antony Johnston

When she touched me on the shoulder, I knew she had a taste for danger. Then she said, ‘Can I eat with you?’ and there was no doubt in my mind. She was a risk-taker. Of course, so was everyone […]

Eye for an eye, by Sally Spedding

EYEBRITE OPTICIANS LTD. Your eyes are our business… 52, Park Road, Old Heath, Colchester, Essex. CO1 2HB Tel; 01206 509800 Email; eyebrite@wellbeing.com 3/3/23 URGENT!   Dear Ms. Robertson, This is to inform you that Eyebrite Opticians Ltd. is now under […]

Dirty Snow, by Andrew Hook

When Mordent first arrived in Tokyo he left Kovacs in his hotel room and grabbed a taxi to Mr D’s Diner. It was dark but the city was filled with light. Neon signs reflected off glass buildings; kaleidoscopic mirrors. Advertisements […]

Natural Justice, by Brian Price

Damien Porton sneered as his Bentley glided past a battery of posters attacking his plans for Mellors Wood. ‘Bunch of Luddite NIMBYs,’ he muttered to himself, as he drove through the electric gates guarding his drive. One of them was […]

The Cargo, by E.M. Powell

The Port of Messina, Sicily, 1347 The first thing Alfonsus di Giuliano noticed about the twelve ships was how badly they were rigged. As he waited on the dockside for them to drop anchor, he scoffed at the useless flap […]

RESEARCH by Morgan Cry

‘. . . and that’s why I’m so happy in my skin.’ The lecture’s over. Research told me he wasn’t happy at all. I could do something about that. Something that would require a sharp knife, physical restraint and a […]

A Kink In the Chain, by Patrick Gooch

IT WAS OBVIOUS TO ALL that the two men making their way down the second fairway were at opposite ends of the corporal spectrum. One, a bluff, hearty individual, was tall and physically robust. The other, slight of build, short […]

Them and Us, by Bernie Crossthwaite

The room was painted bright yellow. There were vases of flowers, seascapes on the walls, deep soft armchairs. I chose the one facing the door. Really, I thought, you would never guess it was a prison. If I’d had my […]

Cold for May, by Christine Poulson

  It was cold for May, very cold. But it wasn’t as cold as that woman’s heart. With most of the people I’ve cleaned for, I’ve soon been on first-name terms, but not with her. Oh, I was Jenny to […]

Child’s Play, by Alex Gray

It was so easy a child could have done it. The killer sat back and sighed with the sort of pleasure that comes from acknowledging superiority over the rest of humankind and a certainty that they would never be caught. […]

Criminal, by Ricki Thomas

Toby had not been awake for long and he wiped his eyes with a grimy hand. The early winter chill bit the tips of his ears and nose and he warmed his icy fingers under his arms. Shivering, he sat […]

One Wedding and One Funeral by Yvonne Walus

Pretoria, 31 July 1981 What Captain Trevor Watson wanted right now, more than anything in the universe, was to get laid. Go to a Ladies’ Bar – stupid how South African law prohibited women from entering any other kind of […]

Slonský’s First Murder, by Graham Brack

Junior Sergeant Slonský polished the single silver star on each epaulette and thought himself lucky he still had them. He slipped on his uniform shoes – actually, his only shoes – and resisted the temptation to have a slug from […]

Dial M for Misprint, by Peter Bartram

A Crampton of the Chronicle Swinging Sixties mystery My girlfriend Shirley was already into her second glass of white wine by the time I arrived late at the Sussex Grill. I hustled into the restaurant, hurried over to the table […]

Once a conman…, by Gary Powell

Alby Sloper eyed the magnificent diamond with professional expertise as the three-carat jewel sparkled under carefully sited display lights that amplified its beauty. He knew the precious stone’s every cut and polished surface. He scratched at the irritating newly grown […]

Lucky, by D E White

The headlights slashed the road, leaving welts of light in the tarmac, and she shivered. This side of town was quiet after midnight, with no clubs and pubs to spill their alcohol-fuelled customers onto the rain-soaked pavement. The car slowed […]

The Mortuary with Two Doors, by Sanjay Dharwadker

The epidemic was beginning to peak when Doctor Smrt took over the mortuary. Yesterday, the diener, his assistant, had gone missing. Some said she was an illegal immigrant, had been discovered and taken away by the police for questioning. Others […]

Service please, by Roger A Price

Christine Jones leaned back in her chair as she waited for Vinnie to return with the drinks. They had spent a pleasant afternoon in a wine bar off Deansgate in central Manchester celebrating. The documentary she had done with Vinnie […]

The Double Cross, by Douglas Skelton

I’d always liked Darren Morgan. Right up to the moment he killed me. He was a likeable kind of guy, easy-going, smart, good-looking, too – but I don’t mean that in any kind of faggoty way. It’s just a statement […]

The Walnut Creek Vampire, by Tom Mead

It was October of 1962 when the vampire came to Walnut Creek. The streets of that little San Franciscan suburb were carpeted with crisp dead leaves, the skies low and lambent, and the house fronts were papered with skulls and […]

The Retreat, by Chris McDonald

The skyscrapers and landmarks of Manhattan glint in the rear-view mirror as John and Simon leave the city behind. John reaches into the back seat of his boss’s pick-up truck and returns with a bottle of water. He twists the […]

Paradise Place, by Judith Cutler

‘One can expect nothing good to come out of Birmingham – even your Jane Austen got that right,’ Nicholas declared, pushing away his plate. I knew better than to object that he had taken the quotation out of context. Nicholas […]

On the Bridge, by Merryn Allingham

Cécile took the flowers unwillingly and murmured a polite thank you. They were yet another present she hadn’t wanted. The young man, slouched against the door frame, looked irritated;  it was evident her lack of enthusiasm annoyed him. These past […]

Long Dark Winter Nights, by Marsali Taylor

‘So,’ said DI Gavin Macrae, waving away the last of Khalida’s emergency whisky stock, ‘her alibi is mountain-solid, unless there’s something in your testimony that breaks it.’ ‘My testimony?’ I said, startled. ‘Her husband died,’ he said, ‘while she and […]

One of the Three Spires, by Paul Charles

“Auntie Maude would not like that.” “But Uncle Archie has no kids of his own so she always felt a pity for him…” “When pity might not necessarily have been a good thing?” “Exactly, Liam, you’re spot on. You know […]

Tell Me, by Zoë Sharp

“So, where is she?” Grace ducked under the taped cordon at the edge of the crime scene and showed her ID to the uniformed constable stationed there. “CSI McColl. I’m expected.” The officer jerked his head in the direction of […]

For the Good of the Game, by Twist Phelan

I’m getting ready for the game, trying not to listen to the whispers around me. The rest of the team still can’t believe I did it. The new owner doesn’t have a clue I’m guilty. But the team knows. It’s […]

The Best Detective in Town, by Mick Finlay

1897   It was too hot for London. The streets were quiet and unhappy, the air filled with the stink of rotting food. The pumps had gone dry, the street children begging cups of water then robbing anyone kind enough […]

Muggy Night, by Luke Kuhns

“Who’s there?” I prop myself up in bed. I’m sticky with sweat. The ceiling-fan whirls; its blades cut the hot air. The windchime dings and dongs out front and a dog barks in the distance. Crickets and god knows what […]

The Girl Who Loved French Films, by Christopher Fowler

Sheila grew up in Sheffield, a Northern English town that had once been famous for the magnificence of its cutlery and the bravery of its air force pilots. By the time she was seventeen its glory had faded, and the […]

The Masquerade – by Sarah Rayne

 An invitation to a masked ball, where nothing is quite as it seems… I seldom attend parties unless I think they might be of use in my career, so it was all the more remarkable to find myself attending this […]

The Ringmaster by Douglas Lindsay

No one ever knew his real name. They called him the Ringmaster. And now he was dead, his body crushed and battered and broken in an attack that was bestial in its ferocity. His killer, in a final act of […]

The Wheatear – by Thomas Mogford

It was during that strange dead zone between Christmas and New Year that Andy saw the lights. They came flashing through the white gauze blinds they kept down to prevent people from looking directly into their sitting room. Andy got […]

To Die For – by Bill Rogers

  Something had woken her. Melissa felt sure of that. She sat up wearily, and checked the bedside alarm. The eerie green display said 3.59am. She listened for a moment, and then sunk back onto the pillows. It would be […]

A Place for Everything – by Nicola Ford

‘Well I think it’s creepy. One day we’re all sitting at this table having a cuppa together and the next he’s skewered to death like some oversized doner kebab.’ I know it was rude but I had to get up […]

Sticks and Stones – by Rachel Sargeant

Mary slipped off the lead and watched Sadie give a gleeful shake of her ears and prance across the park. At least one of us is awake, she thought, yawning. What was I thinking of, coming out this early? She […]

Join the CRA

Joining the CRA is FREE. There are no lengthy forms to fill out and we need nothing but your email. You will receive a regular newsletter but no spam.