HASTINGS Litfest Crooked Cat Books Crime Novel Competition Update!

Crooked Cat Publishing and Hastings Litfest are delighted to announce that the Winner of the Crime Novel Competition is Dakota Canon for The Unmaking of Eden.

The novel follows two sisters, Eden and Hope, as they escape from a fundamentalist religious community in North Dakota and go into hiding.

The author, who lives in San Francisco, was unable to be with us in person for the announcement, but is ‘delighted and honoured’ to be the winner of the first Hastings Litfest novel competition.

Dakota has previously been placed in the Manchester Fiction Prize, the Writer’s Digest Annual Short Story and Brilliant Flash Fiction competitions, and her work has recently appeared in Literary Orphans, Cold Creek Review, and Seven Deadly Sins: A YA Anthology.

Congratulations Dakota: your trophy is on its way!

Runner up is Gordon M Scott with The Girl from Long Ago, a supernatural crime thriller with themes of obsession, sexual exploitation and revenge.

Gordon was born and educated in Belfast, and is married with two grown-up daughters. Now retired, and living in both Spain and Ireland, he was previously an accountant and Group Finance Director. Gordon took up writing relatively recently after taking part in a creative writing course. The Girl from Long Ago is his first novel, and Gordon was delighted to receive his trophy from actress Amanda Burton, who also read short excerpts from both the winning stories.

Well done Gordon!

As an aside, we can also reveal that James Andrew, a poet from Inverness who was shortlisted in this competition for his first novel Inescapable, has since been offered a contract with another publisher. Congratulations to you too, James.


The following five novels comprise our Shortlist for the Crooked Cat / Hastings LitFest Crime Novel prize (in alphabetical order by author surname):

Inescapable – James Andrew
I Will Find You – David Callinan
The Unmaking of Eden – Dakota Canon
Not Forgotten – Nicola Ratnett
The Girl from Long Ago – Gordon M Scott


(listed alphabetically by author surname):

Inescapable, James Andrew
I Will Find You, David Callinan
The Unmaking of Eden, Dakota Canon
Care to Die, Alexander Frew
Limbo, Maureen Gallagher
Face to Face, Ann Gawthorpe
The Price of Treasure, John Gradoville
Family Outings, M K Hannan
The Early Hours, Diane McInnes
Not Forgotten, Nicola Ratnett
The Girl From Long Ago, Gordon M Scott
Five Lessons in Lying, Raili Taylor
Dark Ground, Mark Wagstaff

Laurence Patterson of Crooked Cat commented on the breadth of styles and approaches in the entries received, which the team very much enjoyed as they worked their way towards deciding on the final thirteen.

The Winner and Runner-up were announced on SUNDAY 2nd SEPTEMBER at the Festival’s closing event at Royal Victoria Hotel. The announcement took place immediately after the Crime Fiction panel featuring Marnie Riches, David Videcette, Sheila Bugler and Chris Curran, plus an audience of eager crime fans.

  • First Prize: publication of your novel by Crooked Cat Books, plus HASTINGS Litfest trophy and £150.
  • Runner up: HASTINGS Litfest trophy and £100.

Amanda Burton, known to crime writers everywhere as Sam Ryan of BBC’s Silent Witness, will present the prizes and also read from the winning novel.