FM: <i>Well Read, Then Dead</i> by Terrie Farley Moran FM: Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran Laura K. Curtis Crime comes to life for this cozy Florida book club. <i>Boston Mob</i>: A New Excerpt Boston Mob: A New Excerpt Marc Songini A historical retelling of the reign of the ruthlessly violent Boston mafia. Now Win <i>This</i>!: The Hard Hitting Sweepstakes Now Win This!: The Hard Hitting Sweepstakes Crime HQ Brace yourself before entering! <i>Last to Know</i>: A New Excerpt Last to Know: A New Excerpt Elizabeth Adler The body might have burned in the fire, but she had already been stabbed to death.
From The Blog
July 24, 2014
Erotic, Gothic, Belgian Vampires: Daughters of Darkness (1971)
Brian Greene
July 24, 2014
Committing Word Crimes with Weird Al
Crime HQ
July 23, 2014
The Movies of 1944: Double Indemnity
Jake Hinkson
July 18, 2014
The Eye: Nabokov on Spies, Suicide, and Sunset Boulevard
Edward A. Grainger
July 18, 2014
Pulling Up a Seat from Shakespeare to Sherlock: London's New Literary Benches
Joe Brosnan
Thu
Jul 24 2014 2:30pm

Fresh Meat: Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran

Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran is the first book in the Read ’Em and Eat cozy mystery series (available August 5, 2014).

I picked up Well Read, Then Dead having read several of Terrie Farley Moran’s short crime stories and curious about how she would handle the longer format. Immediately, I was drawn into the world of Sassy Cabot and Bridget Mayfield and their bookstore and bakery, Read ’Em and Eat in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. I went to Florida [mumble] years ago, but I’ve never been to Fort Myers Beach, but this book definitely made me want to visit!

It’s not just the scenery one wants to visit reading Ms. Moran’s book. Her characters are amusing and lively, described clearly without overly many tedious details. Take Judge Harcroft, who spends his mornings at the Read ’Em and Eat and being, well, somewhat annoying, especially to the Books Before Breakfast Club.

[Can't we just read in peace?!]

Thu
Jul 24 2014 11:00am

Erotic, Gothic, Belgian Vampires: Daughters of Darkness (1971)

Atmosphere is such an important aspect of movies. I’ve never attempted to make a film, so I can’t intelligently discuss the techniques involved in pulling off this vital part of the endeavor, but I know quality cinematic atmosphere when it crosses my path. If someone asked me to explain what I mean by this facet of movies, I might either try to describe it verbally, or I might just sit them down and have them watch the 1971 erotic/gothic vampire film Daughters of Darkness.

The spellbinding atmosphere in the movie is there from the opening scene and is strong enough to keep a hold over a bewitched viewer throughout the duration of the story. It’s there in the mesmerizing speaking voice of Delphine Seyrig, who plays an ageless and exotic Hungarian countess who also happens to be a lesbian vampire who feeds off the blood of young girls. The mood is present in the striking physical beauty of Valerie (played by Danielle Ouimet), a young Swiss woman who is unlucky enough to, while on her honeymoon, wind up staying at the same hotel where the Countess decides to stop. It’s in the stormy soul of Stefan (John Karlen), Valerie’s new husband, a blue-blooded Englishman who’s a nice enough guy most of the time but who is prone to sudden and inexplicable violent outbursts and who is drawn to the Countess in a love/hate sort of way. And the atmosphere exists in the personality and look of Ilona, the Countess’s personal secretary and co-drinker of young female blood: Ilona is a moody/sexy Goth girl who is constantly both on the brink of suicidal despair yet ready to seduce somebody.

[Watch out!]

Thu
Jul 24 2014 8:45am

Call the Grammar Police: Committing Word Crimes with Weird Al

“Weird Al” Yankovic is known for his puns and parody. For his latest album release, Weird Al released a music video a day including the above song—“Word Crimes.” It's based on the controversial song, “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and might help you get a better grade in grammar class...or remind you that you have to commit murder for those who commit word crimes in your presence. Listen with caution, and prepare to call the grammar police!

Wed
Jul 23 2014 3:00pm
Excerpt

Boston Mob: The Rise and Fall of the New England Mob and its Most Notorious Killer: A New Excerpt

Marc Songini

Boston Mob: The Rise and Fall of the New England Mob and its Notorious Killer by Marc Songini is a true account of the historically violent Boston mafia and its reign of terror (available July 29, 2014).

The New England Mafia was a hugely powerful organization that survived by using violence to ruthlessly crush anyone that threatened it, or its lucrative gambling, loansharking, bootlegging and other enterprises. Psychopathic strongman Joseph “The Animal” Barboza was one of the most feared mob enforcers of all time, killing as many as thirty people for business and pleasure.

From information based on newly declassified documents and the use of underworld sources, Boston Mob spans the gutters and alleyways of East Boston, Providence and Charlestown to the halls of Congress in Washington D.C. and Boston’s Beacon Hill. Its players include governors and mayors, and the Mafia Commission of New York City. From the tragic legacy of the Kennedy family to the Winter Hill-Charlestown feud, the fall of the New England Mafia and the rise of Whitey Bulger.

Chapter 1

THE PORTUGEE FROM NEW BEDFORD

 “In New Bedford, fathers, they say, give whales for dowers to their daughters, and portion off their nieces with a few porpoises a-piece.”

—Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

[Continue reading Boston Mob by Marc Songini...]

Wed
Jul 23 2014 1:00pm

The Movies of 1944: Double Indemnity

This year film noir turns 70. While there had been some intermittent films leading up to the birth of the classic noir, in 1944 the dahlia bloomed with six key films: Double Indemnity, Laura, Murder My Sweet, Phantom Lady, When Strangers Marry, and The Woman In the Window. In these films you have many of the key figures in noir making some of their first forays into the genre (directors Billy Wilder, Otto Preminger, Fritz Lang, and Robert Siodmak; writers Raymond Chandler, Cornell Woolrich, Vera Caspary, Phillip Yordan; actors Robert Mitchum, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Bennett, Dana Andrews—just to name a few). This onslaught of darkness came in the wake of the bleakest days (from the American perspective, anyway) of WWII. The basis of many of these films were older properties but it is the way these films came out—physically darker, psychologically denser, and ultimately more pessimistic—that marks the real birth of film noir. This post kicks off a new series which will explore these six landmark films.

[Up first, Double Indemnity...]

Wed
Jul 23 2014 8:45am

Woman Steals Vibrator by Hiding it in Baby’s Stroller

Let’s be honest, it is certainly one thing to get caught with a smoking gun in your hand, but it is quite another to get caught with a buzzing vibrator in your baby’s stroller.

That’s just what happened to South Carolina resident, Misty Ann Lee, after she attempted to steal a sex toy from the “love section” of a Spencer’s gift shop by hiding it in her child’s stroller. Yes, a baby stroller!

It went down like this: one of Spencer’s employees watched the woman take the item “from the love unit.” She then walked to another section and slipped the device “behind a young child in the stroller,” as reported by the Smoking Gun.

Misty Ann Lee | Photo credit: Smoking GunAfter the woman left the store the employee quickly followed and confronted her. “Lee looked like she didn’t know what she was talking about and then she retrieved the merchandise from the stroller,” according to the official police report.

The suspect attempted to re-enter the store, at which point the Spencer employee called the cops. Lee was charged with shoplifting and then released on a $2,000 bond. The vibrator was safely returned.

Tue
Jul 22 2014 2:00pm

Longmire 3.08: “Harvest” of Resentments

“Harvest” picks up where we left off with Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) receiving care for a flesh wound and Vic looking genuinely drained from her hellish experience as a captive.

When Walt and Vic hugged in the hospital, my wife said to me, “I can see them as a couple,” and I had to finally agree. The relationship happens in Craig Johnson's series of novels from which the show originates, and it seems like it’s time on the TV series. But, like water in a dam rising to the occasion, we are kept waiting again, because Vic’s husband Sean (Michael Mosley) has given her an ultimatum to quit her job in two weeks or they’re done. When Branch Connally (Bailey Chase) broke into Vic’s house in last week's episode, I was thinking, you’re going to be in a world of hurt when she finds out. Sure enough, in this episode, Vic (Katee Sackhoff) tears Branch a new one and lays everything wide open.

[A bumper crop of spoilers and angst ahead!]

Tue
Jul 22 2014 12:00pm

Now Win This!: The Hard Hitting Sweepstakes

This sweepstakes features work by five hard-hitting (and hard-covered) books!

Click here to enter for a chance to win!

This is NOT a Comments Sweepstakes. You must click the link above to enter.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry. Promotion begins July 22, 2014, at 12:00 pm ET, and ends August 5, 2014, 11:59 am ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[See what's in the bundle!]

Tue
Jul 22 2014 11:15am

Endeavour 2.04: Season Finale “Neverland”

The final episode of Endeavour Series 2 was a corker.

We don’t do spoilers on Masterpiece Mystery programs, but I would suggest that you go and watch “Neverland” right now if you haven’t already. Then go back and watch it again, knowing what you know. It’s better the second time.

We begin, as we tend to do, with a montage of characters and situations: DI Thursday is in for his physical exam; a young man, who bears a passing resemblance to Morse himself, is in prison; an Oxford professor lectures on the Siege Perilous in the legend of the Knights of the Round Table; a ventriloquist prepares for a Vaudeville-style show; there’s a benefit for the Police Widows and Orphans; and Morse is in the choir singing “as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.” There’s so much going on that Colin Dexter’s cameo flashes by within seconds of the episode’s start.

Then the prisoner escapes, a young boy runs away from home, and Thursday and Morse are off and running.

[Plus ça change as they say...]

Tue
Jul 22 2014 9:30am

In Memoriam: James Garner (...Beep)

James Garner as Jim RockfordWith his square jaw and magnetic charm, he played soldiers, lovers, marshals, judges, a sheriff for a day, gambler Bret Maverick, Philip Marlowe, and even Wyatt Earp, switching effortlessly between television and movies well into his twilight. But I'll always recall James Garner first in his role as the iconic P.I., Jim Rockford, the wise-cracking, sportcoated beach bum with the broken-down trailer and the suspicious mind. Thanks for all the great times. Myself, I like to imagine he's in a solid gold Firebird somewhere, making J-Turns in the ether. Read Robert J. Lewis's Homage to a 70's Detective for much more.

And finally, to offer a celebratory tribute that you'll find nowhere else, here are the ice dancers from Donny and Marie Osmond's TV show, skating their hearts out—in life preservers no less—to one of the catchiest TV theme songs ever.

Mon
Jul 21 2014 2:00pm
Excerpt

Last to Know: A New Excerpt

Elizabeth Adler

Last to Know by Elizabeth Adler is standalone mystery set on a Massachusetts lake once known for its peacefulness, but now the home for a killer on the loose (available July 22, 2014).

Evening Lake: an idyllic, peaceful, western Massachusetts getaway with a close-knit community of families. Detective Harry Jordan sees his lake home as a respite from solving crimes on the streets of Boston...until crime comes to Evening Lake. Harry Jordan is out for a walk when the night is rocked by an explosion: the Havnel house is engulfed in a conflagration and Bea Havnel is seen fleeing, hair on fire, plunging into the lake. Mysterious, rough-around-the edges, and private, Bea and her mother Lacey are newcomers to Evening Lake and nothing like the well-heeled families of the community. Bea survives the fire, but her mother does not, and Harry is pulled into the investigation. As is young Diz Osborne, who, unbeknownst to any of them, carries a weighty secret about who else he saw rowing on the lake that night. When it’s discovered that Lacey Havnel died not from the explosion but from a knife wound, it’s clear that a murderer is on the loose. And this murderer is poised to strike again, and again.

 

Chapter 1

EVENING LAKE, Massachusetts, 3 A.M.

Harry Jordan’s wooden vacation house was certainly the smallest, as well as one of the oldest, on Evening Lake, a resort where nothing bad, like murder, ever happened, but which in recent years had become a little too smart for Harry’s style: too cocktail-partyish; too many lonely blond wives with hungry eyes; too many miniature dogs peeking out of Range Rover windows. Mind you Harry’s own car, a classic ’69 souped-up E-type, British racing green with tan leather seats, was certainly a head-turner, but then Harry owned that car because he loved it with a passion, not for show. And the dog usually to be seen gazing from its windows was a large silver-gray malamute-mix that looked remarkably like a wolf, but with astonishingly pale blue eyes.

[Continue reading Last to Know by Elizabeth Adler...]

Mon
Jul 21 2014 11:00am

The Strain 1.02: “The Box”

We pick up only hours from where we left off last week in Episode 2 “The Box”. A well-built exterminator is prepping his gear for the day like a warrior preparing for battle. As we’ve already est ablished that the vampires of The Strain are caused by parasitic worms, this is a dead giveaway that Vasiliy Fet (played by genre favorite and hulking Canadian Kevin Durand) is going to join our roster of heroes, soon to stand alongside Dr. Eph in the good fight—

Sorry. Kevin Durand started speaking Russian and my brain just sort of short-circuited.

Moving on, we watch as errand boy Gus delivers Mr. Master’s Coffin O’ Dirt to a conveniently underground, dimly lit garage. At least Gus has more common sense than your typical horror movie character: as soon as the coffin starts to shake and yowling shrieks fill the air, he promptly peaces out.

[Can you blame him?]

Mon
Jul 21 2014 8:45am

From Walker to Inmate: The Walking Dead Extra Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison

Rick Grimes and company might have left the prison last season on The Walking Dead, but one of the show's “walkers” won't be leaving anytime soon. Shannon Guess Richardson, 36, was sentenced to 18 years in prison after being found guilty of mailing ricin-tainted letters to President Obama, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Mark Glaze, the former executive director of Bloomberg’s gun-control group.

“I never intended for anybody to be hurt,” Richardson told the court on Wednesday. Her actions would say otherwise. Let this be a warning to everyone: leave the ricin to Walter White. 

Sun
Jul 20 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Rocket Girl Vol. 1: Times Squared" by Amy Reeder & Brandon Montclare

Rocket Girl Volume 1: Times Square by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder is a time-traveling comic series where a girl must travel back to 1986 NYC to save the future from an evil corporation (available July 22, 2014).

Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder present us with a neat new twist on time-travel: a teenage cop from the New York City of 2013 travels back in time to 1986 to stop the invention of an engine that will allow a megacorporation to establish its near-totalitarian and wholly criminal grip on the city.

Dayoung Johansson works for the New York Teen Police Department, a body established due to people over the age of 20 no longer being considered trustworthy. When she and her partner, LeShawn O’Patrick, stumble across information proving that Quintum Mechanics has been manipulating the past in order to control the present, she determines to travel to the one point in time that begins Quintum’s domination and stop it in its tracks.

[Sounds simple enough...]

Sat
Jul 19 2014 12:00pm

Orange Is the New Black 2.13: Season Finale “We Have Manners. We’re Polite.”

Well, here we are at the end, my friends, and look how far we’ve come. Orange Is the New Black wraps up Season 2by tying up most of its major plot threads: the rise and reign of Vee Parker, the war between Vee and Red, Piper’s attempts to bring down Fig, the upheaval between Taystee and Poussey, the transformation of Crazy Eyes into Vee’s enforcer, and Healy’s attempts to turn Pennsatucky into his sidekick. And more. Much more. The show does some of this well, but I have to be honest and report that this is, in many ways, the weakest episode of the season.

[It was still good, it's just been that strong of a season...]

Fri
Jul 18 2014 11:00am
Excerpt

Atonement of Blood: A New Excerpt

Peter Tremayne

Atonement of Blood by Peter Tremaine is a historical mystery set in 670 AD Ireland, the 24th novel featuring Fidelma and her companion, this time in enemy lands, trying to unravel their king's attempted assassination (available July 22, 2014).

Winter, 670 AD. King Colgú has invited the leading nobles and chieftains of his kingdom to a feast day. Fidelma and her companion Eadulf are finally home for an extended stay, and have promised their son, Alchú, that they’ll be able to spend some time together after months of being on the road, investigating crimes. Fidelma and Eadulf are enjoying the feast when it is interrupted by the entrance of a religieux, who claims he has an important message for the King. He approaches the throne and shouts ‘Remember Liamuin!’ and then stabs King Colgú. The assassin is slain, but does enough damage to take out Colgú’s bodyguard, and to put the king himself on the verge of death.

As King Colgú lies in recovery, Fidelma, Eadulf, and bodyguard Gormán are tasked with discovering who is behind the assassination attempt, and who Liamuin is. They must journey into the territory of their arch-enemies, the Uí Fidgente, to uncover the secrets in the Abbey of Mungairit, and then venture into the threatening mountain territory ruled by a godless tyrant. Danger and violence are their constant companions until the final devastating revelation.

Chapter 1

Eadulf was staring moodily out of the window at the darkening sky above the fortress of Cashel, the stronghold of Colgú, King of Muman. The Kingdom of Muman was the largest and most south-westerly of the Five Kingdoms of Éireann. The air was chill, and all day grey stormclouds had raced across the sky; low and intense, driven by strong and angry winds.

[Continue reading Atonement of Blood by Peter Tremayne...]

Fri
Jul 18 2014 2:00pm

The Eye: Nabokov on Spies, Suicide, and Sunset Boulevard

“The theme of The Eye is the pursuit of an investigation which leads the protagonist through a hell of mirrors and ends in the merging of twin images.” That plot description is from Vladimir Nabokov’s own foreword to the 1965 English publication of The Eye. The protagonist Mr. Nabokov spoke of is a Russian émigré (a common theme in his body of work) living in Berlin and working as a tutor for two young boys in whose home he lodges. An attractive friend of the family, Matilda, visits, and he starts an illicit affair with the married woman. Her husband finds out and beats the tutor in front of the young pupils. Agonized from shame, the tutor packs his bags and leaves. He finds another room, then shoots himself in the heart with a revolver.

[But this only begins his adventures…]

Fri
Jul 18 2014 8:45am

Pulling Up a Seat from Shakespeare to Sherlock: London’s New Literary Benches

From Shakespeare to Sherlock, Hercule Poirot to James Bond, London has always had a rich literary history. And now you can sit on it! Thanks to The National Literacy Trust, along with its public art promotor Wild in Art, 50 benches have been commissioned that will be painted to look like open books portraying scenes from famous books.

Some of the notable authors are listed below:

Douglas AdamsThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Jane AustenPride and Prejudice

Agatha ChristieHercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly

Charles DickensGreat Expectations

Ian Fleming—James Bond stories

Stephen HawkingA Brief History of Time

Anthony Hurowitz—The Alex Rider Series

George Orwell1984

Dr. SeussThe Cat in the Hat

William Shakespeare—Various Works

Jules VerneAround the World in 80 Days

H.G. WellsThe Time Machine.

For a complete list of benches, authors, and locations, complete with pictures, visit Books About Town.

Oh, and because I know you're wondering, yes you can own these benches. All benches will be opened up to auction, with the proceeds going to the National Literacy Trust. More information on the auctions can be found here.

Which bench is your favorite? Do you think any authors were forgotten? Join the conversation in the comments!

Thu
Jul 17 2014 3:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey

The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey is an emotional story set in 1969 Mississippi that follows four sisters through the ups and down of the changing times (available July 29, 2014).

Let’s hear it for skeletons and Southern comfort.

I had a banner year in 1969. In January, I met my future husband on a blind date; in May, we became engaged; in June, I graduated from high school and began going to secretarial school; and in August, I had a wedding. Almost forty-five years later, we’re still celebrating anniversaries, and I just finished a book I absolutely loved that was set in 1969.

The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey is like sitting down and devouring warm chocolate cake. It’s delicious to the last bite, and you hate when you have to put the empty plate in the sink.

[Make sure you rinse! (The plate, not the book!)]

Thu
Jul 17 2014 11:00am

Orange Is the New Black 2.12: “It Was the Change”

Let’s talk about Red. When you think about it, the scarlet-haired Russian began this series as villain. Way back in the first episode of the show, Piper—unaware that Red ran the kitchen— accidently insulted her by pointing out, not incorrectly, that the food at Litchfield is atrocious crap. Red retaliated by nearly starving her to death. That was way back when. Now here we are in the penultimate episode of Season 2, and Red is the person we’re all counting on to destroy Vee.

This transformation owes a lot to the evolution of the character of Red, of course, but it also owes something to the fact that, of all the characters on Orange Is the New Black, Vee is the closest we’ve come to a full on bad guy. Even despicable characters like Pornstache and Fig have some admirable qualities.  Pornstache is ready to go to jail for (he thinks) knocking up Diaz, while Fig dreams of one day acquiring power to do great things. Now, these commendable traits don’t absolve Pornstache and Fig of their sins, but it does show that, at least in their own minds, they are operating from good intentions. Vee, though…Vee is a goddamn super villain. She has about as many good intentions as Professor Moriarty.

[It takes a special kind of evil to stand out in a prison...]