Review: <i>No Pity for the Dead</i> by Nancy Herriman Review: No Pity for the Dead by Nancy Herriman Angie Barry Read Angie Barry's review! Review: <i>In the Land of Milk and Honey</i> by Jane Jensen Review: In the Land of Milk and Honey by Jane Jensen Janet Webb Read Janet Webb's review! <i>The More They Disappear</i>: New Excerpt The More They Disappear: New Excerpt Jesse Donaldson The More They Disappear takes us to the front lines of small-town drug abuse. Review: <i>A Time to Die</i> by Tom Wood Review: A Time to Die by Tom Wood David Cranmer Read David Cranmer's review!
From The Blog
July 29, 2016
Outcast 1.08: "What Lurks Within" Episode Review
Angie Barry
July 28, 2016
Pokémon Your Local Bookstore
Martin Quinn
July 27, 2016
Book Trailer: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Crime HQ
July 26, 2016
Carnival of Souls: The Unlikely Masterpiece
Brian Greene
July 26, 2016
Movies + Math = A Beautiful Formula
David Cranmer
Jul 29 2016 11:00pm

Outcast 1.08: “What Lurks Within” Episode Review

This week, we get a better look at Evil Data/Sidney—and any lingering feelings of fondness we may have held onto thanks to actor Brent Spiner's turn as a beloved android in Star Trek: TNG goes straight out the window when we see that, unlike some of the others who have been possessed, Sidney has never been a nice guy. 

Child predators are absolutely the sort of people you'd expect to see hosting evil demonic entities. 

While Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey) is busy arresting Sidney, the Reverend (Philip Glenister) sees the very real toll caused by his public outburst when Sunday services are attended by exactly... 

No one.

[Notta. Zilch. Nothing...]

Jul 29 2016 4:30pm

“The Red Church” Cocktail

Revenge is a drink best served cold—and several times! 

So, join the order of the Lady of Blessed Murder with this week's Pick Your Poison—where we create a cocktail inspired by a recently published mystery, thriller, or crime novel—by training drinking a few of “The Red Church” cocktails, inspired by Jay Kristoff's Nevernight, the 1st in his new epic fantasy series!

[Check out the recipe below!]

Jul 29 2016 3:00pm

Review: No Pity for the Dead by Nancy Herriman

No Pity for the Dead by Nancy Herriman is the 2nd Mystery of Old San Francisco (Available August 2, 2016). 

She'd barely dipped her spoon into the mulligatawny when someone pounded on the front door.

“Not another patient at this hour!” Addie called out from the kitchen before hurrying though the dining room on her way to the foyer. “I'm turning them away, ma'am. You're closed.”

It wasn't a few seconds before she heard Addie scream. Celia jumped up and rushed through the parlor. 

“Stay there, girls,” she told Barbara and Grace, shutting the parlor doors on their startled expressions.

Owen Cassidy stumbled across the threshold, gasping for breath. He was covered in coal dust and dirt from head to toe; the only pale parts on him were the whites of his wide green eyes. 

“Och, lad,” chastised Addie. “Dinna even think of coming inside—”

“Ma'am! He's dead!” he cried, gaping at Celia. “He's dead!”

“What nonsense are you blathering?” asked Addie.

“The fellow in the cellar! He's dead!”

Celia Davies leads an interesting life. Newly arrived in San Francisco, the English nurse has only recently opened a free medical clinic for women and is often called out to attend to saloon girls, prostitutes, and immigrant mothers. 

[Read Angie Barry's review of No Pity for the Dead...]

Jul 29 2016 1:00pm

Review: In the Land of Milk and Honey by Jane Jensen

In the Land of Milk and Honey by Jane Jensen is the 2nd Elizabeth Harris Mystery (Available August 2, 2016).

What a horrific opening, an Amish family in the dead of night, surrounded by “the smell of vomit and bile.” But Jane Jensen hurtles us into the ultimate terror. Mother Leah decides to check in on all her children, starting with her fourteen-year-old Will, who has been very ill.

She stepped closer to the top bunk, went up on her tiptoes, and reached a hand out to touch William’s forehead. He was a barely distinguishable shape in the dark. Her fingers touched wetness, partially dried and sticky. It was around his mouth, which was slack, open, and felt oddly firm. The smell of something foul came from where her fingers had been. Alarmed, she drew back her hand and paused for only a moment before reaching for the Coleman lamp on the bedside table. She turned it on. Keeping the other boys asleep was no longer the foremost concern on her mind.

“Will?” She blinked as her adjusted to the light. She stepped on the lower bunk and pulled herself up to look at her son.

A moment later her scream echoed through the silent house like a gunshot.

[Read Janet Webb's review of In the Land of Milk and Honey...]

Jul 29 2016 11:00am

Man Fakes Kidnapping to Extort Money from His Mother

A man with a bag over his head and his hands tied behind his back fell out of a moving car and slammed onto the interstate pavement. A barrage of 911 calls poured in from witnesses, and shortly after, police arrived in haste. The man, John R. McPhail, with blood dripping and scrapes on his face, told them he had been kidnapped in Camas, his hometown in Oregon. 

According to KOIN Channel 6, his tale prompted multiple agencies to investigate, as police originally feared there might be more victims being held. This all sounded like a Hollywood movie plot unfolding before their eyes.

That is, until they realized he was not being truthful at all. After further conversations, investigators quickly became suspicious of many inconsistencies in McPhail’s story. After further interrogation by police, he eventually confessed that the kidnapping was staged in an attempt to get money from his mother. The plan, however, failed (AKA McPhail'd) as quickly as it began.

It begs the question: What kind of son pulls a caper like this on his own mother!

He was then arrested on suspicion of initiating a false police report and conspiracy to commit first-degree theft.

Jul 29 2016 10:00am

The More They Disappear: New Excerpt

Jesse Donaldson

The More They Disappear by Jesse DonaldsonThe More They Disappear by Jesse Donaldson takes us to the front lines of the battle against small-town drug abuse in an unnerving tale of addiction, loss, and the battle to overcome the darkest parts of ourselves (Available August 2, 2016).

When long-serving Kentucky sheriff Lew Mattock is murdered by a confused, drug-addicted teenager, chief deputy Harlan Dupee is tasked with solving the crime. But as Harlan soon discovers, his former boss wasn't exactly innocent.

The investigation throws Harlan headlong into the burgeoning OxyContin trade, from the slanted steps of trailer parks to the manicured porches of prominent citizens, from ATV trails and tobacco farms to riverboat casinos and country clubs.

As the evidence draws him closer to an unlikely suspect, Harlan comes to question whether the law can even right a wrong during the corrupt and violent years that followed the release of OxyContin.


Mary Jane Finley was late. She’d changed her outfit three times but nothing seemed to fit. It was the mirror’s fault, the way it reflected her body lumpen and plain. She had new curves, new skin—had for a while now—and no amount of makeup could bring back the face that had twice been Finley County’s Junior Miss Harvest. Those years, from twelve to fourteen, had been her best. After that her body ran its own course, and no diet, fast, or finger down the throat could help her regain the promise she’d shown. There always remained twenty pounds she couldn’t shed. After futilely changing her clothes one last time, Mary Jane scowled at the mirror and said, “Fuck you.”

She drove her red coupe past the house where her boyfriend, Mark, had lived before he left for college. She knew Mark was back in town, waiting by the window for that moment she drove by, and she resisted the urge to honk hello. The finished homes started to thin out as she rolled down the street at a steady twenty-five. In countless plots there lay only the expectation of a house—floor plans staked with wooden boards, electric boxes rising from the emptiness, scraggly seedlings of trees. Mary Jane parked in a deserted cul-de-sac next to the bones of a two-story and slipped on a backpack before hiking into the woods.

[Read the full excerpt from The More They Disappear...]

Jul 28 2016 4:30pm

Can You Name the Serial Killer from Their Childhood Photo?

Crime HQ

Even the cruelest of monsters was once a smiling child. Can you detect the pure evil behing these childhood photos of some of the worst serial killers in history?

Take the quiz below to find out!

[See how many serial killers you know, even as a child!]

Jul 28 2016 3:00pm

Review: A Time to Die by Tom Wood

A Time to Die by Tom Wood is the 6th action packed thriller featuring the enigmatic assassin Victor (Available August 2, 2016). 

With the glut of assassins in literature and film, I considered my bias when it comes to the contract killer in fiction before reading even the first paragraph of A Time to Die by Tom Wood. 

I have a two-fold measure: assassins should be cold-blooded murderers, in it for the money and not simply knocking off other killers (meaning they are equal employment opportunists that won’t discriminate against hits based on race, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or religion); and they needn’t be former operatives who’ve trained with and worked for the CIA, MI6, or some other government waterboarding agency, only to become disillusioned and take to freelancing. 

There are a few exceptions (my prejudice, remember), like Lawrence Block’s Keller and Chris F. Holm’s Michael Hendricks. Otherwise, every time I hear about a “good” assassin I cringe. That go-to trope needs to have a hit placed on it.

[Read David Cranmer's review of A Time to Die...]

Jul 28 2016 1:00pm

Review: The Second Death by Peter Tremayne

The Second Death by Peter Tremayne is the 26th book in the Mysteries of Ancient Ireland series.

Seventh-century Ireland—it wasn’t quite Westeros, but it was still a tough town. In this 26th book of Peter Tremayne’s Mysteries of Ancient Ireland series, we see just how dangerous it was, as murder disrupts the preparations for an annual celebration that offers citizens a nine-day respite from their toil and hardship. 

Eadulf, husband to Fidelma—no longer a “sister”—has not attended the fair in many a year, and his young traveling companion Aidan is beside himself with pride as he describes the treats in store:

‘‘The fair lasts nine days in which there are athletic sporting contests of all sorts, such as archery, and demonstrations of prowess with arms, horse racing, feats of skill from professional entertainers, feasting, assemblies presided over by the King and his Chief Brehon…why, even the great fairs of Taillteann, Tlachtga and Carman pale into insignificance compared with our fair.’’

Eadulf has every expectation that he is in for a pleasant diversion as he makes his way home. This is a summer festival, and the author’s prologue tells us the events traditionally took place “in the last days of the month once called Giblean, now April, during the approach of the Bealtaine Fair at Cashel, held on the first day of Cetsoman, which is explained in Cormac’s ninth-century Glossary (Sanas Chormaic) as cét-sam-sín, the first weather of summer, which we now call May.” There’s something deeply poetic about that sentence, which isn’t even a part of the story, though it sets the stage for what follows. 

[Read Katherine Tomlinson's review of The Second Death...]

Jul 28 2016 11:00am

Pokémon Your Local Bookstore

What do you do when you find out your bookstore is also a PokéStop? Reel those customers in with a discount offer!

That’s what McKenna Jordan, owner of Murder By the Book in Houston, did. She estimates that 50-100 customers have frequented her store as a result of the game, and early on, she promoted an offer to them—catch a Pokémon in the store, take a screenshot, tag Murder By the Book when posting to Facebook or Twitter, and get 20% off.

[Time to drop some lures...]

Jul 28 2016 10:00am

The Commodore: New Excerpt

P. T. Deutermann

The Commodore by P.T. DeutermannThe Commodore by P. T. Deutermann is an epic story of courage, disaster, survival, and triumph that culminates in the pivotal battle of Vela Gulf in WWII (Available August 2, 2016).

The Navy in 1942-1943 is fighting a losing battle against Japan for control of the Solomon Islands. Vice Admiral William “Bull” Halsey is tasked to change the course of the war. Halsey, a maverick, goes on the offensive and appoints a host of new destroyer commanders, including a wild-card named Harmon Wolf. An American Indian from a Minnesota reservation, Wolf has never fit in with the traditional Navy officer corps. But under Halsey, Wolf's aggressive tactics and gambling nature bring immediate results, and he is swiftly promoted to Commodore of an entire destroyer squadron.

What happens next will change Wolf's life, career, and the fate of his ships forever. 


USS John B. King, Guadalcanal

The sound-powered phone mounted above his rack squeaked.

No-o-o, he moaned. Too early. His eyelids felt like they were glued together.

A second squeak, slightly more emphatic. With his eyes still closed, he groped for the handset, pressed the button, and said, “Captain.” Croaked was more like it.

[Read an excerpt from The Commodore...]

Jul 27 2016 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: Death at the Day Lily Cafe by Wendy Sand Eckel

What a delightfully thoughtful cozy mystery! 

Our heroine, Rosalie Hart, has just achieved her lifelong dream of opening an organic, locally sourced cafe that uses produce grown on her nearby farm, Barclay Meadow. Staffed by herself, her best friend Glenn, herbal remedy enthusiast Crystal, and bad-boy cook Custer, the Day Lily Cafe is getting itself up and running, when a desperate neighbor begs for Rosalie’s help. Doris Bird’s brother-in-law was murdered with a shotgun, and the town sheriff is only too happy to clap Doris’s sister in jail for it. Even though she’s incredibly busy with the cafe, Rosalie can’t say no to her friend.

A look into the life of Doris’s sister unearths shocking revelations, even as Rosalie’s own family life becomes more complicated, with her daughter getting involved with Custer and her ex-husband making his own accusations regarding her parenting. A new farm employee also causes friction, as Rosalie begins to doubt the bond she has with her business partner, the very attractive Tyler. All this has Rosalie contemplating her own past relationships, especially with her father.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Jul 27 2016 3:00pm

Curioddity by Paul Jenkins: A Visual Guide

GIFnotes: Giving you the basic plot summary of an upcoming book with the help of the Graphics Interchange Format.

This week, get a little weird with Paul Jenkins's uncanny debut novel, Curioddity.

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Jul 27 2016 1:30pm

Review: The More They Disappear by Jesse Donaldson

The More They Disappear by Jesse Donaldson takes us to the front lines of the battle against small-town drug abuse in an unnerving tale of addiction, loss, and the battle to overcome the darkest parts of ourselves (Available August 2, 2016).

I grew up in the 80's during the “Just Say No” era, so the earliest crime fiction stories about the drug war in America that I saw and read were morally black-and-white tales about maverick cops fighting to bring down evil drug cartels. It wasn't until I got much older that I started to understand that when it came to stories about drugs, cops and criminals are only a small part of a much larger story—crime fiction that examined America's drug problem through many different lenses was much more powerful, haunting, and true. 

[Read Dave Richards's review of The More They Disappear...]

Jul 27 2016 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: July 26, 2016

Every Wednesday, we here at Criminal Element will put together a list of Staff Picks of the books that published the day before—sharing the ones that we are looking forward to reading the most!

Check back every Wednesday and see what we're reading for the week!

[See this week's Top 5...]

Jul 27 2016 11:00am

Book Trailer: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff is a new epic fantasy series featuring a young assassin-in-training named Mia Corvere, and it hits shelves on August 9th! We've been noticing a ton of early rave reviews popping up all over the blogosphere, and we couldn't help but share this amazing fan-made book trailer.

The creator, Sarah, also runs things over at The YA Book Traveler, so head over there for more great content! And, don't hesitate to pre-order a copy today, as Jay will be signing every single copy bought before it goes on-sale!

[Watch the trailer below!]

Jul 27 2016 10:00am

Die Like an Eagle: New Excerpt

Donna Andrews

Die Like an EagleDie Like an Eagle by Donna Andrews is another zany Meg Langslow mystery, filled with the spirit of America's pastime and Donna's eagle eye (Available August 2, 2016).

Meg is Team Mom and Michael is coach of their twin sons' youth baseball team, the Caerphilly Eagles. Meg tangles with Biff Brown, the petty, vindictive league head. On opening day, Biff's lookalike brother is found dead in the porta-potty at the ball field. So many people think Biff's scum that it would be easy to blame him, but he has an alibi—and Meg suspects he may actually have been the intended victim.

Chapter 1

“No fair! I wasn’t ready!”

I glanced over at the field to see what was going on. My husband, Michael, in his role as assistant coach of the Caerphilly Eagles, was putting one of his players through batting practice. Probably seven-year-old Mason. They all looked alike with their baseball hats or batting helmets pulled low over their faces, but Mason was a good friend of Josh and Jamie, our twins, and I was pretty sure I recognized the voice.

[Read an excerpt from Die Like an Eagle...]

Jul 26 2016 4:00pm

Movies + Math = A Beautiful Formula

Whether you love mathematics or roll your eyes when the topic is brought up, here are five films that blend arithmetic with spies, crime, sci-fi, and mystery to entertaining perfection.

[See which movies David added!]

Jul 26 2016 4:00pm

Carnival of Souls: The Unlikely Masterpiece

It’s hard to know where to begin in writing about Carnival of Souls, the eerie cult classic horror film from 1962, which has just been given the Criterion Collection treatment in a new Blu-Ray edition. There is so much intriguing back story to the movie. 

One aspect of the odd but memorable film that stands out to me is its un-likeliness. There’s every reason why the movie shouldn’t have been any good. Herk Harvey, its producer and director (who also played a significant acting role), never made another feature film besides Carnival. Its leading role was portrayed by actress Candace Hilligoss, who only has one other full-length motion picture role to her credit. Its inspiration and physical focal point—a rundown, disused resort complex in Salt Lake City—is a place that would have seemed, to most people at the time of the film’s making, more suitable for the scrap heap than as a location for key scenes in a motion picture. The movie was filmed in about three weeks and on a budget that would have been considered laughably small by any Hollywood production outfit.

[You cannot live in isolation from the human race, you know.]

Jul 26 2016 3:00pm

What Murder Weapon Are You?

Crime HQ

If you're a fan of Criminal Element, then it stands to reason that you know a thing or two about murder. You've read and watched countless deaths unfold right in front of you. But, what happens when the script is flipped and you're the murderous one? What weapon would you grab for first? Or would you even need a weapon at all? 

Still not sure? Don't worry, this can be tricky. Thankfully, we've created a handy quiz designed to tell you exactly what your preferred murderous method should be.