<i>Dying on the Vine</i>: New Excerpt Dying on the Vine: New Excerpt Marla Cooper The 2nd book in the Kelsey McKenna Destination Wedding Mysteries series. Review: <i>My Darling Detective</i> by Howard Norman Review: My Darling Detective by Howard Norman Janet Webb A witty, engrossing homage to noir. The Dark Tower: <i>The Wind Through the Keyhole</i> Part III The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole Part III David Cranmer Join the discussion! <i>Date with Death</i>: New Excerpt Date with Death: New Excerpt Julia Chapman The newest installation in the Samson and Delilah Mystery series.
From The Blog
March 28, 2017
Q&A with Laura Caldwell & Leslie S. Klinger
John Valeri, Laura Caldwell and Leslie S. Klinger
March 23, 2017
Review: Personal Shopper (2017)
Peter Foy
March 21, 2017
Q&A with Gretchen Archer, Author of Double Up
Crime HQ and Gretchen Archer
March 17, 2017
Passionate About Pulp: A Conan Double-Feature (Is What Is Best in Life)
Angie Barry
March 16, 2017
Research Ride-Along
kristen lepionka
Wed
Mar 29 2017 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: March 28, 2017

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!

This week has something for every kind of mystery fan! Looking for a trip to the past? Bestseller Andrew Taylor released a hot new historical thriller set during the aftermath of The Great Fire of London. Cozies more to your taste? You'll be purring with pleasure at the first in a new series by Mandy Morton. See what else this week brings in the way of books:

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

Wed
Mar 29 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

Dying on the Vine: New Excerpt

Marla Cooper

Dying on the Vine by Marla Cooper is the 2nd book in the Kelsey McKenna Destination Wedding Mysteries series (available April 4, 2017).

When wedding planner Kelsey McKenna goes to the Wine Country Wedding Faire, the last thing she expects to do is take on new clients. After all, she’s just there to help out her friend Brody and maybe score some free cupcakes. But when a young couple in a pinch asks for her help, she just can't say no.

There’s only one problem: they’d been working with Babs Norton, the self-proclaimed Queen of Wine Country Weddings—and things did not end well. Kelsey wants to make sure there are no hard feelings, but unfortunately she never gets the chance. When she goes to Babs’ office, she finds the wedding planner dead on the floor.

Babs' high-strung assistant Stefan knows exactly who killed Babs: Kelsey. At least, that's what he very publicly accuses her of at Babs' funeral. When Kelsey decides to do a little sleuthing to clear her name, she uncovers a myriad of secrets and lies. And when a second wedding planner is attacked, Kelsey begins to wonder if she might be next.

[Read an excerpt from Dying on the Vine...]

Tue
Mar 28 2017 4:15pm

Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul?

Writer and creator Vince Gilligan struck gold back in 2008 when the first episode of Breaking Bad premiered. After 5 seasons of watching the transformation of Walter White to Heisenberg, critics and audiences alike list the show as one of the best of all time. 

After the success of Breaking Bad, Gilligan decided another character’s story needed telling. In 2015, Saul Goodman got his own show, Better Call Saul, as a spinoff prequel to the Breaking Bad story. The first two seasons have garnered a similar level of critical acclaim. 

With Season 3 of Better Call Saul quickly approaching, we wanted to know which show you like better. Is it the origin story of “Slippin’ Jimmy”? Or the tragic story of “Heisenberg”?

[Vote for which show you like better!]

Tue
Mar 28 2017 2:00pm

Q&A with Laura Caldwell & Leslie S. Klinger, Co-Editors of Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted

Laura Caldwell and Leslie S. Klinger are co-editors of Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted (available March 28, 2017), which pairs genre luminaries such as Lee Child, Sara Paretsky, Laurie R. King, Jan Burke, and S. J. Rozan with exonerated inmates to illuminate the realities of wrongful conviction.

Recently, Ms. Caldwell and Mr. Klinger generously agreed to answer some questions about their collaborative process and the intent behind Anatomy of Innocence.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Tue
Mar 28 2017 1:00pm

Review: My Darling Detective by Howard Norman

My Darling Detective by Howard Norman is a witty, engrossing homage to noir (available March 28, 2017).

Jacob Rigolet, “a soon-to-be former assistant to a wealthy art collector,” is attending an auction and preparing to make a bid. Out of nowhere, his mother—resident of the Nova Scotia Rest Hospital and former Head Librarian at the Halifax Free Library—appears. Why is she on the lam from her lock-down medical facility? Shockingly, Nora Rigolet, née Ives, tosses a jar of black ink at the Robert Capa photograph Death on a Leipzig BalconyHoward Norman weaves the work of famed war photographer Robert Capa into the story. The auction attendees on March 19th, 1977, would certainly have been acquainted with the work of Capa’s photographs.

Nora Rigolet dubs her detective interrogator, Martha Crauchet, an “interlocutrix.” Stretching credulity but completely necessary to this compelling noir-ish tale, Martha is also Jacob’s fiancée. The mystery behind Nora’s action lies in events that took place years earlier. Unbelievably, Martha tells Jacob that his father, deceased war hero Bernard Rigolet, is not his real father. Who was his father then? Is he still alive?

[Read Janet Webb's review of My Darling Detective...]

Tue
Mar 28 2017 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole Part III

Last week, we got a story within a story within a story. This week, we reveal the Skin-Man in a terrifying scene as we close out The Wind Through the Keyhole

In Wizard and Glass, we discovered that Roland had accidentally killed his mother and returned a crystal ball from Maerlyn’s Rainbow to his father. His newest ka-tet—Jake, Susannah, Eddie, and Oy—are following The Path of the Beam when they encounter Marten, now calling himself Randall Flagg, in a twisted version of Emerald City. Roland just misses killing Flagg but managed to gun down Andrew Quick, aka Tick-Tock Man, who was working for Flagg.

The Wind Through The Keyhole was written to chronologically follow Wizard and Glass even though it was released in 2012, long after the 7th novel, The Dark Tower (2004). For that reason, we have decided to continue Roland’s adventures in sequential order since Stephen King calls it The Dark Tower 4.5.

Come join us … before the world moves on.

*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!

This is a shorter book with only five sections, so the plan is to split the book into three parts (about 100 pages each) and meet here at our usual time (Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET) to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This week, we reveal the Skin-Man in a terrifying scene as we close out The Wind Through the Keyhole! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part III of The Wind Through the Keyhole: The Skin-Man (Part 2) – Storm's Over!


CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread


[And so it happened, once upon a bye...]

Tue
Mar 28 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

Date with Death: New Excerpt

Julia Chapman

Date with Death by Julia Chapman is the newest installation in the delightful Samson and Delilah Mystery series (available April 4, 2017).

Samson O'Brien has been dismissed from the police force—quite unfairly, according to him. Now back in his home town of Bruncliffe in the Yorkshire Dales, Samson sets up the Dales Detective Agency while he fights to clear his name. However, the people of Bruncliffe aren't entirely welcoming to a man they see as trouble.

Delilah Metcalfe, meanwhile, is struggling to keep her business, the Dales Dating Agency, afloat. When Samson gets his first case, investigating the supposed suicide of a local man, things take an unexpected turn, and soon he discovers a trail of deaths that lead back to the door of Delilah's agency.

With suspicion hanging over someone they both care for, Delilah and Samson soon realize that they need to work together to solve the mystery of the dating deaths. But working together is easier said than done, and the couple must find a way to kiss and make up before more villagers wind up dead.

[Read an excerpt from Date with Death...]

Mon
Mar 27 2017 5:00pm

Wedding Cozies and Crime Fiction Couples

Love is in the air this spring with new wedding cozies, so we asked authors Maggie McConnon and Marla Cooper to share which crime fiction couple they would want to work for. Read their responses below and sign in and comment at the bottom for a chance to win a copy of Bel of the Brawl AND Dying on the Vine!

[Learn how to win!]

Mon
Mar 27 2017 4:20pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 7.15: “Something They Need”

Last night on The Walking Dead: Search for the Fish People, the showrunners finally caught the viewers up with the inevitable. Tara flipped on the Fish People, Sasha's idiotic plan yielded predictable results, and Dwight made a (surprise?) appearance in Alexandria.

Also—rejoice, all ye put-upon viewers hate-watching due to sheer obstinance! The season finale is nigh, and odds are good it'll be about as satisfying as most of the rest of this season has been so far. In most other shows, Rick's crew would've come together a couple of episodes ago, last night would have been about everyone arriving for the final showdown, culminating in a 90-minute battle of ups and downs between the Saviors and Alexandria, et al. But TWD, in all its infinite wisdom, is eschewing convention.

Anyone want to lay odds on whether we even get to see the beginning of this fight next week? We're about 70% convinced the finale is going to end with everyone assembling and staring at each other before the show peaces out for another year. If last season proved anything, it's that TWD is not at all adverse to anti-climactic finales.

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Mon
Mar 27 2017 2:00pm

Review: Bone White by Wendy Corsi Staub

Bone White by Wendy Corsi Staub is the 3rd and final book in the Mundy's Landing Trilogy (available March 28, 2017).

“We shall never tell.” This cryptic phrase, discovered in a centuries-old letter, is the driving force that propels Emerson Mundy on a decisive search for truth in Bone White, the final book in New York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub’s Mundy’s Landing Trilogy. Consumed by grief over her father’s death and looking to escape the attention of an overzealous boyfriend, Emerson skips town to travel cross-country from California to Mundy’s Landing, New York. There, she hopes to reclaim her ancestral heritage—but soon finds that the family name is a burden to bear.

Mundy’s Landing—a seemingly idyllic Hudson River Valley town—has a dark past that continually haunts its present. Despite the recent resolution of the infamous Sleeping Beauty Murders (see 2016’s Mary Higgins Clark Award-nominated Blue Moon), there’s another skeleton in the village’s proverbial closet: a cannibalization scandal that sent founding colonists James and Elizabeth Mundy to the gallows, leaving their three children—and future generations—to protect the family’s carefully safeguarded secrets. But when aged town historian Aurora “Ora” Abrams proffers a long-hidden disembodied skull for forensic analysis—the results of which harken back to that fateful winter of 1666, when starvation plagued the settlement—she inadvertently sets in motion yet another series of sordid affairs.

[Read John Valeri's review of Bone White...]

Mon
Mar 27 2017 1:00pm
Excerpt

If We Were Villains: Audio Excerpt

M. L. Rio

If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio is an intelligent, thrilling, and richly detailed debut novel—a captivating story of the enduring power and passion of words (available April 11, 2017).

Listen to an exclusive audio excerpt from If We Were Villains, and then follow the link below to sign up for a chance to win a free digital download card for the audiobook!

Oliver Marks has just served ten years in jail – for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he's released, he's greeted by the man who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened a decade ago.

As one of seven young actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But when the casting changes, and the secondary characters usurp the stars, the plays spill dangerously over into life, and one of them is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

Take a visual tour of If We Were Villains with GIFnotes!

[Listen to an exclusive early audio excerpt!]

Mon
Mar 27 2017 12:00pm

Crime/Mystery/Thrillers Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix in April 2017

Since Netflix shifted their focus to original content, these lists have been getting a little one-sided as the streaming service continues to purge their backlisted material. The early part of April sees a few horror classics hitting the queue, while the month closes out strong with a few anticipated Netflix Originals: Casting JonBenet and Rodney King
 

[See what else is coming (and leaving) Netflix in April...]

Mon
Mar 27 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

The Good Byline: New Excerpt

Jill Orr

The Good Byline by Jill Orr is a debut novel and the 1st in the new Riley Ellison Mystery series (available March 20, 2017).

Meet Riley Ellison, a smart, quirky, young library assistant who’s become known in her hometown of Tuttle Corner, Virginia, as Riley Bless-Her-Heart. Ever since her beloved granddaddy died and her longtime boyfriend broke up with her, Riley has been withdrawing from life. In an effort to rejoin the living, she signs up for an online dating service and tries to reconnect with her childhood best friend, Jordan James, a reporter at the Tuttle Times. But when she learns that Jordan committed suicide, Riley is shaken to the core.

Riley agrees to write Jordan's obituary as a way to learn more about why a young woman with so much to live for would suddenly opt out. Jordan’s co-worker, a paranoid reporter with a penchant for conspiracy theories, convinces Riley that Jordan’s death was no suicide. He leads her down a dangerous path toward organized crime, secret lovers, and suspicious taco trucks.

Riley’s serpentine hunt for the truth eventually intersects with her emerging love life, and she makes a discovery that puts everything Riley holds dear—her job, the people she loves, and even her life—in danger. Will writing this obituary be the death of her?

[Read an excerpt from The Good Byline...]

Sun
Mar 26 2017 2:00pm
Excerpt

Too Sharp: New Excerpt

Marianne Delacourt

Too Sharp by Marianne Delacourt is the 3rd book in the Tara Sharp series. 

Tara Sharp’s new case brings her to Brisbane, where she is placed in charge of Slim Sledge, a high-maintenance rock star. Tara’s a sucker for a backstage pass, and it'll provide some much-needed distance between herself and her mother's not-so-subtle hints about getting a “real” job, not to mention crime lord Johnny Viaspa, the only man on the planet who wants her dead.

She expected the music industry to be cut-throat, but Tara soon uncovers more problems than just Slim Sledge's demands and his rabid fans. Everywhere she turns, the grudges run deeper and the danger ramps up.

Has Tara finally pushed her luck too far?

[Read an excerpt from Too Sharp...]

Sun
Mar 26 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

The Devil’s Feast: New Excerpt

M.J. Carter

The Devil's Feast by M. J. Carter is the 3rd book in the Blake and Avery series in which the investigative team find themselves entangled in a case involving political conflicts, personal vendettas, and England’s first celebrity chef (available March 28, 2017).

London, 1842. Captain William Avery is persuaded to investigate a mysterious and horrible death at the Reform, London’s newest and grandest gentleman’s club—a death the club is desperate to hush up. What he soon discovers is a web of rivalries and hatreds, both personal and political, simmering behind the club’s handsome façade. At the center is its resident genius, Alexis Soyer, “the Napoleon of food,” a chef whose culinary brilliance is matched only by his talent for self-publicity.

But Avery is distracted, for where is his mentor and partner in crime Jeremiah Blake? And what if this first death is only a dress rehearsal for something far more sinister?

[Read an excerpt from The Devil's Feast...]

Sat
Mar 25 2017 11:03am
Original Story

Man Impersonates Cop, Accidentally Drunk, Thief Stuck in Window, and more: The Bullet List

Teddy Pierson
Sat
Mar 25 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

The Wages of Sin: New Excerpt

Kaite Welsh

The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh is a page-turning tale of murder, subversion and vice in which a female medical student in Victorian Edinburgh is drawn into a murder investigation when she recognizes one of the corpses in her anatomy lecture.

Sarah Gilchrist has fled London and a troubled past to join the University of Edinburgh's medical school in 1892, the first year it admits women. She is determined to become a doctor despite the misgivings of her family and society, but Sarah quickly finds plenty of barriers at school itself: professors who refuse to teach their new pupils, male students determined to force out their female counterparts, and―perhaps worst of all―her female peers who will do anything to avoid being associated with a fallen woman.

Desperate for a proper education, Sarah turns to one of the city’s ramshackle charitable hospitals for additional training. The St Giles’ Infirmary for Women ministers to the downtrodden and drunk, the thieves and whores with nowhere else to go. In this environment, alongside a group of smart and tough teachers, Sarah gets quite an education. But when Lucy, one of Sarah’s patients, turns up in the university dissecting room as a battered corpse, Sarah finds herself drawn into a murky underworld of bribery, brothels, and body snatchers.

Painfully aware of just how little separates her own life from that of her former patient’s, Sarah is determined to find out what happened to Lucy and bring those responsible for her death to justice. But as she searches for answers in Edinburgh’s dank alleyways, bawdy houses and fight clubs, Sarah comes closer and closer to uncovering one of Edinburgh’s most lucrative trades, and, in doing so, puts her own life at risk…

[Read an excerpt from The Wages of Sin...]

Fri
Mar 24 2017 4:30pm

“Vine Country” Cocktail

What happens when your nice vacation to Wine Country is interrupted by murder? Add bourbon to your wine...

And that's exactly what we do with this week's Pick Your Poison—where we create a cocktail inspired by a recently published mystery, thriller, or crime novel—the “Vine Country" cocktail, inspired by Marla Cooper's 2nd Kelsey McKenna Destination Wedding Mystery, Dying on the Vine!

[Check out the recipe below!]

Fri
Mar 24 2017 3:30pm

Marvel’s Iron Fist Season 1 Review: Episodes 1-4

Hello, and welcome back the world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe! My name is Dave Richards, and I was your guide in Criminal Element's look at the 2nd season of Netflix's television adaptation of Marvel Comics' Daredevil and the streaming network's 1st season of Jessica Jones. Now, I'm back to examine the latest Netflix Marvel series, Iron Fist, which lays the final groundwork for The Defenders series, where the stars of the four various Netflix shows will unite into an Avengers-style supergroup. 

In this piece, we'll look at the first four episodes of Iron Fist: “Snow Gives Way,” “Shadow Hawk Takes Flight,” “Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch,” and “Eight Diagram Dragon Palm.” I'll examine the action and prominent characters, look at how the series knits together threads from the other Netflix shows, and offer up my perspective as a long time Marvel Comic reader and fan of the friendship between the comic book incarnations of Danny Rand and Luke Cage. So let's begin!

[Who is Danny Rand?]

Fri
Mar 24 2017 1:00pm

Review: Baker Street Irregulars, Edited by Michael A. Ventrella & Jonathan Maberry

Baker Street Irregulars, edited by Michael A. Ventrella and Jonathan Maberry, features thirteen authors—including Gail Z. Martin, David Gerrold, and Jonathan Maberry—who come together to pen short stories innovating Sherlock Holmes, adapting and revolutionizing the iconic character.

Baker Street Irregulars is a collection of stories about the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his universe. But these are not your typical Sherlock stories; they have the genius hero in all guises and forms. In one he is a parrot, another he’s an automaton. There’s Sherlock as a reality TV show host, and a dog from outer space. And there’s many more to offer in this anthology edited by Michael A. Ventrella and Jonathan Maberry. I’m going to highlight just a few of the fantastic stories contained within, but I highly recommend grabbing a copy for yourself for a fun evening along with Sherlock and Watson.

In “Identity” by Keith R. A. DeCandido, Sherlock is a young lady, Shirley Holmes, whose aunt is looking for a companion to be with her as her parents are gone. Watson is a medical doctor in training who had previously served in Afghanistan. He’s looking for a cheap housing situation when Holmes’s aunt enters the picture offering free room and board in a swanky Manhattan townhouse in exchange for looking after Shirley.

We quickly learn Shirley doesn’t really need or want a companion, and we also learn that Shirley has frequent clients who come to her for help in solving mysteries. When Watson sits in on a case, he shows that he can be helpful, and a team is born.

Shirley is classic Sherlock with a modern twist, as seen in one of her spills here:

But getting a free room in this house and not having to put up with her bullshit? “I’ll gladly accept, Mrs. Hudson.”

She frowned again. “Don’t be stupid, my name isn’t Ms. Hudson. Aunt Martha is my mother’s sister, and she committed the barbaric act of changing her name to that of her husband when she married, and kept it following his death. That practice derives from an era when women were considered to be the property of their spouses and so subsumed their birth names for that of the husband. That is no longer the case, so I do not comprehend why women continue to engage in the idiotic practice. In any event, I would properly be identified as “Ms. Holmes,” which is my father’s last name—and my mother’s, actually, as she also underwent the barbaric practice. However, you may address me by my first name of Shirley.”

This one was a favorite.

“The Adventure of the Reluctant Detective” by Ryk Spoor is a very, very interesting entry. Written in the vein of the classic Sherlock tales, this is one of the longer entries. I really enjoyed the ambiance and setting, along with the classic relationship between Sherlock and Watson. It is a tale of ghosts and the supernatural, which instantly makes it one to grab my attention. The supernatural shakes Sherlock up when he cannot disprove it.

Holmes regarded me with mild astonishment, but said nothing. Slowly his expression shifted to the contemplative, and—at last—a faint but genuine smile appeared on his lips. “Ah, Watson. Once more you are the unchangeable rock to which I can anchor. If a ghost exists—and I have been given inarguable proof of this, before my own eyes, under conditions that I do not believe admit of any trickery—then it is—must be—natural for it to exist. Things that are real are, by that very fact, natural. They may not be what we desire to be real, but the fact that our desires cannot change them is what shows them to be true and real.”

This is the ultimate mystery for Sherlock.

“A Scandal in the Bloodline” by Hildy Silverman is a really fun story! Sherlock is a vampire, and Watson is a werewolf. Does it get any better than that? When Sherlock is visited by his maker, he and Watson must help her find her husband, the originator of their bloodline, who has been kidnapped and is in danger. If he dies, so would Sherlock and the others in his bloodline. The stakes are high (oh the puns).

Also, there is a great fight scene that really keeps this story moving. Sherlock is having an existential crisis given that he’s lived for so long and seen so many technological advancements.

“When were we even last employed?” He rose and began to pace the length of the dining area in our modest flat. “I swear I can feel my mind atrophying. In this age of world wide webs and CSIs, FBIs, and so forth there is precious little need for a great detective.” He paused in front of me and for a moment looked so downcast my heart ached on his behalf. “This is my true curse, Watson, more than the bloodthirst. I have outlived my usefulness.”

I loved the supernatural element and the lighthearted feel to this one.

“The Scarlet Study” by Jim Avelli reminded me of the current Sherlock TV show, except it's set in a dystopian landscape. Also, the old movie They Live is brought to mind by way of a parallel plot, as the population is being controlled by big pharma through mind-altering chemicals. Everyone is required to take meds that are catered to their positions. These drugs are not questioned, except for by a few conspiracy theorists such as Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft.

When Irene Adler, Sherlock’s ex-wife, is murdered, she leaves Sherlock a note along with a mystery pill labeled “Scarlett.” Sherlock takes it and becomes the sleuthing detective we all know. It’s an interesting premise, having a future where the government controls the populace’s thoughts and actions by way of mandatory medicine. 1984 also comes to mind.

Irene’s personal notes about the project included some information about enhancers in other markets as well. Trivalia was listed as a “strength and endurance booster” for the labor market with “cognition-damping” effects. Roburall, meant for police and private security, was shown to enhance “speed of thought, reaction time, and physical dexterity, while hindering a person’s will to question instructions.” The list that followed was a wide range of scripts that were marketed to employers, all of whom required their workforces to participate. Scarlett, Holmes found, was still in the testing phase. The drug was meant for the use of British intelligence or the GCHQ, American CIA, and intelligence contractors of the big multinationals. “Cognitive and deductive” effects were stitched into a cocktail of other stimulants to form a physical and mental toolkit for the military elite. It had only just been approved for human trials.

Wow, author and editor Jonathan Maberry wrote a wonderful story with “The Hammer of God.” He did not use Sherlock in the more conventional way, like many of the other stories. Instead, the main characters are two nuns, Mother Frey and Sister Miri. They are a part of the Office of Miracles. Mother Frey, the elder of the two, is teaching Miri her ways in the art of deduction to solve what mysteries other agencies cannot. I couldn’t help noticing the X-Files-vibe to their work in that they are not trying to prove miracles, but instead disprove them—much like Scully was tasked to do in the beginning of the show.

Here, they must figure out the cause of a string of strange deaths that have been attributed to the “hand of god.” This supernatural explanation does not satisfy Mother Frey, and through deduction she comes to a shocking conclusion.

On a side note, another fascinating element in this story is the hand of god itself. It intrigued me so much that I had to look up the evolution of the modern gun. Connecting an ancient fire lance to a cannon to a gun was a fun bit of research.

Is Miri, the narrator, supposed to be Sherlock with her higher education and prior life experience, or is she supposed to be Watson who is following Frey and learning the ways? Or, is it Frey as Sherlock with her obvious gift of deduction as Miri’s mentor? I can’t make up my mind. Either way, this is easily one of the best stories in the anthology.

“Why should priests be afraid of something that targets the wicked? Shouldn’t it be the guilty, the sinners who need fear?”

She looked at me strangely. “That is exactly why the men of power are afraid, my girl.”

“What do you mean?”

“They fear the wrath of the gods. They fear punishment. They believe that this man and the others have been struck down by something beyond the understanding of men. In the report forwarded to the Office by the council of priests they described these murders in an odd and telling way. They said that they believe the victims were struck down by the hammer of god.”

“Which god?”

“No,” she said, “that is not the question we should ask. It is not which god that need concern us. We must ask ourselves which hammer.”

I really enjoyed this collection. Diverse and super creative, they all bring a new spin on the classic Sherlock universe. Fans might like this break from the norm and fresh take on the old.

Read an excerpt from Baker Street Irregulars!

 

To learn more or order a copy, visit:

Buy at iTunes

Buy at Barnes and NobleBuy at Amazon

 

 


Amber Keller is a writer who delves into dark, speculative fiction, particularly horror and suspense/thrillers. You can find her work on her Amazon Author Page and she also features many short stories on Diary of a Writer. A member of the Horror Writers Association, she contributes to many websites and eMagazines and you can follow her on Twitter @akeller9.