Fresh Meat: <i>The Perfect Witness</i> by Iris Johansen Fresh Meat: The Perfect Witness by Iris Johansen John Jacobson Seeing people's darkest memories has made her a target... Fresh Meat: <i>The Ploughmen</i> by Kim Zupan Fresh Meat: The Ploughmen by Kim Zupan Jenny Maloney An old man who's killed dozens meets a young deputy who hasn't saved one... Now Win <i>This</i>!: The Second Paper Capers Sweepstakes Now Win This!: The Second Paper Capers Sweepstakes Crime HQ These paperbacks will bend, but you'll break! <i>Proof Positive</i>: New Excerpt Proof Positive: New Excerpt Archer Mayor Joe Gunther returns to investigate the mysterious death of a Vietnam vet turned hoarder.
From The Blog
September 30, 2014
Coming (Sort of) Soon: Tommy and Tuppence
Leslie Gilbert Elman
September 29, 2014
K.I.T.T. Has Not Become the Knight Industries Tween TruLuv
Crime HQ
September 26, 2014
Checking into The Knick 1.07: “Get the Rope”
Joe Brosnan
September 26, 2014
J.K. Rowling and the Brush with Fame
G.M. Malliet
September 26, 2014
David Suchet Investigates Agatha Christie
Leslie Gilbert Elman
Sep 30 2014 1:45pm

Fresh Meat: The Perfect Witness by Iris Johansen

The Perfect Witness by Iris Johansen is a romatic thriller about the daughter of a mob boss whose visions into people's darkest mark her for death, until a dangerous man helps her bury her identity and her gifts to survive (available September 30, 2014).

The latest romantic thriller from Iris Johansen delves into the supernatural with a main character that can psychically recall the memories of those around her. The novel functions as a thriller because of the fast-paced writing style that keeps the story moving. The author may have a background in writing romance that gets shown in the relationships her heroines develop, but her style and execution are all about expressing the feelings of being chased and unsafe. 

From the first page, the prose creates a tightened and minimalistic sense of tense intrigue:

She was bleeding…

The pain in her side was almost overwhelming.

Teresa could hear the three men behind her in the forest, crashing through the underbrush.


No time to try and stop the bleeding.  If she didn’t get away from them, there would be another bullet, another wound.

Or death. 

She had been lucky to have seen them coming up the road toward the cabin and guessed that they had been sent to kill her.  She had slipped out of the cabin, but they had caught sight of her running into the woods.  She had heard Mick Judaro shout to Tantona when he saw her.  He’s been surprised, they’d thought she’d be easy game.  But she’d been waiting for them for the last three days.

Waiting for death.

[Can you wait to read more? Nope...]

Sep 30 2014 1:30pm

How to Get Away with Murder: Series Premiere

Ever wonder how you might have to dispose of a body? Hide evidence? Plan the perfect crime? ABC’s latest TV show has, and it isn’t being coy about the fact: it’s titled How to Get Away with Murder.

The show opens in media res: four law students are in the woods at night over a murdered body, arguing about their next move. We flashback three months, to the start of their class under Defense Attorney Annalise Keating (Viola Davis). She’s teaching them all her trade, how to get away with the exact type of crime they’ll need to cover up in the very near future. Here’s hoping they took notes.

With this show, Executive Producer Shonda Rhimes is the undisputed benevolent dictator of the ABC network. Murder joins Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal  to form a three-hour block of primetime under her creative management. The former show, created by Peter Nowalk, a writer on the two latter ones, carries over the snappy pace and soapy plot-twists that the past shows are known for. However, the characterization and – most importantly – the sense of fun might be even better.

[Listen up, millenials!]

Sep 30 2014 1:15pm

Fresh Meat: The Ploughmen by Kim Zupan

The Ploughmen by Kim Zupan is a novel set against the landscape of Montana, involving the relationship between a weathered, old serial killer awaiting trial and the troubled young deputy guarding him overnight (available September 30, 2014).

Copper County, Montana: Sheriff’s Deputy Valentine Millimacki is a man with a talent for finding people. With his dog, Tom, he tracks people who have lost themselves in the Montana wilderness. He understands how people think, how they react. Unfortunately, none of the people he’s found in the last few months have survived the harsh conditions that Millimacki seems born into.

John Gload also understands people. In the past fifty years, Gload has killed and disposed of dozens, perhaps hundreds of people. He’s a hunter. Then one mistake, one lapse of judgment, costs him his freedom and lands him in a Copper County jail cell.

When Millimacki, the low man in the sheriff’s department, pulls the graveyard shift at the jail, he’s tugged into the insomniacal Gload’s center of gravity. As sleep becomes more and more rare between hunting for the missing and his overnight shifts, Millimacki’s marriage begins to collapse. And his odd connection with the most notorious killer in Montana’s history grows stronger.

[Stronger and Stranger...]

Sep 30 2014 1:00pm

Gotham 1.02: “Selina Kyle”

Bruno Heller, the co-creater of Gotham, talked in an interview about the influence of 1970s New York City on the show. That’s evident in much of the cinematography, such as the elevated tracks at the murder scene in “Selina Kyle,” very similar to the setting of the car chase in The French Connection.

But what I hoped was also a tone similar to The French Connection.

Instead, from Falcone’s public beating of Fish’s lover, to the too on-the-nose dialogue about being “with the program” from Capt. Essen, and Bullock’s repeated badgerings of Jim Gordon to stop acting all high and mighty, Episode 2, “Selina Kyle” became, at times, almost as silly as its Monday night companion, Sleepy Hollow but not nearly as fun as Sleepy Hollow, which embraces its ridiculousness. (Look, everyone, studly naked torso!)

[The young bat and cat!]

Sep 30 2014 12:00pm

Now Win This!: The Second Paper Capers Sweepstakes

These five suspenseful paperbacks might bend, but you're more likely to break! Register to enter for a chance to win!

Click here to enter for a chance to win!

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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 September 30, 2014, at 12:00 pm ET, and ends October 14, 2014, 11:59 am ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[Find out what's included!]

Sep 30 2014 9:00am

Coming (Sort of) Soon: Tommy and Tuppence

We’ve seen the last of Miss Marple for a while and David Suchet has given us a complete catalog of Poirot (would that we could see them all on TV).

Must we go Agatha Christie-less into the future? Perish the thought!

Production is in progress on Partners in Crime, a new series based on Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence Beresford stories. Says Radio Times:

The crime-solving husband and wife appeared in four of Christie’s books and one collection of short stories. Set in the 1950s, the six-part BBC series will follow the couple’s involvement in murder cases, Cold War conspiracy and the world of undercover agents.

The series stars David Walliams (Little Britain) and Jessica Raine (Jenny from Call the Midwife). Two stories will be dramatized—N or M and The Secret Adversary. They’re set to air in the U.K. next year, in time for the 125th anniversary of Agatha Christie’s birth. It seems likely that Tommy and Tuppence will make their way to the U.S., too.

Sep 29 2014 5:00pm

Proof Positive: New Excerpt

Archer Mayor

Proof Positive by Archer Mayor is the 25th mystery in the Joe Gunther series about the Vermont Bureau of Investigation leader (available September 30, 2014).

Ben Kendall was a troubled man. Coming back from Vietnam with PTSD and scars that no one else could see, he hid away from the world, filling his house with an ever-increasing amount of stuff, until finally, the piles collapsed and he was found dead, crushed beneath his own belongings. But what at first glance looks to be a tragic accidental death of a hoarder, may be something much more—and much deadlier. Ben’s cousin, medical examiner Beverly Hillstrom, unsettled by the circumstances of his death, alerts Joe Gunther and his Vermont Bureau of Investigation team.

Ben, it seems, brought back something else from Vietnam than personal demons—he also brought back combat photos and negatives that someone else wants desperately to keep from the public eye. When Beverly’s daughter Rachel made her cousin Ben—and his photos—the subject of her college art project, some of those photos appeared on the walls of a local art gallery. This in turn resulted in the appearance of a two man hit squad, searching for some other missing negatives. With Joe Gunther and his squad trailing behind the grisly research results of the hit team, and the deadly killers closing in on Rachel, Gunther has little time to find and protect Rachel before she ends up in the same grisly state as her cousin before her.


 It was the time of year when New England wobbles between fall and winter, as prone to Indian summer as to sudden, short-lived snowstorms.

It wasn’t snowing tonight, but it was cold, and Jason Newville was regretting that he’d only worn a sweatshirt. Nerves played a part. Unlike some, he tended to cool down when he was on a job, instead of working up an adrenaline sweat. But as with most things taken for granted, he hadn’t considered it when he set out, and was paying the price now.

[Continue reading Archer Mayor's Proof Positive...]

Sep 29 2014 4:15pm

Miss Marple: “Endless Night”

Miss Marple raises lots of questions. The most pertinent right now is: What is she doing in this story?

Endless Night is a real suspense tale, told from the point of view of an opportunistic young man. Published in 1967, the novel was a hit with readers, not least because it was such a departure from Agatha Christie’s familiar style. Said The Observer at the time, “...the suspense is kept up all the way and Miss Christie's new demi-tough, streamlined style really does come off. She'll be wearing black leather pants next, if she isn't already.”

Does that sound Marple-y to you?

Agatha Christie didn’t put Miss Marple into Endless Night, quite rightly, as she doesn’t belong there. The story works beautifully on its own.

[But she’s such a nice lady and hardly takes up any room...]

Sep 29 2014 3:00pm

Boardwalk Empire 5.04: “Cuanto”

“Cuanto,” the fourth episode of the season, starts with a revealing flashback. Summer is over and the Commodore dismisses Nucky (but not before Nucky sees both the Commodore’s vision for Atlantic City as well as his pornographic photo collection of young girls). Nucky, lost without a job and furious over his family’s moral and economic squalor, breaks into the hotel to show Eli the wonder of running water. Nucky foolishly indulges in a bath and is caught by Sherriff Lindsay, the Commodore’s right hand man. Nucky expects the worst, but instead the Sheriff treats Nucky and Eli like family, providing them a home-cooked meal and a night of domestic happiness. Sheriff Lindsay’s kindness overwhelms Nucky, who cries at the dinner table.

Sheriff Lindsay is the first decent man Nucky has known, and his influence on Nucky can’t be overstated. He is the direct inspiration for Nucky eventually becoming the sheriff himself, as well as the conscience that will nag at Nucky for the rest of his life, telling young Nucky, “Don’t be foolish. There’s enough trouble in the world. Don’t go where you don’t belong. Don’t take what isn’t yours. Don’t pass your burdens onto others.”

[What's that? A morally sound character on Boardwalk Empire?]

Sep 29 2014 11:30am

The Strain 1.12: “Last Rites”

So we’ve finally reached the penultimate episode—“Last Rites”—and it’s hard to believe that while it’s been weeks for us, barely a week has passed for the characters.

It’s also difficult to believe that this show can get even more tragic than it’s already been. But here we are. (I move that Abraham has had the worst life in human history, and that the show’s subtitle should just be Even More Tragedy!!! Plus Body Horror.)

Anyway, Eldritch Palmer is lying on his deathbed and Herr Eichorst comes to loom over him creepily. “What if the Master sent me to give you your last rites?” Eichorst taunts the old man.

“He will come. He still needs me. I have faith,” Palmer replies.

(It would be karmic justice if Palmer set all of this evil into motion only to die empty-handed. But of course, justice doesn’t have a place in this nihilistic vampiric world order.)

[If it's justice you're looking for, you've come to the wrong place...]

Sep 29 2014 8:45am

K.I.T.T. Has Not Become the Knight Industries Tween TruLuv

Please, stop breathing exhaust fumes, it's going to be okay. Justin Bieber isn't really the new KITT of Knight Rider, well, not exactly. Yes, he filmed scenes for a movie at Venice Beach last week with David Hasselhoff, once crime-fighter Michael Knight. And yes, he is, apparently, doing the voice of the car, but...

The movie they were working on is a comedy, working titles Killing Hasselhoff and Celebrity Death Pool. Via Inquisitr, it's about a “desperate nightclub owner who embarks on a plan to pay off his massive debt with a loan shark by attempting to win the club’s celebrity [death] pool with the help of a hit man.”

Tweets from the set indicate Justin's part is very brief—it would have to be with only one day of filming. Upon considering the Beebs as KITT, the interweeb's strangled cries of Nooooooooo (music to any PR person's ears) lasted far longer than the “20 seconds” of screen time promised by screenwriter Peter Hoare. Currently, the bit is set to be a closing credit bonus, even if it feels more like it's just boning those of us who don't prefer to see every single bit of our pasts in worse, regurgitated forms.
Sep 28 2014 9:30pm

Fresh Meat: Mean Business on North Ganson Street

Mean Business on North Ganson Street is the story of a black police detective exiled from the sunny southwest to a decaying, crime-ridden town in the rust belt, which also has a cop killer on the loose (available September 30, 2014).

From the cinematic first sentence of the first paragraph of the first page of this book, S. Craig Zahler serves notice that the term “mean streets” is not exclusively reserved for big cities on either coast.

The North Ganson Street of the title is located in a small rustbelt town in  Missouri called Victory, a place where African-American detective Jules Bettinger is living in unwilling exile from Arizona after a spectacularly disastrous incident involving a missing person’s complaint.

Zahler draws us in with a wealth of visceral, visual detail until the reader’s experience is multidimensional, as if experiencing a fully realized movie coming off the page:

Wearing a blue parka, brown corduroy pants, and gloves, Bettinger backed a yellow hatchback out of a two-car garage in Stonesburg, Missouri. His green sedan had died after six days of cold weather (which seemed like a prophecy), and since most of the family money was tied up in bonds and the Arizona house, the detective had been forced to buy himself a cheap replacement...

Affixed to a pole on the right side of the road was a wooden plank that read WELCOME TO VICTORY. Human excrement had been smeared across the greeting.


[Raise your pinkies, and wash your hands!]

Sep 28 2014 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets edited by David Thomas Moore

Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets, edited by David Thomas Moore, is a Holmesian anthology of short stories that takes the famous sleuth through time and space (available October 7, 2014).

This new anthology contains fourteen stories rather than two hundred and twenty-one, but it provides more than enough variety for Holmesians. Following in the path of older anthologies such as Sherlock Holmes Through Time and Space (edited by Asimov, Greenburg, and Waugh) and Ellery Queen’s parodic The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes, Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets explores adventures that Arthur Conan Doyle likely never imagined, and versions of Holmes and Watson from times and places far distant from Victorian London. The stories include mysteries, of course, but the true enjoyment lies in seeing how many ways these familiar characters may be manipulated and reimagined.

Jamie Wyman’s “A Scandal in Hobohemia” opens the anthology with a 1930s set story featuring a white Holmes, who runs a traveling carnival and uses his skills to tell fortunes in female garb, and a black Watson with a prosthetic leg courtesy of the Great War. Even their names have changed, but their relationship seems to be set on the same path.

[They're all worth a read!]

Sep 27 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Reign of Evil: A SEAL Team 666 Novel by Weston Ochse

Reign of Evil by Weston Ochse is the third paranormal thriller in the SEAL Team 666 series about the military team tasked with handling the world's supernatural threats (available October 7, 2014).

The ground was cold.

The place was empty.

He stood. Stonehenge had the feeling of an old battlefield. Like Chickamauga or Gettysburg, whenever he was at a place where a lot of people had died, it felt different. Reverentially empty.

He suddenly felt cold and shivered. “A lot of people died here,” he said.

“This used to be a ceremonial place for the druids, some say all the way back to two to three thousand years before Christ.”

That's Walker, the FNG in SEAL Team 666, America's only defense against the tangos of the underworld. He's a crack shot with his HK416 and more importantly, he gets the heebie jeebies when near the supernatural, thanks to a horrible event in his past, more horrible even than Hell Week in BUD/S training... he was possessed by a Malaysian grave demon! If like me you're a big fan of the Rogue Warrior books co-authored by former SEAL Commander Dick Marcinko, and of evil beasties gnawing their way into our world and our hearts, the SEAL Team 666 series by Weston Ochse is a welcome diversion, sort of Zero Dark Thirty meets Hellboy: The Golden Army, which is probably how the movie option got pitched at MGM. (I'm told the Rock is attached, and he'd make a great Yank.)

[Boo rah!]

Sep 26 2014 11:00pm

Checking into The Knick 1.07: “Get the Rope”

After watching the pilot of The Knick, I wrote in my review that making Dr. John Thackery a drug-addicted surgeon was a cliché, but making him a drug-addicted, racist surgeon was different, and thus made him unlikable. Even then, I knew that the time would come where Thackery grew as a person and he started to not only accept, but befriend Dr. Algernon Edwards. That process started with last week’s episode “Start Calling Me Dad”, but it went into full effect after this week in “Get the Rope.”

Back in that same pilot review, I wondered if The Knick would show the race riots that plagued New York City in August of 1900. I hoped that we’d see them, because it seemed like such a natural way to both heighten tension in what was otherwise a medical drama, and to force characters to show their true colors. Well my wish was granted last night, so join me as we attempt to clean up after the riots and let’s see what we can put back together.

[This is about so much more than medicine…]

Sep 26 2014 2:00pm

J.K. Rowling and the Brush with Fame

The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival convention has been held yearly in Harrogate, Yorkshire, UK, since 2003. So it is neither old nor peculiar, but it is spectacular.

Special Guests this year included Belinda Bauer, Ann Cleeves, Sophie Hannah, John Harvey, Laura Lippman, Lynda La Plante, Peter May, Denise Mina, and S.J. Watson. The program chair was Steve Mosby.

The big draw was the interview of Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) with Val McDermid in the Royal Hall, which drew me and my husband nearly four thousand miles for our second Theakston’s visit.

First impressions: Joanne (if I may) looks far younger than she is (born in 1965, so she'll soon celebrate the Big 5-0), and is prettier than can be captured by camera or video, which seem to cast deep shadows on her face and muddy her complexion, which is flawless. (She can't be fifty—it must be sorcery.) She wore a man’s gray suit with an apricot tie, in joking acknowledgment of her new pen name, but with sky-high gray patent leather heels. Louboutins? She is nice, with a ready smile that lights her face, and patient with fans, who in any event are unfailingly polite. I half expected a mob scene, but I was forgetting this was a British crowd, and I only spotted one queue jumper, who was soon captured and brought down by one of the ushers, who dealt with her in a schoolmarmish, stop-your-nonsense fashion. I half expected her to pull the woman away by her earlobe. But very politely.

[No house points were deducted...]

Sep 26 2014 11:45am

Fresh Meat: Bad Bones by Linda Ladd

Bad Bones by Linda Ladd is the sixth Missouri-based mystery featuring homicide detective Claire Morgan where a frozen and broken corpse is found in a state park (available September 29, 2014).

A nasty ice storm covers Missouri, and Canton County Homicide Detective Claire Morgan and her partner are stuck directing the slip-and-slide traffic when they get called in to investigate a questionable death. A man has been found at the base of a cliff in Ha Ha Tonka State Park. When they arrive, they find a frozen, battered corpse. Suicide is quickly ruled out because every bone in the victim’s body is broken.

Paulie Parker, the vicitim, a.k.a. “Parker the Punisher,” was an MMA cage fighter, but no fight has ever resulted in the injuries he’s sustained. As Claire digs deeper into Parker’s past, she finds ties to the Russian mafia, fighters willing and able to kill anything that moves, and a backwoods society that raises young boys, like Paulie, to fight or die.

Bad Bones is the sixth installment in Linda Ladd’s series about Claire Morgan. Unlike previous Claire Morgan novels, this one is told entirely in the third person. (Previous installments have Claire’s point of view in the first person.) While this may seem a small adjustment, it actually serves to make the stakes higher. With this small change, you never know if Claire will be taken out of commission as she hunts down the most brutal killer of her career: a man who was trained to break bones from childhood.

[Well that's frightening...]

Sep 26 2014 8:45am

David Suchet Investigates Agatha Christie

If Hercule Poirot isn’t available, who better than David Suchet to investigate the colorful and mysterious life of Agatha Christie? This Sunday, after Miss Marple on Masterpiece Mystery most Public Television stations will air The Mystery of Agatha Christie, a documentary on  her life and work. (Check your local listings for dates and times in your area.)

The description says:

Suchet’s journey takes him to the places Christie lived and the landscapes that inspired her... He explores the close links between Christie’s extraordinary life and her work and discovers what it was about the woman from a small seaside town that allowed her to become the best-selling murder mystery writer in history.

Stops include Blackpool Sands, one of Dame Agatha’s favorite spots for relaxation; and the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate, her hiding place during her mysterious disappearance in December 1926.

Set “The Clocks.” This sounds like “Appointment (with Death)” television it would be a “(Three Act) Tragedy” to miss.

Sep 25 2014 3:00pm

Bacall By Herself

In our series on Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, we looked at the films the great screen duo made between 1944 and 1948. After 1948, however, the two never made another movie together. (Though they did star in the radio adventure series Bold Venture in 1951 and worked together on a 1955 television production of The Petrified Forest.) In the late forties and early fifties, Betty (her real name; no one ever called her Lauren) slowed down her participation in films to raise two children with Bogart. After Bogie died in 1957, her career slowed even further. Part of this was due to her close association with her former screen partner, of course. In the public mind, she was “And Bacall.” In some respects—as Bacall herself often pointed out—she never fully had a career of her own. The massive overnight success of her entrance into movies, and her connection with Bogart’s legacy, was its own kind of show business prison.

What this obscures, of course, was that Bacall was always a striking screen presence and a serious actor from the very beginning. Here then is a look at some of her most interesting films from the fifties onward.

[Where to begin?]

Sep 25 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Mythology of Grimm by Nathan Robert Brown

The Mythology of Grimm by Nathan Robert Brown is an encyclopedic comparison of Grimm, the TV series, to the classic fairy tales on which it's based (available September 30, 2014).

Full Disclosure: I have a soft spot for fairy tales. Okay, not just a soft spot, but an abiding obsession with all: in their original gruesome Black Forest-ey form, in retellings and re-imaginings  ranging from comics to YA novels, to you guessed it, TV.

The popular TV show Grimm is part police procedural, part supernatural monster show. Nick Burkhardt, is the eponymous “Grimm”,  a guy who has to profile, hunt and kill monsters straight out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Nathan Robert Brown’s The Mythology of Grimm: The Fairy Tale and Folklore Roots of the Popular TV Show makes clear the connections and associations between the show’s monsters and situations, and the fairy tales and folklore they’re inspired by.

[Get inside Grimm!]