<i>The Stranger She Loved</i>: New Excerpt The Stranger She Loved: New Excerpt Shanna Hogan Don't move your mistress in right after you kill your wife... <i>The Patriot Threat</i>: New Audio Excerpt The Patriot Threat: New Audio Excerpt Steve Berry Comment on the Writer's Cut of the new Cotton Malone thriller for a chance to win! Fresh Meat: <i>Knuckleball</i> by Tom Pitts Fresh Meat: Knuckleball by Tom Pitts Court Haslett Baseball plays the backdrop in this gritty San Francisco Noir. <i>Poison Ivy</i>: New Excerpt Poison Ivy: New Excerpt Cynthia Riggs This is one college with a killer workload!
From The Blog
March 27, 2015
Like Jurassic Park, with Foreskins
Crime HQ
March 25, 2015
Woman Assaults Neighbor with Poop
Teddy Pierson
March 23, 2015
Lost Classics of Noir: The Big Heat by William P. McGivern
Brian Greene
March 23, 2015
"Where is Hunt?": Trailer for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Crime HQ
March 22, 2015
Under the Radar: Movies You May Have Missed — Attack the Block
Angie Barry
Fri
Mar 27 2015 3:00pm
Excerpt

The Stranger She Loved: New Excerpt

The Stranger She Loved by Shanna Hogan is a true crime account of a Mormon doctor's murder of his wife, and the six year struggle to prove it (available March 31, 2015).

In 2007, Dr. Martin MacNeill – a doctor, lawyer, and Mormon bishop – discovered his wife of 30 years dead in the bathtub of their Pleasant Grove, Utah home, her face bearing the scars of a facelift he persuaded her to undergo just a week prior.

At first the death of 50-year-old Michele MacNeill, a former beauty queen and mother of eight, appeared natural. But days after the funeral when Dr. MacNeill moved his much younger mistress into the family home, his children grew suspicious. Conducting their own investigation into their mother's death, the MacNeill's daughters uncovered their father's multiple marital affairs, past criminal record, and falsified college transcripts he used to con his way into medical school.

It would take six long years to solve the mystery of Michele's murder and secure a first-degree murder conviction against the once prominent doctor.

Chapter 1

A stray drop of water fell from the faucet and trickled across her cold, pallid skin.

[Continue reading The Stranger She Loved...]

Fri
Mar 27 2015 12:15pm

Game of Thrones Season 5: A Recap of the Realm – Part One

Game of Thrones returns worldwide for its fifth season on April 12th, and with it comes the dozens of familiar (and sometimes not so familiar) faces, as well as a few newcomers, and it can be pretty damn tough keeping track of who everyone is, what they were last up to, and where they currently reside. In an effort to please R’hollor and to help re-light the wildfire in our brains, I’m here with a Season 5 primer to get you locked, loaded, and ready to go for the premiere. Unless of course you’re Daenerys, in which case you’ll be sitting still for the foreseeable future, ogling at Daario’s firm behind.

This week, we’ll begin in the south with the half-misunderstood and half-crazy (and zero-parts Baratheon) Lannisters, the patient and devious Tyrells, and the venomous and vengeful Martells. Warning: this post is dark and full of spoilers from Seasons 1 through 4 of Game of Thrones, as well as some light speculation and news from Season 5.

Tyrion Lannister

[We begin with the Imp!]

Fri
Mar 27 2015 9:00am

Like Jurassic Park, with Foreskins

Last year, we covered the strange and controversial artistic history of the Holy Foreskin, supposedly given to a pope by Charlemagne, which became a relic of veneration, being the only part of Jesus's corpus he left behind on earth.

Well, according to David Farley, who wrote a book about it in addition to an article for Slate, there's a small town in Italy that's claimed to have it since 1557, with attached miracles as proof. And even as the Church was cracking down on its more vocal members, threatening excommunication for even mentioning it, Calcata quietly hosted an annual procession allowing pilgrims to adore the relic. But in 1983, crime reared its ugly head as the item was reported stolen from a shoebox in the priest's house.

There is now a U.S. company called Foregen, reports Arikia Millikan in Motherboard last month, which aims to use an extra-cellular matrix along with stem cells to allow unhappy circumcised men to regrow working tissue “much like a salamander is able to re-grow a limb.” That article also delves into cultural, social, and health issues behind the practice of circumcision, blah, blah, blah. But if the real relic could be found, and its cells scientifically used to regrow it on a grand, functional scale, it's obvious what we're looking at, right? Holy Jurassic Foreskin Park!

Leading axolotl image via i09.

Thu
Mar 26 2015 10:00pm

Schmucks with Underwoods: Why Writers Make the Best Book Characters

Writers have always been the most interesting people I meet, and they almost all tend to be passionate readers as well. They're also impulsive and vibrant and twisty and unpredictable and curious and generally enjoyable to talk to and to get into adventures with.

Reading and writing have always gone hand-in-hand with me. I was such an avid reader that eventually I had to start writing my own stories to fill in the gaps of what was out there for me. The first writer I ever knew was my Uncle John Merkel. He was the coolest person I had ever known in my life. While my main circle of adults was made up of boring, responsible, church-going normal folks, my uncle was wild. He read comic books and played video games and watched Star Trek and had a great office with a home computer(!) where he wrote stories. I so desperately wanted to be like him. He's also the one who got me hooked on reading popular fiction, first with science fiction and fantasy, and then crime fiction. So writers as characters have fascinated me even more.

While I think writers make great characters and provide readers with some behind-the-scenes access to the creative process and sometimes even the inspiration for the book their reading, I think writing is a pretty boring thing to write about. Writers must have adventures and get in trouble and express their personalities. So here are my five favorite books with writers as characters and why I love them so much.

Misery by Stephen King – This is one of the first books about a writer I really remember making an impact on me. Part of that is because this is also the first adult book I really remember being challenged on by my local librarian. As a little kid, it didn't take me long to move from the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew/Bobsey Twins stuff to the dreamy magical land of the adult shelves. I was given virtually free reign in that section, but when I brought up this paperback with that lurid cover of a man in a wheelchair and a shadow of an ax-wielding woman, the librarian asked me if I was really sure I wanted to read it. I was, and it was the fastest I've ever read a book. And it scared me. Still scares me. This should also serve as a place holder for praise for all of Stephen King's books about writers. More than anyone, he has built a career about exploring the life and struggles of a writer through fiction.

[More schmucks to come!]

Thu
Mar 26 2015 10:15am

The Americans 3.09: “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?”

Lois Smith as Betty, Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings

Almost every episode in the third season of The Americans has featured at least one scene that is excruciatingly painful for the viewer to watch. These cringe-inducing scenes, from the disposing of Analise’s body, to Philip’s dental work, to Nina’s betrayal of Evi, to last week’s necklacing, have become hallmarks of the series. But even given the high bar they’ve set for themselves in this regard, last night’s meeting between Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Betty (Lois Smith), an elderly bookkeeper who “picked a bad time” to pay the bills, was stunning. When a series can cause a grizzled curmudgeon like myself to yell, “That’s it, I hate you, Americans!” during an episode, you know they’ve hit close to the bone.

A lot of other important developments went down in “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?,” a playful title with deeper resonance, but I’ll save those comments for later. There’s just too much to get into regarding the conversation between Elizabeth and Betty. Elizabeth encounters the aging widower when the Jennings attempt to bug the mail robot (the clear breakout star of Season 3) after it is sent for repairs following Agent Gaad’s (Richard Thomas) senseless act violence. Betty is working late at the factory because that’s when she feels “most in tune” with her deceased husband, Gil, the company’s founder.

[Awww. An oh no!]

Thu
Mar 26 2015 8:45am

True Crime Thursday: Revisiting Richard Lloyd Parry’s People Who Eat Darkness

Lucie Blackman left home with her sights set on Tokyo and her mind set on money, but what awaited her was worse than she ever imagined. Working as a hostess in a seedy Roppongi night club, it wouldn't be long before Lucie went missing, with only a strange message left by a mysterious stranger serving as the lone clue, until months later when her severed limbs were found outside the house of a wealthy real estate magnate (No, not Robert Durst.) . But Lucie was far from a reckless girl, as author Richard Lloyd Parry expresses through a great deal of research in People Who Eat Darkness.

Lloyd Parry, the Asia editor and Tokyo bureau chief of The Times (London), spent 10 years researching Lucie's case, interviewing and gaining access to a wide array of people connected to Lucie, including family, friends, lawyers, and police. The result is a compelling and immersive look into not just Lucie, but her family, friends, and killer.

For more information, check out our Fresh Meat review or read an excerpt over at FSG Originals!

Wed
Mar 25 2015 10:45am

Justified 6.10: “Trust”

Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder Joelle Carter as Ava Crowder, Jere Burns as Wynn Duffy, Justin Welborn as Carl

Raise your hand if you were expecting that ending? Anyone? Anyone? But before we get there, a lot of other things happened in “Trust,”Episode 6.10 of Justified.

First of all, we open with Katherine Hale (Mary Steenburgen) very angry and yelling at Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) about the fact that Boyd (Walton Goggins) nearly blew her up at the pizza parlor. Wynn tells Katherine up front that he’s the one who gave Boyd the idea that Avery (Sam Elliott) was planning to move his money — and he speaks loudly and clearly for the benefit of Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and Tim (Jacob Pitts) who are listening in on this conversation. After he finishes with Katherine, Wynn makes a plea to stop being a CI, but he’s not getting out of this hole so easily: Raylan says they’re giving Wynn a chance to make up for Boyd’s screw-up in not getting arrested while stealing Avery’s money.

[That's pretty fair when you think about it...]

Wed
Mar 25 2015 8:45am

Woman Assaults Neighbor with Poop

A Boca Raton, Florida woman landed herself in a stinky situation after being arrested for smearing dog poop on her neighbor’s face, according to The Huffington Post.

Amy Goldberg, 57, confronted her neighbor about her dog pooping on her lawn all the time. Allegedly Goldberg asked for the dog to stop using her lawn as a restroom, and when it didn’t, that is when the poop hit the fan — I mean, the face.

Goldberg now stands accused of smearing dog poop in her neighbors face, on her arms, and her clothes. She has been charged with battery on a person 65-years or older.

Tue
Mar 24 2015 3:00pm
Excerpt

The Patriot Threat: New Audio Excerpt

Steve Berry

The Patriot Threat by Steve Berry is the 11th Cotton Malone political thriller where a North Korean operative obtains files that could ruin the United States (available March 31, 2015).

The 16th Amendment to the Constitution is why Americans pay income taxes. But what if there were problems associated with that amendment? Secrets that call into question decades of tax collecting? In fact, there is a surprising truth to this hidden possibility.

Cotton Malone, once a member of an elite intelligence division within the Justice Department known as the Magellan Billet, is now retired and owns an old bookshop in Denmark. But when his former-boss, Stephanie Nelle, asks him to track a rogue North Korean who may have acquired some top secret Treasury Department files—the kind that could bring the United States to its knees—Malone is vaulted into a harrowing twenty-four hour chase that begins on the canals in Venice and ends in the remote highlands of Croatia.

With appearances by Franklin Roosevelt, Andrew Mellon, a curious painting that still hangs in the National Gallery of Art, and some eye-opening revelations from the $1 bill, this riveting, non-stop adventure is trademark Steve Berry—90% historical fact, 10% exciting speculation—a provocative thriller posing a dangerous question: What if the Federal income tax is illegal?

[Listen to the prologue of Steve Berry's The Patriot Threat...]

Tue
Mar 24 2015 11:30am

Fresh Meat: Knuckleball by Tom Pitts

Knuckleball is a noir novella by Tom Pitts set in San Francisco during a busy baseball weekend when a well-liked police officer is gunned down (available March 24, 2015).

With its ever-sprouting skyscrapers, Google buses, and $12 juices, contemporary San Francisco is an unlikely setting for Noir. Not that San Francisco can’t work as the backdrop for other types of crime stories. After all, felonies are committed by all socioeconomic classes (I’m looking at you, Robert Durst). But as a location for the doomed, dark stories spun in traditional Noir, modern-day San Francisco, where the sky (and rent) is literally the limit, is an incongruous choice, to say the least.

Yet somehow, Tom Pitts continues to successfully mine San Francisco for exactly these types of sordid tragedies. In his first full-length novel, Hustle, Pitts wrote about the neglected corners of the skid row Tenderloin neighborhood like only an insider could. In place of hedge fund managers, venture capitalists, and software engineers were male street hustlers, drug addicts, and blackmailers. For Knuckleball, a shotgun blast of a novella from short fiction specialist One Eye Press, Pitts takes us into San Francisco’s Mission district. Not surprisingly, this is not the Mission of trendy restaurants and expensive boutiques, but the original, working class Mission, the barrio, populated with families, corner tiendas, and of course, hustlers of all stripes.

[You're in for a memorable trip...]

Tue
Mar 24 2015 10:00am

American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson: Looking at the Cast

If American Horror Story and Fargo werent' enough proof already, with the announcement of American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson it's become clear that FX loves anthology series.

American Crime Story is written and created by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (the writing team behind Ed Wood, The People v. Larry Flint, and Big Eyes) and will be produced and partially directed by Ryan Murphy, the creator and producer of Glee and American Horror Story.

Yesterday, Ryan Murphy announced via Twitter that he would be reteaming with Connie Britton for American Crime Story. Britton last worked with Murphy during the first season of American Horror Story.

Britton will play Faye Resnick, a close friend to the recently-deceased Nicole Brown Simpson. She joins an already star-studded cast that includes: Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. Simpson, Sarah Paulson (who's also reuiniting with Murphy after AHS) as Marcia Clark, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian Sr., John Travolta (also serving as producer) as Robert Shapiro, and Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran. 

Just like AHS, the idea behind American Crime Story is that each season will focus on a new true crime. American Crime Story is set to debut in early 2016.

Mon
Mar 23 2015 4:15pm

Lost Classics of Noir: The Big Heat by William P. McGivern

I first saw Fritz Lang’s 1953 film noir The Big Heat decades ago, and I just viewed it again this week. This time I watched it immediately after reading William P. McGivern’s novel of the same title. This is the latest in my series of posts where I rave about an underappreciated noir novel while commenting on a better-known film that was made from it. Lang’s big screen feature is, of course, a gem, and one that any fan of film noir should get to know if they don’t already. McGivern’s work of fiction, which originally appeared in the pages of The Saturday Evening Post, then was published as a novel in the same year as the movie’s release, deserves lofty status among those who appreciate hard-edged crime tales as they appear on the printed page.

There’s little difference in the plotline between book and movie, but for present purposes I’ll focus on the story as it is told in the novel. The primary character is Dave Bannion: a sergeant of detectives in a homicide bureau in Philadelphia. Bannion is a big man; much is made of his hulky build in McGivern’s book, whereas he comes across as being of more normal male stature via Glenn Ford’s portrayal of him in the movie. He has a temper that he needs to keep a watch over, to make sure he doesn’t use his great bulk to do bodily harm to others when it’s not warranted. Bannion is a family man, happily married to his good-natured wife and a loving father to their young daughter. He’s also an honest law enforcement agent. In the beginning of the novel (this is not in the movie), some of the detectives on his team are holding a black man on suspicion of a crime, and are ready to work him over physically to sweat a confession out of him; but Bannion feels their grounds for suspecting the man are flimsy (and racially motivated, although that’s only implied in the book), and he tells his boys to let the guy go.

[What's not to like?]

Mon
Mar 23 2015 2:15pm
Excerpt

Poison Ivy: New Excerpt

Cynthia Riggs

Poison Ivy by Cynthia Riggs is the 11th cozy in the Martha's Vineyard Mystery Series starring Victoria Trumbull who discovers a pair of dead bodies during her first day as an adjunct professor (available March 31, 2015).

On her first day as adjunct professor at Ivy Green College, Victoria Trumbull recognizes the stench emanating from her classroom as more than just dead mice. Brownie, the groundskeeper's mangy mutt, soon discovers a second body hiding beneath a cluster of poison ivy.

The stakes have never been higher for Ivy Green, which is on the brink of losing already-lukewarm support from its accredited partner, Cape Cod University. Thackery Wilson, the founder of Ivy Green, worries that the bad publicity from the murders will obliterate the financial and academic support the tiny college and its dependent students desperately need. As the bodies continue to pile up, all tenure committee members, Victoria and Brownie find themselves hunting a serial killer and trying to save the college.

Chapter 1

The season was still too new to be considered fall, but the sky was that brilliant autumnal blue, the air was crisp and smelled of the salt sea, and this was a fine day for Victoria Trumbull. At ninety-two, she was about to launch a new career as adjunct professor. She had been invited to teach a course in poetry at Ivy Green College.

[Continue reading Poison Ivy by Cynthia Riggs...]

Mon
Mar 23 2015 10:15am

“Where is Hunt?”: Trailer for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Tom Cruise has long been a polarizing star possessing the unique ability to sustain a decades-long place in the spotlight, and his Mission: Impossible series is a testament to that. The most impressive part of Cruise's career is his insistence on doing his own stunts, and Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation further cements the actors badassery.  As the photograph above proves, (Yep, that's Cruise strapped to the side of a plane as it takes off.) Cruise will do pretty much anything. The scene is teased in the trailer below, so take a look for yourself. We can almost feel the G-forces from here.

Sun
Mar 22 2015 12:00pm

Under the Radar: Movies You May Have Missed — Attack the Block

Why is it that aliens always invade New York? Or Los Angeles? How come it’s always the Americans taking on extraterrestrial threats, armed with big guns, ripped shirts, and catchy one-liners?

Gotta admit: those stories are old and tired. Been there, done that, seen the post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Which makes Attack the Block a refreshing change of pace. This time, we’re treated to space invaders in London—and not the tourist-filled, upper-class London with posh accents and Austen manners.

No, this is the council estate of South London. Where youth gangs run amok. Where Cockney slang can sometimes be indecipherable. Where you’re more likely to see knives and baseball bats than Aston Martins.

[The only Bond you'll find here is James's Bail Bonds...]

Sat
Mar 21 2015 12:00pm

A George Smiley Offensive: The Honourable Schoolboy

The Honourable Schoolboy by John Le CarreIn John Le Carré's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the previous George Smiley adventure, the intelligence officer was surreptitiously tapped to track down a mole—a bellicose cancer—burrowed within The Circus. Smiley pinpointed and exposed the double agent as Bill Haydon. Haydon had been recruited by a Russian operative, known only as Karla, when he was a student at Oxford, and in his succeeding 30-year tenure within the British espionage service, he had climbed to the upper ranks, nearly crippling The Circus with his duplicity. Smiley, subsequently appointed to the role of interim caretaker, has the formidable task of restoring an organization that’s been torn to tatters.

“There were those who seriously believed—inside the Circus, as well as out—that they had heard the last beat of the secret English heart.”

After the unmasking of the traitor, a majority of the agency’s information networks have run cold and the organization is in danger of being shut down. The building in which Smiley and his team work has been ripped to shreds by the 'ferrets' in search of wiretaps and other spy devices, serving as a sobering reminder of their state of affairs. And with the systematic clearing of dubious Circus personal, the agency has become a skeletal apparatus in fear of itself. Even Smiley feels the impact: “The circles around him grew smaller as they grew nearer, and precious few in the early days reached the centre,” Le Carré writes.

[The future looks grim...]

Fri
Mar 20 2015 12:00pm

Left Coast Crime 2015: Crimelandia

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the annual Left Coast Crime mystery writers’ convention took place in Portland, Oregon, returning to the Rose City for the first time since 2002. The four-day conference, which drew roughly 650 people with an additional 30 day passes sold, was held March 12th through March 15th at the Doubletree Hotel, and gave crime writers and crime fiction fans a chance to mingle and talk about all things mystery. This year’s convention was co-chaired by Oregon authors L.J. Sellers, whose series features Eugene, Ore. detective Wade Jackson, and Bill Cameron, author of the Portland-based series with cop Skin Kadash. Long-time proponents of the genre and convention veterans—they co-chaired the 2014 gathering in Monterey—Lucinda Surber and Stan Ulrich, who run the popular website Stop, You’re Killing Me, acted as volunteer coordinator/sponsorship coordinator/publisher liaison and treasurer/registrar/advertising coordinator, respectively.

In addition to the on-site selection of panels and interviews, attendees had the opportunity to sign up for a field trip to the FBI’s regional crime forensics lab. Other outings included a Portland distillery tour and a trip to the city’s famous Shanghai Tunnels. Back in the hotel, the panels kicked off on Thursday, with an opening reception in the evening honoring all the nominees. The guest authors—Guest of Honor Chelsea Cain, Guest of Honor Timothy Hallinan, and Special Guest Phillip Margolin—participated in panels and interviews throughout the weekend. On Friday, the organization celebrated its 25th birthday with a party in the evening, which also honored local Fan Guest of Honor, the Portland-based group Friends of Mystery.

[To the panels!]

Fri
Mar 20 2015 10:00am

You Pick the Story for The M.O.!

We're tickled crimson to announce the shortlisters from our “Long Gone” submitted stories! Read these four sneak peeks, then vote at the bottom for the one you'd most like to read to The End. (Of course, for your protection, all of these mugs have been added to The M.O.'s Rogues' Gallery for 2015.)

 

  • “Fix Me” by S.W. Lauden
  • “The Genuine Article” by K.M. Rockwood
  • “Iced” by Nancy Brewka-Clark
  • “Thrilled No More” by Chuck Brownman

 

[Onto the Gone!]

Thu
Mar 19 2015 3:45pm

The Americans 3.08: “Divestment”

In an early scene in last night’s The Americans, Oleg’s father calls Arkady (Lev Gorn) to ask why his son has not been sent home as he requested. When Arkady answers that Oleg (Costa Ronin) would like to finish his work in America before returning, the Minister of Railways is not happy. But instead of directly pulling rank on Arkady, he appeals to him on an emotional level, explaining to Arkady that he has two sons far away from home, Oleg in the U.S., and another fighting in Afghanistan. Asking for one his sons to be close to him is merely “a very human request.”

This intimate, more personal sentiment prevails throughout the entire episode, giving it an even more contemplative mood than usual. The title, “Divestment,” sardonically refers to the fate of Eugene Venter (Neil Sandilands), the South African intelligence officer kidnapped at the end of last episode. However, it applies more obliquely to the way in which other characters back off (divest) from their professional and emotional rigidity, allowing empathy to help guide their actions. Elizabeth (Keri Russell)in particular seems to soften the most, as she bookends the episode by making another “very human request” of Gabriel.

[We're not used to a soft Elizabeth...]

Thu
Mar 19 2015 12:00pm

Throwing Antonio Salieri to the Wolves: Mozart’s Alleged Murder

Every fan of Wolfgang Mozart has heard the story—how in the fall of 1791, the 35-year old composer, depressed, and overworked, confessed to his wife Constanze that he believed that he was slowly being poisoned. By mid-November, illness overtook the composer, marked by swollen hands and feet and with violent vomiting. Despite the efforts of a team of physicians, Mozart died in the early morning of December 5.

Within weeks, rumors began to circulate around the city of Vienna that Mozart had indeed been poisoned. Suspicion fell on the clique of Italians who composed for the court opera, particularly on Antonio Salieri, the music director of the opera. The musical connoisseurs of Vienna and Salieri himself laughed off the rumors. In the years that followed, as no evidence of Salieri's guilt appeared, and there was no investigation by the authorities, the rumors died down.

[But it wouldn't be the last of them...]