<i>What's Done in Darkness</i>: New Excerpt What's Done in Darkness: New Excerpt Kayla Perrin No one knows what's done in darkness. <i>Blood Red</i>: New Excerpt Blood Red: New Excerpt Wendy Corsi Staub Lock your doors and keep the lights on... <i>Death, Taxes, and a Chocolate Cannoli</i>: New Excerpt Death, Taxes, and a Chocolate Cannoli: New Excerpt Diane Kelly True crime doesn't pay...taxes! <i>The Grave Soul</i>: New Excerpt The Grave Soul: New Excerpt Ellen Hart Jane Lawless is hired once again to figure out the truth.
From The Blog
October 5, 2015
Childhood's Bittersweet Wonderment: The Spirit of the Beehive
Brian Greene
October 2, 2015
CSI Shrewsbury: Brother Cadfael's Medieval Mysteries
Angie Barry
October 1, 2015
Killer Nashville's 2015 Silver Falchion Finalists Announced: Vote Now!
Crime HQ
October 1, 2015
The ZINNG: A Cool $25K for E-Mysteries (and Lethal Selfies)
Crime HQ
September 29, 2015
A Huge Case of Teensploitation: 1965's Village of the Giants
Brian Greene
Oct 5 2015 2:00pm

Childhood’s Bittersweet Wonderment: The Spirit of the Beehive

Some of the most lasting works of art are those than can be appreciated on a variety of levels. Such is the case with Victor Erice’s 1973 film The Spirit of the Beehive. A masterpiece of Spanish cinema, the movie is set in 1940, a year after the Spanish Civil War ended with the authoritarian, right wing regime of Francisco Franco defeating the left-leaning Republicans and taking control of the country. The state of Spain in the aftermath of this outcome is a constant influence throughout Erice’s meditative film. And yet someone who doesn’t know a thing about that war or Franco’s government can enjoy the movie.

Co-written by director Erice, the story is also about the emotional estrangement within a family and, more centrally, the bittersweet wonders of childhood discoveries of life and its mysteries. The family (all the characters go by the first name of the actors who play them) is: Fernando, the eccentric father, who keeps odd hours, spends a lot time in beekeeping activities and then holing up in his study and writing reflective, poetic pieces about the bees; Teresa, Fernando’s much younger wife, a beautiful woman who plays moody tunes on the piano and writes romantic letters to a lost love who is elsewhere now, perhaps displaced by the war; Isabel, the oldest child, who is a precocious girl who has an easy laugh yet who gets off on torturing the family cat and playing mean tricks on her younger sister; and that sister, Ana, is the most important character in the tale – she is a wide-eyed, innocent child who gets taken on various coming-of-age experiences over the course of the story, which is in great part seen through her eyes and heart.

[On to the plot...]

Oct 4 2015 12:00pm

Blood Red: New Excerpt

Wendy Corsi Staub

Blood Red by Wendy Corsi Staub is the first thriller in a new series set in Mundy's Landing, a picturesque town in New York's Hudson Valley with an unsolved murderous past (available September 29, 2015).

The razor's gleaming blade slices effortlessly through skin and tendon, and he relishes the final anguished moments of his prey. There's only one thing he prizes more: their long, silken strands of red hair. But these women are merely stand-ins . . . a prelude to his ultimate victim.

Nestled in New York's Hudson Valley, Mundy's Landing is famous for its picturesque setting—and for a century-old string of gruesome unsolved murders. Rowan returned to her hometown years ago, fleeing a momentary mistake that could have destroyed her family. Life is good here. Peaceful. Until an anonymous gift brings Rowan's fears to life again.

The town's violent history was just the beginning. Soon everyone in Mundy's Landing will know that the past cannot be forgotten or forgiven—not until every sin has been paid for, in blood.



March 22, 2015
Erie, Pennsylvania

She isn’t the first redhead to cross Casey’s path on this blustery Sunday evening. She’s not even the best fit.

[Continue reading Blood Red by Wendy Corsi Staub!]

Oct 3 2015 12:00pm

Death, Taxes, and a Chocolate Cannoli: New Excerpt

Diane Kelly

Death, Taxes and a Chocolate Cannoli by Diane Kelly is the 9th cozy mystery in the IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway series (available October 6, 2015).

He's no Tony Soprano. Still, local crime boss Giustino “Tino” Fabrizio is one shady character that Tara would love to see behind bars. He operates a security business—or so he claims on his tax forms—but his clients don't feel so secure when it's time to pay up. Problem is, no one can get close enough to nail this wiseguy for extortion. No one, that is, except Tara...

Going undercover, Tara lands a waitress job at Benedetta's Bistro—which is owned and operated by Tino's wife. Being surrounded by cream-filled cannolis could be hazardous to Tara's waistline...even though the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, right? Only thing Tara can't afford to do now is blow her cover. Because serving Tino his just desserts will surely come with a price...

Chapter One
Gone Guys

At two o’clock in the afternoon on a Monday in early May, I stood on the sidewalk in front of the federal building in downtown Dallas. To a casual observer, I’d look no different from any other female professional in her late twenties. Heck, we were a dime a dozen. But the subtle bulge under the blazer of my navy blue pantsuit set me apart. I didn’t just handle business, I meant business. And my business was making sure that tax cheats paid for their crimes, both in cash and convictions.

[Continue reading Death, Taxes and a Chocolate Cannoli!]

Oct 5 2015 12:00pm

What’s Done in Darkness: New Excerpt

Kayla Perrin

What's Done in Darkness by Kayla PerrinJealousy is a strong motive. People kill for love every day...

Jade Blackwin feels like she's losing her mind. After burying both her parents-and being left by her boyfriend for her scheming best friend-she totally loses it. At college graduation, she confronts her man, slaps her BFF, then crashes her car. Now everyone thinks she's crazy. Even her sister, who convinces Jade to take a job in beautiful, restful Key West.

At first, Key West is everything Jade could hope for. The lime margaritas are heaven on earth. Her boss at the coffee shop, Katrina, is friendly as can be. And a gorgeous stranger named Brian is just the thing to help Jade forget her ex. But why is a crime writer asking so many questions? Why does Katrina explode into fits of rage? And why is a killer lurking in the shadows, ready to kill again? No one knows what's done in darkness. But Jade knows she's not crazy. She's next...


Present day


Shawde Williams knelt onto the grass beside the tombstone, the tears already blurring her eyes. Five and a half years had passed. Five and a half years and her grief was still strong.

“Hey,” she said softly, placing the bouquet of flowers in front of the tombstone. Five and a half years later and the fact that her brother was in a coffin six feet below this spot was still surreal.

Her eyes landed on the etching of her brother. Every time she came here, she was amazed at just how well his essence had been captured on the headstone. His handsome face lit up in a smile, those eyes twinkling, his dimples as charming as they had been live. She fingered the etching, the only way she could touch her brother now.

[Continue reading What's Done in Darkness now!]

Oct 2 2015 11:00am

Heroes Reborn 1.03: “Under the Mask”

If the two-episode premiere was mostly setup, the third episode took those seemingly random plotlines and turned up the pressure. In the process, the show has started to overcome the problems that plagued the original series: cohesion and lack of forward momentum.

And this episode did it well enough to overcome the “people with powers hunted even though they didn’t do anything” trope. If the rest of the season retains this quality, I’ll be impressed and pleased.

I’ve been familiar with the above trope since I started reading X-Men comics in 1980 and mostly it bores me. Yet by the end of last night’s episode, I was at the edge of my seat, horrified by what happened to Molly Walker.  Kudos to Francesca Eastwood for making me care. (And, yes, she’s the daughter of Clint Eastwood and Frances Fischer.)

[She wasn't feeling lucky...]

Oct 2 2015 2:00pm

The Grave Soul: New Excerpt

Ellen Hart

The Grave Soul by Ellen HartThe Grave Soul by Ellen Hart is the 23rd mystery featuring Minnesota P.I. and restaurateur Jane Lawless (available October 6, 2015).

When Guthrie Hewitt calls on restaurateur and private investigator Jane Lawless, he doesn't know where else he can turn. Guthrie has fallen for a girl-Kira Adler. In fact, he was planning to propose to her on Christmas Eve. But his trip home with Kira over Thanksgiving made him uneasy. All her life, Kira has been haunted by a dream—a nightmare, really. In the dream, she witnesses her mother being murdered. She knows it can't be true because the dream doesn't line up with the facts of her mother's death. But after visiting Kira's home for the first time, and receiving a disturbing anonymous package in the mail, Guthrie starts to wonder if Kira's dream might hold more truth than she knows.

When Kira's called home again for a family meeting, Guthrie knows he needs Jane's help to figure out the truth, before the web of secrets Kira's family has been spinning all these years ensnares Kira too. And Jane's investigation will carry her deep into the center of a close-knit family that is not only fraying at the edges, but about to burst apart.

New Dresden, Wisconsin

Failures were like bread crumbs. A woman could, without much difficulty, follow them back through the dark fairy-tale forest of her life, noting the dead ends, the seemingly small mistakes, the hubris and lack of courage, the dearth of judgement, and eventually arrive at the primary failure which, without her knowing it, would inexorably become the fulcrum on which the rest of her life turned. In Laurie’s case, at just eighteen years old, an epic failure of imagination had sealed her fate.

Light snow drifted across the highway as she sped toward town. The sky had been a bleak winter white all day. By tomorrow morning, according to the weather report, six more inches would be making life miserable for the New Year’s Day revelers. Because the tires on her ancient Ford Windstar were almost bald, she hesitated to drive in this kind of weather, though because her husband hadn’t answered his cell phone all day, she felt she had little choice.

[Continue reading The Grave Soul now!]

Oct 2 2015 10:00am

CSI Shrewsbury: Brother Cadfael’s Medieval Mysteries

Brother Cadfael came before fingerprinting and DNA testing, before security cameras and GPS phone tracking, back when detectives had their work cut out for them when it came to solving murders. Barring a confession or finding the bloody dagger on a suspect, it was difficult to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that someone was truly guilty.

Which makes Ellis Peters' medieval sleuth all the more impressive: armed only with his own instincts and varied life experiences, he winkled out a number of miscreants in the course of twenty novels and thirteen television adaptations. By finding just a spring of a plant on the victim, he could determine where the man died and why.

When first we meet him, this singular hero is a sixty-something monk at the Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul in Shrewsbury, a town not far from the border between England and Wales. It's been several years since the Welsh Cadfael took up his Benedictine habit and became the herbalist of the Abbey.

[He didn't always serve...]

Oct 1 2015 3:00pm

Killer Nashville’s 2015 Silver Falchion Finalists Announced: Vote Now!

Killer Nashville has announced the full list of finalists for the 2015 Silver Falchion Readers Choice Awards, which we have below. Congrats to everyone nominated, and make sure you vote for your favorites here! Killer Nashville kicks off on Octobe 29th.

Best Novel: Romantic Suspense


Judgment – Carey Baldwin

The Lost Key – Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison

Top Secret Twenty-One – Janet Evanovich

Sweet Damage – Rebecca James

Truth Be Told – Hank Phillippi Ryan

[See the other nominees and categories!]

Ace Atkins, Adam Brookes, Adam Plantinga, Alex Grecian, Allen Eskens, Amnon Kabatchnik, Andrea Camilleri, Andy Weir, Anne Perry, Assaf Gavron, Awards, Barbara Ross, Bryn Fleming, C. J. Box, Carey Baldwin, Catherine Coulter, Catriona McPherson, Charis Cotter, Charles Brownson, Charles Todd, Christopher Fowler, Chrysler Szarlan, Conventions and Conferences, Craig Johnson, Curtis Evans, Dan Bar-El, Danica Novgorodoff, David Baldacci, David Mark, Deborah Halber, Dori Hillestad Butler, E. J. Copperman, Elizabeth Kolbert, Elle Cosimano, Eugenie Fernandes, F. Paul Wilson, Gwen Florio, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Hannah Dennison, Hollis Gillespie, J. Bard Collins, J.T. Ellison, J.W. Ocker, Jack Ketchum, Jacqueline West, James Mancall, Janet Evanovich, Jeff Cohen, Jeffery Deaver, John Darnielle, John Gilstrap, John Katzenbach, John Lescroart, John Sandford, John Scalzi, Jonathan Wood, Joshua Horwitz, Joyce Carol Oates, Julie Kraulis, Kai Bird, Karen Abbott, Kate Brauning, Katherine Fast, Kathleen George, Kathryn Rusch, Katie De Gold, Kevin Cook, Killer Nashville, Kimberly G. Giarratano, Lacy M. Johnson, Laura McHugh, Laurie R. King, Leslie S. Klinger, Leslie Wheller, Leta Serafim, Lewis B. Montgomery, Linda Castillo, Lisa Unger, Lori Rader-Day, Lucy Worsley, M. William Phelps, Margaret Maron, Mark Ammons, Mark Neilson, Martin Widmark, Mary Daheim, Matt Richtel, Matthew Dunn, Matthew Palmer, Monica Kulling, Nancy Coco, Neely Tucker, Oliver Truc, P.F. Chisolm, Patricia Prandini Buckler, Paul Doiron, Raymond Benson, Rebecca James, Reed Farrel Coleman, Rennie Airth, S.J. Laidlaw, Samuel W. Gailey, Sarah Churchwell, Sarah Hilary, Scott Sonneborn, Stephen King, Stephen Lloyd James, TJ O'Connor, Tania Unsworth, Terry Hayes, Terry Odell, Tim Lebbon, Tod Goldberg, Tom Bouman, Tom Rob Smith, Ward Larsen, William J. Mann, Zachary Hyman
Oct 1 2015 11:00am

The Haunted Season: New Excerpt

G.M. Malliet

The Haunted Season by G.M. Malliet is the 5th English village mystery featuring vicar Max Tudor (available October 6, 2015).

Something sinister is afoot at Totleigh Hall, the showcase of the sleepy English village of Nether Monkslip. Lord and Lady Baaden-Boomethistle have been in residence for some weeks now, and the villagers are hoping for a return to the days when the lord of the manor sprinkled benefits across the village like fairy dust. But a sudden grisly death intervenes, and the handsome vicar's talent for sorting through clues is once again called into play.


It was springtime, with lingering cold and damp shrouding the somber London streets. The best time of year to be in a steam room.

And as the Reverend Destiny Chatsworth was to discover, a steam room was the ideal place to be for a spot of casual eavesdropping.

[Continue reading The Haunted Season now!]

Oct 1 2015 9:30am

The ZINNG: A Cool $25K for E-Mysteries (and Lethal Selfies)

The new Mysterious Press Award honors “the best e-book original mystery novel“ with a cool $25k and worldwide distribution! We read about it at The Rap Sheet, where there are loads more details. Submissions begin in January!

”Over at Jungle Red Writers, Julia Spencer-Fleming explains why Archer Mayor is ”the mystery writer's mystery writer" and he explains the lengths he's gone for research to earn the title.

The Telegraph's Helena Horton reports that there have been more deaths this year from selfie accidents than shark attacks. As a bonus, see 12 images from the new Russian government-released selfie guide, including this: 

Sep 30 2015 4:30pm

Lockdown on Rikers: New Excerpt

Mary Buser

Lockdown on Rikers by Mary E. Buser tells the shocking stories of abuse and injustice at New York's notorious jail (available September 29, 2015).

Mary Buser began her career at Rikers Island as a social work intern, brimming with ideas and eager to help incarcerated women find a better path. Her reassignment to a men's jail coincided with the dawn of the city's “stop-and-frisk” policy, a flood of unprecedented arrests, and the biggest jailhouse build-up in New York City history.

Committed to the possibility of growth for the scarred and tattooed masses who filed into her session booth, Buser was suddenly faced with black eyes, punched-out teeth, and frantic whispers of beatings by officers. Recognizing the greater danger of pointing a finger at one's captors, Buser attempted to help them, while also keeping them as well as herself, safe. Following her promotion to assistant chief, she was transferred to different jails, working in the Mental Health Center, and finally, at Rikers's notorious “jail within jail,” the dreaded solitary confinement unit, where she saw horrors she'd never imagined. Finally, it became too much to bear, forcing Buser to flee Rikers and never look back - until now.


On a gray September morning in 1991, I stood in front of Bloomingdale’s on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, eagerly waiting for my ride. As a graduate student at Columbia University’s School of Social Work, I was beginning a yearlong internship at Rikers Island. I would report to New York City’s notorious correctional complex three days a week to provide emotional and psychiatric support to incarcerated women. While most people would balk at the mere thought of working with criminals, as soon as I learned about this assignment, I was intrigued. It incorporated my most important aspirations: to help the poor and underprivileged and to become a psychotherapist. The fact that the poor and underprivileged in this setting were also accused of crimes barely fazed me. Already in my mid-thirties, I had prior experience, not only with people in emotional distress, but with the incarcerated.

[Continue reading Lockdown on Rikers!]

Sep 30 2015 3:30pm

Netflix and Marvel’s Jessica Jones: A Primer

Marvel's Jessica Jones brings the dangerous world of a super-powered private detective to Netflix. The feature film and television adaptations of Marvel Comics characters like Iron Man, Captain America, the Avengers, and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have been thrilling viewers across the world for years, primarily as science fiction tales or techno-thrillers where valiant heroes battle high-tech terrorists. Recently though, Marvel Studios has begun spinning tales with more appeal to crime fans. The film Ant-Man was pretty much a heist comedy, and the Netflix television series Daredevil took viewers to the mean streets of Hell's Kitchen, where a blind lawyer-turned-titular-vigilante with super senses battles a powerful crime boss.

This November 20th, Netflix airs its 13-episode Season 1 of Jessica Jones, a series with even more appeal to crime fans, chronicling the case of a costumed superhero-turned-private-detective and her battle with a monstrous villain from her past who’s resurfaced to torment her in the present. The fantastic comic series it's based on and the great cast means this is a series crime fans should get excited for.

[It shouldn't be too hard...]

Sep 29 2015 5:00pm

Now Win This!: The Hard Truth Sweepstakes

It's time to face the cold, hard truth with these 12 exciting mysteries!

Click here to enter for a chance to win!

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

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry. Promotion begins September 29, 2015, at 5:00 pm ET, and ends October 13, 2015, 4:59 pm ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[Don't run away...]

Sep 29 2015 12:00pm

Pop Goes the Weasel: Exclusive Excerpt

M.J. Arlidge

Pop Goes the Weasel by M.J. Alridge is the 2nd procedural thriller featuring Southampton detective Helen Grace as she hunts a serial killer targeting duplicitious married men (available October 6, 2015).

A man’s body is found in an empty house.

A gruesome memento of his murder is sent to his wife and children.

He is the first victim, and Detective Helen Grace knows he will not be the last. But why would a happily married man be this far from home in the dead of night?

The media call it Jack the Ripper in reverse: a serial killer preying on family men who lead hidden double lives.

Helen can sense the fury behind the murders. But what she cannot possibly predict is how volatile this killer is—or what is waiting for her at the end of the chase....

Published by arrangement with New American Library, a member of Penguin Group LLC, a Penguin Random House company.


Chapter 2

They were watching her every move. Hanging on her every word.

[Continue reading Pop Goes the Weasel now!]

Sep 29 2015 10:30am

A Huge Case of Teensploitation: 1965’s Village of the Giants

There could probably be some arguments made about just exactly when teenagers became a real force to be considered in American society, and anybody making the case for the mid-1960s being that time has a good chance of winning the debate. I’ll leave that matter for now and instead focus on what one savvy filmmaker did with the emergence of the mid-60s teen phenomenon. B-movie cult hero Bert I. Gordon did with that situation what a good exploitation film director should do: he exploited it. His 1965 teenage camp romp Village of the Giants is a low-budget gem that features great music, giggle-inducing goofy special effects, some big names for a small budget film, and an inventively fun way to see the emergence of the day’s adolescents.

Co-written by Gordon (who also produced, as well as directed) and based loosely on H.G Wells’s 1904 novel The Food of the Gods, this is a multi-genre romp that features elements of sci-fi,  zany comedy,  and ‘60s teen beach movie. But it’s all camp, all the time (well, maybe apart from the music scenes, which are just plain rockin’ – more on that in a few). The, um, story goes as such: Beau Bridges plays the leader of a group of beautiful, privileged-yet-rebellion-minded teens from L.A., who have their joyride shut down by a landslide when they are cruising near the humble (and fictional) town of Hainesville. Since they can’t make their car move them anywhere else for the time being, they decide to wander (well, I think they actually get there via the Watusi) into the small burg to see what kind of trouble they can stir up.

[And boy, do they find trouble...]

Sep 28 2015 4:15pm

Book Shot: 1 on 1 with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Mycroft Holmes

CrimeHQ gets a Q&A with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and you get a chance to win the historical adventure he co-authored, Mycroft Holmes!

CrimeHQ: There's always more research than can fit into one novel. What did you have to leave out and what was your favorite bit of history to include?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: My co-writer, Anna Waterhouse, and I were very specific in our search, so there wasn’t much we had to leave out in terms of the story we were trying to tell. There was, of course, more to tell on just about everything we researched, but it was important to us that the research felt like it was integrated into the plot. The concept of mourning jewelry comes to mind...it’s a very weird custom that was fun to research and that came in handy. But from page one, I have to say that nearly all you’re reading comes from the history books, including the names of the crewmen on the Cambridge/Oxford race, to which cigars were popular in 1870, to the name of the governor of Port of Spain at the time.

[Keep the questions coming!]

Sep 28 2015 11:00am

In Bitter Chill: New Excerpt

Sarah Ward

In Bitter Chill by Sarah WardIn Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward is a standalone thriller about a 30-year-old kidnapping that is once again relevant today (available September 29, 2015).

The deepest secrets are the ones we keep from ourselves in this richly atmospheric, compellingly written, and expertly constructed crime debut from an emerging talent.

Derbyshire, 1978: a small town in the idyllic English countryside is traumatized by the kidnapping of two young schoolgirls, Rachel Jones and Sophie Jenkins. Within hours, Rachel is found wandering alone near the roadside, unharmed yet unable to remember anything, except that her abductor was a woman. No trace of Sophie is ever discovered.

Present day: over thirty years later, Sophie's mother commits suicide. Detective inspector Francis Sadler and detective constable Connie Childs are assigned to look at the kidnapping again to see if modern police methods can discover something that the original team missed. Rachel, with the help of her formidable mother and grandmother, recovered from the kidnapping and has become a family genealogist. She wants nothing more than to continue living quietly beneath the radar, but the discovery of the strangled body of one of her former teachers days after the suicide brings the national media back to her doorstep. Desperate to stop a modern killer from striking again, Rachel and the police must unpick the clues to uncover what really happened all those years ago as the past threatens to engulf the present.


DETECTIVE INSPECTOR FRANCIS SADLER WATCHED the heavy clouds gather through the window and cursed the role that central heating had played in dislocating him from the elements. In his childhood home, his frugal father had banned switching on the radiators until the first day of December. It meant that, as a boy, he had become to used to connecting the weather outside with the sensations of his body. His memories of getting dressed wrapped in his still warm duvet, the icy crispness of the air mixing with the comfort of the breaking dawn, could never be entirely banished. Now, looking down at his dark trousers and pressed shirt, no need to wear a jacket in this overheated office, he wondered if he could ever feel that physical connection again.

[Continue reading In Bitter Chill now!]

Sep 28 2015 9:15am

TBR Confessions: Once-Cops, Outrage, and Lies

RECENTLY FINISHED: Once Were Cops by Ken Bruen. I've been on a bit of a tear with Ken Bruen lately. This was the ninth Bruen novel I've read this year. Granted, Bruen tends to write short novels so it's really only like three “regular” novels, but I love Bruen's stripped-down style so much I feel like I've gotten ten novels worth of enjoyment out of them. Seven of the books I read this year were in the Inspector Brandt series and Once Were Cops features a similarly crooked cop who thinks his brand of self-serving justice is the only way. On loan to the NYPD from Ireland, our anti-hero takes to the street of Manhattan like a battering ram and makes his presence known to the criminals and the top brass. Bruen writes in such spare, evocative prose it makes pages turn faster than any other writer I know. Once Were Cops takes daring turns, with unexpected bursts of violence and an amoral lead who somehow steals our hearts. For those new to Bruen, this is a great place to start, if probably a divisive book. I suspect you'd either love his style or hate it. But you won't read anything like it. 

ALSO POLISHED OFF: Outrage At Blanco by Bill Crider. I really wish crime fiction fans would give more westerns a try. Make no mistake, this is classic crime fiction territory, just set on horseback. And Crider is an absolute master of propulsive storytelling. He drops us right in on a brutal assault on our heroine, Ellie Taine. From there, the story splinters into fast-racing narratives of: her vicious attackers turning to bank robbery, Ellie's hunt for revenge, an aging cattle baron and his no-good son, as well as a town unused to the violence they've experienced in just a few days. Crider builds suspense, doles out action, and gets us into the minds of multiple characters like the old pro he is. His long-running Sheriff Dan Rhodes series is testament to his skills, but his western output is really where he hits my sweet spot. Up next for me is the sequel, Texas Vigilante

CURRENTLY READING: Stay by Victor Gischler. Any new Gischler book is a major announcement for me, and it had been a long damn time between The Deputy (which I absolutely loved) and Stay. This is Gischler in his mainstream mode. He can get over-the-top gonzo with violence, black humor, and even sex, but Stay is likely as much of a step toward a mainstream thriller as we're going to get from him. (His follow up, Gestapo Mars, is the opposite end of the spectrum: wild, inventive, pulpy, and cracked.) The simple concept of a stay-at-home dad called to use his dormant skills as an army operative specializing in solo black ops is a great hook and could lead to a series that takes a character into Jack Reacher territory. I'm about halfway in, and it's a great ride. Not as much of the trademark Gischler humor, but again, it seems like he's swinging for the deep end of the reader pool here. I certainly hope he finds it. He's long overdue. 

EARLY READ OF NOTE: A Negro and an Ofay by Danny Gardner. This novel, currently scheduled for a November, 2015 release, takes us into the 1950s world of a mulatto investigator and his complicated relationship with his upbringing and his mixed race. There is plenty of hardboiled patter and a dense plot with a great sense of place and wonderful dialogue. There are a lot of characters to keep track of with shifting loyalties and hidden agendas, but this marks a promising debut from Gardner.

TOP OF THE PILE: Lie Catchers by Paul Bishop. A real-life LAPD interrogator writes what he knows in this tale of deciphering lies from the truth. 

Eric Beetner is a hardboiled crime author of The Devil Doesn't Want Me, Dig Two Graves, White Hot Pistol, The Year I Died Seven Times, Stripper Pole At The End Of The World, Split Decision, A Mouth Full Of Blood and co-author (with JB Kohl) of One Too Many Blows To The Head and Borrowed Trouble. Award-winning short story writer, former musician, sometimes filmmaker, film noir nerd and father of two.

Read all of Eric Beetner's posts for Criminal Element.

Sep 27 2015 12:00pm

Sky High: Exclusive Excerpt

Susan O'Brien

Sky High by Susan O'Brien is the 2nd cozy in the Nicki Valentine mystery series about the single mom and new P.I. (available September 29, 2015).

Single mom and rookie P.I. Nicki Valentine rarely gets time off, so attending a wedding with her superhot colleague Dean sounds dreamy. But things turn nightmarish when the groom—a soon-to-be transplant donor—disappears, and Nicki and Dean commit to a partnership they never planned.

Together, they examine the groom's unfulfilled promises, including one to his mom, a psychic medium with an unusual health need. As family secrets emerge, Nicki must face questions about her late husband, whose long-ago betrayal still threatens to cloud her judgment.

With support from her pole-dancing best friend, her always-on-call family, and the loves of her life (her two kids-and possibly Dean), Nicki must uncover the groom's demons while conquering her own.


It had been a year since I’d seen my blazing hot PI instructor, Dean, but that didn’t stop us from planning a wedding date. Neither did the fact that I was intimidated by his sun-kissed looks, investigative experience, and relatively commitment-free lifestyle. We’d narrowly avoided mixing business with pleasure (intense pleasure, I can only imagine), because he’d moved overseas to consult on a high-risk, high-paying security project.

[Continue reading Sky High!]

Sep 26 2015 6:00pm

Lead Me Into Danger: New Excerpt

Daniella Bernett

Lead Me Into Danger by Daniella Bernett is a debut mystery featuring a journalist and jewel thief embroiled in international intrigue (available October 1, 2015).

A journalist, a jewel thief, and a Russian spy…when their paths cross, it’s murder.

Journalist Emmeline Kirby hasn’t laid eyes on her former lover Gregory Longdon, a jewel thief, in two years. But she literally tumbles into his arms, after she witnesses two men attempt to murder her friend and fellow journalist, Charles Latimer, in Venice during Carnival.

Emmeline is determined to bring the murderer to justice, but as she and Gregory delve deeper, they become ensnared in a hunt for a Russian spy in the British Foreign Office, who has his sights set on keeping his identity a secret at all costs.


Chapter 3

Emmeline pulled her cloak tightly around her shoulders as the February night wrapped her in its moist embrace. A few flurries had started to fall as she stepped out of the water taxi at Rialto. It was only a five-minute walk from the bridge to Campo San Bartolomeo, where the sixteenth-century church stood.

Emmeline checked her watch. It was 10:15. She was early, so she took her time along the winding streets. She stopped on a humpbacked bridge for a moment and closed her eyes,  listening to the velvet hiss of the canal as its waters gently lapped against the fondamenta and the gondolas below. A world of watery enchantment, in which one couldn’t help but be swept away by Venice’s rich history. Indeed, the very air seemed to be imbued with elegance, romance, and mystery.

A whisper of a breeze trickled down Emmeline’s spine, causing her to shiver slightly. Her costume and the thin cloak did nothing to keep her warm. Or was it something else? Emmeline opened her eyes. All of a sudden, she was afraid.

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