FM: <i>A Batter of Life and Death</i> by Ellie Alexander FM: A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander Kerry Hammond Some cakes are to die for... <i>The Map of Chaos</i>: New Excerpt The Map of Chaos: New Excerpt Felix Palma H.G. Wells's Invisible Man is terrorizing mankind. Fresh Meat: <i>Elimination</i> by Ed Gorman Fresh Meat: Elimination by Ed Gorman Terrie Farley Moran Could an assassination attempt be a ruse to collect sympathy votes? <i>Lawyer for the Dog</i>: New Excerpt Lawyer for the Dog: New Excerpt Lee Robinson Excitment and romance aren't just for the young!
From The Blog
June 29, 2015
Careers: Passion for Execution? Willing to Relocate?
Crime HQ
June 26, 2015
Announcing The M.O.'s "Wishful Thinking" Story!
Crime HQ
June 25, 2015
Man Arrested After Running Naked Through Walmart
Teddy Pierson
June 24, 2015
Hurry! Voting for The M.O.'s "Wishful Thinking" Ends Tonight!
Crime HQ
June 22, 2015
10 of the Best Noir Novels of the 21st Century
Eric Beetner
Jun 29 2015 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander

A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander is the second book in the Bakeshop Mystery series featuring baker Jules Capshaw in her hometown of Ashland, Oregon (available June 30, 2015).

Reality TV meets cozy mystery, with a little bit of murder thrown in. The town of Ashland is known for its Oregon Shakespeare Festival, but the last of the plays are being performed and the theater company is about to go into hiatus for the fall. The town is experiencing cooler weather and a slowdown in tourist traffic. What better time for a television crew to set up shop to film a reality show for the Pastry Channel? Juliet Montague Capshaw aka Jules, has recently moved back to her hometown to help her mother run Torte, a family owned bakery and coffee shop. She is roped into being a contestant on the show and soon finds out that there is as much drama behind the scenes as there is on camera. Specifically, Chef Marco is causing a lot of problems on set as he finds it hard to remain sober for filming.

[There's no such thing as “cooking” wine...]

Jun 29 2015 11:30am

True Detective 2.02: “Night Finds You”

“We get the world we deserve.” – Ray Velcoro

After so much dense setup in the first episode, if you were hoping for more room to breathe and enjoy time with the characters—morose as some of them are—you only get a little here, as the tightly interconnected story weaves outward, crammed close like the Los Angeles sprawl that the helicopter shots keep showing us between scenes.  We get some very brief moments of levity as Ray and Antigone begin investigating Caspere’s murder, but the story remains in a very dark place.

Frank can’t sleep. Jordan tells him to stop thinking, echoing Pascal’s lament that “All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Frank tells her what keeps him up at night, the fear that he died a long time ago, when his drunken father locked him in the basement alone while he was out on a bender, and didn’t return for several days. Leaving young Frank to beat a rat to death in the dark, as the power went out. Frank doesn’t say whether he ate the rat or not, but it’s a distinct possibility, and Jordan asks how many stories like this Frank is holding inside. And we can guess that there are a lot. He’s the most introspective of the characters, to say the least; the others seem oblivious of their wounds and scars and how they affect their behavior.

[Clarity is key...]

Jun 29 2015 10:45am

Careers: Passion for Execution? Willing to Relocate?

No, they don't mean the usual corporate-speak kind of “execution.” Saudi Arabia is hiring for the real deal. According to RT, the kingdom

which executes more criminals than any nation except China and Iran, wants to hire eight new executioners. A surge in executions has been witnessed under new King Salman’s rule.

The job description published online on Monday says no special training is required from applicants. The executioners would be required to behead condemned criminals in public as well as carry out amputations on those convicted of lesser offenses...

Apparently, the positions get paid at the lower end of the civil service scale, but given Saudi Arabia's ranking as only 3rd in worldwide executions, it's a role with good security and growth potential for the right candidate.


Leading image from animated series Executioner, created by Greg Grabianski and Andy Rheingold—Revolver Mag article on “Most Metal Cartoons” at link

Jun 28 2015 12:00pm

The Map of Chaos: New Excerpt

Felix Palma

The Map of Chaos by Felix J. Palma is the third part in the Victorian-era Map of Time trilogy series (available June 30, 2015).

When the person he loves most dies in tragic circumstances, the mysterious protagonist of The Map of Chaos does all he can to speak to her one last time. A session with a renowned medium seems to offer the only solution, but the experience unleashes terrible forces that bring the world to the brink of disaster. Salvation can only be found in The Map of Chaos, an obscure book that he is desperate to uncover. In his search, he is given invaluable help by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Lewis Carroll, and of course by H. G. Wells, whose Invisible Man seems to have escaped from the pages of his famous novel to sow terror among mankind. They alone can discover the means to save the world and to find the path that will reunite the lovers separated by death.

[Start reading The Map of Chaos now!]

Jun 26 2015 2:30pm

Lawyer for the Dog: New Excerpt

Lee Robinson

Lawyer for the Dog by Lee Robinson tells the tale of Sally Baynard, a divorced public defender who's forced to look after Sherman, a miniature schnauzer (available July 7, 2015).


One of the sharpest attorneys in Charleston, S.C., Sally Baynard isn't your typical southern belle. She's certainly not what her mother hoped she'd grow up to be, especially since she divorced her husband, Family Court Judge Joe Baynard, and his historic family with their historic wealth and historic houses. Maybe Sally was never going to be a proper society lady, but her success as a public defender and family lawyer have been enough for her. She's represented murderers, burglars, drug dealers and lately has taken on some of the thorniest divorces, all cases closed with her Sally Bright Baynard wit, charm and brains.

Or have they? One case she's never successfully closed is her marriage. And when Judge Joe assigns her to one of his divorce cases by appointing her as the Lawyer for the Dog — Sherman, a miniature schnauzer— she's forced into close quarters with him again. Juggling the needs of the dog, the angry owners, her amorous but uncommunicative ex-husband, her aging, Alzheimer's-ridden mother, and the expectations of the court is more than Sally could have imagined. And as rascally Sherman digs his way into Sally's heart, he brings along his charming vet Tony, a man who makes Sally question her views on love and marriage.


[Start reading Lawyer for the Dog...]

Jun 27 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Elimination by Ed Gorman

Elimination by Ed Gorman is the final political thriller in the Dev Conrad series where the investigator must figure out who tried to kill a Congress member running for re-election (available July 1, 2015).

It seems possible that my lifelong interest in the American political process is what drew me to read Sleeping Dogs, the first in the political mystery series featuring Dev Conrad, a seasoned political consultant with a background as an investigator for the U. S. Army.

But I freely admit that the appeal for me was the author’s name: Ed Gorman. I’d been a Gorman groupie for years, and the thought of a new series written by the master of mystery, horror, and westerns had me running to the nearest bookstore. Every few years over the past decade, a new Dev Conrad book would be released, bringing the combined allure of politics and murder. I relished each one.

Still, many of my favorite series have come to an end and this one is no exception. I must confess that I had more than one tear in my eye when I finished reading Elimination, the final mystery in the Dev Conrad series.

[It was a fitting goodbye...]

Jun 26 2015 9:30pm

Hannibal 3.04: “Aperitivo” Whets the Bloodlust

In “Apertivo,” a cadre of fractious, murderous conspirators maneuvers to converge upon Caesar (okay, Hannibal). In Republican Rome, a lamb was sacrificed to Jupiter on the ides of each month, and it was by this date in March in 44 B.C.E. that a seer is reported to have told a scoffing Julius Caesar that harm would befall him. One historian reports that diviner was an Etruscan haruspex, or one who reads entrails and the livers of sacrificed animals. Hepatomancy. Hannibal would approve.

By leaving a handful of clever and resourceful victims alive—it's roster time!—Dr. Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) foresaw himself becoming the center of their attentions. But he's not only on their minds, because he's the gravitational point that everyone's preferred triggerman Will Graham is actually compelled to orbit, as Chilton points out to Alana Bloom, who has become much more interesting since her defenestration. Forget the Concerned Friend. Bring on the Crusading Fate!

[Onto the enemies list!]

Jun 26 2015 8:45am

Announcing The M.O.’s “Wishful Thinking” Story!

Thanks for checking out our shortlist of great short crime stories and voting! We're excited to announce the “Wishful Thinking” story we'll be publishing in its entirety is...

“The Coccoon” by Louis Rakovich

We were, again, delighted and vexed by the overall quality of the story submissions as well as those of the four finalists. In a couple of weeks, we'll have the reader-selected story here for your perusal and enjoyment! On Friday, July 10th, you'll see the chrysalis emerge at last!

Jun 25 2015 2:00pm

Killers, Jailers, and Bloody Hands: Nine of Gunsmoke’s Greatest Episodes

TV’s Gunsmoke ran over twenty years, 635 episodes (1955-1975), and five television movies (1987-1994). Given such a popular, high-quality series it would be foolish—darn near impossible—to say these are definitively its greatest adventures. So I’ll call them almost two fists’ worth of the most memorable tales, and, please, challenge me in the comments with your own selections.

“Matt Gets It” (1955)

John Wayne introduces Gunsmoke’s debut episode and the program’s lead actor Jim Arness by explaining to the viewers that what they are about to watch is an adult Western and that “you might as well get used to him, like you’ve had to get used to me.” The actors are far from establishing their characters, but all the elements are in place with a distinctive first plot featuring gunslinger Dan Grat (Paul Richards), who goads people into showdowns, when he gets the upper hand on Matt, nearly killing him. After recovering, the marshal discovers why the killer prefers to be a bit too close when engaging a fire fight and uses that knowledge to his advantage.

Note: These early episodes opened with Matt wandering among the headstones on Boot Hill, observing the “Gomorrah of the Plains” (Dodge City) in the distance. These deliberations (via James Arness’s voiceover) about the city, his role, or some other philosophizing point allows us to get into the mind of a hero that would become much more closed-off as the years passed.

[Get on your horse and let's head to the rest...]

Jun 25 2015 12:00pm

The Bones of You: Exclusive Excerpt

Debbie Howells

The Bones of You is the debut thriller by Debbie Howells where the seemingly perfect daughter of an even more seemingly perfect family is murdered (available June 30, 2015).

Read this exclusive excerpt from Chapters 6 and 7 of The Bones of You! And then comment for a chance to win a copy of Debbie Howells' debut thriller!

I have a gardener’s inherent belief in the natural order of things.  Soft‑petalled flowers that go to seed.  The resolute passage of the seasons.  Swallows that fly thousands of miles to follow the eternal summer.

Children who don’t die before their parents.

When Kate receives a phone call with news that Rosie Anderson is missing, she’s stunned and disturbed. Rosie is eighteen, the same age as Kate’s daughter, and a beautiful, quiet, and kind young woman. Though the locals are optimistic—girls like Rosie don’t get into real trouble—Kate’s sense of foreboding is confirmed when Rosie is found fatally beaten and stabbed.

Who would kill the perfect daughter, from the perfect family? Yet the more Kate entwines herself with the Andersons—graceful mother Jo, renowned journalist father Neal, watchful younger sister Delphine—the more she is convinced that not everything is as it seems. Anonymous notes arrive, urging Kate to unravel the tangled threads of Rosie’s life and death, though she has no idea where they will lead.

[Continue on to our exclusive excerpt of The Bones of You...]

Jun 25 2015 8:45am

Man Arrested After Running Naked Through Walmart

Two men were recently arrested after a video showed one of the men streaking through a Walmart in Kentucky.

According to The Huffington Post, David Daniels and Timothy Smith were arrested over the weekend after a video was taken of a man running naked through Walmart pouring milk (and chocolate milk) on himself and yelling he was on fire.

The man stripped down inside the store wearing nothing but a Halloween mask, socks, and shoes.

The Pike County Sheriff Rodney Scott told the local TV station that the streaker and camera operator are both guilty of indecent exposure. He also believes the prank was planned.

Check out the video... if you dare:

Jun 24 2015 4:30pm

Celebrating Gunsmoke’s 60th Anniversary: “Mannon”

Undoubtedly it’s a fool’s errand to single out a ‘greatest’ lone installment from a television show that ran twenty years, racking up 635 episodes. So, I’m not going to box myself into a corner by saying it’s the greatest but, when I reflect on Gunsmoke and its stunning number of quality adventures, “Mannon” is a go-to example of why this groundbreaking Western endures.

Deputy Festus Haggen (Ken Curtis) is guiding his mule, Ruth, along a dusty road on the outskirts of Dodge City, Kansas, when he encounters a traveler. There’s a prolonged camera shot as it lingers on a gun rig strapped to the man’s right thigh. That gunslinger, Will Mannon (Steve Forrest), shoots Festus with staggering speed, leaving him for dead, and rides Ruth into Dodge—singing along merrily as if he had simply swatted a fly. From this, the show’s opening teaser, it’s obvious that “Mannon” (1969) is one of the harder-edged episodes of the Gunsmoke (1955-1975) series, featuring one of the nastiest, most amoral villains to ever stroll across the small screen.

[That's no light-hearted insult...]

Jun 24 2015 12:30pm

Fresh Meat: The Assassins by Gayle Lynds

The Assassins by Gayle Lynds is a thriller where six international assassins, each assembled from a dark corner of the globe, team up together to steal a fortune from the middle of a Middle Eastern war zone (available June 30, 2015).

Assassins. Six of them, to be precise, get the story rolling from the blood-streaked streets of a crumbling Baghdad. They have landed in the country of Iraq to collect a debt, the first half of which was paid for their murderous work, on the grubby international stage of guns for hire, but the contractor has not kept a promise to pay the second part of the installment, once the job is done.

Although there was no trust in the venal business of international wet work, occasionally there was respect, and Burleigh Morgan was respected. Other top independent assassins would accept a job from him, which was why Saddam Hussein had hired him to put together a team for a series of particularly sensitive international terminations. Besides Morgan, the Basque, and the Russian, there were a former jihadist, a retired Mossad operative, and a peripheral member of the Cosa Nostra. They had executed their assignments perfectly. The problem was, Saddam had never paid the second half of what he owed them.

They could have sent a lawyer's letter, but the debtor would probably not have replied. At that point, Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti, the fifth President of Iraq, to give him his full title, certainly couldn’t have reached for his checkbook to catch the last post. Assassins do not prefer to deal in correspondence anyway; they prefer hot, unrelenting lead.

[It's because of the stamps. They hate buying stamps...]

Jun 24 2015 10:05am

Hurry! Voting for The M.O.’s “Wishful Thinking” Ends Tonight!

Time is almost up for our “Wishful Thinking” round of The M.O.! Voting closes tonight at midnight, and we'll be announcing the winner this Friday! So what are you waiting for? Head over to our shortlist, featuring authors Peter DiChellis, Kate Fellowes, Seana Graham, and Louis Rakovich, and vote for your favorite that you most want to read to The End! You can vote only once (you rascals), and in two weeks, we'll publish the selection here for all of you to enjoy! And to learn more about our shortlisted authors, check out their mugs over at the Rogues' Gallery.

Jun 23 2015 2:00pm

Now Win This!: Beach Bag Sweepstakes

Safe from sand and spray, readable in bright sun, paperbacks are vacation faves, and we've got 15 exciting titles for you to stuff in your beach bag — just don't forget your sunscreen!

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 June 23, 2015, at 2:00 pm ET, and ends July 7, 2015, 1:59 pm ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[Bend 'em, beat 'em, just make sure you read 'em...]

Jun 23 2015 10:15am

Fresh Meat: Devil’s Harbor by Alex Gilly

Devil's Harbor by Alex Gilly follows Nick Finn, a California Customs and Border agent wrongly accused of murdering his partner forced to evade capture while attempting to prove his innocence (available June 23, 2015).

Brutal, real, sweaty, and scary, with the power of the sea roiling just below the surface, Devil’s Harbor is a frightening place to visit. Finn is no imaginary alcoholic. His marriage is in need of more than a quick tune-up. His brother-in-law won’t be strolling into a family dinner with his two boisterous dogs at his side any time soon. Throughout the story, Finn examines and explores long buried childhood memories. Finn is no over-the-top, overboard drunk though: with all his demons perched on this shoulder, he still has the persistence and drive to unravel a puzzling, vicious criminal operation and restore a daughter to a mother’s side. But it’s not for the faint-of-heart.

The tension ratchets up right away. Finn senses something is out of the ordinary in the smuggling vessel he and his partner are attempting to board.

Still no one appeared from the cabin. That disturbed him. Almost all the traffickers he intercepted, when they realized there was no way out, turned meek—especially if their boats were about to sink or catch fire. Usually what they did was show themselves, put their hands in the air, make it clear that they were unarmed and surrendering. Most of them knew they were just going to get shipped home anyway.

Finn sensed that this guy was different. There was something all-or-nothing about this guy.

[Not everything is as it seems...]

Jun 22 2015 2:00pm

10 of the Best Noir Novels of the 21st Century

Here we are, fifteen years into a new century, and many authors are churning out noir novels as essential as anything from its heyday. If you’re like me, when you think of the 90s, it feels about five years ago, but the last decade and a half comprises the entire publishing career of many authors, even though we’re about 80 years beyond the origin of noir fiction and about 65 years away from its golden age.

Here then, are 10 of my favorites from the new millennium. I won’t say they're the best because I certainly haven’t read every noir novel to come out since 2000, and I’m hoping someone out there comments about another book they feel passionate about, so I can find new titles to add to my reading list. Comment away and tell me what I missed.

The Cleanup by Sean Doolittle (2006)

The hallmarks of noir are the sad sucker, the femme fatale, some very bad decisions—The Cleanup has them all. Working night security at an Omaha supermarket is about as low as a man can sink. He might as well have been thrown off the hay truck about noon. Doolittle is the king of suburban noir and he’s never been blacker than here in a timeless tale that of the desperate side of a man’s soul seeking redemption and a slice of what passes for happiness in his snowbound flatlands world.

[With noir, the trajectory is downward...]

Jun 22 2015 12:00pm

Announcing 2015’s Macavity Award Nominations!


Awards season continues apace, with a new slate of nominees for the 2015 Macavity Awards from Mystery Readers International. “MRI is the largest mystery fan/reader organization in the world, is open to all readers, fans, critics, editors, publishers, and writers. Started by Janet A. Rudolph in Berkeley, California, it now has members in all 50 of the United States and 18 foreign countries.” The awards will be presented at Boucheron in Raleigh, NC in October.  Onto the nominees!

The Lewis Man by Peter May
The Last Death of Jack Harbin by Terry Shames
The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood
The Day She Died by Catriona McPherson
The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield
The Long Way Home by Louise Penny

Invisible City by Julia Dahl
The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day
Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary
Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little
Blessed Are the Dead by Kristi Belcamino
Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman

Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer's Journey, edited by Hank Phillippi Ryan
The Figure of the Detective: A Literary History and Analysis by Charles Brownson
Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe by J. W. Ocker
400 Things Cops Know: Street Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman by Adam Plantinga

“Honeymoon Sweet” by Craig Faustus Buck, in Murder at the Beach: The Bouchercon Anthology 2014, edited by Dana Cameron
“The Shadow Knows” by Barb Goffman, in Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays, edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Talley
“Howling at the Moon” by Paul D. Marks, in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine
“The Proxy” by Travis Richardson, in Thuglit
“The Odds Are Against Us” by Art Taylor, in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine

*all the nominated short stories have generously been made available to read online.

Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen
Present Darkness by Malla Nunn
A Deadly Measure of Brimstone by Catriona McPherson
An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris
Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd
Things Half in Shadow by Alan Finn

Congratulations to All!

Jun 22 2015 10:30am

True Detective 2.01: Season Premeire “The Western Book of the Dead”

The second season of True Detective moves to California with an all new cast, keeping the grim sense of despair but losing the mysticism and existential dread that piqued the interest of so many viewers in its first season. Without Rust Cohle’s Thomas Liggotti-inspired philosophical ramblings, the primordial swamp of the Louisiana scenery, and the moody direction of Cary Joji Fukunaga (who does stay on board as producer), the show feels different, but not necessarily worse, as it gains focus and tells a somewhat more straightforward narrative.

Instead of a pair, we get a trio of detectives this time around, beginning with Colin Farrell’s Ray Velcoro, a big fish in the very small, corrupt pond of Vinci, a city—“supposedly,” Ray says—that seems to consist entirely of a sweatshop, some oil refineries, dead-end bars, and a casino. If you thought Thompson’s Pop. 1280 was  small town, Vinci has 94 people, and they’re all squeezing the Federal orange for every drop.

[There won't be enough to please everyone...]

Jun 20 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Run You Down by Julia Dahl

Run You Down by Julia Dahl is the 2nd murder mystery in the Rebekah Roberts series about a NYC reporter who's immersed herself in the closed-door Hasidic community (available June 30, 2015).

Run You Down picks up shortly after the events of Julia Dahl's first book, Invisible City. Rebekah Roberts, the reporter for the Tribune who uncovered a murder in the Ultra-Orthodox community, is having trouble coming to terms with her experiences. She is drawn into another murder when the husband of Pessie Goldin reaches out for help. Pessie was found dead in a bathtub and the rumor in the community is that she committed suicide. Her family does not want anyone looking into it and as suicide is a great sin, and may seriously affect the ability of her siblings to attract spouses, her mother and father are claiming Pessie’s death was an accident. But her husband, Levi, is convinced his wife would never kill herself, especially since her little boy Chaim was left strapped into his car seat. As is common in this community, the body was not autopsied and the police have shown no interest in investigating.

[That's going to make things difficult...]