<i>Firebreak</i>: New Excerpt Firebreak: New Excerpt Tricia Fields Fire doesn't destroy all evidence. <i>Impasse</i>: New Excerpt Impasse: New Excerpt Royce Scott Buckingham A modern day take on The Count of Monte Cristo! <i>Death, Taxes, and Cheap Sunglasses</i>: New Excerpt Death, Taxes, and Cheap Sunglasses: New Excerpt Diane Kelly Tara's in another taxing situation. <i>What the Fly Saw</i>: New Excerpt What the Fly Saw: New Excerpt Frankie Bailey A funeral director is found dead clutching a skeleton. Hmm...
From The Blog
March 2, 2015
John Le Carré's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Smiley's Reckoning
Edward A. Grainger
March 2, 2015
Lizzie Borden's Not Nearly Done!
Crime HQ
February 28, 2015
Under the Radar: Genre Movies You May Have Missed — Bandits
Angie Barry
February 27, 2015
One Week Until The M.O. Submissions are Long Gone!
Crime HQ
February 26, 2015
Literary Mysteries: Edgar Allan Poe's "The Light-House"
Edward A. Grainger
Mar 2 2015 3:30pm

John Le Carré’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Smiley’s Reckoning

In 1974’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, we finally have an account of George Smiley as a full-fledged intelligence officer after thirteen years on the scene. In the first two novels of the series—Call for the Dead (1961) and A Murder of Quality (1962)—Smiley functioned more as detective that could have easily fit into a G.K. Chesterton Father Brown mystery as he pieced clues together to solve murders. Entertaining, mind you, but not the sort of exploits you expect from a master spy. In the groundbreaking The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1963), the door was cracked open a little farther and we see him functioning as a ‘puppeteer’ of sorts pulling the surreptitious strings to bring down a communist agent. The Looking Glass War (1965) is almost a footnote; Smiley makes what amounts to an extended cameo that his creator John Le Carré concedes (in a 1991 forward to the then latest paperback) was miscast. It would be a nine-year break between Glass War and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy but Le Carré wasn’t resting, and he delivered in a very big way.

[The best things take time...]

Mar 2 2015 12:00pm

Firebreak: New Excerpt

Tricia Fields

Firebreak by Tricia Fields is the 4th mystery in the Josie Gray series, and this time the Texas police chief finds herself investigating the country music scene after a body is discovered in a wildfire's wake (available March 3, 2015).

Texas is experiencing its worst season of wildfires in a decade, forcing police chief Josie Gray to evacuate the citizens of Artemis and the surrounding ranchlands. Not everyone makes it out alive, however.

In the fire's wake, Josie discovers the body of someone who didn't leave in time, inside the partly burned home of a local country music singer. A syringe found near the body offers an answer for why the deceased missed the evacuation. The question remains, though, why the unlucky soul was in the house in the first place. As Josie investigates, digging further into the country music scene and its hard-living characters, she begins to wonder whether or not something more sinister took place.


The wind from the east pounded the watchtower and sliced across the guy wires, moaning like a violin. Josie felt the building shudder, but her attention was drawn to the north, fixated on a swirl of gray billowing upward and then disappearing against the overcast sky. The paint-splattered transistor radio propped on the window ledge beside her crackled through another lightning strike. The announcer for the Marfa public-radio station warned of forty-mile-per-hour wind gusts and dry lightning that would spark the parched grasslands like a match to paper.

[Continue reading Firebreak by Tricia Fields...]

Mar 2 2015 8:45am

Lizzie Borden’s Not Nearly Done!

Christina Ricci will reprise the role of Lizzie Borden in a 6-episode miniseries, plus two more episodes on order, which fantastically elaborates life (and plentiful death) in Fall River after the woman acquitted of slaughtering her parents in 1892 experiences a murderous relapse. Premiering on Sunday, April 5th, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles serve as the sequel to Lifetime's television movie, Lizzie Borden Took an Ax. Not only is the titular star returning, but, according to Fashion&Style:

Clea Duvall is returning to portray Lizzie's sister. John Heard is playing a business partner of Lizzie's father and Andrew Howard is playing Lizzie's half-brother, William. Cole Hauser plays detective Charlie Siringo, whose mission is to connect Lizzie to the new killings.

If you enjoy “history” (and those are extremely loose air quotes) as a reason for olde tyme sets with lots of axe play—though the real weapon was a hatchet, as you can read below— and sly scheming in veils and big skirts, this one looks like it could be a darned good time. What do you think?

SEE ALSO: The Rhyme and the Crime: 5 Questions About Lizzie Borden's Forty Whacks

Mar 1 2015 1:00pm

Impasse: New Excerpt

Royce Scott Buckingham

IMPASSE by Royce Scott BuckinghamImpasse by Royce Scott Buckingham is a thriller about a recently-fired prosecutor who heads into the Alaskan wilderness to find himself, only to be left for dead (available March 3, 2015).

Forty and facing a mid-life crisis, Stu Stark has lost his mojo. He simply gave up after being fired from his prestigious job as a prosecuting attorney for losing the biggest case of his career. So when Stu's best friend gifts him a one-week trip into the Alaskan wilderness to rediscover his manhood, Stu thinks it just might do him some good. But after a horrible week, Stu is crushed when he realizes that no one is coming back for him. Dying, Stu is found by a grizzled old hunter who informs that winter has set in, and they're not going anywhere for a while.

So begins Stu's training to become the man he never was…and to get revenge on those who betrayed him.


“No body, no case,” Stuart Stark’s fellow attorneys at the Bristol County, Massachusetts, DA’s Office had warned him. He’d tried the Butz murder anyway. But as he lay dying in a ramshackle cabin in the middle of the Alaska interior wondering if he could fit the business end of the borrowed Browning .30-06 in his mouth and still reach the trigger, he wished he had listened to them.

[Continue reading Impasse by Royce Scott Buckingham...]

Mar 1 2015 11:00am

Death, Taxes, and Cheap Sunglasses: New Excerpt

Diane Kelly

Death, Taxes, and Cheap Sunglasses by Diane Kelly is the 8th cozy mystery in the IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway series where this time her boyfriend is going deep undercover to catch a drug cartel (available March 3, 2015).

IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway can calculate tax penalties to the penny. But seeing the world of white-collar crime through rose-colored glasses? Priceless.

Tara's career comes with a lot of pros and cons—which is a nice way of saying that she's kick-a$$ in her fight against professional con-artists. And she's tough enough to deal with all the money-launderers, tax-evaders, and other such criminals who cross her path…Until her own boyfriend, Nick, joins their leagues. Now all bets are off.

Nick is about to go deep undercover—and the stakes are higher than Tara could have ever imagined. It's all part of a joint task force with the DEA to bring down a powerful, violent drug cartel. It's going to take more than a pair of dime store shades for Tara to bring their dark deeds to light. Can she help Nick without blowing his cover…and ending up in harm's way herself?

Chapter One

Nick’s New Assignment

I slid my gun into my purse, grabbed my briefcase, and headed out to my car. Yep, tax season was in full swing once again, honest people scrambling to round up their records and receipts, hoping for a refund or at least to break even. As a taxpayer myself, I felt for them. But as far as tax cheats were concerned, I had no sympathy. The most recent annual report indicated that American individuals and corporations had underpaid their taxes by $450 billion. Not exactly chump change. That’s where I came in.

[Continue reading Death, Taxes, and Cheap Sunglasses...]

Feb 28 2015 11:00am

Under the Radar: Genre Movies You May Have Missed — Bandits

As a reporter says in the opening prologue, Bandits (2001) is “part Bonnie and Clyde, part Barnum & Bailey.” It’s farcical comedy, crime melodrama, and a unique love story all rolled into one.

Joe Blake (Bruce Willis) and Terry Collins (Billy Bob Thornton) are a pair of inmate pals who spontaneously decide to break out of prison. In the aftermath, confident Joe sets his sights on his dream of buying a hotel in Mexico and turning it into a restaurant and casino. He’ll work the front, while the high-strung Terry can manage the restaurant and finances.

But casinos cost money, and the pair’s pretty strapped for cash — not to mention on the lam. So the fugitives turn to their most bankable skill and concoct a daring plan: they’ll rob banks by kidnapping the managers the night before, then make off with the goods the next morning with their hostage’s assistance.

They enlist Joe’s cousin, Harvey Pollard (Troy Garity), to be their getaway driver and odd job man, and before long, Joe and Terry are known as the Sleepover Bandits. Their faces may be plastered on every TV and they’re now at the top of the Most Wanted list, but things are definitely looking up.

[They'll soon learn: two's company, but three's a crime...]

Feb 27 2015 3:00pm

How to Get Away with Murder 1.15: Season Finale “It’s All My Fault”

How To Get Away With Murder finally proved that it knew where it was going all along: the twists are shocking, sure, but it pulled through with a logical conclusion to the question of who killed Lila Standgard (Megan West).

Rebecca (Katie Findlay) was lying, and Sam (Tom Verica) has plenty of opportunity, as we see in more flashbacks, but neither of them killed her. Not exactly, anyway.

Following up on their kidnapping of Rebecca, Keating (Viola Davis) and her team hold a mock trail of sorts, intending to sort out Rebecca’s part in Lila’s murder once and for all. Once all their accusations are presented, Keating pokes holes in all of them and—correctly—labels the entire case as speculation. But if they let Rebecca go, she’ll involve the police.

[Quite the pickle...]

Feb 27 2015 3:00pm

How to Get Away with Murder 1.14: “The Night Lila Died”

As How to Get Away with Murder can attest, the “previously on” section that starts a TV show can tell you a lot about how difficult a show is to follow. Many shows have a thirty second clip that just gives the same general background. “The Night Lila Died,” the penultimate episode of How to Get Away With Murder's first season, has a minute and a half of various plot points delivered as quickly as it can. I’m surprised it only took that much time.

We’re entering the final two episodes of the season, and that means we’re getting flashbacks to the biggest murder case on the show so far: Lila Stangard’s (Megan West) strangulation. And the show isn’t going easy on the revelations this time, as every glimpse of the night gives us a new secret. All of them belong to Rebecca (Katie Findlay), who’s looking so guilty that she ends the episode tied up and duct-taped. But first things first.

[Don't forget about this week's case!]

Feb 27 2015 11:00am

What the Fly Saw: New Excerpt

Frankie Bailey

What the Fly Saw by Frankie Y. Bailey is the second mystery featuring Detective Hannah McCabe set in the near-future of Albany in 2020 (available March 3, 2015).

Albany, New York, January 2020

The morning after a blizzard that shut down the city, funeral director Kevin Novak is found dead in the basement of his funeral home. The arrow sticking out of his chest came from his own hunting bow.

A loving husband and father and an active member of a local megachurch, Novak has no known enemies. His family and friends say he was depressed because his best friend died suddenly of a heart attack and Novak blamed himself. But what does his guilt have to do with his death? Maybe nothing, maybe a lot. The minister of the megachurch and the psychiatrist who provides counseling to church members—do either of them know more than they are saying?

Detective Hannah McCabe and her partner, Mike Baxter, sort through lies and evasions to solve the riddle of Novak's death, while unanswered questions from another high-profile case.

Chapter 1

Saturday, January 18, 2020
5:47 A.M.

After the storm passed, in the chilly hour before dawn, the last of the “space zombies” found their way back to their nest in the derelict house.

From his command post, the squad leader gave the signal: “Go!”

[Continue reading What the Fly Saw by Frankie Y. Bailey...]

Feb 27 2015 8:45am

One Week Until The M.O. Submissions are Long Gone!

The M.O.'s submissions mailbox closes next Friday, so sneak a peek at sample shortlisters in our new Rogues' Gallery! If you haven't submitted your 1000-1500 word story, there's still time, and we're dying to read it! 

Shortlisted for “Nevermore,” E. A. “Screw the Po-Po” Poe is an expert in shotokan karate and chin na, the manipulation of joints. Unafraid of death. He takes credit for “The Fall of the House of Usher,” but may or may not write robot sonnets and tweet @crimeHQ Known mostly for song lyrics,“40 Whacks” shortlister Lizzie Family Forevah Borden goes days without eating, is versatile with weaponry and the baritsu used to defeat Moriarty at Reichenbach. Loves kittens, Pinterest. Like her on Facebook, or else. Wait, I'm the Victim here!
But now that you mention it, I do have a one-jar show I'd like to promote. I'll be taking it on a tour of casino lounges this spring. It's a personal journey of hope—formaldehyde, too, of course—but mostly hope.
Feb 26 2015 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: Broken Window by Dorothy H. Hayes

Broken Window by Dorothy H. Hayes is set in NYC in the summer of 1984 — a time when the subway was not a safe place for travel, as evidenced by a missing NYU student (available March 3, 2015).

Comment below for a chance to win a copy!

It's the summer of 1984, and New York City is steaming in more ways than one. Local politicians are spending lots of time arguing in the media but doing relatively little to relieve the stress of mass-transit problems. New York needs its subways and busses to keep the city going, but they were like a tea kettle set to boil.

The subway was dangerous.
But the three girls wouldn’t take no for an answer. Kelly Singleton was moving from her Connecticut home into her NYU dorm, and the subway was part of her new life, she told her concerned parents.

Jamie Ryan and Christina Moore were her two best friends and would be visiting Kelly whenever they could. They insisted that they needed to learn how to navigate mass transportation.

For all three of them, riding the subway was a rite of passage. That was their final plea.

The old, rusted trains they were so anxious to ride broke down regularly, leaving passengers to wait, sometimes forty minutes and longer, in dangerous circumstances, their parents argued. The Daily News and The New York Times frequently reported gang violence on the trains, which in the last ten years had become the symbol of the city’s rising crime rate.

[Thankfully, things have since changed!]

Feb 26 2015 11:30am

The Americans 3.05: “Salang Pass”

Early in last night’s episode of The Americans, “Salang Pass,” Philip (Matthew Rhys) listens to a BBC radio report of a deadly incident in Afghanistan’s Salang Tunnel. The initial estimate of fatalities released by the Soviet government was under 200, but it is now believed that the real number was closer to 2,000. The cause of the fire is also in dispute. The Soviets maintain it was a traffic incident, while the Afghani’s claim it as a successful military operation.

Neither the source of the Salang Tunnel Fire nor the number of casualties, however, is relevant to the rest of the episode. In fact, other than the radio broadcast, it is never mentioned again by anyone. Why, then, title the episode after it? The answer lies in the central conflict of Season 3, whether or not Philip and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) should tell Paige (Holly Taylor) the truth about their family in order to indoctrinate her into the second-generation illegals program. For Elizabeth, telling Paige is the normal progression. Why shouldn’t Paige know who she really is? As Elizabeth points out, Kimberly (Julia Garner), the troubled teen of a CIA officer, doesn’t know the truth about her parents, and look at how she’s turned out, a complete mess.

[It's not as black and white for Philip...]

Feb 26 2015 8:45am

Literary Mysteries: Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Light-House”

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) remains a giant within the horror set with renowned classics such as The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart, and The Pit and the Pendulum. He’s also acknowledged as the architect of the contemporary detective genre with his French investigator, C. Auguste Dupin, who first appeared in 1841’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and later in ”The Mystery of Marie Rogêt“ (1842) and ”The Purloined Letter" (1844).

It is these main ingredients of horror—or, more precisely, impending doom—and mystery that fused a minor but intriguing literary coda to his legacy. A last shot, if you will, across the bow that enticingly leaves many questions unanswered. I’m speaking of the roughly 800 word, untitled (though now commonly referred to as “The Light-House”) manuscript that is presented in diary form beginning on New Year’s Day 1796 and features journal entries for the next couple of days.

[Remember, it's only 800 words...]

Feb 25 2015 2:00pm

Agent Carter 1.08: Season Finale “Valediction”

On its eighth and final episode of the season, “Valediction,” Agent Carter comes to something of an awkward conclusion. In many respects, the show does a workmanlike job of bringing its first season to a close. It wraps up its main storyline, leaves several interesting ends dangling tantalizingly loose, and drops a big revelation in the last scene. But it also makes a couple of odd little missteps… and one big mistake.

I’ll get to all that in a second, but first a quick catch-up: when we last left the intrepid Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) she was searching for the evil Russian scientist Dr. Ivchenko (Ralph Brown) and his lethal assassin sidekick Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan). They’d just unleashed a gas canister that made a movie theater full of people kill each other.

Turns out the gas was another Howard Stark invention, called Midnight Hour, that he’d developed for the military. The gas was supposed to help keep soldiers awake, but instead it makes people psychotic. Ivchenko blames Stark for the deaths of a town full of Russian soldiers who were exposed to the gas by a rogue general. Now he kidnaps Stark (Dominic Cooper) and brainwashes him into thinking that he can save Captain America by flying a planeload of the gas into Times Square.

[Why is it always NYC?]

Feb 25 2015 11:15am

Justified 6.06: “Alive Day”

Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder, Joelle Carter as Ava Crowder, Timothy Olyphant as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens

We’re almost halfway through the final season of Justified, and given how great this season is turning out to be, I’m truly pained to type those words! In Episode 6.06, “Alive Day”, Ava’s (Joelle Carter) position between a rock and a hard place seems to be getting more slippery by the day while Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns), Avery Markham (Sam Elliott), and Katherine Hale (Mary Steenburgen) are tangled up in a cat’s cradle of double-, triple- and quadruple-crosses. Meanwhile, Raylan’s (Timothy Olyphant) wayward ways are a cross that Rachel (Erica Tazel) has to bear and Choo Choo (Duke Davis Roberts), nicknamed for an inanimate object, suddenly becomes the most painfully human of Avery Markham’s henchman.

The episode begins with Boyd (Walton Goggins) coming back to Ava’s place and finding Raylan’s car parked out front. Raylan makes it clear that he’s there on “Marshal Business” and asks about Dewey Crowe. I still think that Dewey is inadvertently going to throw a monkey wrench in Boyd’s plans from beyond the grave, because that’s what he did when he was alive, and also we got the shot of Earl (Ryan Dorsey) draping his crocodile tooth necklace in Boyd’s bar. That can’t have been a coincidence! And it would be such an Elmore Leonard ending if it’s actually Dewey’s murder that ends up getting Boyd put away. But I digress! In response to Raylan’s questions, Boyd tries to finger Markham’s gang for anything that may have happened to Dewey by saying that Dewey was headed to the pizza parlor when Boyd last saw him. Boyd also gets into a very public display of affection with Ava which is also a pissing contest with Raylan.

[A contest neither are winning...]

Feb 25 2015 8:45am

Man Wreaks Havoc at Salon After Bad Haircut

A Connecticut man who just didn’t appreciate the look of the haircut he received was arrested by police after he, allegedly, became inhospitable toward the staff and began destroying the salon. He went even more nutty when he learned how much it was going to cost him. Police say Becker started throwing items, including a candle and wreath, after learning the price of the haircut would be $50. Becker also “kicked a hole in the wall, and went off on a swearing tirade to employees and customers,” reports the Inquisitr.

Apparently, Becker left the salon, but returned, “demanding the stylist fix his hair.” However, when she refused to fix the haircut, she called the local authorities, who later arrested Becker at his home. He was charged with criminal mischief and breach of peace.

Who out there empathisizes with the frustration of a bad haircut? Let me know in the comments!

Image via Inquisitr

Feb 24 2015 11:15am

Gotham 1.17: “Red Hood”

When I complained that Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) needed more to do on Gotham, her sexing up Selina (Camren Bicondova) isn’t what I had in mind.

In an episode of Gotham filled with odd (and sometimes violent) twists, Barbara’s insistence that Selina would look great in an adult evening dress stands out. That’s going to make future conversations between Catwoman and Barbara (Batgirl) Gordon awkward.

“Hey, didn’t that dress used to belong to my mom?”

“Yeah, I got it when we were living together.”

O_o. I’m not sure the show intended the scene to come across as sexually predatory on Barbara’s part. I suspect it was meant to be a girl bonding moment. But it certainly plays as if the only reason Barbara wants Selina in sexy clothes is because she finds Selina attractive. And given their respective ages, that slides Barbara close to sexual predator.

If the show actually wants to go there, Erin Richards played it perfectly. If the point of Barbara’s character is to show how a basically decent person becomes corrupted by the darkness in Gotham and then Gordon, representing the light, brings her back from the brink, I’m good with that, save that Barbara’s descent needs to be more than moping, looking sad, a few short sex scenes with Renee and Jim, and lots of wine consumption.

[She's a pint of Ben and Jerry's short of a full-blown cliche...]

Feb 24 2015 10:30am

Fresh Meat: The Life I Left Behind by Colette McBeth

The Life I Left Behind by Colette McBeth is a standalone thriller narrated by three women: one who is dead, one who nearly died, and one who is the cop trying to solve it all (available February 24, 2015).

Friendships are a tricky business. Especially when that sweet guy next door, the one who introduced you to new music and drank wine with you on long summer nights in London, tried to kill you. These are the kind of so-called “friends” that populate Colette McBeth’s second novel, The Life I Left Behind. If you’re thinking, “no thanks, I prefer my chums to be of the everlasting BFF variety,” this isn’t the book for you (and neither is McBeth’s debut, Precious Thing, where a childhood friendship is put under the microscope and its grimy, murderous underbelly is exposed). Told in alternating perspectives—a dead woman, a nearly dead woman, and the cop who’s trying to piece it all together—the novel is both a whodunit and a why-dunit. Aren’t the latter infinitely more interesting, anyway? Especially when the suspect pool becomes whittled down to—you guessed it—a close-knit group of friends. Though is that really what you call a group of people who may or may not have killed a mutual acquaintance? What’s the proper collective noun in this instance?

[Cohort perhaps?]

Feb 24 2015 8:45am

The Cowboy Rides Away: Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, and The Cheyenne Social Club

The Cheyenne Social Club poster featuring Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda.

Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda had one of the longest lasting friendships in the history of Hollywood. They met as young actors, became instant pals, and stayed close until Fonda’s death in 1982. Orson Welles is supposed to have said, “I thought these two guys were either having the hottest affair in Hollywood, or they were the two straightest human beings I ever met in my life. I came to conclusion that they were the two straightest human beings I’d ever met in my life.”

In a sense, they were perfectly matched. Both were tall and thin and possessed of a certain soft-spoken middle American charm. Naturally reserved, they were both always well cast as quiet men of bedrock decency. It was always easy to believe that the fella who played Jefferson Smith would be best friends with the fella who played Tom Joad. They seemed like a couple of regular guys.

[Guys you'd want to grab a beer with...]

Feb 23 2015 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Doomsday Equation by Matt Richtel

The Doomsday Equation by Matt Richtel is a modern techno-thriller where one man has only three days to prevent the outbreak of World War III (available February 24, 2015).

Jeremy Stillwater is smarter than you.

He’s smarter than you in the annoying way Alan Turing was, unwilling—or unable—to hide his belief that not only is he smarter than you, he’s smarter than pretty much anyone else on the planet.

Naturally, there are some smart people who resent his belief, especially because it’s true.

Jeremy wasn’t the first person to use “Big Data” as a predictive model for determining when and where and how events will occur, but he is the first person to create an algorithm that ties it all together, that makes it all make sense.

And naturally, there are some people who want him to share that algorithm.

It’s kind of like what happened with Facebook, if you’ve seen The Social Network.

[Without the Aaron Sorkin snark...]