Fresh Meat: <i>Shark Skin Suite</i> by Tim Dorsey Fresh Meat: Shark Skin Suite by Tim Dorsey Neliza Drew Lawyers, like sharks, are tough to swim with. <i>Crazy for You</i>: New Excerpt Crazy for You: New Excerpt Michael Fleeman One moment, you're just dropping your kid off at school... Now Win <i>This</i>!: 3x3 Sweepstakes Now Win This!: 3x3 Sweepstakes Crime HQ The best things come in threes! <i>Fear the Darkness</i>: New Excerpt Fear the Darkness: New Excerpt Becky Masterman What do you do when a psychopath moves in?
From The Blog
January 28, 2015
Thieves Do the Right Thing for Boy Scouts
Teddy Pierson
January 27, 2015
William Gillette: The Actor Who Saved Sherlock Holmes
Crime HQ
January 26, 2015
Lowdown Calendar: More of 2015's Mystery Conventions
Crime HQ
January 25, 2015
Literary Mysteries: Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire
Edward A. Grainger
January 22, 2015
Woman Feels No Fear
Jennifer Proffitt
Wed
Jan 28 2015 8:45am

Thieves Do the Right Thing for Boy Scouts

Who says bad guys don't have a heart? It seem a guilty conscience prompted a thieves who stole a cargo trailer and camping gear from a Montana Boy Scout troop to return the stolen equipment back to them. How nice. 

The troop's scoutmaster said he found a handwritten note on the windshield of a car in the church parking lot where the gear was originally taken early in the month, KXLY reports.

The note was from the thieves who said they felt guilty and provided an address in Billings, Montana where the trailer could be found and another address where the gear could be found.

The thieves are still at large.

Tue
Jan 27 2015 11:45am

Gotham 1.13: “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon”

James Gordon (Ben McKenzie, R) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue, L) address corruption within the GCPD in the "Welcome Back, Jim Gordon" episode of Gotham.Welcome back, indeed. This was the most coherent and compelling episode of Gotham to date. Not only did we get the usual surface fun—Oswald and Mama Kapelput, Fish being gleefully defiant—but the story reached far deeper in simultaneously giving Jim and victory and a defeat.

Gotham's unpredictability has always been a strength, and that’s in evidence, too. I expected Fish might die, I expected crazy Mama Kapelput to get caught in a crossfire, and, most of all, I expected Gotham's signature quick cuts between storylines to interfere with the overall impact of the episode. Instead, the police plot and the mobster plot coalesced into something greater than both, while the subplots of Bruce and Selina’s break-up and Eddie’s fumbling courtship of Miss Kringle reinforce the grief and loss of the overall story.

[Let's hope this is the new Gotham...]

Tue
Jan 27 2015 8:45am

William Gillette: The Actor Who Saved Sherlock Holmes

Before Benedict and Basil, there was William Gillette, a US-born actor who suited up on stage as Sherlock Holmes over 1,000 times, including once in a silent film. But until very recently, the 1916 film was believed to be lost, erasing the bridge that took Arthur Conan Doyle's Victorian-era detective and catapulted him into the limelight of generations to come. Basil Rathbone might have been the first actor to transplant the sleuth into then current day World War II (a concept used as well by Stephen Moffat's setting of modern London in Sherlock), but it was William Gillette who popularized Sherlock in the US markets. Gillette was responsible for taking Doyle's character off the page and presenting him as he's known today. He implemented the iconic curved pipe and invented the line Elementary, my dear fellow. He took Holmes out from the seedy underbelly of detective work and preseneted him as a suave bachelor. And most importantly, he convinced Doyle to reboot Holmes after the author had killed him off in 1893. 

Head over to BBC News, where you can watch a clip from the 1916 silent film, listen to a recording of Gillette, and learn more!

Mon
Jan 26 2015 12:00pm

Grantchester 1.02

In Episode 2, Sidney goes to a dinner party with snobs and we begin to depart rather significantly from the stories on which Grantchester is based.

The inspiration for this episode is “A Question of Trust” from the collection called Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie. It wasn’t a murder mystery, but it is now. Sidney didn’t have the beginnings of a drinking problem, but he does now. Sidney’s sister Jennifer wasn’t a victim of mean girl bullying, but she is now.

Dramatic tension is ramping up all around. Emotional conflict is trumping some of the sweetness and subtlety of both the first episode and the original stories. I’m not convinced the shift is necessary, but no one asked me.

Plus, we don’t see nearly enough of Dickens the puppy. That’s something we all can agree needs to be rectified in future episodes.

[You gave me a puppy, now you’re taking him away?]

Mon
Jan 26 2015 10:45am

Fresh Meat: Shark Skin Suite by Tim Dorsey

Shark Skin Suite by Tim Dorsey is the 18th humorous escapade of Florida serial killer Serge Storm, and this time, after binging on a collection of legal films, he's ready to try his own hand at  upholding the law (available January 27, 2015).

Tim Dorsey’s back with his 18th Serge Storm’s book, Shark Skin Suite. Now, given Dorsey’s plots are Florida headlines fed a steady diet of Coleman’s drug stash, run through the Florida Man Twitter feed, and frosted with incredibly creative serial murder, it means, given half my neighborhood in sunny South Florida has been foreclosed on – some places more than once – it’s only natural that the heart of Shark Skin Suite would be a foreclosure lawsuit, some slimy lawyers, and Coleman’s brother.

The biggest problem with a Dorsey novel, if you’re a big fan of believability, is parsing out the stuff that’s actually stuff that happened or stuff that happens so often no one notices anymore and the stuff that’s actually cranked up to eleven and three quarters. For example, I’m reading along and come to a part where a newly-minted lawyer figures out a way to get a bank to finally pay back the people it wrongly threw out of a house they’d paid cash for. My husband thinks it’s great, and ponders how the author came up with such an idea. My guess is he saw it on the news.  Yes, that’s a real news story, names and companies changed, of course. (It’s somehow even better the way Dorsey does it.)

[If only the real news was this exciting...]

Sun
Jan 25 2015 12:00pm

Literary Mysteries: Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita, Ada, or Ardor) is not what one would call a traditional mystery story. You won’t find it among the likes of Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Father Brown, or Phillip Marlowe in the mystery section of your local bookstore. Instead it’s shelved in the classics section with Ulysses, The Adventures of Augie March, Mrs. Dalloway, and other noted literary titles (Pale Fire came in at #53 on the list of the Modern Library 100 Best Novels). And, yet, I can’t think of a greater mystery.

Pale Fire presents a puzzle and then begins unraveling the plot through a set of carefully planted clues, like bread crumbs for an inquisitive robin, and like any good riddle, it serves up these morsels as red herrings that take the reader far off course. But Pale Fire is not so much a whodunit (though those elements certainly exist) but a who-wrote-it? Of course, literally, Nabokov penned it but, let me clarify:

In the novel, John Shade composes a 999 line poem in four cantos called Pale Fire. It’s a brilliant tour-de-force about his life, wife Sybil, the tragic death of his daughter Hazel Shade, the supernatural, the quest for knowledge, and the hopes that gods are “playing a game of worlds” to offset what appears to be a chaotic randomness of life. The famed and picturesque opening lines begin:

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain

By the false azure in the windowpane;

I was the smudge of ashen fluff—and I

Lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky.

[Okay, so it's definitely not your typical mystery...]

Sat
Jan 24 2015 12:00pm
Excerpt

Crazy for You: New Excerpt

Michael Fleeman

Crazy for You: The True Story of a Family Man's Murder, a Wife's Secret, and a Deadly Obsession by Michael FleemanCrazy for You by Michael Fleeman is the true story of the murder of a husband and father from Atlanta and the secrets that spilled out in the wake of his death (available February 3, 2015).

A LOVING FATHER

A typical morning in the Atlanta suburbs: Businessman Rusty Sneiderman drops his beloved son off at the Dunwoody Prep nursery. In the parking lot, a minivan pulls up next to his car. The driver pulls out a gun—and shoots Rusty four times in the chest.

A HEARTBROKEN WIFE

Sneiderman’s devoted wife, Andrea, is devastated by the crime. Who could have done this? She is shocked when police trace the shooting to a man named Hemy Neuman—who happens to be Andrea’s adoring boss.

A DEADLY OBSESSION

The prosecution accuses Andrea and Hemy of having a “forbidden relationship,” and of conspiring to collect $2 million in her husband’s life insurance. But Andrea swears she never intended to kill Rusty—and that it is Hemy who’s “delusional” and obsessed. With the charges against her dropped, and the insurance money frozen, Andrea remains a mysterious character. Only one other person—the man who pulled the trigger—knows the truth about what really happened…

[Start reading Michael Fleeman's Crazy for You...]

Fri
Jan 23 2015 12:30pm

Under the Radar: Genre Movies You May Have Missed — The Frighteners

I love the mainstream, popular, and critically acclaimed films as much as the next person. The last thing I’d consider myself is a cinematic snob. But there are times when a truly amazing movie slips into—and out of—theaters without much buzz before fading into obscurity. So I’d like to bring a few of those gems back into the light and remind you that sometimes the blockbusters aren’t the only films that can give you plenty of bang for your buck.

Before Peter Jackson was synonymous with Lord of the Rings, he cut his directing eye-teeth on horror. And by far the most polished of his earlier schlock-fests is 1996’s The Frighteners.

[Off we go!]

Fri
Jan 23 2015 8:45am

The X Files to Return? The Truth Is Out There

We've already discussed the upcoming return of Twin Peaks (for which we can't talke all the credit), and now you can (hopefully) add The X-Files to the list of sci-fi rebirths! After appearing with Chris Hardwick on a Nerdist podcast, Gillian Anderson urged fans to join her in urging Fox to bring back the show. Anderson, who co-starred with David Duchovny, urged fans to take to Twitter weilding #XFiles2015.

And then, a few days later, Fox confirmed that early talks had begun with Anderson and Duchovny on the logistical nature of a return. Fox has seen recent success with reboots after last summer's return of 24, and as more and more television viewers migrate away from the arid broadcast networks for the green pastures of cable, it seems foolish for Fox to turn its back on a series with a pre-installed fanbase.

Thu
Jan 22 2015 12:00pm

Ngaio Marsh on Race: From Caricatures to Characters

Ngaio Marsh was not, at first blush, a racially insensitive writer. A queen of the golden age of detective fiction, Marsh published 32 novels featuring her upper class detective Roderick Alleyn. Her first book, A Man Lay Dead, was published in 1934; her last, Light Thickens, in 1982. Over a 50 year span, themes of race and class permeated all of her books, but it was remarkable that as early on as 1934, Marsh chose to create characters from diverse ethnic, racial and national backgrounds, investing them with heart and life.

True, many of these characters are little more than caricatures. Think of Alleyn’s manservant, the Russian Vassily, or indeed any of the Russian characters in A Man Lay Dead. Or the mafia vendetta that fueled the plot of Photo Finish, broadly sketching the histrionic opera singer Isabella Sommita, and her devious servants, Marco and Maria. Or the distaste for her character Carlos Rivera, that pervades every paragraph of Swing Brother Swing. The Austrian-German characters in Death and the Dancing Footman are untrustworthy, the French count who is a suspect in Death in Ecstasy is accorded greater respect because of his title, but he too is slippery and oily, whereas the unspeakable Arab in Spinsters in Jeopardy, is lustful and lascivious, making dreadful advances upon Alleyn’s own wife.

[See the details below and comment below for a chance to win!]

Thu
Jan 22 2015 11:30am

American Horror Story: Freak Show 4.13: Season Finale “Curtain Call”

“Audiences want a new type of freak. Something different,” Dandy proclaimed. The season finale of Freak Show was not exactly different from its sister incarnations, but we did get some nice (and by nice, I really mean absolutely horrific) moments during “Curtain Call.”

Dandy (Finn Wittrock) is as much a whining brat managing a freak show as he was attempting to be a serial killer. Man, does Dandy go through hobbies or what? He just can’t make up his mind! The freaks are having none of it. With Elsa (Jessica Lange) out of the picture, they’re through being used as pawns. Paul (Matt Fraser) remains my favorite, my darling voice of reason:

“I’ve heard you sing and you’re not special: you’re rubbish. Even worse, you’re boring. You’ll never be one of us, and you don’t own us.”

Eve (Erika Ervin) punching Dandy in the face was also a nice touch, but in typical American Horror Story fashion, nothing is that easy and nothing is ever okay.

The Freaks quit.

[Good bye! It was nice knowing ya...]

Thu
Jan 22 2015 8:29am

Fight or Flight: Neither for Woman Who Feels No Fear

Writers, get your pens ready! We've read stories about people who feel no pain, but a woman, known in a recent profile simply as SM, feels no fear. Literally. She's not trying to put on a “brave face,” she simply does not, biologically, “have the parts” that allow her to feel fear. SM suffers from Urbach-Wiethe syndrome, an incredibly rare condition which usually manifests in skin lessions and other skin conditions (if it manifests at all) but also has neurological ramifications—a lack of fear. While this sounds like it makes a woman into a Rambo-esque character, it has had some serious consequences. Without the biological feeling of fear, SM has found herself in some tight spots: most notably being held at knife-point with her three young children in tow. This story ends happily, as SM's lack of fear led her to confront the man in a way he wasn't expecting—“go ahead cut me, but I'll be coming back to hunt your ass” isn't the usual reaction.

Read the full profile here.

Wed
Jan 21 2015 12:30pm

Announcing 2015’s Edgar Nominees

The Mystery Writers of America have announced the Edgar Award nominees and special winners.  The Edgars banquet—an annual black-tie gala celebrating crime fiction, non-fiction, and television writing—will be held on Wednesday, April 29th, 2015 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. As always, it's a fantastic list of great work that deserves to be checked out! What have you read already?

BEST NOVEL
This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash
Wolf by Mo Hayder
Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
The Final Silence by Stuart Neville
Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin
Coptown by Karin Slaughter

[See all the nominees!]

Wed
Jan 21 2015 11:30am

Justified 6.01: Season Premiere “Fate’s Right Hand”

Previously on Justified: Art got shot (noooooo!) and Raylan promised (yet again) to be there for Winona and their daughter and promised with somewhat more vigor to help the Marshals’ Service and ASA Rodriguez take down Boyd Crowder. Meanwhile, Katherine Hale (Mary Steenburgen) told Boyd Crowder that his true superpower was robbing banks, Ava Crowder turned informant for the US Marshals, and Dewey Crowe confessed to murder.

We open with Winona wondering what in the world is worth Raylan’s missing the graveyard shift with his adorable baby daughter Willa.

The answer is taking down Boyd Crowder. Raylan’s in Mexico, trying to get the Federales who found Johnny Crowder’s body to tell him who witnessed that murder. The chief, Aguilar, is unimpressed by Raylan’s Marshal badge and tells him to piss off. Raylan is uncharacteristically restrained, saying only “see you around” and the chief returns to his drinking buddies. When Aguilar emerges from the bar, extremely drunk, we find out that when Raylan’s parting words meant that he was planning to kidnap Aguilar and bring him back to the US where he’d be more likely to talk and more respectful of the Marshals’ service.

[Oh Justified, how we missed you!]

Wed
Jan 21 2015 8:45am

Man Gets Ticket for Eating Cheeseburger

We’ve all snagged a bite to eat at a fast food joint and eaten it in our car, but it landed one man in big trouble.

Madison Turner was given a ticket after getting caught munching on a cheeseburger while driving his car in Cobb County, Georgia, WSB-TV reported.

Turner had this to share with WSB-TV about the encounter:

“The officer explained to me that he observed me eating a burger for 2 miles,” Madison said. “He said specifically three times, you can’t just go down the road eating a hamburger.”

It turns out it’s illegal to eat and drive thanks to the state’s distracted driver law that covers anything that takes your attention away from the road. Even a burger.

Police are not saying anything about the case because Turner has not yet appeared in court.

What do you think of this law?

Oh, in unrelated but related news: McDonald's famed Triple Cheeseburger is making a comeback. Just try to not eat it while driving!

Tue
Jan 20 2015 4:30pm

Now Win This!: 3x3 Sweepstakes

The best things in life come in threes, and this sweepstakes proves it with a contemporary high-tech Swedish trilogy, three of the Clifton Chronicles, set in the U.K. in the aftermath of WWI, and if that weren’t enough, another bonus trifecta of internationally celebrated crime novels!

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 January 20, 2015, at 4:30 pm ET, and ends February 3, 2015, 4:29 pm ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[This might just be our biggest sweepstakes yet!]

Tue
Jan 20 2015 12:30pm

Six Reasons to Watch The Americans

The premise of The Americans, which is set in the early 1980s, is that Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, a suburban Virginia couple who seem as American as apple pie and the Fourth of July, are actually a pair of ruthless KGB sleeper agents whose marriage was arranged by spymasters in the Kremlin. The show returns for its third season next week, and here are six reasons why you should be watching:

1. The Americans is exciting!! From the opening sequence of the pilot (which involved a kidnapping, a stabbing and a car chase) right up until the closing moments of Season 2, the show gives us all the exciting spy games we could possibly want. There’s also the mental and emotional tension of not quite wanting Philip and Elizabeth to succeed in their missions (and we know, of course, that ultimately the Soviets didn’t win the Cold War) but also not wanting them to be exposed or killed.

2. The writing is, for the most part, extremely intelligent. I love the way the writers incorporate actual historical events into the storylines, such as the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, or the U.S. government’s support of the Contras in Nicaragua, or the struggle of Soviet Jews to be allowed to emigrate to Israel. Plus, showrunner Joe Weisberg’s own background in the CIA and knowledge of spycraft informs such wonderful set-pieces. Take “Gregory” for example, an episode from Season 1 where Philip and Elizabeth try to make contact with a colleague’s widow before the FBI gets to her. The writers also don’t fall into the trap of making smart characters do stupid things just so the plot can move along; we get the far more exciting pleasure of watching clever people do clever things that are thwarted by circumstance or the technological limitations of the early 1980s (from our vantage point, it’s so startling to watch a world without cell-phones, GPS systems, tiny cameras, or sound recorders, etc. But they do have an awesome mailroom robot in the FBI!). The show’s writers even managed to put the Jennings’ teenaged daughter Paige at the center of the plot last season without making me roll my eyes or reach for the fast-forward button.

[We're looking at you, Homeland...]

Tue
Jan 20 2015 11:00am

Gotham 1.12: “What the Little Bird Told Him”

“You think you’ve been careful so far?”

Lest we forget, Harvey Bullock repeats the phrase three times, each more incredulous than the last in the latest Gotham.

It’s a perfect line, well-delivered by Donal Logue, and points out the single biggest issue with Gotham: Jim Gordon should be dead by now.

But for plot reasons, he lives. It’s certainly not because his skills are invaluable to Gotham.  Oh, he yells at people for being corrupt and he condescends to those not doing real police work but it’s been a long time since we’ve actually seen him do something that makes things better for the city.

But yet Jim holds himself up as better than everyone else. He yells at other cops, various mobsters and the Mayor and the Police Commissioner. Yet no one takes him out.  This frustrates me to no end because the character has such potential.

[Jim, like Gotham, needs to find its identity...]

Mon
Jan 19 2015 12:30pm

Grantchester: Series Premiere 1.01

A distraught woman, all red lips and stylish hat, pleads to the clergyman: “I can’t go to the police, but you— the human heart— that’s your responsibility isn’t it? You can ask any question of anyone, however private.”

Yes, thinks the clergyman, I suppose I can. Now how shall I wield this unique power?

And there you have the premise of Grantchester, the enjoyable new series that premiered on Masterpiece Mystery, January 18.

Our clergyman is Canon Sidney Chambers (James Norton), hunky in the Ralph de Bricassart mold and tantalizingly available. He comes with the requisite cassock and bicycle, plus a few predilections we might not expect—a taste for Sidney Bechet, a passion for backgammon, and a dislike of sherry among them.

The time is November 1953. We know this from a mention of a fateful soccer match that England lost to Hungary. Said game resides in the collective consciousness of U.K. soccer fans the way Bobby Thomson’s “shot heard ’round the world” resonates with American baseball fans.

The place is Grantchester, a real village near Cambridge that’s been immortalized in a Pink Floyd song and in the mystery novels by James Runcie on which the TV series is based.

The situation is the apparent suicide of a lawyer that could very well have been murder.

[Brew yourself a cuppa and let’s get started...]