Fresh Meat: <i>Betrayed</i> by Lisa Scottoline Fresh Meat: Betrayed by Lisa Scottoline Kerry Hammond This is Judy's most personal case yet. Fresh Meat: <i>Wink of an Eye</i> by Lynn Chandler Willis Fresh Meat: Wink of an Eye by Lynn Chandler Willis John Jacobson Welcome home, Gypsy. Now can you please solve this murder? Now Win <i>This</i>!: The Quick Getaway Sweepstakes Now Win This!: The Quick Getaway Sweepstakes Crime HQ Not all vacations are created equal. Fresh Meat: <i>The Job</i> by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg Fresh Meat: The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg Susan Amper We're off to Istanbul!
From The Blog
November 24, 2014
Lost Classics of Noir: Whip Hand by W. Franklin Sanders
Brian Greene
November 24, 2014
Headlining This Year's Frozen Turkey Drop
Crime HQ
November 23, 2014
Reviewing the Queue: Enemy (2013)
Joe Brosnan
November 23, 2014
The Stand Alones: Laura Lippman's I'd Know You Anywhere
Jake Hinkson
November 21, 2014
We Are Batman: Legends of the Knight
Crime HQ
Mon
Nov 24 2014 12:00pm

Lost Classics of Noir: Whip Hand by W. Franklin Sanders (and/or Charles Willeford)

In case you’re confused by the author credit in the heading here, let me just say that I join you in your befuddlement. This 1961 noir novel was originally published as a Fawcett Gold Medal paperback original, with W. Franklin Sanders tagged as the writer. But over time it came to be revealed that Charles Willeford wrote some, if not all, of the book. Sanders may have been his co-author, but then Sanders may have also been a make-believe person. If you’re interested in reading up on that intrigue, there is no shortage of material available on the web. I’m going to leave that subplot alone and just focus on the book, which is a gem of a read.

But first a couple words on Willeford. I doubt I need to sell many readers of this site on the merits of his writing. Some Willeford fans might think of his Hoke Moseley series as his finest work, while others might prefer his earlier titles such as Cockfighter (1962) or The Burnt Orange Heresy (1971). Of the Willeford books I’ve read, it’s his second novel, Pick-Up (1955), that I value the most. When I first started this column, I drew up a shortlist (well, it was actually long) of books I might cover, and Pick-Up was among those. I haven’t gotten around to writing an appreciation of it, and maybe I never will for this series, as I have purposely been avoiding covering the same writer twice, in order to spread the hardboiled love. In any case, Pick-Up is a hell of a noir novel. If you like this kind of stuff and haven’t read it, do so. And while you’re at it, read the one I’m about to discuss; because whether it was written by Willeford or this Sanders guy, or some combination of the two of them, it’s pure.

[Back to Whip Hand...]

Mon
Nov 24 2014 8:45am

Headlining This Year’s Frozen Turkey Drop

Richard Sanders as Newsman Les Nessman in the famous turkey drop episode of WKRP in Cincinnati

It's widely known that newsmen love loathe holidays, and this year, vehicular mayhem set up a Thanksgiving report most foul for one reporter at the L.A. Times:

A big rig packed with 23,000 pounds of frozen turkeys was headed for a Northern California Costco about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday when it overturned on an Interstate 680 exit ramp in San Ramon.

The southbound tractor-trailer rolled over and sent the birds flying, if ever so briefly, before they all crashed and fuel spilled onto the Alcosta Boulevard offramp in San Ramon, east of Oakland.

Oh, for shame, Mr. Joseph Serna. But you're forgiven since you remind us of this, condensed down to the essential thirty seconds of glory from WKRP in Cincinnati.

Sun
Nov 23 2014 1:00pm

Reviewing the Queue: Enemy (2013)

With the digital libraries of online streaming services expanding more and more, choosing which movie to watch has become difficult. I will be digging through these online queues in hope of bringing you a movie worth your time. This week we’re taking a look at Enemy, a cerebral drama directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners), starring Jake Gyllenhaal, and available on Amazon’s Prime Instant Video.

Before we get started, I feel it appropriate to warn you that this isn’t your typical run-of-the-mill flick; it’s metaphorical, layered, erratic, and sometimes downright confusing. In fact, if you go to Google and type ending, you get this:

That’s right. Lost, a show that has become the go-to example of a disappointing ending (Personally, I loved the ending.), and Gone Girl, a story which has left both its readers cursing their books and its moviegoers cursing Rosamund Pike are both trumped by people searching for Enemy. If that doesn’t sell you, hopefully a little plot will.

[It's one of those films you might need to watch twice...]

Sun
Nov 23 2014 12:00pm

The Stand Alones: Laura Lippman’s I’d Know You Anywhere

This post kicks off a new series which will look at stand alone novels by mystery writers who are better known for their big time franchise characters. First up, we look at I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman.

For most people, Laura Lippman is best known as the author of a series of novels featuring reporter-turned-private investigator Tess Monaghan. The Monaghan books make up one of the best mystery serials of the last two decades—quick and fun enough to devour on a beach, but meaty enough to keep you interested in the character over the course of several novels. To extend the food metaphor a bit more, the trick of any series (and this is as true of mysteries as it is of science fiction or westerns) is to give readers what they expect while finding new ways to spice up the recipe. Lippman knows how to cook. In fact, given the success of the Monaghan books and the armload of awards they’ve won (including the Edgar and the Shamus), it’s fair to say that Lippman is one of the best cooks in the business.

Any series novel has built-in constraints, though. Most obviously, the writer is saddled with one central character. Even if the writer loves complicating the character, it’s still the same character. The other main obstacle is that series characters—even if they are complex and ever-changing—tend to be heroes of one kind or another.

[Stand alones offer more freedom...]

Fri
Nov 21 2014 2:30pm

How to Get Away with Murder 1.09: Mid-Season Finale “Kill Me, Kill Me, Kill Me”

“Same time next week?” Conner (Jack Falahee) wisecracks to his accomplices in crime, right after dropping a final garbage bag of Sam’s machete-diced remains into a dumpster. For the first time, there’s no case of the week to distract from a single nightmarish day for the law students and Annalise Keating (Viola Davis). The winter finale is all about the night of Sam’s death.

This single plotline could be a problem for a show so focused on developing crazy plot twists, and there’s another hindrance, too. We’ve already seen plenty of flashforwards pulled from this night, and now we have to navigate pockets of story that we’ve already seen. The plot tries to race forward, but sometimes feels like it’s stuck in neutral.

[Here's hoping things get going...]

Fri
Nov 21 2014 11:00am

American Horror Story: Freak Show 4.07: “Test of Strength”

In Season 4, Episode 7 of American Horror Story: Freak Show 4.07 "Test of Strength" conjoined twins Bette and Dot (Sarah Paulson) want two very different things (and people).

I think this week’s real “test of strength” is how long we can endure what I’m pretty sure is the soggy middle of Freak Show’s story arch. I knew over-praising it would come back on me. Is it just me, or has it all felt like filler since the Halloween episodes? I guess when American Horror Story isn’t rushing into random plot devices, it’s dragging the same five variations out as far as they’ll stretch.

There were a few nice things about this episode. Let’s start with Dandy (Finn Wittrock). Honestly, Dandy is the best part of this show, and we just don’t get enough of him this episode. Jimmy (Evan Peters) solved last week’s mystery of Where Are The Twins? Bette and Dot (Sarah Paulson) are, of course, hanging out with Dandy, eating caviar and basking in luxury. Dot still isn’t convinced of Dandy’s “good intentions” and is furious when he admits to reading her diary. With a little urging from Jimmy, Dot demands to leave. Bette’s fallen for our favorite murderer and is even convinced he’s the one who saved those kids from the Murder Bus, but in a shocking turn of events, Bette chooses Dot over Dandy.

[Nothing comes between family. Except maybe surgery...]

Fri
Nov 21 2014 9:00am

We Are Batman: Legends of the Knight

Legends of the Knight documentary film poster

This week Batman got a belated 75th anniversary present: the release of Legends of the Knight, a crowdfunded documentary that celebrates not only the crime fighting alter ego of Bruce Wayne, but more importantly the real-world impact that the character has had on readers and fans since his debut in 1939’s Detective Comics #27.

“Batman is a unique blend of so many things,” says director Brett Culp. “He’s powerful, yet human. He’s mysterious, yet relatable. He’s heroic, yet broken. We love his action-packed adventures, but we have become fans because he is one of us.”

This is from Wired's Graeme McMillan, who also writes:

The result is a movie that’s surprisingly uplifting for a documentary about a superhero known for dressing up as a dark avenger of the night and punching bad guys. That heartwarming effect goes beyond merely the movie itself; since Culp finished working on it, it’s been shown in charity screenings across the country, raising money for organizations including Make-A-Wish, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, underscoring the director’s intent that the film follow in Batman’s fictional footsteps to make the world a better place.

The documentary shows the many ways this hero has become intertwined with our culture and the many normal people who've “become Batman” to do extraordinary things. You can now buy the movie or stream it from WEareBATMAN.com. Check out the trailer below, although it may make you notice how dusty it's gotten in front of your screen. Very dusty.

Thu
Nov 20 2014 4:00pm

Not Your Typical Wyatt Earp: The Last Kind Words Saloon by Larry McMurty

Larry McMurtry mentions in his brief introduction to The Last Kind Words Saloon, “I had the great director John Ford in mind when I wrote this book; he famously said that when you had to choose between history and legend, print the legend. And so I’ve done.” But the reader will quickly realize that McMurtry’s version of the legend is unlike any other that has been printed over the last 130 plus years.

In the first two pages of The Last Kind Words Saloon, Wyatt Earp, customarily regarded with nerves of steel, turns pale when Doc Holliday says being a dentist is easy: “All you need is a pair of pliers and maybe a chisel for difficult cases.” McMurtry adds that Wyatt “Had always been squeamish.” By Chapter Four, we learn that if Wyatt’s wife Jessie screws up when bartending, “he’d usually slap her, and once or twice he’d done worse ...” On the flipside, she chides him for not inviting her to a party, threatening: “I’ve half a mind to throw this whiskey bottle at you.” The uncomfortable image of a wife-beating Wyatt in a tumultuous relationship stands out in stark contrast to the written record of the mutual heartfelt love shared by the real couple for 46 years. So when McMurtry admits in an interview with The New York Daily News that “Dramatic liberties are inherent in fiction; I take liberties if and when they arrive,” it’s evident he’s painting a satirical alternate history of the famous folks that may just cross a line for my taste.

[Reaching for my holster...]

Thu
Nov 20 2014 11:45am

Fresh Meat: Betrayed by Lisa Scottoline

Betrayed by Lisa Scottoline is the 13th book in the Rosato & Associates series featuring attorneys Bennie Rosato and Mary DiNunzio (available November 25, 2014).

You can listen to an exclusive audio excerpt below!

This installment in the series centers around attorney Judy Carrier, one of the lawyers working with Rosato and DiNunzio. Poor Judy is in a funk, and let’s face it, jealous of her best friend, Mary DiNunzio. Mary has just made partner at the firm, hence the new firm name “Rosato & DiNunzio.” Mary is also getting married, and involving Judy in all of the wedding plans, including making her the maid of honor. All of this probably would not be hitting Judy quite so hard if it weren’t for the fact that she is having problems and serious doubts about her current live-in boyfriend, Frank. He is just not proving to be marriage material and does not seem to be taking the relationship as seriously as Judy would like.

[This won't be the only relationship tested...]

Thu
Nov 20 2014 8:45am

Wicked Good Brew: Jailhouse Brewery

Wintertime fills the shelves and supermarkets with one of our favorite things since the repeal of the Volstead Ace—seasonal beer. Recently in a list of the 8 Breweries in Awesome Weird Places, one brewery in particular caught our attention: a jailhouse! Jailhouse Brewery seems like the perfect place for the next brewery tour any crime fans might want to take, especially with the selection of beers up for offer—Conjugal Visit Red Ale, anyone? Perhaps a Misdemeanor Ale or a Hardtime Barleywine is more your speed.

Have you had a Jailhouse Brew, or been to Jailhouse Brewery?

Wed
Nov 19 2014 7:45pm

Fans Walk Tall: Longmire Rides Again on Netflix!

TAdam Bartley as The Ferg, obviously very happy about the series renewal with Netflixhere were rumors last week that a deal was in the works, and today, it's official! Season 4 of Longmire will air on Netflix in 2015, with production beginning as soon as March. In the three-or-so months since the show's surprise cancellation, fans have been clamoring for the sheriff's return, and it's now clear that ongoing fan enthusiasm played a part in its resurrection. From the Deadline article by Nellie Andreeva:

“When Warner Horizon Television came to us with the idea for a new season of Longmire, we were intrigued because the series is so unique, and consistently great,”  said Cindy Holland, Netflix VP of Original Content. “We are thrilled to help continue Walt Longmire’s story for his large and passionate following.”

Though the series, based upon Craig Johnson's books, was A&E's most-watched show, the older demographic of its viewers devalued it for advertisers on the network, which was shedding its original scripted dramas anyway. However, subscription-based Netflix just wants your eyeballs, any eyeballs—yay! The cast and show execs are signed and sealed—double yay! So what's in store for us viewers?

Season four of Longmire picks up moments after season three’s explosive finale. Walt Longmire (Taylor), having found out who was behind the murder of his wife, succumbs to his darker impulses and takes off in pursuit of the killer with revenge on his mind. Meanwhile, Branch Connally (Bailey Chase), the deputy who Walt fired for erratic, violent behavior, believes he has already figured out who the real culprit is. During his confrontation with this suspected killer, a gun goes off. Fans will find out what happened, and whether Walt can be stopped before he makes a fatal choice.

It's not even New Year's Eve, and 2015's already got something worth celebrating!

Wed
Nov 19 2014 2:00pm

Spinning Wheels: Transporter: The Series

Chris Vance plays Frank Martin, the stylish wrecking ball who drives an Audi in Transporter: The Series, from Luc Besson.

In the beginning, there was Luc Besson. This master of over-the-top Eurotrash thrillers wrote the script for what in 2002 became The Transporter, the metal-bending saga of a driver-for-hire delivering “packages” at high speed for shady European customers. Jason Statham played Frank Martin, the eponymous Transporter, as a human wrecking ball in a sober black suit. The film spawned two sequels and now, inevitably, a TV series.

Chris Vance (Burn Notice, Rizzoli & Isles) takes over from Statham in Transporter: The Series, but the concept remains the same. Frank (now identified as being an SAS alum) continues to take work from both sides of the legal line, following three iron-clad rules he regularly breaks:

  1. Never change the deal.
  2. No names.
  3. Never open the package.

[If you're not cheating, you're not trying...]

Wed
Nov 19 2014 9:30am

Under the Radar: Genre Movies You May Have Missed — Black Sheep

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. Last time, we looked at Evolution, and this week we'll be discussing Black Sheep (2006).

Black Sheep is one of those films that you hear described and can pretty much only say: “What?” I mean, who looks at a sheep and think, “Yes. That’s just what my horror film needs. Mutated sheep hungry for human flesh!” The tagline alone is a winner:

There are 40 million sheep in New Zealand, and THEY’RE PISSED OFF!

Yes, it’s utterly ludicrous—and not to be confused with that comedy featuring Chris Farley and David Spade. But a horror movie doesn’t need a plausible plot to be entertaining; in fact, I’d say 85% of the horror industry wouldn’t exist if every film took itself seriously and adhered to logic.

[Leave the logic and seriousness to the other genres...]

Wed
Nov 19 2014 8:45am

Naked Teen Breaks into Two Homes in One Night

Here is another interesting story for you this morning. An 18-year-old Maine man faces charges after police claim he broke into not one, but two homes while completely naked.

According to Falmouth police via The Associated Press, he broke into the two homes late Saturday night in an attempt to find and steal car keys. He was ultimately found hiding in the attic of one of the homes by the police.

During the same time, Valle's home where he lived with his parents was destroyed by a blazing fire. The cause of the fire has not yet been determinate. But wait, there's more… The Associated Press also reports that the police also found Valle's own vehicle in a country club parking lot where someone tried to set it on fire. So it seems something fishy is going on.

Tue
Nov 18 2014 3:00pm

Fresh Meat: Wink of an Eye by Lynn Chandler Willis

Wink of an Eye is the debut mystery by Lynn Chandler Willis about a Los Angeles private eye who returns home to a small town in Texas (available November 18, 2014).

Wink of an Eye is a modern mystery set in the small town of Wink, Texas. That small town life and the integration of a man returning to the town after years of being away is what makes it so special. Lynn Chandler Willis writes an accessible story that involves a private investigator, the relationships he comes home to, and a reintegration to the town he grew up in long ago. Willis’s writing is small town friendly in the best of ways, and that feeling of overall community gives the mystery a feeling of clear familiarity that will have readers engrossed in the world created.

Gypsy Moran, private investigator in Los Angeles, is on the run.  He returns to his hometown of Wink to spend a few weeks with his sister until he can figure out what to do next. His sister, Rhonda, is also concerned about one of her former students, a 12-year-old boy whose father recently passed away from what appeared to be suicide, though the boy and his grandfather seem to have other ideas. Gypsy is used to people entertaining ludicrous thoughts and conspiracies surrounding deaths. But as he hears the case, Gypsy realizes that something is going on in Wink. 

[Small town, big problems...]

Tue
Nov 18 2014 1:00pm

Now Win This!: The Quick Getaway Sweepstakes

You must act quick! Grab only the bare necessities and go! Register to enter for a chance to win these five globetrotting books!

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 November 18, 2014, at 1:00 pm ET, and ends December 2, 2014, 12:59 pm ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[See where you're headed...]

Tue
Nov 18 2014 10:45am

Gotham 1.09: “Harvey Dent”

 Bruce Wayne (David Mazouza) and Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) strike a deal in Gotham Season 1 Epiosde 09 "Harvey Dent."

This episode was called “Harvey Dent” but it should have been dubbed “Two-Face,” for the dual nature of nearly everyone involved, starting with those crazy kids, Bruce (David Mazouz) and Selina (Camren Bicondova).

With far more subtlety than this show has shown so far, young Selina brings out the Bruce and eventual Batman selves in the young rich orphan. First, she tells Bruce that his training in boxing and self-discipline won’t help on the streets. “In Gotham, people don’t fight with gloves on.” We know, Selina.

Then Selina brings out the fun side of Bruce, hinting at his later, playboy, persona. She challenges him to a food fight with a kiss from her as the prize and the pair play like, well, the kids they are. She also provides solace when Bruce reveals his regret over not saving his parents. “What could you have done? A gun’s a gun!” Selina states. More than anything, this gets through to him.

[Everyone needs a friend...]

Tue
Nov 18 2014 10:00am

Christoph Waltz to Join Cast of Upcoming James Bond Film

Christoph Waltz has confirmed that he will be joining the cast of the upcoming and currently-untitled Bond 24 film. It is still uknown whether the two-time Oscar winner will be playing an ally or villain to Daniel Craig's Bond, but it's a safe bet that Waltz's character will be complex.

Waltz joins a cast including Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Lea Seydoux, and Rory Kinnear.

Filming will begin early next month.

Mon
Nov 17 2014 3:00pm

Salting the Battlefield: Worricker’s Conclusion

Johnny Worricker is always well-dressed, as seen in Salting the Battlefield on Masterpiece Contemporary.

Worricker (Bill Nighy) is on the run, now in Germany with ex-spy, ex-love Margot (Helena Bonham Carter) by his side. They’re stirring the embers of their faded romance and recalling all the quirks and peccadilloes they once found so endearing. (He doesn’t wash the lettuce properly! How adorable is that?) They live out of suitcases, yet seem to wind up nattily attired in some snazzy digs. It’s all a lark, really.

Still, Margot longs to return to England. And Worricker’s daughter (Felicity Jones) is due to give birth any moment, which gives him a reason to pine for home as well. This poses a dilemma. Going home would place them in the way of Prime Minister Alec Beasley (Ralph Fiennes), whom Worricker has embarrassed with accusations of financial and ethical impropriety.

Meanwhile, Worricker’s old colleague in the spy game Jill Tankard (Judy Davis) is performing all sorts of machinations that confirm the primary thesis of the Worricker series: The intelligence services run everything.

[Actually, a little intelligence would be welcome...]

Mon
Nov 17 2014 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

The Job, by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, is the third globetrotting book in the Fox and O'Hare series.The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg is the third globetrotting mystery in the Fox and O'Hare sereis featuring the unlikely pair of FBI Agent Kate O'Hare and professional thief Nick Fox (available November 18, 2014).

This is the third in the series by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, and it could be the second or the seventh. I started to write about the exploits of FBI agent Kate O’Hare and international man of thievery Nick Fox and how they had to travel the globe to retrieve an ancient and valuable artefact from China. Wait a minute, I could have sworn that the two ended up in Istanbul. Well, anyway, they stow away on a plane, kill an assassin, race through the streets of Shanghai in a vintage car and STOP! You perhaps see where I’m going with this; I was writing about The Chase when I should have been writing about The Job. Similarities aside, these stories are also escapist and entertaining.

At the start of the series, Kate O’Hare, special agent for the FBI is “chasing” Nick Fox. However, what most of the FBI doesn’t know is that Kate caught Nick. “Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity” are tossed out the window when Nick convinces the FBI they should hire him and pair him up with Kate; what better way to catch a crook then to send a crook.

[If you can't beat 'em, join 'em...]