FM: <i>Butterfly Skin</i> by Sergey Kuznetsov FM: Butterfly Skin by Sergey Kuznetsov Richard Z. Santos Serial killings echo a young journalist's desires... Fresh Meat: <i>Silent Murders</i> by Mary Miley Fresh Meat: Silent Murders by Mary Miley Meghan Schuler In 1920's Hollywood, is an actress playing sleuth or the other way around? Fresh Meat: <i>Goodhouse</i> by Peyton Marshall Fresh Meat: Goodhouse by Peyton Marshall Amy Eller Lewis In a school full of criminals, fear is all you learn. FM: <i>The Haunting Ballad</i> by Michael Nethercott FM: The Haunting Ballad by Michael Nethercott Doreen Sheridan 1950s Greenwich Village is at the backdrop of this musical mystery.
From The Blog
September 23, 2014
Collin Farrell and Vince Vaughn Confirmed to Star in True Detective Season 2
Joe Brosnan
September 23, 2014
Knitting for Psychos
Crime HQ
September 22, 2014
Boston Delivers Twice the Poe
Crime HQ
September 19, 2014
Checking into The Knick 1.06: “Start Calling Me Dad”
Joe Brosnan
September 18, 2014
The Maze Runner Trailer
Crime HQ
Sep 23 2014 2:28pm

Collin Farrell and Vince Vaughn Confirmed to Star in True Detective Season 2

HBO has just confirmed in a press release that Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn will star in Season 2 of True Detective. It looks like some of the rumors we reported on last month turned out to be true. I wonder if Taylor Kitsch and Elisabeth Moss will be announced soon?

Per the press release, Colin Farrell will star as Ray Velcoro, a compromised detective whose allegiances are torn between his masters in a corrupt police department and the mobster who owns him.

Vince Vaughn will play Frank Semyon, a career criminal in danger of losing his empire when his move into legitimate enterprise is upended by the murder of a business partner.

The press release also says that more casting announcements will come once they are confirmed.

As we've reported before, Season 2 of True Detective will no longer take place in Louisiana, but will instead be jetting west to California.

So what do you think? Do you think Farrell and Vaughn can live up to Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey?

Sep 23 2014 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: Butterfly Skin by Sergey Kuznetsov

Butterfly Skin by Sergey Kuznetsov, translated from Russian by Andrew Bromfield, is a dark thriller featuring a brutal serial killer at loose in Moscow and a young journalist in pursuit, who discovers, amid the acts of sexual sadism, an echo of her own desires (available September 23, 2014).

This book plays by its own rules.

From the first chapter, no, earlier, than that—from the first word Sergey Kuznetsov cobbles together a book designed to get under the reader’s skin. The first word of Butterfly Skin is “You.”

You are being watched. Someone is watching all the characters in the novel and the feeling of being stalked leaks off the page.

Butterfly Skin tells the story of a sadistic serial killer in Moscow, who takes an artistic delight in skinning, slicing, and slowly torturing his young, female victims. However, before you click over to a review of a book about a topic that’s actually fresh, Kuznetsov’s novel takes a unique approach. Instead of a grizzled, disillusioned cop chasing the killer, Butterfly Skin’s main character is a young journalist named Ksenia Ivonova.

Ksenia partners with investors, freelancers, and editors to set up a website meant to compile as much material about the killer as possible. The website includes accounts of the killers, descriptions of the bodies, theories about why this is happening, maps of the crimes, and forums devoted to discussing the crimes.

[But not everything remains theoretical...]

Sep 23 2014 12:00pm

Gotham Series Premiere: You Won’t Miss Batman

If you’re a casual television viewer, you probably remember Jim Gordon as the bumbling commissioner on the Batman live-action television show. If you’ve seen the recent Dark Knight trilogy, you might have a more positive opinion of Gordon as a hero.

But if you’re a reader of comics, especially Batman: Year One, then you know Gordon serves an incredibly important role in the Gotham mythos: he’s Batman’s conscience and the moral center of a city already half in ruins.

This is why he was picked as the centerpoint of Gotham.

The first episode of the series nails Jim Gordon’s essential morality. There’s a line he won’t cross and shortcuts he won’t take. At least so far, because the first hour of Gotham promises some serious challenges to his worldview. It also provides Gordon an excellent counterpoint in cynical, slovenly and yet smart Detective Harvey Bullock. If Ben McKenzie doesn’t watch out, Donal Logue’s Bullock is going to steal the show from his Gordon. Watching the two of them this season together promises to be a lot of fun, especially if they can continue to exchange the wryly funny looks like the ones they gave each other while upside down on meathooks.

[Wait, what was that about meathooks?]

Sep 23 2014 10:30am

Miss Marple: “Greenshaw’s Folly”

It was a dark and stormy night when Louisa Oxley (Kimberley Nixon) arrived at the door of her “Aunt” Jane in the village of St. Mary Mead. “Aunt Jane will look after us,” Louisa promised Archie, the spirited little boy in a duffle coat, who was traveling with her.

Naturally, Aunt Jane—our beloved Miss Marple (Julia McKenzie)—takes them in. She doesn’t ask too many questions, but it’s clear that Louisa has fled her husband—Archie’s father—and that he isn’t a very nice man. Next day, or thereabouts, Miss Marple has Louisa and Archie situated in Greenshaw’s Folly, where Louisa will work as a secretary for Katherine Greenshaw (Fiona Shaw).

Miss Greenshaw is a chemist now fulfilling her life’s ambition to compile a codex of medicinal plants. Her eyesight is failing and she needs the help Louisa will provide. Louisa is happy for the job and for a safe place to live. Archie is thrilled to have the run of the place, except for an old laboratory that’s strictly off-limits. It’s a perfect arrangement for all of them. Until someone dies.

[A murder interrupts...]

Sep 23 2014 10:00am

Miss Marple: “A Caribbean Mystery”

When can murder be an almost pleasant event? When Miss Marple is on the case.

This time she’s on the Caribbean island of St. Honoré for her rheumatism, vacationing at a small hotel called the Golden Palm among the standard array of characters/suspects: grumpy old men, flirty young women, dissatisfied married couples, a dogmatic man of the cloth and, weirdly, Ian Fleming. But we’ll get to that later.

At dinner one evening, Miss Marple is seated beside Major Palgrave (Oliver Ford Davies), a bit of a gasbag, but harmless enough. He’s boring her silly, until he hits on her favorite topic of conversation: murder. He happens to have a pocketful of photographs of people who’ve committed murder, some more than once. Then just as he’s about to show her the snaps, the major loses his train of thought. Or appears to. Miss Marple has her doubts.

When he’s found dead the next morning, apparently of natural causes, she has her doubts about that too.

[Question everything...]

Sep 23 2014 8:45am

Knitting for Psychos

This is our idea of a holiday bizarre: gruesome violence depicted in cuddly yarn crafting! We're, um, informing you in advance, because handmade gifts are really so meaningful...

All projects in the Knitting for Psychos collection by the incredibly twisted and talented andieman26.

 H/t: Trendhunter

Sep 22 2014 8:00pm

Fresh Meat: Silent Murders by Mary Miley

Silent Murders by Mary Miley is the second Roaring Twenties mystery, featuring a former Vaudeville actress who goes undercover to solve a murder in the silent film industry (available September 23, 2014).

The silent picture scene in 1920’s Hollywood was rife with drug scandals, elaborate parties, and tragic deaths among the young and talented actors of the era. Mary Miley gives us one murder more with the deaths of Ester Frankel and director Bruno Heilmann in Silent Murders, the second book in her Roaring Twenties Mystery series.

Leading lady Jessie Beckett gets a bit more than she bargained for as assistant script girl at Pickford-Fairbanks when the host of her first Hollywood party winds up with a bullet in his brain. The news falls on the heels of Jessie discovering the body of her new acquaintance, Ester, a face from the past she didn’t expect to see in Hollywood. Suddenly, Jessie’s knee-deep in trouble.

Jessie appears alongside renowned actors of the time, including Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, as well as Faye Gordon and Myrna Loy.

[Murder is also on the marquee...]

Sep 22 2014 3:00pm

Boardwalk Empire 5.03: “What Jesus Said”

The first two episodes of Boardwalk Empire’s final season were sprawling and raucous, with assassination attempts, mob hits, and multiple severed ears. Last night’s episode, “What Jesus Said,” is distinctly quieter and more plaintive than its predecessors. This isn’t to say that the episode is free from carnage. Far from it. Violence—or the threat of it—hangs heavily throughout the entire hour. But the plotlines in “What Jesus Said” are all extended, intimate affairs, allowing time for the stories to breathe and the characters to contemplate their circumstances. The result is an episode that plays like a series of chamber pieces revolving around the same theme: fathers. More specifically, absent ones.

Chalky is confronted head on with his failings as a father when he and his fugitive partner Buck attempt to rob a house Buck had cased before going to jail, only to find the mother and daughter are still at home. Buck, no longer the class clown of the chain gang, still holds a grudge against the man of the house over how he treated Buck years ago. After learning there are no valuables in the house, Buck turns his plans for revenge to the daughter, Fern. Chalky senses this shift and becomes protective of Fern, who is about the same age as Chalky’s daughter Maybelle was when she was killed. When Buck finally snaps and attacks Fern, Chalky plants a hammer in the side of Buck’s neck, saving Fern in a way he didn’t save Maybelle. Consistent with the theme of the episode, we also learn that Fern and her mother were placed in this vulnerable situation by an absent father, who has split on his family.

[Sounds familiar...]

Sep 22 2014 11:30am

The Strain 1.11: “The Third Rail”

As a horror series, The Strain has had plenty of tense, disgusting, and squirm-inducing moments. Lots of body horror. Some close calls and near misses. We’ve watched likable characters become infected, die, or transform into the undead.

But for all of the cringing and shock factor scenes, I had yet to be properly frightened. I know I’ve built up quite a tolerance for horror but I’m not carved of marble—and I go into such series hoping I’ll get a solid case of the creeps at least once or twice.

With “The Third Rail”, I finally got what I was asking for: an episode that reaches, then maintains, a fever pitch of nerves. I’m not ashamed to admit that I had to actually pause it twice and get up for a brisk walk around the house to settle my stomach; I was that tense.

[Now that's good storytelling...]

Sep 22 2014 8:45am

Boston Delivers Twice the Poe

Baltimore, Philadelphia, Richmond, and New York, all lay claim to Edgar Allan Poe, but Boston had him first. He was born there in 1809 and he published “The Tell-tale Heart” there in 1843, shortly before he started publicly feuding with the Boston literary establishment in general—and with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in particular. “The Bostonians have no soul,” he wrote in 1845.

Now all is forgiven. In October, the city of Boston will unveil not one but two new statues in honor of Edgar Allan Poe.

First is “Poe Returning to Boston,” a life-size sculpture by Stefanie Rocknak that depicts Poe striding confidently into town, hair streaming, coat flapping in the breeze, a raven heralding his arrival. It will be dedicated on October 5 at Boylston Street and Charles Street South, otherwise known as Edgar Allan Poe Square.

The second is a bust of Poe sculpted by Bryan Moore that will grace the Boston Public Library. Among those who contributed to the Kickstarter that funded the project was Guillermo del Toro, who reportedly will receive a replica of Moore’s sculpture for his Los Angeles home. The bust will be dedicated on October 30.

Sep 21 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Goodhouse by Peyton Marshall

Goodhouse by Peyton Marshall is a dystopian societal thriller where DNA testing weeds out potentially dangerous boys and forces them into boarding schools that resemble prisons (available September 30, 2014).

What’s immediately really strong about Peyton Marshall’s novel is the premise itself. But why tell you myself, when her first pages do such a good job at heavy lifting?

Goodhouse had come out of an idea— a program meant to map the genetic profile of prison populations. What the researchers had found was this: The worst inmates, the most impulsive, the most violent, the least empathetic, all shared certain biometric markers. But these were prisoners. They cost the state millions of dollars to ware house every year. And they’d been children once. They had not always been beyond help. It was too late for adults, but young boys were different. They could be molded, instructed, taught. If intervention occurred at an early age, they could be salvaged. 

Based (loosely from what I can tell) on the Preston School of Industry (one the country’s first reform schools), Goodhouse is really ripe with tension from the start. In the not too distant future, we’ve figured out how to identify DNA markers that might – just might – be able to predict violent and criminal behavior in male children. So they all get shipped off to these boys’ schools-cum-juvenile detention centers called “Goodhouses” located throughout the country. Our point of view character is James, a Goodhouse student who recently transferred as his original Goodhouse was burned to the ground by religious zealots. So every scene, every moment not just full of tension, but all sorts of different kinds of tension happening at once.

[And you thought high school was tough...]

Sep 20 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Haunting Ballad by Michael Nethercott

The Haunting Ballad by Michael Nethercott is the second supernatural mystery featuring the mismatched crime-solving duo of O'Nelligan and Plunkett (available September 30, 2014).

The second book in the O’Nelligan and Plunkett series is another well-crafted meditation on love (this time primarily romantic) and tragedy wrapped in a period murder mystery. Set in 1950s Connecticut and New York, we follow the somewhat hapless private investigator Lee Plunkett as he and his fiancee of three years explore, with varying degrees of interest, the bohemian scene of Greenwich Village. At a club named Mercutio, an uncomfortable Plunkett and a more enthusiastic Audrey, along with two of her friends, watch the act of a handsome young folk singer named Byron Spires:

Then, to seal the deal, he slid into a mournful ballad, which I have to admit was downright haunting. Phrases like the wind that stirred our wounded dreams and she was the girl I should have loved were I not so young and lost seemed to linger after Spires had strummed his last chord. His set finished, he took in the blend of applause and finger-snapping (a modern form of admiration, I was told), muttered a thanks, and sauntered off the stage.

Scanning the crowd, he seemed to take fast notice of our table, stocked as it was with its trio of comely females. My manly presence was seemingly no deterrent, and Byron Spires, guitar slung to his side, made his way to us directly. Three pairs of eyes widened at his approach. Mine—the only non-female set—narrowed behind the twin shields of my spectacles. Right off the bat, I wasn’t sure that I really loved this guy.

[His feelings might be founded...]

Sep 19 2014 11:00pm

Checking into The Knick 1.06: “Start Calling Me Dad”

The Knick debuted by giving its characters lofty secrets—ones that were too big and too interesting for them not to come to light. We’ve already seen some truths trickle through (Sister Harriet), but our main characters have managed to dodge discovery. But that changed in “Start Calling Me Dad” for Algernon. And if you could have asked Algernon who the last person he’d want to see find out about the secret clinic, I’m guessing he’d have instantly answered with Thackery.


Sep 19 2014 11:00am

Fresh Meat: To Dwell in Darkness by Deborah Crombie

To Dwell in Darkness by Deborah Crombie is the 16th mystery in the Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James series (available September 23, 2014).

To Dwell in Darkness is a powerful story that forcefully lands the reader in a confused, smoke-filled, public arena of terror. No back story is needed to comprehend the insanity of a bomb going off at a public concert at St. Pancras International, a renovated railroad station. But like the best stories of J.D. Robb, P.D. James, and Louise Penny, knowing the cast of characters adds to the reader’s enjoyment.

Deborah Crombie conducts the interwoven strands of her 16th novel like a maestro wielding a baton. Kincaid and Gemma’s family, work colleagues, and friends, including their oldest son Kit, play a pivotal role in unraveling the twisted strands that envelop the bombing. Their contributions are integral to understanding the motivations behind the mystery of how a would-be smoke-bomb turned into a lethal weapon. There’s also time for St. Pancras Station, the place, the neighborhood that surrounds it, and its long history, to take a bow. Longtime readers will pore over the detailed, hand-crafted map of the St. Pancras world, complete with hand-drawn sketches of pubs and hospitals. As Crombie so aptly puts it, “Laura Maestro has once again brought the story to life with an enchanting endpaper map.”

[A bomb that wasn't supposed to be a bomb?]

Sep 19 2014 8:45am

Gotham: Join Us for the Journey Through Batman’s Origins

“The attraction of this story was the chance to tell the origin stories,” said Gotham Executive Producer/Writer Bruno Heller in an interview last week.

Gotham is the story of what went on before Bruce Wayne put on the cape and cowl, seen through the eyes of young Detective Jim Gordon. Not only is it the story of how Gordon struggled to bring some order to Gotham City’s chaos, but it’s the beginning of some of Batman’s iconic villains, such as the Penguin and the Riddler. The story is set against the backdrop of a Gotham City heavily influenced by New York City in the 1970s, a time of great tumult.

Heller says you don’t have to be a fan of the comics to enjoy the show. He’s hoping to grab a wider audience by the strength of the story and the characters.

So follow me here beginning with the premiere on September 22, as I recap each episode on Criminal Element. If the pilot is any indication, we’ll have much to discuss, from the major tweak on Batman’s origin, to the addition of characters who’ve never been seen on-screen before, like Crispus Allen and Barbara Kean, the eventual mother of Barbara (Batgirl) Gordon.

Sep 18 2014 2:00pm

Get Carter by Ted Lewis: Crime Fiction’s Open Source Blueprint

I’ll get right to the point here; Ted Lewis’s 1970 novel Jack’s Return Home (re-titled Get Carter so I’ll call it that from here on) is one of the most influential works of crime fiction in existence. In the world of U.K. hardboiled literature it’s had the kind of impact that books by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler had on the genre in the U.S. In the new edition of Get Carter being put out by Syndicate Books, the back cover and inside pages contain jaw-dropping laudatory praise of the novel by the likes of Derek Raymond, Stuart Neville, Dennis Lehane, James Sallis, and John Williams, the last of whom says Lewis’s book is “the finest British crime novel ever written.” When I researched Lewis’s life and work several years back, one person I interviewed was David Peace; Peace told me, about Get Carter, “I very consciously used it as a blueprint for Nineteen Seventy-Four, my first novel.”

Before further discussion of the book, I’m going to pause and say a few things about the film that shares its title. Because you can’t say the words Get Carter without thinking of the 1971 big screen feature that stars Michael Caine and was directed by Mike Hodges (Hodges supplies the foreword to the new edition of the book). I’m not going to go into any detail about the movie, because a prolonged analysis or appreciation of it deserves its own space. Suffice to say that it is not only a classic film; it’s an institution. It holds high places on best-ever film lists issued by entities such as The British Film Institute, Empire magazine, Time Out, and The Guardian. If you’ve seen the movie, you likely don’t need me to try and convince you of its quality. If you haven’t, and if you care anything about film noir, gangster cinema, Michael Caine, or classic films period, just go watch it. If you’re like I was after my first viewing, when it’s over you’ll find you have a hankering to run it again.

[And probably a third time...]

Sep 18 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Crossing the Line by Frederique Molay

Crossing the Line by Frederique Molay is the second mystery in the Paris Homicide Series about a message discovered in the tooth of a murder victim (available September 23, 2014).

I fell in love with Chief Nico Sirsky when I met him the first time in The 7th Woman. I’m happy to delve more into his life with Crossing the Line, the sequel and the second book in the Paris Homicide Mystery. He is an intriguing character, and I found myself not only enjoying getting to know him better but really liking his family, friends, and coworkers.

It’s just before Christmas, and the weather is cold and bracing. Nico has returned to work at La Crim or the Criminal Investigation Division, after being off for three months after getting shot during his last big case.

I like Nico because he’s a tough, pit-bull of a detective, but he is very romantic in his thoughts of the lovely Caroline, the woman he loves. The beauty is that Molay conveys the detective’s romantic soul with little tidbits like this one, “Caroline closed the door behind her, and Nico breathed in her lingering scent, as if to capture it forever.”

[How far is too far?]

Sep 18 2014 8:45am

“What If We Were Sent Here for a Reason”: The Maze Runner Trailer

Back in February, Kate Voss talked about seven books that we would be coming to screen in 2014, and The Maze Runner made it onto the list. Now, for fans of the book, the wait is finally over!

The trailer features some familiar faces including Dylan O'Brien of teen thriller Teen Wolf, Kaya Scodelario, from the UK drama Skins, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster of Game of Thrones (and the voice of Ferb on Phineas and Ferb). Do you like to see books adapted? Will you be seing The Maze Runner?

Sep 17 2014 4:00pm

The Noir Geek’s Guide to The Big Lebowski

The Coen Brother’s 1998 comedy The Big Lebowski has many cultural touchstones—the sixties, hippies, Vietnam, CCR, weed, Busby Berkley musicals—but the underlying structure of the movie goes back further to the days of 40s film noir. In a movie full of touches of genius (full disclosure: I’m a Lebowskiphile from way back), the initiating act of genius was the decision to make the film a modern day update of the hardboiled L.A. crime story. Of course, the Coens were well aware that Robert Altman did this back in the seventies when he brought Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe to the grimy, drugged-out LA of 1973 in The Long Goodbye. The Coens did Altman one better by celebrating/satirizing/sending-up every noir trope they can get their hands on.

Here then is a noir geek’s guide to the land of Lebowski:

1. The Big Lebowski, The Title: In the film itself, “The Big Lebowski” refers to the character played David Huddleston, the rich old man who hires “The Dude” to find his missing wife. The title, however, is a throwback to The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler’s novel about a rich old man who hires private eye Philip Marlowe to find his missing son-in-law. It’s evocative, too, of other noir titles like The Big Bluff, The Big Combo, and The Big Heat.

[Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.]

Sep 17 2014 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Wouldn’t It Be Deadly by D. E. Ireland

Wouldn’t it be Deadly by D. E. Ireland is an historical mystery and the 1st in a series featuring Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins that picks up where My Fair Lady left off (available September 23, 2014).

Many of us know the story of Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins from the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, which was made into the movie My Fair Lady. From the original story we know that Henry Higgins used his mastery of phonetics to teach Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl, to speak properly and even passed her off as a duchess at the ball. D. E. Ireland takes the story from here, and creates one of the best new traditional mystery series I have had the pleasure of reading this year.

Once Eliza completes her transformation, she decides to leave Professor Higgins and his good friend Pickering , and get a job teaching phonetics lessons. She becomes the assistant to Higgens’ rival, Emil Nepommuck. Higgins is not happy about the arrangement and when Nepommuck takes credit for Eliza’s transformation, Higgins writes the newspaper denouncing Nepommuck as a fraud. When Nepommuck is found murdered, it’s the unfortunate Higgins who is the chief suspect. Knowing him to be innocent, Eliza feels it her duty to assist the police and prove her friend innocent. The fact that he claims to have been wandering around London listening to accents doesn’t help matters. Since he can provide no solid alibi or anyone who remembers seeing him, and the police are under pressure to solve the case quickly, Higgins is the natural suspect.

[But he won't be the only one...]