Now Win <i>This</i>!: Pretty Girls Make Graves Sweepstakes Now Win This!: Pretty Girls Make Graves Sweepstakes Crime HQ Heaven knows we'll soon be dust. <i>Vostok</i>: New Excerpt Vostok: New Excerpt Steve Alten A crossover novel uniting two popular series! Fresh Meat: <i>Sent to the Devil</i> by Laura Lebow Fresh Meat: Sent to the Devil by Laura Lebow Angie Barry Read Angie Barry's review! <i>Against the Paw</i>: New Excerpt Against the Paw: New Excerpt Diane Kelly The 4th book in the Paw Enforcement series.
From The Blog
May 5, 2016
Pinky Violence
Brian Greene
May 4, 2016
Investigation of a Citizen
Scott Adlerberg
May 3, 2016
Is Your Favorite Mystery Book a TV Series?
Kristen Houghton
May 2, 2016
What Became of Downton Abbey?
Hannah Dennison
May 2, 2016
Grantchester 2.06: Episode Review
Leslie Gilbert Elman
May 5 2016 4:30pm

Pinky Violence

Two disclaimers to open this post on the Pinky Violence film genre:

  1. I haven’t seen every movie that could be classified within the category. Depending on which list you’re looking at, I’ve watched between a half and two-thirds of the titles. I’ve also read several articles and one book on the subject, and have viewed trailers for most of the films I haven’t seen. So, while I’m not ready to call myself a Pinky Violence authority, I feel comfortable writing this rundown.
  2. In my Five Essential Pinky Violence films list below, I excluded relevant titles that star Meiko Kaji, since I have already written an appreciation of her acting that includes write-ups on some of the applicable movies in which she played. But, for the record, if I were considering those films, I would feel compelled to make the list a top 10, and among those singled out would certainly be Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss (1970), Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter (1970), and Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (1972). 

See also: Meiko Kaji: An Appreciation of a Female Badass

So what is a Pinky Violence film? I’m not sure who first dubbed the collection of movies as such, but I can tell you what unites the titles: softcore sexuality, hard-edged violence, tough girls, and Japan.

Think of Russ Meyer’s cinematic vision being mashed up with Quentin Tarantino’s and then channeled through the mindsets of Japanese filmmakers creating sexy and savage bad-girl celluloid stories and you’ll have an idea of what’s at hand here. Pinky Violence films have certainly been an influence on Tarantino’s work. I don’t know if Meyer ever watched these movies, but if he did, my guess is that he would have appreciated them.

[It's pink. It's violent. And it's definitely badass...]

May 5 2016 1:30pm

The Lost Girls: New Excerpt

John Glatt

This week's edition of True Crime Thursday is the first two chapters of The Lost Girls by John Glatt—the chilling account of the three Cleveland women that were kidnapped and imprisoned in a basement for a decade by Ariel Castro.

They were held in brutal captivity—and managed to make it out alive.
“This is their story.”

The Lost Girls are Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus—three innocent young women who were kidnapped, imprisoned, and repeatedly molested and beaten in a Cleveland home basement for over a decade by a depraved man named Ariel Castro. Their incredible escape, in May 2013, made headlines all over the world.

In this up-close-and-personal account—including exclusive interviews with Castro's family members, secret girlfriend, neighbors, and others—veteran investigative journalist John Glatt reveals what it was like as Michelle, Amanda, and Gina DeJesus waited, bound and chained, to be found.

[Read an excerpt from The Lost Girls here...]

May 5 2016 1:00pm

Now Win This!: Pretty Girls Make Graves Sweepstakes

Give in to lust, give up to lust, register to win these 9 titles because heaven knows we'll soon be dust.

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 May 5, 2016, at 1:00 pm ET, and ends May 19, 2016, 12:59 pm ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[Register to win 9 great titles!]

May 5 2016 11:00am

Psycho Gets the Andy Warhol Treatment

What have you done, mother!?

Is there a more iconic scene than the shower stabbing in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960)? Is there a more iconic art piece that Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe silkscreen prints? Seems only natural to combine the two and make the ultimate icon!

Well, that’s just what UncleGertrudes has done. Measuring 12” x 12” on 65# cover weight stock kraft paper, this pop art is the perfect way to appear hip but still display your inner (and, I guess…outer?) psycho.

Because, after all, we go a little mad sometimes. Haven’t you?

May 5 2016 10:00am

Vostok: New Excerpt

Steve Alten

Vostok by Steve Alten is the sequel to The Loch and the prequel to MEG: Nightstalkers in this crossover novel uniting two of Alten's most popular series (Out now!)

East Antarctica: The coldest, most desolate location on Earth. Two-and-a-half miles below the ice cap is Vostok, a six thousand square mile liquid lake, over a thousand feet deep, left untouched for more than fifteen million years. Now, marine biologist Zachary Wallace and two other scientists aboard a submersible tethered to a laser will journey 13,000 feet beneath the ice into this unexplored realm to discover Mesozoic life forms long believed extinct—and an object of immense power responsible for the evolution of modern man.

[Read an excerpt from Vostok here...]

May 4 2016 3:00pm

Fresh Meat: Sent to the Devil by Laura Lebow

Sent to the Devil by Laura Lebow is the 2nd Lorenzo Da Ponte historical mystery.

“You! What do you want with me?”

“You know what I want you to do,” the man hissed...

“No!” He tried to shout, but his voice was merely a croak. “No! I will not!”

The old man saw a blurred motion, and then pain seared his neck. An owl hooted in the distance as blood spattered over the stone steps.

“I am dying!” he cried. But he could not hear his own voice, only a loud gurgling, and after a few moments, nothing...

Spring, 1788. Austria is on the brink of war with the Ottoman Empire and already soldiers are dying of disease in the camps along the front. The exiled Venetian Lorenzo Da Ponte—Royal Librettist for the Emperor—is hard at work revising his lyrics for Mozart's opera, Don Giovanni.

And a killer stalks the streets of Vienna.

When the murderer attacks Da Ponte's closest friend, a retired priest, the poet finds himself, yet again, unwillingly embroiled in death and madness. Well aware of how prejudiced the police force can be, and how easily victims can be forgotten, Da Ponte agrees to assist a nobleman Richard Benda in tracking down the culprit.

[Read Angie Barry's review of Sent to the Devil here...]

May 4 2016 1:00pm

Investigation of a Citizen

An attractive young woman smiles at a man through her apartment window. Once he’s in her apartment, she embraces him.

“How are you going to kill me this time?” she asks.

“I’m going to slash your throat,” he answers. 

Soon afterwards, we see them in bed, the man out of frame, the woman atop the man, shot from behind so we see her bare back, and when she emits a little gasp, for a second, we don’t know what it means.

Is she feeling genuine pleasure from their sexual act, or is she pretending to be hurt, killed, from what must be their regular erotic ritual?

Already, a minute or two into the story, the viewer is in unsettling, ambiguous territory, and as things proceed, the viewer will come to find that this is a film that keeps you off balance for its entire two-hour running time.

[Read Scott Adlerberg's review of Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion...]

May 4 2016 11:30am

5 New Books to Read this Week: May 3, 2016

Every Wednesday, we here at Criminal Element will put together a list of Staff Picks of the books that published the day before—sharing the ones that we are looking forward to reading the most!

Check back every Wednesday and see what we're reading for the week!

[See this week's Top 5...]

May 4 2016 11:00am

Billy the Kid Wooden Plaque

Billy the Kid is said to have killed 21 men—one for every year of his life.

The man, the kid, the legend; he was also able to escape capture by killing two guards, despite being shackled at the legs and wrists. He was finally gunned down by Sheriff Pat Garrett, though some say it was a ruse to allow the Kid to evade the law.

Dead or alive, Billy the Kid continues to be one of the most remembered Outlaws of the American Wild West. Own a piece of the legend with this rustic, wooden plaque containing a print of the only known picture of the Kid from wiesbaden49. Measuring 8” x 10” and sealed to protect the wood, this plaque is perfect for any fan of the folklore from the West—and affordable too, at only $25.50!

And, make sure to vote for your favorite Wild West Outlaw here!

May 4 2016 10:00am

Against the Paw: New Excerpt

Diane Kelly

Against the Paw by Diane Kelly is the 4th installment of the Paw Enforcement series (Available now!).

Megan has her sights set on finding a convicted burglar who’s broken his parole, and she has the perfect partner to help sniff him out. Unfortunately, her shepherd-mix Brigit’s dog bowl is already full. A Peeping Tom has been spotted in an affluent Fort Worth neighborhood―and concerned citizens are looking for a few good watchdogs…

To catch the creep, residents start enlisting volunteers to beef up their Neighborhood Watch group. Which is fine with Megan. She needs to focus on catching a burglar who’s still at large. But when the Peeping Tom patrol grows into a virtual vigilante mob, Megan and Brigit have to jump in paws first―before some very angry people take the law into their own hands…

[Read an excerpt from Against the Paw here...]

May 3 2016 2:00pm

Prolonged Parker: Slow Burn by Ace Atkins

Robert B. Parker's Slow Burn by Ace Atkins is the newest Spenser novel, where Boston PI Spenser faces a hot case and a personal crisis (Available today!).

An assessment of a new Spenser novel requires this reviewer to reveal a bit of my adoration for series creator, Robert B. Parker, and why I was initially hesitant to read the continuations by Ace Atkins. Makes this post four years overdue, since Mr. Parker died in January 2010 and Ace Atkins took over two years later with Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby—a Spenser book a year under the Atkins diet has followed ever since.

Flashback to the mid-80s as my teen palate began to develop a taste for more sophisticated plots, my love for reading The Hardy Boys naturally led to “grownup” detective novels, and I picked up Valediction (1984). Parker’s Spenser was a revelation—tough-guy gourmet, poet-quoting sleuth, moralizing pugilist—that opened the door to Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, and Ross Macdonald. Around the same time, the Robert Urich Spenser: For Hire (1985-1988) television show hit the airwaves fueling the fandom.

[Read David Cranmer's review of Slow Burn here...]

May 3 2016 1:00pm

Is Your Favorite Mystery Book a TV Series?

You’ve read all the books in your favorite mystery series. The description of the characters and the settings by the author are so good that you can see them in your mind. You’d love to see these books made in a visual medium. Let’s get it going, and, please, let’s get it right! Faithful fans want televised characters and settings to remain faithful to the books.

Every book series from the venerable Sherlock Holmes to the audacious, very modern 1920’s woman Phryne Fisher to almost anything by Agatha Christie has found its way into a televised series. Mystery novels keep their fans turning the pages long into the night; if the mystery is suspenseful and the pace is fast, you begin to look for the next book in the series. If it’s a detective series, there’s always another mystery for your favorite detective to solve in the next book. It makes perfect sense that TV would adapt these detective/mystery books for a series of the same name, since they are highly marketable commodities.

[What's your favorite mystery series?]

May 3 2016 12:00pm

Kill Switch: Audio Excerpt

Jonathan Maberry

Kill Switch by Jonathan Maberry is the 8th book in the Joe Ledger series. Join military scientist Joe Ledger as he becomes embroiled in an elaborate terrorist plot that involves deadly science and forbidden arcane knowledge in equal measure. What do you do when the power goes off?

Terrorists have acquired a terrible new weapon that can crash the power grid and plunge America into a new dark age. A coordinated attack is planned to shut out all lights and emergency services to ten major cities. Planes will fall, hospitals will go dark, no help will come.

And in that terrible darkness, a dreadful plague will be released. If the lights go off, nothing can stop the bioweapon from killing millions.

At the same time, the intelligence services are being torn apart from within by a plague of betrayal, murder, and suicide. Even the Department of Military Sciences is stumbling in its response to the growing threat.

Time is running out, and Joe is being hunted by a terrifying new kind of assassin. A team of remote viewers have the ability to take over any person and turn ordinary citizens into killers. Where can you turn when there’s nobody left to trust?

Joe Ledger faces his deadliest challenge as friends and allies become enemies and all of the lights begin to go out…

[Listen to an audio excerpt of Kill Switch here...]

May 3 2016 11:30am

Who Is Your Favorite Wild West Outlaw?

The (Wicky Wicky Wild, Wicky Wild, Wicky Wicky Wild) Wild West of the mid-to-late 19th century contributes to much of American folklore. Though heroes get remembered, legends never die—and in a lot of cases, the deaths of the most famous Wild West Outlaws are controversial, only adding to the legend themselves. 

While often thought of as enemies of the state, the Outlaws of Old are often remembered fondly as legendary trailblazers. Wherever you stand on them, it's no question that they'll continue to live on. 

So, who's your favorite Wild West Outlaw? Let us know!

[Vote for your favorite Outlaw below...]

May 3 2016 11:00am

Discount: The Prisoner of Hell Gate by Dana I. Wolff

Four decades after Typhoid Mary went to her grave, five curious graduate students struggle to escape alive from the abandoned island that once imprisoned her. Contagion doesn’t die. It just waits. For this week only, get the ebook of The Prisoner of Hell Gate by Dana I. Wolff for only $2.99!

In the Hell Gate section of New York’s East River lie the sad islands where, for centuries, people locked away what they most feared: the contagious, the disfigured, the addicted, the criminally insane.

Here infection slowly consumed the stricken. Here a desperate ship captain ran his doomed steamship aground and watched flames devour 1,500 souls. Here George A. Soper imprisoned the infamous Typhoid Mary after she spread sickness and death in Manhattan’s most privileged quarters.

George’s great-granddaughter, Karalee, and her fellow graduate students in public health know that story. But as they poke in and out of the macabre hospital rooms of abandoned North Brother Island―bantering, taking pictures, recalling history―they are missing something: Hidden evil watches over them―and plots against them.

When death visits Hell Gate, it comes to stay.

As darkness falls, the students find themselves marooned―their casual trespass having unleashed a chain of horrific events beyond anyone’s imagination.

Disease lurks among the eerie ruins where Typhoid Mary once lived and breathed. Ravenous flies swarm puddles of blood. Rot and decay cling to human skin. And spiteful ghosts haunt the living and undead.

Soon five students of history will learn more than they ever wanted to know about New York’s foul underbelly: the meaning of spine-tingling cries down the corridor, of mysterious fires, of disfiguring murder, and of an avenging presence so sinister they’d rather risk their lives than face the terror of one more night.


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

Buy at Amazon Buy at Books a Million Buy at Barnes and Noble Buy at iTunes

May 3 2016 10:00am

The Girl I Used to Be: New Excerpt and Video

April Henry

The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry is the new high-stakes thriller from this New York Times-bestselling author (Available today!). 

When Olivia's mother was killed, everyone suspected her father of murder. But his whereabouts remained a mystery. Fast forward fourteen years. New evidence now proves Olivia's father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother died. That means there's a killer still at large. It's up to Olivia to uncover who that may be. But can she do that before the killer tracks her down first




THE ONLY SOUND I CAN HEAR IS MY OWN panicked breathing. I’m running flat out through the forest. Then my toe catches a root, and suddenly I’m flying.

Until I’m not. I come down hard. With my hands cuffed in front of me, I can’t even really break my fall. Despite the plastic boot on my left leg, I’m up again in a crazy scrambling second, spitting out dirt and pine needles as I start sprinting again.

Running like my life depends on it. Because it does.

[Read the excerpt and watch a video below!]

May 2 2016 2:30pm

What Became of Downton Abbey?

When Downton Abbey finally ended after six glorious seasons, I don’t think I was alone in feeling an acute sense of loss. Even my husband was maudlin for about three days after the finale.

On the whole, it was a satisfying ending, where all the storylines—both upstairs and down—were tied up neatly. Even poor Lady Edith found happiness, at last, with her Bertie.

But what became of Downton Abbey? What became of the house itself?

[If these walls could talk...]

May 2 2016 1:30pm

Mark Hamill Headlines New Batman: The Killing Joke Trailer

It's Matinee Monday, everybody! In this week's installment of crime on the silver screen, we look at Alan Moore's iconic, controversial treatment of Joker and Oracle's origin story, Batman: The Killing Joke, soon to be released on video everywhere in all its animated, R-rated glory.

As fans of the Caped Crusader already know, The Killing Joke is often perceived as one of DC's canon-defining arcs, examining the origin stories of both Joker and Oracle via Alan Moore's dark, fatalistic, uncompromising lens of Gotham. However, the work has plenty of critics, including Moore himself, who points to the misuse of Barbara Gordon as, essentially, a prop by which to further the showdown between Batman, Joker, and Commissioner Gordon himself.

[“All it takes is one bad day...”]

May 2 2016 1:00pm

Grantchester 2.06: Episode Review

It’s the last episode of Series 2, and we’re still dealing with the fallout from Gary Bell killing Abigail Redmond in Episode 1.

Gary was executed for Abigail’s murder, and hunky vicar Sidney Chambers (James Norton) hasn’t quite gotten over it. He’s drinking to excess, hanging on past last call at the pub, and dribbling communion wine down his chin in church. Heavens!

He also beat the dickens out of Geordie Keating (Robson Green), because that’s what you do when your best friend disagrees with you. At least that’s what you do when you’re Sidney Chambers.

For it is Sidney’s god-given talent to crap all over his nearest and dearest and never apologize for it. That includes everything from pummeling Geordie to drunkenly, sloppily groping a barmaid to neglecting to visit Gary Bell’s mother in her time of grief. And, for the parents of the murdered girl, he has no time or sympathy at all.

Sour Mrs. Maguire (Tessa Peake-Jones) visits Geordie and takes note of his battered face. Geordie tells her he wants an apology from Sidney—a reasonable person might figure he deserves one. Mrs. M is not, strictly speaking, a reasonable person.

“Your pride’s dented. Don’t pretend it’s anything else,” Mrs. Maguire replies in her own inimitable style of compassion. After all, Sidney is the one who deserves everyone’s attention and sympathy. “He’s lost. And we’re all lost without him,” she tells Geordie.

[What doth every sin deserve...]

May 2 2016 12:00pm

Game of Thrones 6.02: “Home”

It’s not always easy returning to where you grew up, as Theon Greyjoy will undoubtedly learn in the coming weeks, but “Home,” the second episode of Game of Thrones’ young sixth season, made it nice and easy to fall back into the show we love.

If last week’s episode was the setting of the table in preparation for the season-long feast, then “Home” is the appetizer. And what a damn good appetizer it was.

Things began north of The Wall with Bran (Issac Hempstead Wright), who in his lengthy absence, seems to have mastered the power of the flashback. At Castle Black, nightfall arrived and Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale) is ready to fight and kill Davos (Liam Cunningham) and the Jon Snow loyalists. Luckily, Edd (Ben Crompton) arrives with the wildlings, led by Wun Wun, and it’s only a few minutes before Thorne and the rest of the mutinous officers (and that fucker Olly) are dragged to the Black Cells.

In King’s Landing, Cersei’s newest Kingsguard takes special offense to a particularly well-endowed boaster and smashes his head in. Elsewhere in the city, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) advises King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) to visit his mother, since the young king is the only thing currently keeping Cersei (Lena Headey) sane. As Tommen leaves, the High Sparrow (aka Westerosi Bernie Sanders) arrives. Jaime reaches for his sword hilt and the High Sparrow counters with words, reminding Jaime that even though the sparrows lack power at the individual level, as a group, they are potent enough to overthrow empires.

Across the Narrow Sea, the still-blind Arya (Maisie Williams) struggles to fight back versus the Waif. Fortunately, Jaqen H’ghar appears and ends the fighting. When No One, née Arya, refuses to say her name, a satisfied Jaqen tells her to follow.

And Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), as impressive as he may have been in unchaining Daenerys’s dragons, definitely deserved to be punched in the face. All I could think of was the convienently-forgotten-by-the-show Quentyn Martell and his final “Oh.”

And now, let’s move onto this week’s Riser of the Week. Something tells me you know who it is.

[What is dead may never die…]