Fresh Meat: <i>A Root Awakening</i> by Kate Collins Fresh Meat: A Root Awakening by Kate Collins Rachel Kramer Bussel House hunting is no bed of roses... <i>Among Thieves</i>: New Excerpt Among Thieves: New Excerpt John Clarkson They will rue the day that they blackballed James Beck's cousin. 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...
From The Blog
January 30, 2015
Automatic Crime Sonnet Robot, Activate!
Clare Toohey
January 29, 2015
Ketchup Me If You Can
Crime HQ
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
Fri
Jan 30 2015 11:00am

Fresh Meat: A Root Awakening by Kate Collins

A Root Awakening by Kate CollinsA Root Awakening by Kate Collins is the 16th cozy in the Flower Shop Mystery Series featuring shop owner Abby Knight and her new husband Marco (available February 3, 2015).

The romance between Bloomers flower shop owner Abby Knight Salvare and her now husband, bar owner, and part-time private investigator Marco Salvare, has always been an integral part of this cozy series. Here, the happy couple are ready to settle down and buy a home together, but no sooner do they start looking than tragedy strikes. A painter, Sergio, who’d been working on the house they’re about to tour falls from his ladder. He’s hospitalized, and very quickly, whispers of foul play seem to haunt the scene. The whispers become louder when the married couple take on a new client: Sergio’s wife, the curvy, sexy Rosa, who’s convinced that her husband had no reason to fall on his own. Abby senses something amiss about the situation, but can’t help being just a teeny bit jealous of every time Marco looks at Rosa.

[Didn't this marriage just bloom?]

Fri
Jan 30 2015 9:30am

Automatic Crime Sonnet Robot, Activate!

If modern robots can write your letters, why not poetry, and what richer fodder for auto-verse than CrimeHQ's tweets could there be? Submitting our thread to the genius of Poetweet (meaning Edgar Allan, we'll assume, rather than some merely generically tormented garret-dweller), the following mashed-up sonnet was generated. It's loosely rhymed stanzas are odd enough to intrigue and profound enough to delight, so please grab your bongos, or at least snap your fingers, as you read this aloud:

Detective Ficti

Stella Hardesty (more)
How about cookies shaped like this?
Dealer William Stanley Moore, 1925
Clock tower to say “hi” to his...

“cat fight” in a whole new light:
Excellent!!
Edits on Gotham last night...
Art, for the transcendent moment.

Day. I've got that one covered!
For its ferocity and over...
Day: not a single person murdered

Directly from your favorite auth...
It's the love that counts!
For Doyle's famous sleuth!

If Adam Dalgleish can both fight crime and write poetry, why shouldn't Robocop? It is the love that counts for Doyle's famous sleuth. Oh Poetweet, you see right through us.

 

h/t: CrimeHQ's Twitter maven herself, Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts.

Image via sweetheartsinner's Etsy shop.

Thu
Jan 29 2015 11:00am
Excerpt

Among Thieves: New Excerpt

John Clarkson

Among Thieves by John ClarksonIn Among Thieves, a standalone thriller by John Clarkson, a group of Brooklyn ex-cons rally together to take down a corrupt brokerage firm where millions of dollars are on the line (available February 3, 2015).

They thought they could cover up what an out-of-control trader at a Manhattan brokerage firm did to Olivia Sanchez. She worked hard, played by the rules, but so what? Blackball her from the industry and be done with her.

Who’s going to stop them?

Nobody, until Olivia turns to her cousin Manny, an ex-con and ex-gang leader whose first reaction is to take care of the arrogant bastard who hurt his cousin—permanently. His partner, James Beck, part of a tight clique of ex-cons based in Brooklyn’s Red Hook, convinces Manny to hold off. Things can be complicated in the real world. But even the savvy Beck has no idea what’s really going on.

There’s much more at stake than Beck imagines, starting with enough money to ignite a level of ruthless greed that can wipe Beck and his partners off the face of the earth. It’s tens of millions of dollars, connected to arms dealing for a clandestine U.S. agency. 

Beck and his loyal band are forced into an escalating nonstop war against an arms dealer, war criminals, Russian mobsters, and even the NYPD. The only way to stay out of prison and survive is to outsmart, outfight, never concede, and ultimately rob their enemies of the source of their power: 116 million dollars.

[Click here to start Among Thieves by John Clarkson...]

Thu
Jan 29 2015 10:30am

The Americans 3.01: Season Premiere “EST Men”

I can’t remember a show sticking the landing of its finale better than The Americans did in Season 2. Not only did they tie up all the intricate story arcs with a legitimately surprising twist, they did so in a way that organically created an even more disturbing cliffhanger going into Season 3 (and not in a “Wait, we still don’t know who killed Rosie Larson kind of way.”) Revealing that it was Jared, recruited by Kate to become a “second generation illegal,” who killed his family immediately brought the fate of Paige (Holly Taylor) into question. Would she also be forced into the service of Mother Russia, shattering everything she thought she knew about her life and her parents in the process, or would she be allowed to continue with her relatively normal teenage existence, which at the moment mostly involves singing folk songs at her church youth group with a mildly creepy hippy pastor?

The opening scene of the Season 3 premiere, “EST Men,” does not bode well for those hoping that Paige will avoid turning into Elizabeth 2.0. The episode opens with Elizabeth (Keri Russell) recalling the swimming lessons she gave to Paige. While the other mothers at the pool coddled their children with floaties and encouraging words, Elizabeth shoved a nervous and unsuspecting Paige into the deep end. Sink or swim, sweetie. It’s a bit of a heavy handed metaphor, but it also fits with what we know of Elizabeth’s early maternal instincts.

[I mean, it worked. Paige learned how to swim...]

Thu
Jan 29 2015 8:45am

Ketchup Me If You Can

The Condiment GunIf you're looking for the perfect gift to add to the cupboards of the whacky foodie in your life that has a thing for both ketchup and crime—or want to add it to your own—we might have the perfect thing: The Condiment Gun!

Will you be holding up the nearest hot dog stand with this quirky and fun way to spread on the condiments? Pick your poison!

Wed
Jan 28 2015 2:30pm

Agent Carter 1.04: “The Blitzkrieg Button”

Considering Episode 4 of Agent Carter takes its title from a military maneuver notable for its ferocity and overwhelming power, it’s surprising that the episode itself is the most laid back episode of the series thus far.

We begin with everyone continuing their search for Howard Stark. Peggy finds him hiding out in a storage container, but not before she stumbles across Jarvis trying to pay off the goons who snuck him into the country. There is some ominous mention of a Mr. Mink—one of those comic book villain names that’s supposed to derive its power from the contrast between the timidity of the word and the innate scariness of the dude who would casually take it on as a moniker. More on Mr. Mink in a minute.

Peggy kicks the crap out of the goons and saves Jarvis. Alas, the action here is underwhelming. Peggy takes out the last guy with little more than one hard tap of her shoe. We get that she’s a badass and can beat up any goon on earth, but the effect here almost seems like bored slapstick. Also, this is pretty much the only action we’ll get this episode, and it’s over pretty quickly. Now, I don’t mind that the show decided to give Hayley Atwell’s right hook a little rest, but it doesn’t replace it with much. After the opening, we get five minutes or so of some mild screwball humor as Peggy sneaks Howard into her women’s only hotel, The Griffith.

[The original Iron Man?]

Wed
Jan 28 2015 10:30am

Justified 6.02: “Cash Game”

Timothy Olyphant as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens

Previously on Justified: Boyd committed murder and bank robbery (so business as usual, basically); Ava was caught between a rock and a hard place (or a Givens and a Crowder which amounts to the same thing); and Raylan got a perplexingly generous offer for the old family homestead.

Ava hears Boyd rummaging around in her barn; he claims to be looking for paint to finish a job for her, but he’s actually hidden the ledger and documents from the bank robbery last week. After she kicks him out, she finds the documents.

At the Marshals’ office, Tim Gutterson and Raylan have a hilariously laconic conversation about Raylan’s baby while Vasquez and Rachel interview a potential witness to Boyd’s neo-Nazi activities. Raylan is concerned that the baby isn’t walking (at five months) and explains to Tim that there are two kinds of people in the hollers of Harlan County: those who are basically on Boyd’s side, and those who are terrified of Boyd. Getting nothing from the witness, Rachel tells Tim and Raylan to go on a road trip to Harlan and interview the owners of the safe deposit boxes that Boyd robbed.

[Sounds like a good place to start...]

Wed
Jan 28 2015 8:45am

Thieves Do the Right Thing for Boy Scouts

Who says bad guys don't have a heart? It seems a guilty conscience prompted some 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.