Now Win <i>This</i>!: The Shot in the Dark Sweepstakes Now Win This!: The Shot in the Dark Sweepstakes Crime HQ These five books will hit you when you least expect it! FM: <i>The Nightingale Before Christmas</i> by Donna Andrews FM: The Nightingale Before Christmas by Donna Andrews Nikki Bonanni Christmas decorating is serious business. FM: <i>The Counterfeit Heiress</i> by Tasha Alexander FM: The Counterfeit Heiress by Tasha Alexander Angie Barry Not everyone is who they seem... FM: <i>Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld</i> by Jake Halpern FM: Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld by Jake Halpern Lance Charnes Debt collecting is cutthroat.
From The Blog
October 22, 2014
In the Kitchen with Walter W.
Crime HQ
October 21, 2014
99 Percent of You Might Be Jack the Ripper, Or His Victim
Crime HQ
October 20, 2014
"If You Can Take It, You Can Make It": Trailer for Unbroken
Crime HQ
October 19, 2014
Laughter in the Dark: Nabokov's Original Femme Fatale
Edward A. Grainger
October 18, 2014
Horrific Hijinks: When Abbott and Costello Met Frankenstein
Michael Nethercott
Oct 22 2014 8:45am

In the Kitchen with Walter W.

Miss Breaking Bad so much you can taste it? So does Walter Wheat, the pseudonymous author of Baking Bad, a parody/tribute cookbook due out on October 28. True, Ricin Krispie Squares might not sound like something you’ll pack in a school lunchbox, but the 20 some-odd (some really odd) recipes are genuine and inspired by (but not associated with) everybody’s favorite chemistry teacher.

Take a look:

Oct 21 2014 2:00pm

Gotham 1.05: “Viper”

The full scope of the corruption in Gotham and the impossible task that Jim Gordon has taken on himself becomes clear in this fifth episode, where the series finally coalesces into full coherence.

Instead of unrelated quick cuts between the ever-growing cast, Viper pulls them all into one over-reaching plotline: take down Carmine Falcone.

Falcone controls the police, the courts, the mayor and the underworld. Fish and her bondage-loving new boyfriend want to replace Falcone, as does Maroni. Fish’s new weapon is her baby doll, a lethal lady trained to pull at Falcone’s heartstrings and something below belt as well. Maroni’s new weapon is the newly-dubbed Penguin, our old friend Oswald. (Oswald doesn’t kill anyone this episode. That’s a first. Still, I need to give the writers full credit for finding another fun but gruseome way for Gotham denizens to die: crushed by ATM.)

[Gotham owes a hat tip to Breaking Bad for that one...]

Oct 21 2014 12:00pm

Now Win This!: The Shot in the Dark Sweepstakes

These five books will hit you when you least expect it! Register to enter for a chance to win!

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 October 21, 2014, at 12:00 pm ET, and ends November 4, 2014, 11:59 am ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[Find out what's included!]

Oct 21 2014 10:45am

Fresh Meat: The Nightingale Before Christmas by Donna Andrews

The Nightingale Before Christmas is the 18th book in the Meg Langslow series by Donna Andrews (available October 21, 2014).

Meg Langslow immediately stands out as a unique character because she is a modern day female blacksmith. She lives in Virginia, and those that follow the series have seen the changes as Meg gets married and becomes a mother. In part, it’s those kind of changes that keeps the series going, with family playing such an important role. The reader gets to know Meg’s parents, cousins, mother-in-law, and more, and they are far from boring relatives.

In the newest book, Meg has been drafted (by her interior decorator mother) to be the coordinator of the Christmas show house. She has to wrangle the decorators as they scurry to get their individual rooms decorated with their meticulous styles, as well as adding holiday themes. The only thing that keeps Meg sane is remembering that the reason she agreed to take on the job was to avoid having her own house volunteered as the showcase.


Mother was standing in the evergreen-trimmed archway between the living room and the foyer, directly beneath the red-and-gold “Merry Christmas” banner, frowning at something she was holding.

Since I had no idea who or what “passementerie” was, I just sat there in the foyer of the Caerphilly Designer Show House with my pen poised over my notebook-that-tells-me-when-to-breathe, waiting for Mother to elaborate.

[It's the art of trimming and tassle making, by the way...]

Oct 21 2014 9:30am

99 Percent of You Might Be Jack the Ripper, Or His Victim

There has been a wave of examination of the latest Ripper case solution by crime enthusiasts and now four other molecular biologists and DNA experts. Upon the culprit's “revelation” back in September, our position was curious but watchful, not out of superior scientific knowledge, merely jaded experience. Well, catching up to the present day (and leaving aside other logical questions around the Eddowes shawl used for DNA testing), a digital discrepancy appears to make a huge difference in the conclusion, at least for people of European descent—if that's you, describe your whereabouts in 1888, please.

From the book Naming Jack the Ripper by Russell Edwards, owner of the shawl:

“This DNA alteration is known as global private mutation (314.1C) and it is not very common in worldwide population, as it has frequency estimate of 0.000003506, i.e. approximately 1/290,000. This figure has been calculated using the database at Institute of Legal Medicine, GMI, based on the latest available information. Thus, this result indicates the shawl contains human DNA identical to Karen Miller's [Catherine Eddowes' descendant] for this mitochondrial DNA segment,” he [Dr. Jari Louhelainen] says.

According to the Independent's latest article by Science Editor Steve Connor:

But experts with detailed knowledge of the GMI's mtDNA database claimed that Dr. Louhelainen made an “error of nomenclature” because the mutation in question should be written as “315.1C” and not “314.1C”. Had Dr. Louhelainen done this, and followed standard forensic practice, he would have discovered the mutation was not rare at all but shared by more than 99 per cent of people of European descent.

“If the match frequency really is 90 per cent plus, and not 1/290,000, then obviously there is no significance whatsoever in the match between the shawl and Eddowes' descendant, and the same match would have been seen with almost anyone who had handled the shawl over the years,” Professor Jeffreys said.

So, there's that to consider. Methodical examination of results and critical peer review work well, but not necessarily instantly. We'll have more updates if and when they occur. As we like to say: We've waited this long...

Oct 20 2014 4:15pm

Inspector Lewis: “Beyond Good and Evil”

Was Inspector Lewis responsible for sending an innocent man to prison thirteen years ago?

Of course not. This is Lewis we’re talking about. He would never. (And no one really believes he did.)

Yet doubts are raised when it’s revealed that the forensic lab contaminated DNA from the original case. Now the convicted murderer—who’s protested his innocence all along—could go free. And Lewis is left to explain why and how the murders could have started up again if the right man is behind bars.

[I blame Nietzsche...]

Oct 20 2014 1:45pm

Boardwalk Empire 5.07: “Friendless Child”

At the start of “Friendless Child,” the penultimate episode of Boardwalk Empire, the war between Nucky (Steve Buschemi) and Luciano (Vincent Piazza) has escalated. Nineteen men are dead, trucks are being fire bombed, and Nucky is ready to hit back harder. Despite Maranzano’s counsel of patience, Nucky, feeling “impetuous,” moves on his own, kidnapping Bugsy Seigel (Michael Zegan). When Luciano responds by grabbing Will Thompson (Ben Rosenfield) off the street, the stage is set for the showdown we’ve been expecting all season.

Given the strong fatalistic streak running through Nucky this season, I was prepared for the worst once the two gangs squared off on a deserted highway in the middle of the night in order to exchange hostages. So was Luciano. After a botched handoff gives Luciano the upper hand, not even Nucky’s full concession of Atlantic City and Bacardi can persuade Luciano not to kill him. It’s only after Nucky throws in the sweetener of killing Maranzano that Lansky, realizing the value of Nucky’s offering, steps in to spare his life.

[Just another deal with another devil...]

Oct 20 2014 10:15am

“If You Can Take It, You Can Make It”: Trailer for Unbroken

Unbroken is the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olypmic runner for the United States who would later be taken prisoner by the Japanese army during World War II.

Directed by Angelina Jolie, and written by Joel and Ethan Coen, Unbroken will premiere Christmas Day with lofty expectations of leaving its mark at the Academy Awards. Lead actor Jack O'Connell (Skins) looks likely to join Best Lead Actor discussions along with other would-be first-time nominees Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), and Steve Carrell (Foxcatcher).

Are you excited for Unbroken? Do you think it has Oscar postential?

Oct 19 2014 12:00pm

Laughter in the Dark: Nabokov’s Original Femme Fatale

“Once upon a time there lived in Berlin, Germany, a man called Albinus. He was rich, respectable, happy; one day he abandoned his wife for the sake of a youthful mistress; he loved; was not loved; and his life ended in disaster.”

That succinct paragraph opens Laughter in the Dark before Vladimir Nabokov dutifully unfolds the spiraling downward fall of middle-aged art critic Albert Albinus and his gripping obsession with the 16-year-old Margot Peters. The novel was first published in Russian in 1932 under the far more captivating title Camera Obscura, and twenty-three years later Nabokov would tackle a similar theme of an older man with a young girl in the groundbreaking Lolita. But, whereas the famed nymphet of the 1950s gains a certain amount of pity for her situation, Margot comes across for what she is: a spoiled, conniving, and ultimately quite cruel femme fatale.

An adulterous affair requires no other impetus than old fashion lust but Nabokov provides Albinus with two main ‘reasons’ for his travelling eye. His wife, Elisabeth, can be a bit dull between the sheets, or, in his own words, “she failed to give him the thrill for which he had grown weary with longing.”  He also finds her rather boring in conversation and doesn’t particularly appreciate her input when company is present. He admits he married the docile Elisabeth “because it just happened so.” Albinus spots the young Margot who, unbeknownst to him, has survived financially as a nude model, been ‘taken care’ of by an older woman who discreetly pimped her ‘innocence’, and finally turned to a life of prostitution for room and board. Still desperate and wondering if she would have to sell her furniture, she takes an ordinary job at a local movie theater that is routinely attended by Albinus.

[She may be unlucky, but she's not stupid...]

Oct 17 2014 11:00pm

Checking into The Knick 1.10: Season Finale “Crutchfield”

Season 1 of The Knick wrapped up with its finale, “Crutchfield,” where many of the characters attempted to resolve their ongoing problems by opting for a quick fix. Like the get-rich-quick schemes spammed throughout all comments sections online, sometimes it’s obvious that the quick choice isn’t the best option. But this wasn’t obvious for our characters in The Knick. Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) refuses to let the popular Dr. Levi Zinberg (Michael Nathanson) one-up him. Cornelia (Juliet Rylance) believes she has been backed into a corner. Dr. Gallinger (Eric Johnson) is blindsided by the severity of his wife’s condition. And Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) looks to finally erase his ever-rising debt.

[This sounds ominous…]

Oct 18 2014 12:00pm

Horrific Hijinks: When Abbott and Costello Met Frankenstein

It was recess in St. Mary’s schoolyard. A handful of us boys, all eleven-ish, were discussing the merits of an old film recently re-broadcast on TV. The discussion soon took on the form of a confession, a mutual one, albeit different than the kind we were expected to make in the confines of the church confession booth. The film: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. The confession: the fact that, despite the movie being a comedy, it still scared the shenanigans out of us (or words to that effect.) One after another of us came clean; each admission delivered in a semi-hushed tone like you might expect to hear in the confessional. Maybe we were afraid that one of our girl classmates would wander by and learn of our collective unmanliness.

Well, I’m now many years—many years—beyond my schoolboy days. I can finally raise my voice without shame to declare that, yes, numerous shenanigans were scared out of me when I first saw that movie. And that’s the beauty of it. Having recently re-watched the 1948 classic, I can testify that it still offers a lovely blend of chills and chortles. (Forgive me, Father, for I have alliterated.)


Oct 17 2014 3:30pm

How to Get Away with Murder 1.04: “Let’s Get to Scooping”

“We get to be spies!”

That’s Asher (Matt McGorry), the student whose only characterization so far has been ‘douchebag,’ finally showing his geeky side over a case in which the five law students get to snoop around a workplace. McGorry’s baby-face has been telling me that he’s actually the loveable douchebag of the cast, but this is the first time I’ve heard the dialogue support it.

And I’m glad he got that line in, because there wasn’t much time for any more substantial characterization. Once again, the episode was ripping at the seams with plot. But now that we’re getting into the season, the season-long threads are taking it slow – we only see Rebecca (Katie Findlay) and her murder charge at the beginning and end, for instance, though she is softening up to Wes (Alfred Enoch).

Instead, the case of the week is pushed to the front. The arrogant Marren Trudeau (Elizabeth Perkins), founder of her own brokerage firm, is being framed by an employee for insider trading, and, naturally, there’s a twist. Keating (Viola Davis) and company need to stop the case before it goes to trial. Luckily, they’re all just as stunningly competent outside the courtroom as inside. They all grill employees, Conner (Jack Falahee) seduces an assistant (I had no idea so much could be accomplished in the legal world through gay sex), there’s a suicide that gets glossed over after a minute, and they catch the criminals.

[All in all, pretty standard day...]

Oct 17 2014 12:30pm

American Horror Story: Freak Show 4.03: “Massacres and Matinees”

One of the things I love most about Freak Show so far is the inclusion of actual people as the “freaks.”Sure, you have your effects makeup and your digital editing, but it’s refreshing to see the producers using entertainers like Mat Fraser (as Paul the Illustrated Seal), Rose Siggins (as Legless Suzi), and Jyoti Amge (as Ma Petite) for cast roles. I think it adds the genuine edge this season is looking for, the line between what is considered “normal”and what is deemed “unnatural.”

The opening scene felt like an homage to the movie Freaks, with everyone chanting Jimmy’s (Evan Peters) praises. Jimmy, of course, might need a course in anger management. I know your first murder can be stressful. Hang in there. Jimmy seems to be the motivating factor for the other performers; he’s desperate to prove himself worthy of respect (maybe don’t kill anyone else, then?) In his eyes, the freaks are “no better, no worse; just regular people.”

I like Jimmy. He’s a standup guy. This week’s diner scene struck me as one of the most powerful of all four seasons of American Horror Story. The horror in this case stems from it being the most real and accurate representation of how “normal”people treat “others.”It hurts to watch and it hurts more to know that on some level, we’re all guilty of assuming the worst about someone based on their looks.

[But in this show, the bizarre is more than skin-deep...]

Oct 17 2014 9:30am

The Bahia Emerald: 6 Years in Court, 840 Pounds, Almost 400 Million Dollars

The long-disputed ownership of the enormous Bahia Emerald may soon be simplified, as at least one claimant recently lost his legal bid. Ever since its discovery in Brazil in 2001, there have been strange, almost mythical, stories attached to the emerald, and genuine wrangling over the rights to the cluster of gem crystals, estimated to be worth almost 400 million dollars. According to the Telegraph:

The Bahia is one of the world's largest emeralds with about 180,000 carats and stands about three feet tall...

It was later said to have been stored at a warehouse in New Orleans that was flooded during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and then stolen from another warehouse in the Los Angeles suburb of El Monte. It was sighted briefly in Idaho before authorities finally seized it in Las Vegas in 2008.

The gem is now being held in storage by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department until the case is resolved.

If it's hard to get your head around how huge that really is, imagine something that weighs as much as a water buffalo on the evidence table.

Emerald image via National Geographic, Buffalo via Bajiroo.

Oct 16 2014 4:30pm

Vasiliy Fet Speaks: Kevin Durand on Working in Genre and The Strain

He may not be a household name but chances are you’ve seen his face before—especially if you’re a fan of horror or sci-fi. Kevin Durand has made a career out of being “that guy”: the hulking villain, the brawny sidekick, the hired muscle, the badass with a gun.

For many, he’ll probably always be Martin Keamy, one of the many memorable baddies on Lost.

“I thought it was going to be one episode, and I thought, ‘Well, it would just be nice to go to Hawaii.’ I went out there and we all kind of fell in love. I loved what they were writing, they loved what I was doing,” Durand says of that role.

It’s a good thing he impressed producer Carlton Cuse so much on Lost, seeing as how that led to his current work on The Strain. If not for Keamy, we probably wouldn’t have Durand as the enigmatic exterminator-turned-hero Vasiliy Fet.

[It was meant to be...]

Oct 16 2014 1:00pm

The Historical Villain: A Whodunnit in One Dimension

The golden age of the fictional villain—twirling his moustache, laughing Frenchly, tying women to train tracks—was the 19th century. In that innocent age, you could actually spook readers with a one-dimensional madman; you didn’t have to bother much with a motivation (unless it was money). But then the modern era came along and started producing real villains with such terrifying efficiency, villains beyond anything we could have imagined or would wish to exist in the world, that crime novelists were forced to respond.

What was a crime really for? What made a person do evil things? Money was still an answer, but there were others, too. Love—passion—the sick, logical, bureaucratic madness of the age. The villains of the hard-boiled genre that emerged in the 1930s and 1940s, in books by Raymond Chandler, Chester Himes, Dashiell Hammett, often combined those reasons, a whole host of contemporary reasons in service of a larger feeling of meaninglessness.

[Villains have feelings too!]

Oct 16 2014 8:45am

Madly in Love: Edgar Allan Poe Short Story Adapted for Film

If you're a rabid Edgar Allan Poe enthusiast, like many of us are—especially around Halloween—then you might want to add Stonehearst Asylum to your list of movies to see this month. The movie, out Friday, is an adaptation of Poe's “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether,” in which a young man becomes enchanted by a colleague when he visits an insane asylum, only to find out that she—and all the other “staff” are actually its former patients.

Will you be seeing this adaptation in theaters, waiting for it to come out on DVD, or skipping it altogether?

Oct 15 2014 3:30pm

The 13th Annual Mothman Festival: A Focus on the Unexplained and Mystifying

My phone didn’t have a single bar of reception.

Logic said this was because my phone was notoriously unreliable and the forested hills were blocking any nearby towers.

But when you’re walking into Point Pleasant, West Virginia for The Mothman Festival and come face to face with the giant gleaming statue of the red-eyed beast himself, cold logic can go hang.

The weekend was all about the unexplained and the mystifying; the cold tingle across your neck when you hear a noise in the middle of the night; the belief that there are some things hard science will never be able to fully disprove.

Given some of the wild theories being bandied about, blaming faulty cell phone reception on a monster wasn’t all that strange.

[I'll give you strange...]

Oct 15 2014 12:30pm

God and the Gangster: How Billy Graham Tried to Save Mickey Cohen

Publicity makes for strange bedfellows. So does crime. So does religion, for that matter. Add publicity, crime, and religion together, and you get the fascinating story of how the Reverend Billy Graham set out to save the soul of the most notorious gangster in the history of Los Angeles: crime lord Mickey Cohen.

Billy Graham wasn’t the first dynamic man of god to gain a widespread following in the 20th century—he was preceded by the immensely popular outfielder-turned-preacher Billy Sunday and the notorious J. Frank Norris, among others—but with his huge public rallies in the late forties, Graham became the first superstar preacher to break into the national consciousness in a sustained way. Originally from North Carolina, he began as a Southern Baptist evangelist in the Youth For Christ organization, and though he lacked much in the way of formal training, he possessed a powerful stage presence and an instinct for showmanship. In 1949, he arranged several outdoor revival meetings in Los Angeles. These weren’t the first rallies Graham had ever held, but they were hyped by the newspaper machine of William Randolph Hearst. (Hearst had a soft spot for flamboyant religious types and had previously promoted both Billy Sunday and the Christian Scientist Mary Baker Eddy.) Thousands of people flocked to the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Hill Street to hear Graham’s sermons at an enormous pavilion made up of two interlocking circus tents called “The Canvas Cathedral.”

[But how does this connect to Mickey Cohen?]

Oct 15 2014 8:45am

Naked Couple Helps Police Bust Meth Dealer

An alleged meth dealer was arrested after police responded to reports of a couple of naked people running around causing an uproar in Trinity, Texas.

At 6AM the Trinity Sheriff's office received a phone call regarding a naked woman who was banging on a resident's door. Responding deputies were not able find anyone when they arrived at the scene.

However, an hour later a second call was received and the deputies began yet another search. This time, authorities discovered a naked woman perched high in a tree. Deputies were able to talk the woman down and clothed her.

During this time, a third call was received, but this one was a report of a naked man knocking on doors. Thankfully police quickly located the man nearby.

During the interviews, the intoxicated couple told police they did not have a name of their meth dealer, but had been texting a number in an effort to locate him. Sheriff Woody Wallace then set up a buy bust through the phone at the naked couple's home.

At about 2 p.m., Jacob Walker, 42, of Trinity, showed up with the meth and was arrested and booked into the Trinity County Jail on $20,000 bond.

The naked duo was not charged after cooperating with officials.