Review: <i>Bad Boy Boogie</i> by Thomas Pluck Review: Bad Boy Boogie by Thomas Pluck Neliza Drew Read Neliza Drew's review! <i>Conviction</i>: New Excerpt Conviction: New Excerpt Julia Dahl The 3rd book in the Rebekah Roberts series. Review: <i>Lola</i> by Melissa Scrivner Love Review: Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love Ardi Alspach Read Ardi Alspach's review! The Dark Tower: <i>The Wind Through the Keyhole</i> Part II The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole Part II David Cranmer Join the discussion!
From The Blog
March 21, 2017
Q&A with Gretchen Archer, Author of Double Up
Crime HQ and Gretchen Archer
March 17, 2017
Passionate About Pulp: A Conan Double-Feature (Is What Is Best in Life)
Angie Barry
March 16, 2017
Research Ride-Along
kristen lepionka
March 16, 2017
Q&A with Lyndsay Faye, Author of The Whole Art of Detection
Lyndsay Faye and Ardi Alspach
March 14, 2017
Mathematical Mysteries, Sci-Fi, and Thrillers
David Cranmer
Mar 17 2017 11:00am

Tight Pants Leads to Major Coke Bust

This week's Perp Derp enjoys wearing tight pants when he travels. I tend to sway more towards comfort, but I'm not trying to smuggle 10 pounds of coke either.

According to CBS, Juan Carlos Galan Luperon, an American citizen, landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport from the Dominican Republic sporting extremely tight clothes and acting particularly nervous. His flair for fashion, bulging legs, and suspicious demeanor caught the eyes of many people at the airport, especially the customs officers. 

Luperon was pulled aside and brought to a private screening room for questioning. This is when officers found a whopping $164,000 worth of cocaine strapped to his legs. 

Luperon was arrested on federal narcotics smuggling charges. I am pretty sure the fashion police gave him a few citations, too.

Mar 17 2017 10:00am

A Twist of the Knife: New Excerpt

Becky Masterman

A Twist of the Knife by Becky Masterman A Twist of the Knife by Becky Masterman is the 3rd book in the Brigid Quinn series (available March 21, 2017).

Ex-FBI agent Brigid Quinn, now happily settled in Tucson, doesn’t visit her family in Florida much. But her former partner on the force, Laura Coleman—a woman whose life she has saved and who has saved her life in turn—is living there now. So when Laura calls about a case that is not going well, Brigid doesn’t hesitate to get on a plane.

On leave from the Bureau, Laura has been volunteering for a legal group trying to prove the innocence of a man who is on death row for killing his family. Laura is firmly convinced that he didn’t do it, while Brigid isn’t so sure—but the date for his execution is coming up so quickly that they’ll have to act fast to find any evidence that may absolve him before it’s too late…

[Read an excerpt from A Twist of the Knife...]

Mar 16 2017 4:30pm

How We Compiled The New York Times Book of Crime

I’ve had a good amount of exposure to crime as a journalist, which influenced how I approached a task like editing The New York Times Book of Crime. But, of course, like all of us, my first responses to crime were crafted much earlier as a kid growing up in the Bronx.

I grew up in a section known as Riverdale, where the streets were leafy, and it was very safe—even in the ’60s and ’70s when New York City was more dangerous than it is today. So what I knew of crime as a kid didn’t come from walking any particularly mean streets. It came from reading the newspaper.

[Ripped from the headlines!]

Mar 16 2017 3:00pm

Research Ride-Along

Research is possibly my favorite part of the writing process. It delays the hard part—the writing words part—indefinitely. (Note to editor: that is a joke.) But also, I want to get it right, especially when it comes to police work.

We’ve all encountered stories where the police work is glossed over so heavily it’s distracting, like on one of those TV detective squads with a giant, wall-sized computer screen that solves their cases for them—The Crime-O-Matic, I call this—or far-fetched gaps in procedure or plausibility that distract from the plot. Creative license is good, and necessary, but realistic details are essential for fully developed characters, settings, and situations.

That’s what led me to the Columbus Police’s Civilian Ride-Along Program. I’d already Googled my heart out regarding police procedure, and now I just wanted to see how it worked, hear how cops talked to each other. You can’t exactly Google, “What does a squad room smell like?” or “Does the ladies’ room of the police impound lot have toilet paper?” But, I can answer both of those after my experience. (Answers, respectively: pizza and coffee; no.)

[Read more about her Kristen Lepionka's police ride-along...]

Mar 16 2017 1:00pm

Q&A with Lyndsay Faye, Author of The Whole Art of Detection

Lyndsay Faye is the author of five critically acclaimed books: Dust and Shadow, about Sherlock Holmes’s attempt to hunt down Jack the Ripper; The Gods of Gotham, which was nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel; Seven for a Secret; The Fatal Flame; and Jane Steele. Her latest work is a collection of short stories called The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, out this month.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Mar 16 2017 12:00pm

Review: The Return by Joseph Helmreich

The Return: A Novel by Joseph HelmreichThe Return by Joseph Helmreich will appeal to anyone who has ever wondered ... what’s out there?

What begins as an astrological fluff piece for a local news station—a lunar eclipse on the winter solstice—becomes an international sensation when renowned physicist Andrew Leland is pulled into the sky by a strange green light. It’s the first proof of intelligent extraterrestrial life and the first alien kidnapping to be televised. 

Fast-forward a few years later: the world gets an influx of alien invasion films, students change majors to focus on science, and then Andrew Leland reappears in a New Mexico desert—emaciated, bearded, and apparently with no memory of what happened to him. He disappears soon afterward. 

Except Shawn Ferris, brilliant physics student at Brown University, believes that Leland does remember his experiences and needs to share his story with the world. Via online chat groups, Shawn finds the answer he’s looking for: the address where Leland supposedly lives. But when Shawn arrives to speak to his idol, he finds more than he bargained for. 

[Read Jenny Maloney's review of The Return...]

Mar 16 2017 10:00am

Last Don Standing: The Secret Life of Mob Boss Ralph Natale: New Excerpt

Larry McShane and Dan Pearson

Last Don Standing: The Secret Life of Mob Boss Ralph Natale by Larry McShane and Dan Pearson uncovers the deadly reign of the last great mob boss of Philadelphia, a tale that covers a half-century of mob lore—and gore (available March 21, 2017).

As the last Don of the Philadelphia mob, Ralph Natale, the first-ever mob boss to turn state’s evidence, provides an insider’s perspective on the mafia.

Natale’s reign atop the Philadelphia and New Jersey underworlds brought the region’s mafia back to prominence in the 1990s. Smart, savvy, and articulate, Natale came up in the mob and saw first-hand as it hatched its plan to control Atlantic City’s casino unions. Later on, after spending 16 years in prison, he reclaimed the family as his own after a bloody mob war that left bodies scattered across South Philly. He forged connections around the country, invigorated the family with more allies than it had in two decades, and achieved a status within the mob never seen before or since until he was betrayed by his men and decided to testify against them in a stunning turn of events.

Using dozens of hours of interviews with Natale along with research and interviews with FBI agents, this book delivers revelatory insights into seminal events in American mob history, including:

- The truth about Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance
- The murder of Jewish mob icon Bugsy Siegel
- The identity of the man who created modern-day Las Vegas

[Read an excerpt from Last Don Standing...]

Mar 15 2017 5:00pm

Cozy Bookshelf Shopping List: April, 2017

Discover (or remember to order) your next cozy with a delightfully convenient shopping list of upcoming soft-boiled mysteries! Last month, we welcomed in spring (or we thought we would ... ahem, snow storm) with March's releases; this month, we're hoping for warmer weather with April releases! Let us know in the comments how you like it and what you can't wait to read next!

Like this shopping list? Sign up for our weekly newsletter to stay in touch with all our cozy content!

[Let's get to the goodies!]

Mar 15 2017 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: Roux the Day by Linda Wiken

The 1st book in the Dinner Club Mystery series, Toasting Up Trouble, introduced us to Linda Wiken’s excellent palate. The follow up, Roux The Day, continues to serve up exquisite recipes, this time from a very thematically appropriate source.

Beth Brickner, one of the members of the Culinary Capers cookbook club to which our heroine J.J. Tanner belongs, has chosen The Mystery Writers Of America Cookbook for their monthly dinner. She also urges the members to read a novel by the author of their chosen recipe in addition to preparing their dishes.

[Recipe and pictures included!]

Mar 15 2017 4:00pm

If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio: A Visual Guide

GIFnotes: Giving you the basic plot summary of an upcoming book with the help of the Graphics Interchange Format.

Intelligent, thrilling, and richly detailed, If We Were Villains is a captivating story of the enduring power and passion of words. Take a visual tour of M. L. Rio's debut with GIFnotes!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Mar 15 2017 1:00pm

Review: The Will to Kill by Max Allan Collins and Mickey Spillane

The Will to Kill is the latest Mike Hammer novel, originally started by the now-deceased Mickey Spillane and finished by the deft hand of Max Allan Collins. 

Mike Hammer predates James Bond and was a contemporary of Phillip Marlowe. Let that history sink in, and then celebrate that we have a brand-new Hammer novel.

Typically, I’d say it’s not a cause to rejoice, because Spillane died in 2006, and, hell, what would Mike Hammer be up to these days at an age of about one hundred years old? If he was lucky enough, probably solving the case of the missing dentures from the retirement home. But, in the event you are not aware, here’s the drill: when Spillane died, he had a bunch of Hammer manuscripts in varying degrees of completion and instructed his wife to pass them to his padawan learner, Max Allan Collins to complete. So, in a nutshell, this new non-Spillane novel isn’t an estate trying to cash in—as so many do—instead, it’s Collins finishing off the Hammer legacy that Spillane started with I, the Jury in 1947.

In M.A.C.’s opening co-author’s note, he estimates that this latest adventure (of which Spillane wrote roughly thirty pages) takes place in 1965, so our hero is a little older but still battle ready.

[Read David Cranmer's review of The Will to Kill...]

Mar 15 2017 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: March 14, 2017

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!

This week, Tessa Arlen released a new Lady Montfort historical mystery, and Christobel Kent published a gripping new psychological thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat—and perhaps questioning your spouse a bit more than usual. See what else this week brings in the way of books:

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

Mar 15 2017 11:00am

Review: Murder at the Fortune Teller’s Table by Janet Finsilver

A Murder at the Fortune Teller's Table by Janet Finsilver is the 3rd book in the Kelly Jackson Mystery series.

“First you drink the coffee,” Auntie said. “ ... You must drink from the same side of the cup for the entire process and leave a little in the bottom. With your last sip, make a wish.”

I drank some more, then put the cup down with thoughts for a positive future. “Okay. There's just a little left.”

“Now put the saucer on it upside-down, swirl it three times, and flip it over.”

I did as instructed and managed to keep everything together when I upended it.

“Now it must rest for a short while.” Her voice was a broken whisper, and I leaned forward to catch her words. “The grounds need to flow into their shapes.”

She folded her hands and stared at the cup. After what seemed an eternity, Auntie carefully separated the cup and saucer. “The patterns—they tell of your past, present, and future...”

In the 3rd Kelly Jackson mystery from Janet Finsilver, the curious B&B manager finds herself embroiled in a double murder-by-poison, a convoluted family drama fifty years in the making—and a frightening encounter with some dangerous topiary.

Yes, really.

[Read Angie Barry's review of Murder at the Fortune Teller's Table...]

Mar 15 2017 10:00am

Bad Boy Boogie: New Excerpt

Thomas Pluck

Bad Boy Boogie by Thomas Pluck is the 1st book in the new Jay Desmarteaux Crime Thriller series (available March 20, 2017).

Read an excerpt from Bad Boy Boogie, then make sure to sign in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of the 1st Jay Desmarteaux Crime Thriller!

When Jay Desmarteaux steps out of from prison after serving twenty-five years for murdering a vicious school bully, he tries to follow his convict mentor’s advice: the best revenge is living well.

But questions gnaw at his gut: Where have his folks disappeared to? Why do old friends want him gone? And who wants him dead?

Teaming with his high school sweetheart turned legal Valkyrie, a hulking body shop bodybuilder, and a razor-wielding gentleman’s club house mother, Jay will unravel a tangle of deception all the way back to the bayous where he was born. With an iron-fisted police chief on his tail and a ruthless mob captain at his throat, he’ll need his wits, his fists, and his father’s trusty Vietnam war hatchet to hack his way through a toxic jungle of New Jersey corruption that makes the gator-filled swamps of home feel like the shallow end of the kiddie pool.

[Read an excerpt from Bad Boy Boogie...]

Mar 14 2017 5:00pm

Which Mathematical Thriller Is Your Favorite?

March 14th (3.14) is Pi Day! For the last two years, David Cranmer has introduced us to several exciting mathematical thrillers with “Movies + Math = A Beautiful Formula” and “Mathematical Mysteries, Sci-Fi, and Thrillers.” With so many great mathematical movies out there, which one put together the right equation for YOU? 

[Vote for your favorite mathematical thriller below...]

Mar 14 2017 4:00pm

Mathematical Mysteries, Sci-Fi, and Thrillers

Math and science enthusiasts come together with the mystery/thriller genres to make arithmetic artistry. Following up on a previous post, Movies + Math = A Beautiful Formula, here are five more scintillating titles to add to your viewing list.

[See what you should add to your watch list...]

Mar 14 2017 2:00pm

Skeleton God as a Movie

Read Eliot Pattison's exclusive guest post about the illuminating process of adapting one of his novels for film, and then make sure to sign in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of the 9th Inspector Shan Tao Yun novel, Skeleton God!

Great pleasures always await me when I commence the year-long process of creating a new Inspector Shan story. The amazing melange of history, politics, culture, and religion in Shan’s world offer many rich ingredients to stir together for a new take on his life. Even when I finish one of his tales, those complex elements still elicit a surprising range of reactions and interpretations from readers.

A few years ago, two friends each offered suggestions for scripting a movie based on one of my novels. When I saw how remarkably different their approaches were, I began to realize that extrapolating my books into movie projects could be an enlightening exercise that might help me understand how various elements resonate differently with different observers. I was reminded of Martin Scorsese’s observation that “Movies touch our hearts and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things.” A good movie, like a good novel, should be truer than life itself—but it can awaken many personal versions of such truths. 

[Who would you cast in an Inspector Shan movie?]

Mar 14 2017 1:00pm

Review: The Devil’s Triangle by Catherine Coulter and J. T. Ellison

The Devil's Triangle by Catherine Coulter and J. T. Ellison is a highly anticipated thriller in their Brit in the FBI series, featuring special agents Nicholas Drummond and Michaela Caine in their new roles as heads of the Covert Eyes team.

Catherine Coulter’s A Brit in the FBI series would make a perfect Tom Hanks-style Da Vinci Code vehicle. The Devil's Triangle is the 4th in the series, and—as in Dan Brown’s stories—the ancient world extends its tentacles into modern day, and Biblical knowledge is as important as crack surveillance skills to win against the enemy.  

An idiom that never loses its sting: “It takes a thief to catch a chief.” So when master-thief Kitsune feels a frisson of worry on her way to make a delivery in Venice, it’s an instinct to be taken seriously. For the princely sum of five million Euros, Kitsune—aka The Fox—agreed to steal the staff of Moses from the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul. Of course, Kitsune was successful, so why, on her way to Venice to make the delivery, does she feel worried?

[Read Janet Webb's review of The Devil's Triangle...]

Mar 14 2017 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole Part I

Last week, we ended Wizard and Glass in a makeshift Emerald City before Maerlyn's Rainbow trainsported them back onto The Path of the Beam. This week, we begin The Wind Through the Keyhole with a major storm and the beginning of another of Roland's stories! 

In Wizard and Glass, we discovered that Roland had accidentally killed his mother and returned a crystal ball from Maerlyn’s Rainbow to his father. His newest ka-tet—Jake, Susannah, Eddie, and Oy—are following The Path of the Beam when they encounter Marten, now calling himself Randall Flagg, in a twisted version of Emerald City. Roland just misses killing Flagg but managed to gun down Andrew Quick, aka Tick-Tock Man, who was working for Flagg.

The Wind Through The Keyhole was written to chronologically follow Wizard and Glass even though it was released in 2012, long after the 7th novel, The Dark Tower (2004). For that reason, we have decided to continue Roland’s adventures in sequential order since Stephen King calls it The Dark Tower 4.5.

Come join us … before the world moves on.

*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!

This is a shorter book with only five sections, so the plan is to split the book into three parts (about 100 pages each) and meet here at our usual time (Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET) to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This week, we begin The Wind Through the Keyhole with a major storm and the beginning of another of Roland's stories. Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part I of The Wind Through the Keyhole: Starkblast – The Skin-Man (Part 1)!

CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread

[There's a starkblast coming...]

Mar 14 2017 11:00am

“Guru Bones”: New Excerpt

Carolyn Haines

“Guru Bones” by Carolyn Haines is a Sarah Booth Delaney short mystery.

Southern-belle-turned-PI Sarah Booth Delaney is unenthusiastic at best when her friends rope her into attending a health food and lifestyle seminar. Priya Karsan, an internationally known activist, is in Zinnia for a lecture. But the lecture takes a turn for the deadly when there's a body discovered in the venue's kitchen. As Sarah Booth and her partner at the Delaney Detective Agency, Tinkie Richmond, tackle the case, Sarah Booth quickly realizes there's a lot more to Priya and her activism than meets the eye.


“Dah-link! You must come with Tinkie and me! We’ll get the toxins pulled from our bodies through a cleansing ritual on the soles of our feet. I’m told it’s better than sex, and you know how good that is! And we’ll have massages and facials. Maybe even a bikini wax. I’ve signed up for tantric sex classes as a Christmas present to Jaytee and myself.”

[Read the full excerpt from Guru Bones...]