TBR Confessions: Jungle Warfare, Nazi Rebellion, and Killer Clowns TBR Confessions: Jungle Warfare, Nazi Rebellion, and Killer Clowns Joe Brosnan War and clowns. What could go wrong? TBR Confessions: Fat Bob, Foxgloves, and Deadly Ghosts TBR Confessions: Fat Bob, Foxgloves, and Deadly Ghosts Clare Toohey Welcome to our absurdly towering To Be Read piles--timber...! <i>Black Cat Crossing</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Black Cat Crossing: Exclusive Excerpt Kay Finch This debut cozy introduces Hitchcock the Bad Luck Cat! <i>Mr. Smith Goes to Prison</i>: New Excerpt Mr. Smith Goes to Prison: New Excerpt Jeff Smith A man can learn a lot when he's behind bars.
From The Blog
August 26, 2015
From Page to Screen with Night and the City
Brian Greene
August 25, 2015
The ZINNG: Bank Heists and a Pit of Despair
Crime HQ
August 24, 2015
The ZINNG: Lolita and Victor Frankenstein
Crime HQ
August 21, 2015
The ZINNG: Cocoa and Improbable Weapons
Crime HQ
August 19, 2015
Drunk Man Lets 10-Year-Old Son Drive Home
Teddy Pierson
Aug 19 2015 11:30am

Last Ragged Breath: New Excerpt

Julia Keller

Last Ragged Breath by Julia Keller is the 4th mystery in the West Virginia Prosecutor Bell Elkins series (available August 25, 2015).

Royce Dillard doesn't remember much about the day his parents-and one hundred and twenty-three other souls-died in the 1972 Buffalo Creek disaster. He was only two years old when he was ripped from his mother's arms. But now Dillard, who lives off the grid with only a passel of dogs for company, is fighting for his life one more time: He's on trial for murder

Royce's future lies in the hands of Prosecutor Bell Elkins. Will she overcome her toughest case yet?

Chapter One

Goldie was a six-year-old shepherd-retriever mix with a thick yellow coat that had inspired her name, a riotous tail, and chocolate-brown eyes that suggested profound depths of mysterious wisdom. At present that wisdom had coalesced into a conviction that something smelled mighty good—that is, powerful and unusual—somewhere along the slanting bank of Old Man’s Creek. Wet black nose plowing a shallow trench across the rugged terrain, body balanced expertly to accommodate the steep grade, Goldie rammed forward along the upper brow of the creek bank, sniffing and quivering. The smell, as it intensified, became even more intoxicating. It was like a string pulling her along, winding itself tight on a bobbin at the other end. Everything else dropped out of Goldie’s thoughts.

[Continue reading Last Ragged Breath by Julia Keller!]

Aug 19 2015 8:45am

Drunk Man Lets 10-Year-Old Son Drive Home

Police in Stillwater, New York arrested a man after he allegedly allowed his 10-year-old son to drive him home because he was too drunk to drive.

According to Yahoo! news, someone alerted the police that the child was driving on Route 9P in Stillwater, New York. Police say they were able to stop the truck and found the child in the driver's seat with John Barling, 46, drunk in the passenger's seat.

Barling was charged with permitting unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and endangering the welfare of a child.

Aug 18 2015 4:30pm

Fresh Meat: Hangman’s Game by Bill Syken

Hangman's Game by Bill Syken is the debut mystery in the Nick Gallow series about a professional fooball player who gets caught up in a murder investigation after witnessing a teammate's gruesome death (available August 18, 2015).

Until recently, football had always been a six-month sport, using Labor Day and Groundhog Day as approximate bookends, but now, the sport is a self-sustaining, year-long event. Between the Combine, Free Agency, Draft Weekend, Minicamp, Training Camp, and (unfortunately) Deflategate, a football story almost always begins Sportscenter. Despite the winds of negativity that seem to always be swirling right outside the NFL’s door, the sport continues to add floor after floor to its ever-growing skyscraper of sporting domination.

Bill Syken is familiar with this skyscraper, and in fact, he’s probably ridden the elevator a few times. Syken, a staff writer and editor at Sports Illustrated for eight years, puts his premier knowledge of the sport to good use in Hangman’s Game, his debut novel.

[Hut, hut, hike!]

Aug 18 2015 12:00pm

Now Win This!: Dark Nights, Dark Dreams Sweepstakes

Caution all ye who enter here, for these nine titles should be warning enough: nightmares await!

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 August 18, 2015, at 12:00 pm ET, and ends September 1, 2015, 11:59 am ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[You're getting sleepy...]

Aug 17 2015 11:45pm

Hannibal 3.11: “And the Beast From the Sea”


In Hannibal's 3.11 “And the Beast From the Sea,” Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) discovers his best crime-stopping asset is the durability of his masochism. For a moment, I thought he'd really blame Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) in some way that cost more than blunt words, but he seems resigned to being used this way, at least as long as the full moon and the Tooth Fairy loom. We also finally get to see Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) strapped onto the hand truck and in the iconic mask—admit it, you've waited almost 3 whole seasons for it. Yay!

When Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage) gets one of his telephone therapy sessions, he expresses perturbation in the way he and The Great Red Dragon he's destined to become are diverging in their aims since his relationship with The Woman, Reba McClane (Rutina Wesley). Dolarhyde's also fascinated by his newfound ability to be turned on by sex with a partner who's alive. Hannibal, pot-stirrer that he is, says Dolarhyde shouldn't worry about losing Reba by sacrificing her to TGRD, because Dolarhyde can have her as long as he wants, even risk loving her, if he gets a scapegoat. Why, that fuzzy-faced, pointed-chin Will Graham has a family. Baaah. Hannibal's favorite spectator sport is manipulating humans into choosing whether they're predators or prey, and then setting up situations where they'll have to act upon it.

The reconstituted Scooby team of Jack, Will, and Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) frankly discuss the feasibility of getting the conflicted Tooth Fairy to kill himself, certainly before he can eat any more irreplaceable art. Well, perhaps they could manage that were they even half as cordially ruthless as Hannibal, or had they devoted the time he has to making it a specialty.

Pounding surf beneath the waxing moon and the sight of Dolarhyde carving the dragon into a tree reminds us the time is nigh.

[He's late, he's late, for a very important date...]

Aug 17 2015 1:30pm

Cozy Bookshelf Shopping List: September, 2015

Discover (or remember to order) your next cozy with a delightfully convenient shopping list of upcoming soft-boiled mysteries! We kept rolling off last month with August's releases, and now we're setting our sights on September! Let us know in the comments how you like it and what you can't wait to read next!

Criminal Element's September 2015 Cozy Bookshelf Shopping List!

[Let's get to the goodies!]

Aug 17 2015 10:30am

Show Me a Hero: Parts 1 and 2

“Show me a hero, and I’ll give you a tragedy.”

The Wire changed television and remains one of the greatest stories about life in an American city ever created. So, no pressure, David Simon, as we follow you to another embattled burg: Yonkers in 1987. Instead of the effects of the Drug War, this time the story concentrates on a less explored topic, but one that is still contentious today: affordable and low-income housing, or the court-ordered act of northern desegregation.

The series is directed by Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby, Casino Royale) who is quite adept at following multiple storylines, David Simon’s writing forte, and keeping us interested without becoming confused. We’re introduced to a lot of people very quickly, and their names aren’t lingered upon, but their stories are concrete and familiar, so we have a cohesive mosaic of lives that make sense as the camera slowly pans back as the episodes go on.

Culturally we tend to think of racism as a Southern affliction, but nothing can be further from the truth; redlining, blockbusting, and fights over school bussing and affordable housing are a country-wide phenomena, but the story of Yonkers is especially tragic and makes for a riveting story, despite the subject matter. What’s this doing on a crime blog? Watch the show, and find out.

[Yes, that's the judge's order...]

Aug 17 2015 9:15am

Sorry, Yogi, That Door’s for Cat Burglars

An Idaho man's home has been repeatedly raided by thieving bears, and a cub even tried to sneak in through the cat flap! There are more incredible pictures of the sneak thieves living it up at Douglas Harder's condo at CNN, which reports:

The first visit was in May, when a family of bears climbed up the side of Harder's home and onto his deck. Harder watched from the living room, shooting video as a bear and two cubs polished off birdseed from his feeder...

He thought he was in the clear until this week, when he came home and found his home in disarray. The bear appeared to have entered through his sliding door and got into a bag of flour, brownie mix, a Toblerone bar, and a can of Pepsi. The bear left a pile of poop the size of of Harder's foot in his living room.

Aug 15 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd

A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd is the 7th historical mystery in the Bess Crawford series where an explosion at a gunpowder mill leaves questions in its wake (available August 18, 2015).

Almost a character in itself, the English countryside of Charles Todd’s Bess Crawford series shows again and again how war changes not only on a nation’s populace, but also its very geography. And ultimately, it is the conflict between the new ways and the old, the outside world and the local, that are highlighted in A Pattern of Lies, the seventh book in the series.

With the end of the war almost in sight, a series of coincidences and mishaps lands Bess, a nurse who has spent most of the war at battlefield hospitals in France, not back at her family home where she was hoping to spend her few days leave, but instead in the village of Cranbourne in Kent, accepting the hospitality of Major Mark Ashton, a former patient, and his family.

[Let's get to the bottom of this...]

Aug 16 2015 12:00pm

Night of the Cobra: New Excerpt

Jack Coughlin

Night of the Cobra by Jack Coughlin is the 8th military thriller featuring sniper Kyle Swanson attempting to hunt a rival who's just set his sights on innocent Americans (available August 18, 2015).

Top-ranked sniper Kyle Swanson was a promising young Marine on a dangerous peace-keeping mission in Mogadishu when he first captured “the Cobra” and a life-long blood feud began.

Twenty years later, Kyle works for the CIA while the Cobra emerges from prison to become an efficient killing machine, and has never slackened his hatred for Swanson. To draw out his ultimate target, the Cobra launches a violent campaign against the United States and attacks the second-largest shopping mall in America.

Kyles teams with FBI agent Lucky Sharif, whom Swanson had saved as a child in Somalia, and they must fight through terrorists at home and abroad to stop his old enemy. The Cobra retreats to Somalia, where he is set to become a powerful warlord and leader of the bloody al Shabaab terror gang. To block him, Swanson must return to the daunting streets of Mogadishu-where he must face his personal nightmares, as well as the Cobra, who lies in wait.

[Start reading Night of the Cobra now!]

Aug 14 2015 11:00am

The Monstrous Feminine: Women and Horror, Part 3

“Get away from her, you bitch!” — Ellen Ripley (Aliens)


Being a mom is a full-time, lifetime, really difficult job even in the best of situations. When you throw a mother and her child into a horror scenario, the stakes get infinitely higher. Not all ladies have a strong maternal drive, of course, this writer being one of them. But a lot of us do, and given how society often expects and demands women to take care of children, a mother serves a vital role in horror.

In The Babadook (2014), it's not immediately clear just where the threat lies: within or without. Amelia (Essie Davis) is a single mother wholly focused on her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) after losing her husband in a violent accident. When Sam starts to develop behavioral issues, she takes him out of school and does her best to address the problems before they get worse.

But things take a turn for the frightening when Sam finds a bizarre pop-up book about a creature called “Mister Babadook.” Unexplained events begin happening in the claustrophobic house, which Amelia blames on Sam and Sam blames on the Babadook. After destroying the grotesque book, Amelia discovers glass in her food and Sam is involved in a bad accident at a party. And then she finds the book repaired—freshly edited to include images of herself doing unspeakable things to the dog, her son, and herself. 


Aug 14 2015 8:45am

“Lesson Learned” Submissions Open for the Next 2 Weeks!

The M.O. submissions mailbox is now open for your “Lesson Learned!”

That's themostories - aT- gmail (plus dot and com). We're seeking short, original crime stories of 1000-1500 words around the loose theme of “Lesson Learned.” Two weeks after the mailbox closes, we'll put up a selected shortlist of finalists in the Rogues' Gallery and in our newsletter. We'll ask registered site members to read samples from each, then vote on which story they'd like to read here in its entirety. After we pay for it, of course, the final selection will be posted to read free online.

We'll have the mailbox open for 2 weeks, so don't worry if you haven't begun a story yet. If you write just 72 words a day—less than the word count of the previous paragraph—you'll have one written from scratch by midnight of August 28th!

Entries should be submitted as e-mail attachments in any standard, not-too-fancy document format with author name (and pseudonym, if applicable), story title, and an e-mail contact all within the document itself.

You will receive an automatic reply to let you know your submission was received. If you don't, please check your spam folder and make sure to add our address to your list of approved senders. (If you try again, and still don't get confirmation, please use our Contact Us page, but only for technical problems. No other questions related to The M.O. will be answered there.)

For more details, please check The M.O. Submission Guidelines here. We can't wait to read what malfeasance you're wishing for!

Aug 13 2015 2:30pm

The Monstrous Feminine: Women and Horror, Part 2

“Oh, she was so sexy. She was asking for it.” — Hayley (Hard Candy)


We unfortunately live in a world where it's unsafe to be a woman. Having a casual drink at a bar, dancing at a loud party with friends, even walking a quiet street at night: danger lurks everywhere. Simply being, a woman is reason enough to be constantly vigilant. With the threat of violence and sexual assault everywhere it's no surprise that those themes constantly crop up in horror.

I frequently lament at the abundance of such plot devices, yes, and I'm definitely fed up with the constant abuse heaped on female characters and the preponderance of victim narratives.

But rape culture is a very real, very insidious thing, and given how it permeates the lives of women across the world, it's a topic that needs to be addressed. With horror's willingness to discuss taboos, it's only natural for the genre to regularly address the fears of rape and sexual violence.

[There are certain defenses...]

Aug 13 2015 12:00pm

To Protect and Non-Violently Serve: Rush

Most Western police forces have, broadly speaking, two levels of response for field incidents: whatever the regular patrol officers can provide, and the commandos (aka SWAT). So what happens in a situation that’s too much for the patrol cop to handle but doesn’t warrant calling in SWAT (i.e., potentially shooting someone)?

The Victoria (Australia) Police created a third type of unit to plug this hole: the Critical Incident Response Team. And that’s what the 2008-11 Network Ten series Rush (now available on Hulu) is about. Rush follows the exploits of two three-officer Tactical Response teams (the fictionalized version of CIRT) as they prowl the streets of metro Melbourne and deal with various breeds of offenders – from the merely misguided to the outright villainous – while trying to not kill anybody.

[Let's meet the cast...]

Aug 13 2015 9:00am

Allegiance: New Excerpt

Kermit Roosevelt

Allegiance by Kermit Roosevelt is a historical legal thriller set in the US just after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (available August 25, 2015).

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, young law student Caswell “Cash” Harrison is rejected for military service but offered the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance to become clerk to Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. Washington, DC in wartime is a blur of activity, intrigue, and energy, and Cash finds himself chasing down a potential conspiracy that may be connected to the deliberations over one of the most troubling constitutional issues ever tackled by the court—the fate of the tens of thousands of Japanese-Americans forcibly removed from their homes on the West Coast and held indefinitely in internment camps. When violence strikes deep within the court itself, Cash will learn that in wartime, everyone can be a suspect, and where to place one's allegiance can be the most dangerous question of all.

Read this exclusive excerpt from Chapters 3 of Allegiance! And then comment for a chance to win a copy of Kermit Roosevelt's legal thriller set amidst WWII!

Chapter 3

“Doing well, Cash?” the voice on the phone asks. It is Herbert Wechsler, who taught me constitutional law, or tried, and now sits at the Justice Department in Washington, DC. He doesn't wait for an answer. “Good. Anyway, this isn't a social call. There's an opening at the Supreme Court. Hugo Black needs a new law clerk.”

[Continue reading Allegiance now!]

Aug 12 2015 2:30pm

The Monstrous Feminine: Women and Horror, Part 1

“It is women who love horror. Gloat over it. Feed on it. Are nourished by it. Shudder and cling and cry out—and come back for more.” — Bela Lugosi

Being a woman is not easy.

For a lot of reasons, of course, and some of those reasons are downright horrific. There's a lot of gross body stuff (for those born biologically female) that we put up with every month for thirty or forty years, to start with.

Then there's pregnancy, when ladies are physically supporting a life—or parasite, as some would describe it—right up until the moment it bursts out of the womb like that dinner scene in Alien...

Okay, maybe it's not quite that bad. But it's still terrible and awesome, and a really great example of how women can be more hardcore than men. I'd like to see any of the muscle-bound guys in a summer blockbuster handle childbirth or menstrual cramps.

Given how extreme physical changes can be for ladies, it shouldn't be surprising that there are a lot monstrous body horror narratives we connect to on a visceral level. Or that so many lady-led horror flicks home in on topics like sexuality, motherhood, and the dangers of being female in a world full of violence directed at women.

[Hell hath no fury...]

Aug 12 2015 12:00pm

Infiltrations of the Surreal: Argetina’s Julio Cortázar

At the tender age of nine, and against his mother’s better judgement, Julio Cortázar (1914-1984) managed to get his hands on an Edgar Allan Poe collection. Years later, Cortázar recalled in an interview for The Paris Review: “[S]he thought I was too young and she was right. The book scared me and I was ill for three months, because I believed in it … dur comme fer as the French say.” But thanks to his mom spurring him to other reading (Jules Verne was an early favorite) and his robust imagination, he developed a knack for storytelling that jettisoned the distance between the real and the imaginary—eventually becoming one of Argentina’s premier novelists and short story writers. Here are a few examples from his body of work epitomizing why his surreal art still maintains such clout in the literary community.

[Let's start with his most famous short story...]

Aug 12 2015 8:45am

91-Year-Old Man Smuggles 10 Pounds of Cocaine into Australia

Australian police have charged a 91-year-old man from Sydney with smuggling cocaine disguised as soap. The suspect allegedly transported over 10 pounds of cocaine in his luggage from India, reports The Guardian.

“A search of the man's luggage discovered 27 packages of soap,” police and the Australian Border Force said in a statement.

The elderly man appeared in a local court on Tuesday telling reporters that he had been taken advantage of.

However, acting assistant commissioner Wayne Buchhorn warned that travelers could be prosecuted even if they unknowingly brought drugs into the country. So be careful out there!

The 91-year-old man has been charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, which carries a max penalty of life imprisonment. Which might not sound so bad to the suspect.

Aug 11 2015 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: Dragon Day by Lisa Brackmann

Dragon Day by Lisa Brackmann is the final book in the Ellie McEnroe trilogy about American vereran of the Iraqi War currently living in Beijing (available August 18, 2015).

This novel had me hooked from the very first page, when our heroine, Ellie McEnroe, describes in her distinctively wry narrative voice not only modern China, its observers and its beliefs, but also how she relates to each:

Dragons and China. It’s the biggest fucking cliche. If you ever go looking for books about China, you know how many of them have “dragon” in the title? Like all of them, practically.

Thing is, dragons are a big deal in China [...] Out of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, Dragon is the one you most want your kid to be. Dragon babies are attractive, smart, natural leaders, bring good fortune to the family. Yeah, I know all the other animals are supposed to have positive characteristics, but come on. You’re telling me you’d choose to be a Sheep over a Dragon?

Me, I’m a Rat. Obviously I’m not winning any zodiac beauty contest. Sure, they say we’re clever survivors, and that’s useful, I guess. It’s true I’ve survived some pretty crazy shit.

On the other hand, if I’m so clever, why do I keep walking into it?

[That's a good question...]

Aug 11 2015 12:30pm

The Ripper Gene: New Excerpt

Michael Ransom

The Ripper Gene is the debut thriller by Michael Ransom about a neuroscientist-turned-FBI profiler who's discovered a genetic signature that produces psychopaths (available August 18, 2015).

Dr. Lucas Madden is a neuroscientist-turned-FBI profiler who first gained global recognition for cloning the ripper gene and showing its dysfunction in the brains of psychopaths. Later, as an FBI profiler, Madden achieved further notoriety by sequencing the DNA of the world's most notorious serial killers and proposing a controversial “damnation algorithm” that could predict serial killer behavior using DNA alone.

Now, a new murderer-the Snow White Killer-is terrorizing women in the Mississippi Delta. When Mara Bliss, Madden's former fiancée, is kidnapped, he must track down a killer who is always two steps ahead of him. Only by entering the killer's mind will Madden ultimately understand the twisted and terrifying rationale behind the murders-and have a chance at ending the psychopath's reign of terror.



Every Halloween the ladies from Crossroads Baptist took us to different church members’ houses for trick-or-treating so no razor blades, rat poison, or liquid Drano would end up in our candy. My mother was always one of the chaperones, and that night she rode in the front seat of Mrs. Callahan’s station wagon with us.

[Continue reading The Ripper Gene by Michael Ransom now!]