FM: <i>Death in Brittany</i> by Jean-Luc Bannalec FM: Death in Brittany by Jean-Luc Bannalec Scott Adlerberg It should be coffee, not a murder investigation, that wakes you up! FM: <i>A Batter of Life and Death</i> by Ellie Alexander FM: A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander Kerry Hammond Some cakes are to die for... <i>The Map of Chaos</i>: New Excerpt The Map of Chaos: New Excerpt Felix Palma H.G. Wells's Invisible Man is terrorizing mankind. Fresh Meat: <i>Elimination</i> by Ed Gorman Fresh Meat: Elimination by Ed Gorman Terrie Farley Moran Could an assassination attempt be a ruse to collect sympathy votes?
From The Blog
June 30, 2015
Under the Radar: Push (2009)
Angie Barry
June 29, 2015
Careers: Passion for Execution? Willing to Relocate?
Crime HQ
June 26, 2015
Announcing The M.O.'s "Wishful Thinking" Story!
Crime HQ
June 25, 2015
Man Arrested After Running Naked Through Walmart
Teddy Pierson
June 24, 2015
Hurry! Voting for The M.O.'s "Wishful Thinking" Ends Tonight!
Crime HQ
Jun 22 2015 10:30am

True Detective 2.01: Season Premeire “The Western Book of the Dead”

The second season of True Detective moves to California with an all new cast, keeping the grim sense of despair but losing the mysticism and existential dread that piqued the interest of so many viewers in its first season. Without Rust Cohle’s Thomas Liggotti-inspired philosophical ramblings, the primordial swamp of the Louisiana scenery, and the moody direction of Cary Joji Fukunaga (who does stay on board as producer), the show feels different, but not necessarily worse, as it gains focus and tells a somewhat more straightforward narrative.

Instead of a pair, we get a trio of detectives this time around, beginning with Colin Farrell’s Ray Velcoro, a big fish in the very small, corrupt pond of Vinci, a city—“supposedly,” Ray says—that seems to consist entirely of a sweatshop, some oil refineries, dead-end bars, and a casino. If you thought Thompson’s Pop. 1280 was  small town, Vinci has 94 people, and they’re all squeezing the Federal orange for every drop.

[There won't be enough to please everyone...]

Jun 20 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Run You Down by Julia Dahl

Run You Down by Julia Dahl is the 2nd murder mystery in the Rebekah Roberts series about a NYC reporter who's immersed herself in the closed-door Hasidic community (available June 30, 2015).

Run You Down picks up shortly after the events of Julia Dahl's first book, Invisible City. Rebekah Roberts, the reporter for the Tribune who uncovered a murder in the Ultra-Orthodox community, is having trouble coming to terms with her experiences. She is drawn into another murder when the husband of Pessie Goldin reaches out for help. Pessie was found dead in a bathtub and the rumor in the community is that she committed suicide. Her family does not want anyone looking into it and as suicide is a great sin, and may seriously affect the ability of her siblings to attract spouses, her mother and father are claiming Pessie’s death was an accident. But her husband, Levi, is convinced his wife would never kill herself, especially since her little boy Chaim was left strapped into his car seat. As is common in this community, the body was not autopsied and the police have shown no interest in investigating.

[That's going to make things difficult...]

Jun 20 2015 9:00am

Hannibal 3.03: “Secondo” Means Choosing

In “Secondo,” Hannibal and Bedelia lounge in matching rompwear, while Jack mourns Will, who torments the tormented in the Lecter family vineyards.

At home in their gorgeous Florence apartment, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) is glum in a black satin something, and Dr. Bedelia du Maurier's (Gillian Anderson) matching him in the blackness of her garments and mood. The question of Will comes up, as it must, since Hannibal seems almost wistfully proud Will found him, and Bedelia thinks he may be stacking the deck for his favorite protegee. She tells Hannibal forgiveness takes two. It's an odd sentiment for a therapist and disastrous for the category of self-help books, entire shelves of which are dedicated to Letting Go. But at any rate, this will set up the first see-saw of the night, the axis between Betrayal and Forgiveness, the trembling, uncertain anticipation of which is compared in this conversation to falling in love. (And to think, I was concerned Willibal shippers might not get their share of joy.)

Bedelia seems remarkably sure, for the first time this season, that she'll be able to “navigate” a way out of her troubles. However, she puts the screws to Hannibal as to how and whether he will. She's prodding him with his recent self-destructiveness and the inevitability of his capture. Hannibal is almost supine as he tells her that Will is headed to a place he cannot go: home.

[Are Will's ears ringing in Lithuania?]

Jun 21 2015 12:00pm

Flask of the Drunken Master: New Excerpt

Susan Spann

Flask of the Drunken Master by Susan Spann is the 3rd historical detective mystery in the Shinobi Mystery Series, featuring a master ninja and a female samurai in feudal 16th Century Japan (available July 14, 2015).

August 1565: When a rival artisan turns up dead outside Ginjiro's brewery, and all the evidence implicates the brewer, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo must find the killer before the magistrate executes Ginjiro and seizes the brewery, leaving his wife and daughter destitute. A missing merchant, a vicious debt collector, and a female moneylender join Ginjiro and the victim's spendthrift son on the suspect list. But with Kyoto on alert in the wake of the shogun's recent death, a rival shinobi on the prowl, and samurai threatening Hiro and Father Mateo at every turn, Ginjiro's life is not the only one in danger.

Will Hiro and Father Mateo unravel the clues in time to save Ginjiro's life, or will the shadows gathering over Kyoto consume the detectives as well as the brewer?

Chapter 1

“Halt!” The armored samurai stepped forward to block the bridge. “No one crosses the Kamo River without identification. State your names and your business in Kyoto.”

[Continue reading Flask of the Drunken Master now!]

Jun 19 2015 10:30am

Fresh Meat: What Doesn’t Kill Her by Carla Norton

What Doesn't Kill Her by Carla Norton is the 2nd psychological thriller featuring U.C. Berkley student Reeve LeClaire, who is yanked back into her grim past when her old abductor escapes from a psychiatric hospital (available June 30, 2015).

All you have to say is “mental hospital,”and you have my undivided attention. When I picked up Carla Norton’s What Doesnt Kill Her, I expected a crime thriller about a young woman who learns her kidnapper is free and roaming the streets, ready to come after her or find a new victim. I might be a bit of an abnormal psychology junkie, so my eagerness to see how Norton played out the antagonist’s mental illness was one of the main factors in choosing this book.

What Doesnt Kill Her opens with a flashback of Reeve (then Reggie) stealing away for a dip in the lake before her sister’s recital. She returns to the woods to find the tire on her bike flat. A man offers her a lift; Reggie declines. We already know this doesn’t end well. The man suggests he drive the bike in his van while she walks. After all, she’s going uphill and wouldn’t it be much faster? She accepts, and “as she was shifting her grip, he hit her with a jolt like a snakebite that spun the sky red.”

From there, we move to Olshaker Psychiatric Hospital, and into the head of Reeve’s captor, Daryl Wayne Flint. I was a little surprised by the transition, but it was a nice switch from the standard crime procedural. Turns out Reeve’s rescue was a result of a car wreck that left Flint with brain damage, causing him to develop obsessive compulsive disorder. Don’t underestimate him, though; for Flint, there’s a method to his madness.

[Underestimating him could be the last thing you ever do...]

Jun 19 2015 8:45am

Get Ready For True Detective Season 2

While we won't be welcoming the pointed ramblings of Rust Cohle back into our homes on Sunday night, we will be saying hello again to True Detective. As we've previously mentioned, Season 2 will be leaving the bayou behind and is jetting to the West Coast and will star Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams, and Taylor Kitsch. Farrell, McAdams, and Kitsch will be playing police officers, and Vaughn will take on the role of villian, and the four characters will come together amidst a bizarre murder as they each attempt to navigate a web of conspiracy and betrayal.

Episode 1, “The Western Book of the Dead,” airs this Sunday, June 21st, and the synopsis is as follows:

The disappearance of a city manager disrupts a lucrative land scheme and ignites an investigation involving three police officers and a career criminal who is moving into legitimate business.

If Season 1 was any indication, expect the premiere to be laced with clues that might not make sense at first, but will leave us shaking our heads by the end. And it is with great excitement that we announce that Thomas Pluck will be returning again to cover Season 2 for Criminal Element, and if you want to relive all the unsettling mystery from last season, start with Tom's reaction to the pilot, “The Long Bright Dark.”

We'll see you Monday morning with more True Detective talk.

Jun 18 2015 12:00pm

Five Fascinating Lost Treasures of the World

Treasure is a wonderful word. It conjures up images of jewels and gold and coin of the realm. It adorns classic novels like Treasure Island and classic movies like Treasure of the Sierra Madre. And if we add a second word to create the evocative phrase “treasure hunt,” then heroes, heroines, and the Walter Mitty’s among us just might throw ourselves into an adventure.

And with reason. Our atavistic selves are drawn to hunts; our higher functioning brains like challenges, especially if a secret is involved. In fact, for some folks, the payoff to finding lost treasure can be greater than the riches involved – besides the loot, they win the psychological prize of doing something no one else has ever done.

I love this stuff. I write spy thrillers, which means I also write about geopolitics, culture, romance, secrets, and, whenever I can, missing treasures. Here are five of my favorites lost treasures:


The Amber Room

It was said that when the afternoon light shone through the tall windows of the Amber Room, the walls shimmered and glowed as if alive. The reason? A fortune in amber mosaics and carved amber figurines blanketed every square inch, while gold-encrusted mirrors reflected the lush beauty back upon itself. Created in the early 1700s in Prussia, the Amber Room grew politically important in 1716 when Prussian King Frederick William I gave it to Peter the Great of Russia to memorialize their alliance against Sweden. Some 200 years later, the room became prize World War II plunder, stolen by the Germans and shipped off to Königsberg Castle. It was at the war’s end that it disappeared. Some believe the room was destroyed when the Allies bombed the castle, while others think it was dismantled and hidden in a salt mine or cave, where appropriate humidity and temperature would preserve it. Today the Amber Room remains one of the world’s most significant and stunning vanished treasures.

[We take to the sea for our next entry...]

Jun 18 2015 10:45am

True Crime Thursday: Dads Worth Incarcerating AND Celebrating!

Enjoy these handmade sentiments for Father's Day—even if we have weird taste in ties. (We're not completely rotten kids. The posts get nicer as they go, culminating in something true, not-too-criminal, and actually reverent. Thanks, Dads, for being there and being good sports!)

Wealthy Chinese man hires assassins to kill son in video game.

Check the wardrobe on this guy arrested in an undercover sting. Worth a thousand coffee mugs.

This dad shot his son for singing Kenny Chesney.

Old Men Breaking Bad: What happens when your grandpa gets together with a group of his war buddies and decides to go full-on poison cloud...

In 1914, former-president Theodore took his son Kermit into the Amazon on a deadly. doomed expedition described in Roosevelt's Beast by Louis Bayard.

Tony Hays offers the backstory behind perhaps the most famous family feud, the Hatfields and McCoys, and the difficulties of historic research: “Are you kin to that Hays scoundrel that killed my grandpappy?”

Take Dad out to the Ball Game with Deborah Lacy's list of baseball-themed mysteries, many of which incorporate the real history of the game and its players.

A True Confession from William Kent Krueger:

My father died three months ago.... My time with my father at his end and the anxiety he felt as he approached that physical and spiritual transition, which none of us escapes, had me thinking a lot about the issue of what comes next in our existence. And, oddly, a lot of my thinking went back to a movie I first saw when I was about six years old: The Incredible Shrinking Man.


Image via How Pilgrim.

Jun 17 2015 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Vixen by Bill Pronzini

Vixen by Bill Pronzini is the newest addition to the Nameless Detective series where a femme fatale spells more than trouble for the semi-retired P.I. (available June 23, 2015).

The Nameless Detective is semi-retired which, as Vixen opens, suits him just fine. As a pulp fiction enthusiast, he prefers spending his days reading and cataloging his book collection, or maybe catching an afternoon Giants game, but above all, he likes having others run the investigative agency that he built. Of course, fans who have been following Nameless since his debut novel in 1971 know this idyllic existence won’t last long. And, thankfully, one of the most diabolical femme fatales in a long time— Cory Beckett—hires him to find her brother, Kenny. Bill Pronzini’s description is classic and yet seemingly fresh all at once:

But what you noticed first, and remembered most vividly, was her luminous gray green eyes. They had a powerful magnetic quality; I could feel the pull of them, like being drawn into dark, calm water. It was only when you got to know who and what she was that you realized the calm surface was a lie, that underneath there weren’t only smoldering sexual fires but riptides and whirlpools and hungry darting things with razor-sharp teeth.

[Swim carefully, there are sharks in the water...]

Jun 17 2015 8:45am

Woman Dials 911 to Report Being Cheated by Drug Dealer

Daneshia Heller, 19, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida was arrested last week on charges of drug possession and misuse of the emergency system when she dialed 911 to report that a drug dealer stole her money during a transaction, reports The Sun Sentinel.

According to The Sun Sentinel, Heller told the arresting deputy that a man named Zakan Allan took her $5 that she was using to buy illegal drugs. Heller said she went to the house to buy marijuana, but he took her money and didn't give her the drugs.

“He got my money, and I want my drugs,” Heller told a 911 dispatcher.

When Heller was being taken into custody, a small bag of “flakka” was found in her front pocket, the report said.

Jun 16 2015 4:00pm

Cozy Bookshelf Shopping List: July, 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 June's releases, and now we're setting our sights on July! Let us know in the comments how you like it and what you can't wait to read next!

Criminal Element's July 2015 Cozy Bookshelf Shopping List!

[Let's get to the goodies!]

Jun 16 2015 11:00am

Fresh Meat: The Devil’s Only Friend by Dan Wells

The Devil's Only Friend by Dan Wells is the 4th paranormal thriller featuring a teenaged sociopath who fights demons for the government (available June 16, 2015).

John Wayne Cleaver is a teenaged sociopath. A fact he's pretty open about. He also has a driving urge to kill, which is why it's a good thing he lives by a set of self-imposed rules. Rules that include: keeping away from animals, eating a strictly vegetarian diet, and never touching a gun.

And it's also a good thing that he's found a way to channel his murderous impulses; it seems the government is in need of someone with John's particular proclivities and mindset, because it turns out there are worse things than serial killers in the world.

Things like demons.

[Well okay, that's fair...]

Jun 16 2015 9:30am

Of Course the Queen of Crime’s Birthday Cake Will Be Poisoned!

Need dishes so craftily designed that manor house guests don't know they're scarfing down poison secreted therein? Take this cooking class, says Maev Kennedy in The Guardian:

A little more delicious strychnine and butter sauce for your fish, vicar? Or a slice of that scrumptious cake, so appropriately named Delicious Death?

A unique cookery demonstration is to be held to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the birth of Agatha Christie, the Queen of Crime. It will be in Christie’s own Devon kitchen, and guests are advised to treat samples with extreme caution.

The French writer Anne Martinetti will be recreating recipes from Christie’s books, singling out those particularly suitable for concealing poison as an extra ingredient. As any devotee of Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot knows, the great detectives only have to show up for a morning coffee, light luncheon or afternoon tea party for one of the guests to topple over the table clutching their throat and turning blue.

Martinetti will be speaking and cooking at Christie’s beloved holiday house, Greenway – the home she called “the most beautiful place in the world” – now in the care of the National Trust.


The event is part of the Agatha Christie festival this September, held in and around Torquay where she was born on 15 September 1890.

A tip of the chef's hat to Janet Rudolph at Mystery Fanfare, who always knows what's cookin'.

Jun 15 2015 5:00pm

Fresh Meat: Death in Salem by Eleanor Kuhns

Death in Salem by Eleanor Kuhns is the 4th historical mystery in the Will Rees series where an innocent trip through Salem puts the weaver in the middle of a murder investigation (available June 16, 2015).

Will Rees is on his way home from a business trip. He stops in Salem, Massachusetts, to buy something special to take home to his wife and runs into an old army buddy. Twig, the buddy, is now an undertaker. He invites Rees to accompany him to an after-funeral reception at the home of a prominent Salem family. Within days another member of the family has died, and Rees agrees to investigate the murder.

Rees’s business is weaving, and the trip has been made by horse and wagon. The army he and Twig served in was led by General George Washington.

I have to admit to being a bit confused as to when the story was taking place at first. That was due in large part to my seeing the means of travel and knowing a war has recently fought on American soil and assuming that it is just after the Civil War. Once I got my bearings, on page three, I was fine.

[It was a short-lived confusion...]

Jun 15 2015 2:30pm

Game of Thrones 5.10: Season Finale “Mother’s Mercy”

Power is a dangerous thing, likely to attract the worst and corrupt the best, and as those in power learned last night on Game of Thrones, that statment really hits the nail on the head. “Mother’s Mercy” might have been the title, but there wasn’t much forgiveness left to go around.

Let’s start with Cersei (Lena Headey), the recipient of the eponymous clemency so graciously given by the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce). Cersei’s agonizingly long walk through Flea Bottom was so unsettling that it did the seemingly impossible in making us sympathize for her. The walk might have ended at the Red Keep (and hopefully with a long bath), but it also left Cersei at a fork in the road. She’ll either take after Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and use this humbling to pave the path toward redemption, or she’ll make good on her promise to burn the city to the ground. If I were a homeowner in Flea Bottom, I’d think about relocating.

Meryn Trant (Ian Beattie) learned that power does not keep you safe, but only after his eyes had already been gouged out. Arya (Maisie Williams) might have successfully crossed another name off her death prayer list, but it came with a consequence, as Jaqen H’gar proved to be a fan of both literalness and Hammurabi by taking away her eyesight.

Daenerys’s tumultuous day started with an indolent Drogon and ended surrounded by a menacing Dothraki army. After five years of attempting to rule, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) has ended up exactly where she started – surrounded by strangers and no closer to Westeros.

But at least Cersei, Arya, and Daenerys are alive, because “Mother’s Mercy” wasn’t as kind to many of its other characters. As I alluded to last week when Stannis (Stephen Dillane) sacrificed his daughter, the Baratheon line was nearing extinction, and with Selyse (Tara Fitzgerald) committing suicide and Stannis finally dying at the hands of Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), the Baratheons are no more. Stannis’s death is still fresh for me (he’s still currently alive and waiting to attack Winterfell in the books), so I haven’t had enough time to figure out how I’ll look back on him. He’s always been the embodiment of iron – strong, yet brittle and likely to break rather than bend – and I’m not quite sure if that’s a good thing. I think he’s a tragic character – perhaps one of the most tragic in the series – but I’ll never truly sympathize with a man who burns his daughter alive, even if it is for the good of the realm. You’re a conundrum, Stannis Baratheon, and all I know is you’ll be missed.

Now it’s time to talk about the biggest death of the episode, and this week’s Faller.

[Can you guess who it is?]

Jun 14 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Nightmare Place by Steve Mosby

The Nightmare Place by Steve Mosby is a psychological thriller featuring Detective Inspector Zoe Dolan, who's hunting a serial rapist and murderer (available June 15, 2015).

Detective Inspector Zoe Dolan grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. She’s seen some dark things, and has done a few dark things herself. But, as the lead detective on a series of rapes, she’s never faced anything quite like this. There is no set pattern. No indication of how the rapist manages to get into his victims’ houses. To make matters worse, the violence is escalating. It’s only a matter of time before one of the victims is killed. DI Dolan has no leads.

Until Jane. Jane Webster is a volunteer at a confidential hotline – her job is to listen as people tell her their darkest secrets. One night she receives a caller who needs to unburden himself. As he talks, Jane remembers the news stories about a rapist, and the details this man reveals are eerily similar. She decides to go against her work’s directive and goes to the police. Soon, both Jane and DI Dolan are swept into a cat-and-mouse game with a very creepy killer.

[Both sides can't come out winners...]

Jun 13 2015 3:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Precipice by Paul Doiron

The Precipice by Paul Doiron is the 6th mystery featuring Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch tracking two missing women last seen hiking the Appalachian Trail (available June 16, 2015).

Game Warden Mike Bowditch had intended to have a romantic weekend with long distance girlfriend Stacey Stevens in a cabin along the Kennebec River. But when two young women go missing while hiking the Appalachian Trail and Bowditch is called to help, both he and Stacey are ready for the search.  

A city gal myself, I’m generally not a big fan of things green and buggy. So while I was interested in a mystery that brought me a little outside of my comfort zone, I was fairly convinced that Paul Doiron was not going to make me want to take a walk in the park. I was pleasantly surprised, however, with how well I was able to envision Mike Bowditch’s descriptions of all things woodsy. But, these women were last documented at the beginning of a stretch of trail 100 miles long and the search for the two young women becomes more desperate. Even in Bowditch’s descriptions, the Appalachian Trail remains the type of place that someone who grew up in a city might imagine it to be: vast, lonely, and frightening.

Samantha and Missy were wholesome looking young women who had ventured into a place largely empty of human beings: a wilderness where cell phones didn’t work and you could scream all night without being heard. There wasn’t a person involved in the search who didn’t share the same dark fears about what might have happened to them.

[Could this have been prevented?]

Jun 13 2015 9:30am

Hannibal 3.02: “Primavera” Springs Will Graham

In “Primavera,” we see Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) almost together again and meet Florence's Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi, a long-time pursuer of “The Monster of Florence” and here playing the third wheel and last-to-know.

First, I enjoyed getting to flashback in leisurely fashion upon the worst dinner party ever, the one that ended Season 2 with such huge amounts of cast carnage. Notably, we relived the tenderly intimate gutting of Hannibal's profiler, awash with blood and realizations of how much each has been changed by the other. We also got to relive the jugular-slashing of their erstwhile daughter-slash-devotee-slash-inconvenience, Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl).

Because this is a show that glories in its horrors, and Whodunnit? is the least exciting question (psst: it's Hannibal), there's no way to discuss it without SPOILERS, so be prepared.

[And don't attend parties with black stag on the menu.]

Jun 12 2015 11:00am

Blood Foam: Exclusive Excerpt

Brendan DuBois

Blood Foam by Brendan DuBois is the 9th Lewis Cole mystery where the retired Deptartment of Defense analyst must help an old flame hunt down her missing fiancé (available June 15, 2015).

A wounded and healing Lewis Cole—retired Department of Defense analyst and magazine columnist—returns to his fire-damaged home on Tyler Beach with two things on his mind: to recover from a bullet wound and to repair his nearly two hundred-year-old home before a hurricane scours his house into the unforgiving ocean.

But just when his work has begun, former lover and journalist Paula Quinn comes to him with an urgent request. Her fiancé, attorney Mark Spencer, has gone missing. Phone calls, e-mails, and text messages have gone unanswered. His car is gone, and his home is empty.

Lewis is Paula’s last hope to find her missing fiancé, and despite his fear for what might happen to his home, Lewis agrees to search for the missing attorney.

But one puzzling aspect of Mark’s life leads to Lewis asking more questions... until gunfire suddenly erupts in placid downtown Tyler. And Lewis and Paula find themselves on the run from a deadly gang, who are also searching for Mark Spencer—to find him and kill him for a past betrayal. So Lewis begins a difficult quest while his own world is threatened by ruthless men and gathering storm clouds.

[Start reading our exclusive excerpt of Blood Foam now!]

Jun 12 2015 8:45am

Pick The M.O.’s Next Story: Your Wish is Our Command!

Our wishes have come true, because we have a new crop of shortlisted stories for The M.O.! Read these four sneak peeks on the theme of “Wishful Thinking,” then vote at the bottom for the one you'd most like to read on to The End. And of course, learn more about all the malefactors at The M.O.'s Rogues' Gallery.

  • “Asleep or Afraid” by Peter DiChellis
  • “The Currency of Wishes” by Kate Fellowes
  • “What Price Glory” by Seana Graham
  • “The Cocoon” by Louis Rakovich


[Read on, wishful thinkers...!]