<i>All the Old Knives</i>: New Audio Excerpt All the Old Knives: New Audio Excerpt Olen Steinhauer The memories of a botch hostage exchange still linger... Fresh Meat: <i>The Edge of Dreams</i> by Rhys Bowen Fresh Meat: The Edge of Dreams by Rhys Bowen Rachel Kramer Bussel Could Molly's dreams hold the answer to her husband's case? Now Win <i>This</i>!: Shooters and Computers Sweepstakes Now Win This!: Shooters and Computers Sweepstakes Crime HQ You'll want backup when CTRL + ALT + DELETE doesn't work... <i>Firebreak</i>: New Excerpt Firebreak: New Excerpt Tricia Fields Fire doesn't destroy all evidence.
From The Blog
March 2, 2015
John Le Carré's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Smiley's Reckoning
Edward A. Grainger
March 2, 2015
Lizzie Borden's Not Nearly Done!
Crime HQ
February 28, 2015
Under the Radar: Genre Movies You May Have Missed — Bandits
Angie Barry
February 27, 2015
One Week Until The M.O. Submissions are Long Gone!
Crime HQ
February 26, 2015
Literary Mysteries: Edgar Allan Poe's "The Light-House"
Edward A. Grainger
Thu
Feb 26 2015 11:30am

The Americans 3.05: “Salang Pass”

Early in last night’s episode of The Americans, “Salang Pass,” Philip (Matthew Rhys) listens to a BBC radio report of a deadly incident in Afghanistan’s Salang Tunnel. The initial estimate of fatalities released by the Soviet government was under 200, but it is now believed that the real number was closer to 2,000. The cause of the fire is also in dispute. The Soviets maintain it was a traffic incident, while the Afghani’s claim it as a successful military operation.

Neither the source of the Salang Tunnel Fire nor the number of casualties, however, is relevant to the rest of the episode. In fact, other than the radio broadcast, it is never mentioned again by anyone. Why, then, title the episode after it? The answer lies in the central conflict of Season 3, whether or not Philip and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) should tell Paige (Holly Taylor) the truth about their family in order to indoctrinate her into the second-generation illegals program. For Elizabeth, telling Paige is the normal progression. Why shouldn’t Paige know who she really is? As Elizabeth points out, Kimberly (Julia Garner), the troubled teen of a CIA officer, doesn’t know the truth about her parents, and look at how she’s turned out, a complete mess.

[It's not as black and white for Philip...]

Thu
Feb 26 2015 8:45am

Literary Mysteries: Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Light-House”

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) remains a giant within the horror set with renowned classics such as The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart, and The Pit and the Pendulum. He’s also acknowledged as the architect of the contemporary detective genre with his French investigator, C. Auguste Dupin, who first appeared in 1841’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and later in ”The Mystery of Marie Rogêt“ (1842) and ”The Purloined Letter" (1844).

It is these main ingredients of horror—or, more precisely, impending doom—and mystery that fused a minor but intriguing literary coda to his legacy. A last shot, if you will, across the bow that enticingly leaves many questions unanswered. I’m speaking of the roughly 800 word, untitled (though now commonly referred to as “The Light-House”) manuscript that is presented in diary form beginning on New Year’s Day 1796 and features journal entries for the next couple of days.

[Remember, it's only 800 words...]

Wed
Feb 25 2015 2:00pm

Agent Carter 1.08: Season Finale “Valediction”

On its eighth and final episode of the season, “Valediction,” Agent Carter comes to something of an awkward conclusion. In many respects, the show does a workmanlike job of bringing its first season to a close. It wraps up its main storyline, leaves several interesting ends dangling tantalizingly loose, and drops a big revelation in the last scene. But it also makes a couple of odd little missteps… and one big mistake.

I’ll get to all that in a second, but first a quick catch-up: when we last left the intrepid Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) she was searching for the evil Russian scientist Dr. Ivchenko (Ralph Brown) and his lethal assassin sidekick Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan). They’d just unleashed a gas canister that made a movie theater full of people kill each other.

Turns out the gas was another Howard Stark invention, called Midnight Hour, that he’d developed for the military. The gas was supposed to help keep soldiers awake, but instead it makes people psychotic. Ivchenko blames Stark for the deaths of a town full of Russian soldiers who were exposed to the gas by a rogue general. Now he kidnaps Stark (Dominic Cooper) and brainwashes him into thinking that he can save Captain America by flying a planeload of the gas into Times Square.

[Why is it always NYC?]

Wed
Feb 25 2015 11:15am

Justified 6.06: “Alive Day”

Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder, Joelle Carter as Ava Crowder, Timothy Olyphant as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens

We’re almost halfway through the final season of Justified, and given how great this season is turning out to be, I’m truly pained to type those words! In Episode 6.06, “Alive Day”, Ava’s (Joelle Carter) position between a rock and a hard place seems to be getting more slippery by the day while Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns), Avery Markham (Sam Elliott), and Katherine Hale (Mary Steenburgen) are tangled up in a cat’s cradle of double-, triple- and quadruple-crosses. Meanwhile, Raylan’s (Timothy Olyphant) wayward ways are a cross that Rachel (Erica Tazel) has to bear and Choo Choo (Duke Davis Roberts), nicknamed for an inanimate object, suddenly becomes the most painfully human of Avery Markham’s henchman.

The episode begins with Boyd (Walton Goggins) coming back to Ava’s place and finding Raylan’s car parked out front. Raylan makes it clear that he’s there on “Marshal Business” and asks about Dewey Crowe. I still think that Dewey is inadvertently going to throw a monkey wrench in Boyd’s plans from beyond the grave, because that’s what he did when he was alive, and also we got the shot of Earl (Ryan Dorsey) draping his crocodile tooth necklace in Boyd’s bar. That can’t have been a coincidence! And it would be such an Elmore Leonard ending if it’s actually Dewey’s murder that ends up getting Boyd put away. But I digress! In response to Raylan’s questions, Boyd tries to finger Markham’s gang for anything that may have happened to Dewey by saying that Dewey was headed to the pizza parlor when Boyd last saw him. Boyd also gets into a very public display of affection with Ava which is also a pissing contest with Raylan.

[A contest neither are winning...]

Wed
Feb 25 2015 8:45am

Man Wreaks Havoc at Salon After Bad Haircut

A Connecticut man who just didn’t appreciate the look of the haircut he received was arrested by police after he, allegedly, became inhospitable toward the staff and began destroying the salon. He went even more nutty when he learned how much it was going to cost him. Police say Becker started throwing items, including a candle and wreath, after learning the price of the haircut would be $50. Becker also “kicked a hole in the wall, and went off on a swearing tirade to employees and customers,” reports the Inquisitr.

Apparently, Becker left the salon, but returned, “demanding the stylist fix his hair.” However, when she refused to fix the haircut, she called the local authorities, who later arrested Becker at his home. He was charged with criminal mischief and breach of peace.

Who out there empathisizes with the frustration of a bad haircut? Let me know in the comments!

Image via Inquisitr

Tue
Feb 24 2015 11:15am

Gotham 1.17: “Red Hood”

When I complained that Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) needed more to do on Gotham, her sexing up Selina (Camren Bicondova) isn’t what I had in mind.

In an episode of Gotham filled with odd (and sometimes violent) twists, Barbara’s insistence that Selina would look great in an adult evening dress stands out. That’s going to make future conversations between Catwoman and Barbara (Batgirl) Gordon awkward.

“Hey, didn’t that dress used to belong to my mom?”

“Yeah, I got it when we were living together.”

O_o. I’m not sure the show intended the scene to come across as sexually predatory on Barbara’s part. I suspect it was meant to be a girl bonding moment. But it certainly plays as if the only reason Barbara wants Selina in sexy clothes is because she finds Selina attractive. And given their respective ages, that slides Barbara close to sexual predator.

If the show actually wants to go there, Erin Richards played it perfectly. If the point of Barbara’s character is to show how a basically decent person becomes corrupted by the darkness in Gotham and then Gordon, representing the light, brings her back from the brink, I’m good with that, save that Barbara’s descent needs to be more than moping, looking sad, a few short sex scenes with Renee and Jim, and lots of wine consumption.

[She's a pint of Ben and Jerry's short of a full-blown cliche...]

Tue
Feb 24 2015 10:30am

Fresh Meat: The Life I Left Behind by Colette McBeth

The Life I Left Behind by Colette McBeth is a standalone thriller narrated by three women: one who is dead, one who nearly died, and one who is the cop trying to solve it all (available February 24, 2015).

Friendships are a tricky business. Especially when that sweet guy next door, the one who introduced you to new music and drank wine with you on long summer nights in London, tried to kill you. These are the kind of so-called “friends” that populate Colette McBeth’s second novel, The Life I Left Behind. If you’re thinking, “no thanks, I prefer my chums to be of the everlasting BFF variety,” this isn’t the book for you (and neither is McBeth’s debut, Precious Thing, where a childhood friendship is put under the microscope and its grimy, murderous underbelly is exposed). Told in alternating perspectives—a dead woman, a nearly dead woman, and the cop who’s trying to piece it all together—the novel is both a whodunit and a why-dunit. Aren’t the latter infinitely more interesting, anyway? Especially when the suspect pool becomes whittled down to—you guessed it—a close-knit group of friends. Though is that really what you call a group of people who may or may not have killed a mutual acquaintance? What’s the proper collective noun in this instance?

[Cohort perhaps?]

Tue
Feb 24 2015 8:45am

The Cowboy Rides Away: Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, and The Cheyenne Social Club

The Cheyenne Social Club poster featuring Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda.

Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda had one of the longest lasting friendships in the history of Hollywood. They met as young actors, became instant pals, and stayed close until Fonda’s death in 1982. Orson Welles is supposed to have said, “I thought these two guys were either having the hottest affair in Hollywood, or they were the two straightest human beings I ever met in my life. I came to conclusion that they were the two straightest human beings I’d ever met in my life.”

In a sense, they were perfectly matched. Both were tall and thin and possessed of a certain soft-spoken middle American charm. Naturally reserved, they were both always well cast as quiet men of bedrock decency. It was always easy to believe that the fella who played Jefferson Smith would be best friends with the fella who played Tom Joad. They seemed like a couple of regular guys.

[Guys you'd want to grab a beer with...]

Mon
Feb 23 2015 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Doomsday Equation by Matt Richtel

The Doomsday Equation by Matt Richtel is a modern techno-thriller where one man has only three days to prevent the outbreak of World War III (available February 24, 2015).

Jeremy Stillwater is smarter than you.

He’s smarter than you in the annoying way Alan Turing was, unwilling—or unable—to hide his belief that not only is he smarter than you, he’s smarter than pretty much anyone else on the planet.

Naturally, there are some smart people who resent his belief, especially because it’s true.

Jeremy wasn’t the first person to use “Big Data” as a predictive model for determining when and where and how events will occur, but he is the first person to create an algorithm that ties it all together, that makes it all make sense.

And naturally, there are some people who want him to share that algorithm.

It’s kind of like what happened with Facebook, if you’ve seen The Social Network.

[Without the Aaron Sorkin snark...]

Mon
Feb 23 2015 11:00am

Grantchester: Season Finale 1.06

One of you is going to make a wonderful priest. Leonard (Al Weaver) and Sidney (James Norton).

An invitation to Amanda’s wedding has arrived, triggering a fresh chorus of the blues for Sidney. He recollects their history together,  starting with a chance meeting four years earlier at the National Gallery, where Amanda works as an art restorer. “I’m never getting married,” she tells him, spiritedly, “I’m going to become wild and eccentric and full of opinion.” She promises to give Sidney veto power over anyone her father chooses to be her husband.

Fast forward to Sidney at the vicarage, Amanda’s wedding invitation in hand. So much for wildness, eccentricity, opinion, and veto power.

For Sidney, Amanda is the one that got away. Never mind if we don’t think that’s much of a loss. Never mind that Sidney has plenty of women ready and waiting to become Mrs. Canon Sidney Chambers. (“They fall at your feet,” Geordie says.)

Sidney is glum.

When Sidney is glum, Sidney drinks.

When Sidney drinks, he doesn’t know when to stop drinking.

When Sidney doesn’t know when to stop drinking, either he embarrasses himself or bad things happen to the people around him. Or both.

[Won’t you PLEASE have a cup of tea, Vicar...]

Mon
Feb 23 2015 9:30am

This Head in a Jar Can Be Yours!

Whether to reinforce dieting aims or for sheer delight, who doesn't want their stainless steel or custom hardwood-veneer built-in fridge to boast a head in a jar? (I hear the Evans now have two heads in jars, one for the butler's pantry, the show-offs.) Let mikeasaurus at Instructables.com show you all the details, along with his template, and a shiny new head in a jar could be yours!

Sun
Feb 22 2015 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Winter Foundlings by Kate Rhodes

The Winter Foundlings by Kate Rhodes is the third book starring forensic psychologist Alice Quentin who heads to a psychiatric prison to interview an inmate (available February 24, 2015).

It’s hard not to draw comparisons to Silence of the Lambs when reading Kate Rhodes’ third novel, The Winter Foundlings, which continues the story of forensic psychologist Alice Quentin. The book opens as Quentin embarks on a six-month sabbatical in an effort to recover from dangers she endured during recent work with the London police. We’d need a psychologist to explain why her choice for that respite is to study treatment methods at Northwood, England’s largest psychiatric prison, and particularly within the Laurels, which houses its most violent criminals. She’s barely settled into her closet-sized office when she is called to assist DCI Burns, with whom she’s worked before, by interviewing one of the inmates.

[That's not the sabbatical I'd take...]

Sun
Feb 22 2015 11:00am

Fresh Meat: A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders

A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders marks the debut of Samantha Clair, a London book editor caught up in a criminal investigation (available February 24, 2015).

I read a lot of mysteries featuring amateur sleuths. A lot. There are those with crafting themes, various types of cooking and baking, and many featuring pets. All sorts of settings and careers are represented. This protagonist of this series debut works at one career I haven’t encountered. Samantha “Sam” Clair is a middle-aged book editor at an independent publishing house in London.

A book set in London? Great. About a book editor? Cool. With a mystery to boot? Oh, yes, please!

When I imagine a glamorous day in the life of an editor—and I do—I think of lunches with famous authors, tough negotiations with agents, and networking at cocktail parties and book launches. Then there’s the really fun part of reading a lot of books and helping nudge some of them into publishable shape.

[You know, pretty much the dream...]

Sat
Feb 21 2015 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: Mightier than the Sword by Jeffrey Archer

Mightier than the Sword by Jeffrey Archer is the fifth installment in The Clifton Chronicles (available February 24, 2015).

This is Jeffrey Archer’s fifth entry in the Clifton Chronicles and it literally opens with a bang. On the Buckingham, the cruise ship built by Emma (Barrington) Clifton’s company, the IRA sets off a bomb designed to kill as many people as possible. Of course Harry Clifton figures out the conspiracy just in time and the bomb is lobbed into the sea. To explain the massive explosion, protect the company, and prevent the passengers from knowing how close they came to death, an alternate explanation is put about: that the Home Guard was engaged in maneuvers. The Buckingham’s Captain’s apology for sailing too close to the Home Guard is put into the Board minutes and becomes the official version of the explosion.

This cover-up becomes an on-going problem for Emma throughout the story. Lady Virginia Fenwick, one of the most poisonous characters in modern literature, seeks to uncover the true story and use it to take down Emma and acquire the company in the process.

[She sounds delightful...]

Sat
Feb 21 2015 11:00am

Fresh Meat: The Outsiders by Gerald Seymour

The Outsiders by Gerald Seymour is an espionage thriller featuring MI5 agent Winnie Monks who follows a Russian crime czar to Spain for revenge of a brutal murder from years ago (available February 24, 2015).

If you were to ask Jonno’s parents about their son, they would describe him as ordinary, a good enough sort, but never reaching for the stars, so to speak. So, when Jonno and his girlfriend Posie discover that MI5 agents have set up shop upstairs in the villa that they’re housesitting, on the Costa del Sol in Spain, it’s shocking that Jonno seems to find an obstinacy within himself that borders on reckless. He’s self riotously furious on the behalf of the elderly couple that owns the villa (who he hardly knows, having gotten the housesitting gig through his own mother), until he witnesses a horror next door, at the villa that is the focus of the agents’ surveillance, that swiftly changes his mind, especially after he learns about the person they’re actually there to report on.

[So much for that Spain getaway...]

Fri
Feb 20 2015 12:30pm

How to Get Away with Murder 1.13: “Mama’s Here Now”

How to Get Away with Murder Season 1 Episode 13 "Mama's Here Now" 1.13: Bonnie (Liza Weil)

The characters on How To Get Away With Murder might not be solving all their cases—in fact, Lila’s murder gets unofficially reopened this week—but the show itself has solved its biggest problem. The show is developing its characters.

Murder is a huge ensemble show, with Annalise Keating (Viola Davis), her students, her coworkers, and a handful of auxiliary love interests for everyone. Yet, with a few exceptions, the show has always chosen to focuse on speeding through its plot rather than making us care about the people. The end result is a lot of plot that I’ve been caring less and less about. Luckily, this episode serves as a shot in the arm, due in large part to Keating’s mother (Cicely Tyson) making an appearance.

[That explains the title of this episode...]

Fri
Feb 20 2015 1:30pm

Fresh Meat: The Black Widow by Wendy Corsi Staub

The Black Widow by Wendy Corsi Staub is a thriller featuring two women who embark into the world of online dating in completely different fashions (available February 24, 2015).

In The Black Widow, Wendy Corsi Staub delves into the world of dating 21st-century style. We’ve gone from Looking for Mr. Goodbar to You’ve Got Mail. This means a group of thirty-somethings are putting their best foot forward, and often a picture of their younger selves, in a profile to garner a poke, or a hello, and maybe a first date with online dating.

I’ve been married a long time, so thinking about getting back into dating certainly gives me the heebie jeebies. I remember reading Mary Higgins Clark’s Loves Music, Loves to Dance and being convinced immediately it would not work for me. This book has a similar but darker story about computer dating.

That said, I have to confess that my strong, independent daughter has many friends and her current fellow from using an online dating service.

[It doesn't matter how you find Mr. Right...]

Fri
Feb 20 2015 10:30am

Two-Lane Blacktop: An Offbeat Cross-Country Race

I just watched Monte Hellman’s moody 1971 road movie Two-Lane Blacktop for maybe the fifth time. After being dazzled by the film once again, I asked myself, because there are numerous qualities that make the movie such a keeper for me, via which winning aspect do I begin?

Makes sense to start with the storyline, which is compelling. Written by Rudolph Wurlitzer and Will Cory, the tale is of a cross-country car race. One entrant is a team of two young men who don’t seem to do much in life except roar around in their custom-made Chevy, looking for someone stupid enough to challenge them to a sprint. The other is a lone wolf who zooms around in a GTO, and whom also appears to be at mostly loose ends in life. The two cars and their occupants keep encountering each other on the highways and at roadside places, as they wander through parts of California, Arizona and New Mexico. Finally, after some attitude exchanges on the road and some lippy chatter at a service station, they decide it’s time they shut up and put up: they’re going to race all the way to Washington, D.C.  And the winner gets the other’s ride.

[*waves the checkered flag*]

Fri
Feb 20 2015 9:15am

The M.O.: Submissions are Open for the Next Two Weeks!

The M.O. submissions mailbox is open!

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 “Long Gone.” In another two weeks, we'll put up a selected shortlist of Long Gone 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 both online and in downloadable formats.

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 March 6th!

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 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 all the details, please check The M.O. Submission Guidelines here. We're so excited about this ongoing program to promote and share short crime stories. We can't wait to read what you have to say about it!

Thu
Feb 19 2015 1:00pm

Diving into Submarine Movies: How Realistic are They?

The helm of the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine, USS Florida (SSGN-728), in March 2010.

A lot of people are fascinated with submarines, perhaps because of their stealthy missions, long periods underwater, or because few people have been aboard one. The public’s concept of submarine life is influenced by what they read and see, particularly movies, which begs the question – How realistic are they?

I’ll start with Hollywood movies in general. What most people envision when they think of submarines are the small, grimy diesel boats featured in dozens of older movies. Today, the United States only uses nuclear powered submarines – clean behemoths compared to their diesel boat counterparts. For example, Ohio class submarines, which carry Trident ballistic missiles, are almost two football fields long, seven stories tall from the keel to the top of the sail, and wide as a three-lane highway. Despite the size, however, there still isn’t much room inside, as submarines are packed with the equipment necessary to operate and engage in combat.

When it comes to Hollywood movies that feature modern nuclear submarines, the most popular movies are The Hunt for Red October and Crimson Tide, so I’ll focus on those two.

[Let's dive in...]