<i>The Yemen Contract</i>: New Excerpt The Yemen Contract: New Excerpt Arthur Kerns The 3rd Hayden Stone thriller. <i>Shooting the Sphinx</i>: New Excerpt Shooting the Sphinx: New Excerpt Avram Noble Ludwig A unique political thriller about an American filmmaker. <i>The Charmers</i>: New Excerpt The Charmers: New Excerpt Elizabeth Adler A page-turner of a novel that will keep you riveted up until the end. <i>The Big Sheep</i>: New Excerpt The Big Sheep: New Excerpt Robert Kroese A balance of sci-fi, mystery, and humor.
From The Blog
June 24, 2016
Page to Screen: Comics I'd Love to See on My TV—The Sandman
Angie Barry
June 23, 2016
Cooking the Books: The Diva Serves High Tea by Krista Davis
Doreen Sheridan
June 23, 2016
Q&A with Spencer Kope, Author of Collecting the Dead
Crime HQ and Spencer Kope
June 22, 2016
The Real Serial Killer Behind the Play Arsenic and Old Lace
Kristen Houghton
June 22, 2016
Let There Be Linda Blog Tour: Sneak Peak and Exclusive Q&A with Author Rich Leder
Rich Leder
Jun 26 2016 12:00pm

The Yemen Contract: New Excerpt

Arthur Kerns

The Yemen Contract by Arthur Kerns is the 3rd book in the Hayden Stone Thriller series, where Stone finds himself in Yemen trying to save his kidnapped partner and foil a terrorist plan that only he can stop (Available June 28, 2016).

CIA operative Hayden Stone has his work cut out for him. Abdul Wahab seeks to make a power grab in the exotic land of Yemen and establish a terrorist base from which to launch an attack on Europe.

Wahab lures Stone to Yemen by kidnapping his partner CIA officer Sandra Harrington in Sicily. Stone comfortably operates in this world where tribal leaders vie for power with the central government, al Qaeda exerts its influence through murder and mayhem, and double-dealing among Bedouin and townspeople is a national pastime.

The cat and mouse game goes from the capital Sana’a, to the deserts in the far east of the country, and to the mountain villages in the north. Stone has a personal stake in this mission, but can never keep his eye off of the greater plot developing, the one that puts millions in peril, and that only he can stop.

[Read an excerpt of The Yemen Contract here...]

Jun 25 2016 11:00am
Original Story

Candy Store Heroin Operation, Beer Thieves, Drunk Lawnmower Driver, and more: The Bullet List

Teddy Pierson
Jun 25 2016 10:00am

Shooting the Sphinx: New Excerpt

Avram Noble Ludwig

Shooting the Sphinx by Avram Noble Ludwig is a unique political thriller about an American filmmaker who becomes involved in the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 (Available June 28, 2016).

In Hollywood, Ari Basher is the stuff of legends, the man who always gets the impossible-to-film shots. In Cairo, however, he faces the most difficult and dangerous challenge of his career: he must photograph, from mere feet away, the face of the imperishable Sphinx. The film depends on it, but if Ari damages the ancient Sphinx, he could end up in an Egyptian prison for life or even dead.

Compounding his troubles, Ari has saved a dark-haired revolutionary named Farah from being raped by government thugs, and she has turned his life around. Now he is caught in a web of intrigue, torn between his need to work with the military dictatorship to get the shot and his desire for this passionate revolutionary. Losing her is not an option.

Will Ari join in the liberation of Egypt? Will he and Farah escape the country alive? Finally . . . will Ari get the shot?

Chapter 1

Ari Basher hopped out of a van into a blast of rotor wash at the Thirtieth Street Heliport. He hiked up his jeans and tried to keep the grin from devouring his face as he let himself into the gate through a tall chain-link fence. He loved to fly.

A sleek white corporate Sikorsky S-76 had just touched down, the rotors still spinning overhead. A bored CEO in a business suit stepped out of the aircraft. He cast a grim dry glance right through Ari, who politely held the gate open for him. Ari wanted to ask, “Dude, why so serious? You get to soar over all the bus riders on your daily commute.”

[Read the full excerpt from Shooting the Sphinx...]

Jun 24 2016 11:00pm

Outcast 1.04: “A Wrath Unseen” Episode Review

Boy, nothing says depressing quite like a funeral with only three attendants—and of those three, Kyle (Patrick Fugit), is the only one that doesn't have to be there. 

Poor neighbor Norville is being buried following his “suicide”—I put that in quotations because there's definitely something wiggy about it, a suspicion that's only reinforced when Evil Data (Brent Spiner, who finally introduces himself as “Sidney”) appears and claims to be one of Norville's old friends.

Uh huh. I buy that.

[Read Angie's review of Episode 1.04: “A Wrath Unseen”]

Jun 24 2016 4:30pm

“The Moon’s Shine” Cocktail

From the hills of the Appalachian region to the copper stills of those keeping the illegal, and sometimes dangerous, tradition alive, moonshine has been a big part of American drinking history. Known by many names—moonshine, white lightning, mountain dew, Tennessee white whiskey—this potent alcohol is sure to make you see colors!

And, in Spencer Kope's Collecting the Dead, his character Magnus “Steps” Craig has synesthesia and sees unique colors left behind by everyone—something he calls “shine.”

So, for this week's Pick Your Poison—where we create a cocktail inspired by a recently published mystery, thriller, or crime novel—we do our best to make YOU see colors with a strong “The Moon's Shine” cocktail, inspired by Spencer Kope's Collecting the Dead!

The colors, Duke—the colors!

[Check out the recipe below!]

Jun 24 2016 3:00pm

Page to Screen: Comics I’d Love to See on My TV—The Sandman

The Series: The Sandman by Neil Gaiman.
The Hero: Dream (also known as Morpheus, among other aliases) of the Endless.
The Ideal Format: A live action series with significant amounts of CGI and puppetry, à la Mirrormask and the Henson films of the 80's.

It's one of the most critically acclaimed comic series of all time, and one of the first graphic novels to ever make the New York Times Bestseller list.

It was one of only five graphic novels to be included in Entertainment Weekly's “100 best reads” (it came in at #46, in fact).

It's garnered more than 26 Eisner Awards, Bram Stoker Awards, a World Fantasy Award, and was nominated for a Hugo.

With all of that acclaim, and with its rather rabid fanbase, why hasn't The Sandman already been adapted for film or TV?

[Cause it's hard to watch TV when you're dreaming?]

Jun 24 2016 1:00pm

Dear Lisbeth Salander: I Want Revenge

This week's guest columnist is Lisbeth Salander, who's a hacker but not a hack, Wasp but not a WASP, and an all-around tough-as-nails badass.

Dear Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,

As I write this to you, I am contemplating ending it all. Okay, I’m drunk, but that’s how I feel. The man I was with for over two years dumped me for a blonde bimbo-type. He’s been buying her gifts and taking her on trips with the money from our joint savings account, all of which was put there by me. He has no job.  

I did everything for this guy: cooked his favorite dinners, paid all the bills, and bought him an expensive motorcycle. Despite all this, he treated me like crap. This bimbo does nothing for him and he treats her like a queen! I want to text him right now but, as I said, I am just a little fuzzy.

He told me when he left that he will come over in a couple of days to pick up his things and to get his share of the money left in our account. I feel that life isn’t worth living without him, but then, I also want revenge!

—Desperate Diana

[Read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's advice!]

Jun 24 2016 12:00pm

The Charmers: New Excerpt

Elizabeth Adler

The Charmers by Elizabeth AdlerThe Charmers by Elizabeth Adler is a page-turner of a novel that will keep you riveted up until the very last page (Available June 28, 2016).

When Mirabella Matthews’ Aunt Jolly dies unexpectedly and under mysterious circumstances Mirabella suddenly finds herself the new owner of a villa in the South of France. But with the inheritance come unexpected mysteries…and dangers.

On her way to the villa, Mirabella is run off the road by a motorcycle, and that’s only just the beginning. It turns out that Aunt Jolly had a past, and as the various men who were a part of it show up Mirabella must find out who can be trusted and who is using charm to mask the face of a murderer.


Antibes, South of France

The Boss, as he was called by everyone, even those that did not work for him and merely knew his reputation, strode purposefully past the seafront terrace bars until he came to the one he favored, where he pulled a chair from a table in the third row back, closest to the building. He always liked to face the street, the crowds, the other customers, keep his back against the wall, so to speak. Backs were vulnerable, his particularly so.

Despite the heat he was comfortable in white linen pants and a blue-and-white-print shirt, sleeves rolled up over his muscular forearms. His watch was neither gold nor flashy, though it was certainly expensive.

[Read the full excerpt from The Charmers...]

Jun 24 2016 11:30am

Van’s Pimp’d Out Stereo Gets Owner Arrested

Image courtesy of NYPD 110th Precinct

A man who really enjoys mobile audio was arrested for blasting music from his van that has an impressive 80-speaker setup outlining the interior. Damn!

According to the Gothamist, Nelson Hidalgo was arrested by New York Police during a Mets game when his army of speakers began charging out music so loud that the bullpen at Citi Field could hear it and were forced to call the cops with a noise complaint.

As you might have guessed, it did not take the police very long to find the disturbance. When police confronted Hidalgo, he was reportedly taking it very easy, with a beer in hand, while entertaining a small crowd who were gathered around his boombox van prior to his arrest.

Hidalgo then dropped some knowledge on the police officers at the scene by stating “I know it's illegal, but it's the weekend." Despite his logical (and righteous) excuse, Hidalgo was charged with second-degree criminal nuisance, general noise prohibition, disorderly conduct, and obstructing the driver's view.

Oh, in case you were wondering—the Mets lost the game.

Jun 24 2016 10:00am

The Big Sheep: New Excerpt

Robert Kroese

The Big Sheep by Robert KroeseThe Big Sheep by Robert Kroese is a balance of sci-fi, mystery, and humor (Available June 28, 2016).

Los Angeles of 2039 is a baffling and bifurcated place. After the Collapse of 2028, a vast section of LA, the Disincorporated Zone, was disowned by the civil authorities, and became essentially a third world country within the borders of the city. Navigating the boundaries between DZ and LA proper is a tricky task, and there's no one better suited than eccentric private investigator Erasmus Keane. When a valuable genetically altered sheep mysteriously goes missing from Esper Corporation's labs, Keane is the one they call.

But while the erratic Keane and his more grounded partner, Blake Fowler, are on the trail of the lost sheep, they land an even bigger case. Beautiful television star Priya Mistry suspects that someone is trying to kill her - and she wants Keane to find out who. When Priya vanishes and then reappears with no memory of having hired them, Keane and Fowler realize something very strange is going on. As they unravel the threads of the mystery, it soon becomes clear that the two cases are connected - and both point to a sinister conspiracy involving the most powerful people in the city. Saving Priya and the sheep will take all of Keane's wits and Fowler's skills, but in the end, they may discover that some secrets are better left hidden.


“That’s a really big sheep,” said Erasmus Keane, his observational powers functioning as flawlessly as ever.

The woman in the lab coat nodded curtly. “He’s a Lincoln Longwool,” she said. “Largest breed of sheep in the world.” She had introduced herself as Dr. Kelly Takemago, Director of Research for the Esper Corporation. We were standing in her lab, a vast white room filled with the low humming of vaguely terrifying machines that hung from the ceiling like colossal clockwork bats. Poised in the middle of the room was the sheep in question, which Keane and I were regarding with professional interest. The sheep, in turn, was regarding us. It didn’t appear impressed.

[Read the full excerpt from The Big Sheep...]

Jun 23 2016 4:00pm

Cooking the Books: The Diva Serves High Tea by Krista Davis

The 10th installment of the Domestic Diva mystery series finds our heroine, Sophie Winston, coming to the rescue of her frenemy, Natasha, when an intruder breaks into the home Natasha shares with her boyfriend, Mars (who also happens to be Sophie’s ex-husband). Someone is lurking in the shadows of Old Town Alexandria, and neither Sophie nor her friends feel safe as the culprit remains at large—particularly since no motive was apparent for the attack.

Fortunately, a diverting new restaurant has opened in the neighborhood—a lovely place specializing in tea and snacks, called The Parlour. Unfortunately, it’s closed down for investigation when new arrival to the neighborhood, handsome antiques dealer Robert Johnson, drops dead from botulism poisoning shortly after attending a literary fundraiser held there.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Jun 23 2016 3:00pm

Q&A with Spencer Kope, Author of Collecting the Dead

Before writing crime novels, you solved crimes as a Crime Analyst with the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office. Did you base any of your characters in Collecting the Dead on yourself?

I did, actually. In the story, Dexter Allen is the crime analyst at the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office and helps Steps identify a vehicle captured on surveillance video. Dexter, or Dex, is one of my nicknames at the Sheriff's Office (though my favorite is Jedi Master), and his office, as described, is my office down to every detail. Also, the process Dex uses to identify the vehicle, a process called Forensic Vehicle Analysis, is one I developed and use on a weekly basis to identify suspect vehicles. Dex will play a larger role in future books as the on-going hunt for the serial killer Leonardo continues.

[Read the full Q&A with Spencer Kope here...]

Jun 23 2016 1:00pm

Review: First Strike by Ben Coes

First Strike by Ben Coes is the 6th thriller featuring CIA operative Dewey Andreas (Available June 28, 2016).

Ben Coes’s First Strike—the 6th in his series featuring Dewey Andreas, a former member of U.S. Delta Force—is unrelentingly brutal in its portrayal of a struggle between a brilliant ISIS leader, Tristan Nazir, and Andreas and his colleagues.

Oxford educated Nazir is icily realistic in his aims—not for him noble clarion calls of creating a country ruled by Islam, rather:

“A noble idea to be sure, but what good is an idea if it is only that?” said Nazir. “Ruling is about power. It is about the acquisition of power, the maintenance of power, and the custody of power. It is about having the strength to demand that your own people sacrifice their lives in a larger struggle. It’s about the willingness to kill.”

[Read Janet Webb's review of First Strike...]

Jun 23 2016 12:00pm

Widowmaker: Audio Excerpt

Paul Doiron

Widowmaker by Paul Doiron is book #7 in the Mike Bowditch series (Available June 14, 2016).

When a mysterious woman in distress appears outside his home, Mike Bowditch has no clue she is about to blow his world apart. Amber Langstrom is beautiful, damaged, and hiding a secret with a link to his past.. She claims her son Adam is a wrongfully convicted sex offender who has vanished from a brutal work camp in the high timber around the Widowmaker Ski Resort. She also claims that Adam Langstrom is the illegitimate son of Jack Bowditch, Mike’s dead and diabolical father. He is the half-brother Mike never knew he had.

[Listen to an audio excerpt of Widowmaker here...]

Jun 23 2016 10:00am

Black Sails, Disco Inferno: New Excerpt

Andrez Bergen

Black Sails Disco Inferno by Andrez Bergen is the 70s noir-style retelling of the classic medieval romance of Tristan and Isolde (Available June 30, 2016).

An unnamed city, in which crime families flourish and the police pinch pennies from those with most power...Black Sails, Disco Inferno is a retelling of the classic medieval romance of Tristan and Isolde, turning things on their head by reversing the sex of the chief protagonists and placing them in a '70's pulp/noir world. Andrez Bergen's latest novel exposes layers of the bullet-riddled pulp/noir world of Trista and Issy amidst a sensual, disco-infused narrative overflowing with shady schemes, double dealings, cruel brutality and spellbinding mystery.




The city feeling like a blast furnace, two blocks down from the Disco Inferno.

From this position on the sidewalk, outside a closed delicatessen called Sam’s, she could hear beatsfrom the club, an electronic-affected voice asking something about being taken to Funky Town.

[Read more from Black Sails, Disco Inferno here...]

Jun 22 2016 4:00pm

Writing Where Your Protagonist Is a Different Race or Culture

Read this exclusive guest post from John Keyse-Walker, author of Sun, Sand, Muder, about writing protagonists outside of your race and culture, and then, make sure you're signed in and comment for a chance to win a copy of the book!

Write what you know. Every writer has heard this bit of wisdom attributed to Mark Twain. We all try to do this, but nothing flies more in the face of this adage than writing from a perspective the writer cannot fully know—that of a different race or culture. A writer can visit a location, go for a ride-along with the cops, or learn pathology and forensics to lend authenticity and credibility to their principal character’s environment and methods, but they can never completely get inside that character’s skin if they're of a different race.

That irrefutable fact has not stopped a number of crime writers from making a creditable and convincing effort. Richard Price, in Clockers, gave a portrayal of a black, small-time dope dealer and his poor, drug-ravaged housing project sufficiently realistic to inspire the Spike Lee film of the same name. George Pelecanos has been uniformly praised for his portrayal of black protagonists Derek Strange and Marcus Clay, both paired with white partners in Pelecanos's native Washington, D.C.

[Should you write characters outside your race?]

Jun 22 2016 3:00pm

The Real Serial Killer Behind the Play Arsenic and Old Lace

Many fictional crime stories are based, in part, on real events, and so have a background of interesting characters. Arsenic and Old Lace is one of them. It was based on a serial killer named Amy Archer-Gilligan—who, law enforcement says, murdered between 20 and 100 people, including some of her husbands. The dark comedy had a sinister, real-life protagonist.

The play, Arsenic and Old Lace, created in 1939 by playwright Joseph Kesselring, featured the charming, ditsy characters of Abby and Martha Brewster—two spinster sisters who ran a boarding house for “lonely, elderly gentlemen.” They helped these lonely men to the “Peaceful Great Beyond” by poisoning them with glasses of home-made elderberry wine laced with arsenic, strychnine, and “just a pinch” of cyanide. Darkly funny comedy, indeed, but the acts of the real person who inspired Kesselring were anything but funny.

[Read about the real killer below!]

Jun 22 2016 1:00pm

Among the Wicked by Linda Castillo: A Visual Guide

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

This week, take a wild ride through a visual summary of the plot of the upcoming 8th Kate Burkholder novel by Linda Castillo, Among the Wicked.

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Jun 22 2016 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: June 21, 2016

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!

Check back every Wednesday and see what we're reading for the week!

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

Jun 22 2016 11:00am

Let There Be Linda Blog Tour: Sneak Peak and Exclusive Q&A with Author Rich Leder

Let There Be Linda by Rich Leder is a black comic thriller that tells the tall tale of estranged brothers Mike and Dan Miller (Available July 1, 2016).

Estranged brothers Mike and Dan Miller—accountant and con-man talent agent respectively—are up to their necks in the virtual quicksand of LA's San Fernando Valley during the hottest summer in Southern California history. The root cause of their problems could be the missing seventy-five thousand dollars, or the sadistic, loan shark dwarf and his vicious giant, or the psycho comedian cop on the case, or the coke-snorting dentist, or the deranged zombie real estate developer. Or perhaps it’s the poodle—the poodle is suspect, no doubt. Or maybe it's the grocery store checker who breathes life into death.

Oh yes, it could be her too.

And so to repair the head-on collision the Millers have made of their personal and professional lives, the brothers summon their mother back from the dead to clean up the wreckage. But what the Miller men discover is that screwing with the laws of nature is a violent, bloody, hysterical, and hilarious idea.

[Read a sneak peak of Let There Be Linda and an exclusive Q&A with Richard Leder!]