Discount: <i>Tom Clancy's Op-Center: Into the Fire</i> Discount: Tom Clancy's Op-Center: Into the Fire Crime HQ Get a digital copy for only $2.99 through 6/5! Review: <i>Where Dead Men Meet</i> by Mark Mills Review: Where Dead Men Meet by Mark Mills Dirk Robertson Read Dirk Robertson's review! <i>Killing for You</i>: New Excerpt Killing for You: New Excerpt Keith Elliot Greenberg A shocking and authoritative account of a brutal double murder. Review: <i>City of Angels</i> by Kristi Belcamino Review: City of Angels by Kristi Belcamino Dave Richards Read Dave Richards review!
From The Blog
May 25, 2017
Page to Screen: Nightmare Alley
Brian Greene
May 18, 2017
Discovering a Sister in Crime: Eleanor T. Bland
Stephane Dunn
May 16, 2017
Q&A with Court Merrigan, Author of The Broken Country
David Cranmer and Court Merrigan
May 15, 2017
Adventures in Research, Part I: Time of Departure
Douglas Schofield
May 12, 2017
5 Reasons 50s-Era Cuba Is the Perfect Setting for a Thriller
Paul Vidich
Thu
May 25 2017 4:30pm

Review: Netflix’s True Crime Documentary The Keepers

The story begins with two retired women who come together to try to solve the 1969 murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik, their former high school teacher. It sounds like the premise of a cute cozy mystery, but this story is anything but cozy. It’s a tale of abuse, pedophilia, cover-ups by the Catholic Church, and forbidden love, as this explosive documentary uncovers layer after layer of secrets across seven episodes.

The first episode introduces us to the facts of the case. It’s a chilling overview of an unsolved murder of a Catholic nun in a small town outside of Baltimore, Maryland. The physical evidence was almost non-existent at the time, and the two women—Abbie Schaub and Gemma Hoskins, former classmates at Archbishop Keough High School—attempt to find out what happened to their beloved teacher.

[Who killed Sister Cathy?]

Thu
May 25 2017 3:00pm

Page to Screen: Nightmare Alley

When I was around 23, I took my two nephews to a carnival in Norfolk, Virginia. I figured it would be a good time for the boys, both aged approximately nine at the time. You know—cotton candy, funnel cake, exhilarating rides, midway games, etc. And for me, personally, maybe there would be some kicks like a wild funhouse with those freaky mirrors.

We left after less than an hour and with me in a bitter mood. The staff of the fun fair were rough customers. One barker growled at me and called me a cheapskate when I declined to buy any of the goods at his stall. The guy operating the Spider laughed meanly through bad teeth when one of my nephews cried out in fright while being thrown around on the rickety ride. Most of the workers looked like they needed a bath and maybe a stay at a drying-out clinic. Needless to say, they were an unsavory bunch. It was enough to make me want to stick to treating the kids to comparatively safe and wholesome activities like mini golf when I had them for a night.

[There's a reason carnivals are portrayed as dark and creepy...]

Thu
May 25 2017 1:00pm

Discount: Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire by George Galdorisi & Dick Couch

In celebration of the recent publication of the latest in Tom Clancy's Op-Center series, Dark Zone (available now!), get a digital copy of Into the Fire by George Galdorisi & Dick Couch for only $2.99 through June 5th!

Read an excerpt from Dark Zone!

When a team of assassins murder a high-ranking North Korean general and his family in their sleep, making it look like a robbery, events are set in motion that could shake the balance of world powers. Meanwhile, a U.S. naval combat ship, the USS Milwaukee, is attacked by North Korean forces in the middle of a training exercise off the shore of South Korea, and Commander Kate Bigelow is forced to ground the ship to avoid being captured. The crew takes refuge on a tiny island, trapped dangerously between the grounded ship and a fleet of hostile North Korean soldiers.

Op-Center intelligence discovers a secret alliance behind the attack—a pact between China and North Korea that guarantees China total control of a vast oil reserve found beneath the Yellow Sea. As both sides marshal their forces for a major confrontation at sea, Chase Williams and his Op-Center organization devise a plan to secretly spirit the American crew from the island and out from under North Korean control. But the North Koreans are not finished. In a desperate gamble, they unleash a terrorist cell on the American homeland. Only Op-Center can uncover their plan and stop it in time to prevent a major catastrophe that could lead to all-out war.

Read an excerpt from Into the Fire!

 

To learn more or order a copy, visit:

Buy at Amazon Buy at Barnes and NobleBuy at Books a Million Buy at iTunes

Thu
May 25 2017 12:00pm

Review: Where Dead Men Meet by Mark Mills

Set against a terrific backdrop of Europe on the cusp of the Second World War, Where Dead Men Meet by Mark Mills is a compelling novel, rich in adventure, espionage, secrets, and lies (available May 30, 2017). 

The dust of war is spreading across a divided Europe in 1937. A late night visit to an orphanage by a man with dark deeds on his mind sets the scene for Where Dead Men Meet. Mark Mills writes in a very composed and concise way, which allows the characters to unfold in an extremely untroubled fashion. Yet despite the slick, sophisticated style, there is still a grittiness in the narrative that ensures all palates will be satisfied. 

The balance he achieves in his writing results in a thriller that takes you back to the smoke and mirrors of the years leading up to the Second World War. Luke Hamilton, a junior air intelligence officer at the British Embassy, receives a letter from his father. Bad news awaits him as he slits the envelope open. But this is just the start of a rollercoaster ride for the young Hamilton as he tries to stay one step ahead of those who would do him harm.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Where Dead Men Meet...]

Thu
May 25 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

Killing for You: New Excerpt

Keith Elliot Greenberg

Killing for You by Keith Elliot GreenbergKilling For You by Keith Elliot Greenberg is a shocking, authoritative account of a brutal double murder (available May 30, 2017).

A KILLER PLOT
Twenty-six-year-old actor Daniel Wozniak was unemployed, facing eviction, and deep in debt for his upcoming wedding. So he devised a diabolical plan: He asked his neighbor Sam Herr, a young war veteran, to help him move some things into the attic of an empty theater. There, Wozniak shot Herr twice in the head before taking his ATM card and cell phone. Hours later, Wozniak performed on stage with his fiancée in a local production of the musical Nine, convinced that he had gotten away with murder…

A DRAMATIC LAST ACT
Wozniak dismembered his victim’s body and hid the pieces. Then he lured Herr’s college friend Juri “Julie” Kibuishi to Herr’s apartment and shot her twice in the head. The police immediately declared Herr a prime suspect—just as Wozniak had planned. But when Herr was declared missing, and his ATM withdrawals led authorities to Wozniak at his bachelor party, the actor was forced to play the role of a lifetime in a shocking murder investigation that would be his greatest—and final—performance…

[Read an excerpt from Killing for You...]

Wed
May 24 2017 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: Silence of the Jams by Gayle Leeson

Hurray, we’re back in Winter Garden, Virginia, to visit with the delightful Amy Flowers and her family and friends! This is one of those series where I’m there as much for the cast and their personal issues as I am for the mystery itself, and immersing myself back in the series was as truly cozy as wrapping a nice toasty blanket around myself.

Here in the second installment, Amy has finally realized her dream of opening a healthy, homey cafe after helping to solve the murder of her former boss in the series debut. Business at Amy’s Down South Cafe is good, perhaps unsurprisingly given that the only other place to eat out in this small town is a somewhat greasy pizza parlor.

[Recipe and pictures included below!]

Wed
May 24 2017 3:00pm

Shark Island by Chris Jameson: A Visual Guide

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

This week, a shark attack survivor believes she has already lived through her worst nightmare—she's dead wrong. Take a visual tour of Chris Jameson's debut novel, Shark Island, with GIFnotes!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Wed
May 24 2017 1:00pm

Review: City of Angels by Kristi Belcamino

City of Angels by Kristi Belcamino is an edgy, gritty, mature YA mystery about a young woman's struggle to not only belong—but survive.

One reason why I'm drawn to crime fiction is that it shows so-called “bad” people at their best and “good” people at their worst. That nuanced look at humanity and the forces out to corrupt it makes for some powerful, poignant, and pretty dark tales. You have to be an adult to fully appreciate and understand those types of stories though, right? You can't do a gritty, street level, crime story as a YA novel ... can you?

It turns out you can. City of Angels, Kristi Belcamino's (author of the Gabriella Giovanni series) debut YA crime novel, proved I need to reevaluate my assumptions about YA novels' ability to tell gritty and powerful crime stories. 

[Read Dave Richards's review of City of Angels...]

Wed
May 24 2017 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: May 23, 2017

Every Wednesday, we here at Criminal Element will put together a list of Staff Picks of the books that published the day before—sharing the ones that we are looking forward to reading the most!

This week is a powerhouse of new releases, including Michael Crichton's return to the world of paleontology! See what we're reading this week:

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

Wed
May 24 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

Blood of Tyrants: New Excerpt

Ken Shufeldt

Blood of Tyrants by Ken ShufeldtBlood of Tyrants by Ken Shufeldt is a gripping political thriller that explores the devastating effects that unlimited political funding, if permitted, could produce (available May 30, 2017).

Backed by a secretive Super PAC, Richard Wilkes, an old money Virginia businessman, upsets the incumbent to win the Presidency. His term begins smoothly enough—until ISIS launches horrific terrorist attacks on American soil.

In way over his head, the President refuses to take action, paving the way for the terrorists to use a stolen Pakistani nuke to incinerate almost a million Americans. Fed up with his incompetence, multi-billionaire Walter Jefferson leads several high ranking military leaders and a band of patriots in a bloody coup.

After eliminating President Wilkes and almost everyone on the Presidential succession list, Jefferson proclaims himself Chancellor and begins moving “undesirables” into internment camps. He then orders the military to invade Canada and Mexico in a desperate attempt to wipe out the ISIS contingents hiding there, and to build a buffer zone around the country. There are catastrophic losses on all sides. There’s only one hope for the United States now: the last survivor on the Presidential succession list, the Secretary of State.

[Read an excerpt from Blood of Tyrants...]

Tue
May 23 2017 4:30pm

Vote for Your Favorite Roger Moore James Bond Film

 

Tell us which film you chose and why in the comments below!

Tue
May 23 2017 3:00pm

We Can Be Heroes

Read author Rio Youers's exclusive guest post about the unlikely hero in all of us, and then make sure to sign in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of his upcoming supernatural thriller, The Forgotten Girl!

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that most of us didn’t disarm a nuclear weapon today. Likewise, we didn’t parachute out of a burning helicopter or get into a knife fight with an army of muscle-packed henchmen.

Or maybe—depending on the book we’re currently reading—we did.

In a recent interview, Lee Child said that there was an element of wish fulfillment involved in the creation of Jack Reacher—an empowering response to the vulnerabilities of everyday life: to see the world through the eyes of a character who could walk down any street, day or night, and not feel threatened. As a writer, I can see the appeal. We inhabit our characters. It’s as close to body-swapping as we’ll ever get. So why not swap with a total badass?

[Life swap!]

Tue
May 23 2017 2:00pm
Excerpt

Becoming Bonnie: New Excerpt

Jenni L. Walsh

Becoming Bonnie by Jenni L. Walsh is a debut historical novel and the untold story of how the wholesome Bonnelyn Parker became half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo!

Just in time for the anniversary of the deaths of Bonnie and Clyde on May 23, 1934, comes the debut historical novel Becoming Bonnie by Jenni L. Walsh! Read an exciting excerpt below and make sure to sign in and comment at the bottom for a chance to win your very own copy!

The summer of 1927 might be the height of the Roaring Twenties, but Bonnelyn Parker is more likely to belt out a church hymn than sling drinks at an illicit juice joint. She’s a sharp girl with plans to overcome her family's poverty, provide for herself, and maybe someday marry her boyfriend, Roy Thornton. But when Roy springs a proposal on her, and financial woes jeopardize her ambitions, Bonnelyn finds salvation in an unlikely place: Dallas's newest speakeasy, Doc's.

Living the life of a moll at night, Bonnie remains a wholesome girl by day, engaged to Roy, attending school, and working toward a steady future. When Roy discovers her secret life, he embraces it―perhaps too much, especially when it comes to booze and gambling―she tries to make the pieces fit. Maybe she can have it all: the American Dream, the husband, and the intoxicating allure of jazz music. But her life―like her country―is headed for a crash.

Bonnie Parker is about to meet Clyde Barrow.

[Read an excerpt from Becoming Bonnie...]

Tue
May 23 2017 1:00pm

Review: Two Lost Boys by L. F. Robertson

Two Lost Boys by L. F. Robertson is a debut novel and a legal thriller that deals with the controversial subject of the death penalty. 

Death row appeals attorney Janet Moodie has had her fill with the hopelessness that comes along with helping those on death row, grinding against the vast machine that makes up the American legal system. Janet reluctantly agrees to take on the appeal of Marion “Andy” Hardy, who, along with his younger brother Emory, was convicted of raping and murdering two prostitutes. The only difference is that while Emory got life in prison, Andy got death. Andy’s low IQ brings into question the appropriateness of the death penalty, but proving that Andy’s original lawyer didn’t do a thorough job is easier said than done.

We would have to turn the field again after nearly fifteen years, reading every piece of paper, looking for things not done, favorable evidence and witnesses that weren’t found or, if found, were ignored—anything that might help convince some judge that Andy deserved a new trial. We were starting at square one, with nothing obvious to look for—hell, we were behind square one, because Andy had had a trial and appeal. We’d have to convince a skeptical judge that enough evidence had been left out the first time, that Andy deserved a chance to be tried again.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review...]

Tue
May 23 2017 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: Wolves of the Calla Part VIII

Last week, Jake discovered Slightman the Elder's treasonous plan as the Calla geared up for the fight of their lives. This week, the battle against the Wolves commences as we close out Wolves of the Calla

Our previous read, The Wind Through The Keyhole, waylaid us in a town hall as a starkblast trapped our ka-tet with freezing conditions. Roland of Gilead spent the time palavering with Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy about long ago when him and fellow gunslinger Jamie tracked down and killed the shapeshifter Skin-Man. Intertwined in the narrative, we discover that Roland’s mother Gabrielle had learned from Randall Flagg that her son would murder her, and so in a letter she’d written in advance, she absolved Roland of the deed. After the icy weather passes, the ka-tet emerges and heads along the Path of the Beam toward Thunderclap.

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

We're back to wacky Stephen King chapters, so the plan is to read a section a week (about 100 pages) and meet here at our usual time (Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET) to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This week, the battle with the Wolves commences as we close out Wolves of the Calla! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part VIII of Wolves of the Calla: Part Three The Wolves, VII: “The Wolves” – Epilogue: “The Doorway Cave”!


CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread


[Leeeeeeeet's get ready to ruuuuummbllllle!]

Tue
May 23 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

Come Sundown: New Excerpt

Nora Roberts

Come Sundown by New York Times-bestselling author Nora Roberts is a novel of suspense, family ties, and twisted passions (available May 30, 2017).

The Bodine ranch and resort in western Montana is a family business, an idyllic spot for vacationers. A little over thirty thousand acres and home to four generations, it’s kept running by Bodine Longbow with the help of a large staff, including new hire Callen Skinner. There was another member of the family once: Bodine’s aunt, Alice, who ran off before Bodine was born. She never returned, and the Longbows don’t talk about her much. The younger ones, who never met her, quietly presume she’s dead. But she isn’t. She is not far away, part of a new family, one she never chose—and her mind has been shattered…

When a bartender leaves the resort late one night, and Bo and Cal discover her battered body in the snow, it’s the first sign that danger lurks in the mountains that surround them. The police suspect Cal, but Bo finds herself trusting him—and turning to him as another woman is murdered and the Longbows are stunned by Alice’s sudden reappearance. The twisted story she has to tell about the past—and the threat that follows in her wake—will test the bonds of this strong family, and thrust Bodine into a darkness she could never have imagined.

[Read an excerpt from Come Sundown...]

Mon
May 22 2017 5:00pm

Page to Screen: American Gods 1.04: “Git Gone” Review

Every episode of American Gods has ended with me longing for more. All the Coming to America vignettes have been pitch perfect and the acting top-notch across the board, but if I hadn't read the extraordinary Neil Gaiman novel, I don't believe I would care what comes next and—like my two viewing companions—would have bailed.

There's a real slow turning of the narrative page here (yet when slow is done right, it can be exciting, à la Twin Peaks) that wasn't clicking in the first three episodes, and the compartmentalization of the book that kept the reader enthralled just didn’t have the same effect in the show. For someone who likes it when filmmakers stay true to the book, I have to admit that I’m glad they expanded the Laura Moon character in “Git Gone.” It provides a much-needed backstory to her relationship with Shadow, and it made this episode the first exceptional one of the series.

[Read David Cranmer's review of “Git Gone”...]

Mon
May 22 2017 3:00pm

Twin Peaks: The Return Review: Parts 1 and 2

Ahead of David Lynch’s revival, I went back and binged on the original series, interested to know if it would still capture me like it did 27 years ago. I was only a few years older than the fictional 17-year-old Laura Palmer when I sat with my mom and best friend Erik each week, religiously invested in Special Agent Cooper probing Laura’s grisly death. My mother didn’t laugh at the dark humor that Erik and I enjoyed over the slain girl’s mom wailing long past when other directors would have yelled “cut!” We had grown up on Lynch’s Blue Velvet and were more than prepared for the dramatic swings—after all, Dennis Hopper snuffing up oxygen through a mask is practically normal. Still, both generations were glued-fast to the intrigue.

[Read David Cranmer's review of Twin Peaks: The Return, Parts 1 and 2!]

Mon
May 22 2017 1:00pm

Watch the First Redband Trailer for Atomic Blonde

Charlize Theron reprises her role as a British spy (Mr. F) in Atomic Blonde, a “breakneck action-thriller that follows MI6’s most lethal assassin through a ticking time bomb of a city simmering with revolution and double-crossing hives of traitors.” As Agent Lorraine Broughton, Theron proves she can be badass while still looking good, and the first redband trailer shows her employing a full range of skills, both savage and sensual. 

Based on the graphic novel The Coldest City by Antony Johnston & Sam Hart, director David Leitch looks to bring some of the realistic fight scenes and gory gunplay he employed in John Wick. Premiering in theaters July 28th, Atomic Blonde also stars John Goodman, James McAvoy, Til Schweiger, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella, and Toby Jones. 

[Watch the redband trailer for Atomic Blonde below!]

Mon
May 22 2017 12:00pm

Review: Sidney Chambers and the Persistence of Love by James Runcie

Sidney Chambers and the Persistence of Love by James Runcie is the 6th and final installment in the Grantchester Mystery series (available May 23, 2017).

Part-time sleuth and full-time priest, Sidney Chambers, is enjoying a beautiful May in 1971. Unfortunately, a peaceful walk gathering flowers with his young daughter, Anna, is ruined when the family discovers a dead body.

Although it was possible the man had died from natural causes, and there was probably a good enough reason for the plants he had been gathering, Sidney could not help but brood on the nature of fate, the chance of discovery and the possible sequence of events that had led up to that moment. He went to his study where he began to pray, seeking some kind of guidance, the beginning of understanding. Was it a sin to be so suspicious so frequently, or was he using the natural intuition that God had given him? Was his role as an accidental detective making him less loving and less effective as a priest?

[Read Angie Barry's review of Sidney Chambers and the Persistence of Love...]