"A Christmas Tartan": New Excerpt "A Christmas Tartan": New Excerpt Paige Shelton Just $1.99! A holiday steal! Review: <i>Dracula vs. Hitler</i> by Patrick Sheane Duncan Review: Dracula vs. Hitler by Patrick Sheane Duncan Angie Barry Read Angie Barry's review! <i>Say No More </i>: New Excerpt Say No More : New Excerpt Hank Phillippi Ryan The 5th book in the Jane Ryland series. Review: <i>Hold a Scorpion</i> by Melodie Johnson-Howe Review: Hold a Scorpion by Melodie Johnson-Howe David Cranmer Read David Cranmer's review!
From The Blog
October 26, 2016
A Series of Covers: Q&A between Charles Finch and David Rotstein
Charles Finch and David Rotstein
October 21, 2016
7 Books to Read If You Love The Walking Dead
Angie Barry
October 21, 2016
A Cozy Competition: Minotaur Books & Malice Domestic Best First Novel
Crime HQ
October 20, 2016
A Vague Unease: Reviewing The Kettering Incident
Leanna Renee Hieber
October 20, 2016
Naked Ambition: Evolution of a Book Cover
Rick Pullen
Oct 26 2016 5:00pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

The bad news is that we hear virtually nothing of the village of Three Pines and its inhabitants in this 8th installment of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series. The good news is that Ms. Penny has instead decided to tackle one of the greatest mysteries in music history!

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his second-in-command, Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir, are sent to investigate a murder set in a remote monastery that houses a reclusive order of monks who have been made, rather ironically, world-famous by their exquisite Gregorian chants. This is tricky work: writing a novel that succeeds at integrating church scholarship with a murder mystery (and compelling personal drama, but more on that in a moment). Umberto Eco tried it in The Name Of the Rose. Let it be an example of my standards when I say that I didn’t feel he quite succeeded.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Oct 26 2016 4:00pm

Brazen by Loren D. Estleman: A Visual Guide

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

This week, blonde starlet actresses have had their fair share of fun ... and tragedy, as Valentino tries to solve the mysterious death of his friend and former actress Beata Limerick in the 5th Valentino Mystery, Brazen! Take a visual tour with GIFnotes!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Oct 26 2016 3:45pm

Signed Copy of Alex Kava’s Reckless Creed Sweepstakes

Alex Kava’s Reckless Creed Sweepstakes

Ryder Creed and FBI agent Maggie O'Dell are back, along with Creed's faithful crew of K-9 search-and-rescue dogs, looking for a link between a series of mysterious deaths that may lead them to one of the most prolific serial killers in American history. Enter below for a chance to win a signed copy of New York Times-bestselling author Alex Kava's latest entry in the Ryder Creed series, Reckless Creed. You'd have to be barking mad to pass this up.

Birth Month
Birth Year


Signed Copy of Reckless Creed Sweepstakes

  1. To Enter: Submit your entry by fully completing the sign-up form found at http://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2016/10/reckless-creed-oct16-sweeps (the “Site”). Sweepstakes begins online at 12:00 AM Eastern Time (ET) on Tuesday, October 25, 2016 and ends at 11:59 PM ET on Wednesday, November 09, 2016. Your entry will sign you up to receive emailed news related to Criminal Element as well as enter you into the sweepstakes.

Limit one entry per person or household. The entry must be fully completed; mechanically reproduced; incomplete and/or illegible entries will not be accepted. In case of dispute with respect to online entries, entries will be declared made by the authorized account holder of the e-mail address submitted at the time of entry. “Authorized account holder” is defined as the natural person who is assigned to an e-mail address by an Internet Access Provider, on-line service provider, or other organization (e.g., business, educational institution, etc.) that is responsible for assigning e-mail addresses for the domain associated with the submitted e-mail address. Entries become property of Sponsor and will not be returned. Automated entries are prohibited, and any use of such automated devices will cause disqualification. Sponsor and its advertising and promotions agencies are not responsible for lost, late, illegible, misdirected or stolen entries or transmissions, or problems of any kind whether mechanical, human or electronic.

  1. Random Drawing: A random drawing will be held from all eligible, correctly completed entries received on a timely basis, on or about Monday, November 14, 2016, by Criminal Element, whose decisions concerning all matters related to this sweepstakes are final.
  2. Notice to Winners: Winner will be notified by e-mail. Winner may be required to sign and return an affidavit of eligibility and publicity/liability release within fifteen (15) days of notification attempt or prize may be awarded to alternate winner. Return of any prize notification as undeliverable will result in disqualification and alternate winner will be selected. If an entrant selected in the drawing is a resident of Canada, to be declared a winner he/she must correctly answer, without assistance of any kind, a time-limited mathematical skill-testing question to be administered by telephone or email. If a potential winner who is a resident of Canada cannot be contacted, and/or the skill-testing question cannot be administered, within seven (7) days he/she will be disqualified and the prize may be awarded to an alternate entrant. If a winner is a minor in his/her jurisdiction of residence, prize will be awarded to minor's parent or legal guardian, who must follow all prize claim procedures specified herein and sign and return all required documents.
  3. Prize: One (1) Grand Prize winner(s) will receive OOne (1) Grand Prize will be offered. The Grand Prize consists of one (1) signed copy of Reckless Creed by Alex Kava (ARV $32.00).. Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”) of the Prize: $32.00.
    Approximate retail value of all prizes: $32.00

  1. Odds of winning depend upon the number of eligible entries received. If any prize is won by a minor, it will be awarded in the name of minor's parent or legal guardian. Each entrant selected as a potential winner must comply with all terms and conditions set forth in these Official Rules, and winning is contingent upon fulfilling all such requirements. Sponsor makes no warranties with regard to the prize. Prize is not transferable. No substitutions of prize allowed by winner, but Sponsor reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value. Prize is not redeemable by winner for cash value. All taxes, fees and surcharges on prize are the sole responsibility of winner.
  2. Eligibility: Only open to residents of 50 United States, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding the province of Quebec), age 18 and older at the time of entry. Void in Puerto Rico and where otherwise prohibited by law. Employees, and members of their families, of Sponsor, its parent, subsidiaries, and affiliates are not eligible to enter. This promotion is intended for viewing in the United States or Canada only and shall only be construed and evaluated according to United States law. You are not authorized to participate in the sweepstakes if you are not located within the United States or Canada.
  3. General: Sponsor and its representatives are not responsible for technical, hardware, software or telephone malfunctions of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications caused by the sender, or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in this sweepstakes which may limit the ability to play or participate, or by any human error which may occur in the processing of the entries in this sweepstakes. If for any reason, (including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other cause beyond the control of Sponsor, which corrupts or affects the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of this sweepstakes), the Sweepstakes is not capable of being conducted as described in these rules, Sponsor shall have the right, at its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the sweepstakes. Limit one prize per person or household. By accepting prize, the winner grants to Sponsor the right to use his/her name, likeness, hometown, biographical information, in advertising and promotion, including on the Site, without further compensation or permission, except where prohibited by law. By participating in the sweepstakes, entrant and winner release Sponsor, its parent, subsidiaries, affiliates, subsidiaries, suppliers, and agents, from any and all liability for any loss, harm, damages, cost or expense, including without limitation property damages, personal injury and/or death, arising out of participation in this sweepstakes or the acceptance, use or misuse of the prize. Sponsor may prohibit an entrant from participating in the sweepstakes or winning a prize if, in its sole discretion, it determines that said entrant is attempting to undermine the legitimate operation of the Sweepstakes by cheating, hacking, deception, or other unfair playing practices (including the use of automated quick entry programs) or intending to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other entrants or Sponsor representatives. All legal responsibilities of a minor under these Official Rules will be assumed by the minor's parent/legal guardian.


  1. Use of Data: Sponsor will be collecting personal data about entrants who enter online, in accordance with its privacy policy. Please review the Sponsor's privacy policy at http://us.macmillan.com/splash/policy.html. By participating in the sweepstakes, entrants hereby agree to Sponsor's collection and usage of their personal information and acknowledge that they have read and accepted Sponsor's privacy policy.
  2. Winner List: For winner information, available after Wednesday, November 09, 2016, send by Monday, November 14, 2016 a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Winner Information, Signed Copy of Reckless Creed Sweepstakes, c/o Criminal Element, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
  3. Sponsor: Criminal Element, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York NY 10010.


By providing your information above you are entering the sweepstakes and will automatically be signed up to receive email updates about Criminal Element and other offers from Macmillan and its related companies.

Oct 26 2016 3:00pm

A Series of Covers: Q&A between Charles Finch and David Rotstein

Often, the most tumultuous part of the publishing process is the creation of cover art. Responsible for hundreds of books a year, artists work tirelessly to create the perfect image to represent 300+ pages, and publishers, editors, sales reps, and marketers all weigh in with opinions that the artist has to absorb and consider. Tough!

But sometimes the process runs smoothly and produces perfection. Executive Art Director David Rotstein has worked on 10 covers for Charles Finch's Victorian era series, and each of them captures the suspense, character, and history in the books impeccably. 

Authors don't often get the chance to communicate directly with the artists, but to commemorate the 10th book in the Charles Lenox series, Charlie and David were able to get together to discuss what happens behind the scenes in this exclusive Q&A. 

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Oct 26 2016 2:15pm

“A Christmas Tartan: A Scottish Bookshop Mini-Mystery”: New Excerpt

Paige Shelton

In anticipation of the 2nd Scottish Bookshop Mystery by Paige Shelton, Of Books and Bagpipes (Available April 4, 2017), and, of course, in celebration of the upcoming holiday season, we're thrilled to offer you a sneak peek of “A Christmas Tartan,” where an old, weathered copy of A Christmas Carol leads Delaney on the search for a missing girl. You can buy the full short story for only $1.99 below!

Christmastime has come to Scotland, and Delaney and all her coworkers at the Cracked Spine, the quirky bookshop in the heart of Edinburgh, are all in the holiday spirit. Between mugs of hot chocolate and nibbles of gingerbread, Delaney has been given the task of tracking down the provenance of a mysterious box of objects that her boss, Edwin, has recently acquired. In it are various trinkets, but what really catches Delaney's eye is a worn copy of A Christmas Carol, where she also finds an old photo tucked inside. On the back is a name, which leads her to a woman whose granddaughter has gone missing. When it becomes clear that the box might be connected to the missing girl, Delaney is pulled into the intrigue, and takes it upon herself to figure out what really happened—and why.

Chapter One

I had a holiday dinner this evening and presents to wrap, but something else had suddenly become more important.

[Continue reading “A Christmas Tartan”...]

Oct 26 2016 1:00pm

Marvel’s Luke Cage Season 1 Review: Episodes 11-13

After a slump that had Luke Cage getting wheeled on a gurney for almost three whole episodes, Cage and his show come roaring back to life in Episode 11, shielding decent people with his indestructible frame and sending bad guys to the floor with flicks of his wrist.

As I said in my first wrap-up, Luke Cage has been able to move in several different directions simultaneously—the dramatic, the socially relevant, the artistic, the humorous, the noirish—and the final episodes bring the show back to its superhero roots, supplying a lot of action and destruction through which our hero strides with moral clarity and rage tempered by a forthright purpose.

But with the surge in superheroics comes strong reminders that this show always had bigger ambitions and urgent matters to address. Luke Cage’s final three episodes make plainer than ever what keeps Luke and the show’s creators and producers going: a need to expose the wrongs of the world and tell a story that isn’t often told. It was always hard to miss the social issues at play in the show, and by the end those headline issues are at the forefront of the show even more than the title character.

[Read Hector's review of Episodes 11-13...]

Oct 26 2016 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: October 25, 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!

This week, Iris & Roy Johansen uncover some of the secrets behind the Night Watch Project in their 4th Kendra Michaels thriller and we get a new John Grisham! See what other books you should be reading this week: 

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

Oct 26 2016 11:00am

Review: Dracula vs. Hitler by Patrick Sheane Duncan

Dracula vs. Hitler by Patrick Sheane Duncan is a thrilling action adventure featuring one of the world's greatest fictional monsters facing off against an historical monster in 1941 Romania. 

In the spring of 1941, Hitler's war machine is moving steadily across Europe, crushing any resistance it encounters beneath its fascist boots. Countries fall like dominos beneath the awesome might and horrific violence of the Nazi party. 

Then, the Germans reach Romania, the adopted homeland of one Dr. Abraham Van Helsing...

It has, of course, been decades since the doctor's infamous battle against the greatest evil the world had ever known—the greatest evil prior to Hitler's ascent, that is. Now an old man, Van Helsing recognizes the warning signs and knows that Hitler and his cruel, barbaric forces must be stopped. Sadly, they will not be stopped by the small (if hardy) guerrilla rebels he and his wild daughter Lucy lead.

[Read Angie Barry's review of Dracula vs. Hitler...]

Oct 26 2016 10:01am

Say No More : New Excerpt

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Say No More by Hank Phillippi RyanSay No More by Hank Phillippi Ryan is book #5 in the Jane Ryland series (Available November 1, 2016).

When Boston reporter Jane Ryland reports a hit and run, she soon learns she saw more than a car crash—she witnessed the collapse of an alibi. Working on an expose of sexual assaults on college campuses for the station’s new documentary unit, Jane’s just convinced a date rape victim to reveal her heartbreaking experience on camera. However, a disturbing anonymous message—SAY NO MORE—has Jane really and truly scared.

Homicide detective Jake Brogan is on the hunt for the murderer of Avery Morgan, a hot-shot Hollywood screenwriter. Her year as a college guest lecturer just ended at the bottom of her swimming pool in the tight-knit and tight-lipped Boston community called The Reserve. As Jake chips his way through a code of silence as shatterproof as any street gang, he’ll learn that one newcomer to the neighborhood may have a secret of her own.

A young woman faces a life-changing decision—should she go public about her assault? Jane and Jake—now semi-secretly engaged and beginning to reveal their relationship to the world—are both on a quest for answers as they try to balance the consequences of the truth.



“Did you see that silver Cadillac? What he did?” Jane Ryland powered down the car window to get a better look. “He plowed right into that delivery van! Pull closer, can you?”

“Anyone hurt?” Fiola kept her eyes on the cars stopped ahead of them in the Monday morning rush on O’Brien Highway.

Squinting through the sun’s glare, Jane could just make out the Caddy’s red-and-white Massachusetts license plate up ahead in the lane to her right. “I can’t tell yet. We need to get closer.”

[Read the full excerpt from Say No More...]

Oct 25 2016 4:30pm

Angel Throwdown: The Mythology Behind Lucifer, Episode 2.05: “Weaponizer”

This episode quickly escalates with the appearance of Uriel. Mythologically, Uriel has many titles and is attributed with many different roles, including being the angel that guarded against Adam and Eve’s entrance back into the Garden of Eden and the angel who checked the doorways for the Passover sacrifice. None of these have any basis in the Bible, however. All of the attributions come from books from the Apocrypha, which are largely excluded from the canon.

In fact, angels are rarely named in the Bible—Michael and Gabriel being the most prominent examples. Raphael fills out the number three spot, and because there are four cardinal directions, Uriel takes the fourth.

[Read more about the mythology behind “Weaponizer”...]

Oct 25 2016 4:00pm

Which Slasher Film Killer Are You?

Slasher films have created some of the world's most recognizable monsters. From Michael Myers to Jason Voorhees, these monsters were especially scary because, unlike Godzilla or other creature feature folklore, they were undeniably real. Serial killers exist, and they do hunt, torture, and stab their victims.

While the slasher film genre has its own criteria, each villainous monster exudes their own unique characteristics. And if you were to stalk around with a large knife, killing at will, which slasher would YOU most closely resemble?

Take our Personality Quiz and find out!

Oct 25 2016 3:00pm

Q&A with Emily Littlejohn, Author of Inherit the Bones

Read this exclusive Q&A with Emily Littlejohn, author of Inherit the Bonesand then make sure you're signed in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of the book!

What do you want readers to think or feel after finishing this book?

I believe the book packs a big emotional punch, not just at the beginning or end, so I hope readers feel that too. If they laughed, cried, raged, or any combination of the three, I’ll be happy.  

[Read the full Q&A below...]

Oct 25 2016 1:00pm

Review: Hold a Scorpion by Melodie Johnson-Howe

Hold a Scorpion by Melodie Johnson-Howe is the latest Diana Poole crime thriller that takes our amateur sleuth deep into Southern California's underworld to uncover the mystery of a diamond-encrusted scorpion―and the reason for the murders that follow in its wake.

Diana Poole has split with her egocentric boyfriend, Peter Bianchi, who had chided her to take a good look at herself. So she does—by going to a movie theater and watching her larger-than-life image on the silver screen.

A middle-aged actress who is on the back burner of Hollywood, Diana mulls the ended relationship and career mistakes that has brought her to this empty, darkened movie house. As she views herself, she insightfully ponders, “… narcissism is as demanding as an unpaid drug dealer.” Driving back to her Malibu home (after being lulled to sleep by her own hues), despondent thoughts are temporarily erased when she notes a woman waving boisterously in her direction. A fan? Someone she knows? She’s not sure as the brief encounter turns to horror.

[Read David Cranmer's review of Hold a Scorpion...]

Oct 25 2016 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three, Part III

The shootout at Balazar's last week gave us a taste of the action, now we're fiending like a junkie for some more! Join our discussion of Part III of The Drawing of the Three, as we meet ODetta Holmes/Detta Walker. 

Thank you for joining me on a journey of Stephen King’s The Drawing of the Three (1987), the 2nd book in The Dark Tower series. Several of us have just finished a trek through The Gunslinger (1982), which originally was a collection of short stories, later bound together, effectively capturing a world certainly familiar to us—Wild West background set to modern pop tunes—but stirring nightmarish images where time is out of mind and people displaced in various purgatories. The main protagonist, Roland Deschain of Gilead, is obsessed with locating the Dark Tower, so he shadows the man in black, who seems to have answers when confronted, though they are obtusely revealed with a turning over of Tarot cards. The man in black explained that Roland has caught the attention of his superior, who remains unknown, taking an interest in Roland’s endeavors.

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

With Stephen King's chapters getting a little strange, the plan is to read a section a week (about 100 pages), and each Tuesday we will meet 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, we come across another door—that of The Lady of the Shadows—as Roland attempts to draw the second of his three. Join us in the comments for a lively discussion of Part III of The Drawing of the Three: Shuffle – The Lady of Shadows, Chapter 1: “Detta and Odetta.”

CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread

[Read on if you dare honky mahfah...]

Oct 25 2016 11:00am

Review: Night Watch by Iris & Roy Johansen

Night Watch by Iris Johansen, Roy Johansen (Kendra Michaels Series #4)Night Watch by Iris and Roy Johansen is book #4 in the Kendra Michaels series (Available October 25, 2016).

Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen are a mother-and-son duo who created the character of Kendra Michaels, a hired gun for both the CIA and FBI, and Night Watch is the latest in the popular series. The premise of the series—a blind woman has her sight restored by a researcher working for an organization called the Night Watch Project, thus giving her a new life—is intriguing and exciting.

Kendra Michaels is a person whose senses are keen and on-target. Having been sightless for twenty years, her other senses—hearing, smell, taste, touch—are, in a sense, super-charged. Combine that with the new gift of sight she receives, and you have an investigator with a powerful edge.

[Read Kristen Houghton's review of Night Watch...]

Oct 25 2016 10:00am

The Champagne Conspiracy: New Excerpt

Ellen Crosby

The Champagne Conspiracy by Ellen CrosbyThe Champagne Conspiracy by Ellen Crosby is the 7th book in the Wine Country Mysteries series (Available November 1, 2016).

Winter has come to the Montgomery Estate Vineyard in Atoka, Virginia. Lucie Montgomery and winemaker Quinn Santori have decided to make champagne, a first for the vineyard.

But then Gino Tomassi, Quinn’s uncle, turns up on their doorstep one afternoon, demanding help in solving the mystery of what happened to Zara Tomassi, the first wife of his grandfather, who died in a San Francisco hotel in 1923 under suspicious circumstances. And it seems there’s no coincidence that her death came the day after President Warren Harding passed away in that same hotel. Gino needs answers before his blackmailer takes him for all he’s worth—or exposes an explosive family secret.

Lucie searches for what happened almost a hundred years ago as she delves into Prohibition-era Washington, D.C.—a town of bootlegging and duplicity, jazz clubs and speakeasies. But then the investigation turns deadly, threatening Lucie, her relationship with Quinn, and the vineyard, as they realize someone is still out there nearly a century later who will go to any lengths to keep the truth about Zara’s death a buried secret.


It all started with the dress.

I lifted it out of the old steamer trunk and it took my breath away. A gossamer concoction of sea green chiffon, hundreds of copper, silver, and pale green glass beads in patterns like a stained-glass creation from Tiffany, with a sexy zigzag hem of silver fringe that glittered, even by the light of the yellowed bulb that barely lit this dim corner of the attic. I had never seen it—you don’t forget a dazzling couture number like this—but it had been beautifully and lovingly preserved, as though one of my long-dead relatives expected to pluck it out of its hiding place and shimmy off to a madcap night of too much dancing and drinking and making out with some guy in the backseat of his roadster.

[Read the full excerpt from The Champagne Conspiracy...]

Oct 24 2016 5:00pm

The Origins of Vera Stanhope

Read about how Ann Cleeves conceived of her famous character, Vera Stanhope, and then make sure you're signed in and comment below for a chance to win Season 1 of the hit series Vera on DVD!

Vera Stanhope arrived fully formed into a book that was never planned to include a detective. The Crow Trap was meant to be a stand-alone novel about three women conducting an environmental survey in the Northumberland National Park, but somehow, Vera forced her way in, demanding to be recognized. I loved her from the minute she arrived, looking more like a bag lady than a senior police officer. I loved her independence and the fact that she didn’t care at all what she looked like. I knew immediately that I’d want to write about her again.

[And again, and again...]

Oct 24 2016 4:00pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 7.01: “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”

Well, between last night's soulcrushing Walking Dead season premiere and HBO's latest episode of Westworld, Sunday proved to be a field day for caved-in skulls on cable television.

Okay. We admit it. We were getting ready to tear the season premiere to shreds for once again copping out on a major character death after Negan initially chose Abraham. Between the Great Glenn Fakeout of Season 6 and its protracted, unwelcome cliffhanger, TWD spent much of last year cheapening its own brand.

Then that happened. And lo, credibility was instantly restored.

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who got “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Oct 24 2016 1:00pm

Beauty & the B-Movie: Loving a Hated Genre

What is a B-movie?

Some—dismissive and so-called “highbrow” critics—say B-movies are irredeemable dreck. A waste of celluloid, money, and precious time. Films that scraped the bottom of the barrel and shouldn't have bothered.

A part of me pities these detractors. Such attitudes strike me as very narrow, dour, and joyless. Such folks probably deny themselves all sorts of cheap, simple pleasures and can't be much fun at parties.

As an ardent horror and adventure fan—and a lover of zombie flicks in particular—I'm often put into a position where I have to defend B-movies.

Think you know zombie films? Take our quiz and find out! Angie got 9/10—see if you can best the best!

[With a lawnmower? Or possibly a chainsaw hand!?]

Oct 24 2016 11:00am

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency 1.01, Series Premiere: “Horizons” Episode Review

In a word: Wow. Don’t talk, don’t blink, and don’t get up to get a drink of water. If you miss even one second of the first episode of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, you will be completely lost.

Ok, so I feel that I must be honest—even if you see every single second of it, you will still be lost. But keep watching, because everything is supposedly interconnected, and I am sure—or at least hopeful—that things will start to make sense.

Viewer discretion is advised, and we find out why in the very beginning: The opening sequence is quite a gruesome crime scene. Blood spatter everywhere, a severed arm on the floor, and the complete destruction of what looks to be a hotel room. The only thing living is a cute black kitten. This may seem innocuous, but trust me, it will come up again later.

[They always do...]