<i>What the Fly Saw</i>: New Excerpt What the Fly Saw: New Excerpt Frankie Bailey A funeral director is found dead clutching a skeleton. Hmm... Fresh Meat: <i>Broken Window</i> by Dorothy H. Hayes Fresh Meat: Broken Window by Dorothy H. Hayes Leigh Neely Comment for your chance to win a subway ride to nowhere... Fresh Meat: <i>The Life I Left Behind</i> by Colette McBeth Fresh Meat: The Life I Left Behind by Colette McBeth Jordan Foster Friends make the best suspects. Fresh Meat: <i>The Doomsday Equation</i> by Matt Richtel Fresh Meat: The Doomsday Equation by Matt Richtel Katherine Tomlinson Can we avoid World War III?
From The Blog
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
February 24, 2015
The Cowboy Rides Away: Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, and The Cheyenne Social Club
Jake Hinkson
February 23, 2015
This Head in a Jar Can Be Yours!
Crime HQ
February 20, 2015
Two-Lane Blacktop: An Offbeat Cross-Country Race
Brian Greene
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*]

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!

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...]

Feb 19 2015 10:30am

The Americans 3.04: “Dimebag”

The one essential quality for survival in The Americans is the ability to tell a convincing lie. Given the show’s subject matter, this isn’t a particularly insightful revelation; good spycraft demands effective duplicity. Without it, you put not only your life in danger, but your colleagues and fellow countrymen, as well. “Dimebag,” the fourth in a string of remarkable episodes, flips the standard script of The Americans, asking: What are the consequences when characters start telling the truth to one another in their personal lives? The answer is not that different than what it would be in their professional lives — a bloodbath. Not a literal one, with guns and bullets, but an emotional one with disappointment and heartbreak. Yep, welcome to another uplifting episode of The Americans!

“Dimebag” begins with Elizabeth (Keri Russell) running surveillance on Kimberly (Julia Garner), the teenage daughter of an important CIA operative. After listening to Kimberly make a pass at an older man last episode, Elizabeth and Philip (Matthew Rhys) realize she might be a vulnerable target. Their hunch about her reckless personality is confirmed when Elizabeth witnesses her buying drugs at the park. Philip is reluctant to engage with Kimberly, noting that they’d never used someone this young before. Elizabeth, further establishing “who wears the pants” in the family (a phrase she uses to mock Philip about his status with Martha), is having none of it, stating that the “The CIA’s a hard target.”

[Kimberly's not that much older than Paige...]

Feb 19 2015 8:45am

The Riddler: Man Solves Puzzle with Only One Letter

Should you ever run up against The Riddler, a sphynx, or any other puzzle-obsessed villains, it might be good to have this Wheel of Fortune contestant, Rufus, at your side to help you piece together the clues. With only one letter, and in less than 10 seconds, Rufus solves it!

Could you beat his time?

Feb 18 2015 4:15pm

Agent Carter 1.07: “SNAFU”

Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Jarvis (James D'Arcy). More please!

The folks behind Agent Carter have been smart about how they parcel out information. Take the character of Dr. Ivchenko (Ralph Brown). We first met him as a prisoner that Peggy (Hayley Atwell) rescued back in Episode 5. He seemed like a harmless old man. Last episode, however, we discovered he was in league with Leviathan and its killer agent Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan). Now, in Episode 7, Ivchenko reveals himself to be a full-on super villain.

We begin back in 1943. (I like how the last few episodes have begun with flashbacks, another nice way of giving us little breadcrumbs to follow in a story with a lot of twists and turns.) We see Ivchenko on the frontlines with the Russian army. The medics have run out of morphine, and they come to Ivchenko because they hear that he can alter the state of people in pain. What we discover in this sequence, which is nicely done, is that the good (actually bad) doctor can control minds, sweeping people away into alternate states, so that a solider having his leg sawed off smiles happily because he thinks he’s sitting next to a river talking to his beloved mother.

[Talk about waking up with regret...]

Feb 18 2015 10:30am

Justified 6.05: “Sounding”

Timothy Olyphant as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, Patton Oswalt as Constable Bob

The final season of Justified keeps piling on the delicious complications of plot and adding to (and subtracting from) its wonderful cast of characters. In “Sounding,” last night’s fifth episode, Boyd (Walton Goggins) returned to his coal-mining roots, Ava (Joelle Carter) did something impulsive and kind of dumb, and Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) seemed poised to do something even more impulsive and even dumber.

Boyd and Ava return from their trip to Lexington, and while they’re stopped at a Kentucky State Police roadblock. Boyd is full of his grandiose vision of becoming a marijuana entrepreneur, and Ava muses that they’ve changed positions on staying versus leaving Harlan, because she wants to get the hell out of there.

Ava and Boyd finally get to the front of the roadblock, where the policemen seem unusually concerned about Ava’s well-being. Boyd seems not to find this suspicious because he’s already caught up in his plans to put a spoke in the wheels of Avery Markham’s well-oiled property purchasing machine.

[Boyd always has a plan...]

Feb 18 2015 8:45am

Two Men Create Black Ice to Mask Car Crash

A Sparta, New Jersey man and his friend received a very chilly reception when authorities discovered the duo iced an intersection to cover up an alleged drunk driving accident.

According to The Daily News, Brian Byers was allegedly drunk when he crashed into a guardrail. He was able to drive away and went to his friend, Alexander Zambenedetti, for help. The two men later returned to the scene of the crash with a couple of buckets of water.

Byers allegedly got out and poured the water on the road in an effort to form a sheet of black ice, which he could then blame the crash on, The Daily News reports.

Unfortunately for the men, an officer on patrol spotted Byers walking in the road and Zambenedetti sitting in his vehicle with two big buckets in the back seat. Police say Zambenedetti wasn't wearing a shirt either, despite a wind chill of 15 below zero!

Both men were arrested and are due in court Thursday.

Feb 17 2015 4:00pm

Carnage Count: Ranking 2015’s Best Picture Nominees

If there’s one thing we can probably agree on, it’s the more murder, mystery, and mayhem in a film, the more we’ll like it. This year, eight films were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, and once again I’ve created a custom carnage count to score the winners – if there were any justice in the world. (For 2014’s Carnage Count, head here!) Each movie will be judged on its three categories on a scale from 1 to 10, which will then be added together to give a final ranking. Yes, I have seen all eight movies, and yes, these rankings are exclusively the byproduct of my opinion.

There will be some minor/obvious spoilers. You’ve been warned.

[Now onto the carnage!]

Feb 17 2015 1:30pm

Under the Radar: Alien Trespass (2009)

When you’re an alien on a mission, you can’t go wrong with a plucky waitress at your side. Alien Trespass (2009), another genre movie you may have missed, fits the bill when you want something silly, zany, and outright goofy. Right from the introduction, which frames the ensuing picture as a “lost” sci-fi classic recently rediscovered after sixty years, you know you’re in territory Ed Wood would’ve been comfortable in.

(I will say that Trespass is several calibers above Wood’s films in terms of production values, acting, and writing. Then again, there are laundry commercials that are better made than Wood’s infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space—but I digress.)

The shtick—that this was originally made in the 1950s, the heyday of flying saucer/alien robot stories—serves this film well. It’s supposed to be over-the-top, very “golly gee willikers!” and bright with Technicolor.

An alien named Urp crash lands on earth, inadvertently freeing a dangerous monster he was transporting in his ship. In order to recapture the hungry Ghota before it can eat the humans of the nearby town, Urp possesses the mild-mannered astronomer Dr. Ted Lewis (Eric McCormack) and enlists the aid of spunky waitress Tammy (Jenni Baird).

Alien Trespass (2009): Astronomer Dr. Ted Lewis / Alien Urp (Eric McCormack) and spunky waitress Tammy (Jenni Baird).

[She just loves a good convict hunt!]

Feb 17 2015 11:00am

Gotham 1.16: “The Blind Fortune Teller”

My eldest son (19) wandered in during this week’s episode during the scene where the snake finds its handler’s body. I tried to explain.

His response: “This show is so dumb.”

Yes, it is. That was made even clearer when I watched Sleepy Hollow immediately after Gotham. After floundering for some time, Hollow has found its stride again. Gotham is in the same old rut and looks to remain there.

That’s evident with the tale of a possible Joker origin in this episode. The Joker is the nuclear option of Batman stories. If you’re going to use him, it needs to be memorable and unique, especially with Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight seared into recent memory.

Gotham fumbles its chance.

[And it doesn't recover the ball...]

Feb 17 2015 12:00pm

Now Win This!: Touch of Madness Sweepstakes

There is no genius without a touch of madness, as these seven books can attest!

Click here to enter for a chance to win!

This is NOT a Comments Sweepstakes. You must click the link above to enter.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry. Promotion begins February 17, 2015, at 12:00 pm ET, and ends March 3, 2015, 11:59 am ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[Sanity is madness put to good use...]

Feb 17 2015 9:00am

Lies That Bind: New Excerpt

Maggie Barbieri

Lies that Bind by Maggie Barbieri is the second thriller in the Maeve Conlon series, and this time the NY bakery owner meets her sister that she didn't know existed (available February 17, 2015).

Maeve Conlon is a single mother and bakery owner hiding dark secrets behind her cookie-cutter suburban life.

Now, Maeve’s moving on with everyday life when the unthinkable happens: her father dies of a massive heart attack. Maeve’s mother died when Maeve was very young, and growing up, it was always just her and her father. But on the day of his funeral, Maeve learns a shocking secret. She might have a sister she’s never met. Maeve knows her father would never have kept something like that from her…Unless he thought he had to.

Meantime, someone keeps sneaking around Maeve’s bakery. At first the signs are subtle, but then it becomes vandalism, and then it grows even more frightening. Could it be related to Maeve’s search for her missing sister? Maeve soon decides it’s time to take matters into her own capable hands. But administering her personal brand of justice is a dangerous undertaking, and between the ever-watchful eyes of her family and the lingering attention she's attracted from local police, Maeve will be forced to decide just how much she's willing to risk in the name of justice.

Chapter 1

Maeve knew a guy who knew a guy, well, who knew this guy.

[Continue reading Lies That Bind by Maggie Barbieri...]

Feb 16 2015 1:30pm

Grantchester 1.05

A drink, a dance, a dead body. Sidney and Amanda (James Norton and Morven Christie).

Sidney and Geordie are off to the big city for a harmless night out, or at least as harmless as a night in a 1950s jazz club in London can be.

For a clergyman from Cambridgeshire, Canon Sidney Chambers (James Norton) spends shockingly few “harmless” nights. Crime seems to follow him around, and it goes without saying that crime is part of the job for Sidney’s best friend and drinking buddy, Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green). No surprise, then, that their night of jazz and whiskey is upended by murder.

More of a surprise, perhaps, is Amanda (Morven Christie) who walks into the club not long after Sidney and Geordie arrive. Very cozy, or very awkward depending on how you look at it. Despite the fact that Amanda is engaged to someone else and Sidney’s taken up with a new gal, Sidney remains smitten with Amanda and she plays him like a violin (or, since we’re being all hip and jazzy, a stand-up bass).

Much drinking and dancing ensue. You can fairly see the stars twinkling in their eyes. Nothing could make this night more exciting except...a murder.

[Let’s remember why we’re here...]

Feb 16 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: A Killing at the Creek by Nancy Allen

A Killing at the Creek by Nancy Allen is a legal thriller set in Oklahoma following prosecutor Elsie Arnold, who's convinced herself that the violent boy discovered at a murder scene is indeed guilty of the crime (available February 17, 2015).

McCown County prosecutor Elsie Arnold just wants a murder case. Not that she really wants anyone to get hurt, but there’s a gap in her experience she wants to fill. She gets more than she bargains for when a woman is found dumped in a local creek. Assigned to the case as third chair, Elsie heads to the scene. The victim has been in the water for a while and the dump scene looks nothing like the movies.

However, the scene at the creek isn’t the scene of the crime. The victim was a driver taking a school bus from Detroit, Michigan, to northern Arkansas. The bus turns up in Oklahoma.

The cook bristled and grabbed the young man by the arm, but he ripped his arm away and turned with such ferocity that the cook backed off. Stepping backwards, raising the palms of both hands, the fry cook said, “No problem, dude. Forget about it.”

The young man jumped behind the wheel of the bus and threw it into reverse; before he drove off, he rolled down the driver's window and thrust his arm out, extending the middle finger of his left hand.

“Eat shit!” the cook yelled in response.

The young driver's arm disappeared inside the bus. He grappled under the seat, then brandished a blood-stained item in his hand for the cook to see.

It was a bloody knife.

When the Oklahoma authorities investigate, they find an additional surprise: someone is alive in the bus. A fifteen year-old kid. Now the question has to be answered: is the boy another victim or the killer?

[Trouble ahead, trouble behind…]

Feb 16 2015 8:45am

Perverse Presidential Honors

President Dwight D. Eisenhower must've been a heckuva good sport, because he played lowdown prairie rat to a cowboy on a white horse at his own danged inauguration. This AP photo shows Ike being lassoed by cowboy Monte Montana as he reviews the parade from the presidential stand in front of the White House on Jan. 20, 1953. So maybe it's only slightly more awkward that we're offering our Presidents' Day felicitations by presenting highlights from some of the officeholders' mysterious deaths. Happy holiday!

Mysterious Presidential Deaths:

Warren G. Harding

JFK, a Three-Part Series

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Feb 15 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Nobody Walks by Mick Herron

Nobody Walks by Mick Herron is set in the same fictional London as his Slough House series, and now introduces Tom Bettany, an ex-spook with a violent past and only one thing to live for one thing — avenging his son’s death (available February 17, 2015).

The news had come hundreds of miles to sit waiting for days in a mislaid phone. And there it lingered like a moth in a box, weightless, and aching for the light.

So begins Mick Herron’s beautiful, bleak novel of a former spy for the MI5, come home at last to investigate the sudden death of his estranged son. After years of self-imposed exile abroad, Tom Bettany receives a voicemail that compels him to return to a London now alien to him. Grappling with the grief that has come so unexpectedly, he realizes that all is not as it seems with his son’s fatal fall from an apartment balcony. His inquiries soon have him crossing paths with high-tech billionaires and drug-dealing criminals, as well as with the weapons dealers he’d previously betrayed while in the service. And lurking in the background are his watchful former bosses, with their own secret, none-too-benign purposes.

[This will boil over soon enough...]

Feb 14 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Last Days of the Condor by James Grady

Last Days of the Condor by James Grady is a espionage thriller focusing on a silver-haired CIA agent who is now nearing retirement, heavily medicated,  and under constant surveillance (available February 17, 2015).

Author James Grady ignites an espionage thriller the way it’s supposed to detonate and that’s on the run with swift, adrenaline pumping intrigue. Spy movie enthusiasts may recall the 1975 film adaptation of his Six Days of the Condor (title subtracted by Three) where actor Robert Redford, codenamed Condor—who analyzes books and magazines for the CIA—steps out for lunch and comes back to find all his colleagues assassinated. He’s then targeted himself and from there it’s a hypersonic race to the finish as he searches for the why. In the post-Watergate turmoil, where a gleaming host of conspiracy books and films (The Conversation, The Parallax View) were everywhere, Grady’s Condor went to the head of the distrustful class. And, these days, in an era of Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks, and where privacy is taking its last gasp, the return of the Condor is apropos.

[The NSA informed us of this book years ago...]

Feb 13 2015 3:30pm

Fresh Meat: Someone to Watch Over Me by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir

Someone to Watch Over Me by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir is the 5th legal thriller set in Iceland featuring attorney Thóra Gudmundsdóttir (available February 17, 2015).

That chill you just got? It had nothing to do with the draft that always sneaks through the bedroom window when the temperature drops below freezing and the wind kicks up from the north. And those goose bumps prickling the skin on your arm? They don’t mean you need to put on a sweater or turn up the thermostat.

Someone to Watch Over Me begins with a low-key depiction of a haunting as inexplicable as it is unnerving:

Of course, this could all have had a logical explanation that time and patience would help them discover. The house was old and needed a lot of work. However, some of the phenomena couldn’t possibly be attributed to that: Pési’s pile of cuddly toys was always arranged in a neat row in the morning; they’d find his clothing folded on a stool in the corner, even if it had been lying in a heap on the floor when he went to sleep. Pési often woke up in the night, but now they didn’t need to fetch him a drink, take him into their bed to sleep or go to his room to calm him down, because when they went to check on him they would find him smiling in bed, saying: “You didn’t have to get up, Magga is looking after me.”

[A haunting winter’s read indeed...]

Feb 13 2015 11:30am

How to Get Away with Murder 1.12: “She’s a Murderer”

Hannah (Marcia Gay Harden) calls out Annalise Keating (Viola Davis).

Sam’s body has been uncovered, and now the heat is on in “She's a Murderer,” the 12th episode of How to Get Away with Murder's Season 1. Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) and her students are out of options and need to learn just one thing: how to keep their mouths shut.

Some have a harder time than others, of course. Five minutes into the episode, Connor (Jack Falahee) airs his insecurities again. It’s always the untrustworthy people that never trust anyone, and this time he’s assuming that the discovery of Sam’s body means Keating is trying to frame her students as the murderers. To be fair, they are the murderers, but still.

The only thing they know for sure is that they’re under scrutiny, starting now. Even that’s better than Keating, who is immediately accused of the murder by Hannah (Marcia Gay Harden). The show’s been back from winter break for a few episodes already, but now it really feels like it’s back.

[And not a moment too soon...]