<i>Basket Case</i>: New Excerpt Basket Case: New Excerpt Nancy Haddock Who is the weaver of this intricate murder plot? TBR Confessions: Jungle Warfare, Nazi Rebellion, and Killer Clowns TBR Confessions: Jungle Warfare, Nazi Rebellion, and Killer Clowns Joe Brosnan War and clowns. What could go wrong? TBR Confessions: Fat Bob, Foxgloves, and Deadly Ghosts TBR Confessions: Fat Bob, Foxgloves, and Deadly Ghosts Clare Toohey Welcome to our absurdly towering To Be Read piles--timber...! <i>Black Cat Crossing</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Black Cat Crossing: Exclusive Excerpt Kay Finch This debut cozy introduces Hitchcock the Bad Luck Cat!
From The Blog
August 31, 2015
The ZINNG: The Scents of Outlaws and Spies
Crime HQ
August 28, 2015
The ZINNG: Stephen King, OITNB, and Ulysses
Crime HQ
August 26, 2015
From Page to Screen with Night and the City
Brian Greene
August 25, 2015
The ZINNG: Bank Heists and a Pit of Despair
Crime HQ
August 24, 2015
The ZINNG: Lolita and Victor Frankenstein
Crime HQ
Aug 21 2015 12:00pm

Slaughter: Exclusive Excerpt

John Lutz

Slaughter by John Lutz is the 10th thriller featuring NYPD Detective Frank Quinn where a madman's fatal, bloody puzzle terrorizes New York City (available August 25, 2015).

A beautiful jogger, drained of blood, dismembered, then meticulously reassembled on the grass in Central Park. Subway derailments, plummeting elevators, collapsing construction cranes, apartment explosions—all creating a bloody, senseless puzzle. Detective Frank Quinn knows that even while the slayer is taunting the cops and the public, he’s also screaming to be caught. But Quinn will have to risk everything he holds precious to bring in this killer. . .


Rose Darling knew she’d begun jogging too late. Unless she lengthened her stride, she’d be caught in Central Park after dark. Not that she hadn’t been warned, but hadn’t everybody at some time or other been warned not to be in Central Park after dark?

The trouble was, she had a date, and if she turned her daily jog into a track meet with the clock, her long dark hair would become a sweaty, unmanageable mass in the summer heat.

[Continue reading Slaughter by John Lutz...]

Aug 21 2015 11:00am

The ZINNG: Cocoa and Improbable Weapons

At Mystery Fanfare, the Macavity nominees for Best Short Story discuss the importance of first lines.

The home of KISS's Gene Simmons is being searched by the LAPD, because something bad may have occurred there while he and his family were away.

Jon Jordan has an interview with Linda Fairstein over at Crimespree Magazine.

Anne Hillerman has taken over her father Tony's Leaphorn and Cree Navajo mysteries, and Theodore Feit of Spinetingler Magazine reviews the result, Spider Woman's Daughter.

Mystery Playground's Friday Drink with Reads is Cari Dubiel's recipe for sweetheart cocoa based on her short story “The Happiest of Endings,” which you can go read over at Kings River Life.

Hat tip to Gizmodo for referring us to this montage of the weirdest movie weapons:

An Improbable Weapon Supercut from Burger Fiction on Vimeo.

Aug 20 2015 2:00pm

The Nature of the Beast: Exclusive Excerpt

Louise Penny

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny is the 11th Chief Inspector Gamache mystery, in which a boy known for his constant lying disappears, and turns out to have told dangerous truths (available August 25, 2015).

Please log in or register to read the exclusive three-chapter excerpt, and when you're done reading, comment for a chance to win a copy! As an added bonus, you can also listen to the audio recording of Chapter 1 below! 

Hardly a day goes by when nine year old Laurent Lepage doesn't cry wolf. From alien invasions, to walking trees, to winged beasts in the woods, to dinosaurs spotted in the village of Three Pines, his tales are so extraordinary no one can possibly believe him. Including Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache, who now live in the little Quebec village.

But when the boy disappears, the villagers are faced with the possibility that one of his tall tales might have been true.

And so begins a frantic search for the boy and the truth. What they uncover deep in the forest sets off a sequence of events that leads to murder, leads to an old crime, leads to an old betrayal. Leads right to the door of an old poet.

And now it is now, writes Ruth Zardo. And the dark thing is here.

A monster once visited Three Pines. And put down deep roots. And now, Ruth knows, it is back.

Armand Gamache, the former head of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec, must face the possibility that, in not believing the boy, he himself played a terrible part in what happens next.

Chapter 1

Running, running, stumbling, running.

Arm up against the wiry branches whipping his face. He didn’t see the root. He fell, hands splayed into the moss and mud. His assault rifle dropped and bounced and rolled from sight. Eyes wide, frantic now, Laurent Lepage scanned the forest floor and swept his hands through the dead and decaying leaves.

He could hear the footsteps behind him. Boots on the ground. Pounding. He could almost feel the earth heaving as they got closer, closer, while he, on all fours, plowed the leaves aside.

“Come on, come on,” he pleaded.

And then his bloodied and filthy hands clasped the barrel of the assault rifle and he was up and running. Bent over. Gasping for breath.

It felt as though he’d been on the run for weeks, months. A lifetime. And even as he sprinted through the forest, dodging the tree trunks, he knew the running would end soon.

But for now he ran, so great was his will to survive. So great was his need to hide what he’d found. If he couldn’t get it back to safety, at least, maybe, he could make sure those in pursuit wouldn’t find it.

He could hide it. Here, in this forest. And then the lion would sleep tonight. Finally.

Bang. Bangbangbang. The trees around him exploded, ripped apart by bullets.

He dove and rolled and came up behind a stump, his shoulder to the rotting wood. No protection at all.

His thoughts in these final moments did not go to his parents at home in the little Québec village. They didn’t go to his puppy, no longer a puppy but a grown dog. He didn’t think of his friends, or the games on the village green in summer, or tobogganing, giddy, down the hill while the mad old poet shook her fist at them in winter. He didn’t think of the hot chocolate at the end of the day in front of the fire in the bistro.

He thought only of killing those in his sights. And buying time. So that maybe, maybe, he could hide the cassette.

[Please login or register to read full exclusive excerpt of Chapters 1-3 of The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny...]

Aug 20 2015 10:00am

Fresh Meat: X by Sue Grafton

X by Sue Grafton is the 24th mystery in the Kinsey Millhone series about the California-based private eye (available August 25, 2015).

An apt subtitle for Sue Grafton’s latest book X is the oft-repeated quote that “those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” In the 24th in her series of alphabet mysteries, private eye Kinsey Millhone, based In Santa Teresa, California, is pursuing a con artist, a sociopathic serial killer, and a couple of small time crooks, all of whom repeat the past with varying consequences.

In Grafton’s version of a time machine, Kinsey is forever stuck in the 80s. A is for Alibi was published and set in 1982, and 33 years later, X is set in 1989. Technology has improved at lighting speed in the decades since 1982, making it tough for crime writers everywhere. Cell phones are ubiquitous, cars come with emergency releases inside the trunks to put a crimp in a kidnapping plot; the days of hotwiring cars is long gone, and CSI has taken some of the fun out of the detective game. But Kinsey Millhone, with no high-tech devices to aid her, still gets a kick out of being a private eye. And readers who tag along will enjoy the ride.

[Just don't get locked in the trunk...]

Aug 19 2015 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: Savage Lane by Jason Starr

Savage Lane by Jason Star is a thrilling noir that offers up a searing satire of a declining marriage, suburban life, and obsessive love (available October 13, 2015).

“Every town has its secrets.” That’s the tagline that appears across the top of the cover to Jason Starr’s new crime novel Savage Lane. But some words straight out of the book could have served that function just as well: “you never knew what was going on in other people’s lives.” Savage Lane is a work of suburban noir that looks at the dark side of the goings-on in seemingly “normal” peoples’ existences.

Because this is a new book and one that’s not being released until October, I want to be especially careful not to commit spoilers in writing about it. So I will just detail the basic setup and then avoid giving away more plot. There are several minor characters in Savage Lane, which has four major players. Two of those four are a married couple named Mark and Deb Berman. Both 44, the two have been wedded for 17 years. They have two kids, aged 16 and 12, and they live in the New York suburb of Westchester, on Savage Lane. Mark is in middle management for Citibank and Deb is a stay-at-home mom. Their marriage is in trouble. Deb has a drinking problem. Another of the primary characters is Mark’s and Deb’s neighbor, Karen Daily. Karen is a 42-year old divorcee and mother of two kids who are close in age to the Berman children. She works as a speech pathologist at an elementary school. Karen dates a lot, using online services to find potentially appropriate men. She’s not necessarily looking for her next husband but is open to the idea if she meets the right guy. Finally, there’s Owen Harrison. Owen is 18 and not doing much with his life since graduating from high school. He has a crap job at the country club to which the Bermans and Karen Daily belong. At home he is routinely victimized by his physically abusive stepfather; and his mother, who is also bullied by the slovenly man, doesn’t do anything to protect herself or Owen from the egregious mistreatment her vicious husband visits upon them.

[Now that we've met them, let's see how they interact...]

Aug 19 2015 11:30am

Last Ragged Breath: New Excerpt

Julia Keller

Last Ragged Breath by Julia Keller is the 4th mystery in the West Virginia Prosecutor Bell Elkins series (available August 25, 2015).

Royce Dillard doesn't remember much about the day his parents-and one hundred and twenty-three other souls-died in the 1972 Buffalo Creek disaster. He was only two years old when he was ripped from his mother's arms. But now Dillard, who lives off the grid with only a passel of dogs for company, is fighting for his life one more time: He's on trial for murder

Royce's future lies in the hands of Prosecutor Bell Elkins. Will she overcome her toughest case yet?

Chapter One

Goldie was a six-year-old shepherd-retriever mix with a thick yellow coat that had inspired her name, a riotous tail, and chocolate-brown eyes that suggested profound depths of mysterious wisdom. At present that wisdom had coalesced into a conviction that something smelled mighty good—that is, powerful and unusual—somewhere along the slanting bank of Old Man’s Creek. Wet black nose plowing a shallow trench across the rugged terrain, body balanced expertly to accommodate the steep grade, Goldie rammed forward along the upper brow of the creek bank, sniffing and quivering. The smell, as it intensified, became even more intoxicating. It was like a string pulling her along, winding itself tight on a bobbin at the other end. Everything else dropped out of Goldie’s thoughts.

[Continue reading Last Ragged Breath by Julia Keller!]

Aug 19 2015 8:45am

Drunk Man Lets 10-Year-Old Son Drive Home

Police in Stillwater, New York arrested a man after he allegedly allowed his 10-year-old son to drive him home because he was too drunk to drive.

According to Yahoo! news, someone alerted the police that the child was driving on Route 9P in Stillwater, New York. Police say they were able to stop the truck and found the child in the driver's seat with John Barling, 46, drunk in the passenger's seat.

Barling was charged with permitting unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and endangering the welfare of a child.

Aug 18 2015 4:30pm

Fresh Meat: Hangman’s Game by Bill Syken

Hangman's Game by Bill Syken is the debut mystery in the Nick Gallow series about a professional fooball player who gets caught up in a murder investigation after witnessing a teammate's gruesome death (available August 18, 2015).

Until recently, football had always been a six-month sport, using Labor Day and Groundhog Day as approximate bookends, but now, the sport is a self-sustaining, year-long event. Between the Combine, Free Agency, Draft Weekend, Minicamp, Training Camp, and (unfortunately) Deflategate, a football story almost always begins Sportscenter. Despite the winds of negativity that seem to always be swirling right outside the NFL’s door, the sport continues to add floor after floor to its ever-growing skyscraper of sporting domination.

Bill Syken is familiar with this skyscraper, and in fact, he’s probably ridden the elevator a few times. Syken, a staff writer and editor at Sports Illustrated for eight years, puts his premier knowledge of the sport to good use in Hangman’s Game, his debut novel.

[Hut, hut, hike!]

Aug 18 2015 12:00pm

Now Win This!: Dark Nights, Dark Dreams Sweepstakes

Caution all ye who enter here, for these nine titles should be warning enough: nightmares await!

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 August 18, 2015, at 12:00 pm ET, and ends September 1, 2015, 11:59 am ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[You're getting sleepy...]

Aug 17 2015 11:45pm

Hannibal 3.11: “And the Beast From the Sea”


In Hannibal's 3.11 “And the Beast From the Sea,” Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) discovers his best crime-stopping asset is the durability of his masochism. For a moment, I thought he'd really blame Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) in some way that cost more than blunt words, but he seems resigned to being used this way, at least as long as the full moon and the Tooth Fairy loom. We also finally get to see Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) strapped onto the hand truck and in the iconic mask—admit it, you've waited almost 3 whole seasons for it. Yay!

When Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage) gets one of his telephone therapy sessions, he expresses perturbation in the way he and The Great Red Dragon he's destined to become are diverging in their aims since his relationship with The Woman, Reba McClane (Rutina Wesley). Dolarhyde's also fascinated by his newfound ability to be turned on by sex with a partner who's alive. Hannibal, pot-stirrer that he is, says Dolarhyde shouldn't worry about losing Reba by sacrificing her to TGRD, because Dolarhyde can have her as long as he wants, even risk loving her, if he gets a scapegoat. Why, that fuzzy-faced, pointed-chin Will Graham has a family. Baaah. Hannibal's favorite spectator sport is manipulating humans into choosing whether they're predators or prey, and then setting up situations where they'll have to act upon it.

The reconstituted Scooby team of Jack, Will, and Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) frankly discuss the feasibility of getting the conflicted Tooth Fairy to kill himself, certainly before he can eat any more irreplaceable art. Well, perhaps they could manage that were they even half as cordially ruthless as Hannibal, or had they devoted the time he has to making it a specialty.

Pounding surf beneath the waxing moon and the sight of Dolarhyde carving the dragon into a tree reminds us the time is nigh.

[He's late, he's late, for a very important date...]

Aug 17 2015 1:30pm

Cozy Bookshelf Shopping List: September, 2015

Discover (or remember to order) your next cozy with a delightfully convenient shopping list of upcoming soft-boiled mysteries! We kept rolling off last month with August's releases, and now we're setting our sights on September! Let us know in the comments how you like it and what you can't wait to read next!

Criminal Element's September 2015 Cozy Bookshelf Shopping List!

[Let's get to the goodies!]

Aug 17 2015 10:30am

Show Me a Hero: Parts 1 and 2

“Show me a hero, and I’ll give you a tragedy.”

The Wire changed television and remains one of the greatest stories about life in an American city ever created. So, no pressure, David Simon, as we follow you to another embattled burg: Yonkers in 1987. Instead of the effects of the Drug War, this time the story concentrates on a less explored topic, but one that is still contentious today: affordable and low-income housing, or the court-ordered act of northern desegregation.

The series is directed by Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby, Casino Royale) who is quite adept at following multiple storylines, David Simon’s writing forte, and keeping us interested without becoming confused. We’re introduced to a lot of people very quickly, and their names aren’t lingered upon, but their stories are concrete and familiar, so we have a cohesive mosaic of lives that make sense as the camera slowly pans back as the episodes go on.

Culturally we tend to think of racism as a Southern affliction, but nothing can be further from the truth; redlining, blockbusting, and fights over school bussing and affordable housing are a country-wide phenomena, but the story of Yonkers is especially tragic and makes for a riveting story, despite the subject matter. What’s this doing on a crime blog? Watch the show, and find out.

[Yes, that's the judge's order...]

Aug 17 2015 9:15am

Sorry, Yogi, That Door’s for Cat Burglars

An Idaho man's home has been repeatedly raided by thieving bears, and a cub even tried to sneak in through the cat flap! There are more incredible pictures of the sneak thieves living it up at Douglas Harder's condo at CNN, which reports:

The first visit was in May, when a family of bears climbed up the side of Harder's home and onto his deck. Harder watched from the living room, shooting video as a bear and two cubs polished off birdseed from his feeder...

He thought he was in the clear until this week, when he came home and found his home in disarray. The bear appeared to have entered through his sliding door and got into a bag of flour, brownie mix, a Toblerone bar, and a can of Pepsi. The bear left a pile of poop the size of of Harder's foot in his living room.

Aug 15 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd

A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd is the 7th historical mystery in the Bess Crawford series where an explosion at a gunpowder mill leaves questions in its wake (available August 18, 2015).

Almost a character in itself, the English countryside of Charles Todd’s Bess Crawford series shows again and again how war changes not only on a nation’s populace, but also its very geography. And ultimately, it is the conflict between the new ways and the old, the outside world and the local, that are highlighted in A Pattern of Lies, the seventh book in the series.

With the end of the war almost in sight, a series of coincidences and mishaps lands Bess, a nurse who has spent most of the war at battlefield hospitals in France, not back at her family home where she was hoping to spend her few days leave, but instead in the village of Cranbourne in Kent, accepting the hospitality of Major Mark Ashton, a former patient, and his family.

[Let's get to the bottom of this...]

Aug 16 2015 12:00pm

Night of the Cobra: New Excerpt

Jack Coughlin

Night of the Cobra by Jack Coughlin is the 8th military thriller featuring sniper Kyle Swanson attempting to hunt a rival who's just set his sights on innocent Americans (available August 18, 2015).

Top-ranked sniper Kyle Swanson was a promising young Marine on a dangerous peace-keeping mission in Mogadishu when he first captured “the Cobra” and a life-long blood feud began.

Twenty years later, Kyle works for the CIA while the Cobra emerges from prison to become an efficient killing machine, and has never slackened his hatred for Swanson. To draw out his ultimate target, the Cobra launches a violent campaign against the United States and attacks the second-largest shopping mall in America.

Kyles teams with FBI agent Lucky Sharif, whom Swanson had saved as a child in Somalia, and they must fight through terrorists at home and abroad to stop his old enemy. The Cobra retreats to Somalia, where he is set to become a powerful warlord and leader of the bloody al Shabaab terror gang. To block him, Swanson must return to the daunting streets of Mogadishu-where he must face his personal nightmares, as well as the Cobra, who lies in wait.

[Start reading Night of the Cobra now!]

Aug 14 2015 11:00am

The Monstrous Feminine: Women and Horror, Part 3

“Get away from her, you bitch!” — Ellen Ripley (Aliens)


Being a mom is a full-time, lifetime, really difficult job even in the best of situations. When you throw a mother and her child into a horror scenario, the stakes get infinitely higher. Not all ladies have a strong maternal drive, of course, this writer being one of them. But a lot of us do, and given how society often expects and demands women to take care of children, a mother serves a vital role in horror.

In The Babadook (2014), it's not immediately clear just where the threat lies: within or without. Amelia (Essie Davis) is a single mother wholly focused on her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) after losing her husband in a violent accident. When Sam starts to develop behavioral issues, she takes him out of school and does her best to address the problems before they get worse.

But things take a turn for the frightening when Sam finds a bizarre pop-up book about a creature called “Mister Babadook.” Unexplained events begin happening in the claustrophobic house, which Amelia blames on Sam and Sam blames on the Babadook. After destroying the grotesque book, Amelia discovers glass in her food and Sam is involved in a bad accident at a party. And then she finds the book repaired—freshly edited to include images of herself doing unspeakable things to the dog, her son, and herself. 


Aug 14 2015 8:45am

“Lesson Learned” Submissions Open for the Next 2 Weeks!

The M.O. submissions mailbox is now open for your “Lesson Learned!”

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 “Lesson Learned.” Two weeks after the mailbox closes, we'll put up a selected shortlist of 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 online.

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 August 28th!

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 all 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 more details, please check The M.O. Submission Guidelines here. We can't wait to read what malfeasance you're wishing for!

Aug 13 2015 2:30pm

The Monstrous Feminine: Women and Horror, Part 2

“Oh, she was so sexy. She was asking for it.” — Hayley (Hard Candy)


We unfortunately live in a world where it's unsafe to be a woman. Having a casual drink at a bar, dancing at a loud party with friends, even walking a quiet street at night: danger lurks everywhere. Simply being, a woman is reason enough to be constantly vigilant. With the threat of violence and sexual assault everywhere it's no surprise that those themes constantly crop up in horror.

I frequently lament at the abundance of such plot devices, yes, and I'm definitely fed up with the constant abuse heaped on female characters and the preponderance of victim narratives.

But rape culture is a very real, very insidious thing, and given how it permeates the lives of women across the world, it's a topic that needs to be addressed. With horror's willingness to discuss taboos, it's only natural for the genre to regularly address the fears of rape and sexual violence.

[There are certain defenses...]

Aug 13 2015 12:00pm

To Protect and Non-Violently Serve: Rush

Most Western police forces have, broadly speaking, two levels of response for field incidents: whatever the regular patrol officers can provide, and the commandos (aka SWAT). So what happens in a situation that’s too much for the patrol cop to handle but doesn’t warrant calling in SWAT (i.e., potentially shooting someone)?

The Victoria (Australia) Police created a third type of unit to plug this hole: the Critical Incident Response Team. And that’s what the 2008-11 Network Ten series Rush (now available on Hulu) is about. Rush follows the exploits of two three-officer Tactical Response teams (the fictionalized version of CIRT) as they prowl the streets of metro Melbourne and deal with various breeds of offenders – from the merely misguided to the outright villainous – while trying to not kill anybody.

[Let's meet the cast...]

Aug 13 2015 9:00am

Allegiance: New Excerpt

Kermit Roosevelt

Allegiance by Kermit Roosevelt is a historical legal thriller set in the US just after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (available August 25, 2015).

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, young law student Caswell “Cash” Harrison is rejected for military service but offered the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance to become clerk to Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. Washington, DC in wartime is a blur of activity, intrigue, and energy, and Cash finds himself chasing down a potential conspiracy that may be connected to the deliberations over one of the most troubling constitutional issues ever tackled by the court—the fate of the tens of thousands of Japanese-Americans forcibly removed from their homes on the West Coast and held indefinitely in internment camps. When violence strikes deep within the court itself, Cash will learn that in wartime, everyone can be a suspect, and where to place one's allegiance can be the most dangerous question of all.

Read this exclusive excerpt from Chapters 3 of Allegiance! And then comment for a chance to win a copy of Kermit Roosevelt's legal thriller set amidst WWII!

Chapter 3

“Doing well, Cash?” the voice on the phone asks. It is Herbert Wechsler, who taught me constitutional law, or tried, and now sits at the Justice Department in Washington, DC. He doesn't wait for an answer. “Good. Anyway, this isn't a social call. There's an opening at the Supreme Court. Hugo Black needs a new law clerk.”

[Continue reading Allegiance now!]