<i>What Happens in Reno</i>: New Excerpt What Happens in Reno: New Excerpt Mike Monson An unhappy wife, her criminal boyfriend, and a drunken gambler meet over a pile of money. <i>What's Done in Darkness</i>: New Excerpt What's Done in Darkness: New Excerpt Kayla Perrin No one knows what's done in darkness. <i>Blood Red</i>: New Excerpt Blood Red: New Excerpt Wendy Corsi Staub Lock your doors and keep the lights on... <i>Death, Taxes, and a Chocolate Cannoli</i>: New Excerpt Death, Taxes, and a Chocolate Cannoli: New Excerpt Diane Kelly True crime doesn't pay...taxes!
From The Blog
October 5, 2015
Childhood's Bittersweet Wonderment: The Spirit of the Beehive
Brian Greene
October 2, 2015
CSI Shrewsbury: Brother Cadfael's Medieval Mysteries
Angie Barry
October 1, 2015
Killer Nashville's 2015 Silver Falchion Finalists Announced: Vote Now!
Crime HQ
October 1, 2015
The ZINNG: A Cool $25K for E-Mysteries (and Lethal Selfies)
Crime HQ
September 29, 2015
A Huge Case of Teensploitation: 1965's Village of the Giants
Brian Greene
Sep 29 2015 10:30am

A Huge Case of Teensploitation: 1965’s Village of the Giants

There could probably be some arguments made about just exactly when teenagers became a real force to be considered in American society, and anybody making the case for the mid-1960s being that time has a good chance of winning the debate. I’ll leave that matter for now and instead focus on what one savvy filmmaker did with the emergence of the mid-60s teen phenomenon. B-movie cult hero Bert I. Gordon did with that situation what a good exploitation film director should do: he exploited it. His 1965 teenage camp romp Village of the Giants is a low-budget gem that features great music, giggle-inducing goofy special effects, some big names for a small budget film, and an inventively fun way to see the emergence of the day’s adolescents.

Co-written by Gordon (who also produced, as well as directed) and based loosely on H.G Wells’s 1904 novel The Food of the Gods, this is a multi-genre romp that features elements of sci-fi,  zany comedy,  and ‘60s teen beach movie. But it’s all camp, all the time (well, maybe apart from the music scenes, which are just plain rockin’ – more on that in a few). The, um, story goes as such: Beau Bridges plays the leader of a group of beautiful, privileged-yet-rebellion-minded teens from L.A., who have their joyride shut down by a landslide when they are cruising near the humble (and fictional) town of Hainesville. Since they can’t make their car move them anywhere else for the time being, they decide to wander (well, I think they actually get there via the Watusi) into the small burg to see what kind of trouble they can stir up.

[And boy, do they find trouble...]

Sep 28 2015 4:15pm

Book Shot: 1 on 1 with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Mycroft Holmes

CrimeHQ gets a Q&A with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and you get a chance to win the historical adventure he co-authored, Mycroft Holmes!

CrimeHQ: There's always more research than can fit into one novel. What did you have to leave out and what was your favorite bit of history to include?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: My co-writer, Anna Waterhouse, and I were very specific in our search, so there wasn’t much we had to leave out in terms of the story we were trying to tell. There was, of course, more to tell on just about everything we researched, but it was important to us that the research felt like it was integrated into the plot. The concept of mourning jewelry comes to mind...it’s a very weird custom that was fun to research and that came in handy. But from page one, I have to say that nearly all you’re reading comes from the history books, including the names of the crewmen on the Cambridge/Oxford race, to which cigars were popular in 1870, to the name of the governor of Port of Spain at the time.

[Keep the questions coming!]

Sep 28 2015 11:00am

In Bitter Chill: New Excerpt

Sarah Ward

In Bitter Chill by Sarah WardIn Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward is a standalone thriller about a 30-year-old kidnapping that is once again relevant today (available September 29, 2015).

The deepest secrets are the ones we keep from ourselves in this richly atmospheric, compellingly written, and expertly constructed crime debut from an emerging talent.

Derbyshire, 1978: a small town in the idyllic English countryside is traumatized by the kidnapping of two young schoolgirls, Rachel Jones and Sophie Jenkins. Within hours, Rachel is found wandering alone near the roadside, unharmed yet unable to remember anything, except that her abductor was a woman. No trace of Sophie is ever discovered.

Present day: over thirty years later, Sophie's mother commits suicide. Detective inspector Francis Sadler and detective constable Connie Childs are assigned to look at the kidnapping again to see if modern police methods can discover something that the original team missed. Rachel, with the help of her formidable mother and grandmother, recovered from the kidnapping and has become a family genealogist. She wants nothing more than to continue living quietly beneath the radar, but the discovery of the strangled body of one of her former teachers days after the suicide brings the national media back to her doorstep. Desperate to stop a modern killer from striking again, Rachel and the police must unpick the clues to uncover what really happened all those years ago as the past threatens to engulf the present.


DETECTIVE INSPECTOR FRANCIS SADLER WATCHED the heavy clouds gather through the window and cursed the role that central heating had played in dislocating him from the elements. In his childhood home, his frugal father had banned switching on the radiators until the first day of December. It meant that, as a boy, he had become to used to connecting the weather outside with the sensations of his body. His memories of getting dressed wrapped in his still warm duvet, the icy crispness of the air mixing with the comfort of the breaking dawn, could never be entirely banished. Now, looking down at his dark trousers and pressed shirt, no need to wear a jacket in this overheated office, he wondered if he could ever feel that physical connection again.

[Continue reading In Bitter Chill now!]

Sep 28 2015 9:15am

TBR Confessions: Once-Cops, Outrage, and Lies

RECENTLY FINISHED: Once Were Cops by Ken Bruen. I've been on a bit of a tear with Ken Bruen lately. This was the ninth Bruen novel I've read this year. Granted, Bruen tends to write short novels so it's really only like three “regular” novels, but I love Bruen's stripped-down style so much I feel like I've gotten ten novels worth of enjoyment out of them. Seven of the books I read this year were in the Inspector Brandt series and Once Were Cops features a similarly crooked cop who thinks his brand of self-serving justice is the only way. On loan to the NYPD from Ireland, our anti-hero takes to the street of Manhattan like a battering ram and makes his presence known to the criminals and the top brass. Bruen writes in such spare, evocative prose it makes pages turn faster than any other writer I know. Once Were Cops takes daring turns, with unexpected bursts of violence and an amoral lead who somehow steals our hearts. For those new to Bruen, this is a great place to start, if probably a divisive book. I suspect you'd either love his style or hate it. But you won't read anything like it. 

ALSO POLISHED OFF: Outrage At Blanco by Bill Crider. I really wish crime fiction fans would give more westerns a try. Make no mistake, this is classic crime fiction territory, just set on horseback. And Crider is an absolute master of propulsive storytelling. He drops us right in on a brutal assault on our heroine, Ellie Taine. From there, the story splinters into fast-racing narratives of: her vicious attackers turning to bank robbery, Ellie's hunt for revenge, an aging cattle baron and his no-good son, as well as a town unused to the violence they've experienced in just a few days. Crider builds suspense, doles out action, and gets us into the minds of multiple characters like the old pro he is. His long-running Sheriff Dan Rhodes series is testament to his skills, but his western output is really where he hits my sweet spot. Up next for me is the sequel, Texas Vigilante

CURRENTLY READING: Stay by Victor Gischler. Any new Gischler book is a major announcement for me, and it had been a long damn time between The Deputy (which I absolutely loved) and Stay. This is Gischler in his mainstream mode. He can get over-the-top gonzo with violence, black humor, and even sex, but Stay is likely as much of a step toward a mainstream thriller as we're going to get from him. (His follow up, Gestapo Mars, is the opposite end of the spectrum: wild, inventive, pulpy, and cracked.) The simple concept of a stay-at-home dad called to use his dormant skills as an army operative specializing in solo black ops is a great hook and could lead to a series that takes a character into Jack Reacher territory. I'm about halfway in, and it's a great ride. Not as much of the trademark Gischler humor, but again, it seems like he's swinging for the deep end of the reader pool here. I certainly hope he finds it. He's long overdue. 

EARLY READ OF NOTE: A Negro and an Ofay by Danny Gardner. This novel, currently scheduled for a November, 2015 release, takes us into the 1950s world of a mulatto investigator and his complicated relationship with his upbringing and his mixed race. There is plenty of hardboiled patter and a dense plot with a great sense of place and wonderful dialogue. There are a lot of characters to keep track of with shifting loyalties and hidden agendas, but this marks a promising debut from Gardner.

TOP OF THE PILE: Lie Catchers by Paul Bishop. A real-life LAPD interrogator writes what he knows in this tale of deciphering lies from the truth. 

Eric Beetner is a hardboiled crime author of The Devil Doesn't Want Me, Dig Two Graves, White Hot Pistol, The Year I Died Seven Times, Stripper Pole At The End Of The World, Split Decision, A Mouth Full Of Blood and co-author (with JB Kohl) of One Too Many Blows To The Head and Borrowed Trouble. Award-winning short story writer, former musician, sometimes filmmaker, film noir nerd and father of two.

Read all of Eric Beetner's posts for Criminal Element.

Sep 27 2015 12:00pm

Sky High: Exclusive Excerpt

Susan O'Brien

Sky High by Susan O'Brien is the 2nd cozy in the Nicki Valentine mystery series about the single mom and new P.I. (available September 29, 2015).

Single mom and rookie P.I. Nicki Valentine rarely gets time off, so attending a wedding with her superhot colleague Dean sounds dreamy. But things turn nightmarish when the groom—a soon-to-be transplant donor—disappears, and Nicki and Dean commit to a partnership they never planned.

Together, they examine the groom's unfulfilled promises, including one to his mom, a psychic medium with an unusual health need. As family secrets emerge, Nicki must face questions about her late husband, whose long-ago betrayal still threatens to cloud her judgment.

With support from her pole-dancing best friend, her always-on-call family, and the loves of her life (her two kids-and possibly Dean), Nicki must uncover the groom's demons while conquering her own.


It had been a year since I’d seen my blazing hot PI instructor, Dean, but that didn’t stop us from planning a wedding date. Neither did the fact that I was intimidated by his sun-kissed looks, investigative experience, and relatively commitment-free lifestyle. We’d narrowly avoided mixing business with pleasure (intense pleasure, I can only imagine), because he’d moved overseas to consult on a high-risk, high-paying security project.

[Continue reading Sky High!]

Sep 26 2015 6:00pm

Lead Me Into Danger: New Excerpt

Daniella Bernett

Lead Me Into Danger by Daniella Bernett is a debut mystery featuring a journalist and jewel thief embroiled in international intrigue (available October 1, 2015).

A journalist, a jewel thief, and a Russian spy…when their paths cross, it’s murder.

Journalist Emmeline Kirby hasn’t laid eyes on her former lover Gregory Longdon, a jewel thief, in two years. But she literally tumbles into his arms, after she witnesses two men attempt to murder her friend and fellow journalist, Charles Latimer, in Venice during Carnival.

Emmeline is determined to bring the murderer to justice, but as she and Gregory delve deeper, they become ensnared in a hunt for a Russian spy in the British Foreign Office, who has his sights set on keeping his identity a secret at all costs.


Chapter 3

Emmeline pulled her cloak tightly around her shoulders as the February night wrapped her in its moist embrace. A few flurries had started to fall as she stepped out of the water taxi at Rialto. It was only a five-minute walk from the bridge to Campo San Bartolomeo, where the sixteenth-century church stood.

Emmeline checked her watch. It was 10:15. She was early, so she took her time along the winding streets. She stopped on a humpbacked bridge for a moment and closed her eyes,  listening to the velvet hiss of the canal as its waters gently lapped against the fondamenta and the gondolas below. A world of watery enchantment, in which one couldn’t help but be swept away by Venice’s rich history. Indeed, the very air seemed to be imbued with elegance, romance, and mystery.

A whisper of a breeze trickled down Emmeline’s spine, causing her to shiver slightly. Her costume and the thin cloak did nothing to keep her warm. Or was it something else? Emmeline opened her eyes. All of a sudden, she was afraid.

[Continue reading Lead Me Into Danger now!]

Sep 26 2015 10:00am

The Company She Kept: New Excerpt

Archer Mayor

The Company She Kept (Joe Gunther #8) by Archer MayorThe Company She Kept by Archer Mayor is the 26th thriller featuring Joe Gunther, the head of the Vermont Bureau of Investigation (available September 29, 2015).

During the height of a harsh Vermont winter, the body of a woman is found hanging from the steel-mesh retaining net lining the cliffs along the interstate. She was brutally murdered, with the word “dyke” carved into her chest. She was also a state senator and best friend and ally of the current governor, Gail Zigman. At Zigman's personal request, Joe Gunther and his Vermont Bureau of Investigation team agree to help the Vermont State Police in their investigation before the victim's high profile and powerful friends create the inevitable publicity maelstrom.

Raffner was indeed a lesbian, and the word carved into her chest might be evidence of a hate crime, or it might be a feint designed to confuse and mislead investigators. But the question remains-what was she involved with, who wanted her dead, and what company was she keeping? What Gunther and his team discover during their initial investigation isn't the stuff of a simple murder. Someone killed a prominent figure and fabricated an elaborate scene for a purpose.


“Pull over, Doug. I want to get a shot of this.”

Uncomplaining, Doug Nielsen checked his mirrors, slowed down shy of the interstate crossover—marked EMERGENCY USE ONLY—and eased their rig across the empty northbound lane, to the scenic pull-off his wife had indicated. A cautious man, he was wary of any black ice that could launch them through the slender barricade and over the straight drop beyond it into Margie’s planned panorama.

[Continue reading The Company She Kept now!]

Sep 25 2015 4:45pm

A Ghostly Murder: New Excerpt

Tonya Kappes

A Ghostly Murder by Tonya Kappes is the 4th paranormal cozy in the Ghostly Souther Mystery series featuring Emma Lee Raines, the proprietor of a Kentucky funeral home (available September 29, 2015).

Emma Lee Raines knows there's only one cure for a bad case of murder.

I told you I was sick, reads the headstone above Mamie Sue Preston's grave. She was the richest woman in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky, and also the biggest hypochondriac. Ironic, considering someone killed her—and covered it up perfectly. And how does Emma Lee, proprietor of the Eternal Slumber Funeral Home, know all this? Because Mamie Sue's ghost told her, that's how. And she's offering big bucks to find the perp.

The catch is, Mamie Sue was buried by the Raines family's archrival, Burns Funeral Home. Would the Burnses stoop to framing Emma Lee's granny? With an enterprising maid, a penny-pinching pastor, and a slimy Lexington lawyer all making a killing off Mamie Sue's estate, Emma Lee needs a teammate—like her dreamboat boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross. Because with millions at stake, snooping around is definitely bad for Emma Lee's health.

[Start reading A Ghostly Murder by Tonya Kappes!]

Sep 25 2015 2:30pm

Heroes Reborn: Good Enough to Pull Viewers In

The first season of the original Heroes rightly became a phenomenon. It contained a cast full of appealing and multi-cultural characters, a central mystery, a freaky villain, and a wonderful finale that tied up all the disparate plot threads.

Alas, Season 2 arrived and instead of a continuation, it was more like a reset, as characters who’d grown instead reverted to where they were at the start of Season 1. I bailed at the end of this season with a sad sigh.

But I’m totally on board with a reboot that might fulfill the promise of the wonderful first season.

Does Heroes Reborn do that?

[Click through to find out!]

Sep 25 2015 12:00pm

Longmire 4.10: Season Finale “What Happens on the Rez...”

Time has run out for Henry (Lou Diamond Phillips). With Gab (Julia Jones) temporarily safe with the Medicine Woman (Tantoo Cardinal), the Crow elder sends Henry packing straightaway to clean up. His truck is literally a bloody mess and the station wagon that Gab borrowed from her friend Mandy (Tamara Duarte) needs to be returned. After finding that his truck has been stolen, a frantic Henry calls Longmire (Robert Taylor) and learns the sheriff is searching for Gab in the deaths of the two rapists. When Henry drops off Mandy’s car and tries to quickly walk away—though he’s moving none too quickly given the still-fresh bullet wound—he’s stopped and then assaulted by Walker Browning (Callum Keith Rennie) who’s also looking for Gab to get justice for his workers. Hmm, not so sweet when the shoe is on the other foot, is it, Mr. Browning?

Longmire and Vic (Katee Sackhoff) are called to the scene and when Henry is questioned, he has as tight an alibi as he can muster, except there’s a slight hanging chad. He spills that Cady (Cassidy Freeman) saw him with Gab at a specific time. Unfortunately, Longmire’s already been told by Cady that Gab was alone, and now he knows for sure that his daughter has lied to him. Whew! Nicely convoluted, right? Stunned and dismayed that his daughter is not telling him the truth, he confronts her. Cady hides behind the legal technicality that her client relationship with Henry was never officially dissolved and she has a responsibility to protect him. Most tender scene goes to Longmire telling her, “I understand the rest of the world disappointing me. But you?”

[Ouch. That one will sting...]

Sep 25 2015 9:30am

After “Lessons Learned,” We Announce The M.O.’s Next Story!

We're excited to announce the story we'll be publishing on the theme of “Lessons Learned” is...

“Night Watchman” by A.M. Thurmond

Thanks to all the submitters of fantastic stories, and to all those who checked out our shortlist and voted in greater numbers than ever! On Friday, October 9th, straight from the school of hard knocks, we'll have the reader-selected story here in its entirety!

Sep 24 2015 5:00pm

The Lost Codex: Exclusive Excerpt

Alan Jacobson

The Lost Codex by Alan Jacobson is a thriller about two ancient biblical documents that reveal long-buried secrets that could change the world forever (available November 3, 2015).

Read this exclusive excerpt of The Lost Codex by Alan Jacobson, and then make sure you're signed in and comment for a chance to win an advanced reading copy before it hits shelves in November!

In 930 CE, a revered group of scholars pen the first sanctioned Bible, planting the seed from which other major religions will grow. But in 1953, half the manuscript goes missing while being transported from Syria. Around the same time, in the foothills of the Dead Sea, an ancient scroll is discovered—and promptly stolen. Six decades later, both parchments stand at the heart of a geopolitical battle between foreign governments and radical extremists, threatening the lives of millions. With the American homeland under siege, the president turns to a team of uniquely trained covert operatives including FBI profiler Karen Vail, Special Forces veteran Hector DeSantos, and FBI terrorism expert Aaron Uziel. Their mission: Find the stolen documents and capture—or kill—those responsible for unleashing a coordinated and unprecedented attack on US soil.

[Start reading The Lost Codex now, and comment for a chance to win!]

Sep 24 2015 4:00pm

The ZINNG: Staub’s Movie, Barker’s TV, Things to Do in Denver (and London)

Set your DVRs for Wendy Corsi Staub's novel Hello, It's Me (written as Wendy Markham) airing Sunday at 9p Eastern on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel.

Many Congratulations to superfans and crime-reader-advocates Bill and Toby Gottfried, who'll be awarded the 2015 David Thompson Award at Bouchercon next month! Read more at Janet Rudolph's Mystery Fanfare and give them a high-five in Raleigh!

Share Friday night Words and Whiskey at Denver's BookBar with authors J.A. (Julie) Kazimer, Lisa Birman, and Joe Clifford. Bottoms up at 7p!

Deadline reports that Clive Barker's horror-fantasy Weaveworld is in development for television by the CW. It will be executive-produced by Barker as well as writer Jack Kenny (Warehouse 13).

Starting today through the September 27th, the inaugural Radio Times Festival is being held at The Green at Hampton Palace in London. So if you're in the UK, you may avail yourself of sessions with some of your favorites from Sherlock, Peaky Blinders, and Poldark, among many others.

If you want to read how plastinated sheep brains interleave with the adult film industry, check out The Story Behind the Story with the defiant and funny Craig Faustus Buck at The Rap Sheet.

Sep 24 2015 12:30pm

Longmire 4.09: “Shotgun”

“You build my gallows high,” Robert Mitchum famously said in the noir classic Out of the Past. Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) can certainly identify and maybe, just maybe, think Bob had it kinda easy. In the first three minutes of the penultimate episode to season four he has plenty of trouble brewing. Another woman was about to be sexually assaulted on the reservation, but this time she had unexpected backup in the form of not only Henry (Lou Diamond Phillips) acting as an avenging Hector but also Gabriella (Julia Jones) with a handgun that she uses to critically wound the attacker. Longmire, once again out of his jurisdiction (why not just call Mathias, Walt?), is arresting the would-be rapist’s friend when he hears Gab’s shot. He goes in search and fires in the dark at a fleeing figure who just manages to escape … and just so happens to be Henry.

But if Longmire is circling about a savage whirlpool, then Henry is all the way down the drain. Having been shot by his best friend, he has to remove a .30 caliber slug out of his leg, and he’s on the lam with Gab. In my reviewing of this season I’ve focused on the superior writing that’s hard to miss but let’s step back a minute to mention Mr. Phillips’s acting. A distinguished and yet underrated actor since he first exploded on the scene portraying Richie Valens in La Bamba (1987). Watching the actor’s face contort as he uses pliers to remove the lead from the wound, and later, still in pain, have to put on an act for Cady Longmire (Cassidy Freeman) who is lost and looking for directions is nothing short of Emmy Award-winning work. In a season of standout performances (Gerald McRaney, Robert Taylor, Guest star Michelle Krusiec) Mr. Phillips gets my vote for MVP.

[That wasn't an easy vote to cast...]

Sep 23 2015 4:15pm

Law & Order v.s. Lockdown: The Truth Behind Rikers Island

As a former mental health chief at New York City’s Rikers Island, I watch TV crime dramas with special interest, especially when the action switches to Rikers. No crime series includes the notorious lockup more often than the enduring Law & Order. While this popular TV series makes for satisfying entertainment, and even better PR for our vaunted system, I am always struck by the vast difference between these shows and real life. In each Law & Order episode, tenacious cops track leads and leave no stone unturned as they hunt down perpetrators of crimes, both minor and heinous. After the suspects are arrested, those who cannot make bail are frequently held on Rikers Island, where they await their day in court. And as the barred gate slams shut, the police work is finished. Dun-Dun. The judicial process takes over, assuring us that the detainee sitting in that jail cell is innocent until proven guilty. He will have his day in court, by gosh, his constitutional right. If he cannot afford legal counsel, the court will appoint a lawyer. Attorneys in crisp suits will then spend sleepless nights preparing for trial. Prosecutors will stop at nothing to prove guilt, while defense lawyers use every ounce of their legal acumen trying to prove otherwise. When the fateful day arrives, which it does very quickly, consistent with “right to a speedy trial,” the courtroom drama unfolds, and by the end of the show, the verdict is read – Guilty, or Not Guilty. Justice is served. The TV gets flicked off with the knowledge that the guilty will be punished, the innocent exonerated, and that our criminal justice system is in fine working order!  

[Sleep tight, nothing to see here...]

Sep 23 2015 12:00pm

Longmire 4.08: “Hector Lives”

Up to this point Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips) has been more or less harmlessly inserting himself into the lives of residents on the Reservation who have asked for Hector’s help, believing the avenger is still alive and leaving notes for him at a rock outcropping. But Henry may now be taking it a step further to help Gab (Julia Jones) who’s been raped by two roughnecks and can’t get justice.

But it’s unbeknownst to Longmire (Robert Taylor) who comes together again with Mathias (Zahn McClarnon) when it appears a Hector copycat has killed one of those oil workers. But the copycat has to step in line with a list of several other suspects—there’s Archer Loftus (Lew Temple) who fled shortly after the body was hauled out of the mud, an inside corporate cover-up instigated by supervisor Walker Browning (Callum Keith Rennie), or even Gab’s mother Linda (Stefany Mathias) who’s supposedly out of town. Cady Longmire’s (Cassidy Freeman) suspicion gradually grows of Henry who obtained pictures of both rapists, thanks to her file that she had in her possession, and few other people knew of the case because it failed to go to trial since the terrified Gab refused to testify. Other circumstantial evidence includes Henry buying pliers (to remove human teeth) and his pick-up truck covered in mud. I’m sure most viewers, like me, enjoy the idea of Henry Standing Bear going rogue because these individuals he’s championing have been held down too long and, well, it’s about damn time, right? I wonder if even Mathias is willing to overlook Henry’s involvement after confronting him at the rock outcropping, but Henry plays it off as leaving a note for Hector. But murder? No, I don’t see his character being allowed to wade that deep in the pool.


Sep 23 2015 9:30am

TBR Confessions: A Blue Labyrinth, 55 Heroes, and Magic

Do you have TBR Confessions to share? Don't keep them a secret! Give us the nod on 3 to 5 books for crime fans, and like the blabbermouths we are, we'll link to your full posts or write-ups wherever else they appear! Click the link to see more examples, submit via the Contact Us page, and let us rat you out!

JUST FINISHED: Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. I've read all of these and gobble them like hot buttered rolls, so when I was recently traveling and saw the new one (new to me at least, though it came out last year), I grabbed it. For those of us gleefully familiar with the wheels-within-wheels of the now 14 novels with spookily capable FBI Special Agent A.X.L (Aloysius) Pendergast, this tale returns to the always-dark questions lurking amid his intermittently brilliant and criminally insane family line. All of these moody novels contain elements of the creepy and exotic, the cruel and outlandish, plus entertaining mash-ups of strange, but genuine histories—this time, of the Salton Sea. As a fan-service bonus, this one even forced its characters back down into the research necropolis of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where the series all began with Relic. 

CURRENTLY READING: Protectors 2: Heroes, an anthology of 55 stories (whew!) to support Protect, the political lobby of the National Association to Protect Children. (Full disclosure: I wrote a story appearing here, but there are so many others, don't let that dissuade you.) Among contributors yakking around this digital water cooler: editor Thomas PluckHilary DavidsonLinda Rodriguez, Neliza Drew, Scott Adlerberg, Chad Eagleton, Laura K. Curtis *takes breath* but there are also stories from David MorrellS.J. Rozan, Reed Farrel Coleman, Joyce Carol Oates, Harlan Ellison, Joe R. Lansdale, Joelle Charbonneau. . . That's not even close to everyone, because it's an almost ridiculous amount of awesome for a single volume. I've been impressed by every story I've read, and by The End, I may stuff my typing fingers down the garbage disposal in shame. But for now, I'm enjoying the read!

DERAILER OF BEST INTENTIONS: Magic. 1400s-1950s. This unexpected present popped right to the TBR's top, and I had to remove it for safety, as it's the tallest, fattest, glossiest, slipcovered coffee table book you can imagine, packed with incredible images and sneaky characters. There are “more than 850 rarely seen vintage posters, photographs, handbills, and engravings as well as paintings by Hieronymus Bosch and Caravaggio among others...  Noel Daniel edited, and I can't imagine how long that and the layout must've taken. There's additional text by magic experts Mike Caveney, Jim Steinmeyer, and Ricky Jay, who shares works from his private collection as well. If you love ephemera and illustration, not to mention the deceitful history behind invitational chicanery, this book's incomparable. It's the Devil's whole shooting match in a Sunday go-to-meeting tuxedo.

Clare Toohey is a daytripper through genre gutters. She edits The M.O. and site wrangles here, freelances as an editor, writes short, surreal crime fiction, blogs at Women of Mystery, and tweets @clare2e.

See all posts by Clare Toohey at Criminal Element.

Sep 22 2015 4:00pm

Now Win This!: Murder on the Menu Sweepstakes

Is your stomach grumbling for its next meal? Well, you might want to think twice, because as these 14 mysteries prove, murder is definitely on the menu!

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 September 22, 2015, at 4:00 pm ET, and ends October 6, 2015, 3:59 pm ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[It sure does smell good...]

Sep 22 2015 12:30pm

The Killing Lessons: New Audio Excerpt

Saul Black

The Killing Lessons by Saul Black is a standalone thriller about a pair of traveling serial killers who unknowingly leave behind a 10-year-old witness who now serves as the police's only shot at catching their killers (available September 22, 2015).

In their isolated country house, a mother and her two children prepare to wait out a blinding snowstorm. Two violent predators walk through the door. Nothing will ever be the same.

When the two strangers turn up at Rowena Cooper's isolated Colorado farmhouse, she knows instantly that it's the end of everything. For the two haunted and driven men, on the other hand, it's just another stop on a long and bloody journey. And they still have many miles to go, and victims to sacrifice, before their work is done.

For San Francisco homicide detective Valerie Hart, their trail of victims-women abducted, tortured and left with a seemingly random series of objects inside them-has brought her from obsession to the edge of physical and psychological destruction. And she's losing hope of making a breakthrough before that happens.

But the murders at the Cooper farmhouse didn't quite go according to plan. There was a survivor, Rowena's ten-year-old daughter Nell, who now holds the key to the killings. Injured, half-frozen, terrified, Nell has only one place to go. And that place could be even more dangerous than what she's running from.

[Listen to an audio excerpt of The Killing Lessons!]

Sep 22 2015 10:45am

Longmire 4.07: “Highway Robbery”

Travis Murphy (Derek Phillips), former stooge of Branch Connolly, and recent pathetic soul attempting to convince Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) that he would make a good sheriff’s deputy, stumbles upon a highway robbery: one man dead, shot in the head, and another named Jerry Napek (David Dean Bottrell) crawling along the shoulder of the road seeking help. Both had been at the new casino and were leaving with a sizable monetary win when they are waylaid. Travis calls the sheriff’s office and fortunately Longmire, not being able to sleep after a dream about his late wife, answers the phone. When Longmire responds to the scene, Travis presents him with all the known facts. I’m wondering if Travis is being slowly presented as the legitimate heir to Branch’s position. He actually gets a “thank you” from Longmire for his contribution in eventually solving the case.

In an unusual development, it turns out Napek is physically disabled from being shot eight years earlier by the man that died along the highway—a man he was calling a friend. Napek explains to Longmire that he had been consumed by hate but finally forgave his attacker. The Ferg (Adam Bartley) interviews the murdered man’s father, Thomas Hoyt (played by Barney Miller alumnus Maxwell Gail), and finds it odd that Mr. Hoyt is less concerned with his son’s killing than he is with whether Napek is ok.

[That is a bit suspicious...]