FM: <i>Well Read, Then Dead</i> by Terrie Farley Moran FM: Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran Laura K. Curtis Crime comes to life for this cozy Florida book club. <i>Boston Mob</i>: A New Excerpt Boston Mob: A New Excerpt Marc Songini A historical retelling of the reign of the ruthlessly violent Boston mafia. Now Win <i>This</i>!: The Hard Hitting Sweepstakes Now Win This!: The Hard Hitting Sweepstakes Crime HQ Brace yourself before entering! <i>Last to Know</i>: A New Excerpt Last to Know: A New Excerpt Elizabeth Adler The body might have burned in the fire, but she had already been stabbed to death.
From The Blog
July 24, 2014
Erotic, Gothic, Belgian Vampires: Daughters of Darkness (1971)
Brian Greene
July 24, 2014
Committing Word Crimes with Weird Al
Crime HQ
July 23, 2014
The Movies of 1944: Double Indemnity
Jake Hinkson
July 18, 2014
The Eye: Nabokov on Spies, Suicide, and Sunset Boulevard
Edward A. Grainger
July 18, 2014
Pulling Up a Seat from Shakespeare to Sherlock: London's New Literary Benches
Joe Brosnan
Thu
Jul 17 2014 8:45am

“Make the World a Safer Place, Isn’t That Enough?”: A Most Wanted Man Trailer

When Philip Seymour Hoffman died in February of this year, he had several films that were either filming or in post-production. One of those films—in addition to the mega film franchise The Hunger Games—was an adaptation of John LeCarré's A Most Wanted Man. Now, film buffs and lovers of the source material will have a chance to critique how the final product turned out.

A Most Wanted Man will be in theaters July 25, 2014, will you be seeing it?

Wed
Jul 16 2014 2:00pm

Ringin’ Around the Rosie with Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny, and Girly (1969)

I’m part of a group of friends who have been dazzling one another with movies for decades now. We’re all cinephiles and we have similar tastes in films, yet each of us has our own individual slant on flicks. We like to get together and watch movies, each of us taking turns at being the one to pick the titles. When you make a selection for viewing among this group, you’re of course hoping to show the others movies they haven’t yet seen. Beyond that, you just want your choices to be films that will be enjoyable and memorable. Sometimes you go for cinematic fare that’s just straight-up good, sometimes you shoot for weird and good, other times your aim is at so-bad-it’s-good camp. Just give them something that will engage them on some level during the watching and give all of us things to talk about after, and you’ve scored a winner.

I think I can say I have a fairly high success rate in picking films that work for this group. But there has been the occasional misstep. I once cleared a room with a showing of a moody early Wim Wenders title, and another time left everyone feeling deranged after presenting the bent 1973 drama The Baby. Another “mistake” on my part was when I offered the group Girly aka Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny, and Girly (it went under the longer title upon its 1969 theatrical release and was shortened to the one-word name for the 2010 DVD issue – I’m going to use the shorter title from here on in). The problem was timing and setting.  This was during a beach vacation and maybe that isn’t the most ideal backdrop for a viewing of a twisted British horror/dark comedy film. But our annual beach weeks are generally the only time all of us are together these days, I had just recently happened on to Girly and was knocked out by it, and I couldn’t wait for my friends to see it. And it’s not like the idea of me championing weird movies was a new idea to this set of people.

[That should tell you how weird this one is...]

Wed
Jul 16 2014 10:45am
Excerpt

Hounded: A New Excerpt

David Rosenfelt

Hounded by David Rosenfelt is the 12th mystery in the Andy Carpenter series about a lawyer with a reputation for saving both humans and animals from Death Row (available July 22, 2014).

Andy Carpenter isn’t sure what to think when he gets a mysterious phone call from a good friend, policeman Pete Stanton, asking him to drop everything, drive to an unfamiliar address, and bring his girlfriend, Laurie Collins. He certainly isn’t expecting to show up at a crime scene. But that’s exactly where he arrives—at the house where Pete has just discovered the body of ex-convict Danny Diza. Upstairs are Danny’s now orphaned four-year-old son and basset hound. And that, Andy discovers, is why he and Laurie were called to the scene—Pete wants them to take care of the boy and the dog so they won’t get thrown into the “system.” This is already asking a lot, but soon Pete needs another big favor from Andy. Pete himself has come under suspicion for Danny’s murder, and he needs defense attorney Andy to represent him…and to find out what really happened in Danny's house that day.

Chapter 1

Pete Stanton figured he was the poorest person in the room.

Of course, it was always possible that he was wrong. Maybe the servants had been allowed to attend, since it was their boss who was being eulogized. Having had no experience with servants, Pete was not in a position to venture an educated guess about that. And if he asked the guys at the precinct, chances are they wouldn’t know either.

[Keep reading Hounded by David Rosenfelt...]

Wed
Jul 16 2014 8:45am

Man Faces Charges for Carving Watermelon

A man from Connecticut faces criminal charges after a woman told authorities he 'stabbed' a watermelon sitting on the counter in a “passive-aggressive” manner.

The woman in question told police on the 4th of July that she found many kinds of illegal drugs in the man’s tool box. She then later returned home to find a watermelon on the counter with a large butcher’s knife sticking out of it. The man then reportedly entered the kitchen and began carving the watermelon in a very “passive-aggressive and menacing” manner.

Carmine Cervellino, 49, was arraigned on Monday and was charged with disorderly conduct.

The woman said she felt Cervellino was resorting to “passive aggressive” tactics to intimidate her because he was mad at her.

Tue
Jul 15 2014 12:30pm

Longmire 3.07: “Population 25” Calls for Help

Victoria “Vic” Moretti (Katee Sackhoff) and her husband Sean (Michael Mosley) on a get-away of hopeful rest and relaxation have anything but and before you can yell, “Watch out for that bear in the road!” their convertible is off the highway and totaled. Cell service in the remote pass is, as always, next to none, so Vic takes off on her own to find a house to call for help. But, unfortunately, Vic has stumbled onto a family home without a phone that, coincidentally, turns out to be some kind of separatist group who’ve been keeping tabs on the sheriff and crew. “Population 25” saw a major plotline come to an end but not before Vic goes through her own Deliverance kind of hell.

Sean climbs for higher ground to get cell service and calls Longmire to tell him he tried flagging down a car that swerved around him and sped away, but not before Sean noticed it was driven by Ed Gorski (Lee Tergesen), Vic’s ex-lover, and he suspects she had been kidnapped. When Longmire arrives Sean is missing, and Gorski, who’s now hiding in the woods, manages to get Longmire’s weapons away from him as he fills Longmire in on the situation.

It was a bit confusing here at first after learning a second car came through grabbing Sean and how this group managed to be seemingly following Vic and the chances of her unwittingly arriving at the door of the man named Chance (Peter Stormare) whose brother was killed by Longmire.

[Talk about an unlikely pairing...]

Tue
Jul 15 2014 11:15am
Excerpt

Enemies at Home: A New Excerpt

Enemies at Home by Lindsey Davis is the second historical mystery set in Rome featuring Flavia Albia, a private informer following in her father's footsteps (available July 15, 2014).

In Ancient Rome, the number of slaves was far greater than that of free citizens. As a result, often the people Romans feared most were the “enemies at home,” the slaves under their own roofs. Because of this, Roman law decreed that if the head of a household was murdered at home, and the culprit wasn’t quickly discovered, his slaves—all of them, guilty or not—were presumed responsible and were put to death. Without exception.

When a couple is found dead in their own bedroom and their house burglarized, some of their household slaves know what is about to happen to them.  They flee to the Temple of Ceres, which by tradition is respected as a haven for refugees. This is where Flavia Albia comes in. The authorities, under pressure from all sides, need a solution. Albia, a private informer just like her father, Marcus Didius Falco, is asked to solve the murders.

Chapter 1

Even before I started, I knew I should say no.

[Continue reading Enemies at Home by Lindsey Davis...]

Tue
Jul 15 2014 10:15am

Endeavour 2.03: “Sway”

Everyone is wearing a poppy for remembrance, which should give you a clue that this episode will concern the past and the sins committed then. It also concerns a murderer who is very much present in the minds of Morse and his colleagues, and who plans to continue murdering in the future unless they can stop him.

Time is of the essence in “Sway.” The endlessness of time; mathematical infinity; ouroboros, the snake that devours its tail, symbolizing eternity...

Time; and possibly the Rolling Stones, although I’m not certain about the last part.

As the episode begins, a newspaper headline trumpets the case of the moment:  “Woman Strangled – Oxford housewife willingly opened door to killer.” This refers to the murder of Anne Curran Matthews.

At the office, Morse is typing up a report for Chief Superintendent Bright concerning the “amalgamation” of police stations. This might pose a problem for Morse in the future, but it’s certainly not enough to occupy all of his intellect right now. He’s turning over the Curran Matthews case in his mind and associating it with another open case. They’re not identical, but there are similarities.

Moments later, another victim is found. Vivienne Haldane, the wife of an Oxford professor, has been strangled with a silk stocking. (“Not hers,” says Dr. DeBryn.) Physical relations had taken place within an hour or two of death. (“Nothing to say ‘unwillingly,’” says Dr. DeBryn.) And the pieces begin to fall into place for Morse.

There are now three cases involving women who were strangled with silk stockings. More specifically, married women who spend most of their time apart from their husbands and who weren’t wearing their wedding rings when their bodies were found.

[So much for playing Happy Families...]

Tue
Jul 15 2014 8:45am

Thrillerfest IX: Sights, Sounds, and Sweepstakes

Thrillerfest IX finished up a long weekend of seminars and panels with its annual ITW Thriller Awards, with Andrew Pyper's The Demonologist winning Best Hardcover Novel. But Thrillerfest isn't about awards as much as it is about celebrating the art of writing (and scaring). 

Attendees of the event's first two days, called Craftfest and Pitchfest, receive a crash course in the entire pubishing process, from starting your book, to pitching it to an agent, to marketing the final version. And the attendees' newly learned tricks are put right to the test with Pitchfest, an intense 3-1/2 hour block where they can pitch their book to as many agents as possible.

In fact, one of the panels I attended on Friday (The Long Road to Publication) featured Glen Hamilton, a new author who found his agent at last year's Pitchfest.

All in all, the panels offered the rare chance to hear authors speak passionately about their work. And naturally, when you combine a handful of creative people and ask them to speak for an hour, you're bound to yield some motivational and funny moments. Here are a few of the standouts:

“We're all here because we have so many ways of killing people.” — James Hannibal

(On the perks of being an author) “[There's] less socially acceptable binge drinking than I thought there'd be.” — Justin Kramon

“If it sounds like writing, I try to do it over again.” — Douglas Preston quoting Elmore Leonard

“Simple plot can allow for a more complex story.” A. X. Ahmad

(On how he handles a less than successful book debut) “It's not a book, it's a career.” — Douglas Preston

All this is incredibly cool, but perhaps the coolest thing to come out of Thrillerfest IX is Faceoff. Organized by the ITW board, Faceoff features 22 famous characters facing off in 11 stories, each written by famous authors. Dennis Lehane against Michael Connelly. Lee Child versus Joseph Finder. Steve Berry and James Rollins. This book is a thriller fan's wet dream. And it could be yours!

 

This Sweepstakes has ended. Thank you for entering.

To enter, make sure you're a registered member of the site and simply leave a comment below.

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

FACEOFF Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances 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.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2014/07/thrillerfest-ix-sights-sounds-and-sweepstakes beginning at 08:45 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) July 15, 2014. Sweepstakes ends 08:44 a.m. ET July 21, 2014. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law.  Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Mon
Jul 14 2014 5:30pm
Excerpt

Overlord: A New Excerpt

David L. Golemon

Overlord by David L. Golemon is the final sci-fi thriller in the Event Group trilogy where armageddon is upon the entire world (available July 15, 2014).

The plans of a million years are finally ready for what has always been coming—Armageddon.  Finally, the first move is set in motion and the assassinations begin, eliminating the leadership and consolidating military control of the seas and airspace of the world’s most powerful nations. Only one element in the arsenal of the world can possibly give the Earth a fighting chance at survivala tiny being that has already saved the world once in the Arizona desert is now called upon to outthink his former masters.

The one entity on the planet that refuses to accept the inevitable defeat of humankind, The Event Group, is suffering from losses of military personnel and being torn apart by internal conflict. The Group also faces a threat that may be far more dangerous to Earth’s survival than the attacks from deep spacetheir old enemies have returned to take revenge and the worst fears of Department 5656 are realized—a breach in security allows intruders to get at the secrets inside the complex in Nevada.  As the war wages on, countries fall, nations fight to the last man, and the fate of planet depends on a few good men and women.

Chapter 1

UNITED STATES PENITENTIARY, LEAVENWORTH

LEAVENWORTH, KANSAS

PRESENT DAY

The man in the rumpled three-piece suit waited in front of Warden Hal Jennings’s desk. He stood with his battered briefcase clutched in both hands and was using it as if it were a talisman of some sort as he waited for his ruse to either pass muster, or for his deception to be found out. If he was found out it would be nothing more than an embarrassing episode and predicament he would eventually talk his way out of.

[Continue reading Overlord by David L. Golemon...]

Mon
Jul 14 2014 12:30pm
Excerpt

Everyone Lies: A New Excerpt

A.D. Garrett

Everyone Lies by A. D. Garrett is a procedural mystery featuring a down-on-her-luck DCI Kate Simms as she turns to Professor Nick Fennimore, a forensics expert, for help in her newest case (available July 15, 2014).

DCI Kate Simms is on the fast track to nowhere. Five years ago she helped a colleague when she shouldn't have. She's been clawing her way back from a demotion ever since. Professor Nick Fennimore is a failed genetics student, successful gambler, betting agent, crime scene officer, chemistry graduate, toxicology specialist and one-time scientific advisor to the National Crime Faculty. He is the best there is, but ever since his wife and daughter disappeared he's been hiding away in Scotland, working as a forensics lecturer.

In Manchester, drug addicts are turning up dead and Simms' superior is only too pleased to hand the problem to her. Then a celebrity dies and the media gets interested. Another overdose victim shows up, but this time the woman has been systematically beaten and all identifying features removed. The evidence doesn't add up; Simms' superiors seem to be obstructing her investigation; and the one person she can't afford to associate with is the one man who can help: Fennimore.

Chapter 1

‘A trivial example of observation and inference.’

A. C. DOYLE, THE BOSCOMBE VALLEY MYSTERY

Monday morning, 9 a.m., in A12 lecture theatre, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. Small and slightly cramped, certainly not the best lecture theatre on the St Andrews Street campus, but Professor Nick Fennimore liked it, and always asked for it. The walls were clad in ochre-stained pine, and the seating, gently raked, ran six to a row either side of the aisle. There were several curious burn marks on the floor near the demo bench – relics of his famous ‘Petrol Makes a Good Fire Extinguisher’ demo.

[Continue reading Everyone Lies by A. D. Garrett...]

Mon
Jul 14 2014 10:30am

The Strain 1.01: Series Premiere “Night Zero”

Regis Air Flight #753 is arriving at JFK from Berlin—our first warning that, in true Guillermo del Toro fashion, creepy Germans will play a part in the unfolding horror. As the plane begins its descent, a flight attendant is worried. It seems something has been moving in the cargo hold. Sure enough, the hatch promptly explodes and a black thing erupts to the accompaniment of screams.

So far, so creepy.

Enter our hero: Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather, a CDC doctor who is perhaps a little too devoted to his work. Hence the court-appointed counseling sessions with frustrated, estranged wife Kelly. I know this is establishing plot and adding tension, but I’m honestly just trying to wrap my head around frequent character actor (and frequently bald) Corey Stoll’s hair.

While Eph and his partner Nora (Mia Maestro) prepare to enter the “dead” plane, we meet the elderly Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley), owner of a pawnshop in Queens. Old he may be, but helpless Abraham most certainly isn’t. When a pair of hoodlums—one of whom happens to be Weevil from Veronica Mars, looking somewhat different with hair; why can’t I stop focusing on everybody’s hair?—try to rob the old man, he responds with an impressive turn of speed and a stone-cold threat. Clearly, Argus Filch is not to be messed with.

[Let's get back to that plane...]

Mon
Jul 14 2014 8:45am

Death Becomes Her, Or is it That Fabulous Veil?

“Death Becomes Her,” the fall exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Anna Wintour Costume Center presents a stitch-by-stitch account of what the well-dressed widow was wearing a century or two ago.

There were rules for such things, naturally, and we can thank high-profile mourners, such as Queen Victoria and her daughter-in-law Queen Alexandra for elevating the social importance of mourning attire. (Mourning gowns belonging to each woman will be part of the exhibition.)

Yet according to Harold Koda, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute, mourning wasn’t always seen simply as a bereaved wife’s dedication to her departed spouse. “The veiled widow  could elicit sympathy as well as predatory male advances,” he says. “As a woman of sexual experience without marital constraints, she was often imagined as a potential threat to the social order.”

Just who was she peering at through her long black veil?

Death Becomes Her” runs from October 21, 2014 to February 1, 2015, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Sun
Jul 13 2014 12:00pm

From Page to Screen with 4:50 From Paddington: Is the Book Always Better?

I read the Agatha Christie's book version of 4:50 From Paddington way before I saw the TV-movie, directed by Martyn Friend. I was most likely in my late teens or early twenties when I read it. That was the time I went on a huge Agatha Christie binge. I read as many of her books as I could find. Fortunately, it wasn’t too hard to find them between the local library and my big sister’s bookshelves.

This particular story finds an aging Miss Marple being visited by her good friend Elspeth McGillicuddy, who tells the amateur sleuth a fantastic story. While the train she was traveling on to get to St. Mary Mead slowed to allow another train to pass, Mrs. McGillicuddy witnessed a man strangling a woman. Miss Marple believes her old friend, even though authorities turn up nothing. And though she can’t physically carry out the investigation, Jane Marple enlists the help of Lucy Eyelesbarrow, an Oxford-educated, freelance domestic servant. She is much sought after by ladies who want the best and like to impress. Lucy is dispatched to the Crackenthorpe estate, the only place on the train line where a body could have been disposed of without being found soon after. She is to assist the remaining daughter of the house with various domestic chores and with taking care of the cranky, ailing patriarch, while looking for the body.

[That's a sneaky plan, Miss Marple...]

Sat
Jul 12 2014 12:00pm

Orange Is the New Black 2.11: “Take a Break from Your Values”

Man, I do love me some radical left-wing nuns. I wasn’t raised Catholic, so I don’t have any of the strict, knuckle-rapping associations that have become the stuff of legend when it comes to women of the holy orders. I did teach at an all-girls Catholic school for a while, though, and I met some nuns there who were women with a serious bent toward social justice. And I do love me some radical left-wing nuns.

There’s something brilliant about including a nun among the inmates at Litchfield. When we first met Sister Jane (Beth Fowler), we were told that she was inside for protesting at a nuclear testing site. Now, in Episode 11, we learn her back story. We see her as a young woman (played by Aubrey Sinn), already committed to her life as Bride of Christ but also already straining against the confines of the church. She wants to get out in the world and make a difference, to serve, to turn faith into action. But this is, after all, Orange Is the New Black and in this world there is no such thing as a saint. (I don’t think there’s a saint to be found anywhere in the work of the show’s creator, Jenji Kohan.) As is so often the case, a character’s weakness grows out of her strength. Sister Jane is filled with righteous indignation, but it is so bound up in her own narcissism that it’s difficult to tell the difference. In the present day, we see her become a part of Soso’s hunger strike, but, before long, the whole affair becomes all about Sister Jane.  It’s difficult to have a leaderless movement when one member of your party is bound and determined to see herself as a martyr.

[Down with authority!]

Fri
Jul 11 2014 8:45am

North Korea Complains to the U.N. About The Interview

Sometimes a movie sparks controvery, but rarely is that controversy taken to such as international scale. The Interview, which hits theaters October 10, 2014, focuses on two bumbling men—one, a journalist trying to redeem his career, the other, his producer—who land The Interview of The Year: A chance to sit down with Kim Jong Un. However the pair are recruited by the CIA to do, what else, but assassinate the North Korean leader.

Of course, it's not the most complimentary portrayals of a leader to ever be made, especially when an assassination attempt is a major plot point. Kim Jong Un did not take very kindly to the portrayal. In a letter made public this week to the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon from North Korea's U.N. Ambassador Ja Song Nam, Nam says the plot is tantamount to an act of war:

“To allow the production and distribution of such a film on the assassination of an incumbent head of a sovereign state should be regarded as the most undisguised sponsoring of terrorism as well as an act of war.

”The United States authorities should take immediate and appropriate actions to ban the production and distribution of the aforementioned film; otherwise, it will be fully responsible for encouraging and sponsoring terrorism."

Seth Rogen, one of the stars along with James Franco, had this to say about the news:

Apparently parody and satire are not popular comedy devices in North Korea. What do you think the outcome of the open letter will be? At the very least, we don't see this movie seeing a debut in North Korea.

Fri
Jul 11 2014 12:30pm
Excerpt

The Bone Orchard: A New Excerpt

Paul Doiron

The Bone Orchard by Paul Doiron is the fifth mystery set in Maine featuring Game Warden Mike Bowditch (available July 14, 2014).

In the aftermath of a family tragedy, Mike Bowditch has left the Maine Warden Service and is working as a fishing guide in the North Woods. But when his mentor Sgt. Kathy Frost is forced to kill a troubled war veteran in an apparent case of “suicide by cop,” he begins having second thoughts about his decision.

Now Kathy finds herself the target of a government inquiry and outrage from the dead soldier's platoon mates. Soon she finds herself in the sights of a sniper, as well. When the sergeant is shot outside her farmhouse, Mike joins the hunt to find the mysterious man responsible. To do so, the ex-warden must plunge into his friend's secret past—even as a beautiful woman from Mike's own past returns, throwing into jeopardy his tentative romance with wildlife biologist Stacey Stevens.

As Kathy Frost lies on the brink of death and a dangerous shooter stalks the blueberry barrens of central Maine, Bowditch is forced to confront the choices he has made and determine, once and for all, the kind of man he truly is.

Chapter 1

When I think of Jimmy Gammon now, I remember the way he was before the war: a redheaded, freckled-faced kid with a body like a greyhound, all arms and legs, with a jutting rib cage he’d gotten running up and down the hills of midcoast Maine.

[Continue reading The Bone Orchard by Paul Doiron]

Thu
Jul 10 2014 2:30pm

Fresh Meat: The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and illustrated by Sonny Liew is a revived  comic series adapted from a 1940s series about the Green Turtle, the first Asian American superhero (available July 14, 2014).

In 1944, an obscure comic book artist named Chu Hing was asked to write and draw an Asian-based cartoon feature for the equally obscure publisher, Rural Home. He created a hero named the Green Turtle, whose exploits would span five whole issues before cancellation. The entire enterprise might have been consigned to a footnote in comic book history, if Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew hadn’t come across the Green Turtle and decided to expand upon what Chu Hing had begun, extrapolating from the Golden Age of comics (and its inherent limitations) to create a fully-fleshed, touching, and incredibly funny superhero comic that, while set in the same mid-century milieu as the original, feels both fresh and timeless.

The story begins in a turbulent China, following the collapse of imperial rule. The four guardian spirits of China—Dragon, Phoenix, Tiger and Tortoise—come to a council to decide the best way to ensure China’s, and their own, survival. While the others argue, Tortoise is silent. The next day, to the dismay of his fellows, Tortoise hops aboard a ship leaving the mainland. There he strikes a deal with a young drunk who, travelling to America, will become Hank Chu’s father and unwittingly bequeath the protection of Tortoise to his American-born son.

[It's a surprisingly smooth ride...]

Thu
Jul 10 2014 11:30am

Orange Is the New Black 2.10: “Little Mustachioed Shit”

After spending most of this season hopscotching between different characters, in Episode 10, Orange Is The New Black swings back around to Piper. She occupies both the flashback (which gives us some more details on her relationship with Alex) and the present day storyline (which concerns her relationship with Polly and Larry). These two storylines converge in a funny way, and “Little Mustachioed Shit” ends up illustrating something important about the character: Piper needs Alex.

Looking back on the season, you can pretty much chart the show’s interest in Piper in terms of Alex. The drama of the first episode came to a head when Alex betrayed Piper in court, but once she was back in Litchfield, Piper seemed to drift—and the show’s interest in her seemed to drift, as well. Even in Episode 9, which concerned her big furlough, the real focus was on Red and Vee. The reason for this, I think, is that Alex was missing. I’ve taken a number of shots at Larry in these recaps, but the truth of the matter is that the show sags whenever it focuses on the drama between Piper-Larry-Polly-Pete. Larry brings out Piper’s responsible side. Alex brings out Piper’s heedlessly romantic side. (In the universe of OITNB, romance and love and sex are always combustible emotions.) 

[And boy do they have a knack for exploding!]

Thu
Jul 10 2014 8:45am

It’s Sir Ian McKellen’s Turn: Can There Be Too Much Sherlock Holmes?

This is the first official image released of Sir Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes in the upcoming film A Slight Trick of the Mind. Slated to premiere sometime in 2015, this is the first glimpse we've seen from the film.

Adapted from Mitch Cullin's book of the same name, the story centers on a 93-year-old Holmes as he keeps himself busy with beekeeping, writing in his journal, and trying to come to grips with his diminishing mind. The film will also star Laura Linney and is to be directed by Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, The Fifth Estate).

What do you think about A Slight Trick of the Mind? Do you love Sherlock so much that your thirst is unquenchable? Or is it getting to the point where he's joined Vampires and Abraham Lincoln at the top of today's oversaturated topic list? Join the discussion in the comments!

Wed
Jul 9 2014 3:00pm
Excerpt

Blade of the Samurai: A New Excerpt

Susan Spann

Blade of the Samurai, by Susan Spann, is the second historical detective mystery in the Shinobi mystery series, featuring a master ninja and a female samurai in feudal 16th Century Japan (available July 16, 2013).

June, 1565: Master ninja Hiro Hattori receives a pre-dawn visit from Kazu, a fellow shinobi working undercover at the shogunate. Hours before, the shogun’s cousin, Saburo, was stabbed to death in the shogun’s palace. The murder weapon: Kazu’s personal dagger. Kazu says he’s innocent, and begs for Hiro’s help, but his story gives Hiro reason to doubt the young shinobi’s claims.

When the shogun summons Hiro and Father Mateo, the Portuguese Jesuit priest under Hiro’s protection, to find the killer, Hiro finds himself forced to choose between friendship and personal honor.

The investigation reveals a plot to assassinate the shogun and overthrow the ruling Ashikaga clan. With Lord Oda’s enemy forces approaching Kyoto, and the murderer poised to strike again, Hiro must use his assassin’s skills to reveal the killer’s identity and protect the shogun at any cost. Kazu, now trapped in the city, still refuses to explain his whereabouts at the time of the murder. But a suspicious shogunate maid, Saburo’s wife, and the shogun’s stable master also had reasons to want Saburo dead. With the shogun demanding the murderer’s head before Lord Oda reaches the city, Hiro and Father Mateo must produce the killer in time...or die in his place.

Chapter 1

Hiro opened his eyes in darkness.

Night enveloped the room like a shroud, broken only by the beam of moonlight streaming through the open veranda door. The still air and the moonbeam’s angle told Hiro that dawn was still an hour away.

[Continue reading Blade of the Samurai by Susan Spann...]