<i>The Devil's Share</i>: New Excerpt The Devil's Share: New Excerpt Wallace Stroby It's always the easy gigs that end up deadly... FM: <i>One Way or Another</i> by Elizabeth Adler FM: One Way or Another by Elizabeth Adler Doreen Sheridan Even while drowning, she was plotting revenge. FM: <i>Death in Brittany</i> by Jean-Luc Bannalec FM: Death in Brittany by Jean-Luc Bannalec Scott Adlerberg It should be coffee, not a murder investigation, that wakes you up! FM: <i>A Batter of Life and Death</i> by Ellie Alexander FM: A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander Kerry Hammond Some cakes are to die for...
From The Blog
July 1, 2015
Man Steals Van, Gets Lost and Runs Out of Gas
Teddy Pierson
June 30, 2015
Under the Radar: Push (2009)
Angie Barry
June 29, 2015
Careers: Passion for Execution? Willing to Relocate?
Crime HQ
June 26, 2015
Announcing The M.O.'s "Wishful Thinking" Story!
Crime HQ
June 25, 2015
Man Arrested After Running Naked Through Walmart
Teddy Pierson
Wed
Jun 24 2015 10:05am

Hurry! Voting for The M.O.’s “Wishful Thinking” Ends Tonight!

Time is almost up for our “Wishful Thinking” round of The M.O.! Voting closes tonight at midnight, and we'll be announcing the winner this Friday! So what are you waiting for? Head over to our shortlist, featuring authors Peter DiChellis, Kate Fellowes, Seana Graham, and Louis Rakovich, and vote for your favorite that you most want to read to The End! You can vote only once (you rascals), and in two weeks, we'll publish the selection here for all of you to enjoy! And to learn more about our shortlisted authors, check out their mugs over at the Rogues' Gallery.

Tue
Jun 23 2015 2:00pm

Now Win This!: Beach Bag Sweepstakes

Safe from sand and spray, readable in bright sun, paperbacks are vacation faves, and we've got 15 exciting titles for you to stuff in your beach bag — just don't forget your sunscreen!

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 June 23, 2015, at 2:00 pm ET, and ends July 7, 2015, 1:59 pm ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[Bend 'em, beat 'em, just make sure you read 'em...]

Tue
Jun 23 2015 10:15am

Fresh Meat: Devil’s Harbor by Alex Gilly

Devil's Harbor by Alex Gilly follows Nick Finn, a California Customs and Border agent wrongly accused of murdering his partner forced to evade capture while attempting to prove his innocence (available June 23, 2015).

Brutal, real, sweaty, and scary, with the power of the sea roiling just below the surface, Devil’s Harbor is a frightening place to visit. Finn is no imaginary alcoholic. His marriage is in need of more than a quick tune-up. His brother-in-law won’t be strolling into a family dinner with his two boisterous dogs at his side any time soon. Throughout the story, Finn examines and explores long buried childhood memories. Finn is no over-the-top, overboard drunk though: with all his demons perched on this shoulder, he still has the persistence and drive to unravel a puzzling, vicious criminal operation and restore a daughter to a mother’s side. But it’s not for the faint-of-heart.

The tension ratchets up right away. Finn senses something is out of the ordinary in the smuggling vessel he and his partner are attempting to board.

Still no one appeared from the cabin. That disturbed him. Almost all the traffickers he intercepted, when they realized there was no way out, turned meek—especially if their boats were about to sink or catch fire. Usually what they did was show themselves, put their hands in the air, make it clear that they were unarmed and surrendering. Most of them knew they were just going to get shipped home anyway.

Finn sensed that this guy was different. There was something all-or-nothing about this guy.

[Not everything is as it seems...]

Mon
Jun 22 2015 2:00pm

10 of the Best Noir Novels of the 21st Century

Here we are, fifteen years into a new century, and many authors are churning out noir novels as essential as anything from its heyday. If you’re like me, when you think of the 90s, it feels about five years ago, but the last decade and a half comprises the entire publishing career of many authors, even though we’re about 80 years beyond the origin of noir fiction and about 65 years away from its golden age.

Here then, are 10 of my favorites from the new millennium. I won’t say they're the best because I certainly haven’t read every noir novel to come out since 2000, and I’m hoping someone out there comments about another book they feel passionate about, so I can find new titles to add to my reading list. Comment away and tell me what I missed.

The Cleanup by Sean Doolittle (2006)

The hallmarks of noir are the sad sucker, the femme fatale, some very bad decisions—The Cleanup has them all. Working night security at an Omaha supermarket is about as low as a man can sink. He might as well have been thrown off the hay truck about noon. Doolittle is the king of suburban noir and he’s never been blacker than here in a timeless tale that of the desperate side of a man’s soul seeking redemption and a slice of what passes for happiness in his snowbound flatlands world.

[With noir, the trajectory is downward...]

Mon
Jun 22 2015 12:00pm

Announcing 2015’s Macavity Award Nominations!

 

Awards season continues apace, with a new slate of nominees for the 2015 Macavity Awards from Mystery Readers International. “MRI is the largest mystery fan/reader organization in the world, is open to all readers, fans, critics, editors, publishers, and writers. Started by Janet A. Rudolph in Berkeley, California, it now has members in all 50 of the United States and 18 foreign countries.” The awards will be presented at Boucheron in Raleigh, NC in October.  Onto the nominees!

BEST MYSTERY NOVEL
The Lewis Man by Peter May
The Last Death of Jack Harbin by Terry Shames
The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood
The Day She Died by Catriona McPherson
The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield
The Long Way Home by Louise Penny

BEST FIRST MYSTERY NOVEL
Invisible City by Julia Dahl
The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day
Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary
Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little
Blessed Are the Dead by Kristi Belcamino
Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman

BEST MYSTERY-RELATED NONFICTION
Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer's Journey, edited by Hank Phillippi Ryan
The Figure of the Detective: A Literary History and Analysis by Charles Brownson
Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe by J. W. Ocker
400 Things Cops Know: Street Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman by Adam Plantinga

BEST MYSTERY SHORT STORY*
“Honeymoon Sweet” by Craig Faustus Buck, in Murder at the Beach: The Bouchercon Anthology 2014, edited by Dana Cameron
“The Shadow Knows” by Barb Goffman, in Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays, edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Talley
“Howling at the Moon” by Paul D. Marks, in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine
“The Proxy” by Travis Richardson, in Thuglit
“The Odds Are Against Us” by Art Taylor, in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine

*all the nominated short stories have generously been made available to read online.

SUE FEDER MEMORIAL AWARD: BEST HISTORICAL MYSTERY
Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen
Present Darkness by Malla Nunn
A Deadly Measure of Brimstone by Catriona McPherson
An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris
Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd
Things Half in Shadow by Alan Finn

Congratulations to All!

Mon
Jun 22 2015 10:30am

True Detective 2.01: Season Premeire “The Western Book of the Dead”

The second season of True Detective moves to California with an all new cast, keeping the grim sense of despair but losing the mysticism and existential dread that piqued the interest of so many viewers in its first season. Without Rust Cohle’s Thomas Liggotti-inspired philosophical ramblings, the primordial swamp of the Louisiana scenery, and the moody direction of Cary Joji Fukunaga (who does stay on board as producer), the show feels different, but not necessarily worse, as it gains focus and tells a somewhat more straightforward narrative.

Instead of a pair, we get a trio of detectives this time around, beginning with Colin Farrell’s Ray Velcoro, a big fish in the very small, corrupt pond of Vinci, a city—“supposedly,” Ray says—that seems to consist entirely of a sweatshop, some oil refineries, dead-end bars, and a casino. If you thought Thompson’s Pop. 1280 was  small town, Vinci has 94 people, and they’re all squeezing the Federal orange for every drop.

[There won't be enough to please everyone...]

Sat
Jun 20 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Run You Down by Julia Dahl

Run You Down by Julia Dahl is the 2nd murder mystery in the Rebekah Roberts series about a NYC reporter who's immersed herself in the closed-door Hasidic community (available June 30, 2015).

Run You Down picks up shortly after the events of Julia Dahl's first book, Invisible City. Rebekah Roberts, the reporter for the Tribune who uncovered a murder in the Ultra-Orthodox community, is having trouble coming to terms with her experiences. She is drawn into another murder when the husband of Pessie Goldin reaches out for help. Pessie was found dead in a bathtub and the rumor in the community is that she committed suicide. Her family does not want anyone looking into it and as suicide is a great sin, and may seriously affect the ability of her siblings to attract spouses, her mother and father are claiming Pessie’s death was an accident. But her husband, Levi, is convinced his wife would never kill herself, especially since her little boy Chaim was left strapped into his car seat. As is common in this community, the body was not autopsied and the police have shown no interest in investigating.

[That's going to make things difficult...]

Sat
Jun 20 2015 9:00am

Hannibal 3.03: “Secondo” Means Choosing

In “Secondo,” Hannibal and Bedelia lounge in matching rompwear, while Jack mourns Will, who torments the tormented in the Lecter family vineyards.

At home in their gorgeous Florence apartment, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) is glum in a black satin something, and Dr. Bedelia du Maurier's (Gillian Anderson) matching him in the blackness of her garments and mood. The question of Will comes up, as it must, since Hannibal seems almost wistfully proud Will found him, and Bedelia thinks he may be stacking the deck for his favorite protegee. She tells Hannibal forgiveness takes two. It's an odd sentiment for a therapist and disastrous for the category of self-help books, entire shelves of which are dedicated to Letting Go. But at any rate, this will set up the first see-saw of the night, the axis between Betrayal and Forgiveness, the trembling, uncertain anticipation of which is compared in this conversation to falling in love. (And to think, I was concerned Willibal shippers might not get their share of joy.)

Bedelia seems remarkably sure, for the first time this season, that she'll be able to “navigate” a way out of her troubles. However, she puts the screws to Hannibal as to how and whether he will. She's prodding him with his recent self-destructiveness and the inevitability of his capture. Hannibal is almost supine as he tells her that Will is headed to a place he cannot go: home.

[Are Will's ears ringing in Lithuania?]

Sun
Jun 21 2015 12:00pm
Excerpt

Flask of the Drunken Master: New Excerpt

Susan Spann

Flask of the Drunken Master by Susan Spann is the 3rd historical detective mystery in the Shinobi Mystery Series, featuring a master ninja and a female samurai in feudal 16th Century Japan (available July 14, 2015).

August 1565: When a rival artisan turns up dead outside Ginjiro's brewery, and all the evidence implicates the brewer, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo must find the killer before the magistrate executes Ginjiro and seizes the brewery, leaving his wife and daughter destitute. A missing merchant, a vicious debt collector, and a female moneylender join Ginjiro and the victim's spendthrift son on the suspect list. But with Kyoto on alert in the wake of the shogun's recent death, a rival shinobi on the prowl, and samurai threatening Hiro and Father Mateo at every turn, Ginjiro's life is not the only one in danger.

Will Hiro and Father Mateo unravel the clues in time to save Ginjiro's life, or will the shadows gathering over Kyoto consume the detectives as well as the brewer?

Chapter 1

“Halt!” The armored samurai stepped forward to block the bridge. “No one crosses the Kamo River without identification. State your names and your business in Kyoto.”

[Continue reading Flask of the Drunken Master now!]

Fri
Jun 19 2015 10:30am

Fresh Meat: What Doesn’t Kill Her by Carla Norton

What Doesn't Kill Her by Carla Norton is the 2nd psychological thriller featuring U.C. Berkley student Reeve LeClaire, who is yanked back into her grim past when her old abductor escapes from a psychiatric hospital (available June 30, 2015).

All you have to say is “mental hospital,”and you have my undivided attention. When I picked up Carla Norton’s What Doesnt Kill Her, I expected a crime thriller about a young woman who learns her kidnapper is free and roaming the streets, ready to come after her or find a new victim. I might be a bit of an abnormal psychology junkie, so my eagerness to see how Norton played out the antagonist’s mental illness was one of the main factors in choosing this book.

What Doesnt Kill Her opens with a flashback of Reeve (then Reggie) stealing away for a dip in the lake before her sister’s recital. She returns to the woods to find the tire on her bike flat. A man offers her a lift; Reggie declines. We already know this doesn’t end well. The man suggests he drive the bike in his van while she walks. After all, she’s going uphill and wouldn’t it be much faster? She accepts, and “as she was shifting her grip, he hit her with a jolt like a snakebite that spun the sky red.”

From there, we move to Olshaker Psychiatric Hospital, and into the head of Reeve’s captor, Daryl Wayne Flint. I was a little surprised by the transition, but it was a nice switch from the standard crime procedural. Turns out Reeve’s rescue was a result of a car wreck that left Flint with brain damage, causing him to develop obsessive compulsive disorder. Don’t underestimate him, though; for Flint, there’s a method to his madness.

[Underestimating him could be the last thing you ever do...]

Fri
Jun 19 2015 8:45am

Get Ready For True Detective Season 2

While we won't be welcoming the pointed ramblings of Rust Cohle back into our homes on Sunday night, we will be saying hello again to True Detective. As we've previously mentioned, Season 2 will be leaving the bayou behind and is jetting to the West Coast and will star Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams, and Taylor Kitsch. Farrell, McAdams, and Kitsch will be playing police officers, and Vaughn will take on the role of villian, and the four characters will come together amidst a bizarre murder as they each attempt to navigate a web of conspiracy and betrayal.

Episode 1, “The Western Book of the Dead,” airs this Sunday, June 21st, and the synopsis is as follows:

The disappearance of a city manager disrupts a lucrative land scheme and ignites an investigation involving three police officers and a career criminal who is moving into legitimate business.

If Season 1 was any indication, expect the premiere to be laced with clues that might not make sense at first, but will leave us shaking our heads by the end. And it is with great excitement that we announce that Thomas Pluck will be returning again to cover Season 2 for Criminal Element, and if you want to relive all the unsettling mystery from last season, start with Tom's reaction to the pilot, “The Long Bright Dark.”

We'll see you Monday morning with more True Detective talk.

Thu
Jun 18 2015 12:00pm

Five Fascinating Lost Treasures of the World

Treasure is a wonderful word. It conjures up images of jewels and gold and coin of the realm. It adorns classic novels like Treasure Island and classic movies like Treasure of the Sierra Madre. And if we add a second word to create the evocative phrase “treasure hunt,” then heroes, heroines, and the Walter Mitty’s among us just might throw ourselves into an adventure.

And with reason. Our atavistic selves are drawn to hunts; our higher functioning brains like challenges, especially if a secret is involved. In fact, for some folks, the payoff to finding lost treasure can be greater than the riches involved – besides the loot, they win the psychological prize of doing something no one else has ever done.

I love this stuff. I write spy thrillers, which means I also write about geopolitics, culture, romance, secrets, and, whenever I can, missing treasures. Here are five of my favorites lost treasures:

 

The Amber Room

It was said that when the afternoon light shone through the tall windows of the Amber Room, the walls shimmered and glowed as if alive. The reason? A fortune in amber mosaics and carved amber figurines blanketed every square inch, while gold-encrusted mirrors reflected the lush beauty back upon itself. Created in the early 1700s in Prussia, the Amber Room grew politically important in 1716 when Prussian King Frederick William I gave it to Peter the Great of Russia to memorialize their alliance against Sweden. Some 200 years later, the room became prize World War II plunder, stolen by the Germans and shipped off to Königsberg Castle. It was at the war’s end that it disappeared. Some believe the room was destroyed when the Allies bombed the castle, while others think it was dismantled and hidden in a salt mine or cave, where appropriate humidity and temperature would preserve it. Today the Amber Room remains one of the world’s most significant and stunning vanished treasures.

[We take to the sea for our next entry...]

Thu
Jun 18 2015 10:45am

True Crime Thursday: Dads Worth Incarcerating AND Celebrating!

Enjoy these handmade sentiments for Father's Day—even if we have weird taste in ties. (We're not completely rotten kids. The posts get nicer as they go, culminating in something true, not-too-criminal, and actually reverent. Thanks, Dads, for being there and being good sports!)

Wealthy Chinese man hires assassins to kill son in video game.

Check the wardrobe on this guy arrested in an undercover sting. Worth a thousand coffee mugs.

This dad shot his son for singing Kenny Chesney.

Old Men Breaking Bad: What happens when your grandpa gets together with a group of his war buddies and decides to go full-on poison cloud...

In 1914, former-president Theodore took his son Kermit into the Amazon on a deadly. doomed expedition described in Roosevelt's Beast by Louis Bayard.

Tony Hays offers the backstory behind perhaps the most famous family feud, the Hatfields and McCoys, and the difficulties of historic research: “Are you kin to that Hays scoundrel that killed my grandpappy?”

Take Dad out to the Ball Game with Deborah Lacy's list of baseball-themed mysteries, many of which incorporate the real history of the game and its players.

A True Confession from William Kent Krueger:

My father died three months ago.... My time with my father at his end and the anxiety he felt as he approached that physical and spiritual transition, which none of us escapes, had me thinking a lot about the issue of what comes next in our existence. And, oddly, a lot of my thinking went back to a movie I first saw when I was about six years old: The Incredible Shrinking Man.

 

Image via How Pilgrim.

Wed
Jun 17 2015 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Vixen by Bill Pronzini

Vixen by Bill Pronzini is the newest addition to the Nameless Detective series where a femme fatale spells more than trouble for the semi-retired P.I. (available June 23, 2015).

The Nameless Detective is semi-retired which, as Vixen opens, suits him just fine. As a pulp fiction enthusiast, he prefers spending his days reading and cataloging his book collection, or maybe catching an afternoon Giants game, but above all, he likes having others run the investigative agency that he built. Of course, fans who have been following Nameless since his debut novel in 1971 know this idyllic existence won’t last long. And, thankfully, one of the most diabolical femme fatales in a long time— Cory Beckett—hires him to find her brother, Kenny. Bill Pronzini’s description is classic and yet seemingly fresh all at once:

But what you noticed first, and remembered most vividly, was her luminous gray green eyes. They had a powerful magnetic quality; I could feel the pull of them, like being drawn into dark, calm water. It was only when you got to know who and what she was that you realized the calm surface was a lie, that underneath there weren’t only smoldering sexual fires but riptides and whirlpools and hungry darting things with razor-sharp teeth.

[Swim carefully, there are sharks in the water...]

Wed
Jun 17 2015 8:45am

Woman Dials 911 to Report Being Cheated by Drug Dealer

Daneshia Heller, 19, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida was arrested last week on charges of drug possession and misuse of the emergency system when she dialed 911 to report that a drug dealer stole her money during a transaction, reports The Sun Sentinel.

According to The Sun Sentinel, Heller told the arresting deputy that a man named Zakan Allan took her $5 that she was using to buy illegal drugs. Heller said she went to the house to buy marijuana, but he took her money and didn't give her the drugs.

“He got my money, and I want my drugs,” Heller told a 911 dispatcher.

When Heller was being taken into custody, a small bag of “flakka” was found in her front pocket, the report said.

Tue
Jun 16 2015 4:00pm

Cozy Bookshelf Shopping List: July, 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 June's releases, and now we're setting our sights on July! Let us know in the comments how you like it and what you can't wait to read next!

Criminal Element's July 2015 Cozy Bookshelf Shopping List!

[Let's get to the goodies!]

Tue
Jun 16 2015 11:00am

Fresh Meat: The Devil’s Only Friend by Dan Wells

The Devil's Only Friend by Dan Wells is the 4th paranormal thriller featuring a teenaged sociopath who fights demons for the government (available June 16, 2015).

John Wayne Cleaver is a teenaged sociopath. A fact he's pretty open about. He also has a driving urge to kill, which is why it's a good thing he lives by a set of self-imposed rules. Rules that include: keeping away from animals, eating a strictly vegetarian diet, and never touching a gun.

And it's also a good thing that he's found a way to channel his murderous impulses; it seems the government is in need of someone with John's particular proclivities and mindset, because it turns out there are worse things than serial killers in the world.

Things like demons.

[Well okay, that's fair...]

Tue
Jun 16 2015 9:30am

Of Course the Queen of Crime’s Birthday Cake Will Be Poisoned!

Need dishes so craftily designed that manor house guests don't know they're scarfing down poison secreted therein? Take this cooking class, says Maev Kennedy in The Guardian:

A little more delicious strychnine and butter sauce for your fish, vicar? Or a slice of that scrumptious cake, so appropriately named Delicious Death?

A unique cookery demonstration is to be held to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the birth of Agatha Christie, the Queen of Crime. It will be in Christie’s own Devon kitchen, and guests are advised to treat samples with extreme caution.

The French writer Anne Martinetti will be recreating recipes from Christie’s books, singling out those particularly suitable for concealing poison as an extra ingredient. As any devotee of Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot knows, the great detectives only have to show up for a morning coffee, light luncheon or afternoon tea party for one of the guests to topple over the table clutching their throat and turning blue.

Martinetti will be speaking and cooking at Christie’s beloved holiday house, Greenway – the home she called “the most beautiful place in the world” – now in the care of the National Trust.

ADVERTISING
 

The event is part of the Agatha Christie festival this September, held in and around Torquay where she was born on 15 September 1890.

A tip of the chef's hat to Janet Rudolph at Mystery Fanfare, who always knows what's cookin'.

Mon
Jun 15 2015 5:00pm

Fresh Meat: Death in Salem by Eleanor Kuhns

Death in Salem by Eleanor Kuhns is the 4th historical mystery in the Will Rees series where an innocent trip through Salem puts the weaver in the middle of a murder investigation (available June 16, 2015).

Will Rees is on his way home from a business trip. He stops in Salem, Massachusetts, to buy something special to take home to his wife and runs into an old army buddy. Twig, the buddy, is now an undertaker. He invites Rees to accompany him to an after-funeral reception at the home of a prominent Salem family. Within days another member of the family has died, and Rees agrees to investigate the murder.

Rees’s business is weaving, and the trip has been made by horse and wagon. The army he and Twig served in was led by General George Washington.

I have to admit to being a bit confused as to when the story was taking place at first. That was due in large part to my seeing the means of travel and knowing a war has recently fought on American soil and assuming that it is just after the Civil War. Once I got my bearings, on page three, I was fine.

[It was a short-lived confusion...]

Mon
Jun 15 2015 2:30pm

Game of Thrones 5.10: Season Finale “Mother’s Mercy”

Power is a dangerous thing, likely to attract the worst and corrupt the best, and as those in power learned last night on Game of Thrones, that statment really hits the nail on the head. “Mother’s Mercy” might have been the title, but there wasn’t much forgiveness left to go around.

Let’s start with Cersei (Lena Headey), the recipient of the eponymous clemency so graciously given by the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce). Cersei’s agonizingly long walk through Flea Bottom was so unsettling that it did the seemingly impossible in making us sympathize for her. The walk might have ended at the Red Keep (and hopefully with a long bath), but it also left Cersei at a fork in the road. She’ll either take after Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and use this humbling to pave the path toward redemption, or she’ll make good on her promise to burn the city to the ground. If I were a homeowner in Flea Bottom, I’d think about relocating.

Meryn Trant (Ian Beattie) learned that power does not keep you safe, but only after his eyes had already been gouged out. Arya (Maisie Williams) might have successfully crossed another name off her death prayer list, but it came with a consequence, as Jaqen H’gar proved to be a fan of both literalness and Hammurabi by taking away her eyesight.

Daenerys’s tumultuous day started with an indolent Drogon and ended surrounded by a menacing Dothraki army. After five years of attempting to rule, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) has ended up exactly where she started – surrounded by strangers and no closer to Westeros.

But at least Cersei, Arya, and Daenerys are alive, because “Mother’s Mercy” wasn’t as kind to many of its other characters. As I alluded to last week when Stannis (Stephen Dillane) sacrificed his daughter, the Baratheon line was nearing extinction, and with Selyse (Tara Fitzgerald) committing suicide and Stannis finally dying at the hands of Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), the Baratheons are no more. Stannis’s death is still fresh for me (he’s still currently alive and waiting to attack Winterfell in the books), so I haven’t had enough time to figure out how I’ll look back on him. He’s always been the embodiment of iron – strong, yet brittle and likely to break rather than bend – and I’m not quite sure if that’s a good thing. I think he’s a tragic character – perhaps one of the most tragic in the series – but I’ll never truly sympathize with a man who burns his daughter alive, even if it is for the good of the realm. You’re a conundrum, Stannis Baratheon, and all I know is you’ll be missed.

Now it’s time to talk about the biggest death of the episode, and this week’s Faller.

[Can you guess who it is?]