<i>Firebreak</i>: New Excerpt Firebreak: New Excerpt Tricia Fields Fire doesn't destroy all evidence. <i>Impasse</i>: New Excerpt Impasse: New Excerpt Royce Scott Buckingham A modern day take on The Count of Monte Cristo! <i>Death, Taxes, and Cheap Sunglasses</i>: New Excerpt Death, Taxes, and Cheap Sunglasses: New Excerpt Diane Kelly Tara's in another taxing situation. <i>What the Fly Saw</i>: New Excerpt What the Fly Saw: New Excerpt Frankie Bailey A funeral director is found dead clutching a skeleton. Hmm...
From The Blog
March 2, 2015
John Le Carré's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Smiley's Reckoning
Edward A. Grainger
March 2, 2015
Lizzie Borden's Not Nearly Done!
Crime HQ
February 28, 2015
Under the Radar: Genre Movies You May Have Missed — Bandits
Angie Barry
February 27, 2015
One Week Until The M.O. Submissions are Long Gone!
Crime HQ
February 26, 2015
Literary Mysteries: Edgar Allan Poe's "The Light-House"
Edward A. Grainger
Feb 23 2015 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Doomsday Equation by Matt Richtel

The Doomsday Equation by Matt Richtel is a modern techno-thriller where one man has only three days to prevent the outbreak of World War III (available February 24, 2015).

Jeremy Stillwater is smarter than you.

He’s smarter than you in the annoying way Alan Turing was, unwilling—or unable—to hide his belief that not only is he smarter than you, he’s smarter than pretty much anyone else on the planet.

Naturally, there are some smart people who resent his belief, especially because it’s true.

Jeremy wasn’t the first person to use “Big Data” as a predictive model for determining when and where and how events will occur, but he is the first person to create an algorithm that ties it all together, that makes it all make sense.

And naturally, there are some people who want him to share that algorithm.

It’s kind of like what happened with Facebook, if you’ve seen The Social Network.

[Without the Aaron Sorkin snark...]

Feb 23 2015 11:00am

Grantchester: Season Finale 1.06

One of you is going to make a wonderful priest. Leonard (Al Weaver) and Sidney (James Norton).

An invitation to Amanda’s wedding has arrived, triggering a fresh chorus of the blues for Sidney. He recollects their history together,  starting with a chance meeting four years earlier at the National Gallery, where Amanda works as an art restorer. “I’m never getting married,” she tells him, spiritedly, “I’m going to become wild and eccentric and full of opinion.” She promises to give Sidney veto power over anyone her father chooses to be her husband.

Fast forward to Sidney at the vicarage, Amanda’s wedding invitation in hand. So much for wildness, eccentricity, opinion, and veto power.

For Sidney, Amanda is the one that got away. Never mind if we don’t think that’s much of a loss. Never mind that Sidney has plenty of women ready and waiting to become Mrs. Canon Sidney Chambers. (“They fall at your feet,” Geordie says.)

Sidney is glum.

When Sidney is glum, Sidney drinks.

When Sidney drinks, he doesn’t know when to stop drinking.

When Sidney doesn’t know when to stop drinking, either he embarrasses himself or bad things happen to the people around him. Or both.

[Won’t you PLEASE have a cup of tea, Vicar...]

Feb 23 2015 9:30am

This Head in a Jar Can Be Yours!

Whether to reinforce dieting aims or for sheer delight, who doesn't want their stainless steel or custom hardwood-veneer built-in fridge to boast a head in a jar? (I hear the Evans now have two heads in jars, one for the butler's pantry, the show-offs.) Let mikeasaurus at Instructables.com show you all the details, along with his template, and a shiny new head in a jar could be yours!

Feb 22 2015 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Winter Foundlings by Kate Rhodes

The Winter Foundlings by Kate Rhodes is the third book starring forensic psychologist Alice Quentin who heads to a psychiatric prison to interview an inmate (available February 24, 2015).

It’s hard not to draw comparisons to Silence of the Lambs when reading Kate Rhodes’ third novel, The Winter Foundlings, which continues the story of forensic psychologist Alice Quentin. The book opens as Quentin embarks on a six-month sabbatical in an effort to recover from dangers she endured during recent work with the London police. We’d need a psychologist to explain why her choice for that respite is to study treatment methods at Northwood, England’s largest psychiatric prison, and particularly within the Laurels, which houses its most violent criminals. She’s barely settled into her closet-sized office when she is called to assist DCI Burns, with whom she’s worked before, by interviewing one of the inmates.

[That's not the sabbatical I'd take...]

Feb 22 2015 11:00am

Fresh Meat: A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders

A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders marks the debut of Samantha Clair, a London book editor caught up in a criminal investigation (available February 24, 2015).

I read a lot of mysteries featuring amateur sleuths. A lot. There are those with crafting themes, various types of cooking and baking, and many featuring pets. All sorts of settings and careers are represented. This protagonist of this series debut works at one career I haven’t encountered. Samantha “Sam” Clair is a middle-aged book editor at an independent publishing house in London.

A book set in London? Great. About a book editor? Cool. With a mystery to boot? Oh, yes, please!

When I imagine a glamorous day in the life of an editor—and I do—I think of lunches with famous authors, tough negotiations with agents, and networking at cocktail parties and book launches. Then there’s the really fun part of reading a lot of books and helping nudge some of them into publishable shape.

[You know, pretty much the dream...]

Feb 21 2015 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: Mightier than the Sword by Jeffrey Archer

Mightier than the Sword by Jeffrey Archer is the fifth installment in The Clifton Chronicles (available February 24, 2015).

This is Jeffrey Archer’s fifth entry in the Clifton Chronicles and it literally opens with a bang. On the Buckingham, the cruise ship built by Emma (Barrington) Clifton’s company, the IRA sets off a bomb designed to kill as many people as possible. Of course Harry Clifton figures out the conspiracy just in time and the bomb is lobbed into the sea. To explain the massive explosion, protect the company, and prevent the passengers from knowing how close they came to death, an alternate explanation is put about: that the Home Guard was engaged in maneuvers. The Buckingham’s Captain’s apology for sailing too close to the Home Guard is put into the Board minutes and becomes the official version of the explosion.

This cover-up becomes an on-going problem for Emma throughout the story. Lady Virginia Fenwick, one of the most poisonous characters in modern literature, seeks to uncover the true story and use it to take down Emma and acquire the company in the process.

[She sounds delightful...]

Feb 21 2015 11:00am

Fresh Meat: The Outsiders by Gerald Seymour

The Outsiders by Gerald Seymour is an espionage thriller featuring MI5 agent Winnie Monks who follows a Russian crime czar to Spain for revenge of a brutal murder from years ago (available February 24, 2015).

If you were to ask Jonno’s parents about their son, they would describe him as ordinary, a good enough sort, but never reaching for the stars, so to speak. So, when Jonno and his girlfriend Posie discover that MI5 agents have set up shop upstairs in the villa that they’re housesitting, on the Costa del Sol in Spain, it’s shocking that Jonno seems to find an obstinacy within himself that borders on reckless. He’s self riotously furious on the behalf of the elderly couple that owns the villa (who he hardly knows, having gotten the housesitting gig through his own mother), until he witnesses a horror next door, at the villa that is the focus of the agents’ surveillance, that swiftly changes his mind, especially after he learns about the person they’re actually there to report on.

[So much for that Spain getaway...]

Feb 20 2015 12:30pm

How to Get Away with Murder 1.13: “Mama’s Here Now”

How to Get Away with Murder Season 1 Episode 13 "Mama's Here Now" 1.13: Bonnie (Liza Weil)

The characters on How To Get Away With Murder might not be solving all their cases—in fact, Lila’s murder gets unofficially reopened this week—but the show itself has solved its biggest problem. The show is developing its characters.

Murder is a huge ensemble show, with Annalise Keating (Viola Davis), her students, her coworkers, and a handful of auxiliary love interests for everyone. Yet, with a few exceptions, the show has always chosen to focuse on speeding through its plot rather than making us care about the people. The end result is a lot of plot that I’ve been caring less and less about. Luckily, this episode serves as a shot in the arm, due in large part to Keating’s mother (Cicely Tyson) making an appearance.

[That explains the title of this episode...]

Feb 20 2015 1:30pm

Fresh Meat: The Black Widow by Wendy Corsi Staub

The Black Widow by Wendy Corsi Staub is a thriller featuring two women who embark into the world of online dating in completely different fashions (available February 24, 2015).

In The Black Widow, Wendy Corsi Staub delves into the world of dating 21st-century style. We’ve gone from Looking for Mr. Goodbar to You’ve Got Mail. This means a group of thirty-somethings are putting their best foot forward, and often a picture of their younger selves, in a profile to garner a poke, or a hello, and maybe a first date with online dating.

I’ve been married a long time, so thinking about getting back into dating certainly gives me the heebie jeebies. I remember reading Mary Higgins Clark’s Loves Music, Loves to Dance and being convinced immediately it would not work for me. This book has a similar but darker story about computer dating.

That said, I have to confess that my strong, independent daughter has many friends and her current fellow from using an online dating service.

[It doesn't matter how you find Mr. Right...]

Feb 20 2015 10:30am

Two-Lane Blacktop: An Offbeat Cross-Country Race

I just watched Monte Hellman’s moody 1971 road movie Two-Lane Blacktop for maybe the fifth time. After being dazzled by the film once again, I asked myself, because there are numerous qualities that make the movie such a keeper for me, via which winning aspect do I begin?

Makes sense to start with the storyline, which is compelling. Written by Rudolph Wurlitzer and Will Cory, the tale is of a cross-country car race. One entrant is a team of two young men who don’t seem to do much in life except roar around in their custom-made Chevy, looking for someone stupid enough to challenge them to a sprint. The other is a lone wolf who zooms around in a GTO, and whom also appears to be at mostly loose ends in life. The two cars and their occupants keep encountering each other on the highways and at roadside places, as they wander through parts of California, Arizona and New Mexico. Finally, after some attitude exchanges on the road and some lippy chatter at a service station, they decide it’s time they shut up and put up: they’re going to race all the way to Washington, D.C.  And the winner gets the other’s ride.

[*waves the checkered flag*]

Feb 20 2015 9:15am

The M.O.: Submissions are Open for the Next Two Weeks!

The M.O. submissions mailbox is open!

That's themostories - aT- gmail (plus dot and com). We're seeking short, original crime stories of 1000-1500 words around the loose theme of “Long Gone.” In another two weeks, we'll put up a selected shortlist of Long Gone finalists in the Rogues' Gallery and in our newsletter. We'll ask registered site members to read samples from each, then vote on which story they'd like to read here in its entirety. After we pay for it, of course, the final selection will be posted to read free both online and in downloadable formats.

We'll have the mailbox open for 2 weeks, so don't worry if you haven't begun a story yet. If you write just 72 words a day—less than the word count of the previous paragraph—you'll have one written from scratch by midnight of March 6th!

Entries should be submitted as e-mail attachments in any standard, not-too-fancy document format with author name (and pseudonym, if applicable), story title, and an e-mail contact within the document itself.

You will receive an automatic reply to let you know your submission was received. If you don't, please check your spam folder and make sure to add our address to your list of approved senders. (If you try again, and still don't get confirmation, please use our Contact Us page, but only for technical problems. No other questions related to The M.O. will be answered there.)

For all the details, please check The M.O. Submission Guidelines here. We're so excited about this ongoing program to promote and share short crime stories. We can't wait to read what you have to say about it!

Feb 19 2015 1:00pm

Diving into Submarine Movies: How Realistic are They?

The helm of the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine, USS Florida (SSGN-728), in March 2010.

A lot of people are fascinated with submarines, perhaps because of their stealthy missions, long periods underwater, or because few people have been aboard one. The public’s concept of submarine life is influenced by what they read and see, particularly movies, which begs the question – How realistic are they?

I’ll start with Hollywood movies in general. What most people envision when they think of submarines are the small, grimy diesel boats featured in dozens of older movies. Today, the United States only uses nuclear powered submarines – clean behemoths compared to their diesel boat counterparts. For example, Ohio class submarines, which carry Trident ballistic missiles, are almost two football fields long, seven stories tall from the keel to the top of the sail, and wide as a three-lane highway. Despite the size, however, there still isn’t much room inside, as submarines are packed with the equipment necessary to operate and engage in combat.

When it comes to Hollywood movies that feature modern nuclear submarines, the most popular movies are The Hunt for Red October and Crimson Tide, so I’ll focus on those two.

[Let's dive in...]

Feb 19 2015 10:30am

The Americans 3.04: “Dimebag”

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

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

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

Feb 19 2015 8:45am

The Riddler: Man Solves Puzzle with Only One Letter

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

Could you beat his time?

Feb 18 2015 4:15pm

Agent Carter 1.07: “SNAFU”

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

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

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

[Talk about waking up with regret...]

Feb 18 2015 10:30am

Justified 6.05: “Sounding”

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

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

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

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

[Boyd always has a plan...]

Feb 18 2015 8:45am

Two Men Create Black Ice to Mask Car Crash

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

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

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

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

Both men were arrested and are due in court Thursday.

Feb 17 2015 4:00pm

Carnage Count: Ranking 2015’s Best Picture Nominees

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

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

[Now onto the carnage!]

Feb 17 2015 1:30pm

Under the Radar: Alien Trespass (2009)

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

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

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

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

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

[She just loves a good convict hunt!]

Feb 17 2015 11:00am

Gotham 1.16: “The Blind Fortune Teller”

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

His response: “This show is so dumb.”

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

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

Gotham fumbles its chance.

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