Fresh Meat: <i>The Furies</i> by Mark Alpert Fresh Meat: The Furies by Mark Alpert Leigh Neely Are tales of witchcraft and sorcery just the byproduct of a genetic mutation? "The Barnacle": New Excerpt "The Barnacle": New Excerpt Hilary Davidson Read the complete story of pregnant Jess, the cops, and a bloodstained shirt. Fresh Meat: <i>The Long Shadow</i> by Liza Marklund Fresh Meat: The Long Shadow by Liza Marklund Jordan Foster Thorny reporter Annika Bengzton even detests leaving wintry Stockholm for sunny Spain... <i>No Way Back</i>: Exclusive Excerpt No Way Back: Exclusive Excerpt Matthew Klein Is the new (and newly sober) CEO of a failing company paranoid, or not paranoid enough?
From The Blog
April 18, 2014
That's DAME Jessica Fletcher To You!
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April 17, 2014
Burglar Butt-Dials 911 During Heist
Teddy Pierson
April 15, 2014
My Zombie War: Snyder Beats Romero, and Other Horrific Curiosities
Tim Lebbon
April 15, 2014
Tread Lightly: Walter White, Prom Date
Jennifer Proffitt
April 11, 2014
Lost Classics of Noir: Kiss Her Goodbye by Wade Miller
Brian Greene
Apr 10 2014 12:00pm
Cathi Stoler

The Hard Way by Cathi Stoler is the 3rd novel in the Laurel and Helen New York Mystery Series about a murder in a Las Vegas casino where the duo's friend is the prime suspect (available April 15, 2014).

PI Helen McCorkendale’s childhood friend, Jimmy Scanlan, has just opened January, the most lavish casino and hotel resort in Vegas. After attending the grand opening, Helen returns to New York and encourages her magazine editor friend, Laurel Imperiole to create a get-away contest for readers offering a weekend at the hotel as the grand prize. The winner, Dawn Chapman, a jewelry store employee from Cincinnati, denies entering the contest and initially refuses the trip. Finally persuaded by Laurel to accept, she arrives at the hotel and nearly faints when she passes the hotel’s elite meeting rooms where the International Diamond Dealers Consortium is holding its annual meeting. She insists on returning home immediately. Suspicious of her behavior, Jimmy visits her suite to encourage her to attend the Saturday afternoon pool party, saying she can leave on his private jet the next day. Later in the afternoon, he finds Chapman’s dead body by the pool. She’s been murdered—an unusual double poisoning by cyanide and diamond dust. Dawn Chapman was not who she appeared to be, and therein lies a mystery. But to Helen and Laurel, the main task is to take Jimmy Scanlon off the suspect list and clear his name. Will their luck hold? Or will it be a crap shoot, as they roll the dice and do it ‘the hard way,’ going for doubles when the odds are against them. Losing may mean losing their lives.

[Start reading The Hard Way by Cathi Stoler...]

Apr 10 2014 8:45am

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) wants to turn Jeffrey Dahmer's Ohio home into a vegan restaurant called “Eat for Life – Home Cooking.”

Why would they want to do that? Because PETA says eating animals is no different than cannibalism.

“Like Dahmer’s human victims, cows, pigs, and chickens are made of flesh and blood and fear for their lives when confronted by a man with a knife,” PETA said on its blog. “They are also drugged and dragged, and their limbs are bound. Their struggles and screams are ignored as they are killed and cut up to be consumed. Their bones are thrown away like garbage.”

The three-bedroom home, where Dahmer killed the first of his 17 victims, was recently put on the market for $295,000.

“We’re always looking for ways to turn cruelty on its ugly head, so when we heard that serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer‘s childhood home had been put up for sale, we saw an opportunity to create good out of evil,” PETA wrote.

“The difference is that when Dahmer was caught, his killing spree ended,“ it said. ”Today, however, more than 30 billion animals are slaughtered in the U.S. every year in similarly gruesome ways for food."

Do you think this is a good idea? Or is this another publicity stunt from PETA? Chime off in the comments!

Apr 9 2014 3:30pm

Last week, I discussed Guillermo del Toro’s 1993 debut, Cronos, and now I'm back to examine his 1997 thriller Mimic, which opens with dire circumstances: a sickness akin to a Biblical plague has broken out in New York, striking down an entire generation of children. No cure can be found, no treatments are working, and in desperation the CDC turns to an entomologist to attack the source of the disease with one of mankind’s oldest pests—the common cockroach.

Given the resilience of the insects, Dr. Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) resorts to genetically splicing DNA to create the Judas Breed, a super predator that eradicates the plague carriers. As they are designed to be sterile and die out once their work is done, Dr. Tyler and her husband, Peter Mann (Jeremy Northam) of the CDC, promptly move on with their lives.

Fast-forward to three years later, when strange happenings in the city’s subways prove that the Judas Breed did not die out as expected. With their genetically modified metabolism, they have been breeding and evolving at exponential rates. Until the insect has begun to mimic its new prey…

[And you thought it was hard to kill a cockroach now…]

Apr 9 2014 8:45am

The Apple Core, a sculpture by Claes Oldenburg

Pop artist as crime poet? Well, Claes Oldenburg's work repeatedly makes monuments out of the everyday detritus of living, from apple cores to clothespins. By aggrandizing the humble, he offers a fresh perspective and dispels complacence, which is what I think crime stories do. They delve into what's tawdry, venal, cruel, or tragic with such purpose and attention that we come to consider events and people far differently than we do blipped statistics or stale news items.

Here are three minutes of Claes Oldenburg's wonderful words, excerpted from his “Ode to Possibilities” (1961), read in honor of National Poetry Month and as an unusual stop on April's blog tour for crime poetry, 30 Days of The 5-2.

He's for  “an art that embroils itself with the everyday crap” and “an art that imitates the human, that is comic, if necessary, or violent, whatever is necessary.” IMO, that's the enduring attraction of the crime genre. Do you agree?

The complete text, with much more background on the artist and his work, may be found at the Walker Art Center.

Apr 8 2014 1:00pm

Register to enter for a chance to win a six-book bundle of contemporary crime novels featuring lots of daring women!

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 April 8, 2014, at 1:00 pm ET, and ends April 22, 2014, 12:59 pm ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.


Notorious by Allison Brennan

Maxine Revere has dedicated her life to investigating murders that the police have long since given up any hope of solving. A nationally renowned investigative reporter with her own TV show and a tough-as-nails reputation, Max tackles cold cases from across the country and every walk of life. But the one unsolved murder that still haunts her is a case from her own past.

When Max was a high school senior, one of her best friends was strangled and another, Kevin O’Neal, accused of the crime. To the disgrace of her wealthy family, Max stood by her friend, until she found out he lied about his alibi. Though his guilt was never proven, their relationship crumbled from the strain of too many secrets. Now Max is home for Kevin’s funeral—after years of drug abuse, he committed suicide. She’s finally prepared to come to terms with the loss of his friendship, but she’s not prepared for Kevin’s sister to stubbornly insist that he didn’t kill himself. Or for an elderly couple to accost her at the airport, begging her to look into another murder at Max’s old high school. As Max uncovers dark secrets, she finds herself caught in a complicated web of lies that hits far too close to home.

[Read about more daring women...]

Apr 8 2014 10:30am

Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline is a family-driven, suspense filled story that asks the question how far would you go to keep your loved ones safe (available April 8, 2014).

Ryan, don’t tell Mom. Never, ever.

I…never ever would. Are you…insane?

I mean it. No matter what. You know what she’d do. She’d have to.

I swear…I won’t tell Mom…I won’t tell anybody.

Jake Buckman wants nothing more than to reconnect with his sixteen year old son Ryan before he finishes high school and goes off to college. Jake has been absent in his life for the last few years while he got his new financial planning business off the ground, a by-product of being laid off and struggling to find a new job. His marriage to Pam and relationship with Ryan has suffered. Marriage counseling helped, but no amount of reaching out to his son has worked.

One evening Pam urges Jake to pick Ryan up from the movies instead of her. Jake is both happy and nervous to have some alone time with his son. On the way home from the theatre, Jake has a lapse in judgment and lets Ryan drive on a seemingly deserted road, and their lives are changed forever after a child dies at their hands. Jake makes a split-second decision in order to save his son and Ryan's future. The estranged father and son take a vow of silence, and this forces the pair to lie and deceive the ones they love.

[It's only a matter of time until the silence breaks...]

Apr 7 2014 4:30pm

Blood Always Tells by Hilary Davidson is a standalone thriller where backstabbing, double crossing, and shifting alliances lead to kidnapping (available April 8, 2014).

Hilary Davidson’s new standalone thriller, Blood Always Tells, is a twisty, turny tale of jealousy, greed, betrayal, and loss. I’ve long been a fan of Davidson’s work; her prose is graceful and intelligent, her plots are tight, and her characters are fully realized. What I love most about her writing, though, is that if you look closely, her books always have a deeper meaning – a message that transcends the mystery. Yes, Blood Always Tells is a story about power and powerlessness, about selfishness and selflessness, about desperate people doing desperate things. Underneath it all, though, it’s also a meditation on fate and free will, on nature and nurture, and on whether it’s possible to overcome genetics and circumstance.

[Not all family is created equal...]

Apr 8 2014 8:45am

You may think you're brave, but no one will be as brave as the man who tested out a new bulletproof vest in 1923. This picture was compiled along with 39 others of “Weird Historical Photos that Actually Happened.” Among the collection is Elvis Presley in his Army days, a baby in gas-resistant carriage, and a family watching a mushroom cloud expand like it's a sporting event.

These pictures really make you realize that the truth is stranger than fiction.

Apr 7 2014 3:00pm

It's not just the Game of Thrones characters keeping score anymore...

Trust me, I get it. Game of Thrones can be a little confusing. It seems that every week a new character is added to the mix. Sometimes a new city or land. And in the case of Season 4's premiere, a whole new major family. I love that I can gather ten friends and we can all have different favorite characters. There’s no wholly-good, nor wholly-evil person in this world, and that allows viewers and readers to turn it into a modern choose-your-own-adventure game (see what I did there?) by investing passion in the characters they love.

After talking with fans of the show who'd never read the series of books, it became clear that certain important details were not obvious to the average viewer. My goal is to clear up the blurs (okay, as well as to interject my opinions on various characters and situations).

In the Weekly Red Ladder, we'll discuss whose fortunes rose and fell (see that icon in the image above), add more juicy backstory (Baggage icon), and covet the episode's Object of Power (Dragon/Shield icon). Sometimes, we'll also discuss how the adaptation varies from the novel (Axed Book icon). These posts will contain spoilers only for the episode under discussion, not future episodes. Like the Eyrie, you’re safe here.

[Arya and The Hound walk into a bar...]

Apr 7 2014 8:45am

The Drop (previously titled Animal Hosptial), a Brooklyn-based mob-thriller is set to debut in theaters on September 19, 2014. Starring Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini, and written by Dennis Lehane, the film is centered around Hardy and Gandolfini, who own a bar in Brooklyn that is used as “the drop point” for seedy money exchanges — The Bank of America's Most Wanted. When a robbery takes place and Hardy and Gandolfini are put in the center of investigation.

As we've already mentioned, this will tragically be Gandolfini's last feature film appearance.

Apr 6 2014 11:30pm

Christopher Plummer as Sherlock Holmes and James Mason as Dr. John WatsonWith the publication of A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle kicked off a Sherlock Holmes phenomenon that has yet to abate. Sherlock and Elementary are just the latest in a long list of “reinventions” of Holmes and Watson.

We’re all familiar with the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce movies and Grenada Television’s mostly faithful adaptions of the Canon starring Jeremy Brett. But I have an odd affection for some of the weird and forgotten tales that I’ve found through the years and here are some I wanted to share.



Murder by Decree (1979)

A forgotten gem, Christopher Plummer as Holmes highlights this film in which the Great Detective chases Jack the Ripper. It’s a shame this was Plummer’s one outing as Holmes as he fits the role perfectly. The supporting cast includes Jason Mason as Watson, Frank Finlay (as Lestrade), Donald Sutherland, Susan Clark, John Gielgud, Anthony Quayle, David Hemmings and Geneviève Bujold.


Michael Caine as Sherlock Holmes and Ben Kingsley as Watson in Without a ClueWithout a Clue (1988)

Ben Kingsley is a Watson who invented Sherlock Holmes. Michael Caine is an actor hired by Watson to play Holmes. Hijinks ensue as the good Doctor gets more than his due as a brilliant detective and even Caine’s fake Holmes manages to help defeat the bad guy.

(We've also got Sherlock's better half with 8 more notable film Watsons!)


[Have you see even seven percent of these?]

Apr 5 2014 4:00pm

The Walking Dead manages to be both the most frustrating and occasionally most compelling show I watch on TV. First of all, Im always at the edge of my seat wondering whether a given episode is going to be a snoozefest (I love you Daryl, but that episode with Beth was something that required severe over-caffeination to get through) or a brilliant 45 minutes of character-driven awesomeness. The mid-season finale was certainly not coma-inducing, but basically substituted loud bangs and weird nonsensical motivations for actual plot, and so that was when I stopped watching on a weekly basis and only returned to skim. But then the show gives us some episode like “The Grove,” which, like last year’s “Clear” relied on the characters interacting with each other to devastating effect. (Melissa McBride is absolutely fabulous as Carol, and I hope she stays on the show for a long, long time!) So, like Michael Corleone and the Mafia, just when I think I’m out... they pull me back in.

[Take the crossbow, leave the cannoli...]

Apr 4 2014 8:30pm

I can’t count the number of times people have said to me that they won't watch a Western because they just can’t sit through one of “those boring movies.” Not another stale plot of cowboys vs. Indians mêlée or range war standoff, they say. And I agree with them … I can’t sit through those either. Then I tell them there are many great Western films and shows that offer so much more. This prompted me to come up with a list that represents something better than the preconceived notion of the dusty, old genre. You know, a primer of sorts for beginners, or hardened vets. So, stand back, here’s a shot of eleven films and two TV series (in no particular order) that should ignite a powder keg of enthusiasm under any Western newbie.


Tombstone (1993): I’ve yet to find an ornery, anti-Western hombre who wasn’t converted by this retelling of the Wyatt Earp legend. All the actors own their roles, but Val Kilmer steals the show as the lawman's faithful friend, Doc Holliday. My favorite scene is when Doc diffuses a potentially deadly gunfight with nothing more than a shot glass.


[Learn what other films and TV shows made the list...]

Apr 4 2014 3:00pm

In 1888, Henry Marsh, the oldest son of a large English family, immigrated to New Zealand, where he met New Zealand-born Rose Elizabeth Seager. Her father was a prominent public official. After they married, Edith Ngaio Marsh was born in the late 1890s in Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island. She was an only child and was always referred to by her middle name Ngaio which is pronounced NYE-oh and is a Maori word meaning “reflections on the water.”

Marsh was an only child and appeared to have a happy childhood, although her relationship with her father was more fun-filled and lively than with her mother. However, her mother’s family was always interested in acting and the theater, an interest that Ngaio picked up at an early age and kept throughout her life.

[It all starts with a dinner murder mystery game...]

Apr 4 2014 8:45am

Carved by hand and painted into fantastic shapes like leopards, jet planes, cell phones, chickens, shoes, even cars and cigarettes, these artistic funerary creations began somewhat by accident at the Ghanian workshop of artisan Kane Quaye. Since then, they've not only caught on in the community, which may pool its funds to get one of these luxuries made, but have traveled to art museums worldwide. They are a bit like ice scupltures, in that they really are labor-intensive beauties designed to be unveiled during the memorial service and then buried forever. Read and see more from an exhibit held at the National Museum of Funeral History (yes, such an amazing place exists!).

They're all incredible, but since we can't decide between the lobster and the Benz, we're wondering if maybe the artists can make us something like this monster...

Image via StrangeRacer

Apr 3 2014 4:00pm
Tim Lebbon

An excerpt of Coldbrook by Tim Lebbon, where a disease treatens to wipe out the human race unless scientists can locate the woman whose genetic resistence offers their only chance at a cure (available April 8, 2014)?

Coldbrook is a secret laboratory located deep in Appalachian Mountains. Its scientists had achieved the impossible: a gateway to a new world. Theirs was to be the greatest discovery in the history of mankind, but they had no idea what they were about to unleash.

With their breakthrough comes disease and now it is out and ravaging the human population. The only hope is a cure and the only cure is genetic resistance: an uninfected person amongst the billions dead. In the chaos of destruction there is only one person that can save the human race. But will they find her in time?



Six hours after forging a pathway from his own reality to another, Jonah Jones closed his eyes to dream. But he doubted that sleep would come. His mind, Bill Coldbrook had once told him, was far too busy dancing. The moment he laid down his head he always knew whether the night would usher in a few blessed hours of rest or a long wakeful period of silence, as he stared at the patterns that darkness painted on the ceiling and thought about what might be.

Tonight he no longer needed to dwell upon what might be. It was time to think further ahead than that.

We did it! he thought. We bloody well did it! He’d left a night light burning in his small room as always, and it cast a subtle background illumination as he lay with his eyes closed. He watched the arbitrary shifting of his eye fluids, blood pulsing, and wondered just how random anything could be.

[Continue Reading Coldbrook by Tim Lebbon...]

Apr 3 2014 2:30pm

Over the past two decades, Guillermo del Toro has more than proven himself as a master of his craft. I’ve long been an outspoken fan of his and have made it a mission to introduce as many people as possible to his work. And while most know him for his action blockbusters, I wanted to shine a light on his earlier works as well.

It was 1993 when a then unknown Mexican filmmaker burst onto the scene with a low budget and most unusual take on the vampire mythos. Cronos enjoyed quite a lot of buzz at Cannes and won several critics’ choice awards but had a minimal release in the States. Even now, while many recognize del Toro’s name, it seems that few are familiar with his feature debut.

Cronos is a film that defies convention and expectations. Gone are the typical trappings of vampires. There are no castles or Victorian houses, no mysterious gentlemen in fancy evening wear or nubile ladies in revealing nightgowns. Rather, del Toro indulges in his uniquely distinctive aesthetics.

At the heart of the story is a mystical object created by an ancient alchemist, a golden scarab that houses delicate clockwork and a strange insect. When the device is activated and attached to a living person, the transformation into an immortal—and bloodthirsty—creature of the night begins…

[There's always a price to pay for immortality...]

Apr 3 2014 8:45am

One highly flirtatious burglar landed himself in the slammer after the police used a pretty girl to entice him into a date.

Keveen Quintanilla was arrested last week after police said he robbed a San Mateo restaurant.

Here's what happened: Early that day, Quintanilla approached Ashleigh Cullen, the bartender, and asked her out on a date.

“He said 'I've seen you around before and I've wanted to talk to you, but never really got the chance. Here's my number. Let's hangout later,'” Cullen said.

Cullen stated she didn't give it much thought until later that day when she and another employee were taking out the trash.  They noticed a few of the restaurant's extra TVs outside their storage area.  That's when they saw Quintanilla again. This time, he was wearing one of the restaurant's t-shirts.

“So we stopped to check out what was going on and noticed that we were being robbed,” said Cullen.

She called police, but by the time the officers had arrived, Quintanilla had vansished from the location.  However, Cullen and investigators realized he left something extremely valuable behind: his actual phone number.

“This gave us an opportunity to using an undercover capacity. Pose as that female employee and using text messages set the suspect up to come and meet us,” said Sgt. Dave Norris of San Mateo Police Department.

The undercover operation went without a hitch. He showed up and the officers arrested him on the spot.

Apr 2 2014 7:00pm
Robert K. Lewis

An exclusive excerpt from Critical Damage by Robert K. Lewis, the second dark crime novel featuring former San Francisco cop and recovering junkie, P.I. Mark Mallen (available April 8, 2014).

When ex-cop and recovering junkie Mark Mallen is asked to track down two very different girls who have gone missing, he doesn’t think twice about putting himself in harm’s way to find them. Bloodied and bruised, Mallen shakes down the pimps and hustlers who could crack the cases wide open,leaving no stone unturned in San Francisco’s criminal underground.

But something isn’t right. Somebody’s trying to scare Mallen off, and it’s no ordinary street thug. With heat coming at him from all angles, Mallen’s search for the truth leads him to men who will stop at nothing to make sure their twisted desires never see the light of day.


Chapter 4

Mallen and Gato drove around the Mission district of San Francisco all afternoon, Gato asking everyone he knew if they’d seen Lupe. It was turning into late afternoon when Gato’s cell rung. He checked the number, then answered.

Si?” Gato listened for a moment. Motioned to the glove box for something to write on. Mallen opened it up and found a pen, some .357 shells, a couple condoms, and a menu for a Chinese restaurant. He grabbed up the pen and menu. Nodded to Gato that he’d take down the address. “Bernal district. Corner of Jarboe and Bradford,” Gato told him. “White house, ugly red trim.”

Mallen wrote all this down. Not too many houses with red trim. Gato listened a bit more, then said, “Okay, thanks,” and hung up. He grinned as he looked over at Mallen, saying, “Think we got him, bro.”


“Lupe’s pimp, vato. Teddy Mac.”

[Continue reading Critical Damage by Robert K. Lewis...]

Apr 2 2014 4:00pm

The 2014 Derringer Award winners have been announced by the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and congratulations to all of them! (Winning Title is in bold.)




For Best Flash (Up to 1,000 words):

“Luck is What You Make” by Stephen D. Rogers

“Final Statement” by Robert Bailey

“Not My Day” by Stephen Buehler

“The Needle and the Spoon” by Allan Leverone

“Terry Tenderloin and the Pig Thief” by John Weagly


For Best Short Story (1,001–4,000 words):

“The Present” by Robert Lopresti

“Pretty Little Things” by Chris F. Holm 

“The Sweetheart Scamster” by Rosemary McCracken

“The Little Outlaw” by Mike Miner

“The Cemetery Man” by Bill Pronzini


For Best Long Story (4,001–8,000 words):

“GIVE ME A DOLLAR” by Ray Daniel

“Myrna!” by John Bubar 

“Bloody Signorina” by Joseph D'Agnese 

“Dance Man” by Andrew Jetarski

“A Dangerous Life” by Adam Purple


For Best Novelette (8,001–20,000 words):

“The Goddaughter's Revenge” by Melodie Campbell

“The Serpent Beneath the Flower” by Jack Bates

“For Love's Sake” by O'Neil De Noux

“The Antiquary's Wife” by William Burton McCormick

“Last Night in Cannes” by James L. Ross



Ed Gorman