<i>The Memory Painter</i>: New Excerpt The Memory Painter: New Excerpt Gwendolyn Womack What if there was a drug that could help you remember past lives? <i>Day of the Destroyers</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Day of the Destroyers: Exclusive Excerpt Gary Phillips Comment for a chance to win a signed copy of this super anthology! <i>Grave Consequences</i>: New Excerpt Grave Consequences: New Excerpt David Thurlo and Aimee Thurlo Why is a recently pawned necklace worth killing over? Fresh Meat: <i>Anne of the Fens</i> by Gretchen Gibbs Fresh Meat: Anne of the Fens by Gretchen Gibbs Jenny Maloney England, in 1628, was not a safe time for women to question their beliefs.
From The Blog
April 24, 2015
Man Executes Computer Gangster Style
Teddy Pierson
April 23, 2015
True Crime Thursday: Revisiting Criminal Element's Bizarre Beginnings
Crime HQ
April 22, 2015
Happy 4th Anniversary to Us!
Crime HQ
April 18, 2015
From Page to Screen with McBain's King's Ransom and Kurosawa's High and Low
Brian Greene
April 15, 2015
Cozy Bookshelf Shopping List: May, 2015
Crime HQ
Thu
Apr 16 2015 3:00pm

Orson Welles at 100: Orson Welles’s Last Movie

May 6th, 2015 will mark the 100th birthday of the late Orson Welles. To commemorate the birth of the great filmmaker, we’ll be looking back at many of his greatest cinematic accomplishments — movies like Citizen Kane, The Lady From Shanghai, The Trial, and Chimes At Midnight. First though, let’s pull a real Orson Welles move and start at the end, with his last great movie project, the ill-fated The Other Side of the Wind.

The movie was going to be Welles’s grand statement on filmmaking. It tells the story of an aging movie director, Jake Hannaford (played by a wily John Huston) who is trying to stage a comeback in a Hollywood that has basically left him behind. The film was autobiographical, of course — though Welles, being Welles, dismissed any overly autobiographical readings of the film. He labored mightily on the project for years — fighting money troubles and the indifference of the establishment. In the end, the film was left unedited. To this day, it remains virtually unseen, even by most movie fanatics.

A new book looks at this fascinating period in the life of the great director. In Orson Welles’s Last Movie: The Making of The Other Side of the Wind author Josh Karp has assembled the most detailed account yet of the creation of the doomed project.

[And we have some copies you could win!]

Thu
Apr 16 2015 12:00pm

The Americans 3.12: “I Am Abassin Zadran”

Going into last night’s episode of The Americans, I had mentally prepared myself for all things grisly. The borderline sadistic tenor of Season 3, combined with the fact that many of television’s “luxury brands” use the penultimate episode of a season to stage their climaxes, meant anything short of a Texas cage match between Agent Gaad (Richard Thomas) and the Mail Robot was on the table. So after viewing “I Am Abassin Zadran,” I was more than a little surprised to find myself contemplating, of all things, a cup of tea.

But this is The Americans we’re talking about, where even a simple cup of tea is not quite what it seems. Just ask Abassin Zadran’s countrymen who, after accepting an invitation to his late night tea party, found their throats being slit. While Zadran (George Georgiou) is the instrument of death for his fellow Mujahideen, he is also meant to represent Death in the broader sense that he is out there, waiting for everyone. But there are a couple of characters who might be getting the proverbial knock on their hotel room door from Zadran sooner rather than later.

Who exactly might they be?

[Not the Mail Robot! Anyone but the Mail Robot!]

Thu
Apr 16 2015 11:00am

Justified 6.13: Series Finale “The Promise”

Last night’s Jusified series finale, “The Promise,” wrapped up the series both in a deeply satisfying and completely surprising way, and I honestly expected nothing else from this sadly underrated gem of a tv show.

We open this episode directly after the end of the last one; thanks to the BOLO issued for our hero by ADA Vasquez (Rick Gomez), two police officers arrest Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) after he leaves the wounded Constable Bob (Patton Oswalt) at the hospital. While in the police car, Raylan overhears that the police dogs have followed the fugitives’ trail to the bridge in Harlan, where they’ve found nothing but an alligator tooth necklace. Aww, it’s like Dewey Crowe is making a cameo appearance from his slurry pit.

Art (Nick Searcy) swoops in to rescue Raylan just before he’s booked by the arresting officer, who gets the sharp edge of Art’s tongue. Raylan lets Art know about Boyd’s flight and Ava’s imminent danger from Avery Markham (Sam Elliott) — as they purportedly drive back to Lexington in Art’s SUV, knowing that Art won’t take him back once he’s explained. And sure enough, once Raylan’s laid out the FUBAR situation, Art asks where they should start looking for Ava (Joelle Carter).

[Better keep running, Ava!]

Wed
Apr 15 2015 5:00pm

Cozy Bookshelf Shopping List: May, 2015

Discover (or remember to order) your next cozy with a delightfully convenient shopping list of upcoming soft-boiled mysteries! We kicked this off last month with April's releases, and now we're setting our sights on May! Let us know in the comments how you like it and what you can't wait to read next!

Criminal Element's May 2015 Cozy Bookshelf Shopping List!

[Let's get to the goodies!]

Wed
Apr 15 2015 8:46am

Robber Arrested with Dollar Sign Money Bag

Now this is just too classic: Police in Washington state arrested a robbery suspect carrying an actual canvas bag with a printed dollar sign on it.

The man allegedly robbed an Olympia, Washington Subway restaurant and fled the scene with a shopping cart full of other stolen merchandise.

UPI reported:

The man, who employees said fled with a shopping cart, was located near the Grocery Outlet. Police said he was pushing a shopping cart loaded with consumer goods and was carrying $100 cash and a cellphone matching the description of the device taken from the Subway worker.

The suspect, David Lingafelter, 22, was later found behind a dumpster by police with the white canvas bag tied to his pants.

Photo courtesy Olympia Police Department

Tue
Apr 14 2015 3:00pm

Now Win This!: Soft-Boiled Sweepstakes

Don't sleep on these soft-boiled mysteries! These eight books still pack quite the punch!

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 14, 2015, at 3:00 pm ET, and ends April 28, 2015, 2:59 pm ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[Let's see what's on the table...]

Tue
Apr 14 2015 12:00pm
Excerpt

The Masque of a Murderer: New Excerpt

Susanna Calkins

The Masque of a Murderer by Susanna Calkins is the third historical mystery in the Lucy Campion series set in 17th Century London (available April 14, 2015).

SEE ALSO: Join Susanna Calkins for a lesson in 17th century forensics!

Lucy Campion, formerly a ladies' maid in the local magistrate's household, has now found gainful employment as a printer's apprentice. On a freezing winter afternoon in 1667, she accompanies the magistrate's daughter, Sarah, to the home of a severely injured Quaker man to record his dying words, a common practice of the time. The man, having been trampled by a horse and cart the night before, only has a few hours left to live. Lucy scribbles down the Quaker man's last utterances, but she's unprepared for what he reveals to her—that someone deliberately pushed him into the path of the horse, because of a secret he had recently uncovered.

Fearful that Sarah might be traveling in the company of a murderer, Lucy feels compelled to seek the truth, with the help of the magistrate's son, Adam, and the local constable. But delving into the dead man's background might prove more dangerous than any of them had imagined.

1

“Let me tell you!” Lucy Campion shouted, trying to make her voice heard against the rising wind. She scrambled onto the overturned barrel outside of Master Aubrey’s printer’s shop. “Of a murder most absurd!”

[Continue reading The Masque of a Murderer by Susanna Calkins...]

Tue
Apr 14 2015 10:45am

Gotham 1.19: “Beasts of Prey”

Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) in the “Beasts of Prey” episode of GOTHAM.

This weekend, I was binge-watching a great superhero noir series set in a corrupt city where the only justice to be had was by skirting the edges of the law. The show also featured a magnetic, compelling villain with a plan for full control.

But enough about Daredevil.

In fairness to Gotham,  part of the reason Daredevil is so much better is that it’s only 13 episodes, creating a tight focus, doesn’t have network restrictions on subject matter, and doesn’t have the network interference which might be part of Gotham’s largest flaw: the lack of focus.

Gotham is so diffuse that none of its stories end up being compelling, especially when the characters stumble into things rather than being proactive. Perhaps this is why I enjoyed Fish’s escape from DollMaker Island most this week: Fish (Jada Pinkett Smith) not only has a goal, to escape, but a smart plan to accomplish it. Bonus: she even rescues the people she said she would rescue, while making sure she leaves dead enemies behind. Not to mention being able to play the Dollmaker for a fool and fly a helicopter after taking a bullet.

[There's only one Fish in Gotham's sea...]

Tue
Apr 14 2015 8:45am

True Detective Season 2 Official Teaser Trailer

Time might be a flat circle, but make sure you draw it on your calendar on June 21st, because that's when True Detective Season 2 will begin. We've already discussed how Season 2 will not be set in Louisiana, but rather out west in California and will star Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn, as well as Taylor Kitsch and Rachel McAdams. Get ready for the premiere with HBO's official teaser trailer!

Mon
Apr 13 2015 4:45pm

Under the Radar: Genre Movies You May Have Missed — The Faculty

Start with The Breakfast Club formula—a preppy popular girl, a jock, the burn-out/bad boy, the new girl, the geek, the goth—and throw in the body horror of parasitic aliens. Stir in plenty of knowing sci-fi riffs and you’ve got The Faculty, a little film with cult classic cred.

Herrington High is your typical small town Midwestern school: perpetually strapped for cash, with a bunch of teachers who are almost as apathetic as their students, and notable only for its championship football team. But one night, after a disappointing budget meeting, the principal (Bebe Neuwirth) has an unsavory encounter with the coach (Robert Patrick), and things take a turn for the bloody.

In a single day, the faculty starts behaving strangely. Soon, the students are following suit. By Friday night the only people unaffected are a small group of misfits.

[Misfits gotta stick together...]

Mon
Apr 13 2015 3:15pm
Excerpt

Lurid & Cute: New Excerpt

Adam Thirlwell

Lurid & Cute by Adam Thirlwell is about a neurotic narrator who wakes up one morning in a seedy motel next to a woman who isn't his wife, and the chaotic path that ensues (available April 14, 2015).

The narrator wakes confused in a seedy hotel room. He has had the good education, and also the good job. Together with his wife and dog, he lives at home with his parents. But then the lurid overtakes him-a chain of events that feels to those inside it narcotic and neurotic, like one long and terrible descent: complete with lies, deceit, and chicanery, and including, in escalating order, one orgy, one brothel, and a series of firearms disputes.

Lurid & Cute balances the complexity of an interior world-our hero's apparently innocent obsessions with food, old movies, and all the gaudy, shoddy building blocks of pop culture-with a picaresque plot. This is the story of a woebegone and global generation. And our hero, the sweetest narrator in world literature, also may well be the most fearsome.

[Start reading Lurid & Cute by Adam Thirlwell!]

Mon
Apr 13 2015 10:00am

Game of Thrones 5.01: Season Premiere “Wars to Come”

Game of Thrones kicked off its fifth season by doing something it had never done before – showing a flashback. “Wars to Come” did a wonderful job of setting the table for our season-long feast, moving characters around and readying everyone for the plots that will unfold over the next nine episodes.

The aptly titled premiere showed us how quickly a war’s outlook can change. In King’s Landing, Tywin’s death has left a clear target on the backs of the remaining Lannisters. In Meereen, the now unemployed slavers are fighting back against Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), leaving bodies in their wake. And up at the Wall, Stannis (Stephen Dillane) believes the recently vanquished wildlings are the soldiers he needs to retake the North. Together, the Lannisters, Stannis, and Daenerys serve as the three pillars in which the war for the Iron Throne is supported, but some of the game’s best players lurk in the shadows. Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) have descended from the Vale and deposited Robin Arryn (Lino Facioli) with Yohn Royce (Rupert Vansittart), and are now free to continue their plotting while making sure to stay far away from Cersei (Lena Headey). Also avoiding Cersei are Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill), who may have just reached Pentos but have their sights set on reaching Meereen. Finally, Loras (Finn Jones) and Margaery (Natalie Dormer) also sought refuge from Cersei, though not out of fear, as Margaery’s ominous use of “perhaps” makes me wonder what she has planned for her mother-in-law.

The one character not shying away from Cersei is Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon), who hasn’t been seen since the Battle of the Blackwater. More on Lancel, and what he represents in a bit. But now, let’s get to the rankings!

[Only those on top can truly fall…]

Sun
Apr 12 2015 12:00pm
Excerpt

The Russian Bride: New Excerpt

Ed Kovacs

The Russian Bride by Ed Kovacs is a military thriller about Major Kit Bennings, an intelligence agent working at the Moscow embassy who's caught up in a Russian mob's terrorist scheme (available April 14, 2015).

Major Kit Bennings is an elite military intelligence agent working undercover in Moscow. When he is blackmailed and compromised by a brutal mafia don and former KGB general, he knows that his military career, if not his life, will soon be over. With little to lose, he goes rogue in the hope of saving his kidnapped sister and stopping a deadly scheme directed against America.

Yulana Petkova is a gorgeous woman, devoted mother, and Russian weapons engineer. And maybe more. Spy? Mob assassin? The shotgun marriage to stranger Kit Bennings takes her on a life-or-death hopscotch from Moscow to Los Angeles, from secret US military bases to Las Vegas, where she uses her wiles at every turn to carry out her own hidden agenda.

Hunted by killers from both Russia and the United States, Bennings struggles to stop the mobster's brilliant deception—a theft designed to go unnoticed—that will make the mafia kingpin the richest man in the world, while decimating the very heart of America's economic and intelligence institutions.

Chapter 1

The big sky hung low. Charcoal-hued cumulus clouds crowded the airspace above Interstate 80 east of Evanston, Wyoming, like they were moving in for a takedown. The weather made Irene Shanks’s ankles hurt even more than the walking did.

[Continue reading The Russian Bride by Ed Kovacs...]

Sat
Apr 11 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Missing Piece by Kevin Egan

The Missing Piece by Kevin Egan is a legal thriller set in NYC about a piece of treasure that goes missing during a trial and the search for where it went (available April 14, 2015).

Viewers of the original Law and Order television series will be familiar with the wide staircase and ornate columns of the New York County Courthouse, known to those who work in and about the legal system as 60 Centre.

Author Kevin Egan has an extraordinary familiarity with 60 Centre Street and manages to make the courthouse a unique character in his newest legal thriller, The Missing Piece.

On what starts out as a routine Monday morning, my favorite Court Officer from the pages of Egan’s recent book, Midnight, is called into Captain Kearney’s office. Foxx is being reassigned to Judge Johnstone’s court, much to the annoyance of his friend and fellow officer Gary Martin who generally worked in that courtroom. Why put Foxx in that part and pull Gary out and assign him to guard a rear building entrance? Gary was clearly annoyed and Foxx insisted it didn’t make sense.

Foxx looked at his watch. Eight forty-five. The usual time that he and Gary and McQueen met to drink coffee …at the start of another day. Ask him. He would do just that.

“And what’s going on in Johnstone’s part?”

“A big trial to determine ownership of an ancient Roman silver treasure,” said Kearney. “It should dovetail nicely with your classical sensibilities.”

[Who will get the treasure?]

Fri
Apr 10 2015 3:30pm

Game of Thrones Season 5: A Recap of the Realm – Part Three

Game of Thrones returns worldwide for its fifth season on April 12th, and with it comes the dozens of familiar (and sometimes not so familiar) faces, as well as a few newcomers, and it can be pretty damn tough keeping track of who everyone is, what they were last up to, and where they currently reside. In an effort to please R’hollor and to help re-light the wildfire in our brains, I’m here with a Season 5 primer to get you locked, loaded, and ready to go for the premiere. Unless of course you’re Rickon, in which case let’s just hope Osha is keeping you safe.

We’ve already covered the South in Part One and spent a day at the Wall in Part Two, so today we’ll catch you up on everyone in between (and out East). Warning: this post is dark and full of spoilers from Seasons 1 through 4 of Game of Thrones, as well as some light speculation and news from Season 5.

[Chaos is but a ladder, so let’s start with Littlefinger…]

Fri
Apr 10 2015 2:00pm

Strangers on a Train, Or When Sherlock Met Jane

In this most devoutly-to-be-wished encounter between two of fiction’s greatest detectives, the role of Miss Jane Marple is elaborated by Ashley Weaver, that of Mr. Sherlock Holmes by Lyndsay Faye. This is the first of a group of posts commemorating the 70th anniversary of Mystery Writers of America, an organization whose members have contributed this exclusive content for the celebratory delight of other crime fans.

 

Miss Jane Marple stood in the doorway of the dining car, adjusting herself for a moment to the movement of the train before following the kindly attendant to the only remaining seat. She would be dining with a stranger and had hoped for a bit of good conversation to pass the time. However, her first glance at the gentleman seated at her table was not encouraging. He did not look as though he would enjoy sharing a friendly meal. In fact, he did not look as though he enjoyed eating at all. Practically skin and bones, poor thing.

“Good evening,” she said, taking the seat across from him.

 

Mr. Sherlock Holmes’s steely eyes flicked upwards as a woman with hair snowy as goose down and a flushed, wrinkled face approached in the wake of the train attendant who obviously was fighting an internal war between genuine love of his two—no, three—daughters and a long-held fascination with wagering large sums on cockfighting. Though the dining car was entirely full, the detective had held hopes of dining (or failing to dine, as he intended, in favor of sipping a good brandy and marshalling his thoughts) alone; his mission to track the fugitive jewelry thief Aloysius Fawkesberry was at the behest of the Prime Minister himself.

The elderly lady sat and greeted him, smiling. Holmes bit back a sigh, wondering whether he would be asked to put out his cigarette.

“Good evening.”  His voice was cool but not uncourteous. “A gardener, I see by the speck of loam under your right forefinger, and by the woolen thread on your sleeve a knitter to boot.”

[The life unexamined is hardly worthwhile...]

Fri
Apr 10 2015 9:45am

Crime Poetry: “The Morning Of” by Tom Brzezina

April is National Poetry Month, which for us, always means a tip o' the fedora to the crime poetry blog, The Five-Two, from which we're pleased to share this  evocatively sparse verse:

 

The Morning Of” by Tom Brzezina

On the morning before the morning of,
tension knotted the muscles between
my shoulder blades.

In the afternoon before the morning of,
the dark blue van was still parked across
the street.

On the night before the morning of,
I sat up in my bed, a loaded
shotgun in my lap.

On the morning of, I heard the back
door creak open, then careful
footsteps in the hall.

In the afternoon of the morning of,
I was lying on a slab in a jail cell,
and he was dead.

In the evening of the morning of,
I mouthed off to the guard, and he
overreacted.

On the night of the morning of,
I was in a hospital bed, handcuffed to
the railing.

On the morning after the morning of,
I was still handcuffed to the railing,
but my lawyer had good news.

That evening, I sat in front of my
television, eating Kung Pao chicken,
contemplating the absurdity of life.

 

Visit The Five-Two to hear the poet read his work and learn more about its inspiration. And check the schedule, because all month long, crime-loving sites will be hosting and discussing crime poems. Admit it, if you'd known Kung Pao chicken was involved, you'd have gotten cultured long ago!

Thu
Apr 9 2015 3:00pm

Book 1 with Sheriff Dan Rhodes: Too Late to Die by Bill Crider

Many readers develop a deep affinity for a continuing detective or mystery series beyond well-sculpted plots, fast action, and wisecracks, that is, if they are going to stick with it for the long read. I know I do. An emotional hook, so to speak, that I can identify with in the main and supporting characters. In The Crime of Our Lives, Lawrence Block says: “We make our way through a series of books because we want to enjoy the company of a favorite character in a new situation.” Examples for me include Robert B. Parker’s Spenser, who epitomizes that code of honor he wears on his sleeve, in part, by his devotion to Susan and Hawk. With Ross Macdonald’s world-weary protagonist Lew Archer, I’m there for his sermonizing against the ills of humanity and the solutions he offers. Heck, even a career criminal like Richard Stark’s Parker gets my thumbs-up for his outsider stance and honorable dedication to the job at hand. My warmth for Bill Crider’s Sheriff Dan Rhodes is quite simple: he is a good man.

Sheriff Dan Rhodes is the kind of man I want for a neighbor and best friend. He’s a doting father to his daughter, Kathy and in this first novel, Too Late to Die, he’s still a husband grieving his late wife. As sheriff of Blacklin County, Texas, (near eight thousand residents, give or take), he keeps plugging forward to carry out the job he was hired to do. And, like in most municipalities, the community is rife with shortsighted bureaucrats that Sheriff Rhodes must wade through, politely cutting down to size if need be, just to persevere.He doesn’t take himself too seriously and lets the air out of other civil servants who think they are high and mighty. Like Archer and Spenser, Rhodes is a continuing rush of fresh air in a genre that can copy itself into almost-irrelevance.

[The times, they are a'changing...]

Thu
Apr 9 2015 10:45am

The Americans 3.11: “One Day in the Life of Anton Baklanov”

Phew! For the first time in weeks, nobody on The Americans was lit on fire, no one was stuffed into a suitcase, no little old ladies were killed, and no teenage girls lost their innocence. And you know what? I’m fine with that. The audience needed a break after the emotional wringer it’s been put through this season. With only two episodes left, and the eye of the storm on its way, it was a good time to breathe deeply and mentally prepare for the question Gabriel (Frank Langella) asked Philip (Matthew Rhys) last night, “Can you handle whatever might be coming at you next?”

Not that I would call “One Day in the Life of Anton Baklanov” a light-hearted romp through the park (the title is a play on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s novel, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich). Characters spend much of the hour struggling to digest the tumultuous events of the last few weeks, events that have placed many of them, like Ivan Denisovich, in their own private “gulags.” Paige (Holly Taylor) has emerged from her daze to go on the attack, demanding answers from her parents about their deception; Anton Baklanov (Michael Aronov), seduced by Nina’s charms (Annet Mahendru), opens up about the pain he feels for his son in America; Philip continues to stew over Gabriel’s treatment of him and his family; and Martha (Alison Wright) must contend with Walter Taffet (Jefferson Mays), the man with a “mind like a computer.”

[Which is a big step above a “mind like a mail robot”...]

Thu
Apr 9 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Medium Dead by Paula Paul

Medium Dead by Paula Paul is the 4th installment in her Victorian-era cozy series about Doctor Alexandra Gladstone (available April 14, 2015).

I'll admit to having never heard of Paula Paul before picking up this charming installment of her Doctor Alexandra Gladstone series. It seems almost impossible to think that I’d never before encountered these tales of a plucky female doctor in Victorian England solving mysteries as she confronts social prejudices, as that kind of thing is squarely in my wheelhouse. Better late than never I suppose!

In this latest book, Alexandra is forced into uncomfortable encounters with nobility, primarily in the form of the spoiled mother of her neighbor and erstwhile suitor, William Forsyth, as the death of a local medium draws attention to secret visitors at William's seat at Montmarsh.

[Who are these mysterious visitors?]