Fresh Meat: <i>To Dwell in Darkness</i> by Deborah Crombie Fresh Meat: To Dwell in Darkness by Deborah Crombie Janet Webb Smoke bombs aren't supposed to explode... Fresh Meat: <i>Crossing the Line</i> by Frederique Molay Fresh Meat: Crossing the Line by Frederique Molay Leigh Neely Going to the dentist is bad enough as it is... Fresh Meat: <i>Wouldn't It Be Deadly</i> by D. E. Ireland Fresh Meat: Wouldn't It Be Deadly by D. E. Ireland Kerry Hammond She's been made a lady, but now Eliza must become a detective... Now Win <i>This</i>!: Hunt or Be Hunted Sweepstakes Now Win This!: Hunt or Be Hunted Sweepstakes Crime HQ Don't turn your back on these seven duplicitous offerings!
From The Blog
September 18, 2014
The Maze Runner Trailer
Crime HQ
September 17, 2014
Thief Robs Autistic Man's Birthday Money
Teddy Pierson
September 16, 2014
Denzel Washington Joins Cast of The Magnificent Seven Remake
Joe Brosnan
September 15, 2014
Steve McQueen: The King of Cool Westerns
Edward A. Grainger
September 15, 2014
We'll All Be Seeing Hannibal's Therapist Regularly
Crime HQ
Sep 12 2014 8:45am

A Word with the Dearly Departed: Sean Astin on The Strain

Sean Astin has never been into vampires.

“When I was sixteen I worked in a movie theatre where my friend Corey Feldman’s movie The Lost Boys premiered—that was probably the height of my vampire interest,” Astin says with a laugh. While the world was swept up in the vampire craze—with True Blood and The Vampire Diaries taking over TV and Twilight blowing up in book stores and theatres—the actor was more focused on dramatic work and fantasy series like The Lord of the Rings.

But when Guillermo del Toro approaches you with a job offer, you don’t just say no.

“[It’s an exciting thing] spending time with Guillermo,” says Astin. “He’s just so full of life and creativity… You always feel like he’s both incredibly well prepared and in the moment, able to be spontaneous. I’m grateful that Guillermo reached out and swept me up.”

[Del Toro has swept us all up with The Strain...]

Sep 11 2014 2:00pm

Lost Classics of Noir: Build My Gallows High by Geoffrey Homes

I didn’t set out to make a habit of, when writing appreciations of books for this site, also commenting on movies that were made from the novels. Ditto discussing the books that were converted into the films I cover. But oftentimes it just makes sense to do this. There’s usually something interesting in the connection between books and the movies that get made from them, and when you know one but not the other, then experience the other, you often come away with some new insights into the story in the medium to which you were already hip.

Anyway, when writing about the novel that was turned into the classic 1947 movie Out of the Past, there’s just no way around commenting on the film. Ask 100 film noir buffs to list their all-time top 10 examples from the genre, and my guess is at least 80 of them (if not more) would include Jacques Tourneur’s 1947 masterpiece on their tally. Yet I wonder how many of those 80 or more have read the book – Build My Gallows High (1946), penned by Daniel Mainwaring under the pseudonym of Geoffrey Homes – that is the foundation of the big screen feature. I’ve been an avid watcher/reader of both noir film and fiction for decades, first saw and was blown away by Out of the Past many years back, but I’ve only just now read the novel. The book is out of print, as best I can tell was last issued by Film Ink in 2001. And there is no e-book version, at least that I can find. So it’s fair to say it’s a lost title. And, having just taken it in (I got it in one of the Ace 2-for-1 editions, with a Harry Whittington novel attached), I can say it’s a classic.

[You owe it to yourself to check it out...]

Sep 11 2014 10:30am

Fresh Meat: Broadchurch by Erin Kelly

Broadchurch by Erin Kelly is a small town murder mystery based on the television series from Chris Chibnall (available September 16, 2014).

At its core, this is a police procedural. A dead body has been found, obviously murdered. Detectives need to figure out who did it and why. Once they do, if they do, apprehend the culprit. But there is so much more than that going on.

All of the action takes place in a small town. The good thing about small towns is that everybody knows everybody else. It’s also the bad thing about small towns. At first no one can believe someone they know could have done this. It must be an outsider.  But as the investigation drags on, they start looking at each other differently. Every action and word becomes suspect, sinister.

A big city Detective Inspector is leading the investigation. Alec Hardy’s got the experience, the know-how. What he doesn’t know is how to navigate this small town. He’s brusque, rude even. No one on the team likes his style. Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller, as his reluctant second in command, gets the brunt of it.

She’s barely holding it together. Danny was her son’s best friend and her best friend’s son. As a detective she knows what questions she needs to ask and just who should be questioned, whether she likes it or not. And Miller does manage to keep up with Hardy. Not only keep up with but stand up to when necessary. Ellie’s a mum. And that doesn’t just mean the soft, nurturing part. She has the grit and stamina to keep going, protect herself and those close to her while ferreting out the truth.

[It's a refreshing, fully developed character...]

Sep 11 2014 8:45am

Who Would You Cast in a Ghostbusters Reboot?

Ghostbusters castThe classic comedy, Ghostbusters seems to constantly have rumors of a reboot or sequel lurking. However, it seems like the rumors might be getting a little bit of fact behind them. Recently, Ghostbusters' star Bill Murray told the Toronto Star that he's not averse to a sequel—as long as he isn't in it. Who did he pitch instead? Why, an all female cast!

Among his suggestions were Melissa McCarthy, his co-star in the Toronto International Film Festival-premiering St. Vincent, and another McCarthy co-star, Kristen Wiig. Funny ladies Emma Stone and Linda Cardellini (most recently of Mad Men) rounded out the fab four.

Bridesmaids director Paul Fieg has expressed an interest in directing the reboot, and Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are also among the names mentioned in the reboot.

Are you in favor of a reboot? If you could fantasy cast an all-female Ghostbusters, who would be your picks?

Sep 10 2014 2:00pm

Gotham’s Girls: Comic Noir’s New Leading Ladies

Noir has long been a male bastion in comics, from Frank Miller reimagining Daredevil and Batman to Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka creating Gotham Central, an inspiration for the upcoming Gotham television series.

Female creators writing noir stories for comics have been few and far between. But that’s changing. Batgirl is being re-imagined by a creative team that includes Babs Tarr and acclaimed artist Becky Cloonan is part of a team working on the all-new Gotham Academy series, both debuting in October.

On the independent side, Erica Schultz is the co-creator of M3, an award-winning independent series with art by Vicente Alcázar. M3 is the story of a female assassin who entered the trade after being raised by the hit man who murdered her parents. Machiavella Maria Marcona’s (hence: M3) always believed her assassinations were for the right reasons and that she was murdering for the greater good. As her story unfolds, mixing flashbacks with the current day, it becomes clear everything she was certain of in her life could be wrong.

[That's a big pill to swallow...]

Sep 10 2014 11:00am

Bogie and Bacall: The Big Sleep (1946)

In tribute to the late Lauren Bacall, we’re looking at the four classic films she made with husband and screen partner Humphrey Bogart between 1944 and 1948: To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, Dark Passage, and Key Largo. Last week we looked at Howard Hawks’ To Have and Have Not. Today we’ll look at Hawks’ The Big Sleep.

The Big Sleep is a movie that is nearly universally beloved by movie buffs, but it is also the source of some debate among noir fans. Everyone agrees that it’s masterfully made, and everyone agrees that it contains one of Bogart’s great performances. But is it noir? Many people say no. One must admit, too, that there are strong arguments in support of this argument.

[But it's not that easy...]

Sep 10 2014 8:45am

Carjacking Victims Hogtie Naked Carjacker

An Australian man who foolishly attempted to carjack not one, but three vehicles was chased down by the angry victims and hogtied until the local authorities arrived.

The carjacker allegedly shattered the windscreen of a moving truck in Karragullan, Australia over the weekend. The driver lost control of his truck and flipped it over on its side.

Then another passing motorist stopped and tried help, but the man attacked them both with a stick. He then tried to carjack yet another vehicle that pulled up to the scene.

One of the drivers said the man, who was not identified, was “going crazy.”

“He tried to drag the girl out of her car and carjack her, ripping at her clothes and hair,” he told 9News.

He then began stripping off his clothing.

The victims called the police as the man fled. They chased him down, tossed him down on the ground and hogtied him.

Sep 9 2014 4:00pm

Now Win This!: Can’t Beat the Classics Sweepstakes

The classics are the classics! This bundle of seven criminal works, including an audiobook and a comic no less, has an impeccable pedigree!

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 September 9, 2014, at 4:00 pm ET, and ends September 23, 2014, 3:59 pm ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[What's up for grabs?]

Sep 9 2014 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: Nine Days by Minerva Koenig

Nine Days by Minerva Koenig is a debut mystery featuring Julia Kalas, a forty-something former mob wife who finds herself under witness protection in rural Texas and in the middle of murder (available September 9, 2014).

Julia Kalas has had a rough couple of years. Not only did she witness her husband’s murder, endure gunshot wounds, and have to turn state’s evidence on the Aryan Brotherhood—she’s now been forced into the Witness Protection Program and relocated to a tiny town in rural Texas.

Of course, that all happened because Julia was, frankly, a criminal. A mob wife. The launderer of the money her husband and father-in-law made in illegal gun-running. So it’s not as if she was an innocent angel caught in the crossfire. As she says herself:

I hate to admit that I believe in a concept as hackneyed as the Criminal Mind, but I can remember having thoughts like the one I was having now as far back as my memory goes.

And she’s sure not going to just sit back and blend into the woodwork once she hits Azula, Texas. Her handler, the local police chief, sets her up with a job interview at a bar. Which doesn’t make Julia the happiest camper, given her true passion and skill set lies in construction.

[Can she construct a new life...?]

Sep 9 2014 12:00pm

Boardwalk Empire 5.01: Season Premiere “Golden Days for Boys and Girls”

Season 4 of Boardwalk Empire was both its most satisfying and gloomiest season to date. A host of new characters and plotlines were introduced, allowing the show to avoid the pattern of having each new season revolve around a different foe for Nucky to tangle with and defeat. Still, going into last year’s finale, it seemed as though Nucky, trapped from all sides, would have to hatch another violent plan to extricate both himself and Chalky White from trouble, while bringing western-style justice to those who deserved it.

Only this time, the plan went off track. Yes, there was violence, but unlike previous seasons, there was nothing triumphant about it. Nucky’s foes were not vanquished, justice was not meted out, and two of the good guys (in a murderous psychopathic-kind-of-way) were dealt cruel fates. Richard Harrow died under the boardwalk, dreaming of the domestic life he would never have, while Chalky watched as his daughter was gunned down, a victim of his own transgressions. Toss in poor Willie’s freshman roommate at Temple being jailed for a murder he didn’t commit and Gillian’s tragic storyline (making Gillian a sympathetic character is one of Winter’s greatest achievements) and Season 4 was a serious bummer.  Did I say bummer? What I meant to say was a soul-crushing kick to the stomach.

[We're still keeled over...]

Sep 9 2014 10:15am

Fresh Meat: Virtue Falls by Christina Dodd

Virtue Falls by Christina Dodd is a standalone romantic suspense featuring a geologist, an FBI agent, and a long-buried secret that comes to light during an earthquake (available September 9, 2014).

If you like the television show Bones, this book is right up your alley. Elizabeth Banner, the heroine, is a geologist whose father—Charles Banner, himself a world-famous geologist—allegedly murdered her mother when Elizabeth was only four. Elizabeth has walled herself off, preferring rocks to people. And much like Bones, she is not understood by “normal” people, who see her scientific mind and her focus on inanimate objects as distinctly peculiar.

The walls groaned. Nails popped out of the Sheetrock. Behind Elizabeth, one by one, the windows exploded. Shards of safety glass sprayed the diner.

Elizabeth’s excitement rose.

At least an eight on the Richter scale. Maybe an eight-point-five. Not the biggest earthquake ever … but it wasn’t diminishing. It wasn’t done.

There was a rhythm to the earth surges coming onto the coast, an increasing and glorious roll.

Behind the counter, the shelves tilted; the drinking glasses crashed backward, then forward and off, heaving themselves onto the floor like Disney-animated crockery. The coffee pot jumped off the heater and committed suicide, splashing hot liquid into the air. Sympathetic porcelain mugs followed.

Elizabeth was in awe; the floor was rippling, two feet up and then two feet down. She had read about earthquakes so violent, of course she had. But never had she thought she would have the luck to experience one.

Because, yeah, “luck” is how most of us think of experiencing major earthquakes…and the tsunamis that follow them.

[We have an exclusive audio excerpt below!]

Sep 9 2014 9:30am

The Ripper Case Solved? We’ve Waited This Long...

After this weekend's “revelation” of Jack the Ripper's identity (was he really a local Polish hairdresser?) in the Daily Mail, we waited. It took mere hours for the first sets of questions to arise, some most pointedly about the DNA-tested shawl, such as whether or not it really was intact after so much handling and owned by the victim Catherine Eddowes to begin. (Be warned, sensitive readers, all discussions must include frank reference to the DNA-bearing material on the shawl—it's not blood, IYKWIMAITYD.) Also, given that Dr. Louhelainen's novel method called “vacuuming,” which he developed to acquire enough DNA to test, hasn't been vetted in scientific peer review yet, there are questions about that, too. Here are a few cautious, preliminary thoughts from Smithsonian and many more with verve from our own pal Lyndsay Faye, if you're interested. We at CrimeHQ are fascinated, without doubt, but as we've got more than enough tree rings to remember the last time the Ripper case was “solved,” we'll spectate with our bags of popcorn until the forensics settle.

Sep 8 2014 4:00pm

Breathless: Part 3

This week’s final episode of Breathless on Masterpiece Mystery is also the final episode of the series. It wasn’t renewed. So, if you love it that might come as disappointing news.

At least the series creators did viewers the service of clearing up a few puzzling plot points. Issues are resolved. Characters evolve. Even the despicable Dr. Richard Truscott (Oliver Chris) demonstrates believable and reassuring signs of humanity.

Lots of secrets are revealed both to the audience and the characters.

But, here’s the thing about secrets: They are only intriguing if they involve information that’s worth keeping secret.  If after the big reveal your reaction is, “Yeah. And?” the secret hasn’t delivered to expectations. It’s like the guy who corners you at a party and asks, “Want to hear something funny?” You just know you’re going to have to fake a chuckle when he’s through talking.

[Heh, heh, heh...sigh...]

Sep 8 2014 2:30pm

The Strain 1.09: “The Disappeared”

After the fraught stand-off of last week’s episode, “The Disappeared” gives us a little breathing space—after the opening scene, that is, when little Zach arrives home to find his mom’s boyfriend has become unusually violent. To give Zach some credit, he’s definitely cut of the same cloth as Carl from The Walking Dead: when attacked by a blood-covered Matt, the kid rushes for cover and picks up a shovel to defend himself.

And luckily he doesn’t have to stave off the threat alone for long. Dad Eph rushes in, makes with a quick stab, and deftly chops the asshole’s head off with said shovel. The rest of the group hurries in and while Eph and Nora comfort Zach, Abraham and Vasiliy do a quick search of the house.

No Kelly. And Matt had some nasty cuts across his face before Eph detached it from his shoulders. Draw a line between the dots and the obvious conclusion is that Kelly will show up again at some point to reclaim her son—but only because she’s compelled more by the Master than her maternal instincts.

Meanwhile, Felix’s condition is worsening. Gus keeps demanding a doctor, but the city’s starting to tear itself apart and medical personnel are at a premium. The detention officer tells Gus there will be someone to check out his friend at Rikers, so he hurries to get Felix onto the transport truck, assuring his buddy that he’s there for him.

Yeah, he’ll be there for him—when Felix is no longer his BFF but a creature of the night.

[Talk about a breakup...]

Sep 8 2014 11:00am

“You Are Not Safe”: Trailer for The Walking Dead Season 5

When we last saw our zombie-bashing brotherhood, they were trapped in a metal box and stranded amidst a group of (possible) cannibals. Terminus was a lie. But when Season 4 ended with Rick Grimes declaring that the cannibals were “screwing with the wrong people”, it was clear all was not least not yet. And now, the trailer for Season 5 has aired and it proves just that. So take a look and let us know what you're looking forward to seeing this season!

The Walking Dead premieres October 12th.

Sep 8 2014 10:00am

Fresh Meat: The Sun is God by Adrian McKinty

The Sun is God, a historical crime novel by Adrian McKintyThe Sun is God by Adrian McKinty is a historical crime novel featuring a veteran of the second Boer war trying to solve a murder on an island of religious cultists in Colonial New Guinea in 1906 (available September 9, 2014).

After reading the setting for The Sun is God, a fan of Adrian McKinty might be tempted to gently place the book back on the shelf and tiptoe out of the store. Could the author of the celebrated Troubles Trilogy set in 1980s Belfast and the Michael Forsythe books set in 1990s New York City really just have written a book about a religious cult in Colonial New Guinea at the turn of the 20th century? If so, wouldn’t it be wise to skip this one and wait for the next rough and tumble Sean Duffy book? Also, what’s a bookstore? I don’t think any McKinty fans will react that way, but if they did, they’d regret their decision. While it’s true that The Sun is God is notably different in setting, scope, and structure from his previous works, it doesn’t take many pages to realize that the book is still firmly, and pleasingly, in familiar McKinty territory.

The foremost similarity is the way in which McKinty deftly weaves real history into his fictional plot. His mastery of time and place, whether it’s 1982 Belfast, 1992 Harlem, or 1906 New Guinea, is readily apparent. McKinty has a gift for recreating not only the details, but also the feel of his historical locales. Conjuring a big city from the recent past is one thing; depicting a brief, forgotten era in a speck of land halfway across the world is another, and McKinty handles it effortlessly.

[So onto the fanatics and nudists, then...]

Sep 7 2014 9:00pm

The Honourable Woman: Trapped Inside the Feedback Loop

Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Nessa Stein in The Honourable Woman, a miniseries spy thrillerLike the Cold War, the endless Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the dramatist’s gift that keeps on giving. Nowhere else can an author, screenwriter or filmmaker find such a stew of moral ambiguity, seething hatreds, political misbehavior, skullduggery, conflicting loyalties, and flat-out bad behavior in which to marinate his or her stories. It’s nearly impossible to overcook a plot set against this backdrop; real life is always more outlandish and extreme.

The limited-run series The Honourable Woman, a BBC2/SundanceTV co-production, is the latest entry in the long list of films and TV shows to mine that particular vein of pitch-black paranoia ironically known as the Holy Land.

Nessa Stein (Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Dark Knight and everywhere indie) and her brother Ephra (Andrew Buchan, Broadchurch) shared a unique formative experience: watching their Israeli arms-industrialist father being murdered in a posh London hotel restaurant. Now grown and living privileged lives in London, they’ve tried to steer the Stein Group into less lethal markets, bringing universities and broadband Internet to the West Bank. Of course, the self-reinforcing feedback loop that is the Middle East delights in punishing good intentions. Various entrenched interests on all sides—yes, more than two—need to bend Nessa to their wills. Following an unpopular business deal and an untimely suicide (or was it?), things become nasty and messy in short order.

Nessa and Ephra are both damaged individuals. Nessa sleeps in her London mansion’s high-tech safe room and forms unhealthy relationships with her bodyguards.

[Who else can she trust...?]

Sep 7 2014 2:00pm

Ray Bradbury Writes Noir: Death Is a Lonely Business

I suspect most people think of science fiction and fantasy when they hear the name Ray Bradbury, who—along with Isaac Asimov, Phillip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke—represented the very best of modern thought-provoking and socially-conscious escapism. His Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, to name a few, are required reading for any serious student of sci-fi/fantasy. But apart from his legions of dedicated fans, many may not be aware that Mr. Bradbury took a stab at several noir novels rather late in his career, the first of which was 1985’s Death Is a Lonely Business, his first full-length novel in over a decade. The book is dedicated to several notables of crime fiction including Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and Ross Macdonald. To their noir hardboiled legacy, he writes in his own Bradbury-ian elegance, fusing the well-worn (and, frankly, by then, tired) detective novel with a great deal of his distinct lyrical flair. Examples: “books clustered like vultures with their black feathers and dusty golden stares” and “Venice was and is full of lost places where people put up for sale the last worn bits of their souls, hoping no one will buy.” To his credit, Mr. Bradbury never borders on parody or pastiche (a problem I’ve noticed with other writers when attempting to emulate the golden era masters) and instead paves his own path down those shadowed mean streets cluttered with desperate and longing characters.

[Let's go meet them...]

Sep 6 2014 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Fighting Chance by Jane Haddam

Fighting Chance by Jane Haddam is the 29th mystery in the Gregor Demarkian series about the Armenian-American detective (available September 9, 2014).

Gregor Demarkian is in the throes of investigating a bank foreclosure on a house owned by a friend, and for which the bank instituting the foreclosure has no mortgage, when Father Tibor Kasparian is arrested and charged with the bludgeoning death of a judge. Motive? Martha Handler has a reputation for handing out long sentences for petty offenses to juveniles and it is well known that Father Kasparian was trying desperately to prevent the jailing of one of the neighborhood boys.

It looks like an open and shut case.  The priest had been filmed on a cell phone raising and lowering the murder weapon as though bashing in the judge’s head. The video,  of course, goes viral.

But Gregor doesn’t believe the priest is guilty, despite the film. The whole scenario just feels wrong. The “Armenian Hercule Poirot” begins investigating.

[Gregor also relies on his little grey cells...]

Sep 5 2014 11:00pm

Checking into The Knick 1.04: “Where’s the Dignity”

As Nurse Lucy Elkins learned in Episode 4 of The Knick “Where’s the Dignity”, it’s one thing to occasionally shoot up heroin in the private confines of your home and office, but it’s a completely different beast when you’re traveling to a seedy brothel to get your high.

We’ve already discussed Dr. Thackery’s secret drug addiction at length, knowing that Nurse Elkins was privy to a glimpse into his behavior. But in what’s clearly becoming a romantic crush, Nurse Elkins decided to tail Thackery after he shadily hopped in a cab. And so, add one more secret to the mix: Nurse Elkins knows where Thackery goes after work. The only question is if she’ll try and save him, or use her knowledge to further herself. I’m guessing she’s going to try and play doctor on the doctor.

[Enough romance, let’s talk about parental disappointment!]