Fresh Meat: <i>Betrayed</i> by Lisa Scottoline Fresh Meat: Betrayed by Lisa Scottoline Kerry Hammond This is Judy's most personal case yet. Fresh Meat: <i>Wink of an Eye</i> by Lynn Chandler Willis Fresh Meat: Wink of an Eye by Lynn Chandler Willis John Jacobson Welcome home, Gypsy. Now can you please solve this murder? Now Win <i>This</i>!: The Quick Getaway Sweepstakes Now Win This!: The Quick Getaway Sweepstakes Crime HQ Not all vacations are created equal. Fresh Meat: <i>The Job</i> by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg Fresh Meat: The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg Susan Amper We're off to Istanbul!
From The Blog
November 23, 2014
Reviewing the Queue: Enemy (2013)
Joe Brosnan
November 23, 2014
The Stand Alones: Laura Lippman's I'd Know You Anywhere
Jake Hinkson
November 21, 2014
We Are Batman: Legends of the Knight
Crime HQ
November 20, 2014
The Last Kind Words Saloon by Larry McMurty
Edward A. Grainger
November 20, 2014
Wicked Good Brew: Jailhouse Brewery
Crime HQ
Sat
Nov 15 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: A Deadly Measure of Brimstone by Catriona McPherson

A Deadly Measure of Brimstone by Catriona McPherson is the 8th cozy mystery featuring heroine Dandy Gilver, and this time a weekend spa getaway is interrupted by some deadly happenings (available November 18, 2014).

Dandelion Gilver, and her partner in detection, Alec Osborne, are back in the latest installment of a wonderful historical series that takes place in Scotland in the early 1900s. The year is 1929 and Dandy is up to her elbows in sick family and staff. Her two sons, her husband Hugh, and several of their servants have come down with a bad case of influenza. As Hugh and the boys are showing signs of recovering, she receives a letter addressed to Messrs Gilver & Osborne asking for their help. It is not only a new case, but one that sounds quite interesting, if not a bit tricky.

[To the spa we go!]

Fri
Nov 14 2014 12:00pm

How to Get Away with Murder 1.08: “He Has a Wife”

Nate (Billy Brown) offered up some good advice on How to Get Away with Murder Season 1 Episode 8 "He Has a Wife" when he called for a DNA test.

Finally we get some momentum! Relationships are getting set up, vital evidence is almost uncovered, and the trophy/future murder weapon is stolen. By the time “He Has a Wife” ends, we’re already at the evening that all the future-set scenes have shown, and it’s murdering time. Let’s find out how we get there.

There’s a bizarre twist to this week’s new case: a mother murdered her nanny while under the influence of sleeping pills. Her home life is twisted, too, although it is only weird because of how normal it remains. Despite her murder charge, the mother is only concerned with hiring a DJ for her child’s birthday party. This follows in Murder’s tradition of making virtually all their characters workaholics.

The workaholic is a great TV character: they are hyper-competent at their job, so they’re fun to watch when solving crimes or diagnosing ailments, but they fail at everything else, so they add a lot of drama that’s just as fun to watch. Murder seems to hate anyone who isn’t one, as Sam Keating (Tom Verica), the only laid-back cast member, is a liar, cheater, and probable murderer.

[Work hard, kids...]

Fri
Nov 14 2014 10:30am

Noir’s Goon Squad: Percy Helton

For a guy who was only about five foot two, Percy Helton was the biggest creep in film noir. He has one of those indispensible faces that is as essential to the genre as cigarette smoke and low key lighting. He’s in a million noirs, almost always playing the same guy: the creep. Sometimes he’s the creepy bartender, sometimes the creepy boxing promoter. When people say “They don’t make movies like they used to” what they mean, in effect, is that they don’t make movies with weird character actors like Percy Helton anymore. Short, perpetually old, with a body shaped like a garbage bag and a voice that was the mixture of a fifteen year-old girl and a petulant child molester, Helton somehow added authenticity and eccentricity to every movie he appeared in.

Born in 1894, he came from a vaudeville family and grew up on the stage, working for a time with the great George M. Cohan. He performed on stages large and small (including Broadway), and he began doing occasional film work as early as 1915. He finally committed himself to movies in 1947 when he played a drunk Santa Claus in Miracle On 34th Street—the same film, incidentally, that marked the film career debut of Helton’s fellow Goon Squad member Thelma Ritter. Helton, not unlike Ritter, was marked by this late arrival into films. Sure, you can comb back through some old silents to find glimpses of the young Percy Helton, but for most moviegoers he seemed to have be born 53 years old.

[We need more guys like him...]

Thu
Nov 13 2014 4:45pm

American Horror Story: Freak Show 4.06: “Bullseye”

In American Horror Story: Freak Show Season 4 Episode 6 "Bullseye", Paul (Matt Fraser) starts to feel the wrath for questioning Elsa (Jessica Lange).

Does anyone else feel like we’re missing something this episode? This week focused on Dandy (Finn Wittrock) and the twins (Sarah Paulson), the ever more despicable Elsa (Jessica Lange) and surprising Paul (Matt Fraser), with a dash of Stanley (Dennis O’Hare) and Esmerelda (Emma Roberts).

As expected, Elsa has told the freaks that Bette and Dot have run off. Of course she wouldn’t admit to ditching them at the Mott residence. That’d be insane. I enjoyed her opening monologue and thought it set the tone for this episode well. Lange is tremendous at balancing Elsa’s selfishness with her desire for family. I believe, in the beginning, Elsa really did care for the freaks she “rescued,”believed she was giving them a haven and a chance to live without fear, but her own desires for stardom warped her kindness. Whenever anyone threatens her chance at fame—like the twins—Elsa eliminates them. Her entire monologue is a dedication to her, as Paul calls it, “demonic soul.”

[That's a pretty accurate label...]

Thu
Nov 13 2014 12:00pm

When TV Romance Turns to Murder, You Can Win!

For me, it all started with Ned and Nancy. Nancy Drew was an independent woman (girl) but she still made room in her busy sleuthing schedule to let Ned hang around and bounce clues off. He was the best type of book boyfriend.

Then came Moonlighting (1985-1989). Maddie (Cybill Shepherd) lost her money to a cheating manager and only wants to sell the failing detective agency run by David (Bruce Willis). Instead, he talks her into keeping and running the business, thinking she’d be a silent partner.  He realized quickly, he was wrong.

[It would be a different kind of partner...]

Thu
Nov 13 2014 8:45am

House Damaged by Sharknado? Not Quite!

The Shark House of HeadingtonThis house, which is now for rent in Headington, a suburb outside of Oxford, can be yours for only $3,500 a month as long as you don't mind living with a shark as one of your housemates!

This shark is actually a sculpture, which was installed in 1986 by the homeowners in typical fashion—by crane and in the middle of the night.

For those with a taste for the absurd, this house can be yours. Do you mind having a giant shark sticking out of your roof? At the very least it might deter burglars!

Wed
Nov 12 2014 4:00pm

Reviewing the Queue: Snowpiercer (2013)

With the digital libraries of online streaming services expanding more and more, choosing which movie to watch has become difficult. I will be digging through these online queues in hopes of bringing you a movie worth your time. Up first is Snowpiercer, a steampunk action film directed by Joon-ho Bong and starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton and available on Netflix.

Snowpiercer attempts to carve out a spot for itself in the cavernous post-apocalyptic genre, and while it doesn’t redefine it, the film does give us a unique take on the upper class suppressing the lower class trope. Set in the near future where a failed climate-change experiment has brought upon a brutal ice age leaving Earth uninhabitable, a select few of mankind continue living aboard the Snowpiercer, a mega train that travels the globe. Over time, a class system has emerged onboard the train, where the residents of the rear are all but ignored, left struggling to survive in unbearable conditions and forced to eat black, gelatinous bricks merely refered to as protein blocks.

[I wonder what the protein blocks are made of...]

Wed
Nov 12 2014 11:45am

John LeCarré’s The Spy Who Came in From the Cold: Smiley as Puppeteer

This week marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a fitting time to recall a novel that came, for many, to characterize the complications and unhappy compromises of post-war Europe.

It’s the early 1960s, and Alec Leamas is working for The Circus (British clandestine organization), running spies in Berlin during the Cold War. He watches as one of his double agents, while trying to cross into West Germany, is gunned down. Soon after, Leamas is recalled to England which he assumes will be the beginning of the end of his career whereby he’ll be unceremoniously filed away at some desk job left to rot. Instead his boss (codenamed Control) asks him to stay out in the cold a little bit longer and help them catch a top spy. The Circus realizes that the alcoholic, down-on-his-luck Leamas will be too enticing for the communists to resist. Leamas further sweetens the deal by getting himself thrown in jail for six months and doubling down on his alcohol intake. It works. He’s spotted by the East German intelligence service known collectively as the Abteilung who slowly begin wining and dining him until he’s taken to the Netherlands, then to East Germany for further questioning.

[But what about Smiley?]

Wed
Nov 12 2014 8:45am

Angry Husband Drives Wife’s Red Corvette into Delaware River

What started as a rescue story turned out to be a marriage beyond repair when a man in the middle of a divorce sent his estranged wife's red Corvette into the Delaware River.

According to CBS Philly's Diana Rocco and Justin Udo:

Police say a 50-year-old husband angry with his estranged wife dumped the car just below the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge and took off Monday as witnesses watched the car submerge...

The Police Marine Unit and first responders were called in. After about 30 minutes, divers found the car in 30 feet of frigid water.

“There was no visibility whatsoever. The divers just had to go by feel. They found the vehicle, they went inside the vehicle which is extremely dangerous because you can get trapped with all the debris. They were able to feel that there was no one inside,” [Police Chief Inspector Scott] Small said.

The man will likely face charges of reckless endangerment, short dumping, and violating a protection-from-abuse order.

Tue
Nov 11 2014 12:00pm

Gotham 1.08: “The Mask”

In Gotham Season 1 Episode 8 "The Mask" Richard Sionis takes his name quite literally.

You’ll have to excuse me, I’m a little dizzy this morning from all those quick jump edits on Gotham last night. I appreciate the show wants a quick pace but this is becoming ridiculous.

In no particular order, “The Mask” brought us Black Mask Fight Club, Jim getting a Dear John note from Barbara, the GCPD finally finding some semblance of courage, Bullock being awesome, Fish as a believable liar, more crazy Carol Kane/Simka Mom, and Oswald killing people. Oh, and Selina getting caught. Again.

It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin, though not Jim Gordon’s. He’s consistently hard-headed and focused on the one goal: clean up Gotham City, and if you stand in his way, he’s had enough of you.

[Barbara's had enough of Jim...]

Tue
Nov 11 2014 11:00am
Excerpt

“The Crooked Man” by Michael Connelly: Exclusive Excerpt

Michael Connelly

Read “The Crooked Man” by Michael Connelly in its entirety, a short story featuring detective Harry Bosch, excerpted with permission from In the Company of Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon, edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger (available November 11, 2014).

This exclusive excerpt is reprinted by arrangement with Pegasus Books. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

The address was at the top of Doheny beyond a guardhouse and swing gate that protected a community of mansions with price tags of ten million and up. It was where the city’s royalty lived. Movie moguls and captains of industry, sitting on top of the mountain and looking down on all the rest. But sometimes all the gilding and guarding wasn’t enough to protect one from the inside. Harry Bosch held his badge up to the man in the gray uniform at the guardhouse door and said nothing. He was expected.

“You know which one it is?” the guard asked.


“I’ll find it,” Bosch said.


The guardrail opened and Bosch drove on through.


“Going to be hard to miss,” said his partner, Jerry Edgar.


Bosch proceeded past estates that sprawled across the southern ridge of the Santa Monica Mountains. Vast green lawns that had never accepted a weed because they didn’t have to. He had never been in the Doheny Estates but the opulence was even more than he expected. Up here even the guesthouses had guesthouses. They passed one estate with a garage that had a row of eight doors for the owner’s car collection.

[Continue reading “The Crooked Man” by Michael Connelly...]

Tue
Nov 11 2014 8:45am

The Malfeasance Occasional: Special $1.99 Discount!

In advance of this week's Bouchercon, if you haven't had a chance to read our very own Travis Richardson's “Incident on the 405”, you can read it in full here! Travis's short story is nominated for both the Macavity and Anthony Awards to be presented at Bouchercon!

To celebrate, we're knocking back the price on The Malfeasance Occasional: Girl Trouble, where Travis's story appears alongside 13 other criminally-themed and exciting shorts.

And stay tuned to Criminal Element this week as we'll be reporting live from Bouchercon and sunny Long Beach, CA!

Try 3 more complete, excerpted stories from The M.O.'s award-winning fiction collection, and learn more about all of the issue's contents and contributors, or visit:

Buy at Barnes and Noble     Buy at Amazon Buy at Kobo Buy at iTunes

Mon
Nov 10 2014 3:30pm

Turks & Caicos: The Return of Worricker

“I used to be able to open the bonnet, take out a wrench and fix my car. Now I need a degree in electronics. Even easy things are difficult now,” a character tells Johnny Worricker in Turks & Caicos, which airs on Masterpiece Contemporary this week.

Difficult or intentionally incomprehensible? I say it’s more the latter.

Writer-director David Hare is back with Part 2 of a trilogy that began with Page Eight in 2011. Our erstwhile hero is Johnny Worricker (Bill Nighy), ex-gentleman spy. After doing something to annoy the British prime minister in Page Eight, Johnny’s now living in forced retirement in Turks and Caicos, a cluster of islands about 650 miles from Miami. He’s relaxing after a fashion: sitting on the beach in a long-sleeved black shirt and slacks, introducing a local kid to what looks suspiciously like a Maine lobster, and reading an aged copy of A Farewell to Arms.

Enter Curtis Pelissier (Christopher Walken), a peculiar American who invites Worricker for drinks and introduces him to a group of nefarious businessmen from New Jersey (Gasp!). They’re all involved in some sort of difficult/intentionally incomprehensible money scheme tied to various governments and intelligence agencies all of which are corrupt.

[It only gets more complicated from here...]

Mon
Nov 10 2014 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: Sons of Anarchy: Bratva: by Christopher Golden

Sons of Anarchy: Bratva by Christopher Golden is an original novel set in the television world created by Kurt Suttor about a California motorcycle gang (available November 11, 2014).

Hold on to your seats, as you are in for a rollercoaster ride not for the faint-hearted. If you like your books gentle, thoughtful, and covering esoteric topics like how to knit your own yoghurt, then this, most definitely, is not for you. Some people in this world are just not the type who send lawyers’ letters when you have a falling out with them.

SAMCRO, Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original, doesn’t believe in lawyer letters, as you may have guessed, as all hell breaks loose at the end of a glock in Sons of Anarchy: Bratva. (The end you do not want to be looking down.) The other end appears to be in either the hands of the RIRA (Real IRA) or Bratva (the Russian Mafia).

[This is set between Seasons 4 and 5 by the way...]

Mon
Nov 10 2014 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Fear City by F. Paul Wilson

Fear City by F. Paul Wilson is the final book the Repairman Jack: The Early Years trilogy set in New York City in 1993 (available November 11, 2014).

For new fans of F. Paul Wilson’s popular Repairman Jack character, Fear City is the last book in The Early Years Trilogy. For those of us who have followed his exploits from The Tomb all the way through Nightworld, it’s the final puzzle piece we’ve been clamoring for. And for first time readers, it’s great introduction to an intriguing and entertaining series character.

Jack is a young man from New Jersey with a shadowy past, living under the radar and working as a fix-it man in New York City. As one character puts it:

It’s like God created you from nothing and set you down here. If you were older, I’d say you were a field agent for some intelligence agency, but even they create false histories for their people. You don’t have any history, true or false.

[When all else fails...]

Mon
Nov 10 2014 8:45am

Coast Guard Responds As Lake Michigan Zombies Surface

Winds above 70 mph ripped through the city [Chicago] on Halloween, causing 21-foot waves in some parts of the lakeshore. The Zombie Containment, a floating haunted house docked outside Navy Pier, was among the casualties of the rough weather...

Via Huffington Post. The weather sunk hundreds of thousands of dollars of props and revenants, which later emerged from the cold deeps of the Great Lake as hazardous debris. From Q13Fox:

After they pulled the zombie onto the boat, the [Coast Guard] crew did what they would normally do in a “man overboard” incident, which includes CPR, but they made light of the situation as the man overboard was in this case just a mannequin."

Sun
Nov 9 2014 9:30pm
Excerpt

“Incident on the 405” by Travis Richardson: Special Excerpt

Travis Richardson

The Malfeasance Occasional: Girl Trouble, a digital short fiction anthology“Incident on the 405” by Travis Richardson appears here in its entirety. It's been nominated for both the Macavity Award and Anthony Award for Best Short Story, and is joined by 13 other short crime stories in Criminal Element's e-collection, The Malfeasance Occasional's Girl Trouble issue.

 

 

 

 

Jessica Tan eased the Rolls Royce onto the 405 onramp from Santa Monica Boulevard and instantly regretted it. Her smart phone had showed yellow, medium traffic, but what she encountered was a barely crawling red. How smart was that?

She looked at the time: 4:42 p.m. She needed to have this polished British export up to Clive Winterborne’s mansion on Mulholland by five, or he’d blow up… again. That horndog was either making creepy advances at her or was pissed off and screaming. It wasn’t like it was her fault that Julio, the only person Clive designated to touch his prize possession at Tidal Wave Car Wash, was on lunch break when she arrived in the Silver Ghost. And now, this gridlock.

Jessica hoped to be the first assistant in years to last more than six months. If she could do that, she could easily find a better job with a reputation as the assistant who managed the devil himself, and perhaps cut a path to being a producer. But with only two months to go, she was beginning to doubt if she would last that long.

•   •   •

Sadie Bitterman bit her lip hard to keep tears out of her eyes. She could taste the blood. Was this the lowest low? The depths kept sinking deeper. Even now, after straightening out her life, it all flew back in her face. Splat. She wasn’t a criminal. Not anymore. She was doing her best to keep a job, but this fucking traffic, she’d be late again. And what would she tell Walter, the teenage shift manager? Sorry Walt, I had to go to court today in Torrance.... Child custody.... No, I didn’t win. Thanks for asking. She’d have a lot to talk about at her Narcotics Anonymous meeting on Monday.

[Read the rest of “Incident on the 405” by Travis Richardson]

Sun
Nov 9 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Art of Robert E. McGinnis by Robert E. McGinnis and Art Scott

The Art of Robert E. McGinnis by Robert E. McGinnis and Art Scott is a coffee-table book that highlights the illustrious career of one of America's most recognizable artists (available November 11, 2014).

I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that while I have long been an admirer of particularly striking covers of what we now call pulp novels, I’ve never learned all that much about the artists who create the images that grace those book faces. I’ve only recently started to learn some things about this particular corner of the visual art world, via an especially enjoyable Twitter connection (@PulpLibrarian) who is a great source of stunning book covers and information about the artists who made them. Something else that’s added to my knowledge of this terrain, and given me a thirst to be educated about it even more, is this glorious new coffee table book which celebrates the career of  visual artist Robert E. McGinnis.

[It's one of those books that never grows old...]

Fri
Nov 7 2014 2:30pm

How to Get Away with Murder 1.07: “He Deserved to Die”

I’m disappointed that this episode wasn’t titled “The Plot Thickens.” There’s a definite format to those titles: they are always a short, punchy quote from the episode—five syllables, tops—and it’s a distillation of the soapy drama that this show loves. And this time around, the plot is definitely thickening.

The “case of the week” format is finally side-stepped in favor of the case that has been progressing through the entire season: defending Rebecca Sutter (Katie Findlay) for the murder of Lila Stangard. But to ensure that the level of plot twists can stay on par with a typical episode, the Keating team must fight two opponents: the ever-sleazy prosecutor, well played by Orange is the New Black actress Alysia Reiner, and the representative for quarterback Griffin O’Reilly, the other suspect. All three attorneys work against each other, and this episode showcases how far they’ll sink to win.

With all this genuine conflict bubbling up, it’s surprising that the show finds time for a few of the most fun scenes so far: Wes (Alfred Enoch), Connor (Jack Falahee), and Asher (Matt McGorry) all head to a bar in an attempt to flirt their way to information. Instead of being his normal suave self, Connor self-destructs over his relationship problems, while Wes fails to keep Asher from using cheesy pickup lines and listing increasingly ridiculous euphemisms for his genitals.

[Sorry, I mean his “disco stick.”]

Sat
Nov 8 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Laws of Murder by Charles Finch

The Laws of Murder by Charles Finch is the 8th book in the historical mystery series featuring gentleman detective Charles Lenox, who’ll return to professional crime-solving with an awful case for the Yard (available November 11, 2014).

The year is 1876, the place is Victorian England. Gentleman and detective Charles Lenox has made a recent career change. For the last seven years he has served as a Member of Parliament, a career at which he’d always wanted to try his hand. As much as he loved being involved in politics, there was still a problem...he missed detecting. He has always been drawn to detective work, and his previous success proves that he was good at it. Prior to joining Parliament, he had made a name for himself in London. He had even taken an assistant under his wing, John Dallington, and trained him in the field. Even though he dabbled in cases during his political career, he has decided that he misses it enough to go back to it full-time.

As the book opens, Lenox has left Parliament and he joins Dallington, along with two others, to open a detective agency. Lenox believes that his prior reputation, as well as all of the help he’s given Scotland Yard in the past, will mean that the new agency will thrive. He even plans to consult for the Yard as needed, hoping to work with his old detective friends on cases that arise. But on the eve of the agency’s grand opening, members of Scotland Yard make statements to the press that aren’t exactly complimentary.

[Such a thin line between love and hate…]