<em>A Great Reckoning</em>: New Excerpt A Great Reckoning: New Excerpt Louise Penny The 12th mystery featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. "Monopoly: Go Directly to Death" "Monopoly: Go Directly to Death" Lance Hawvermale Read the full story! Review: <i>Sorrow Road</i> by Julia Keller Review: Sorrow Road by Julia Keller Katherine Tomlinson Read Katherine Tomlinson's review! <i>Repo Madness</i>: New Excerpt Repo Madness: New Excerpt W. Bruce Cameron Ruddy McCann is back in this laugh-out-loud, thrilling adventure.
From The Blog
August 23, 2016
Page to Screen: Woman in the Dunes by Kōbō Abe
Brian Greene
August 19, 2016
Thomas the Train is a Dick
Paul Jenkins
August 19, 2016
Woman Butt Dials Her Way into Jail
Teddy Pierson
August 18, 2016
Why Wait? Writing as a Second Career.
John Keyse-Walker
August 16, 2016
What If This Could Really Happen
Rick Mofina
Aug 19 2016 12:00pm

Thomas the Train is a Dick

Hello, Chums.

When I was little chap, no more than four or five, my Mum would often park me in front of the radio. There, I would listen to a classic British children’s program appropriately titled, Listen with Mother, while Mom wandered off to the bottom of the garden to smoke weed. The one thing I will always remember (and I am sure hundreds of thousands of British kids have this forever stamped on their brains) is the opening moment of the program: “Are you sitting comfortably?” the narrator would ask. “Then I’ll begin.”

It really didn’t matter if you were comfortable—the bastard would start reading anyway. But, I remember this as a learning experience, as I remember so much of my childhood. As a wee one, I learned, for example, that if I was making a grumpy face and the wind changed then my face would be stuck in that expression forever. I learned that I should “do as grown-ups say, not as they do.” Therefore, I avoided the bitter divorces, drug addictions, and charges of tax evasion that accounted for most of my uncles and aunts. The person most responsible for turning me into the sociopath I am today was my lovely little grandmother, who told me frequently that if I didn’t eat my vegetables then I would be killing little children in Africa. And, God would probably kill a few angels in Heaven as well, just to prove a point.

As a result of these life’s lessons, childhood was a very confusing time for me. I spent my formative years in a state of depression worrying if my eating habits were responsible for the painful deaths of entire African families. I fretted over the logistics of speaking only when I was spoken to, secretly daydreaming about watching with mild indifference as the adults responsible for filling me full of this shit were flattened under a runaway train that only I had seen coming.

[Yes, that train...]

Aug 19 2016 11:00am

Woman Butt Dials Her Way into Jail

A woman from Washington is behind bars thanks to her butt...that accidentally dialed 911 without her realizing it.

You must be thinking: Why would dialing the police, even by mistake, land a person in jail? Well, the 911 operator on the other end of this butt-dial heard her talk about “scratch tickets and illegal activities,” which prompted officers to be dispatched to the address where the call originated.

Once there, the woman could be heard saying that she “saw the police” and would “not be going to jail.” She even tried to pull a fast one on the officers by attempting to give them a fake name. Her attempt failed, and she was ultimately arrested for an outstanding arrest warrant.

According to UPI, the sheriff said, “The jail takes away inmate's cell phones, so she should be able to avoid this problem, at least for a while.”


Aug 19 2016 10:00am

The One Man: New Excerpt

Andrew Gross

The One Man by Andrew GrossThe One Man by Andrew Gross is an historical thriller that's bursting with compelling characters and tense story lines (Available August 23, 2016).

Poland. 1944. Alfred Mendl and his family are brought on a crowded train to a Nazi concentration camp after being caught trying to flee Paris with forged papers. His family is torn away from him on arrival, his life’s work burned before his eyes. To the guards, he is just another prisoner, but in fact Mendl—a renowned physicist—holds knowledge that only two people in the world possess. And the other is already at work for the Nazi war machine.

Four thousand miles away, in Washington, DC, Intelligence lieutenant Nathan Blum routinely decodes messages from occupied Poland. Having escaped the Krakow ghetto as a teenager after the Nazis executed his family, Nathan longs to do more for his new country in the war. But never did he expect the proposal he receives from “Wild” Bill Donovan, head of the OSS: to sneak into the most guarded place on earth, a living hell, on a mission to find and escape with one man, the one man the Allies believe can ensure them victory in the war.


APRIL 1944

The barking of the dogs was closing in on them, not far behind now.

The two men clawed through the dense Polish forest at night, clinging to the banks of the Vistula, only miles from Slovakia. Their withered bodies cried out from exhaustion, on the edge of giving out. The clothing they wore was tattered and filthy; their ill-fitting clogs, useless in the thick woods, had long been tossed aside, and they stank, more like hunted animals than men.

[Read the full excerpt from The One Man...]

Aug 18 2016 4:30pm

Why Wait? Writing as a Second Career.

I used to be a lawyer. Not one of the flashy types, not a criminal lawyer with headline-grabbing cases, nor a plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer making big money. I had business clients and worked on stodgy matters that put bread on the table and some savings in the bank. I did it for thirty-one years, and then I retired.

I didn't intend to have a second career as a writer. But, after five months of travel, tennis, volunteer work, fishing, and cleaning out the file cabinets, I started writing—for fun—and I’ve had some success, with my first manuscript winning the Mystery Writers of America/Minotaur Books First Crime Novel Award. My first book comes out in September. I have an agent now, a second book in her hands, and a third book begun. 

It’s finally sunk in that I have a second career as a writer. And, if there is one thing I am certain of, it’s that writing is not something I would have succeeded at without having had another career first. Here’s why:

[Find out why!]

Aug 18 2016 2:45pm

Q&A with Mark Pryor, Author of The Paris Librarian

Mark Pryor, author of The Paris Librarian, shares some great stories about his annual visits to Paris, some of the historical details in his novels, his relationship with his protagonist, Hugo Marston, and a heartwarming tribute to a dying friend. 

Read this exclusive Q&A with Mark Pryor, author of The Paris Librarian, and make sure you're signed in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of the book!

[Read the full Q&A below...]

Aug 18 2016 1:00pm

Louise Penny A Great Reckoning Book Club Starter Kit!

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny is the 12th mystery featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, set in the town of Three Pines. In honor of its upcoming release (August 30th), we're offering our fans a chance to win a complete book club kit with enough supplies for 15 people! 

One lucky winner will receive discussion guide pamphlets, recipe cards, leather bookmarks, limited edition Three Pines maps, a Louise Penny tote bag, and a signed first edition of A Great Reckoning! It's the perfect book club starter kit!

[Find out how to win below!]

Aug 18 2016 12:00pm

Review: Without a Doubt by Marcia Clark (w/ Teresa Carpenter)

Without a Doubt by Marcia Clark (w/ Teresa Carpenter) is the true crime memoir from the head prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, rereleased with a strong new foreword from Ms. Clark addressing how her views—and the public's—have shifted.

Despite years of shunning “Trial of the Century”-related publicity, Marcia Clark found herself back in the spotlight in 2016—more than two decades after she led the failed criminal prosecution of O.J. Simpson.

Not only did Sarah Paulson’s nuanced, empathic portrayal of her in FX’s hit mini-series American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson earn the actress an Emmy nomination, but it helped to redefine Clark’s image and made her something of a feminist icon among Gen Xers. Further, Clark participated in ESPN’s expansive documentary, OJ: Made in America, contributing to an important and revelatory discourse about race relations in America. Taken as a whole, the two projects sharply illuminated how factors such as race, celebrity, and sexism contributed to a subversion of justice that resulted in Simpson’s acquittal. 

Check out the Rev. Spyro's coverage of American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson!

[Read John Valeri's review of Without a Doubt...]

Aug 18 2016 10:00am

Sorrow Road: New Excerpt

Julia Keller

Sorrow Road (Bell Elkins Series #5) by Julia KellerSorrow Road by Julia Keller is the 5th book in the Bell Elkins series (Available August 23, 2016).

Bell Elkins, prosecuting attorney in Acker’s Gap, West Virginia, is asked by an old acquaintance to look into the death of her beloved father in an Alzheimer’s care facility. Did he die of natural causes—or was something more sinister to blame? And that’s not the only issue with which Bell is grappling: Her daughter Carla has moved back home. But something’s not right. Carla is desperately hiding a secret.

Once again, past and present, good and evil, and revenge and forgiveness clash in a riveting story set in the shattered landscape of Acker’s Gap, where the skies can seem dark even at high noon, and the mountains lean close to hear the whispered lament of the people trapped in their shadow.

Chapter One


Darlene Strayer nodded. “Copy that,” she said. “So what’s second?”


“And third? Fourth? Fifth?”

“Drugs. Drugs. And drugs.”

“I’m sensing a pattern here.” Darlene offered a brief, tight smile. She picked up her shot glass and moved it around in a small level circle, making the river-brown liquid wink and shiver. The whiskey did not slosh; it trembled. Barely.

[Read the full excerpt from Sorrow Road...]

Aug 17 2016 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: The Calamity Café by Gayle Leeson

This promising first novel in the Down South Café Mystery series introduces us to Amy Flowers—a smart, thoughtful waitress in the small town of Winter Garden, Virginia. After graduating from culinary school, Amy moves back to her hometown in order to be close to the aging members of her family.

She has ambitions to buy the greasy spoon she presently works in from its mean owner, Lou Lou, with plans to open a café that serves delicious Southern food alongside healthy, but equally tasty, alternatives. Unfortunately, the day after they serve each other notice, Lou Lou is found murdered in her office and Amy becomes the prime suspect. Determined to clear her name, Amy teams up with a handsome police deputy to sift through Lou Lou’s long list of ill-wishers to find the real killer.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Aug 17 2016 2:30pm

Sun, Sand, Murder: A Visual Guide

GIFnotes: Giving you the basic plot summary of an upcoming book with the help of the Graphics Interchange Format.

This week, beach life isn't always chill—sometimes it's downright murderous. Take a visual tour through John Keyse-Walker's Sun, Sand, Murder!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Aug 17 2016 1:00pm

A Great Reckoning: Audio Excerpt

Louise Penny

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny is the 12th Chief Inspector Gamache novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author (Available August 30, 2016).

To celebrate the upcoming release of Louise Penny’s next Armand Gamache novel, A Great Reckoning, Macmillan Audio is offering listeners a chance to win books 1 through 11 on audio in a custom Louise Penny audiobooks tote bag! Find out how to win below!

When an intricate old map is found stuffed into the walls of the bistro in Three Pines, it at first seems no more than a curiosity. But the closer the villagers look, the stranger it becomes.
Given to Armand Gamache as a gift the first day of his new job, the map eventually leads him to shattering secrets. To an old friend and older adversary. It leads the former Chief of Homicide for the Sûreté du Québec to places even he is afraid to go. But must.

And there he finds four young cadets in the Sûreté academy, and a dead professor. And, with the body, a copy of the old, odd map.

Everywhere Gamache turns, he sees Amelia Choquet, one of the cadets. Tattooed and pierced. Guarded and angry. Amelia is more likely to be found on the other side of a police line-up. And yet she is in the academy. A protégée of the murdered professor.

The focus of the investigation soon turns to Gamache himself and his mysterious relationship with Amelia, and his possible involvement in the crime. The frantic search for answers takes the investigators back to Three Pines and a stained glass window with its own horrific secrets.

For both Amelia Choquet and Armand Gamache, the time has come for a great reckoning.

[Listen to an audio excerpt of A Great Reckoning...]

Aug 17 2016 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: August 16, 2016

Every Wednesday, we here at Criminal Element will put together a list of Staff Picks of the books that published the day before—sharing the ones that we are looking forward to reading the most!

Check back every Wednesday and see what we're reading for the week!

[See this week's Top 5...]

Aug 17 2016 10:00am

Face Blind: New Excerpt

Lance Hawvermale

Face Blind by Lance HawvermaleFace Blind by Lance Hawvermale follows a man with a neurological disorder, prosopagnosia, that prevents him from recognizing human faces as he confronts an enigmatic killer in Chile's Atacama desert—the most lifeless place on earth (Available August 23, 2016).

Gabe Traylin is face-blind, unable to tell one person from the next. Content to earn his living well away from civilization, he works as an astronomer at an observatory in the earth's driest desert, where no rain has fallen in 400 years. But when he witnesses a murder that he's unable to stop or comprehend, Gabe finds himself drawn into an investigation with disastrous consequences. Unable to provide a description of the killer to the police or explain his own erratic actions, he becomes their suspect in a series of horrific and unexplained mutilations. To discover the truth before he's arrested for crimes he didn't commit, he must put his trust in three strangers: a young traveler with a purpose, a washed-up novelist who believes he's bulletproof, and an alluring woman with a face he'll never see.

Together they unearth the secrets of Chile's fascist past, a time of kidnappings, torture, and political turmoil and venture further into the desert, discovering the secrets of revenge as well as the secrets of themselves. Moody, atmospheric and compulsively readable, Lance Hawvermale's Face Blind is in a class of thriller all by itself.


No rain has fallen here in four hundred years.

Gabe knew this was true, knew it even though he stood on a stretch of ground where knowing anything for certain was iffy. The desert did that to you, especially this one, where there were no Gila monsters, no cacti, no Arabs gliding majestically on camels. You couldn’t be sure about anything in a place that hated you. It fooled you every time.

[Read the full excerpt from Face Blind...]

Aug 16 2016 4:00pm

What If This Could Really Happen

My new thriller, Free Fall, is the story of Kate Page—a news wire service reporter who is investigating commercial airline disasters in New York and London when she receives an anonymous message from someone claiming responsibility and threatening an even bigger airline catastrophe.

In crafting Free Fall, I wanted to build a realistic plot to give the story a feel of authenticity, and then wrap it with the big “What if this happened?” moment. How would the story unfold? It's an approach I've taken with a number of my thrillers. Of course, that usually means research, drawing on reality, and drawing on my experiences, all while infusing a lot of ”credible" fiction.

In Free Fall, I wanted the avionics and navigation systems for the book to ring true. I read several books on airline disasters. I studied federal investigation reports into airline accidents issued by officials in several countries. I studied the exam questions for aviation engineers at MIT to ensure things sounded right, and I sought the help of a former NTSB accident investigator.

[Read more from Rick Mofina, author of Free Fall...]

Aug 16 2016 2:30pm

Review: The Hanged Man by Gary Inbinder

The Hanged Man by Gary Inbinder is the 2nd book in the Inspector Lefebvre historical mystery series.

It is the summer of 1890 in Paris, and Inspector Achille Lefebvre is looking forward to escaping the sticky weather, when his holiday plans are sidetracked by the discovery of a man dangling from a bridge in a pretty little Parisian park. 

The police photographer assigned to record the crime scene, Gilles, immediately assumes that the dead man is a suicide, but Lefebvre is not one to make such hasty observations. He approaches the corpse as if an artist—M. de Toulous-Lautrec is an acquaintance—and his eyes are open for clues. “There are always clues, Sergeant,” Lefebvre reminds his second-in-command, Sgt. Rodin. Rodin, who admires his boss and his use of the latest forensic techniques to solve crimes, is certain if there are clues to be found, Lefebvre will suss them out—and Lefebvre does not disappoint.

[Read Katherine Tomlinson's review of The Hanged Man...]

Aug 16 2016 1:00pm

Exploring the Religion of Game of Thrones Part II: The Fire and Ice Gods

It’s no secret that George R. R. Martin examined several religions and mythologies when creating his world in the series A Song of Ice and Fire—and the Game of Thrones HBO series. What is fascinating is how he blends these particulars together and uses them in plain sight to enrich the series.

As the television series moves into its last two brief seasons and the supernatural forces start becoming more pronounced, it’s worth it to examine some of the source material to inform on our understanding of what’s going on in this rich world. In Part II of this look at religion in Game of Thrones, we’ll focus on some prominent supernatural aspects, the gods of ice and fire.

See also: Exploring the Religion of Game of Thrones Part I: The Old Gods

[Demystify the myths behind the fire and ice gods...]

Aug 16 2016 12:00pm

Review: Wedding Bell Blues by Ruth Moose

Wedding Bell Blues by Ruth Moose is the 2nd Dixie Dew Beth McKenzie Mystery (Available August 23, 2016).

Wedding Bell Blues begins with a paragraph that is guaranteed to grab the attention of any cozy mystery book lover.

When I heard Crazy Reba’s voice on the phone I knew immediately something was wrong. Really wrong. My first thought was where in the world did Reba get a cell phone? The homeless and street sleepers like Reba weren’t exactly flush extra cash (if any) every month. Maybe somebody had given her one of those phones where you buy the minutes upfront. A phone for her own protection. Some kind person, the thought of which made me feel bad since I had not been the one to think about it. Any other place I might have thought about a cell phone for safety. Protection for all kinds of things. But Littleboro? Not my Littleboro. Except these days it wasn’t safe to be alone and on the loose…even in Littleboro. 

Beth McKenzie, owner of The Dixie Dew, a former old Southern mansion she turned into a bed and breakfast, and the protagonist in Wedding Bell Blues, will gladly tell you that her town of Littleboro has its share of kooky characters. There’s Verna, the town know-it-all and affectionate owner of Robert Redford, a huge white rabbit, and Crazy Reba, who lives wherever the spirit takes her, bathes in any bathtub she finds empty, and is an expert at dumpster diving. Kooky, yes, but they’re part of Littleboro, and she cares for them. 

[Read Kristen Houghton's review of Wedding Bell Blues...]

Aug 16 2016 11:00am

Who Do You Think Killed Andrea in HBO’s The Night Of

HBO's The Night Of—the eight-part miniseries written by Richard Price (The Wire)—is a fantastic look at the full spectrum of a crime committed in NYC. From the crime to the investigation to the trial and the effects it has on the city and all those involved, The Night Of is a realistic portrayal of a great murder mystery. 

Currently, we're six episodes in, and we still have no idea who killed Andrea! Who do YOU think did it? 

Check out Thomas Pluck's coverage of The Night Of !

[Vote below!]

Aug 16 2016 10:04am

Waking Up Dead: New Excerpt

Nigel Williams

Waking Up Dead: A Novel by Nigel WilliamsWaking Up Dead by Nigel Williams is both a screamingly funny cozy mystery and startlingly strange ghost story asking the question: What would you do if you could bear witness to your own demise? (Available August 23, 2016)

Retired bank manager George Pearmain is, apparently, dead. According to the behavior of everyone around him, it would seem that he is no more. Not only that, but his mother has also passed away too - and on the eve of her 99th year, poor dear. Not only that, it could be that they were both murdered.

He feels fine otherwise.

As George's family gather for the birthday-celebration-that-never-was, he hovers around the house, watching and listening, entirely unseen. As a result, he makes all sorts of discoveries about himself, his wife Esmeralda, and his supposedly happy family…

Chapter One

‘George!’ said Esmeralda, in a more than usually irritable tone. ‘Are you just going to lie there all day?’

It was true, George reflected, that since he’d retired from the bank he had been getting up later and later. Why not lie there all day? Was there anything, really, that made getting up a worthwhile proposition?

[Read the full excerpt from Waking Up Dead...]

Aug 15 2016 5:00pm

Citizen Soprano: Why the HBO Series Can Never Be Replicated

It’s been nearly a decade since The Sopranos concluded. On June 10, 2007, HBO aired “Made in America,” the final episode of David Chase’s gangster opus, and it was met with both rage and befuddlement from millions of viewers—but the show’s last scene has certainly expanded in clarity in the 9 years since.

It’s more lucid than ever to comprehend that we’ll never have another show quite like The Sopranos. The thought of a show having the same impact on the television landscape or the same amount of artistic integrity is nigh unfathomable, even considering how influential the show was. Yet, despite its seminal aura, The Sopranos’s most distinct and cerebral moments still remain inimitable in the current television milieu, and the show is still closer to being artwork than any other semblance of prestige television to arrive before or since.

[Read Peter Foy's take on The Sopranos...]