<i>The President's Shadow</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The President's Shadow: Exclusive Excerpt Brad Meltzer A severed arm is found in the White House Garden, but whose is it? Fresh Meat: <i>The Darkness Rolling</i> by Wim and Meredith Blevins Fresh Meat: The Darkness Rolling by Wim and Meredith Blevins Doreen Sheridan Director John Ford's in town, and he needs Yazzie's help. Fresh Meat: <i>The Evidence Room</i> by Cameron Harvey Fresh Meat: The Evidence Room by Cameron Harvey Leigh Neely There's always something hiding in the swamp. Now Win <i>This</i>!: Don't Blow It Sweepstakes Now Win This!: Don't Blow It Sweepstakes Crime HQ Seriously, don't mess the chance to win these eight books!
From The Blog
May 29, 2015
Sunday, High Noon...Quiz Showdown at BookCon!
Crime HQ
May 29, 2015
"Wishful Thinking" Until Friday Night!
Crime HQ
May 26, 2015
Congratulating 2015’s Crimefest Awards Winners!
Crime HQ
May 25, 2015
A Commemorative Bouquet of Links for Memorial Day
Crime HQ
May 22, 2015
Cremains of the Day: A Digital Version of a Deceased Self
Crime HQ
May 20 2015 4:15pm

Orson Welles at 100: The Third Man (1949)

Joseph Cotten holds a peculiar place in movie history. He was a charismatic and bankable movie star in the forties, and he was a fine actor and an all-around nice guy, but he lived most of his adult life, and will likely live throughout the ages, in the shadow of his friend Orson Welles. Even though Cotten was the bigger star, Welles was somehow the bigger presence. This was never more obvious than in Carol Reed’s The Third Man, a masterpiece of film noir and perhaps the biggest success of either actor’s career.

Based on the novel by Graham Green (who also wrote the screenplay) The Third Man tells the story of an American pulp novelist named Holly Martins (Cotten) who travels to Vienna after WWII to meet up with an old friend named Harry Lime (Welles). Upon arriving, however, Martins discovers that Lime has been killed in a hit and run accident. At the funeral, he meets a beautiful young woman named Anna (played by Alida Valli), the one person who seems truly upset by Lime’s death. He also meets Major Calloway (Trevor Howard) the army official in charge of policing the English section of Vienna. Calloway is not upset by Lime’s death. In fact, he has some gruesome news for Martins: Harry Lime was a criminal—no, worse, Harry Lime was a downright villain.

SEE ALSO: Is Graham Greene the greatest thriller writer ever?

The exact details of Lime’s crimes, and the events that unfold as Martins begins to look into the curious events surrounding his friend’s death are one of the pleasures of the film, so I’ll avoid getting too specific about plot points. In way, though, the chief pleasure of the film isn’t the story at all but the milieu and the magnificent direction of Carol Reed. The Third Man is, simply put, one of the most beautiful films ever made. Reed shoots at slanted angles, rarely going for a conventional shot when he can visually approximate the unsettled nature of Cotten’s descent into the European criminal underworld. His main collaborator is cinematographer Robert Krasker, whose work here is not just beautiful, it is a flawless use of the medium of black and white film. There may be no better argument for the superior artistry of black and white than this movie.

[Simply put, go watch this now!]

May 20 2015 10:30am

Independence Day: New Excerpt

Ben Coes

Independence Day by Ben Coes is the 5th thriller featuring Dewey Andreas, a former Delta agent who's currently on the sideline after two previous botched jobs (available May 26, 2015).

Dewey Andreas, former Delta and newly recruited intelligence agent, is sidelined after screwing up his last two operations. Still drowning in grief after the tragic murder of his fiancé, Dewey has seemingly lost his focus, his edge, and the confidence of his superiors.

A high level Russian hacker, known only as Cloud, is believed to be routing large amounts of money to various Al Qaeda terror cells, and the mission is to capture and render harmless Cloud. At the same time, a back-up team is sent after the only known associate of Cloud, a ballerina believed to be his girlfriend. Unwilling to sit out the mission as ordered, Dewey defies his superiors, and goes rogue, surreptitiously following and tracking the two teams. What should be a pair of simple snatch and grab operations, goes horribly wrong—both teams are ambushed and wiped out. Only through the unexpected intervention of Dewey does the ballerina survive.

On the run, with no back-up, Cloud's girlfriend reveals a shocking secret—a plot so audacious and deadly that their masterminds behind it would risk anything and kill anybody to prevent its exposure. It's a plot that, in less than three days, will completely remake the world's political landscape and put at risk every single person in the Western world. With only three days left, Dewey Andreas must unravel and stop this plot or see everything destroyed. A plot that goes live on July 4th—Independence Day.

[Continue on the the excerpt of Independence Day by Ben Coes...]

May 20 2015 8:45am

Burglar Takes a Nap on Victim’s Couch

A sleepy Florida man has been charged with breaking into a home and then taking a nap on the living room couch.

Sarasota police were called to a house after a victim claimed she woke up and found a stranger sleeping on her couch in the living room, according to ABC News.

The homeowner asked who he was and why he was sleeping on her couch, which prompted the intruder to apologize and quickly flee the scene.

Police believe the man was able to get into the house by walking through an unlocked sliding glass door in the back of the house. He apparently made off with the victim’s personal checks, credit and debit cards, and driver’s license.

The suspect, Timothy Bontrager, 29, was caught shortly after the incident and is now being held at the Sarasota County jail on $25,000 bond.

May 19 2015 2:00pm

Pinnacle Event: New Audio Excerpt

Richard Clarke

Pinnacle Event by Richard A. Clarke is a thriller where amidst the 2016 presidential election, news of five nuclear weapons recently bought on the black market leads the US to believe it will be targeted (available May 19, 2015).

With the 2016 presidential election just weeks away, five simultaneous murders on three continents lead to an investigation revealing the recent black-market sale of five nuclear weapons. But who bought them? And what is their intended target?

Washington fears the bombs are timed to explode in major American cities before the election. They call on intelligence expert Ray Bowman to prevent the attack. With the help of a Mossad agent and a female South African intelligence officer, he follows a trail across the world to track down the missing nukes. Along the way, he discovers that the people who now control the bombs intend to do something much more devastating than expected, something that will make nuking a few cities look like a mild attack.

[Get listening, before it's too late...]

May 19 2015 1:15pm
Original Story

“An Unexpected Guest”: Listen Now!

Donna Andrews and John Gilstrap

We're thrilled to have “An Unexpected Guest” to share in audio format! This short story is a collision of fan-favorite universes, courtesy of their respective authors, Donna Andrews and John Gilstrap, and in commemoration of Mystery Writers of America's 70th anniversary. If you'd like to read the text version of what happens when one of Digger's deadly operatives, Boxers, is sent on assigment to Meg Langslow's hometown, the usually-charming Caerphilly, it's posted here.

But clicking above, you'll hear this story read by Basil Sands, an award-winning narrator working from Sandman Production Studios “nestled between the foot of the coastal Chugach Mountains and the northern limits of the Pacific Ocean in Anchorage Alaska.” A thriller writer himself, he voices the Jonathan Grave series as well as many other audiobooks. We thank him for lending his talents in this unique cause!


Copyright © 2015 Donna Andrews and John Gilstrap

Donna Andrews has won the Agatha, Anthony, and Barry Awards, a Romantic Times award for best first novel, and two Lefty and two Toby Bromberg Awards for funniest mystery. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Private Investigators and Security Association. Andrews lives in Reston, Virginia.

New York Times bestselling author and screenwriter John Gilstrap is the author of novels in the long-running Jonathan Grave thriller series, standalone thrillers including Nathan's Run and Scott Free, and the true story Six Minutes to Freedom, which he co-authored.

May 19 2015 11:15am

Fresh Meat: Skies of Ash by Rachel Howzell Hall

Skies of Ash by Rachel Howzell Hall is the 2nd police procedural in the Detective Elouise Norton series set in Los Angeles where a deadly house fire looks a lot like murder (available May 19, 2015).

The luscious and wise cracking Detective Elouise Norton is in a personal quandary when this LAPD police procedural Skies of Ash opens. She’s trying to solve the murder of a mother, Juliet Chatman, as well as her daughter and son, nine and thirteen, who died in a fire in their home. But meanwhile, the detective is haunted with doubts about her husband and is carrying surveillance equipment to spy on him.

Her husband, Greg, is a serial adulterer, caught and forgiven at least three times by Lou, as Elouise is called by her friends. Despite all her suspicions, she’s still dreaming of having a child with him. It makes you wonder what else is going on in Lou’s personal life that she’s still clinging to this loser. An example of their relationship is demonstrated in the following sad conversation about decorating their Christmas tree:

“Maybe we can decorate the tree tonight,” I suggested. 

“Probably have to work late,” Greg said. “You can start, though.”

 I froze—who decorates a tree alone...

[We know who we won't be rooting for...]

May 19 2015 9:00am

The Scarlet Gospels: A New Excerpt

Clive Barker

The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker concludes the Hellraiser horror series in the collision of tattooed paranormal detective Harry D'Amour with the Cenobite known as Pinhead (available May 19, 2015).

The Scarlet Gospels takes readers back many years to the early days of two of Barker's most iconic characters in a battle of good and evil as old as time: The long-beleaguered detective Harry D'Amour, investigator of all supernatural, magical, and malevolent crimes faces off against his formidable, and intensely evil rival, Pinhead, the priest of hell. Barker devotees have been waiting for The Scarlet Gospels with bated breath for years, and it's everything they've begged for and more. Bloody, terrifying, and brilliantly complex, fans and newcomers alike will not be disappointed by this epic, visionary tale. 


Book 1
Chapter 1

Two decades ago, Harry D’Amour had turned twenty-three in New Orleans, drunk as a lord on Bourbon Street. Now here he was in the same city that had taken terrible wounds from hurricanes and human greed but had somehow survived them all, its taste for celebration unscathed. Harry was drinking in the same bar on the same street, twenty-four years later. There was music being played by a jazz quintet led, believe it or not, by the same trumpet player and vocalist, one Mississippi Moses, and there were still one-night love affairs happening on the little dance floor just as there had been almost a quarter of a century before. 

Harry had danced then with a beautiful girl who claimed to be Mississippi’s daughter. While she and Harry danced, she told him that if they wanted to do something “bad tonight”—Harry remembered perfectly the way she’d smiled as she said “bad”—then she had a place where they could play. They’d gone up to a little room above the bar where her papa’s music could be heard loud and clear coming up from below. That little fact should have warned Harry that this was a family affair and that men who have daughters can also have sons.

[Continue reading The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker]

May 18 2015 5:00pm

Fresh Meat: Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton

Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton is a standalone mystery about a mother who, three years after her two young children disappeared, is plotting revenge (available May 19, 2015).

Little Black Lies may sound like the title of cozy mystery, but don’t let the title of this amazing book fool you. There’s very little that’s cozy about Sharon Bolton’s devastating story of death, guilt, and grief. It is also about moving on—or at least trying to—after a tragedy.

It’s been almost three years since Catrin Quinn lost her two young sons, and so much more, in a terrible accident. To the outside world, she seems to be coping. She goes to work and checks on the condition of the marine life near her hometown in the Falkland Islands and interacts with coworkers, neighbors, and family. But her losses haunt her. During the day, any person or place can bring it all back. At night, alone at home with her dog, there’s nothing to distract her from her grief and guilt. And plans for revenge.

[Someone has it coming...]

May 18 2015 4:00pm

Fresh Meat: Bone to be Wild by Carolyn Haines

Bone to be Wild by Carolyn Haines is the 15th cozy mystery in the Sarah Booth Delaney series where the Mississippi private detective must investigate threats made against a famous blues band (available May 19, 2015).

You can’t think of the blues without dames like Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith, Dinah Washington, and Sarah Booth Delaney. Never heard of Sarah Booth? Then poor you. She’s the hottest private investigator in Zinnia, Mississippi, and right now, maybe the saddest. Sarah Booth doesn’t sing the blues, but she’s experiencing them. Her fiancé has returned to California with family problems, and Sarah Booth’s heart is broken, just like her engagement.

Sarah Booth runs Delaney Investigations along with her best friend Tinkie Bellcase Richmond. If there’s a mystery to be solved in Zinnia, these two are usually on the case. They often work closely with Coleman Peters, the sheriff of Sunflower County, and have a host of Zinnia residents who generally help the poke around too. But perhaps the secret weapon that keeps Sarah Booth going is her resident ghost, Jitty, who can morph herself into any one of the famous blues singers. Her songs are often appropriate to whatever situation Sarah Booth is facing.

[Beats paying for Spotify...]

May 18 2015 1:15pm

Game of Thrones 5.06: “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”

Game of Thrones has always been up front about the type of show it is – happy endings are nowhere to be found. “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” the sixth episode of Season 5, continues this mantra right up to the very end, leaving me with such a feeling of revulsion that I needed some time to cool down before tuning into the Mad Men series finale. (Takes a gulp of Coke...)

The episode’s title is derived from the words of House Martell and are representative of the Martells refusal to bend the knee when the Targaryens conquered Westeros atop their dragons many years ago. However, in this episode, it seems no one was able to live up to these words.

Arya (Maisie Williams) continues to struggle with shedding her identity. In order to fully become No One, Arya must learn to lie convincingly, but her inability to do so leaves her bloody. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Jorah (Iain Glen) wander blindly into a menacing gang of pirates — led by Lost’s Mr. Eko, Adewale Akinnuoye Agbaje! Thankfully, and due to a little bit of luck and a whole lot of Tyrion, the pirates are going to fast-track the duo's trip to Meereen in hopes of cashing in on Jorah by forcing him to enter the newly-reopened fighting pits.

Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) returns for a bout with Cersei (Lena Headey), armed with all the wit and sarcasm we’ve missed, but it was Cersei who had the last laugh, as Olenna watched both Margaery (Natalie Dormer) and Loras (Finn Jones) get dragged off by the Faith Militant after a farce of an inquest.

Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) waltz into Dorne’s Water Gardens and right up to Princess Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free) in an attempt to bring her back to King’s Landing. But the Sand Snakes, who clearly inherited their father’s love for a good monologue, arrive at the same time, looking to kill Myrcella as payback for Oberyn’s death. A sluggish battle ensues, briefly, before Areo Hotah (DeObia Oparei) shows up and ends it, but not before Bronn is slashed by one of the Sand Snake’s blades. We all know how much Oberyn loved to poison his weapons, so I’m afraid that Bronn may have just been dealt his final blow. Hopefully he can fit in a few more insults before his time ends.

In the second episode of Game of Thrones, Sansa’s (Sophie Turner) direwolf, Lady, is killed. Since then, it’s been one slow, torturous trip to hell for her, and her circle of allies has all but shriveled up. Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) wastes no time in reneging on his promise to Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) to not hurt Sansa, as he not only rapes her on their wedding night, but also forces Reek (Alfie Allen) to watch. This is hardly the first time that we’ve seen Sansa violated, but this is the first time where I have faith that she’ll get stronger. Sansa may have been forced to bow, and forced to bend, but she’ll no longer remain broken. Stay resilient, Sansa. The North remembers.

[Onto this week’s riser…]

May 18 2015 9:30am

For the Person Who Has Everything... Or Knows Where to Steal It

This Lockpick School In A Box “gives you everything you need to learn this valuable art... [including] five lock cylinders, which are numbered and get progressively more difficult as you move from 1-5, as well as four picks, a tension tool, and an instructional book.”

Hat tip: Uncrate. And once you've mastered that, try the practice handcuffs!

May 17 2015 12:00pm

Devil Be Damned: Jack Nicholson Westerns

In a half-century plus career, Jack Nicholson turned to wearing spurs and leveling six-shooters only a handful of times with less than successful box office returns. He even wrote one. Think Jack Nicholson and you picture that sly smirk, devil-be-damned boldness, and slow drawl that’s usually trailed by a sarcastic putdown. Like Marilyn, Clint, or Elvis, he’s an icon that audiences recognize by just his first name and has a record of cinematic achievements that is truly dazzling: Easy Rider (1969), The Last Detail (1973), Chinatown (1974), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), The Shining (1980), Reds (1981), Terms of Endearment (1983), Prizzi’s Honor (1985), Batman (1989), A Few Good Men (1992), As Good As it Gets (1997), and The Departed (2006). Sure, he garnered an impressive three Oscars, but he was a natural in the saddle, and those financial disappointments undoubtedly prevented further detours on the range. His very first Western outing, an uninspiring The Broken Land (1962), came when he was just twenty-five-years-old, and is now mainly of note for co-starring Nicholson. However a close friendship with cult director Monte Hellman (Two-Lane Blacktop) resulted in two highly memorable, mid-60’s acid Westerns and set the tone for two further off-the-beaten-path excursions.

[Can you handle the truth?]

May 16 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham

Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham is a Young Adult mystery featuring a 15-year-old girl hot on the trail of a murder (available May 19, 2015).

When I first came across Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham, what really leapt out at me from the description was the comparison to Veronica Mars. I’m not a Veronica Mars superfan by any means (by which I mean that I haven’t the personality to get as obsessive as true Marshmallows, though I really, really enjoyed what I have watched of the series), but that was enough to sell me on this YA novel featuring a sassy, savvy teenage private eye as she accepts a seemingly easy, if emotionally fraught case. A young girl is convinced that her older brother had something to do with the recent suicide of his close friend. Initially sceptical, our titular heroine soon finds herself confronted with hostile peers, mysterious symbols, and suspicious tails who follow her as she travels through the California town of Las Almas, leading to action-packed scenes such as this one, where she tries to shake them on the subway:

By the time the train screeched to a stop, I'd put three cars' worth of space between the pale women and me. The train doors opened. I hopped on. Three cars down, so did they. I hugged the pole just inside the door, fighting the crush of bodies as it tried to push me further inside, ignoring the nasty looks I got for my trouble. The platform cleared. I crouched low and waited for the recorded voice to tell us to stand clear of the closing doors. The voice came. The doors’ hydraulics kicked in. I dove for the platform.

[It's gonna be a close call...]

May 15 2015 11:45am

Check Out Agatha Raisin at Twenty-Six!

Just look at Agatha Raisin at twenty-six, already having come a long way from the Birmingham slum where she was born. M. C. Beaton's upcoming short story will find Agatha having dumped both her accent and drunken husband, but landing a job at a public relations office as a secretary. 

Uncomfortable situations are part of PR, and Agatha's boss tells her to go to the home of Brian Devese to inform him that he's soon going to be arrested for the murder of his wife and that the agency no longer wants to represent him. Devese, impressed by her bold assertiveness, asks her to represent him instead, even offering her a staff and office. Agatha swiftly decides, of course, the best thing she can do for her first client is to clear his name by discovering who really murdered his wife.

This brand-new Agatha Raisin story will be released in August. We love learning how our favorite sleuths became who they are—what do you think of this smartly-dressed, go-getting young Agatha Raisin?

May 15 2015 10:45am

Fresh Meat: Vanishing by Gerard Woodward

Vanishing by Gerard Woodward is a historical mystery set in the years leading up to WWII where an artist is found painting a landscape of a new airport, and his motives are questioned (available May 15, 2015).

Near the end of WWII, British Lieutenant Kenneth Brill is arrested. His crime? Painting the landscape around Heathrow Village, where he grew up. The official story is that the village is going to be plowed under and a military airfield will be put in its place. Brill insists he is only painting the village for posterity, to protect the memory of his childhood home before it disappears forever. The trial goes forward anyway and Brill is forced to tell his story – but is he everything he claims to be?

On paper, Brill is a camouflage officer, one of a few men designated to hide Allied troop movement from the enemy. As such, he was a hero of the battle at El Alamein, Egypt. He studied art at Slade. He is married with a son. These things are documented. But as Brill tells his life story to Davies, his trial lawyer, a much more complex picture emerges. A picture of a world as transient as Brill himself. Stories of expulsions, violent encounters, homosexuality, and relationships with fascists are told.  

[Life, like art, is layered with deeper meaning...]

May 15 2015 8:45am

“Wishful Thinking” Submissions Open for the Next 2 Weeks!

The M.O. submissions mailbox is now open for your “Wishful Thinking!”

That's themostories - aT- gmail (plus dot and com). We're seeking short, original crime stories of 1000-1500 words around the loose theme of “Wishful Thinking” In another two weeks, we'll put up a selected shortlist of finalists in the Rogues' Gallery and in our newsletter. We'll ask registered site members to read samples from each, then vote on which story they'd like to read here in its entirety. After we pay for it, of course, the final selection will be posted to read free online.

We'll have the mailbox open for 2 weeks, so don't worry if you haven't begun a story yet. If you write just 72 words a day—less than the word count of the previous paragraph—you'll have one written from scratch by midnight of May 29th!

Entries should be submitted as e-mail attachments in any standard, not-too-fancy document format with author name (and pseudonym, if applicable), story title, and an e-mail contact all within the document itself.

You will receive an automatic reply to let you know your submission was received. If you don't, please check your spam folder and make sure to add our address to your list of approved senders. (If you try again, and still don't get confirmation, please use our Contact Us page, but only for technical problems. No other questions related to The M.O. will be answered there.)

For more details, please check The M.O. Submission Guidelines here. We can't wait to read what malfeasance you're wishing for!

May 14 2015 4:45pm

True Crime Thursday: Krystian Bala and Truth-Laced Fiction

On February 11, 2008, in an article for The New Yorker, David Grann published “True Crime: A Post Modern Murder Mystery” about a Polish detective's work in solving a three-year-old cold case murder. The detective, Jacek Wroblewski, unwillingly inherited the case of Dariusz Janiszewski, who was found dead floating in a lake.

Wroblewski attempted to navigate the usual channels that a detective would after finding a body, and by some luck, was able to locate Janiszewski's missing cell phone, which had been sold on an auction site soon after the murder.

That's where things get weird. The man who sold the phone online was Krystian Bala, and further research into Bala unearthed a recently published book, Amok. Wroblewski read the book, and noticed some glaring similarities to the murder of Janiszewski. You can read Grann's full article at The New Yorker, but the reason I bring this up now is because a film adaptation is in the works, and recent reports from The Wrap have linked Jim Carrey to the lead role. This film might give Carrey the perfect role to prove he's more than just a comedian, though it has yet to be announced if the role will be for Detective Wroblewski or Krystian Bala.

Which role would you rather see Carrey in?

May 14 2015 2:30pm

Batman Eternal: The Only Gotham Story You Need

Setting is character. The iconic image of Batman on the rooftops of Gotham City, protecting his dark, violent world tells the reader all they need to know about what kind of person this masked man is.

The television show Gotham has, to mixed success, attempted to make the city as much of a character as any of its citizens, though it labors under the handicap of not being able to use Batman or any of the city’s costumed heroes.

For that, readers need Batman Eternal, a 52 chapter story published in weekly installments last year. This year-long story, written by all the talent currently writing the Batman books, creates and epic story about Gotham and all its myriad facets.

Batman Eternal features every aspect of Gotham: the mob, costumed heroes, the colorful villains, the GCPD, the press, and the supernatural corners that lurk in the darkness. While an ambitious a story with a large cast could seem intimidating to a newcomers, each plotline has a tentpole that hold the elements together and provides its own point of view the city and its citizens.

[You'll be tearing through the pages in no time...]

May 14 2015 12:00pm

Empathy Through Art: Understanding War and PTSD

There’s no doubt that experiencing events that are foreign to our daily lives through the eyes of fictional characters is a way of broadening our understanding of the world around us. At times, a well-written novel can open our eyes and hearts to issues better than news reports. T.C. Boyle’s harrowing account of the day-to-day struggle of illegal aliens that have recently crossed over the border from Mexico in The Tortilla Curtain may not change your mind on immigration, but it will break your heart; The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini alternates between being a Afghani history lesson and a study in human depravity while bringing us face-to-face with people who have endured decades of conflict; and Pat Barker’s brilliant and incredibly well-researched novel Regeneration introduces us to the horrors of trench warfare and the long term psychological damage endured by British soldiers following WWI.

Using first person sources from the time, Barker’s novel is a fictionalized account of poet Siegfried Sassoon’s hospitalization and treatment for ‘shellshock’ after he published an impassioned declaration against the war in The Times. The psychologist W.H.R. Rivers, who pioneered research into post-traumatic stress disorder before and after WWI, is assigned as Sassoon’s doctor. Patients at Craiglockhart War Hospital suffer from a variety of conditions. An army surgeon cannot stand the sight of blood. Another patient experiences revulsions to food after being thrown through the air in an explosion and landing head first in the stomach of a rotting corpse. Billy Prior, one of the few entirely fictional characters, suffers from ‘mutism’ and can initially only write his responses to Rivers’ questions. Meanwhile, Rivers faces a moral dilemma. In healing his patients, he prepares them for their return to the horrors of the trenches where the life expectancy of a soldier is less than six weeks. Fast forward one hundred years, and soldiers around the world continue to suffer from PTSD.

[The suffering won't stop anytime soon...]