<i>Incendiary</i>: New Excerpt Incendiary: New Excerpt Michael Cannell The search for a serial bomber who stalked the streets of 1950s NYC. <i>The Fallen</i>: New Excerpt The Fallen: New Excerpt Eric van Lustbader The 2nd book in the Testament series. Review: <i>Brew or Die</i> by Caroline Fardig Review: Brew or Die by Caroline Fardig Janet Webb Read Janet Webb's review! The Dark Tower: <i>Wolves of the Calla</i> Part IV The Dark Tower: Wolves of the Calla Part IV David Cranmer Join our discussion!
From The Blog
April 26, 2017
Backgammon: “The Cruelest Game” in Film and Literature
David Cranmer
April 26, 2017
A Field Guide to Sociopaths, Psychopaths, Narcissists, and Other Abusers: An Interview with Zak Mucha
Thomas Pluck and Zak Mucha
April 25, 2017
Page to Screen: Rumble Fish & The Outsiders
Brian Greene
April 25, 2017
Q&A with John Rector, Author of The Ridge
John Rector and John Valeri
April 24, 2017
Q&A with Carolyn Haines, Author of Sticks and Bones
Crime HQ and Carolyn Haines
Apr 27 2017 10:00am

Incendiary: New Excerpt

Michael Cannell

Incendiary: The Psychiatrist, the Mad Bomber, and the Invention of Criminal Profiling by Michael Cannell details the search for a serial bomber who stalked the streets of 1950s New York. The race to catch him would give birth to a new science called criminal profiling (available April 25, 2017).

Grand Central, Penn Station, Radio City Music Hall—for almost two decades, no place was safe from the man who signed his anonymous letters “FP” and left his lethal devices in phone booths, storage lockers, even tucked into the plush seats of movie theaters. His victims were left cruelly maimed. Tabloids called him “the greatest individual menace New York City ever faced.”

In desperation, Police Captain Howard Finney sought the help of a little known psychiatrist, Dr. James Brussel, whose expertise was the criminal mind. Examining crime scene evidence and the strange wording in the bomber’s letters, he compiled a portrait of the suspect down to the cut of his jacket. But how to put a name to the description? Seymour Berkson—a handsome New York socialite, protégé of William Randolph Hearst, and publisher of the tabloid The Journal-American—joined in pursuit of the Mad Bomber. The three men hatched a brilliant scheme to catch him at his own game. Together, they would capture a monster and change the face of American law enforcement.

[Read an excerpt from Incendiary...]

Apr 26 2017 4:30pm

Backgammon: “The Cruelest Game” in Film and Literature

Renowned gamesman Barclay Cooke (1912-1981) called Backgammon “the cruelest game.” Memorable hyperbole? Perhaps. But vital skills are needed to play: intense concentration, clever strategy, and an ability to see ahead to possible traps—and still the probability of the roll can level the steel nerves of even the finest. That brutal unpredictability translates well to the mystery, crime, and thriller genres, and of course, with sport slang like post mortem, premature burial, under the gun, shot, hustler, and hit, backgammon is practically crying out for a spotlight with the criminal element.

[The oldest game in the world...]

Apr 26 2017 4:00pm

The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes by Leonard Goldberg: A Visual Guide

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

This week, the daughter of the great detective teams up with the son of the good doctor to solve a murder in the highest levels of British society. Take a visual tour of Leonard Goldberg's The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes with GIFnotes!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Apr 26 2017 2:00pm

My Favorite Crime Movie

Read why Peter Blauner considers Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye to be his favorite crime movie, and then make sure to sign in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of Blauner's sweeping crime novel, Proving Ground!

The Long Goodbye isn’t the best crime movie ever made. The Godfather and The Godfather Part II are hard to beat in that category. It isn’t the best film Robert Altman ever directed either; McCabe and Mrs. Miller and Nashville are more likely contenders. And it certainly isn’t the best adaption of a Raymond Chandler novel—how could anyone top Bogart and Bacall in The Big Sleep? But it was the right movie at the right time for me.

[Right movie at the right time...]

Apr 26 2017 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: April 25, 2017

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!

This week, we're enjoying a trip to the past thanks to Michael Cannel's new true crime thriller and William Christie's riveting historical spy novel. In the mood for something a little lighter? Check out a new book of advice from none other than Better Call Saul's Saul Goodman. See what else this week brings in the way of books:

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

Apr 26 2017 11:00am

A Field Guide to Sociopaths, Psychopaths, Narcissists, and Other Abusers: An Interview with Zak Mucha

Fiction is about getting inside the heads of people, whether they are like us or unlike us. When writers depict a sociopath, how close can they get? Is it possible to represent a mental state we can’t experience? Even therapists and psychologists can get it wrong. When we are talking to a person who, by definition, lies for their own benefit, can they let enough of their true self slip through their mask so that an observer can truly know how they think?

Zak Mucha, LCSW, is a psychotherapist who worked on the streets of Chicago treating mentally ill homeless clients before he moved into private practice. He is the author of Emotional Abuse: a Manual for Self-Defense, which explains the behavior of emotional abusers of all kinds and, more importantly, how to deflect their attacks. It is a short, pragmatic, and concise book that explains how to recognize different types of systematic diminishment and the expected response. 

Last year, I asked my fellow writers what frightened them more: someone without empathy or conscience, or someone who has these qualities but willfully chooses to ignore them to get what they want. Part of the question was to prod at the current fascination with the psychopath or sociopath.

Fictional examples include the social climber killer in Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying, Amazing Amy from Gone Girl, Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men, Jimmy the Gent from Goodfellas, and so on. Then, there are characters who seem to successfully wrestle with their conscience, such as Tony from The Sopranos and Walter White from Breaking Bad.

I asked Mr. Mucha about these characters to see which, if any, get it “right.”

[Read the full interview below!]

Apr 26 2017 10:05am

The Fallen: New Excerpt

Eric van Lustbader

The Fallen by Eric Van LustbaderThe Fallen by Eric Van Lustbader the 2nd book in the Testament series, which explores religion, politics, and civilization, plumbs the depths of morality, and finally asks us to consider what it really means to be human (available May 2, 2017).

The End of Days has been predicted for the last two thousand years. Now, without warning, it is upon us. In a hidden cave in the mountains of Lebanon, a man makes a fateful discovery. He will bring what has been forbidden for thousands of years out of the darkness and into the light: the Testament of Lucifer.

In Istanbul, Bravo Shaw, head of the Gnostic Observatine sect, is warned by Fra Leoni of the war between Good and Evil, waged to a standstill since time immemorial. Now an unfathomable danger has arisen: Lucifer’s advance guard, the Fallen. Humankind is in danger of being enslaved by the forces of evil.

Bravo, Fra Leoni, and Bravo’s blind, brilliant sister, Emma, are the first and last line of defense against the chaos unleashed by the Testament of Lucifer. All roads lead to the Book of Deathly Things: the Testament of Lucifer. But if Bravo and Emma become privy to its dreadful secrets they very might well forfeit far more than just their lives.

[Read an excerpt from The Fallen...]

Apr 25 2017 4:00pm

Page to Screen: Rumble Fish & The Outsiders

There are those who see Francis Ford Coppola’s cinematic output as being divided into two distinct halves. According to this theory, there’s one set of his films that are of a classic Hollywood style and comparatively mainstream; then there’s another more personal and artistically pure group of releases. Whether or not you think this is a valid means of assessing Coppola’s work in films, there can be little question that his two 1983 movies based on the young adult novels of S. E. Hinton illustrate each of these approaches.

The Outsiders is a movie whose story just about anybody can grab onto, with its easily graspable dramatic episodes. Rumble Fish, by contrast, is a more deeply layered tale and more of an esoteric product, as well as a more experimentally shot film. Criterion Collection’s new edition of Rumble Fish provides an opportunity to give a fresh exploration of it, The Outsiders, and the two Hinton books they’re based on.

[Happy 50th anniversary, The Outsiders!]

Apr 25 2017 2:00pm

Q&A with John Rector, Author of The Ridge

John Rector is a Wall Street Journal and internationally bestselling author. His novels include Ruthless, Out of the Black, Already Gone, The Cold Kiss, and The Grove. Mr. Rector’s award-winning short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and is collected in The Walls Around Us; his novella, Lost Things, earned him the International Thriller Award. Mr. Rector’s latest, The Ridge (available April 25, 2017), is published by Thomas & Mercer, Amazon’s Mystery/Thriller/Suspense imprint. 

Recently, the author generously made time to answer questions about creative inspiration, genre classification, setting serving story, and the inevitable influence of the outside world on fiction. 

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Apr 25 2017 1:00pm

Review: Brew or Die by Caroline Fardig

Brew or Die by Caroline Fardig is the 4th Java Jive mystery, where Nashville’s perkiest private eye—coffeehouse manager Juliet Langley—goes undercover in the party-planning industry to solve a suspicious death.

In Brew or Die, Caroline Fardig’s 4th Java Jive mystery, Nashvillian Juliet Langley crosses the line from being an enthusiastic, capable amateur sleuth to join the ranks of licensed private investigators. Juliet is the new part-time investigator at her friend Maya Huxley’s agency. Maya is a gal who likes to “do things her own way,” but she and Juliet have history.

But, after teaming up to get to the bottom of a bogus murder charge for a friend of mine, she saw something in me that she thought she could work with. So, she made me her apprentice, trained me, made sure I got my education requirements, and helped me study for the licensure test.

Pete Bennett—Juliet’s boss at her full-time gig, the Java Jive Coffeehouse—is less than enthused. Pete would like his manager, in her spare time, to explore her singer-songwriter talents. What better spot than Music City to make a splash in the local music scene? Pete’s not shy about expressing his doubts about how things will go with Maya.

[Read Janet Webb's review of Brew or Die...]

Apr 25 2017 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: Wolves of the Calla Part IV

Last week, we learned about what happened to Father Callahan after Salem's Lot. This week, we discover the Sisters of Oriza.

Our previous read, The Wind Through The Keyhole, waylaid us in a town hall as a starkblast trapped our ka-tet with freezing conditions. Roland of Gilead spent the time palavering with Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy about long ago when him and fellow gunslinger Jamie tracked down and killed the shapeshifter Skin-Man. Intertwined in the narrative, we discover that Roland’s mother Gabrielle had learned from Randall Flagg that her son would murder her, and so in a letter she’d written in advance, she absolved Roland of the deed. After the icy weather passes, the ka-tet emerges and heads along the Path of the Beam toward Thunderclap.

*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!

We're back to wacky Stephen King chapters, so the plan is to read a section a week (about 100 pages) and meet here at our usual time (Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET) to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This week is a short but important read as we learn about the Sisters of Oriza! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part IV of Wolves of the Calla: Part Two Telling Tales, IV: “The Priest's Tale Continued (Highways in Hiding)” – Part Two Telling Tales, VII: “Nocturne, Hunger”!

CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread

[Introducing the Sisters of Oriza...]

Apr 25 2017 11:00am

Review: Get Off the Grid! Saul Goodman’s Guide To Staying Off The Radar by Saul Goodman

Get Off the Grid! Saul Goodman's Guide to Staying Off the Radar by Saul Goodman & Steve Huff is a humorous guide on going to ground from the fast-talking lawyer from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul

Well this book, Get Off the Grid, comes at a perfect time. Recently, I was one of millions who purchased a VPN—virtual private network—after the government voted to let ISPs sell our browser history. So after shaking my fist at the thin air and writing my congressman another letter he will “file away,” I took matters into my own hands.

Perhaps, I mused, Saul Goodman can help with even more tips. Well, it turns out, maybe only a little in my case because he’s talking about getting really gone, gone baby. We’re talking flying way close to the ground. Who is he to offer such advice? Let Mr. Goodman introduce himself:

[Read David Cranmer's review of Get Off the Grid!...]

Apr 25 2017 10:00am

The Graves: New Excerpt

Pamela Wechsler

The Graves by Pamela WechslerIn The Graves, former prosecutor turned television writer Pamela Wechsler delivers a tense and enthralling Boston-set thriller about the intersection of power, privilege, and justice (available May 2, 2017).

Abby Endicott, the chief of the District Attorney’s homicide unit in Boston, returns in the heart-racing follow-up to Mission Hill. Things are looking good for Abby: she’s top pick to be the next District Attorney, and her musician boyfriend Ty has moved in, despite her upper crust family’s objections. But a serial killer is on the loose, and with two college-aged girls dead and another missing, time is running out. When the sons of a prominent government official are linked to the murders, Abby pushes back, stopping at nothing to find justice for the girls. This time, the killer could be right under her nose, and she may be the next victim.

[Read an excerpt from The Graves...]

Apr 24 2017 4:00pm

Q&A with Carolyn Haines, Author of Sticks and Bones

Carolyn Haines, author of the Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery series, is originally from Mississippi but now runs a farm in Alabama. A recipient of the Harper Lee Distinguished Writing Award and the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence, her latest, Sticks and Bones, is the 17th mystery to feature the unconventional Southern belle private investigator.

Ms. Haines took time out of her busy schedule to answer some of our questions about her popular mystery series, the latest with Sarah Booth Delaney, and what she is currently reading and watching!

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Apr 24 2017 3:00pm

Review: Cold Earth by Ann Cleeves

Cold Earth is the 7th book in the Shetland Island Mystery series.

Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez is attending the funeral of friend Magnus Tait, body just laid to rest in the ground, when a landslide occurs and wreaks havoc in Ravenswick, Shetland. The natural destruction cuts off the main drag to the airport, shuts schools, and causes general disorder to the small, tight-knit community. At a house close to the cemetery, pretty much engulfed in mud, Perez looks upon a startling find. A death that may have happened before the natural catastrophe.

And something else, bright against the grey wall and the black soil. A splash of red. Brighter than blood.

He scrambled down the bank towards it. A woman’s body had been left behind by the ebbing tide of earth. She wore a red silk dress, exotic, glamorous. Not the thing for a February day in Shetland, even if she’d been indoors when the landslide swept her away. Her hair and her eyes were black and Perez felt a strange atavistic connection. She could be Spanish, like his ancestors of centuries ago.

[Read David Cranmer's review of Cold Earth...]

Apr 24 2017 2:00pm

Review: The Measure of the Moon by Lisa Preston

The Measure of the Moon by Lisa Preston is a mix of mystery and domestic suspense that weaves together two stories of love, lies, and secrets resulting in a shocking conclusion. 

Eight-year-old Greer Donner, on a joyride with horse Clipper, is thrown from the mount. Now, having a good four-hour trek home with darkness closing in, he begins huffing it. On a back forest road, he spots a vehicle, hoping he can get a ride or borrow a phone. Instead, a scene of horrific violence is playing out—and his life ends up being altered forever.

The glare of the SUV’s headlights lit up the sight of a man in a suit roaring at a woman in a dress and a turtleneck. She cowered. He drew back one hand and belted her solidly across the right side of her face, deflating her last cry, sending her to the ground. Greer’s stomach clenched.

Realizing that the SUV’s headlights protected him from being seen, Greer crept closer, pausing at the open driver’s door. A silver pistol lay tucked between the floor and the leather driver’s seat.

[Read David Cranmer's review of The Measure of the Moon...]

Apr 24 2017 1:30pm

Cover Reveal: Glass Houses by Louise Penny

Glass Houses will be the 13th novel in Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. Pre-order your copy today!

When a mysterious figure appears in Three Pines one cold November day, Armand Gamache and the rest of the villagers are at first curious. Then wary. Through rain and sleet, the figure stands unmoving, staring ahead.

From the moment its shadow falls over the village, Gamache, now Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Québec, suspects the creature has deep roots and a dark purpose. Yet he does nothing. What can he do? Only watch and wait. And hope his mounting fears are not realized.

But when the figure vanishes overnight and a body is discovered, it falls to Gamache to discover if a debt has been paid or levied.

Months later, on a steamy July day as the trial for the accused begins in Montréal, Chief Superintendent Gamache continues to struggle with actions he set in motion that bitter November, from which there is no going back. More than the accused is on trial. Gamache’s own conscience is standing in judgment.

In her latest utterly gripping book, #1 New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny shatters the conventions of the crime novel to explore what Gandhi called the court of conscience. A court that supersedes all others.


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

Buy at iTunes

Buy at Barnes and NobleBuy at Amazon



Click here for more Louise Penny at Criminal Element, and make sure you're signed up for our newsletter so you can stay up to date with all things mystery!

Apr 24 2017 1:00pm

Review: Ararat by Christopher Golden

Ararat by Christopher Golden is the heart-pounding tale of an adventure that goes wrong—on a biblical scale.

Personally, I can’t think of a more interesting mystery than an historical one—unsolved mysteries from our past tantalize as historians, scholars, scientists, and writers dig for clues and come up with plausible scenarios for what might have happened—and I think Biblical mysteries, most of all, are incredibly interesting. It’s where science and faith intersect for a common goal: to prove the existence of God. Chistopher Golden’s latest novel, Ararat, delves into the mystery of Noah’s Ark and puts a thrilling, and at times horrific, twist on the myth.

Adam and Meryam are an adventurous couple engaged to be married when they get word from their Turkish mountain friend, Feyiz, that an avalanche has uncovered a geologically impossible cave on Mount Ararat. Although scholars agree that the references to the “mountains of Ararat” in the Bible are not referring to the Ararat we know today, it has still been long speculated that this mountain in far eastern Turkey is the final resting place of Noah’s Ark.

[Read Ardi Alspach's review of Ararat...]

Apr 24 2017 12:00pm

Crime/Mystery/Thrillers Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix in May 2017

Finally! The month of May is a good one for fans of crime/mystery/thriller entertainment (as well as documentaries and comedy). In addition to the much anticipated 4th season of Sherlock, viewers will also revel in the 5th season of the Netflix hit original show House of Cards, as well as some great movies like Inglourious Basterds and The Place Beyond the Pines. See what else is coming to (and leaving) Netflix in May!

[See what is coming to (and leaving) Netflix in May!]