<i>Trail of Echoes</i>: New Excerpt Trail of Echoes: New Excerpt Rachel Howzell Hall The latest Elouise Norton mystery novel from Rachel Howzell Hall. Now Win <i>This</i>!: True Crime Thursday Sweepstakes Now Win This!: True Crime Thursday Sweepstakes Crime HQ Register to win 8 true crime tales! Review: <i>The Silent Dead</i> by Tetsuya Honda Review: The Silent Dead by Tetsuya Honda Doreen Sheridan Read Doreen Sheridan's review of this Japanese police procedural! <i>The Underdogs</i>: New Excerpt The Underdogs: New Excerpt Sara Hammel In the tradition of The Westing Game comes this debut mystery.
From The Blog
May 27, 2016
Page to Screen: Comics I'd Love to See on My TV—Lackadaisy Cats
Angie Barry
May 26, 2016
Mood, Music, & Mysteries
Kristen Houghton
May 25, 2016
Nate Heller & Mike Hammer
Max Allan Collins
May 25, 2016
An Interview with Louise Penny
Crime HQ
May 25, 2016
Under Burning Skies: Best of 21st-Century Western Movies
David Cranmer
May 27 2016 4:00pm

“Boar Island Iced Tea” Cocktail

When you think of a deserted island getaway, I'm sure you're not picturing stalkers and grissly murders—you're probably thinking tropical weather, a nice cocktail, and lots of sun. 

Well, with this week's Pick Your Poison—where we create a cocktail inspired by a recently published mystery, thriller, or crime novel—we can at least help you with the cocktail part!

So, avoid the violence and keep the booze (and lots of it...) with a nice “Boar Island Iced Tea” cocktail—inspired by the 19th Anna Pigeon Novel by Nevada Barr, Boar Island!

[Check out the recipe below!]

May 27 2016 2:30pm

Page to Screen: Comics I’d Love to See on My TV—Lackadaisy Cats

The Series: Lackadaisy Cats by Tracy J. Butler.
The Heroes: Anthropomorphized cats in a Prohibition setting. 
The Ideal Format: An animated series—think Boardwalk Empire meets Disney.

It's 1927, and Prohibition is in full swing. Also in full swing is a thriving underground of liquor smuggling, speakeasies, and criminal activity, punctuated by the rat-a-tat-tat of Tommy guns. 

In the midst of this, the Lackadaisy Speakeasy—built in the limestone caverns beneath St. Louis—is struggling. The previous owner, Atlas May, has been dead for a year—gunned down in the street by a rival faction.

Was his death merely a case of friendly competition turned foul? A bribe to a corrupt cop that backfired? Or was Atlas's beautiful wife, former jazz musician Mitzi, involved? 

[When asked about it, Atlas merely shrugged...]

May 27 2016 12:00pm

Dear Lisbeth Salander: Honest, Tough Advice from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

This week's guest columnist is Lisbeth Salander, who's a hacker but not a hack, Wasp but not a WASP, and an all-around tough-as-nails badass.

Dear Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,

I am a big fan of yours and admire all that you do. I hope you can help me with my problem. It is an enormous one and I don’t know where to turn!

The issue has to do with my mother-in-law. Holidays are miserable with her, and I dread every single time I have to see her. She criticizes everything about me and my life. Now, my husband has told me that she will be coming on vacation with us in July. I was looking forward to going away for two weeks to a lake resort, and now those two weeks stand to be completely ruined! Add to that, I have just gotten my first tattoo—a fantastic ink of a Harley Davidson motorcycle with flames shooting off the sides of the bike. It is on my back and I love it! I have attached a picture of my tat for you to see.

Unfortunately, I know that I will have to hide it from her. My mother-in-law is a nasty type, thinks only sluts get tattoos, and will refer to me as the “Tattooed Lady” forever if she sees it. What can I do? Please help!” 

Tat Too

[Read Lisbeth Salander's advice!]

May 27 2016 11:00am

Woman Punches Border Agent’s Horse

What is worse than smuggling drugs across the border? Hitting a border patrol’s horse in the face! That is exactly what happened when a woman was arrested for trafficking drugs over the Mexico border, according to CBS.

Karla Barnegas-Banegas, from Honduras, and eight of her friends were snagged by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials on patrol in Arizona. The pack of smugglers were carrying seven knapsacks overflowing with a whopping 374 pounds of marijuana—which carries the street value of $500,000.

This is where the story goes south for the horse. Border agents say Barnegas-Banegas punched a border patrol horse in its face—with a closed fist! Not cool. The suspect was taken into custody on drug possession and transport charges in addition to animal cruelty to a police animal.

May 27 2016 10:00am

Trail of Echoes: New Excerpt

Rachel Howzell Hall

Trail of Echoes by Rachel Howzell HallTrail of Echoes is the latest Elouise Norton mystery novel from critically acclaimed writer Rachel Howzell Hall (Available May 31, 2016).

On a rainy spring day in Los Angeles, homicide detective Elouise “Lou” Norton is called away from a rare lunch date to Bonner Park, where the body of thirteen-year-old Chanita Lords has been discovered. When Lou and her partner, Colin Taggert, take on the sad task of informing Chanita's mother, Lou is surprised to find herself in the apartment building she grew up in.

Chanita was interested in photography and, much like Lou, a black girl destined to leave the housing projects behind. Her death fits a chilling pattern of exceptional African-American girls—dancers, artists, honors scholars-gone recently missing in the same school district, the one Lou attended not so long ago.

Lou is valiantly trying to make a go of life after her divorce and doing everything she can to avoid her long estranged father. She races to catch a serial killer, but he remains frustratingly out of her reach, sending cryptic cyphers and taunting clues that arrive too late to prevent the next death. This one is personal, and it's only a matter of time before he comes after Lou herself.


At twelve thirty on a rainy Wednesday afternoon, I was breaking one of my cardinal rules as a homicide detective: Never eat lunch with civilians. But on that Wednesday in March, I sat at a Formica-topped table in Johnny’s Pastrami with no ordinary citizen.

[Read more of Trail of Echoes...]

May 26 2016 4:00pm

Mood, Music, & Mysteries

Every mystery lover knows that the theme music for a TV series helps to sets the mood for the viewer. A solid theme song certainly plays an important role in the success of any series. The musical intro adds to the show, evoking a sense of expectation. The right music places you in the specific time and place where the characters “lives,” acting as a prologue to what is about to unfold. Its purpose is to establish the mood of the mystery. You want that music to make the show come alive!

Think of the music for the Mission: Impossible franchise. The original score, written by Lalo Schifrin for the 1960’s TV series, has a pulse raising, heart-beating anticipation. You hear it and you automatically think of intrigue and adventure. That signature musical theme has more than added to the success of the movies based on the series.

[Music and Mysteries go hand in hand...]

May 26 2016 2:00pm

Headlines to Book Spines: Real-Life Crimes Inspire Your Favorite Mystery Novels

Read this exclusive guest post from Rachel Howzell Hall, author of the Detective Elouise Norton Mystery series, discussing how real-life crimes have inspired many of her novels, and then make sure you're signed in and comment for a chance to win a copy of Land of Shadows, Skies of Ash, and Trail of Echoes!

In 2014, there were more than 1.1 million violent crimes committed in America. The FBI estimates that over 60 percent of those reported crimes were aggravated assault.

That’s a lot of blood.

What caused that guy to inflict serious bodily injury to that other guy? Why didn’t she value her boyfriend’s sister’s life? And for the 1.2 percent of those 1.1 million—what made that person commit the ultimate sin? Those reasons are why I and my mystery-crime writing brothers and sisters will never run out of stories to tell.

[We selfishly hope they never do...]

May 26 2016 12:00pm

Now Win This!: True Crime Thursday Sweepstakes

Sometimes, real life is scarier and stranger than fiction—find out how by registering to win these 8 true crime tales for True Crime Thursday, here at CrimeHQ!

Click here to enter for a chance to win!

This is NOT a Comments Sweepstakes. You must click the link above to enter.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry. Promotion begins May 5, 2016, at 1:00 pm ET, and ends May 19, 2016, 12:59 pm ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[Register to win 8 great titles!]

May 26 2016 11:00am

Review: The Silent Dead by Tetsuya Honda

The Silent Dead by Tetsuya Honda follows the young Lieutenant Reiko Himekawa of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police’s Homicide Division as she investigates a string of strange murders that might include her as the next victim.

Like many other mystery lovers, I'm a big fan of the police procedural. Most of my experience has been with series set in North America and the British Isles, with a smattering of Scandinavian and French thrown in as well. Looking further east, I've explored the inner workings of the Shanghai Police Department through the lovely, meditative fiction of Qiu Xiaolong. But, not until Tetsuya Honda's excellent slam bang, The Silent Dead, have I had the joy of becoming immersed in the gritty reality of homicide investigation in Japan.

Reiko Himekawa is a 29-year-old lieutenant with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police's Homicide Department. Having made lieutenant at a relatively young age, without the help of political or family connections, she trades on her intuition and mental toughness—coupled with an intrepid attitude towards both personal and professional danger—to crack an impressive number of cases. The grisly discovery of a viciously mutilated corpse in a residential district begins the case of a serial killer, whose exploits lead Reiko’s squad to the lurid horrors of an elusive website, whispered of by those in the know as Strawberry Night (also the book’s original Japanese title).

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of The Silent Dead...]

May 26 2016 10:00am

The Underdogs: New Excerpt

Sara Hammel

The Underdogs by Sara HammelThe Underdogs by Sara Hammel is a teen mystery with a breathtaking twist (Available May 31, 2016).

Who killed Annabel Harper?

When a popular teen beauty’s body is discovered by the pool at an elite tennis club, the regulars are shocked—especially twelve-year-old Evie and her best friend, Chelsea. While everyone else is haunted by the teen’s death, Evie and Chelsea jump on the case, dogging the footsteps of the lead detective as he investigates. As temperatures soar over the summer, tensions rise, fingers are pointed, and a heroic act sets in motion a chain of events readers will never see coming.

August 4

The day they carried sixteen-year-old Annabel Harper out of the club they had to close the pool area because someone had vomited everywhere. They found the vomit before they found Annabel.

[Read more of The Underdogs...]

May 25 2016 4:00pm

Nate Heller & Mike Hammer

Read this exclusive guest post from Max Allan Collins, author of Better Dead, comparing his own Nate Heller series to finishing Mickey Spillane's posthumous Mike Hammer manuscripts, and then make sure you're signed in and comment for a chance to win a copy of his newest Nate Heller thriller!

I have been writing about my fictional P.I. Nate Heller for over thirty years. During that time, he’s solved some of the greatest unsolved crimes of the 20th Century, mostly in the 1930s and ‘40s, though more recently, I skipped forward to the 1960s for novels about Marilyn Monroe’s death (Bye Bye, Baby, 2011) and the JFK assassination (Target Lancer, 2012; Ask Not, 2013). The only ‘50s novel was Chicago Confidential (2002), set at the beginning of that decade.

In the world of crime fiction, the private eye who ruled the 1950s was Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer. Hammer’s first half dozen cases (starting with I, The Jury, 1947) remain the bestselling private eye novels of all time. The character was wildly popular, but also extremely controversial, even vilified. The left attacked Spillane for Hammer’s vigilante ways, and the right pilloried him for what was the then extreme sexual content of the novels.

[Read more from Max Allan Collins...]

May 25 2016 2:00pm

An Interview with Louise Penny

Although we all have to patiently wait until August 30th for Louise Penny’s upcoming Inspector Gamache novel, A Great Reckoning, that doesn’t mean we can’t fan the flames and add to the excitement. 

Watch below as Jeffrey Brown of PBS NewsHour interviews Louise Penny about her upcoming novel for Book Expo America 2016 in Chicago. In this great interview, Louise reveals the Shakespearian inspiration for the title, her Canadian roots and why she chose to set her books there, a little about her writing process, and some of her charm and wit in the friendly banter with Brown. 

And remember, each time you watch this video, that’s 10 minutes and 24 seconds closer to August 30th and the release of A Great Reckoning!

[Watch the full interview below...]

May 25 2016 12:30pm

Under Burning Skies: Best of 21st-Century Western Movies

Almost two decades into the century, quality Western films are alive and kicking. Though doubtful the genre will ever bound back to its silver screen “heyday” of the 1940s and ‘50s, those released now are often top-grade fare. Modern Westerns crafted by film makers like Andrew Dominik, the Coen Brothers, and Quentin Tarantino pay a tribute to the legacies that preceded them and give a fresh twist on execution.

[I prefer the Wild West to the Kanyes of this world...]

May 25 2016 11:00am

5 New Books to Read this Week: May 24, 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...]

May 25 2016 10:00am

Stealing the Countess: New Excerpt

Stealing the Countess (Rushmore McKenzie Series #13) by David HousewrightStealing the Countess is book #13 in the Rushmore McKenzie Series by the Edgar Award winner David Housewright (Available May 31, 2016).

Since becoming an unlikely millionaire and quitting the St. Paul Police Department, Rushmore McKenzie has been working as an unlicensed private investigator, basically doing favors for friends and people in need. But even for him, this latest job is unusual. He's been asked to find a stolen Stradivarius, known as the Countess Borromeo, that only the violinist seems to want him to find.

Stolen from a locked room in a B&B in the violinist's former hometown of Bayfield, Wisconsin, the violin is valued at $4 million and is virtually irreplaceable. But the foundation that owns it and their insurance company refuses to think about buying it back from the thief (or thieves.) However, Paul Duclos, the violinist who has played it for the past twelve years, is desperate to get it back and will pay out of his own pocket to get it back.

Though it's not his usual sort of case, McKenzie is intrigued and decides to try and help, which means going against the local police, the insurance company, the FBI's Art Crime division, and his own lawyer's advice. And, as he quickly learns, there's a lot more going on than the mere theft of a priceless instrument.


The Maestro insisted that it wasn’t his fault.

“What was I supposed to do?” he asked. “Handcuff her to my wrist? Hire armed guards to escort us to rehearsals, to concert halls? You can’t live like that. It’s untenable. The fact is, she was essential to me, to my profession. She was an extension of myself. I took her to every major city in the world. It was either that or quit my job. Of course, I was always aware of my surroundings when she was with me. I never let her out of my sight. But if you worried about someone running off with her, if you gave in to paranoia, you’d never leave the house.”

[Read more of Stealing the Countess...]

May 24 2016 2:45pm

Preorder First Strike by Ben Coes and Get Exfiltration Free!

Exfiltration started out as a scene from one of Ben Coes's novels, Independence Day. It was cut long before the final draft—the novel took a substantially different turn—but Ben liked the characters and action so much, that he sculpted a separate story for giveaway with a preorder purchase of his new book, First Strike

Here’s what happened right before the story opens:

After a harrowing evening in St. Petersburg, Russia, Dewey Andreas is followed by agents from SVR, the Russian intelligence agency. His only hope of escape is on a ferry just about to leave, but as he boards the crowded ship, Dewey sees that agents have also come aboard. Within minutes, Dewey is cornered. Now his only option is to get off the boat, but as he leaps from the deck, a gunman shoots him in the leg. He lands in the cold water miles from shore, a bullet lodged in his leg and darkness all around. Dewey knows he will probably drown but does what he can to increase the odds of survival as blood pours from his wounded leg into the ocean. 

Learn more about how to preorder First Strike and get your copy of Exfiltration here!

May 24 2016 12:00pm

The Top 10 Castle Episodes of All-Time

Castle ended this month, after eight seasons on the air, amid a swirl of controversy. The show chose not to renew Stania Katic’s contract, and plans for Season 9 included Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion) as the lead, with no Kate Beckett, despite the fact the show was based on the relationship between the characters. 

Despite all this, however it got there, the series finale contained a happily ever after.

The controversy of its ending distracted from the fact that Castle had an excellent run. The quality remained high, up until it’s last two seasons, despite the fact Castle and Beckett first got together at the end of Season 4—putting a lie to the adage that once characters get together, the show falls apart. More of my choices for top ten episodes are in Season 5 than any other season.

What really seemed to spell doom for the show, instead, was a switch in showrunners after Season 6, when creators Andrew Marlowe and Terri Miller stopped helming the show. That quality drop was clear when I began making my list, and no episodes past Season 6 made the cut—though one from Season 7 is an honorable mention.

So, here, in sequential order, are my picks for the best ten episodes of the series, with a few honorable mentions at the end. 

[See which episodes made the list!]

May 24 2016 11:00am

CrimeHClue Murder Mystery Game: Pick the Location

Let’s play a game.

Don’t worry, there’ll be no human body puzzle parts and all the violence will be fictional and happen off screen (plus, we won’t drag this out with 7+ sequels).

The game is CrimeHClue. And YOU the reader will choose the murderer, the murder weapon, and the location of the murder in our Tuesday’s Lineup, here at CrimeHQ. We’ll hide the results, and once the cards are set, we’ll hide the answers to the clues throughout our social media channels for a lucky winner to win a prize!

*One more week to vote for the clues! Next Tuesday, we'll tally the votes and post the final instructions for how to win! Make sure you're following us on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest—that's your first clue!

So, let’s get to it!

Where will the murder take place?


survey solution


Make sure to vote for the murderer and murder weapon, too!