Review: <i>Clownfish Blues</i> by Tim Dorsey Review: Clownfish Blues by Tim Dorsey Dirk Robertson Read Dirk Robertson's review! Review: <i>New York to Dallas</i> by J.D. Robb Review: New York to Dallas by J.D. Robb Corrina Lawson Read Corrina Lawson's review! <i>Snowblind</i>: New Excerpt Snowblind: New Excerpt Ragnar Jonasson A startling Icelandic debut thriller. Review: <i>Treachery in Death</i> by J.D. Robb Review: Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb Guy Bergstrom Read Guy Bergstrom's review!
From The Blog
January 19, 2017
A Tudor Primer
Mary Lawrence
January 19, 2017
Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart”: Why Are These Men Laughing?
Susan Amper
January 19, 2017
Announcing 2017's Edgar Award Nominees
Crime HQ
January 19, 2017
Discount: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
Crime HQ
January 19, 2017
The Breakout: New Excerpt
Ryan David Jahn
Jan 23 2017 4:30pm

Review: Clownfish Blues by Tim Dorsey

In Clownfish Blues by Tim Dorsey, A (Serge A.) Storm is brewing for a cabal of bad guys gaming the Florida state lottery in this insanely funny novel from the maestro of mayhem (available January 24, 2017).

The Florida State Lottery—like all lotteries—is a game of chance. Anyone can win; all you have to do is buy a ticket. But actually winning is an entirely different thing. Most people buy a ticket and hope for the best, keeping their fingers crossed and willing their numbers to appear. Others know the chances of winning are less than finding yourself handcuffed to a ghost or guessing a complete stranger’s phone number, yet they play nonetheless. However, for gangsters, robbers, cheats, and fly-by-nights, a more successful—if illegal—method might be employed.

In Clownfish Blues, a group of thieves arrange a system of tilting the odds using a huge wad of cash, and I mean huge. Main characters Storms and Coleman catch wind of the plan and take more than a passing interest—they want in on the action, too. Big time.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Clownfish Blues...]

Jan 23 2017 2:30pm

Page to Screen: The Harder They Come

I’ve written many page-to-screen features for this site. In most of those cases, my pieces have been odes to particular films on which I think it’s worth shining a light, with some commentary on the novels upon which they are based. In a few instances, the heavier slants of such posts have been on the books, with some scattered attention sprinkled on the subsequent films.

This is the first book/movie article I’ve written for Criminal Element (or anybody) where the novel in question was based on the film. An unusual situation and a departure from the normal way of how these artistic relationships go. So, yeah, it’s screen-to-page this time around because Michael Thelwell’s 1980 novel The Harder They Come was inspired by, and based on, Perry Henzell’s 1972 movie of the same title.

[Read more about The Harder They Come...]

Jan 23 2017 1:00pm

Review: New York to Dallas by J.D. Robb

To celebrate the upcoming release of J.D. Robb's 44th Eve Dallas mystery, Echoes in Death, we're taking a look back at every single book in the In Death series. Today, Corrina Lawson reviews #33, New York to Dallas.

New York to Dallas may be the most important book in the entire In Death series. In a nod to the story’s unique place, it’s the only book not to have “In Death” in the title.

The title has a two-layered meaning. The first is the obvious physical journey that Lt. Eve Dallas must take from New York City to Dallas, Texas to chase an escaped serial killer who has already taken a hostage. The second journey is symbolic, as Eve returns to the city where she was found wandering in an alley, injured, bloody, and amnesiac—the place where she initially became Eve Dallas. Now, she’s become Lt. Eve Dallas of New York. But the events of this book strip her emotions back down to that lost and broken child, and it’s only with supreme effort that she defeats her internal and external demons.

[Read Corrina Lawson's review of New York to Dallas...]

Jan 23 2017 12:00pm

The Dry: Audio Excerpt

Jane Harper

A small town hides big secrets in The Dry—an atmospheric debut mystery by award-winning author Jane Harper.

After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.

[Listen to an audio excerpt from The Dry!]

Jan 23 2017 10:00am

Snowblind: New Excerpt

Ragnar Jonasson

Taut and terrifying, Snowblind is a startling debut from the extraordinary new talent Ragnar Jonasson (available January 31, 2017).

Where: A quiet fishing village in northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors. It is accessible only via a small mountain tunnel.

Who: Ari Thor is a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik. He has a past that he's unable to leave behind.

What: A young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed elderly writer falls to his death. Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life.

Past plays tag with the present and the claustrophobic tension mounts, while Ari is thrust ever deeper into his own darkness―blinded by snow and with a killer on the loose.

[Read an excerpt from Snowblind...]

Jan 21 2017 1:00pm

Review: Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb

To celebrate the upcoming release of J.D. Robb's 44th Eve Dallas mystery, Echoes in Death, we're taking a look back at every single book in the In Death series. Today, Guy Bergstrom reviews #32, Treachery in Death.

This is an unusual novel in the series in that it circles around Peabody instead of Eve, pushing her from sidekick to co-star. 

The author sets it up nicely in the opening pages, with a murder in which Peabody plays the bad cop and Eve plays good cop. It is a slight foreshadow of the significance of Peabody to this book.

It's also different in that instead of hunting for a murderer on the outside, Peabody and Eve are facing traitors from within their own police department. This develops the figures from the Department and allows the reader to see the interaction between them.

[Read Guy Bergstrom's review of Treachery in Death...]

Jan 20 2017 4:30pm

“Requiem for a Mezcal” Cocktail

What do actors do when they sense danger? Play dead!

We promise that this week's Pick Your Poison—where we create a cocktail inspired by a recently published mystery, thriller, or crime novel—isn't actually poison like the onstage drink laced with cyanide that spawned the mystery in Requiem for a Mezzo. So feel safe having a “Requiem for a Mezcal” cocktail, inspired by Carola Dunn's 3rd Daisy Dalrymple Mystery, Requiem for a Mezzo, now beautifully reprinted in paperback!

[Check out the recipe below!]

Jan 20 2017 3:00pm

What Makes Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None Everyone’s Favorite Murder Spree?

When my son was little, he wouldn't read. There were too many other exciting ways to absorb stories—including the endless escapades he would make up himself—so what was magical about reading? He rejected TV on the same basis, so points for the kid there. But, being as his mother was a big reader and Dad stayed up nights writing novels, we kind of wanted him in the club.

We tried a couple of popular kiddie series, all assured to be addictive. Nothing grabbed him. One day, I discovered my son sitting silently, studying the suspect cards of the board game Clue. That night, I started reading Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None to him. I had a couple of moments of doubt. I mean, aside from the regularity of the killings, there's that revelation near the end that's kind of brutal.... But I went ahead, and he loved every non-explicit grisly bit of it. Since then, it's been a murder mystery life.

[That's the life!]

Jan 20 2017 12:00pm

Take Me Down to Kickback City: The Noir of Ian Rankin and Rory Gallagher

I didn’t even know who Rory Gallagher was until I got a postcard from Ken Bruen.

To my shame, my knowledge of Irish music is limited. I loved the Pogues but didn’t realize Van Morrison and Thin Lizzy came from the Emerald Isle until I should’ve known better. I lived a bizarrely exposed and yet sheltered life. I knew that certain Italian mobsters liked to spend the night with transsexual prostitutes before I had listened to the Beatles other than the White Album.

My grandfather emigrated from Ireland, but thanks to the hip bottle of Jameson he drank every day of his retirement, I could barely understand a word he slurred. I lost that part of my heritage, and we mostly bonded by watching pro wrestling and boxing matches while sitting on the carpet, our backs against the couch, playing with my uptight grandmother’s two Yorkies. I inherited a shillelagh he brought back after a trip “home” to give the family homestead to friends they took in during the Depression. But like many third-generation immigrants in America, I had lost touch with my “roots” and was eager to reacquaint myself, so I was a diehard fan of the Pogues.

[Phil Lynott is God...]

Jan 20 2017 11:09am

Kid Pulls Gun on Girl for Her Nuggets

Chicken nuggets are good. Chicken nuggets are tasty. Chicken nuggets sustain life. They also seem to turn little kids into armor robbers.

According to NBC, a 12-year-old male student allegedly pulled out a gun on a classmate and demanded her chicken nuggets. Yes, you read that correctly. And apparently this was his second attempt at obtaining a nugget from the girl after she had refused to give up her golden treat.

The young lad apparently followed her into a train station, then promptly pulled out the gun from his pocket and pointed it at her head and demanded a McNugget again. The girl was not going to give up her little delicious treat, so she swatted the gun and told the boy to leave her and her nugget alone. Daaamn—nothing will get in the way of this girl and her nuggets!

After the smack-down, she just hopped on the train like nothing had happened and went on her merry way with all her nuggets still in tow. She also told authorities what went down.

The boy was later picked up by Police and taken into custody—nuggetless.

Jan 20 2017 10:00am

Fever in the Dark: New Excerpt

Ellen Hart

Fever in the Dark by Ellen HartFever in the Dark by Ellen Hart is the 24th Jane Lawless Mystery (available January 31, 2017).

On their one year wedding anniversary, Fiona and Annie return home from a trip together to discover that their poignant proposal video has been posted on YouTube and has garnered hundreds of thousands of hits. The video is on the verge of going viral, and there’s enormous media interest in Fiona and Annie, as their fame comes just on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage across the country. As some of the attention starts to turn vicious, Fiona pulls in an old friend, private investigator Jane Lawless, to help separate the harmless threats from the potentially harmful.

As the media storm continues to grow, Fiona revels in the attention, but Annie is furious. Fiona has always known that Annie has secrets, but her newfound notoriety threatens to bring Annie's past straight to their door. And then, when a murder occurs and Annie and Fiona are both suspects, it’s up to Jane to prove their innocence…although the more she learns, the more she starts to wonder whether they actually are innocent.


Noah Foster was a patient man, a doctor of psychiatry with a highly educated grasp of human nature. He thought of himself as forgiving, a live-and-let-live kind of guy, able to put the world and all its vagaries in perspective. But tonight he was at the end of his rope. His wife’s scorn, her family’s contempt, had finally burst into the full light of day. He was done with all of them. He wasn’t a perfect man, but they weren’t perfect either.

[Read the full excerpt of Fever in the Dark...]

Jan 19 2017 4:00pm

A Tudor Primer

Let’s face it. We Americans have been regaled with stories of our forefathers since we were old enough to spit peas. George and his cherry tree, Honest Abe, and Trust Buster Teddy—but what do we know about our friend and once foe: England? Except for cursory mentions in history classes, a lot of us don’t know—much less care about—England during this period.

This primer is for the uninitiated, the folks who can’t get excited about watching Wolf Hall or reruns of The Tudors. They are missing out on some romping good stories! I’ve compiled a short compendium of quick and dirty facts written to inform and hopefully entice them to give Tudor stories a go.

[Learn more about the Tudor era!]

Jan 19 2017 3:00pm

Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart”: Why Are These Men Laughing?

Today, Edgar A. Poe would have been 208 years old. His birthday gift to readers is stories that just keep on giving.

Have you ever heard “Little Red Riding Hood” or “The Three Little Pigs” told from the wolf’s point of view? If you think that’s amusing, try this one: “The Tell-Tale Heart” from the detectives’ point of view. It will knock your socks off.

This, of course, is the famous Poe story in which a man murders his employer in the night, says he hears the dead man’s heart beating, and ends up frantically tearing up the floor and revealing the dead body. Though the narrator assures us he is sane, he manages to convince everyone who reads the story that he is crazy. But he doesn’t convince the police.

[Don't hit me. I'll hit me. Cause I'm crazy!]

Jan 19 2017 2:30pm

Announcing 2017’s Edgar Award Nominees

The Mystery Writers of America have announced the 2017 Edgar Award nominees and special winners. The Edgars banquet—an annual black-tie gala celebrating crime fiction, non-fiction, and television writing—will be held on Thursday, April 27th, 2017 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. As always, it's a fantastic list of great work that deserves to be checked out! What have you read already?

[Check out the nominees for the 2017 Edgars!]

Jan 19 2017 2:00pm

Review: Keys to Nowhere by Dorothy H. Hayes

Keys to Nowhere by Dorothy H. Hayes is the 3rd volume in the Carol Rossi Mystery series.

Read Leigh Neely's review of Keys to Nowhere, and make sure to sign in and comment below for a chance to win this new Carol Rossi Mystery!

Carol Rossi is one of my favorite characters. I’ve read all the books in this series by Dorothy H. Hayes, beginning with Murder at the P&Z. Rossi is an investigative reporter in a small Connecticut town, and no matter where the crime occurs, she manages to find ways to use her journalism techniques to help solve it.

Things are different now. Rossi is at home with a new baby she adores and happy to be truly living in “Peaceable Kingdom,” which is what her husband Jerry calls their farm filled with rescue animals. She may be older than your average new mom, but she’s loving the feel of her daughter in her arms and the beauty of sharing a child with her beloved husband.

[Read Leigh Neely's review of Keys to Nowhere...]

Jan 19 2017 1:00pm

Review: Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb

To celebrate the upcoming release of J.D. Robb's 44th Eve Dallas mystery, Echoes in Death, we're taking a look back at every single book in the In Death series. Today, Jenny Maloney reviews #31, Indulgence in Death.

Even on vacation, there are two things Lieutenant Eve Dallas can’t avoid: being billionaire Roarke’s wife and murder. The first is a pleasure, even though reporters follow their every move and report her food and clothing choices. The second is business as usual. 

After helping local Irish police on a case—when she’s supposed to be relaxing—Dallas arrives back in New York to find violence has not taken a holiday. Limo driver Jamal Houston, a man who has overcome his past as an illegals drug dealer and built a driving service from scratch, is found shot with a crossbow in the front seat of one of his limos. Houston’s final fare was registered under a stolen identity, and there are no immediate clues to help a just-back-from-vacation detective out. 

[Read Jenny Maloney's review of Indulgence in Death...]

Jan 19 2017 12:00pm

Review: HBO’s Beware the Slenderman (2017)

I want you to go back in time for a moment and try to remember when you were twelve. You would have been in the fifth or sixth grade then, and if your childhood was anything like mine, you'd remember that middle school was a pretty brutal time. It's when hormones start flooding our systems and muddling our brains. Popularity is more important than it ever has been before, especially for girls, and sometimes we'd do anything just to fit in and be accepted.

Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, two twelve year old girls from Waukesha, Wisconsin, felt the burdens of loneliness and unpopularity keenly. For them, the only escape was the internet. When they found friendship in each other through a common interest in the online fable of Slenderman, their parents were relieved. Little did they know, the combination of loneliness, mental illness, and the general susceptibility of children would have violent consequences.

[Beware the Slenderman...]

Jan 19 2017 11:00am

Discount: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones is the smashing, award-winning debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper. For one day only, get an ebook copy of First Grave on the Right for only $1.99!

Charley sees dead people. That's right, she sees dead people. And it's her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e., murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she's been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life ... and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

Check out Charley Davidson's tips on solving crime & learn how to win a copy of Darynda Jones's latest grim reaper PI mystery, Eleventh Grave in Moonlight!


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

Buy at Amazon Buy at Barnes and Noble Buy at iTunes

Jan 19 2017 10:00am

The Breakout: New Excerpt

Ryan David Jahn

The Breakout by Ryan David JahnThe Breakout by Ryan David Jahn is a military thriller where Marine Corps sniper James Murphy is captured and thrown in jail while seeking revenge for his murdered sister, leaving his troup to risk their lives to break him out (available January 31, 2017).

James Murphy is a Marine Corps sniper. He’s done two tours in Afghanistan. He’s considered an American Hero. And James is out for revenge.

Alejandro Rocha, a massively powerful drug kingpin who operates out of La Paz, Mexico, is responsible for James’s sister, Layla’s death, and he intends to make Rocha pay for it.

James goes AWOL from his unit and travels to Mexico, ready to enact bloody vengeance, but before he can go through with his plan, he is arrested by the crooked police of La Paz. He’s quickly thrown into a dangerous prison on trumped-up charges. He knows he is marked for death while in this prison and there’s nothing he can do about it. However, there is a group of people who can do something about it.

Discovering that James is wasting away in a Mexican prison, the marines in his unit decide to risk court-martial themselves and go AWOL as well, ready to go to war in order to break their brother out. And that’s just the beginning of the mayhem and violence.

[Read an excerpt from The Breakout...]