<i>Skin & Bone</i>: New Excerpt Skin & Bone: New Excerpt Robin Blake Skin & Bone by Robin Blake is book #4 in the Cragg & Fidelis Series. <i>Hell Bay</i>: New Excerpt Hell Bay: New Excerpt Will Thomas The 8th book in the Barker & Llewelyn series. <i>Night Watch</i>: New Excerpt Night Watch: New Excerpt Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen The 4th book in the Kendra Michaels series. <i>The Oslo Conspiracy</i>: New Excerpt The Oslo Conspiracy: New Excerpt Asle Skredderberget A twist on the thriller novel.
From The Blog
October 21, 2016
7 Books to Read If You Love The Walking Dead
Angie Barry
October 21, 2016
A Cozy Competition: Minotaur Books & Malice Domestic Best First Novel
Crime HQ
October 20, 2016
A Vague Unease: Reviewing The Kettering Incident
Leanna Renee Hieber
October 20, 2016
Naked Ambition: Evolution of a Book Cover
Rick Pullen
October 14, 2016
7 Books to Read If You Loved The Others
Angie Barry
Oct 21 2016 2:30pm

A Cozy Competition: Minotaur Books & Malice Domestic Best First Novel

Previous winners of the Minotaur Books/Malice Domestic Best First Novel competition.

Do you love cozy mysteries? Have you ever wanted to get your own cozy published? Well, now's your chance! Minotaur Books invites you to submit your cozy to the Minotaur Books/Malice Domestic Best First competition. As long as you have never had a mystery published, you're free to enter. Past winners include Donna Andrews and Julia Spencer-Fleming; this is your chance to see your name on a bookshelf in their company. The deadline is November 15, so enter now!

(For complete rules, see here.)

See Also: Criminal Element's November 2016 Cozy Bookshelf Shopping List!

Oct 22 2016 10:00am

Skin & Bone: New Excerpt

Robin Blake

Skin & Bone by Robin BlakeSkin & Bone by Robin Blake is book #4 in the Cragg & Fidelis Series (Available October 25, 2016).

It’s 1743, and the tanners of Preston are a pariah community, plying their unwholesome trade beside a stretch of riverside marsh where many Prestonians by ancient right graze their livestock. When the body of a newborn child is found in one of their tanning pits, Cragg’s inquiry falls foul of a cabal of merchants dead set on modernizing the town’s economy and regarding the despised tanners—and Cragg’s apparent championship of them—as obstacles to their plan. The murder of a baby is just the evidence they need to get rid of the tanners once and for all.

But the inquest into the baby’s death is disrupted when the inn where it is being held mysteriously burns down, and Cragg himself faces a charge of lewdness, jeopardizing his whole future as a coroner. But the fates have not finished playing with him just yet. The sudden and suspicious death of a very prominent person may just, with the help of Fidelis’s sharp forensic skills, bring about Cragg’s redemption...

Chapter 1

T WAS A DAY on which the sun was a disc of polished brass, and flocks of white cloud chased each other cheerfully across a blue field of sky: the perfect September afternoon for a game of bowls.

I was on the green by Friar Gate Bar and just about to cast my second wood. My opponent’s two bowls lay temptingly together like a pair of cherries just in front of the jack, and I planned a drive shot that would crash violently into them both, shooting them away to one side and the other while mine, with luck, would come to rest in their place and win the end. I grasped the wood firmly in my right hand, took up the bowling position with care and swung my arm. Then I heard a voice shouting my name from the direction of the Greenkeeper’s hut and it sounded as rough as the caw of a raven.

[Read the full excerpt from Skin & Bone...]

Oct 21 2016 3:30pm

7 Books to Read If You Love The Walking Dead

It's no surprise that The Walking Dead remains one of the most popular series on TV.

After all, it combines the best qualities of zombie fiction into a single package: an unsettling and plausible post-apocalyptic setting; badass survivors to love and root for; intimidating villains; and some of the goriest action, scariest moments, and most disgusting monsters ever seen on cable. 

When you only get an episode a week, however, and have to suffer through weeks/months of hiatuses in between seasons, there's plenty of time to crave more zompocalypse goodness. 

Make sure to check back each Monday for CrimeHQ's unique coverage of Season 7 of The Walking Dead!

To that end, here's an Angie Approved (TM) List of Must Read Novels that will help scratch that undead, End of Times itch...

[See what you'll be reading next!]

Oct 21 2016 1:00pm

Dear Lisbeth Salander: What Are You Going to Be for Halloween?

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.


With a Halloween party just around the corner, I am torn about what to wear. What fairy-tale figure should I be for that one night? Do I go sweet and angelic like the older versions of Disney characters, or do I opt for something more in the vein of tough and can-take-care-of-myself modern mode?

My boyfriend wants me to be either Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, but I have no idea why he chose those two. I’d like to be either Elsa from Frozen or Ursula the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid. Please help me decide what to do. I value your advice; what would you be for Halloween?

Not Sugar Sweet

[Read Lisbeth Salander’s advice!]

Oct 21 2016 11:00am

Man Attempts to Trade Weed for a Snowmobile

Many say that using Craigslist is risky business. A man from Oregon learned that the hard way when he tried to trade marijuana for a snowmobile.

Here is what went down: According to KATU, police say that Jason Owen, 29, was looking to get a snowmobile on Craigslist and found one he really liked. Owen then asked the owner of the snowmobile if he would consider a pound of marijuana as an even trade for the snowmobile. Little did Own know, the owner of the snowmobile just happened to be a State Trooper. Whoopsie!

The trooper then called in his supervisor and agreed to meet Owen at a local gas station for the trade. At the gas station, the trooper identified himself and dropped the knowledge that he was committing a crime. Police found one and a half pounds of marijuana on him that he was going to use for the trade.

Owen was cited on possession and delivery of marijuana. He was released at the scene.

Oct 21 2016 10:00am

Hell Bay: New Excerpt

Will Thomas

Hell Bay by Will ThomasHell Bay by Will Thomas is the 8th book in the Barker & Llewelyn series (Available October 25, 2016).

At the request of Her Majesty’s government, private enquiry agent Cyrus Barker agrees to take on his least favorite kind of assignment—he’s to provide security for a secret conference with the French government. The conference is to take place on the private estate of Lord Hargrave on a remote island off the coast of Cornwall. The goal of the conference is the negotiation of a new treaty with France. The cover story for the gathering is a house party—an attempt to introduce Lord Hargrave’s two unmarried sons to potential mates.

But shortly after the parties land at the island, Lord Hargrave is killed by a sniper shot, and the French ambassador’s head of security is found stabbed to death. The only means of egress from the island—a boat—has been sent away, and the means of signaling for help has been destroyed. Trapped in a manor house with no way of escape, Cyrus Barker and his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn, must uncover which among them is the killer before the next victim falls.


We all make mistakes, of course, even the best of us. Some of us are famous for them. We make big ones, small ones, messy ones, boneheaded ones, spectacular ones, and occasionally deadly ones. Take the fellow in a hurry, who steps off the curb into the path of an approaching omnibus. Something had happened that morning to throw off his schedule, and one by one, events had toppled like standing dominoes until he took the fatal step, which had seemed perfectly reasoned at the time. In one instant, his life became encapsulated in a brief article in The Times.

[Read the full excerpt from Hell Bay...]

Oct 20 2016 4:00pm

21 Disturbing Serial Killers

We’ve all heard of Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and John Wayne Gacy—but serial killers have been living among us, haunting our dreams, and making sure we lock our doors at night for centuries. The stories of the monsters listed above are heinous and hideous, causing us to question our neighbors, our peers, and even our own family members, wondering how someone could do such a thing. But they’re not the only ones. 

Our friends over at The Line Up have scoured their sources and compiled a list of 21 of the most disturbing serial killers in history. From the Harpe Brothers to the Lonely Hearts Killers, these killers are sure to strike fear in the heart everyone. 

1. Mary Ann Cotton: England’s First Serial Killer

This prolific killer from the 19th century left a shocking list of dead in her wake, including 11 of her 13 children, three husbands, one lover, and her mother ...

Head over to The Line Up to see the full list!

Oct 20 2016 2:30pm

A Vague Unease: Reviewing The Kettering Incident

Due to book deadlines, I only watch television and film if it’s either recommended to me, of a particular beloved franchise, or directly relevant to my career in Gothic, historical and/or paranormal fiction. 

The Kettering Incident, an Australian show released this summer via the Foxtel network, is set in and shot in present day Tasmania. As I am a Gothic novelist by trade, this show being a prime example of “Tasmanian Gothic” meant I had to follow the siren call. 

This tradition distinguishes itself as being a unique step-child of Imperialism, born of convict settlers shipped to Australian borders; tales seem told through a dark scrying glass, worlds away from Mother England’s resources, familiarities, or institutions. It is a genre of forests and shadow. It appears to me to be the United Kingdom equivalent of our Southern Gothic.  

[Read Leanna Renee Hieber's thoughts on The Kettering Incident...]

Oct 20 2016 12:00pm

Naked Ambition: Evolution of a Book Cover

I sat down with Brad Latham, a fabulous designer and my creative director at Leader’s Edge magazine, to generate ideas for the cover of my thriller, Naked Ambition. We shifted gears several times before we came up with the final two covers: one for thumbnail images on the Internet and the eBook; and the other for the print version of the novel. Note how the type treatment evolved and the NAKED brand was launched after several attempts.

[See the evolution of Naked Ambition's cover...]

Oct 20 2016 10:00am

Night Watch: New Excerpt

Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen

Night Watch by Iris Johansen, Roy Johansen (Kendra Michaels Series #4)Night Watch by Iris and Roy Johansen is book #4 in the Kendra Michaels series (Available October 25, 2016).

Sometimes, what you can’t see will kill you…

Born blind, Kendra Michaels spent the first twenty years of her life living in the darkness. Then, thanks to a revolutionary medical procedure developed by England’s Night Watch Project, she was given the gift of sight. Her highly-developed senses (honed during her years in the dark), combined with her new found vision, have made her a remarkable investigator, sought after by law-enforcement agencies all over the country. But her newest case becomes deeply personal as she uncovers the truth about the shadowy organization that has given her so much.

Kendra is surprised when she is visited by Dr. Charles Waldridge, the researcher who gave her sight. All is not well with the brilliant surgeon; he’s troubled by something he can’t discuss with Kendra. When Waldridge disappears the very night he visits her, Kendra is on the case, recruiting government agent-for-hire Adam Lynch to join her on a trail that leads to the snow-packed California mountains. There they make a gruesome discovery: the corpse of one of Dr. Waldridge’s associates. But it’s only the first casualty in a white-knuckle confrontation with a deadly enemy who will push Kendra to the limits of her abilities. Soon she must fight for her very survival as she tries to stop the killing…and unearth the shocking secret of Night Watch.


Pepperdine University
Malibu, California


Kendra Michaels looked out at the four-hundred-odd seminar participants at Pepperdine’s Elkins Auditorium. She’d just delivered her latest research paper at a conference on aging, and it had seemed to go well. She’d documented several success stories using music therapy to treat Alzheimer’s patients, but there was still resistance in the medical community. Not as much as there had been only a couple of years ago, when most academics still put her in the alternative-therapies woo-woo column.

She had helped move that needle, one study, one paper, one boring academic conference at a time.

[Read the full excerpt from Night Watch...]

Oct 19 2016 4:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny

I was an information technology major in college, and in one exam, we were asked to write a program involving the colors black and white. Having an artistic bent, I named it Chiaroscuro, to the bemusement of my lecturer (and several of my classmates, who reacted in much the same way Inspector Beauvoir does to the word in this novel while at an art show).

Which, I’m hoping, goes some way to explain how much I enjoy the many references to the visual arts in Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache novels—and especially in this, the 7th book in the series. Clara Morrow, Ms. Penny’s admitted fictional stand-in, is finally getting a solo show that looks set to launch her reputation and career. A party post-vernissage in Three Pines seems like the perfect way to celebrate … till a body is discovered in Clara’s garden.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Oct 19 2016 3:00pm

Glow of Death by Jane K. Cleland: A Visual Guide

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

This week, Josie runs into lies, murder, and Tiffany lamps in Jane K. Cleland's 11th Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery, Glow of Death! Take a visual tour with GIFnotes!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Oct 19 2016 1:00pm

Marvel’s Luke Cage Season 1 Review: Episodes 8-10

Like a lot of story types—Westerns, soap operas, romantic comedies—there are limits to what superhero tales can deliver. You don’t have to read too many Marvel or DC comics before you start seeing familiar patterns and structures, and when you translate those comics to the big and small screens, you don’t break free of those patterns. There are still ways to make the stories interesting while respecting the limitations, you just need to get creative.

For Luke Cage, the show’s producers brought in a very original use of the show’s terrific soundtrack. Plus, they showed a neighborhood hardly ever depicted before in any kind of adventure fiction. But if you’re going to go thirteen episodes into a superhero TV show, the patterns will assert themselves at some point and the limitations will call for more creativity.

So with Episodes 8-10 of Luke Cage, we enter the trough, and the show’s creators have to take some time to set up the series climax. And with some of the strongest parts of the cast now in the ground, it feels like they’re working with lesser clay. I don’t know if the show can ever recover from the loss of Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, played with perfect menacing charisma by Mahershala Ali. But Alfre Woodard is hardly chopped liver—and neither is Rosario Dawson—and Mike Colter and Simone Missick have proven themselves as very watchable actors. So let’s see how everyone performs when they have to step up.

[Read Hector DeJean's review of Episodes 8-10...]

Oct 19 2016 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: October 18, 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!

This week, Christmas comes early with David Rosenfelt's latest Andy Carpenter novel and the world of Twin Peaks gets a little larger! Check out what else came out this week:

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

Oct 19 2016 10:00am

The Oslo Conspiracy: New Excerpt

Asle Skredderberget

The Oslo Conspiracy: A Thriller by Asle SkredderbergetThe Oslo Conspiracy by Asle Skredderberget is a new twist in thrillers that is certain to captivate readers who like their heroes rich, handsome, caring, and very, very sexy. (Available October 25, 2016).

A scientist is found dead in a hotel room in Rome. Before she is strangled, she manages to scribble a few words on a piece of paper.

Milo Cavalli is sent to help out with the investigation in Italy, since he is familiar with Italian red tape. Milo finds the note from the scientist, and he also learns that earlier her kid brother had been killed in a schoolyard.

Milo becomes obsessed with finding out if there is a link between the two murders—the sister strangled in Italy and the brother shot in Norway. And he is willing to use his vast fortune and special connections—especially when those connections involve beautiful.


Present Day, Rome

There are two types of people.

Those who start to panic when they know they’re going to die. And those who stay calm, as if the very certainty makes their thoughts weighty.

She stood there quietly looking at him and knew it was over. Obviously she could have tried to slam the door, thrown herself toward the bed and tried to call reception. Or run out onto the little balcony and tried to make herself heard over the Rome traffic six stories below.

[Read the full excerpt from The Oslo Conspiracy...]

Oct 18 2016 4:00pm

What Is Your Favorite B-Movie Horror Classic?

Ahhh, the B movie. Originally coined as the lower half, less publicized film on the bill of a double feature, the B movie has evolved to encompass any film that appears to be particularly genre, low budget, or exploitative in nature. What this genre has produced is a treasure trove of bad special effects, awful dialog, and a level of camp that is unmatched—particularly in horror.

However, for all of the unwatchable films this produced, every now and then, a nugget of pure gold would be forged in the creative minds and over-the-top ideas that had scores of people watching these films over and over and over. All the blood and gore, guns and bad puns, these films remain legendary. 

So, which B-movie horror classic is YOUR favorite? 

[Vote below!]

Oct 18 2016 3:00pm

Review: A Terrible Beauty by Tasha Alexander

A Terrible Beauty (Lady Emily Series #11) by Tasha AlexanderA Terrible Beauty by Tasha Alexander is the 11th Lady Emily Mystery, where Lady Emily travels to Greece where a ghost from her past returns to haunt her amid the ruins.

One of the things I love about historical fiction is seeing the world through the lens of the past, along with the thrill of discovery. Tasha Alexander’s A Terrible Beauty takes the reader on a journey to Greece and offers them a tale of ancient myth and present-day mystery.

Hoping to cheer up her lovelorn friend, Lady Emily designs a trip to Greece and a relaxing stay at her home on Santorini. Along with her husband and another friend, the quartet set out for peace, quiet, and restoration. Upon arriving, however, Lady Emily discovers a dead man in one of her guest rooms and another standing before her. Philip Ashton, Emily’s first husband, died in Africa a decade earlier but currently stands in her foyer.

He offers a tale of attempted murder, mistaken identity, and a rare historical find: a piece of bronze, allegedly part of the helmet of the great warrior Achilles. Reeling from the revelation that Philip indeed appears alive, Emily finds herself thrown into the hunt for the now missing Achilles bronze, dealing with assassins, and her failed attempts at a relaxing getaway.

I find Emily somewhat a kindred spirit: marrying a man she barely knows to get out of her mother’s house, the small joy of having him run off to leave her to her own devices, her fantastic and well-honed sarcasm:

My mother insists—rather emphatically, if not quite hysterically—that respectable wives should have the decency to faint when about to be confronted by a spouse long thought to be dead. It should surprise no one of my acquaintance to learn I failed her on that account. My knees did not so much as sway at Mrs. Katevatis’s news. While I would like to credit my strong constitution, my dislike of affectation, and the generally imperturbable quality of my character, it would be somewhat dishonest to do so. This is not, as Colin suggests, a result of my having an incorrect grasp of the definition of imperturbable, a term he insists suits him far better than me. 

Rather, it was due to having been barraged with thoughts of Philip even before we left England.

After receiving the mysterious envelope addressed to The Viscountess Ashton, finding Philip’s journal on my desk, hearing his name spoken aloud in the London Zoo, and twice having thought I saw him since leaving Britain, I was all but primed for his appearance.

“Yes, Nico. He arrived last night with a friend. There had been an accident of some sort—”

And then, as if he had never been gone all these years, a figure stepped into the doorway, interrupting her. “I imagine it would be best if I took things from here, Mrs. Katevatis, ευχαριστώ … Thank you.”

My feet felt as if they had been encased in lead while some evil force drained all the blood from my body. He stood not quite so tall as I remembered, but I recognized his sandy hair. There had been a time when I could not recall whether his eyes were blue or gray, and I had asked Colin to remind me, but now, seeing their pale cornflower again, they were instantly familiar. His nose was not quite as I recalled, but those eyes were unmistakable. My jaw went slack, and I felt myself start to sway. I have always prided myself on not fainting, but if ever an occasion called for it, it was this. However, I did not succumb and was already steadying myself when Colin reached out to assist me just as Philip—but it could not be Philip!—stepped forward, his arms stretched before him.

“Er—I—perhaps—” Colin stumbled over the words. I could not remember when I had last heard my husband reduced to incoherent inanities.

“Quite,” the man replied with a grin. “I could not have said it better myself.”

“I require no assistance,” I said, backing away from both of them. “I merely—”

“Whisky,” Margaret said. “At once.” She put a firm arm around my shoulder and pushed me into the house.”

Not to say that I’ve married anyone for the sake of getting away from my mother, but I’d be lying if it weren’t a tempting thought. And I certainly appreciate Margaret. She knows how to deal with the inexplicable. 

The story is sprinkled with fine moments of sass, and Emily has a large measure of autonomy and agency, which I appreciate. I do wish there had been more regarding Emily’s investigations into Philip’s death. To be honest, if I married a man I barely knew and he ran off to another continent where he unfortunately perished, I’m not sure I’d suddenly deem his death suspicious. There’s also no given reason for the conclusions Emily finds, so it feels more like a dropped plot line than something substantial to the story. 

Emily also has a tendency to slip into textbook style descriptions and historical background, which rocked me out of the narrative. However, if you’re a fan of Greek mythology and history, this should be right up your alley. My only other criticism is that the prologue doesn’t seem to fit. The Emily we meet first is not the Emily who drives the story, which is set a decade later. Given the hint about her investigating her first husband’s death, I thought that was the story I’d be told. 

A Terrible Beauty does have it’s merits: the voice is good, the use of Greek mythology is interesting, and the basis for the narrative is derived from a true account of mistaken and assumed identities. If you’re looking for a nice fall read with a dash of romance, along with mystery and a taste for Greece, give this one a shot. 

Take a visual tour of A Terrible Beauty with GIFnotes!


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

Buy at iTunes

Buy at Barnes and NobleBuy at Amazon



Meghan Harker grew up in a small, awkwardly-named town in Georgia. She attended Brenau University, where she earned her BA in English and a minor in Graphic Design; she also attended the University of Cambridge, England, where she didn't quite master the perfect Oxbridge accent. She's an avid reader, writer, and fire spinner. She's currently working her first novel, a paranormal thriller. Visit her blog at ExquisitelyOdd.com.

Oct 18 2016 1:00pm

Maze Gets Hammered: Exploring the Mythology Behind Lucifer, Episode 2.04: “Lady Parts”

Finally, we can delve into Maze. I’ve been itching to look more closely at this wonderful character, and she finally opened the door. During the epic girls’ night out, Maze tells us she “was forged in the bowels of hell to torture the guilty for all of eternity.” First, that sounds like a crummy job to have, and she’s not happy to have that job for eternity. Maze has been struggling to find her place in the world, away from Lucifer, and her origin explains why.

The wording is very specific—that she was forged, like a piece of iron, like a tool to do a specific job, similar to the implements she brandished in front of Mum a couple of weeks back. The implication here is that she doesn’t have a soul and that, as a being, she’s struggling to understand a purpose beyond the one for which she was made. Her revelation doesn’t indicate who forged her, but she has been tied to Lucifer from the beginning so the Magic 8 Ball would likely tell us, “Signs point to yes.” Hopefully we’ll know more about this as the season progresses.

[Outlook not so good...]

Oct 18 2016 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three, Part II

After being deformed and disfigured and finally meeting the prisoner in Part I, we make contact in Eddie Dean's when—and there's gonna be a showdown. Join our discussion of Part II of The Drawing of the Three

Thank you for joining me on a journey of Stephen King’s The Drawing of the Three (1987), the 2nd book in The Dark Tower series. Several of us have just finished a trek through The Gunslinger (1982), which originally was a collection of short stories, later bound together, effectively capturing a world certainly familiar to us—Wild West background set to modern pop tunes—but stirring nightmarish images where time is out of mind and people displaced in various purgatories. The main protagonist, Roland Deschain of Gilead, is obsessed with locating the Dark Tower, so he shadows the man in black, who seems to have answers when confronted, though they are obtusely revealed with a turning over of Tarot cards. The man in black explained that Roland has caught the attention of his superior, who remains unknown, taking an interest in Roland’s endeavors.

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

With Stephen King's chapters getting a little strange, the plan is to read a section a week (about 100 pages), and each Tuesday we will meet 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, we finally make contact with the prisoner and join Eddie Dean in his when for a showdown. Join us in the comments for a lively discussion of Part II of The Drawing of the Three: The Prisoner, Chapter 3: “Contact and Landing” – The Prisoner, Chapter 5: “Showdown and Shootout.”

CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread

[Theeeerrrrrreeee's gonna be a shooowwwdown...]