TBR Confessions: Fat Bob, Foxgloves, and Deadly Ghosts TBR Confessions: Fat Bob, Foxgloves, and Deadly Ghosts Clare Toohey Welcome to our absurdly towering To Be Read piles--timber...! <i>Black Cat Crossing</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Black Cat Crossing: Exclusive Excerpt Kay Finch This debut cozy introduces Hitchcock the Bad Luck Cat! <i>Mr. Smith Goes to Prison</i>: New Excerpt Mr. Smith Goes to Prison: New Excerpt Jeff Smith A man can learn a lot when he's behind bars. <i>Vienna</i>: New Excerpt Vienna: New Excerpt William S. Kirby What is it about these wooden mannikins that would make murder worth it?
From The Blog
August 26, 2015
From Page to Screen with Night and the City
Brian Greene
August 25, 2015
The ZINNG: Bank Heists and a Pit of Despair
Crime HQ
August 24, 2015
The ZINNG: Lolita and Victor Frankenstein
Crime HQ
August 21, 2015
The ZINNG: Cocoa and Improbable Weapons
Crime HQ
August 19, 2015
Drunk Man Lets 10-Year-Old Son Drive Home
Teddy Pierson
Sat
Jul 11 2015 7:11am

Hannibal 3.06: “Dolce” For a Sweet Divorce

Hannibal 3.06's “Dolce” answers whether “Dr. Fell” will accept an amicable divorce over widowerhood. It also returns to Bedelia's axis of Betrayal vs. Forgiveness, and whichever of those claims to be deployed, it comes with lethal edges. As one couple parts, a new power couple will ascend, and the fans' favorite couple will finally reunite. Amid all this, there's a whole lot of shooting up.

Just after dawn, a badly-wounded Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) drags himself through deserted streets to the Palazzo Cappone after a long night of disembowling one unfaithful law enforcer and being beaten (he could've been killed) by another who waited until his attack no longer betrayed his obligations to his badge or his wife. Let us say that Dr. Fell feels a different sort of “until death” commitment to his faux Mrs. Fell, aka Dr. Bedelia DuMaurier (Gillian Anderson). But before they can negotiate the terms of their impending severance from married bliss, because payback is coming a-knocking, there's cleaning and stitching of flesh to do. As Bedelia sponges the blood from Hannibal's hand, we're reminded of how tenderly he cleaned her up after her first killing. As she stitches his leg—he's lucky it wasn't a compound fracture from that fall—he even looks a bit pleased with himself. Happiness is all about grabbing moments in the now, isn't it?

By now, you know it's impossible to discuss this series without spoilers, but of all the episodes this season, so far this one had the most twists and turns, highs (ahem) and lows.

[Spoil me, like purposely dry-aged meat!]

Fri
Jul 3 2015 7:30pm

Hannibal 3.05: “Contorno” Means Accompaniment

Casually, contorno is a “side dish,” but that phrase isn't reverent enough for Hannibal 3.05's ode to accompanying women.

I've pointed out other instances in which the women in this show just won't go along, and instead run on their own tracks. In this episode, we're reminded how each acts from her own motivational center, and how different those may be from the crossing swords (and ass-kicking) of Will, Jack, Hannibal, etc. If other episodes have been largely about the senses of sight or taste, and we won't be deprived in this one, this episode also adds interest in sound, voices, music, and things fostered in silence.

We begin with Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Chiyoh (Tao Okamoto) on a rocking train, like the one carrying a wistful-looking Hannibal in the series premiere. They're discussing how Hannibal schooled her to sharpen her sense of smell (perhaps to explain her tracking him later). The cannibal was already orphaned by the time she met him, she says, at the time her family sent her into service with his aunt, Lady Murasaki.

[How does a Lithuanian noble get a Japanese aunt?]

Thu
Jun 25 2015 8:45am

Man Arrested After Running Naked Through Walmart

Two men were recently arrested after a video showed one of the men streaking through a Walmart in Kentucky.

According to The Huffington Post, David Daniels and Timothy Smith were arrested over the weekend after a video was taken of a man running naked through Walmart pouring milk (and chocolate milk) on himself and yelling he was on fire.

The man stripped down inside the store wearing nothing but a Halloween mask, socks, and shoes.

The Pike County Sheriff Rodney Scott told the local TV station that the streaker and camera operator are both guilty of indecent exposure. He also believes the prank was planned.

Check out the video... if you dare:

Sat
Jun 20 2015 9:00am

Hannibal 3.03: “Secondo” Means Choosing

In “Secondo,” Hannibal and Bedelia lounge in matching rompwear, while Jack mourns Will, who torments the tormented in the Lecter family vineyards.

In the novels as here, the well-heeled Hannibal lives at Florence's beautiful Palazzo Capponi. At home in their gorgeous apartments, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) is glum in a black satin something, and Dr. Bedelia du Maurier's (Gillian Anderson) matching him in the blackness of her garments and mood. The question of Will comes up, as it must, since Hannibal seems almost wistfully proud Will found him, and Bedelia thinks he may be stacking the deck for his favorite protegee. She tells Hannibal forgiveness takes two. It's an odd sentiment for a therapist and disastrous for the category of self-help books, entire shelves of which are dedicated to Letting Go. But at any rate, this will set up the first see-saw of the night, the axis between Betrayal and Forgiveness, the trembling, uncertain anticipation of which is compared in this conversation to falling in love. (And to think, I was concerned Willibal shippers might not get their share of joy.)

Bedelia seems remarkably sure, for the first time this season, that she'll be able to “navigate” a way out of her troubles. However, she puts the screws to Hannibal as to how and whether he will. She's prodding him with his recent self-destructiveness and the inevitability of his capture. Hannibal is almost supine as he tells her that Will is headed to a place he cannot go: home.

[Are Will's ears ringing in Lithuania?]

Tue
Jun 16 2015 9:30am

Of Course the Queen of Crime’s Birthday Cake Will Be Poisoned!

Need dishes so craftily designed that manor house guests don't know they're scarfing down poison secreted therein? Take this cooking class, says Maev Kennedy in The Guardian:

A little more delicious strychnine and butter sauce for your fish, vicar? Or a slice of that scrumptious cake, so appropriately named Delicious Death?

A unique cookery demonstration is to be held to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the birth of Agatha Christie, the Queen of Crime. It will be in Christie’s own Devon kitchen, and guests are advised to treat samples with extreme caution.

The French writer Anne Martinetti will be recreating recipes from Christie’s books, singling out those particularly suitable for concealing poison as an extra ingredient. As any devotee of Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot knows, the great detectives only have to show up for a morning coffee, light luncheon or afternoon tea party for one of the guests to topple over the table clutching their throat and turning blue.

Martinetti will be speaking and cooking at Christie’s beloved holiday house, Greenway – the home she called “the most beautiful place in the world” – now in the care of the National Trust.

ADVERTISING
 

The event is part of the Agatha Christie festival this September, held in and around Torquay where she was born on 15 September 1890.

A tip of the chef's hat to Janet Rudolph at Mystery Fanfare, who always knows what's cookin'.

Tue
Jun 9 2015 9:30am

Never 8-Legged Chickens, No Matter How Delicious

KFC is a powerful brand in China, and that's why they're suing over the mutant-freak-bird thing. At Above the Law's Redline, Elie Mystal is on the case (emphasis ours):

The China branch is suing four companies it accuses of spreading false rumors about its food. The rumors? KFC uses genetically modified eight-legged, six-winged chickens.

[Re: Parent Company YUM Foods] ... If it doesn’t actually kill you, stop asking what’s in it. We’ve been down this road with Taco Bell before: tacos are not supposed to be that cheap and tasty at the same time. If you are eating it, and don’t die, you’ve lost the right to ask questions.

To that, we can only add one thing.

Fri
Jun 5 2015 9:15pm

Hannibal 3.01: an “Antipasto” of Drains and Snails

The Season 3 premiere,Antipasto” will imperil Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) in ways we've never witnessed. But even with the seemingly impossible challenges of identity theft under the suspicions of canny academic Florentines, and nursing—even provoking—the viper he spawned at his breast who is Bedelia du Maurier (Gillian Anderson), Hannibal's boredom may be growing dangerous.

Warning, this first one's going to get a little lengthy, but as the antipasto, and given previous seasons, I have some confidence we're setting the table with visual and story and character themes that are going to extend faaaar beyond one episode, at least through the first half of the season. Seriously, if I want to say anything about Hannibal and Bedelia, I'm just going to shorthand back here! So, let's dig in!

We begin the night's episode with a coolly-delivered “Bonsoir”. In a brief, neat echo of the blood-sculpture opening credits, shapes curl in smoke as Hannibal revs up a bike Sturgis-style to crash a reception in Paris. The honoree is an author and professor, Dr. Roman Fell (Jeremy Crutchley). As soon as Hannibal arrives, he's singled out by the professor's former assistant, Anthony Dimmond (Tom Wisdom). Handsome, ingratiating, and gnawingly jealous of his former boss, the poet Dimmond approaches Hannibal to dish on the evening's honoree, and, one also senses, to breathe in the scent of all that motorcycle leather.

At the end of the reception, Hannibal will give a metaphorical bonsoir to the man's liver after sauteeing it to his delectation (still leaky rare) and dining upon it in a confectionary apartment of white moldings, pale blue walls, and gold ornament that was so visually Parisian, I expected to see Audrey Hepburn's ghost in one corner. Hannibal will round out his evening with a bonsoir to the professor's wife (Catherine Tait), aussitôt gagné, aussitôt dépensé, which is what the internet tells me is French for easy come, easy go.

The dispatching and eating of these people, we're soon to understand, isn't because of Hannibal's intrinsic desire for this particular game. They're fine, but forgettable. The point is not to waste a chance at even a comparatively small pleasure if you must do the butchery anyway. See Dr. Abel Gideon's (Eddie Izzard) plight in this episode for an example of the lengthy, thoughtful preparation Hannibal gives to someone who actually interests him.

[Lomticks of meats and cheeses!]

Thu
May 21 2015 10:00am

Cooking the Books with the Crime HQ Test Kitchen

This was the perfect chance to re-launch Cooking the Books with our new CrimeHQ test kitchen staff—or so we thought. We had a bunch of recent, appealing crime-related recipes, but unfortunately, after assigning them, the feedback from our test crooks cooks was a little less constructive than we'd hoped. You'll see what we mean...

After trying The Cozy Cookbook's “Charmed Bacon Lattice Breakfast Pie” by Ellery Adams, here are the testing notes from a Thriller's Disposable Henchman: 

The instructions say Bake until crisp, approximately 25 minutes. Couldn't the timing be more precise? Why, I have this handy ticking clock right next to me, and... [rest illegible and aflame]

From “Cake Pops” by Jenn McKinlay, testing notes from a Town Busybody: 

It should be called “cake popular,” because this recipe makes 30. Who has that many people to give sweets to? Don't get me wrong, I try to stay involved in goings-on in my community, but really, if I dropped dead, I think people would probably just stand around making snide comments and jokes. Here's my version of the recipe for a single cake pop. Tell the author to put it in her next book. You're welcome.

 

[Dice and Slice with our Advice!]

Wed
May 13 2015 8:45am

Macaroni Salad Leads Police to Arrest Thieves

A New York Sheriff's Office said a hearty trail of macaroni salad helped them find and bust suspects in a burglary.

Deputies from Livingston County, New York were called to a burglary scene at the local restaurant Build-A-Burger at around 6:30 a.m. Sunday. The owner told police a surveillance system and cash register was stolen. Investigators quickly found evidence along a nearby hiking trail  including cash register parts, surveillance system parts, rubber gloves, loose change and a steady trail of macaroni salad, reports the Democrat and Chronicle.

"It was later discovered that the suspects stole a large bowl of macaroni salad, which they took turns eating, along their escape route,” authorities said.

All of the suspects were in custody by early afternoon. The lesson in this is to wait until you are done with a job before eating the profits...

Wed
Apr 22 2015 9:45am

Happy 4th Anniversary to Us!

Flowers and fruit are what's traditional, so for the site's 4th anniversary, we can't imagine anything nicer than rotting watermelon skulls, via artist Dimitri Tsykalov, who we've featured before with his amazing meat gun, and who has much more coolness at his site.

Our very first post at CriminalElement, squeaking in under the wire on the evening of April 22, 2011, was an excerpt from the Edgar-winning The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin. Then, we loaded in plenty more, so that we had thirty posts by the end of the first week. As of today, we've shared over 700 posts on new releases as Fresh Meat, almost 600 posts on TV Crime, hundreds of Sweepstakes (not all at the same time), and almost 900 of these pithy little items we call Morning Coffee. We couldn't have—and wouldn't have—done it without you, the fellow crime fans who visit, comment, and write for us!

Thanks to you all!

(And by the way, if you're planning early for our 5th anniversary, the traditional gift is wood. We think this carved skull-pture by artist Anthony Santella would look perfect at HQ. Just sayin'.)

Wed
Apr 8 2015 8:42am

Police Find Easter Bunny Stuffed with Meth

When someone receives an Easter Bunny, it's normally filled with  chocolates or other such goodies. How about meth? Well, that is exactly what police in Tulsa County, Oklahoma found over the weekend.

Police officers found two large condoms full of crystal meth, weighing roughly one pound. The easter loving criminals had inserted the drugs into the hole in the bottom of a stuffed bunny that is normally reserved for treats.

According to Fox23, Carolyn Ross, who admitted that she knew the drugs were inside the bunny, has been arrested for the crime. Her job was to send them to someone else for redistribution.

Unfortunately for her, a police dog sniffed out the shameful switcheroo first.

Wed
Apr 1 2015 8:45am

Girlfriend Stabs Boyfriend Over Chips and Salsa

An Akron, Ohio woman has been charged with stabbing her boyfriend over an argument about chips and salsa, reports ABC News.

Ronnie D. Buckner, 61, told police that he and Phyllis D. Jefferson, 50, were arguing over who was eating all of the salsa when she stabbed him with a pen. She then allegedly walked over to the television and attempted to knock it on the floor, he told police.

As he grabbed the TV to catch it from falling, she walked into the kitchen and grabbed a knife, then cut him in the stomach, police said.

Jefferson fled the scene but authorities later found and arrested  her. Buckner was taken to the local hospital, where his injuries were not deemed life-threatening.

If you were wondering: no, this is not an April Fools' Day post...

Mon
Mar 30 2015 8:45am

Arsenic in Your Wine Glass? Naturally!

A recent California lawsuit claims a score of brands of wines produced there, contain high levels of arsenic. According to San Francisco's CBS affilate

So far there is no theory on why this might be happening but Hicks’ [Kevin Hicks, founder of Denver lab BeverageGrades] tests showed an interesting pattern. “The lower the price of wine on a per-liter basis, the higher the amount of arsenic,” he said.

Hicks’ list of low-priced, high-arsenic wines includes Trader Joe’s famous Two-Buck Chuck White Zinfandel which tested at three times the limit. A bottle of Menage a Trois Moscato was four times the limit and a Franzia Blush had five time the EPA limit for drinking water.

We cheapskates and lushes at HQ were near-frothing, until we read this from Alder Yarrow of Vinography:

Arsenic is a naturally occurring compound that is found in the cellular structures of many foods we eat (fruits, vegetables, shellfish and meats) and in all the water we consume in trace amounts. Newsflash: most wines will ALL likely have very small traces of arsenic in them.

Arsenic also happens to be one of the essential minerals our bodies require for health, not unlike selenium, which is another metal that is quite toxic in high doses, but which is found in most multi-vitamins...

Apple juice and pear juice contain up to two or three times as much arsenic as drinking water as a matter of course. The Food and Drug Administration has known this for years. In fact the acceptable threshold for traces of arsenic in juice is much higher than it is for water, a fact that the FDA explains by simply saying that people don't drink as much juice as they do water.

So, the arsenic levels look pretty high until you compare them to, say, your kid's juice box. Snopes has a nice round-up of coverage, including the note that the lab's press release about their arsenic testing services was concurrent with the media splash of the lawsuit. Why, that's the kind of thing that could make a suspicious-minded person doubt the purity of their public-spiritedness.

What's the world come to when an unexpected amount of arsenic in your wine doesn't mean someone's out to kill you?!
Fri
Mar 13 2015 11:15am
Excerpt

Swan Dive: Exclusive Excerpt

Kendel Lynn

Swan Dive by Kendel Lynn is the 3rd cozy in the Elliott Libson series, and this time a poisoned cupcake leaves one Sugar Plum Fairy dead, and a slew of plausible suspects peaking from behind the curtain (available March 17, 2015).

This exclusive excerpt is reprinted by permission from Henery Press. All rights reserved.

It's Opening Night at the Ballantyne Foundation's production of The Nutcracker, but it's curtains for the Sugar Plum Fairy. When her body is found backstage, fatally poisoned by a cupcake she baked herself, rumors turn to suicide. But Elli Lisbon, director of the Ballantyne and coordinator of the ballet, smells something rotten amidst the sugar and spice.

As Elli applies her PI-in-training skills on the troupe of suspects, she discovers an eccentric herbalist, a temperamental chef, a stalking choreographer, and a bevy of backstage secrets. Between her off-the-record investigation, duty as director, and highly-charged love life, she finds herself caught in a dance to stay one pirouette ahead of a half-baked killer.

Chapter One

(Day #1: Thursday Evening)

I was sitting front row center of the Sea Pine Island Community Theatre waiting for Act II of The Nutcracker when I received a short text: Emergency. Sugar Plum Fairy dead. Dressing rooms. Now. It was from the artistic director. A drama queen if ever there was one. This was the fifth “emergency” in the last two hours. The fourth text included the words “catastrophe” and “maimed.” One of the nutcracker soldier’s tassels had popped off.

[Continue reading Swan Dive by Kendel Lynn...]

Thu
Mar 5 2015 9:45am

But These Tarantulas are Farm-Raised, with BBQ Seasoning!

Eating wild bugs can be a risky affair, but in the global bazaar, insect specialties are now available, “collected fresh from farms and then cleaned, quick frozen, cooked, dehydrated, seasoned and packed in special vacuum packs with oxygen and moisture absorbers ready for shipping.” Besides chocolate-covered scorpions, canned BBQ tarantulas, and sacks of dried bugs in profuse variety, Thailand Unique also offers earthworm jerky, ant eggs, and a celebrated tea:

...made from the feces of grain moth larvae... fed on nothing else but special tea leaves that have been naturally fermented... According to historical records it has positive health benefits for fever, high blood pressure, digestion and it has good detoxifying properties. Whatever the extent of its health benefits, Bug A Poop serves as a good cooling beverage' which has a higher nutritive value than regular tea. It contains 18 kinds of amino-acids, protein, Saccharide, tannin, vitamins, and microelements."

While still personally preferring free-range insects for convenience and exercise, this meerkat we consulted had nothing but good things to say about the overall trend.

Mon
Feb 23 2015 10:30am

This Head in a Jar Can Be Yours!

Whether to reinforce dieting aims or for sheer delight, who doesn't want their stainless steel or custom hardwood-veneer built-in fridge to boast a head in a jar? (I hear the Evans now have two heads in jars, one for the butler's pantry, the show-offs.) Let mikeasaurus at Instructables.com show you all the details, along with his template, and a shiny new head in a jar could be yours!

Thu
Feb 12 2015 9:45am

Coffee: Fuel of Scientists, Scholars, and Writers

Writers and editors are among the Top 5 coffee-drinking professions. Yay! The study proving this intuitive truth was somewhat small and on behalf of a coffee and donut purveyor, but we're going with it. And so is another java brainiac, a grad student who's got a post at Inside Higher Ed all about maximizing one's use of the wonder beverage:

The idea is that our bodies produce different amounts of cortisol—a hormone that, among other things, makes you feel awake and alert—in a natural rhythm throughout the day. According to the posts, the ideal times to drink coffee for maximum buzz are when your cortisol levels are lower and you’re not being “naturally caffeinated,” which tends to occur from 9:30-11:30am and from 1:30-5:00pm.

That this correlates almost exactly with the traditional work day, why, just about now... *takes another gulp*.... is not lost on us. And we love having a Morning Coffee post that's actually about coffee. So meta, so delicious. So here's to you, crime writers and coffee achievers!

Image via C.B. Wentworth's blog.

Tue
Feb 3 2015 11:30am

Fresh Meat: Fry Another Day by J.J. Cook

Fry Another Day by J.J. Cook is the 2nd culinary cozy mystery in the Biscuit Bowl Food Truck series (available February 3, 2015).

In Fry Another Day, the second installment the Biscuit Bowl food truck series by J.J. Cook, Zoe Chase takes her show on the road as part of the Sweet Magnolia Food Truck Race, a televised reality competition which could net her truck $50,000 and fame and glory. She’s in it to win it with her unique deep-fried biscuit bowls offering both sweet and savory options, until mayhem and murder creep into the culinary mix.

First, Zoe hears a commotion inside one of her fellow contestants’ food trucks, and with the cameras rolling, Zoe’s also the unlucky one to stumble upon the victim.

“We heard a bad sound inside.” I filled Alex in on why Miguel and I were there.

“What kind of sound, Zoe?” Alex wondered.

“I’m not sure.”

He conversed with the officers as they worked. “What are you hoping to uncover here? What do you think happened? Should our other drivers be worried?”           

The officers stared at him like he was crazy.

The cameras was taping everything when the officers finally managed to pry open the door to the Dog House. It splintered away from the side wall. Reggie wasn’t going to be able to use it again.

But it didn’t matter.

Reggie was on the floor with a refrigerator on his chest. It looked as though he might not need a door, or a food truck, ever again.

[The race must go on!]

Thu
Jan 29 2015 9:45am

Ketchup Me If You Can

The Condiment GunIf you're looking for the perfect gift to add to the cupboards of the whacky foodie in your life that has a thing for both ketchup and crime—or want to add it to your own—we might have the perfect thing: The Condiment Gun!

Will you be holding up the nearest hot dog stand with this quirky and fun way to spread on the condiments? Pick your poison!

Wed
Jan 21 2015 9:45am

Man Gets Ticket for Eating Cheeseburger

We’ve all snagged a bite to eat at a fast food joint and eaten it in our car, but it landed one man in big trouble.

Madison Turner was given a ticket after getting caught munching on a cheeseburger while driving his car in Cobb County, Georgia, WSB-TV reported.

Turner had this to share with WSB-TV about the encounter:

“The officer explained to me that he observed me eating a burger for 2 miles,” Madison said. “He said specifically three times, you can’t just go down the road eating a hamburger.”

It turns out it’s illegal to eat and drive thanks to the state’s distracted driver law that covers anything that takes your attention away from the road. Even a burger.

Police are not saying anything about the case because Turner has not yet appeared in court.

What do you think of this law?

Oh, in unrelated but related news: McDonald's famed Triple Cheeseburger is making a comeback. Just try to not eat it while driving!