Fresh Meat: <i>The Edge of Dreams</i> by Rhys Bowen Fresh Meat: The Edge of Dreams by Rhys Bowen Rachel Kramer Bussel Could Molly's dreams hold the answer to her husband's case? Now Win <i>This</i>!: Shooters and Computers Sweepstakes Now Win This!: Shooters and Computers Sweepstakes Crime HQ You'll want backup when CTRL + ALT + DELETE doesn't work... <i>Firebreak</i>: New Excerpt Firebreak: New Excerpt Tricia Fields Fire doesn't destroy all evidence. <i>Impasse</i>: New Excerpt Impasse: New Excerpt Royce Scott Buckingham A modern day take on The Count of Monte Cristo!
From The Blog
March 2, 2015
John Le Carré's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Smiley's Reckoning
Edward A. Grainger
March 2, 2015
Lizzie Borden's Not Nearly Done!
Crime HQ
February 28, 2015
Under the Radar: Genre Movies You May Have Missed — Bandits
Angie Barry
February 27, 2015
One Week Until The M.O. Submissions are Long Gone!
Crime HQ
February 26, 2015
Literary Mysteries: Edgar Allan Poe's "The Light-House"
Edward A. Grainger
Mon
Feb 23 2015 9:30am

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 8:45am

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 10:30am

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 8:45am

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 8:45am

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!

Sun
Dec 21 2014 12:00pm
Excerpt

Meet Your Baker: New Excerpt

Ellie Alexander

Meet Your Baker by Ellie Alexander is the debut  in the new cozy Bakeshop Mystery series where a recent culinary school grad returns home to help her mother run a bakery (available December 30, 2014).

Welcome to Torte—a friendly, small-town family bake shop where the treats are so good that, sometimes, it’s criminal…

After graduating from culinary school, Juliet Capshaw returns to her quaint hometown of Ashland, Oregon, to heal a broken heart and help her mom at the family bakery. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is bringing in lots of tourists looking for some crumpets to go with their heroic couplets. But when one of Torte’s customers turns up dead, there’s much ado about murder…

The victim is Nancy Hudson, the festival’s newest board member. A modern-day Lady Macbeth, Nancy has given more than a few actors and artists enough reasons to kill her…but still. The silver lining? Jules’s high school sweetheart, Thomas, is the investigator on the case. His flirtations are as delicious as ever, and Jules can’t help but want to have her cake and eat it too. But will she have her just desserts? Murder might be bad for business, but love is the sweetest treat of all…

Chapter 1

They say it takes a while to recover your land legs after years spent at sea. I sure hoped mine would come back soon.

[Continue reading Meet Your Baker by Ellie Alexander...]

Mon
Dec 15 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Kill ’Em with Cayenne by Gail Oust

Kill 'Em with Cayenne by Gail Oust is the second cozy in the Spice Shop Mystery Series featuring Piper Prescott in the aftermath of the murder of a barbecue competition contestant (available December 16, 2014).

Kill ‘Em with Cayenne, the second in Gail Oust’s flavorful Spice Shop Mystery Series, finds the small town of Brandywine Creek, Georgia, gearing up for an upcoming barbecue festival. Piper Prescott is busy running Spice It Up! and looking forward to advising barbecue fans on how to best make their meal sizzle, while also juggling two potential love interests and a teenage daughter starting to explore her independence. Her delight comes to a halt when she finds one of the festival contestants, Becca Dapkins, dead in the street during a jog.

[Talk about getting getting the heart going...]

Tue
Dec 2 2014 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: Once Upon a Grind by Cleo Coyle

Once Upon a Grind by Cleo Coyle is the 14th book in the cozy Coffeehouse Mystery Series set in NYC where Fairy Tale Week takes a turn towards the grim (available December 2, 2014).

Over the course of Cleo Coyle’s always intriguing New York-set Coffeehouse Mystery Series, The Village Blend manager Clare Cosi’s mixups with murder have often involved her family members, from ex-husband and business partner Matteo Allegro, daughter Joy, her narcotics cop boyfriend Mike Quinn, her storied former mother-in-law and current boss Madame Dreyfus Allegro Dubois and the extended clan of her colorful and flamboyant staff. But in fairy-tale themed Once Upon a Grind, it’s her current boyfriend Mike Quinn’s family who leads her into the heart of danger, namely his two children and ex-wife Leila Quinn Reynolds.

[Will they live happily ever after?]

Mon
Dec 1 2014 1:30pm
Excerpt

Blood Rubies: New Excerpt

Jane K. Cleland

Blood Rubies by Jane K. Cleland is the 9th Josie Prescott Mystery about the antiques expert who is hired by a celebrity chef to appraise what turns out to be a fake, and deadly, heirloom (available December 2, 2014).

Ana Yartsin is on the verge of becoming a celebrity chef. Her custom Fabergé egg-shaped cakes have brought her national attention, as has the story behind the cakes: Her family owns the spectacular Fabergé Spring Egg snow globe, a magnificent example of the master craftsman’s work that includes five ruby-red tulips. As she prepares to be filmed for a reality TV show about the launch of her bakery in Rocky Point, New Hampshire, Ana hires antiques expert Josie Prescott to appraise the precious egg and snow globe.

The show's pilot will show Ana planning the desserts for the upcoming wedding of her friend Heather to investment guru, Jason. When Josie arrives at Ana's home, however, she finds Jason murdered and the priceless snow globe smashed beyond repair. All that remains for Josie to examine are bits and pieces—which to her shock reveal that the Spring Egg was a fake.

What has happened to the real Fabergé snow globe, if it even existed? And what does that have to do with Jason's murder? Never one to resist a puzzle, Josie teams up with her reporter friend Wes to investigate.

Chapter 1

Ana Yartsin stood beside one of her custom Fabergé-egg-shaped wedding cakes, unfazed by the frenetic activity swirling around her. The film crew was larger than I’d anticipated—I counted twenty-two people, including a uniformed security guard—and they all seemed to be doing things with frantic urgency. A young woman with pink hair and a star tattoo on her neck dabbed at Ana’s cheek with a fluffy powder puff. Someone named Mack called to someone named Vinnie to check the light meter. The security guard, a big guy with a crew cut and a gun on his hip, stood near Ana, his eyes on the move. Timothy Brenin, the producer/director, dashed up to talk to a short man with spiky yellow hair carrying a clipboard, then called to Mack that we had another hour of good sun.

[Continue reading Blood Rubies by Jane K. Cleland...]

Mon
Nov 24 2014 8:45am

Headlining This Year’s Frozen Turkey Drop

Richard Sanders as Newsman Les Nessman in the famous turkey drop episode of WKRP in Cincinnati

It's widely known that newsmen love loathe holidays, and this year, vehicular mayhem set up a Thanksgiving report most foul for one reporter at the L.A. Times:

A big rig packed with 23,000 pounds of frozen turkeys was headed for a Northern California Costco about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday when it overturned on an Interstate 680 exit ramp in San Ramon.

The southbound tractor-trailer rolled over and sent the birds flying, if ever so briefly, before they all crashed and fuel spilled onto the Alcosta Boulevard offramp in San Ramon, east of Oakland.

Oh, for shame, Mr. Joseph Serna. But you're forgiven since you remind us of this, condensed down to the essential thirty seconds of glory from WKRP in Cincinnati.

Wed
Nov 5 2014 8:45am

Jumping Beans Cause Bomb Scare

A report of a “ticking” package phoned in Saturday by a postal worker in Carlsbad, California turned out to be something no one would have expected.

When the package was opened, the feared bomb turned out to be nothing more than some infamous Mexican “jumping beans.”

“At 3:19 p.m., Carlsbad Police and Fire departments received a call from a U.S. Postal Service driver of a suspicious package in the 3600 block of Glen Ave.,” Carlsbad Police Lt. Greg Koran said. “The San Diego Sheriff's Bomb/Arson Unit responded and determined the package was safe. No one was injured and no property was damaged.”

So how long did it take the San Diego Sheriff's Bomb/Arson Unit to figure out what was inside? Three hours!

Fun fact: Mexican jumping beans are hard-shell pods with larva of a tiny moth growing inside. When they are exposed to heat, the pods begin to “jump”.

Fri
Oct 31 2014 8:30am

Pumpkin Facts: Cinderella, Beer, and Ostriches

Be illuminated (and possibly de-wormed and de-freckled) with these odd pumpkin facts! Previously, we've shared incredibly carved squash, discussed the truth and myths behind Halloween candy poisoning scares, but here's some lore and history we didn't know. (If you can't cite the science connecting pumpkins and ostriches, you're in the dark, too.) Via NPR's blog The Salt and Skunkbear:

And if you still crave more Halloween goodies, check here, and very BOO to YOU!

Wed
Oct 22 2014 7:45am

In the Kitchen with Walter W.

Miss Breaking Bad so much you can taste it? So does Walter Wheat, the pseudonymous author of Baking Bad, a parody/tribute cookbook due out on October 28. True, Ricin Krispie Squares might not sound like something you’ll pack in a school lunchbox, but the 20 some-odd (some really odd) recipes are genuine and inspired by (but not associated with) everybody’s favorite chemistry teacher.

Take a look:

Wed
Oct 8 2014 7:45am

Man Steals $1,200 Worth of Meat By Stuffing it Down His Pants

Oh hi, is that $1,200 worth of meat in your pocket, or are you just really happy to see me? An A&P supermarket employee, Gregory Rodriguez, has been accused of fourth degree grand larceny after it was discovered he was attempting to leave his shift with over $1,200 worth of meat stuffed in his pants. That's a lot of meat!

The theft occurred at a Croton on Hudson, New York A&P supermarket, and one presumes that the authorities are just as puzzled about how and why Rodriguez managed to fit that much meat inside his pants, and what he would do with such a bounty. I know I am wondering, too!

He was arraigned earlier last week, and after no plea was made, he is now due back in court at a later date. Despite the strange nature of this crime, he isn’t the first person to try and get away with stolen meat… and he will not be the last.

I hope no one is wondering how he managed to fit that much raw meat in his pants. I apologize if I did put that image in your head…

Thu
Oct 2 2014 7:45am

Human Flesh Hamburger Coming Soon?

Is there a human flesh hamburger coming to a restaurant near you? A burger that only the likes of Hannibal Lecter would appreciate is actually in the works. London based Chef Jim Thomlinson has done “intensive research” with real-life cannibals to figure out how to make one taste like human meat.

Do not worry, he is not using real human meat in his experimental burger. The daring chef is simply testing different ingredients that, when combined together, will taste like a human.

So how the heck does someone go about this? Thomlinson told the folks at The Daily Star that he had to use veal, pork, chicken livers, and pinch of bone marrow to mimic the taste of human meat. He also shares that his normal dishes are typically more inspired by fresh produce, so this cannibal-inspired burger is “a little odd” to even himself. I would agree.



I will assume most of us would agree that researching and trying to create a human flesh burger is indeed very odd. If not insane! Let us all hope this insane creation won’t inspire real cannibals to create the real thing!

Okay, so who's hungry??

Tue
Sep 30 2014 11:00am

Now Win This!: The Second Paper Capers Sweepstakes

These five suspenseful paperbacks might bend, but you're more likely to break! Register to enter for a chance to win!

This Sweepstakes has ended. Thanks for entering!

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 September 30, 2014, at 12:00 pm ET, and ends October 14, 2014, 11:59 am ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[Find out what's included!]

Sun
Aug 31 2014 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates by Kathy Aarons

Death Is Like A Box of Chocolates is the first cozy in the new Chocolate Covered Mystery series written by Kathy Aarons.

When Fulbright Scholar Erica Russell comes home to West Riverdale, Maryland, her former high school classmate, Michelle Serrano, is surprised that Erica isn’t all snooty and stuck up. The two girls become BFFs in a flash and decide to go into business together. Michelle is a chocolatier and Erica has a love of literature, so they open a cozy little shop called Chocolates and Chapters. Doesn’t the name sound inviting? I’ll let Michelle describe it to you.

A homey, welcoming room with books lining the walls, tempting customers to pick one up and read in an overstuffed chair, and the smell of chocolate enticing them to choose from my selection of sinful sweets. Chocolates and Chapters had become an unofficial community center for our little town. Our smattering of mismatched couches and coffee tables now hosted various committee meetings, knitting circles, book clubs and, my least favorite, birthday parties.

[Damn those birthday parties!]

Wed
Jul 30 2014 7:45am

Man Robs Restaurant and Returns for Lunch the Same Day

Here at Criminal Element we are not normally in the business of giving advice to the bad guys, but a man in Costa Mesa, California might want to rethink his love for the popular El Pollo Loco chain. So here is our advice… After you burglarize a place, it’s probably best to not return for some grub a few hours later. Or at the very least least, change your darn clothes first.

Authorities report that the man was caught on a surveillance camera breaking in to the restaurant and making a mess of the place as he searched for loot. He didn’t find any, so he must have thought to himself that it would be cool if he came back for some lunch — while wearing the same super-bright green shirt and a neon hat featuring the beloved “Animal” from the Muppets.

Daniel Lee Warn photo from Costa Mesa Police DepartmentThat’s an easy outfit to remember, right? The manager who had seen the surveillance footage earlier made the connection in a split-second. He quickly called the cops to report that, as a police statement explained, “a subject matching the description of the suspect seen on the store video was back at the restaurant, in line to order food.”

The cops showed up and arrested the man right in the restaurant. He’s also suspected of a number of other commercial burglaries in the area.

Wed
Jul 16 2014 7:45am

Man Faces Charges for Carving Watermelon

A man from Connecticut faces criminal charges after a woman told authorities he 'stabbed' a watermelon sitting on the counter in a “passive-aggressive” manner.

The woman in question told police on the 4th of July that she found many kinds of illegal drugs in the man’s tool box. She then later returned home to find a watermelon on the counter with a large butcher’s knife sticking out of it. The man then reportedly entered the kitchen and began carving the watermelon in a very “passive-aggressive and menacing” manner.

Carmine Cervellino, 49, was arraigned on Monday and was charged with disorderly conduct.

The woman said she felt Cervellino was resorting to “passive aggressive” tactics to intimidate her because he was mad at her.

Fri
Jun 27 2014 11:00am

Gangster Cinema, British Style: The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989)

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover is not the first film you're likely to come up with when thinking about British gangster movies. Filmmaker Peter Greenaway, who began his artistic endeavors as a painter, has made a name for himself as a creator of provocative and sometimes experimental works of greater or lesser accessibility (The Draughtsman's Contract, Prospero's Books, The Tulse Lipper Suitcases), and no one would call him a genre filmmaker of any sort. And yet, in The Cook, the Thief, released in 1989, Greenaway wrote and directed a film that has a gangster, Albert Spica, as its central character. The film is not a conventional gangster picture, but it has at its core the ingredients that make up many a basic crime drama: violence, betrayal, romance, revenge. How these ingredients fit together is what makes the film unusual—a film no one but Greenaway, with his distinctive approach to visuals and narrative, could have made.

But let's start with the plot: somewhere in England, a gangster named Albert Spica (Michael Gambon) has bought Le Hollandais Restaurant, run by the French chef Richard (Richard Bohringer). Every night Spica turns up at the restaurant with his entourage of goons, and this boorish group proceed to offend the restaurant staff and customers. Spica himself is violent and crude, and he holds court from the center of his table. He's a self-proclaimed authority on everything, a person intolerant of dissent. Besides his thugs, he's accompanied each night by his wife Georgina (Helen Mirren), a woman who somehow manages to conduct herself with class and tact while enduring the bellowing onslaughts of her husband. Right under his nose, she takes up with a man who always dines alone while reading a book (Alan Howard), and this affair continues with the help of the restaurant staff. Everyone knows the explosion that will happen if Albert discovers the affair, and sure enough when he does, the cruelty he enacts on his wife and her lover (and a child who helped them) is monumental. His wife's sense of loss is deep. Her lover was everything Albert is not: kind, quiet, thoughtful. Above all, like her, he enjoyed books.  He lived for something other than power, money, and eating—the things Albert values. Emboldened by her grief, Georgina talks revenge, and she convinces the restaurant chef to help her.  Richard, Georgina, and all the many people Albert has hurt band together.  Restaurant staff are among the avengers; so are former members of Albert's crew.  The vengeance they take out on him is horrific, as cruel as anything he did to others, but it's exactly what he deserves.

[It gets even crazier...]