Fresh Meat: <i>One Murder More</i> by Kris Calvin Fresh Meat: One Murder More by Kris Calvin Doreen Sheridan Not all lobbyists are created equal, as Maren Kane proves! <i>Collision</i>: New Excerpt Collision: New Excerpt William S. Cohen You're gonna need to find cover immediately! Fresh Meat: <i>The Storm Murders</i> by John Farrow Fresh Meat: The Storm Murders by John Farrow Kate Lincoln This serial killer's gone international! <i>Independence Day</i>: New Excerpt Independence Day: New Excerpt Ben Coes Dewey Andreas has gone rogue, and the CIA couldn't be luckier.
From The Blog
May 22, 2015
Cremains of the Day: A Digital Version of a Deceased Self
Crime HQ
May 21, 2015
True Crime Thursday: Running and Gunning through America
Crime HQ
May 20, 2015
Burglar Takes a Nap on Victim’s Couch
Teddy Pierson
May 19, 2015
"An Unexpected Guest": Listen Now!
Donna Andrews and John Gilstrap
May 18, 2015
For the Person Who Has Everything... Or Knows Where to Steal It
Crime HQ
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!

Sun
Dec 21 2014 1:00pm
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 1:00pm

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 3:00pm

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 2:30pm
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 9:45am

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 9:45am

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 9:30am

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!