<i>Meet Your Baker</i>: New Excerpt Meet Your Baker: New Excerpt Ellie Alexander To bake, or not to bake, that is the question... Now Win <i>This</i>!: Yule Be Sorry Sweepstakes Now Win This!: Yule Be Sorry Sweepstakes Crime HQ All I want for Christmas is you (to die)! <i>A Nip of Murder</i>: New Excerpt A Nip of Murder: New Excerpt Carol Miller A robbery gone wrong leaves Daisy scrambling. <i>Thief</i>: New Audio Excerpt Thief: New Audio Excerpt Mark Sullivan Could the secret to eternal life really reside in a remote South American tribe?
From The Blog
December 22, 2014
The Film Noir of Robert Wise
Jake Hinkson
December 22, 2014
Van Gogh's Suicide? Forensics Expert Favors Murder
Crime HQ
December 19, 2014
Number 1 of the Scams of Christmas: Santa Letter Scams
Terry Ambrose
December 18, 2014
Number 2 of the Scams of Christmas: Holiday Heartbreakers
Terry Ambrose
December 17, 2014
Number 3 of the Scams of Christmas: Season's Breachings
Terry Ambrose
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...]

Wed
May 14 2014 7:45am

Woman Calls Cops on Subway Over Flatizza Sauce

We all love our favorite pizza sause and some of us love it more than others. A North Carolina woman was placed under arrest and charged with misuse of the 911 system after allegedly calling the emergency dispatchers because she was given a flatbread pizza that was made with marinara sauce instead of pizza sauce.

Bevalente Hall allegedly called 911 after a Subway employee would not refund her money used to pay for a “flatizza” pizza that was sauced incorrectly.

“It's terrible, and I got my receipt,” the 37-year-old says in the 911 call. “And I told them I can't eat that kind of sauce.”

In the 911 call, Hall says she wants to report the incident to investigators with Channel 9.

“They made my mom another sandwich without a problem, but say they won't make me a sandwich,” Hall said.

However, Hall's husband stated his wife called 911 only after being yelled at by an officer.

You can listen to the 911 call right here.

Sat
May 3 2014 10:00am

Fresh Meat: Boiled Over by Barbara Ross

Boiled Over by Barbara Ross is the second cozy installment in the Maine Clambake mystery series featuring Julia Snowden, former New York City girl who has returned to Busman’s Harbor, Maine, to help her family with their struggling clambake (Available May 6).

I read a lot of cozies because I love to get to know great characters who are regular people who do everyday things. Well, until they happen to come across a dead body. For me, nothing beats an amateur sleuth who gets tangled up in a small town mystery. Barbara Ross’s Maine Clambake series provides both great characters and a small town mystery that is intricate enough to keep even the best armchair detective guessing.

Julia Snowden joins the planning committee for Busman’s Harbor Founders Weekend. Her family’s clambake provides a new invention for the event: the Claminator. The morning of the festivities, things don’t quite go as planned and they find a burned foot sticking out of the Claminator.

[But where is the rest of the body?]

Thu
Mar 20 2014 7:45am

Woman Torches Car Over a McFlurry

The lack of a delicous ice cream treat made a Florida woman really hot-headed. According to the witnesses at the scene, the woman set a man's car on fire in the parking lot of a Jacksonville McDonald's after he refused to buy her a refreshing McFlurry. A witness who spoke to Action News Jax shared:

“They were going at it,” the witness said. “She was saying she wanted this and wanted that, and she wanted either a McFlurry or an ice cream on top and he was not in for it. Then he was yelling at her saying he's not going to do it...”

“She got something out of the car that happened to be a bottle and then she got gasoline from who knows where. Then she poured everything all over it and next thing you know there was a match and it was up in flames.”

The real victim, a 1994 El Dorado, was totally destroyed. The man and woman have not been identified.

Sadly, in this situation, cooler heads did not prevail.

Tue
Mar 18 2014 7:45am

Chocolate Pill? Thousands Involved in 4-Year Test

It's no secret that in controlled doses, certain types of dark chocolate can have a positive effect on the human body. Previous studies have shown that cocoa flavanols improve blood pressure, cholesterol, and artery health, among other things.

A new study is hoping to build off what we already know by administering volunteers a pill that is jam-packed with dark chocolate's healthy components. This is the first major study to look into harnessing the potential of dark chocolate flavanols, as 18,000 participants will be involved. 

But before you go running off to the candy store to buy all of the chocolate, be warned that the average candy bar is lacking these important flavanols, as they are destroyed during its processing.

And in case you're curious, the pill will be tasteless. Which, if you ask us, is a crime.

Hat tip: Boston.com

Fri
Dec 6 2013 12:00pm
Excerpt

Once Upon a Lie: New Excerpt

Maggie Barbieri

Once Upon a Lie by Maggie BarbieriAn excerpt of Once Upon a Lie, the first book in the Maeve Conlon thriller series by Maggie Barbieri (available December 10, 2013).

Maeve Conlon's life is coming apart at the seams. Her bakery is barely making ends meet, and one of her daughters spends as much time grounded as the other does studying. Her ex-husband has a new wife, a new baby, and a look of pity for Maeve that's absolutely infuriating. Her father insists he's still independent, but he's slowly and obviously succumbing to Alzheimer's. And now, her cousin Sean Donovan has been found dead, sitting in his car in a public park, shot through the head.

There was never much love lost between Maeve and Sean, and she's not exactly devastated by his death, but suddenly the police are poking around asking the family questions. It's just one more hassle Maeve doesn't have time for, until she realizes that her father, whose memory and judgment are unreliable at best, is a suspect in the murder. Maeve is determined to clear his name, but is she prepared to cope with the dark memories and long-hidden secrets that doing so might dredge up?

 

Chapter 1

The recipe was simple:

Take one old guy with budding Alzheimer’s, a cast of characters who had never met a potato they didn’t like, and a dead body in a closed casket. Add accusations and recriminations to taste. Mix well and bake for two hours from either three to five or seven to nine.

Voilà. Once everything cools to a simmering rage, you have an Irish wake.

[Continue on to read the full excerpt of Once Upon a Lie...]