<i>Proof Positive</i>: New Excerpt Proof Positive: New Excerpt Archer Mayor Joe Gunther returns to investigate the mysterious death of a Vietnam vet turned hoarder. FM: <i>Mean Business on North Ganson Street</i> FM: Mean Business on North Ganson Street Katherine Tomlinson Cinematic rust belt noir FM: <i>Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets</i> edited by David Thomas Moore FM: Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets edited by David Thomas Moore Victoria Janssen Holmes in all shapes and sizes! FM: <i>Reign of Evil</i> by Weston Ochse FM: Reign of Evil by Weston Ochse Thomas Pluck When Britain is in its darkest hour, King Arthur will return to save the country.
From The Blog
September 30, 2014
Coming (Sort of) Soon: Tommy and Tuppence
Leslie Gilbert Elman
September 29, 2014
K.I.T.T. Has Not Become the Knight Industries Tween TruLuv
Crime HQ
September 26, 2014
Checking into The Knick 1.07: “Get the Rope”
Joe Brosnan
September 26, 2014
J.K. Rowling and the Brush with Fame
G.M. Malliet
September 26, 2014
David Suchet Investigates Agatha Christie
Leslie Gilbert Elman
Sep 23 2014 12:00pm

Gotham Series Premiere: You Won’t Miss Batman

If you’re a casual television viewer, you probably remember Jim Gordon as the bumbling commissioner on the Batman live-action television show. If you’ve seen the recent Dark Knight trilogy, you might have a more positive opinion of Gordon as a hero.

But if you’re a reader of comics, especially Batman: Year One, then you know Gordon serves an incredibly important role in the Gotham mythos: he’s Batman’s conscience and the moral center of a city already half in ruins.

This is why he was picked as the centerpoint of Gotham.

The first episode of the series nails Jim Gordon’s essential morality. There’s a line he won’t cross and shortcuts he won’t take. At least so far, because the first hour of Gotham promises some serious challenges to his worldview. It also provides Gordon an excellent counterpoint in cynical, slovenly and yet smart Detective Harvey Bullock. If Ben McKenzie doesn’t watch out, Donal Logue’s Bullock is going to steal the show from his Gordon. Watching the two of them this season together promises to be a lot of fun, especially if they can continue to exchange the wryly funny looks like the ones they gave each other while upside down on meathooks.

[Wait, what was that about meathooks?]

Sep 19 2014 8:45am

Gotham: Join Us for the Journey Through Batman’s Origins

“The attraction of this story was the chance to tell the origin stories,” said Gotham Executive Producer/Writer Bruno Heller in an interview last week.

Gotham is the story of what went on before Bruce Wayne put on the cape and cowl, seen through the eyes of young Detective Jim Gordon. Not only is it the story of how Gordon struggled to bring some order to Gotham City’s chaos, but it’s the beginning of some of Batman’s iconic villains, such as the Penguin and the Riddler. The story is set against the backdrop of a Gotham City heavily influenced by New York City in the 1970s, a time of great tumult.

Heller says you don’t have to be a fan of the comics to enjoy the show. He’s hoping to grab a wider audience by the strength of the story and the characters.

So follow me here beginning with the premiere on September 22, as I recap each episode on Criminal Element. If the pilot is any indication, we’ll have much to discuss, from the major tweak on Batman’s origin, to the addition of characters who’ve never been seen on-screen before, like Crispus Allen and Barbara Kean, the eventual mother of Barbara (Batgirl) Gordon.

Sep 10 2014 2:00pm

Gotham’s Girls: Comic Noir’s New Leading Ladies

Noir has long been a male bastion in comics, from Frank Miller reimagining Daredevil and Batman to Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka creating Gotham Central, an inspiration for the upcoming Gotham television series.

Female creators writing noir stories for comics have been few and far between. But that’s changing. Batgirl is being re-imagined by a creative team that includes Babs Tarr and acclaimed artist Becky Cloonan is part of a team working on the all-new Gotham Academy series, both debuting in October.

On the independent side, Erica Schultz is the co-creator of M3, an award-winning independent series with art by Vicente Alcázar. M3 is the story of a female assassin who entered the trade after being raised by the hit man who murdered her parents. Machiavella Maria Marcona’s (hence: M3) always believed her assassinations were for the right reasons and that she was murdering for the greater good. As her story unfolds, mixing flashbacks with the current day, it becomes clear everything she was certain of in her life could be wrong.

[That's a big pill to swallow...]

Sep 4 2014 1:00pm

“Eldercare”: Exclusive Short Story Excerpt from Family Matters

Triss Stein

Family Matters, A Murder New York Style mystery anthology, edited by Anita Page“Eldercare” by Triss Stein is presented here in its entirety, an exclusive excerpt from Family Matters, edited by Anita Page, the third Murder New York Style mystery anthology (available September 9, 2014).

Come meet the relatives! These twenty short stories by members of the New York/Tri-State chapter will take you from the explosive excitement of the New York City Marathon to a secret cellar in Queens; from the warmth of an immigrant culture to the moneyed New York art world; from brutality and poverty to Wall Street’s privileged thugs. These urban short stories offer action-packed murder and suspense-filled mystery ranging in tone from fun to dark and from cozy to noir. No Metrocard or E-ZPass required to tour these neighborhoods.

She’s yelling at me. Not for the first time today and not even for the twentieth. And certainly not for the last.

She could yell at my big sister for once, the one who walks on water. The one who has the glamorous house on a beach in California. The one who hasn’t been home in two years and hasn’t called in two months. If she wants to yell, why not at her?

Or my older brother, the one who lives on the Jersey shore, but can’t seem to find a good day to hit the Garden State Parkway and give the old lady the thrill of his handsome face. But no. The surfing shop needs him night and day, even in the winter. She could yell at him; he has it coming.

So here I am, still on the same old beach in Brooklyn, still in the same old house where we grew up, still available for yelling.

The honest truth is, she was never sweetness and light. You think it’s just chance, both my siblings live on beaches, like where they grew up? But not THE beach where they DID grow up? They couldn’t wait to be somewhere else. Far enough so the old lady’s tongue couldn’t reach them. Even when all her brain cells were intact—or as intact as they ever were—she could skin you alive with her voice.

Right about the time I was plotting my own escape, she ended up in the hospital a couple of times, and then they said she had the big A and she was losing her brain cells, one cell at a time. They even showed me pictures.

And she wasn’t ever going to get better.

I was kind of hoping that the cells that were getting erased would be the ones that gave her the mean mouth and the vicious temper, but no such luck. They were the ones that told her how to dress herself and cook and eat. She still knew how to set a trap and spring it, with me playing the mouse. Trapped. So here I am, pushing thirty, living in my boyhood room with the Star Wars sheets on the cold twin bed. Making my own meals, cause she was never much of a cook, and now can’t be trusted near a stove. If she blew herself up, I wouldn’t mourn much. Not much, ha. Not at all, but I worry about the house. It’s a good house, brick, front and back yards, garage, three stories cause they built some bedrooms up in the attic. It’s one block from the beach. One freakin’ block. It’s worth real money. And I’ve earned it.

[Continue reading “Eldercare” by Triss Stein]

Aug 30 2014 12:00pm

Historical Crime Fiction: Writing the Lives of the Erased

Painting by artist Carole BremaudYou only live once. Right?

Chances are, unless you believe in reincarnation and are also peculiarly in touch with your past lives on this harsh and often beautiful planet, then your experience will be confined to one existence (never discounting the kindly tips you’ll pick up from friends and strangers).

Perhaps you are a 32-year old male Caucasian pickle magnate who is taste-testing the most perfect fermented vegetables ever to be jarred, and is on the cusp of driving all competitors out of the market? I’d like to hear your story. Equally possibly, you are a 57-year old female African American deep-sea submarine pilot, and are on the verge of retiring to your dream cottage in the West Indies? I’d adore that story too.

No matter who you are or how specific your experience, we all share in the deeply human desire to hear stories both foreign to ourselves in situation, and familiar in emotion.

You really felt that way, as a glamorous jewelry broker in the 1920s, doubting that your lover would stay?the modern real estate magnate thinks. Or, You really felt ostracized and hated when you arrived in America in the 1840s as a Catholic? the recent immigrant thinks. In any case, or every case, sharing anecdotes and feelings is valuable. But what of the people who weren’t glamorous, who weren’t posh or predictable—what of the people who never recorded their musings for posterity?

History is written by the victors, we are famously told. But so much of the joy in historical fiction lies in imagining what it would have been like to be that other person. The losing general, the girl who sat in the corner, the lad whose disability defined him, the criminal whose defense was never heard, the mother whose skin tone prevented her leaving a diary.

The erased, to put it simply.

[More about the ignored and excluded...]

Aug 8 2014 9:45pm

Checking into The Knick: Series Premiere “Method and Madness”

It’s only been one episode of The Knick, but if “Method and Madness” was any indication, there is a clear theme of the series: change, and the lengths various characters will go to encourage and prevent it. The setting of the show itself is a testament to that. New York City in 1900 was a city straddling a line between old and new lifestyles, evidenced by one of the major plot points of this episode: trying to add electricity to The Knickerbocker Hospital. Elsewhere, be it a rudimentary C-Section, a horse-driven ambulance, a shoddy beard cleaning, cramped living quarters, or the disconcerting lack of gloves and socks, it’s clear that The Knick will make our WebMD-addicted, helicopter-parenting, hand sanitizer-bathed society cringe. And I couldn’t be more into it.

[Let’s discuss the characters…]

Jul 14 2014 8:45am

Death Becomes Her, Or is it That Fabulous Veil?

“Death Becomes Her,” the fall exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Anna Wintour Costume Center presents a stitch-by-stitch account of what the well-dressed widow was wearing a century or two ago.

There were rules for such things, naturally, and we can thank high-profile mourners, such as Queen Victoria and her daughter-in-law Queen Alexandra for elevating the social importance of mourning attire. (Mourning gowns belonging to each woman will be part of the exhibition.)

Yet according to Harold Koda, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute, mourning wasn’t always seen simply as a bereaved wife’s dedication to her departed spouse. “The veiled widow  could elicit sympathy as well as predatory male advances,” he says. “As a woman of sexual experience without marital constraints, she was often imagined as a potential threat to the social order.”

Just who was she peering at through her long black veil?

Death Becomes Her” runs from October 21, 2014 to February 1, 2015, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Jun 6 2014 8:45am

Take A Walk Among the Tombstones with Liam Neeson

Can “the Pride of Ballymena play a bred-in-the-bone New Yorker” like Matt Scudder in the 1992 crime novel A Walk Among the Tombstones? Scudder's creator, Lawrence Block, who points out that Neeson is an American citizen and New Yorker now, asks and answers emphatically:

I saw a final cut of the film six months ago, and loved it. Liam is Matthew Scudder; he embodies the role perfectly, and his screen presence is commanding. Scott's [writer and director Scott Frank's] script is true to the spirit of the novel while incorporating changes that enable it to work on the screen. (And he's retained a great deal of my dialogue, and it's a treat to hear those lines come out of Liam's mouth.)

So there.

Opens September 19th in the U.S. (a week later in the U.K.) Oh, yes, think we're in. You?

May 30 2014 2:00pm

Gotham: The City Without Batman

How can Gotham be an interesting show if it doesn’t have Batman?

It’s a question I’ve been asked numerous times since Fox Television announced that Gotham would join their fall schedule. The show will focus on a young Jim Gordon investigating the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne and track the evolution of the city that becomes the eventual home of Batman.

For casual fans of Batman, Gordon and the police department seems an odd focus. But to comic fans, there are two clear influences for this show and they’re two of the best Gotham-focused stories ever written: Batman: Year One (1987) by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli and Gotham Central (2003-2006) by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark.

[This is going to be good...]

May 13 2014 8:45am

“Shining” Work: Alcoholic Court Reporter Jeopardizes Verdicts

An alcoholic Manhattan court stenographer went rogue, channeling his inner “Shining” during a high-profile criminal trial and repeatedly typing, “I hate my job, I hate my job” instead of the trial dialogue... and now officials are scrambling to repair the damage.

One high-level source said his “gibberish” typing may have jeopardized hard-won convictions by giving criminals the chance to claim crucial evidence is missing...

... Judges have been holding “reconstruction hearings” at which everyone involved in a case has to testify about what they remember.

The fired stenographer, who's been in rehab, denies he gave less than “100%” diligence to his job or the thirty cases under review, but you can read the rest via the New York Post.

Image is an artist's rendering.

May 6 2014 12:30pm

Now Win This!: Four Knaves Sweepstakes

You bet we've got four knaves for you: Jimmy, Moe, Alex... and, uh, Dismas? This handful of trouble includes fresh titles from Johnny Shaw, Reed Farrel Coleman, Marc Guggenheim, and John Lescroart—such a deal!

This Sweepstakes Has Ended

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 May 6, 2014, at 12:30 pm ET, and ends May 20, 2014, 12:29 pm ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[See all the suits in this sweepstakes...]

Apr 22 2014 12:00pm

Now Win This!: Dread Half-Dozen Sweepstakes

We've got eggs on the brain and a half-dozen freshly-hatched crime titles on our hands!

This Sweepstakes Has Ended.

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 April 22, 2014, at 12:00 pm ET, and ends May 6, 2014, 11:59 am ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[Pop the Carton to Reveal the Dread Half-Dozen...]

Mar 16 2014 1:00pm

A Debut Revisited: Cold Caller by Jason Starr

Cold Caller by Jason StarrI can be a pretty difficult guy to get along with sometimes.

Umm, yeah.  That understatement is made by Bill Moss, the narrator and protagonist of Jason Starr’s first novel Cold Caller. Initially released in 1997 by No Exit Press of the U.K. and then published in the U.S. by Norton the following year, Cold Caller is a savage, nightmarish work of contemporary urban noir. Comparisons to Jim Thompson immediately abounded. Starr was just beginning what continues to be a celebrated career.

But about that debut. So, Moss is a guy who has an M.B.A. and who currently resides in New York City. He used to hold a high-level advertising job, but that gig came to an end and now he’s a telemarketer. The phone “cold calling” job was only supposed to be something to keep a paycheck coming in while he looked for another position more suited to his skill set. But at the time of the story he’s been stuck doing the menial work for two years. He’s good at it, but what business school grad wants to be a time clock-punching phone pest? In his personal life Moss has a live-in girlfriend. He and his steady are both in their early 30s. She’s ready for the altar but Moss says he only wants to get married after he’s gotten his career back on track. In the meantime he can’t get it up for her, although he still finds her attractive. And he’s obsessed with having a foray with a prostitute.

[Telemarketing, prostitution, this novel's got it all...]

Mar 4 2014 11:30am

Fresh Meat: Brooklyn Graves by Triss Stein

Brooklyn Graves by Triss SteinBrooklyn Graves by Triss Stein is the second traditional mystery featuring historian Erica Donato, who'll research Tiffany glass as well as the murder of a family friend (available March 4th, 2014).

Erica Donato is a single mother of a teenage daughter and an overworked, underpaid, dissertation-writing apprentice historian. In the space of one twenty-four hour period, all of the balls she has been juggling drop around her. At work, she is assigned a historical research project involving the Tiffany family—yes, that Tiffany. Between exploring dilapidated mausoleums containing Tiffany artwork in Green-Wood Cemetery and digging through turn of the century letters, Erica must complete all of her other academic work.

Then Erica’s daughter, Chris, drops a bombshell. A good friend of the family, Dima, who worked as a custodian at Chris’ school, has been killed. He was shot through the head and found lying on his front lawn. In the days after the news breaks, Erica tries to help her friend, Natalya, Dima’s wife, navigate the waters of police interviews and grief. However, as she works to help Natalya, Erica discovers there’s more to this family than meets the eye.

And history doesn’t always stay in the past.

Brooklyn Graves is the second novel in the Erica Donato series. Here history meets modern Brooklyn. With her contacts and background in New York history, Erica is where the past and present meet. She sees connections and links where others don’t.

Neat, historical touches are woven throughout the story. Erica’s first brush with Tiffany artwork takes place, macabrely enough, in a cemetery: Green-Wood Cemetery. There are mausoleums with stained glass windows attributed to Tiffany’s work. Erica visits the cemetery with the preeminent Tiffany expert, Dr. Thomas Flint. Together they learn there may have been damage to the windows, a circumstance that greatly bothers Dr. Flint and causes Erica a mountain of follow-up work.

[The broken-windows theory of solving murders?]

Feb 13 2014 9:00pm

Fresh Meat: Nothing Personal by Mike Offit

Nothing Personal by Mike OffitNothing Personal by Mike Offit is a financial thriller written by a Wall Street insider about a young MBA who whose mentor at the bank gets murdered (available February 11, 2014).

As I've mentioned before, I’m often on the lookout for good business-themed mysteries and thrillers. Not ones where the hero or villain happens to be a businesscritter, but ones where business is vital to the functioning of the plot, where the mystery or thrills grow out of the supercharged environment of high finance or corporate skullduggery.

Nothing Personal, career securities trader Mike Offit’s debut “novel of Wall Street,” promises: “Warren [the hero] soon finds himself at the center of two murder investigations as a crime spree seemingly focused on powerful finance wizards plagues Wall Street. The blood-soaked trail leads to vast wealth and limitless risk…” Financial and personal mayhem! Good stuff, right?

Not so much. Nothing Personal is a crime novel, but not a murder novel. The crime isn’t in the couple of killings, which in many ways are beside the point; it’s in the way day-to-day business is done in the corporate finance world in which Our Hero works.

[Greed stains as bad as blood...]

Feb 4 2014 4:30pm

Fan Favorites: 2014’s Mystery Conventions

2014 promises to be chock full of wonderful mystery conventions and conferences ranging from Bouchercon— the world’s largest crime fiction convention—to more tightly-focused conferences like Malice Domestic, which specializes in traditional and cozy mysteries. Thrillerfest is, of course, primarily about thrillers, and Left Coast Crime is regional, but also offers the year's only humorous mystery award. Most conventions feature opportunities not only to meet your favorite authors and get your book signed, but also to make tons of new friends who love crime fiction as much as you do.

So, here's a rundown of the major crime fan conventions and conventions taking place in 2014:

[And don't forget your chance to win...]

Jan 21 2014 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: NYPD Puzzle by Parnell Hall

NYPD Puzzle, a Puzzle Lady mystery, by Parnell HallNYPD Puzzle by Parnell Hall is the 15th humorous mystery about Cora Felton, the grandmotherly-appearing and fraudulent Puzzle Lady, whose wise-cracking and sleuthing will put her under suspicion of murder by New York's Finest (available January 21, 2014).

Cora Felton would probably bite your head off if you asked her for help doing the Sunday crossword puzzle. Parnell Hall brings back The Puzzle Lady, this time getting herself in the middle of a New York City murder. This series is definitely character-driven, with a protagonist that is sarcastic and cranky… so you might think that you would immediately dislike her. However, I found myself drawn into the fast pace, and the reward was seeing the side of Cora that she keeps hidden. Being a great-aunt and someone who tends to “pick fights” gives an image of a gray-haired, unhappy woman, but learning that she had an affair with a married man puts a unique spin on Cora, especially when her heart starts to show:

Cora managed to get as far as the Mobil station before she pulled off the road and collapsed, weeping, on the steering wheel. She killed the lights, prayed Sam Brogan wouldn’t drive by. The car was in the shadows, but even so. Her red Toyota was too distinctive not to be noticed.

Schmuck. That total schmuck. How could he be so heartless? Of course, it was the doctor’s first affair and his first marital reconciliation. He had probably eaten enough humble pie in suffering the tortures of atonement to be ready to strangle a nun, let alone the woman who had put him in that position. It was no surprise he was rude to her, particularly on the job and in the presence of the chief of police.

Even so.

Cora cried herself out. She rolled down the window, lit a cigarette, and sat there smoking.

[And that's not the end of her romantic adventures!]

Dec 21 2013 11:30pm

The Bad Old Days of 1973: Serpico at 40

Serpico (1973) U.S. movie release posterForty years ago this month, Serpico hit movie theaters. It’s important to remember the context in which the film came into the world. The sixties had long since curdled into the seventies. New Jersey still bore the scars of the horrific Camden riots. Vietnam lay in ashes. The economy was entering a recession which would last until 1975. Watergate—which had begun as a small story about a burglary at the Democratic National Headquarters—had metastasized into a full-blown White House scandal. Just a month before, a sweaty Richard Nixon had gone on television to try and reassure an increasingly skeptical public that “I’m not a crook.” And in New York, the city was still reeling from the revelations of the Knapp Commission, which has exposed rampant systemic corruption in the police department.

Into this swirl of bad feelings, Serpico was released. Directed by the great Sidney Lumet, from a screenplay by Waldo Salt and Norman Wexler based on the book by Peter Maas, it told the true story of the hero of the Knapp Commission findings, a brave cop named Frank Serpico. Frustrated with the corruption around him, Serpico had worked to expose the rottenness in the NYPD and nearly been killed for his efforts.

[How's that for gratitude?]

Dec 18 2013 4:30pm

Lost Classics of Noir: Hardman by David Karp

Hardman by David Karp, published 1953 by Lion BooksA hardboiled novel about a hardboiled novelist.  A main character who is a hard man, who has the last name Hardman. Might as well just get straight to the point, huh?

Get to the point David Karp did with this no-frills novel from 1953. Originally published by Lion Books (who, in their short run over the late ‘40s to mid-‘50s also issued titles by the likes of Jim Thompson, David Goodis, and Day Keene), Hardman is the kind of raw, unsentimental book that thrills the noir-loving set.

That main character’s full name is Jack Hardman. He comes up as a streetwise New York kid, whose parents don’t give a damn about him, and who’s often in trouble with authority figures. As a very young man, he gets pulled in for a statutory rape charge. The judge who hears the case sees some potential in Hardman’s character and sentences him to probation, under his own watch. The judge reads some ultra-realistic writings Hardman does, where he describes the brutal lifestyle he has led to that point, including depictions of the grim people and places therein, and the judge believes he has a potential writer under his care. The judge shows Hardman’s scribblings to a friend of his who is a professional in the publishing world. This man agrees that Hardman is meant to be an author, then off goes the story.

Fast forward some number of years, and Hardman is now a wildly successful writer. His books are not of such literary quality that he’s likely to win any awards or receive critical acclaim, meanwhile, they’re salacious enough that his publisher and literary agency are always on the verge of being sued by some kind of decency-protecting organization. But the books sell in large numbers to a loyal audience always ready to pounce on his next release. Hardman allows no distractions while he’s writing his godless novels, will even turn down the offer of some steamy nookie from his best ladyfriend when he’s at work on a book. He doesn’t do revisions and generally doesn’t read any of his own works after he turns them in. He is a fierce man who focuses clearly on what he wants at a given moment.

Hardman is a bully. People are just objects to him, to be used if they serve a purpose, to be ignored or abused otherwise. Throughout the story, he terrorizes and brutalizes innocent bystanders unlucky enough to cross his hedonistic path. Some of his most viciously boorish antics take place at the office of his literary agent, who happens to be a childhood “friend” (the quotes are needed there because it’s a huge stretch to say that Hardman is a friend to anybody).

[Art hasn't made free a gentle spirit...]

Dec 14 2013 5:00pm

The Sentinel (1977): You Had Me at Gateway to Hell

The Sentinel (1977)The Sentinel is a movie that evaded me for decades. I love religious horror films like The Omen, The Exorcist, Rosemary's Baby, and most recently This is the End. So I should have loved The Sentinel, with the tagline She's living in the gateway to hell. It also stars many of my favorite actors: Burgess Meredith, Chris Saradon, Eli Wallach, Jerry Orbach, Christopher Walken, John Carradine, and Beverly D'Angelo. The problem is not that it's not terrible, but that it's not terrible enough.

I love a good bad movie, see. The problem is the ones that aren't good enough or bad enough, and just sort of limp along like a dog wiping itself on the carpet for 120 minutes. And that's what The Sentinel felt like. In fact, if a dog ate the famous religious horror films mentioned above, and then wiped itself on a white shag carpet for 120 minutes, it would be easier to watch than The Sentinel.

Let me synopsize the movie for you, and I had to read two different sources to do this, because the direction by Michael Winner (Death Wish, The Mechanic, The Big Sleep '78, but also, tellingly, Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood) is so confusing that it often feels like watching disjointed reels with missing footage. But here goes...

Editor's Note: Strange images and spoilers ahead...

[If that doesn't convince you to read on, what would?!]