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May 18, 2017
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May 16, 2017
Q&A with Court Merrigan, Author of The Broken Country
David Cranmer and Court Merrigan
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Douglas Schofield
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2017 Derringer Award Winners
Crime HQ
Showing posts tagged: David Cranmer click to see more stuff tagged with David Cranmer
Tue
May 23 2017 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: Wolves of the Calla Part VIII

Last week, Jake discovered Slightman the Elder's treasonous plan as the Calla geared up for the fight of their lives. This week, the battle against the Wolves commences as we close out Wolves of the Calla

Our previous read, The Wind Through The Keyhole, waylaid us in a town hall as a starkblast trapped our ka-tet with freezing conditions. Roland of Gilead spent the time palavering with Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy about long ago when him and fellow gunslinger Jamie tracked down and killed the shapeshifter Skin-Man. Intertwined in the narrative, we discover that Roland’s mother Gabrielle had learned from Randall Flagg that her son would murder her, and so in a letter she’d written in advance, she absolved Roland of the deed. After the icy weather passes, the ka-tet emerges and heads along the Path of the Beam toward Thunderclap.

*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!

We're back to wacky Stephen King chapters, so the plan is to read a section a week (about 100 pages) and meet here at our usual time (Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET) to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This week, the battle with the Wolves commences as we close out Wolves of the Calla! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part VIII of Wolves of the Calla: Part Three The Wolves, VII: “The Wolves” – Epilogue: “The Doorway Cave”!


CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread


[Leeeeeeeet's get ready to ruuuuummbllllle!]

Mon
May 22 2017 5:00pm

Page to Screen: American Gods 1.04: “Git Gone” Review

Every episode of American Gods has ended with me longing for more. All the Coming to America vignettes have been pitch perfect and the acting top-notch across the board, but if I hadn't read the extraordinary Neil Gaiman novel, I don't believe I would care what comes next and—like my two viewing companions—would have bailed.

There's a real slow turning of the narrative page here (yet when slow is done right, it can be exciting, à la Twin Peaks) that wasn't clicking in the first three episodes, and the compartmentalization of the book that kept the reader enthralled just didn’t have the same effect in the show. For someone who likes it when filmmakers stay true to the book, I have to admit that I’m glad they expanded the Laura Moon character in “Git Gone.” It provides a much-needed backstory to her relationship with Shadow, and it made this episode the first exceptional one of the series.

[Read David Cranmer's review of “Git Gone”...]

Mon
May 22 2017 3:00pm

Twin Peaks: The Return Review: Parts 1 and 2

Ahead of David Lynch’s revival, I went back and binged on the original series, interested to know if it would still capture me like it did 27 years ago. I was only a few years older than the fictional 17-year-old Laura Palmer when I sat with my mom and best friend Erik each week, religiously invested in Special Agent Cooper probing Laura’s grisly death. My mother didn’t laugh at the dark humor that Erik and I enjoyed over the slain girl’s mom wailing long past when other directors would have yelled “cut!” We had grown up on Lynch’s Blue Velvet and were more than prepared for the dramatic swings—after all, Dennis Hopper snuffing up oxygen through a mask is practically normal. Still, both generations were glued-fast to the intrigue.

[Read David Cranmer's review of Twin Peaks: The Return, Parts 1 and 2!]

Tue
May 16 2017 3:00pm

Q&A with Court Merrigan, Author of The Broken Country

Court Merrigan describes himself as a farm-raised country boy, recovering expat, teacher, and businessman. He lives in Wyoming with his family and has an alternate history Western novel just released from BEAT to a PULP books with a Crusoe-inspired title: The Broken Country: Being the Scabrous Exploits of Cyrus & Galina Van, Hellbent West during the Eighth Year of the Harrows, 1876; With an Account of Mappers, Bounty Hunters, a Tatar, and the Science of Phrenology

Editor and publisher of BTAP caught up with Mr. Merrigan on the virtual country trail to ask a few questions.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Tue
May 16 2017 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: Wolves of the Calla Part VII

Last week, Susannah's pregnancy became increasingly distressing. This week, Jake confirms the truth about Slightman the Elder, while Eddie finally takes out that traitor Messenger Robot. 

Our previous read, The Wind Through The Keyhole, waylaid us in a town hall as a starkblast trapped our ka-tet with freezing conditions. Roland of Gilead spent the time palavering with Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy about long ago when him and fellow gunslinger Jamie tracked down and killed the shapeshifter Skin-Man. Intertwined in the narrative, we discover that Roland’s mother Gabrielle had learned from Randall Flagg that her son would murder her, and so in a letter she’d written in advance, she absolved Roland of the deed. After the icy weather passes, the ka-tet emerges and heads along the Path of the Beam toward Thunderclap.

*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!

We're back to wacky Stephen King chapters, so the plan is to read a section a week (about 100 pages) and meet here at our usual time (Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET) to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This week, Roland lies and schemes his way through his plan, while Eddie takes care of the traitor Messenger Robot! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part VII of Wolves of the Calla: Part Three The Wolves, III: “The Dogan, Part 2” – Part Three The Wolves, VI: “Before the Storm”!


CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread


[Bring on the wolves, we want to see the wolves, where are the wolves!?]

Mon
May 15 2017 4:45pm

Page to Screen: American Gods 1.03: “Head Full of Snow” Review

Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is a masterpiece of early 21st-century works, and a big reason for this triumph is the seemingly disjointed threads that make up the narrative—specifically the Coming to America vignettes that explore how multitudes of cultural immortals like Odin, Anansi, and others arrived on the North American shores. Reading Gods is a seamless laminar flow that, for some strange reason, the Starz program lacks.

I’m not sure why it’s not successfully making the transition, but after just three episodes there’s a noticeable discordant disconnect. The acting is superb, but the direction at times feels oddly paced—for example, a checkers game that went on and on a bit too long. The opening theme and musical score is excellent, though the musical selections (and make no mistake, I love my Dylan and CCR) are dated and fail to fit.

In the book, I never questioned why Shadow Moon decided to go along with Mr. Wednesday—it’s so smoothly written—but watching the narrative play out, I can’t help but ask why not run the other way from these combative, mischievous lunatics. It’s kind of like that great anecdote you’ve rehearsed in your head, and when you finally say it out loud, it doesn’t deliver as big. Still, there’s enough flashy stuff happening that it’s far from boring.

[Read David Cranmer's review of Episode 1.03: “Head Full of Snow”...]

Thu
May 11 2017 1:00pm

Review: A Twisted Vengeance by Candace Robb

A Twisted Vengeance by Candace Robb is a historical mystery set in York at the end of the 14th century, where young widow Kate Clifford—struggling to keep her businesses afloat—realizes that her mother is harboring a dangerous secret.

To say Kate Clifford’s mother, Eleanor, is a handful is an understatement. Eleanor flees Strasbourg, returning to York with three beguines to establish a Martha House. That, according to the book’s glossary, is “a household of lay religious women dedicated to serving the community.” Oh, and beguines are “a community of women leading lives of religious devotion who, unlike those who entered convents, were not bound by permanent vows.” Since A Twisted Vengeance takes place in 1399, the lexicon is useful—though, for the most part, the dialogue is modernized and easy to follow. 

Adding insult to injury, Eleanor moves into the residence next door to Kate, who’s running a guesthouse. Her “pious” mother’s keen eye takes note of the men who frequent the inn wanting a quiet moment with their mistresses. Kate also cares for her late husband Simon’s kids—not from a previous marriage, mind you, but with his own courtesan who has also passed away. She’s a busy woman with an extra complicated life, and Eleanor pokes at her: What would happen, she inquires, if people knew she was a bawd (a woman in charge of a brothel)?

[Read David Cranmer's review of A Twisted Vengeance...]

Tue
May 9 2017 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: Wolves of the Calla Part VI

Last week, we learned of the “unfound” door that will lead our ka-tet back to NYC. This week, Susannah's pregnancy becomes increasingly distressing, and Eddie makes contact with 1977 Calvin Tower. 

Our previous read, The Wind Through The Keyhole, waylaid us in a town hall as a starkblast trapped our ka-tet with freezing conditions. Roland of Gilead spent the time palavering with Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy about long ago when him and fellow gunslinger Jamie tracked down and killed the shapeshifter Skin-Man. Intertwined in the narrative, we discover that Roland’s mother Gabrielle had learned from Randall Flagg that her son would murder her, and so in a letter she’d written in advance, she absolved Roland of the deed. After the icy weather passes, the ka-tet emerges and heads along the Path of the Beam toward Thunderclap.

*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!

We're back to wacky Stephen King chapters, so the plan is to read a section a week (about 100 pages) and meet here at our usual time (Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET) to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This week, Eddie travels back to 1977 NYC to talk with Calvin Tower! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part VI of Wolves of the Calla: Part Three The Wolves, I: “Secrets” – Part Three The Wolves, II: “The Dogan, Part 1”!


CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread


[New York, New York, a helluva town...]

Mon
May 8 2017 4:30pm

Page to Screen: American Gods 1.02: “The Secret of Spoons” Review

Another commendable “Coming to America” opening as Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones) makes his appearance, in 1697, in the belly of a Dutch slave ship bound for the New World as Anansi, a trickster god, in the form of a spider crawling in the hull. The spider morphs into Anansi, who doesn’t pull any punches letting the doomed men know that they and their descendants will be screwed for three hundred years.

“Let me paint a picture of what’s waiting for you on the shore,” he enlightens them in blunt fashion. “You arrive in America, land of opportunity, milk and honey … and guess what? You all get to be slaves. Split up, sold off and worked to death.” His incendiary speech begins to take hold, inspiring the men to get angry because angry gets things done.

He then imparts them with some bittersweet comeuppance: “The only good news is the tobacco your grandkids are going to farm for free is going to give a shitload of these white motherfuckers cancer.” The disturbed look on the faces as he’s conveying to them their plight is heartbreaking and sobering because it rings so true. Dressed in colorful attire, sashaying back and forth like a carnival barker showman but with the fiery eloquence of a civil rights preacher, Jones is a must remember come Emmy award time. The ship is burned at sea by the slaves, no survivors, except Anansi, who lands ashore safely on a piece of the wreckage.

[Quite an intro...]

Tue
May 2 2017 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: Wolves of the Calla Part V

Last week, we learned of the Sisters of Oriza. This week, we find out just how Callahan got to Calla Bryn Sturgis and how the ka-tet plans to get back to NYC through the “unfound” door. 

Our previous read, The Wind Through The Keyhole, waylaid us in a town hall as a starkblast trapped our ka-tet with freezing conditions. Roland of Gilead spent the time palavering with Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy about long ago when him and fellow gunslinger Jamie tracked down and killed the shapeshifter Skin-Man. Intertwined in the narrative, we discover that Roland’s mother Gabrielle had learned from Randall Flagg that her son would murder her, and so in a letter she’d written in advance, she absolved Roland of the deed. After the icy weather passes, the ka-tet emerges and heads along the Path of the Beam toward Thunderclap.

*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!

We're back to wacky Stephen King chapters, so the plan is to read a section a week (about 100 pages) and meet here at our usual time (Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET) to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This week we discover the “unfound” door and learn of just how Father Callahan got to Calla Bryn Sturgis! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part V of Wolves of the Calla: Part Two Telling Tales, VIII: “Took's Store; The Unfound Door” – Part Two Telling Tales, IX: “The Priest's Tale Concluded”!


CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread


[Introducing the “unfound” door...]

Mon
May 1 2017 1:00pm

Page to Screen: American Gods 1.01: “The Bone Orchard” Review

For many centuries, immigrants to America brought their gods with them. Once upon a time, these immortals were all-powerful, commanding unrivaled veneration. But now, in this modern age where fickle Americans worship media, drugs, technology, celebrity, guns—you name it—the old deities have lost their edge. They now exist in human form, vying for just a speck of their former glory in any way they can scrape it up.

Take Bilquis (aka Sheba), for example, eking out an existence through prostitution. In the novel, when a producer comes to her for her services, Bilquis has one request—beyond the $50 he’s paying—to worship her. At first, he humors her with vapid praise until he’s experiencing the greatest sex he’s ever had, and finally, his indiscriminate member leads him within her body completely. Swallowed up whole.

[From whence you came!]

Thu
Apr 27 2017 12:00pm

Review: A Single Spy by William Christie

A Single Spy by William Christie follows Alexsi Ivanovich Smirnov, a Russian orphan forced to become a spy during WWII, as he navigates the war and his mission—one that could change the very course of history.

In 1936 in Soviet Azerbaijan, 16-year-old Alexsi—orphaned to a life of petty thievery—rides with the Shahsavan to survive and becomes a Muslim to be accepted in their ranks. In a pivotal skirmish between the Russians and the Shahsavan, he fights for his life.

Alexsi shoved the revolver in his face and pulled the trigger. The muzzle blast shocked him—he had never fired the pistol at night—and seemed to set the Russian on fire. The Russian fell backward over his legs. Alexsi frantically kicked him off so he could get up. As he did, he snatched up the budionovka hat with his free hand and swung the revolver around, ready to keep shooting.

But the noise of all the Russians on the hill firing their rifles was so deafening that his pistol shot had been swallowed up in it.

[Read David Cranmer's review of A Single Spy...]

Wed
Apr 26 2017 4:30pm

Backgammon: “The Cruelest Game” in Film and Literature

Renowned gamesman Barclay Cooke (1912-1981) called backgammon “the cruelest game.” Memorable hyperbole? Perhaps. But vital skills are needed to play: intense concentration, clever strategy, and an ability to see ahead to possible traps—and still the probability of the roll can level the steel nerves of even the finest. That brutal unpredictability translates well to the mystery, crime, and thriller genres, and of course, with sport slang like post mortem, premature burial, under the gun, shot, hustler, and hit, backgammon is practically crying out for a spotlight with the criminal element.

[The oldest game in the world...]

Tue
Apr 25 2017 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: Wolves of the Calla Part IV

Last week, we learned about what happened to Father Callahan after Salem's Lot. This week, we discover the Sisters of Oriza.

Our previous read, The Wind Through The Keyhole, waylaid us in a town hall as a starkblast trapped our ka-tet with freezing conditions. Roland of Gilead spent the time palavering with Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy about long ago when him and fellow gunslinger Jamie tracked down and killed the shapeshifter Skin-Man. Intertwined in the narrative, we discover that Roland’s mother Gabrielle had learned from Randall Flagg that her son would murder her, and so in a letter she’d written in advance, she absolved Roland of the deed. After the icy weather passes, the ka-tet emerges and heads along the Path of the Beam toward Thunderclap.

*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!

We're back to wacky Stephen King chapters, so the plan is to read a section a week (about 100 pages) and meet here at our usual time (Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET) to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This week is a short but important read as we learn about the Sisters of Oriza! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part IV of Wolves of the Calla: Part Two Telling Tales, IV: “The Priest's Tale Continued (Highways in Hiding)” – Part Two Telling Tales, VII: “Nocturne, Hunger”!


CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread


[Introducing the Sisters of Oriza...]

Tue
Apr 25 2017 11:00am

Review: Get Off the Grid! Saul Goodman’s Guide To Staying Off The Radar by Saul Goodman

Get Off the Grid! Saul Goodman's Guide to Staying Off the Radar by Saul Goodman & Steve Huff is a humorous guide on going to ground from the fast-talking lawyer from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul

Well this book, Get Off the Grid, comes at a perfect time. Recently, I was one of millions who purchased a VPN—virtual private network—after the government voted to let ISPs sell our browser history. So after shaking my fist at the thin air and writing my congressman another letter he will “file away,” I took matters into my own hands.

Perhaps, I mused, Saul Goodman can help with even more tips. Well, it turns out, maybe only a little in my case because he’s talking about getting really gone, gone baby. We’re talking flying way close to the ground. Who is he to offer such advice? Let Mr. Goodman introduce himself:

[Read David Cranmer's review of Get Off the Grid!...]

Mon
Apr 24 2017 3:00pm

Review: Cold Earth by Ann Cleeves

Cold Earth is the 7th book in the Shetland Island Mystery series.

Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez is attending the funeral of friend Magnus Tait, body just laid to rest in the ground, when a landslide occurs and wreaks havoc in Ravenswick, Shetland. The natural destruction cuts off the main drag to the airport, shuts schools, and causes general disorder to the small, tight-knit community. At a house close to the cemetery, pretty much engulfed in mud, Perez looks upon a startling find. A death that may have happened before the natural catastrophe.

And something else, bright against the grey wall and the black soil. A splash of red. Brighter than blood.

He scrambled down the bank towards it. A woman’s body had been left behind by the ebbing tide of earth. She wore a red silk dress, exotic, glamorous. Not the thing for a February day in Shetland, even if she’d been indoors when the landslide swept her away. Her hair and her eyes were black and Perez felt a strange atavistic connection. She could be Spanish, like his ancestors of centuries ago.

[Read David Cranmer's review of Cold Earth...]

Mon
Apr 24 2017 2:00pm

Review: The Measure of the Moon by Lisa Preston

The Measure of the Moon by Lisa Preston is a mix of mystery and domestic suspense that weaves together two stories of love, lies, and secrets resulting in a shocking conclusion. 

Eight-year-old Greer Donner, on a joyride with horse Clipper, is thrown from the mount. Now, having a good four-hour trek home with darkness closing in, he begins huffing it. On a back forest road, he spots a vehicle, hoping he can get a ride or borrow a phone. Instead, a scene of horrific violence is playing out—and his life ends up being altered forever.

The glare of the SUV’s headlights lit up the sight of a man in a suit roaring at a woman in a dress and a turtleneck. She cowered. He drew back one hand and belted her solidly across the right side of her face, deflating her last cry, sending her to the ground. Greer’s stomach clenched.

Realizing that the SUV’s headlights protected him from being seen, Greer crept closer, pausing at the open driver’s door. A silver pistol lay tucked between the floor and the leather driver’s seat.

[Read David Cranmer's review of The Measure of the Moon...]

Tue
Apr 18 2017 1:00pm

Review: Where It Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman

Where It Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman is a gritty, atmospheric novel about the other side of Long Island, far from the wealth of the Hamptons, where real people live—and die. It is nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Novel.

There’s a lot to be said for not just a bold opening paragraph but one that sums up the main protagonist to such crystal-clear perfection. Listen to the voice of retired Suffolk County cop Gus Murphy:

Some people swallow their grief. Some let it swallow them. I guess there’re about a thousand degrees in between those extremes. Maybe a million. Maybe a million million. Who the fuck knows? Not me. I don’t. I’m just about able to put one foot before the other, to breathe again. But not always, not even most of the time.

Here’s a near-defeated character that wants to rise again, but it’s a long shot at best … it’s like Cornell Woolrich, hardboiled mixed with detective edge. Gus is grieving over the death of his son John Jr., his marriage to Annie is over, and his daughter Kristen is heading torpedo fast to rock bottom—a casualty of not only her brother’s death but her parents’ uncoupling. Gus lives at the Paragon hotel where he works as a house detective (that’s still a thing?) and drives the taxi van three times a week to shuttle people to and from the local airport.

[Read David Cranmer's review of Where It Hurts...]

Tue
Apr 18 2017 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: Wolves of the Calla Part III

Last week, Roland & Co. went todash back to 1970's NYC. This week, Father Callahan takes center stage as we learn about what happened after the seminal events of Salem's Lot.

Our previous read, The Wind Through The Keyhole, waylaid us in a town hall as a starkblast trapped our ka-tet with freezing conditions. Roland of Gilead spent the time palavering with Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy about long ago when him and fellow gunslinger Jamie tracked down and killed the shapeshifter Skin-Man. Intertwined in the narrative, we discover that Roland’s mother Gabrielle had learned from Randall Flagg that her son would murder her, and so in a letter she’d written in advance, she absolved Roland of the deed. After the icy weather passes, the ka-tet emerges and heads along the Path of the Beam toward Thunderclap.

*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!

We're back to wacky Stephen King chapters, so the plan is to read a section a week (about 100 pages) and meet here at our usual time (Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET) to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This week, Father Callahan takes center stage as we learn about what happened after the seminal events of Salem's Lot! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part III of Wolves of the Calla: Part Two Telling Tales, I: “Pavilion” – Part Two Telling Tales, III: “The Priest's Tale (New York)”!


CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread


[Introducing Father Callahan, The Vampire Slayer...]

Sat
Apr 15 2017 3:00pm

Review: A Fever of the Blood by Oscar de Muriel

A Fever of the Blood by Oscar de Muriel is a riveting new detective novel that evokes a spellbinding concoction of crime, history, and horror.

January 1, 1889, in Edinburgh, “Nine-Nails” McGray and Ian Frey are called to the lunatic asylum just in time to witness a horrific otherworldly occurrence, which first person narrator Frey recounts:

I could not contain a shudder when I saw that poor woman, partially concealed by the drapery.

I cannot say that she lay on her back. She was face upwards, but her spine was contorted brutally, forming a ghastly arch—her chest in the air, her weight resting on her hips and shoulders. Nobody’s back could bend like that without breaking a few vertebrae.

Her arms were twisted in odd directions, her hands stiff and her fingers set like claws. To complete the disturbing picture, her eyes were bloodshot and her mouth was wide open, unleashing a succession of horrendous cries.

[Read David Cranmer's review of A Fever of the Blood...]