Discount: <i>A Rule Against Murder</i> by Louise Penny Discount: A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny Crime HQ Get a digital copy of the 4th Chief Inspector Gamache novel for only $2.99 through 5/1! <i>Love & Death in Burgundy</i>: New Excerpt Love & Death in Burgundy: New Excerpt Susan C. Shea An atmospheric mystery novel filled with good Chablis, french cheese, and murder. Review: <i>A Single Spy</i> by William Christie Review: A Single Spy by William Christie David Cranmer Read David Cranmer's review! <i>Incendiary</i>: New Excerpt Incendiary: New Excerpt Michael Cannell The search for a serial bomber who stalked the streets of 1950s NYC.
From The Blog
April 28, 2017
2017 Edgar Award Winners
Crime HQ
April 27, 2017
Loving the Unlikable: My Favorite Female Characters
Marianne Delacourt
April 27, 2017
Q&A with Patricia Abbott, Author of Shot in Detroit
Patricia Abbott and Katherine Tomlinson
April 26, 2017
Backgammon: “The Cruelest Game” in Film and Literature
David Cranmer
April 26, 2017
A Field Guide to Sociopaths, Psychopaths, Narcissists, and Other Abusers: An Interview with Zak Mucha
Thomas Pluck and Zak Mucha
Apr 28 2017 4:30pm

“Honeychurch Highball” Cocktail

What do you do when the only copy of your manuscript is lost in transit? Get Ravished with a few cocktails and start investigating! 

And I think this week's Pick Your Poison—where we create a cocktail inspired by a recently published mystery, thriller, or crime novel—is the perfect cocktail for the job: the “Honeychurch Highball" cocktail, inspired by Hannah Dennison's 4th Honeychurch Hall mystery, Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall!

[Check out the recipe below!]

Apr 28 2017 3:00pm

Ladies’ Night: Book and Cocktail Pairings for a Night In

A drink order says a lot about a person—that’s maybe why there are approximately a zillion online quizzes promising to reveal the secret of our personalities based on our drink of choice. And in mystery novels, a character’s favorite drink is equally as telling. A fun way to get into a protagonist’s head is to match her drink for drink while you’re reading about her exploits. Here are some standout female characters in classic and contemporary mystery fiction and what they are drinking throughout the novels they star in. 

(Note: a good whisk(e)y goes with any mystery novel, in my opinion.)

[Get a few recipes below and party with your favorite female characters!]

Apr 28 2017 1:00pm

Genre Verdict: The Exorcist Is One Hell of a Good Show

Leanna’s Thoughts: For the savvy Criminal Element reader who is familiar with my various rants and rhapsodies about what I find beautiful or lacking in modern entertainment, you know I’ve a passion for genre books, shows, and films presenting inclusive casts with strong female protagonists that don’t present an outmoded trope of sacrifice and secondary status. You may recall I slammed Penny Dreadful’s ending for being a bitter betrayal of a breathtaking heroine, but I lifted up Stranger Things as doing everything right by its strong cast. 

When it comes to horror, the genre can be a dangerous place of double-standards for women, indigenous folks, and people of color—anyone already fighting for a voice and considerate representation. The Exorcist drags everyone through hell and does it all rather brilliantly, with a strong family at the core led by Geena Davis.

[To hell ... and back!]

Apr 28 2017 12:00pm

Discount: A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny is the 4th book in the Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery series. From now until May 1st, get a digital copy of A Rule Against Murder for only $2.99!

“What happened here last night isn't allowed,” said Madame Dubois.

It was such an extraordinary thing to say it stopped the ravenous Inspector Beauvoir from taking another bite of his roast beef on baguette.

“You have a rule against murder?” he asked.

“I do. When my husband and I bought the Bellechasse we made a pact.... Everything that stepped foot on this land would be safe.”

It is the height of summer, and Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache are celebrating their wedding anniversary at Manoir Bellechasse, an isolated, luxurious inn not far from the village of Three Pines. But they're not alone. The Finney family―rich, cultured, and respectable―has also arrived for a celebration of their own.

The beautiful Manoir Bellechasse might be surrounded by nature, but there is something unnatural looming. As the heat rises and the humidity closes in, some surprising guests turn up at the family reunion, and a terrible summer storm leaves behind a dead body. It is up to Chief Inspector Gamache to unearth secrets long buried and hatreds hidden behind polite smiles. The chase takes him to Three Pines, into the dark corners of his own life, and finally to a harrowing climax.

Follow along with Doreen Sheridan as she cooks up “Homeade Lemonade” and “Tarte Poire Hélène” from A Rule Against Murder!


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

Buy at Amazon Buy at Barnes and NobleBuy at Books a Million Buy at iTunes

Apr 28 2017 11:30am

2017 Edgar Award Winners

Last night, the Mystery Writers of America presented the 71st annual Edgar Allan Poe Awards at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. Celebrating the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, and television published or produced in 2016, the yearly event gathers a veritable who's who in the genre. Below is a list of all of this year's winners.

*Click on the linked titles for reviews!

[See who won an Edgar Award!]

Apr 28 2017 11:06am

Bad Penmanship Almost Foils Robbery

This week's tale might be further evidence that penmanship is a dying art these days thanks to computers and smartphones. Let me explain:

According to KRON, a man's sloppy handwriting almost put the kibosh on the robbery he was attempting to pull off. Apparently, the man walked into a Family Dollar store and slid a note demanding money to one of the employees behind the register. However, the employee could not read what the note said, so he handed it back and asked the guy to read it to him. How embarrassing!

The robber, of course, could read his own scribblings aloud without any problems, and the clerk quickly complied by emptying out the cash register and handing over a pack of smokes.

The man then skedaddled and got away scot-free. That is, until local police released a photo from the store's surveillance camera of the suspect. It did not take long for police to get some leads that led to his capture.

I will admit, my penmanship is pretty horrible too. How is yours?

Apr 28 2017 10:00am

Love & Death in Burgundy: New Excerpt

Susan C. Shea

Love & Death in Burgundy by Susan C. SheaLove & Death in Burgundy is an atmospheric mystery novel filled with good Chablis, french cheese, and of course, murder (available May 2, 2017).

After three years of living in the small town of Reigny-sur-Canne, all Katherine Goff really wants is to be accepted by her neighbors into their little community. But as an American expat living in the proud region of Burgundy, that’s no easy task.

When the elderly Frenchman who lives in the village chateau is found dead at the bottom of a staircase, the town is turned into a hot bed of gossip and suspicion, and Katherine suddenly finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into the small town’s secrets. A motherless teenager, a malicious French widow, a brash music producer, and a would-be Agatha Christie are among those caught up in a storm that threatens to turn Katherine’s quiet life upside down. As more and more of the villagers' secrets are brought to light, Katherine must try to figure out who, if anyone, in the town she can trust, and which one of her neighbors just might be a killer.

[Read an excerpt from Love & Death in Burgundy...]

Apr 27 2017 4:00pm

The Top 6 Moments of Iris Johansen’s Margaret Douglas

Everybody loves Iris Johansen's animal-whispering character Margaret Douglas! Read about some of her best moments & make sure to sign in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of No Easy Target!

Iris Johansen has given us so many fascinating characters over the years. Kendra Michaels, the music therapist who uses her new sense of sight and keen observational skills to help the FBI; Seth Caleb, the mysterious man with the “talent” of manipulating blood for both good and bad reasons; and of course, Eve Duncan, the forensic sculptor who dedicates her life to bringing peace to the dead once her young daughter was kidnapped and killed.

Among these (and many more) is the enigmatic, animal whisperer, Margaret Douglas. We meet Margaret in Taking Eve when she helps search for Eve after saving Jane’s dog, Toby, after he was poisoned. Margaret takes center stage for the first time in Iris Johansen’s new thriller, No Easy Target. Take a look at some of our favorite Margaret moments from over the years and tell us yours in the comments!

Read an excerpt from No Easy Target!

[See Margaret Douglas's best moments!]

Apr 27 2017 2:00pm

Loving the Unlikable: My Favorite Female Characters

Creating an unlikeable but compelling character is perhaps one of the most difficult components of crafting fiction. How do you hit that sweet spot of unlikability without turning the audience off them? 

Read an excerpt from Marianne Delacourt's Too Sharp!

As with any well-developed character, revealing their motivation is usually the key. We all know that cardboard baddies are boring and hard to invest in; whereas, conflicted, driven, flawed, gnarly characters can be so endlessly fascinating. Heck, we can even empathize with them on some level. Think of Dexter or Hannibal Lector or Walter White.

Those guys spring immediately to mind, don’t they? 

And there’s the rub: the unlikable characters who we love to hate are more often male. You should check out some of the many opinion pieces written about why that’s the case. (It doesn’t take much of a Google to find them.)

So, today I’m celebrating a few of my favorite unlikable female characters in film and fiction. Women who I can’t look away from and who have taught me something. 

[See which female badasses made the list!]

Apr 27 2017 1:00pm

Q&A with Patricia Abbott, Author of Shot in Detroit

Patricia Abbott is the author of more than 150 short stories that have appeared in print and online publications. She won the Derringer Award in 2008 for her story “My Hero.” She is the co-editor of the e-anthology Discount Noir. Collections of her stories, Monkey Justice and Other Stories and Home Invasion, were published by Snubnose Press.

In 2015, Polis Books published the novel Concrete Angel. They are also the publisher of Shot in Detroit, which has been nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original. 

Ms. Abbott was generous enough to answer some questions about her latest novel, her Edgar nomination, and what’s next for her!

[Read the full Q&A below!]

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...]

Apr 27 2017 10:00am

Incendiary: New Excerpt

Michael Cannell

Incendiary: The Psychiatrist, the Mad Bomber, and the Invention of Criminal Profiling by Michael Cannell details the search for a serial bomber who stalked the streets of 1950s New York. The race to catch him would give birth to a new science called criminal profiling (available April 25, 2017).

Grand Central, Penn Station, Radio City Music Hall—for almost two decades, no place was safe from the man who signed his anonymous letters “FP” and left his lethal devices in phone booths, storage lockers, even tucked into the plush seats of movie theaters. His victims were left cruelly maimed. Tabloids called him “the greatest individual menace New York City ever faced.”

In desperation, Police Captain Howard Finney sought the help of a little known psychiatrist, Dr. James Brussel, whose expertise was the criminal mind. Examining crime scene evidence and the strange wording in the bomber’s letters, he compiled a portrait of the suspect down to the cut of his jacket. But how to put a name to the description? Seymour Berkson—a handsome New York socialite, protégé of William Randolph Hearst, and publisher of the tabloid The Journal-American—joined in pursuit of the Mad Bomber. The three men hatched a brilliant scheme to catch him at his own game. Together, they would capture a monster and change the face of American law enforcement.

[Read an excerpt from Incendiary...]

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...]

Apr 26 2017 4:00pm

The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes by Leonard Goldberg: A Visual Guide

GIFnotes: Giving you the basic plot summary of an upcoming book with the help of the Graphics Interchange Format.

This week, the daughter of the great detective teams up with the son of the good doctor to solve a murder in the highest levels of British society. Take a visual tour of Leonard Goldberg's The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes with GIFnotes!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Apr 26 2017 2:00pm

My Favorite Crime Movie

Read why Peter Blauner considers Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye to be his favorite crime movie, and then make sure to sign in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of Blauner's sweeping crime novel, Proving Ground!

The Long Goodbye isn’t the best crime movie ever made. The Godfather and The Godfather Part II are hard to beat in that category. It isn’t the best film Robert Altman ever directed either; McCabe and Mrs. Miller and Nashville are more likely contenders. And it certainly isn’t the best adaption of a Raymond Chandler novel—how could anyone top Bogart and Bacall in The Big Sleep? But it was the right movie at the right time for me.

[Right movie at the right time...]

Apr 26 2017 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: April 25, 2017

Every Wednesday, we here at Criminal Element will put together a list of Staff Picks of the books that published the day before—sharing the ones that we are looking forward to reading the most!

This week, we're enjoying a trip to the past thanks to Michael Cannel's new true crime thriller and William Christie's riveting historical spy novel. In the mood for something a little lighter? Check out a new book of advice from none other than Better Call Saul's Saul Goodman. See what else this week brings in the way of books:

[See this week's Top 5...]

Apr 26 2017 11:00am

A Field Guide to Sociopaths, Psychopaths, Narcissists, and Other Abusers: An Interview with Zak Mucha

Fiction is about getting inside the heads of people, whether they are like us or unlike us. When writers depict a sociopath, how close can they get? Is it possible to represent a mental state we can’t experience? Even therapists and psychologists can get it wrong. When we are talking to a person who, by definition, lies for their own benefit, can they let enough of their true self slip through their mask so that an observer can truly know how they think?

Zak Mucha, LCSW, is a psychotherapist who worked on the streets of Chicago treating mentally ill homeless clients before he moved into private practice. He is the author of Emotional Abuse: a Manual for Self-Defense, which explains the behavior of emotional abusers of all kinds and, more importantly, how to deflect their attacks. It is a short, pragmatic, and concise book that explains how to recognize different types of systematic diminishment and the expected response. 

Last year, I asked my fellow writers what frightened them more: someone without empathy or conscience, or someone who has these qualities but willfully chooses to ignore them to get what they want. Part of the question was to prod at the current fascination with the psychopath or sociopath.

Fictional examples include the social climber killer in Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying, Amazing Amy from Gone Girl, Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men, Jimmy the Gent from Goodfellas, and so on. Then, there are characters who seem to successfully wrestle with their conscience, such as Tony from The Sopranos and Walter White from Breaking Bad.

I asked Mr. Mucha about these characters to see which, if any, get it “right.”

[Read the full interview below!]

Apr 26 2017 10:05am

The Fallen: New Excerpt

Eric van Lustbader

The Fallen by Eric Van LustbaderThe Fallen by Eric Van Lustbader the 2nd book in the Testament series, which explores religion, politics, and civilization, plumbs the depths of morality, and finally asks us to consider what it really means to be human (available May 2, 2017).

The End of Days has been predicted for the last two thousand years. Now, without warning, it is upon us. In a hidden cave in the mountains of Lebanon, a man makes a fateful discovery. He will bring what has been forbidden for thousands of years out of the darkness and into the light: the Testament of Lucifer.

In Istanbul, Bravo Shaw, head of the Gnostic Observatine sect, is warned by Fra Leoni of the war between Good and Evil, waged to a standstill since time immemorial. Now an unfathomable danger has arisen: Lucifer’s advance guard, the Fallen. Humankind is in danger of being enslaved by the forces of evil.

Bravo, Fra Leoni, and Bravo’s blind, brilliant sister, Emma, are the first and last line of defense against the chaos unleashed by the Testament of Lucifer. All roads lead to the Book of Deathly Things: the Testament of Lucifer. But if Bravo and Emma become privy to its dreadful secrets they very might well forfeit far more than just their lives.

[Read an excerpt from The Fallen...]