<i>Stealing the Countess</i>: New Excerpt Stealing the Countess: New Excerpt David Housewright There's a lot more going on than the mere theft of a priceless instrument. <i>Wedding Bel Blues</i>: New Excerpt Wedding Bel Blues: New Excerpt Maggie McConnon The first book in the new Bel McGrath Mysteries Series. <i>A Game for All the Family</i>: New Excerpt A Game for All the Family: New Excerpt Sophie Hannah A standalone thriller from the New York Times bestselling author. <i>Jane Doe January</i>: New Excerpt Jane Doe January: New Excerpt Emily Winslow An intimate memoir of a victim able to confront her attacker two decades later.
From The Blog
May 25, 2016
Nate Heller & Mike Hammer
Max Allan Collins
May 25, 2016
An Interview with Louise Penny
Crime HQ
May 25, 2016
Under Burning Skies: Best of 21st-Century Western Movies
David Cranmer
May 24, 2016
Antiheroes: Top 5 Reasons a Little Bad Feels So Good
Guy Bergstrom
May 24, 2016
The Top 10 Castle Episodes of All Time
Corrina Lawson
May 25 2016 4:00pm

Nate Heller & Mike Hammer

Read this exclusive guest post from Max Allan Collins, author of Better Dead, comparing his own Nate Heller series to finishing Mickey Spillane's posthumous Mike Hammer manuscripts, and then make sure you're signed in and comment for a chance to win a copy of his newest Nate Heller thriller!

I have been writing about my fictional P.I. Nate Heller for over thirty years. During that time, he’s solved some of the greatest unsolved crimes of the 20th Century, mostly in the 1930s and ‘40s, though more recently, I skipped forward to the 1960s for novels about Marilyn Monroe’s death (Bye Bye, Baby, 2011) and the JFK assassination (Target Lancer, 2012; Ask Not, 2013). The only ‘50s novel was Chicago Confidential (2002), set at the beginning of that decade.

In the world of crime fiction, the private eye who ruled the 1950s was Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer. Hammer’s first half dozen cases (starting with I, The Jury, 1947) remain the bestselling private eye novels of all time. The character was wildly popular, but also extremely controversial, even vilified. The left attacked Spillane for Hammer’s vigilante ways, and the right pilloried him for what was the then extreme sexual content of the novels.

[Read more from Max Allan Collins...]

May 25 2016 2:00pm

An Interview with Louise Penny

Although we all have to patiently wait until August 30th for Louise Penny’s upcoming Inspector Gamache novel, A Great Reckoning, that doesn’t mean we can’t fan the flames and add to the excitement. 

Watch below as Jeffrey Brown of PBS NewsHour interviews Louise Penny about her upcoming novel for Book Expo America 2016 in Chicago. In this great interview, Louise reveals the Shakespearian inspiration for the title, her Canadian roots and why she chose to set her books there, a little about her writing process, and some of her charm and wit in the friendly banter with Brown. 

And remember, each time you watch this video, that’s 10 minutes and 24 seconds closer to August 30th and the release of A Great Reckoning!

[Watch the full interview below...]

May 25 2016 12:30pm

Under Burning Skies: Best of 21st-Century Western Movies

Almost two decades into the century, quality Western films are alive and kicking. Though doubtful the genre will ever bound back to its silver screen “heyday” of the 1940s and ‘50s, those released now are often top-grade fare. Modern Westerns crafted by film makers like Andrew Dominik, the Coen Brothers, and Quentin Tarantino pay a tribute to the legacies that preceded them and give a fresh twist on execution.

[I prefer the Wild West to the Kanyes of this world...]

May 25 2016 11:00am

5 New Books to Read this Week: May 24, 2016

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!

Check back every Wednesday and see what we're reading for the week!

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

May 25 2016 10:00am

Stealing the Countess: New Excerpt

Stealing the Countess (Rushmore McKenzie Series #13) by David HousewrightStealing the Countess is book #13 in the Rushmore McKenzie Series by the Edgar Award winner David Housewright (Available May 31, 2016).

Since becoming an unlikely millionaire and quitting the St. Paul Police Department, Rushmore McKenzie has been working as an unlicensed private investigator, basically doing favors for friends and people in need. But even for him, this latest job is unusual. He's been asked to find a stolen Stradivarius, known as the Countess Borromeo, that only the violinist seems to want him to find.

Stolen from a locked room in a B&B in the violinist's former hometown of Bayfield, Wisconsin, the violin is valued at $4 million and is virtually irreplaceable. But the foundation that owns it and their insurance company refuses to think about buying it back from the thief (or thieves.) However, Paul Duclos, the violinist who has played it for the past twelve years, is desperate to get it back and will pay out of his own pocket to get it back.

Though it's not his usual sort of case, McKenzie is intrigued and decides to try and help, which means going against the local police, the insurance company, the FBI's Art Crime division, and his own lawyer's advice. And, as he quickly learns, there's a lot more going on than the mere theft of a priceless instrument.


The Maestro insisted that it wasn’t his fault.

“What was I supposed to do?” he asked. “Handcuff her to my wrist? Hire armed guards to escort us to rehearsals, to concert halls? You can’t live like that. It’s untenable. The fact is, she was essential to me, to my profession. She was an extension of myself. I took her to every major city in the world. It was either that or quit my job. Of course, I was always aware of my surroundings when she was with me. I never let her out of my sight. But if you worried about someone running off with her, if you gave in to paranoia, you’d never leave the house.”

[Read more of Stealing the Countess...]

May 24 2016 2:45pm

Preorder First Strike by Ben Coes and Get Exfiltration Free!

Exfiltration started out as a scene from one of Ben Coes's novels, Independence Day. It was cut long before the final draft—the novel took a substantially different turn—but Ben liked the characters and action so much, that he sculpted a separate story for giveaway with a preorder purchase of his new book, First Strike

Here’s what happened right before the story opens:

After a harrowing evening in St. Petersburg, Russia, Dewey Andreas is followed by agents from SVR, the Russian intelligence agency. His only hope of escape is on a ferry just about to leave, but as he boards the crowded ship, Dewey sees that agents have also come aboard. Within minutes, Dewey is cornered. Now his only option is to get off the boat, but as he leaps from the deck, a gunman shoots him in the leg. He lands in the cold water miles from shore, a bullet lodged in his leg and darkness all around. Dewey knows he will probably drown but does what he can to increase the odds of survival as blood pours from his wounded leg into the ocean. 

Learn more about how to preorder First Strike and get your copy of Exfiltration here!

May 24 2016 12:00pm

The Top 10 Castle Episodes of All-Time

Castle ended this month, after eight seasons on the air, amid a swirl of controversy. The show chose not to renew Stania Katic’s contract, and plans for Season 9 included Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion) as the lead, with no Kate Beckett, despite the fact the show was based on the relationship between the characters. 

Despite all this, however it got there, the series finale contained a happily ever after.

The controversy of its ending distracted from the fact that Castle had an excellent run. The quality remained high, up until it’s last two seasons, despite the fact Castle and Beckett first got together at the end of Season 4—putting a lie to the adage that once characters get together, the show falls apart. More of my choices for top ten episodes are in Season 5 than any other season.

What really seemed to spell doom for the show, instead, was a switch in showrunners after Season 6, when creators Andrew Marlowe and Terri Miller stopped helming the show. That quality drop was clear when I began making my list, and no episodes past Season 6 made the cut—though one from Season 7 is an honorable mention.

So, here, in sequential order, are my picks for the best ten episodes of the series, with a few honorable mentions at the end. 

[See which episodes made the list!]

May 24 2016 11:00am

CrimeHClue Murder Mystery Game: Pick the Location

Let’s play a game.

Don’t worry, there’ll be no human body puzzle parts and all the violence will be fictional and happen off screen (plus, we won’t drag this out with 7+ sequels).

The game is CrimeHClue. And YOU the reader will choose the murderer, the murder weapon, and the location of the murder in our Tuesday’s Lineup, here at CrimeHQ. We’ll hide the results, and once the cards are set, we’ll hide the answers to the clues throughout our social media channels for a lucky winner to win a prize!

*One more week to vote for the clues! Next Tuesday, we'll tally the votes and post the final instructions for how to win! Make sure you're following us on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest—that's your first clue!

So, let’s get to it!

Where will the murder take place?


survey solution


Make sure to vote for the murderer and murder weapon, too!

May 24 2016 10:00am

Wedding Bel Blues: New Excerpt

Maggie McConnon

Wedding Bel Blues by Maggie McConnonWedding Bel Blues is the first book in the new Bel McGrath Mysteries Series (Available May 31, 2016).

Are they tying the knot?

Belfast McGrath has spent the last fifteen years avoiding her big, bustling, brash Irish family. But when her five-star culinary career goes up in flames, she retreats to Foster’s Landing—where she’s immediately tapped as her cousin Caleigh’s maid-of-honor. It’s a perfect recipe for disaster...especially when Bel learns that the wedding preparations included Caleigh having one last one-night stand.

Or the noose?

When Caleigh’s lover plunges from the second-floor balcony during the reception, Bel can’t help but think his death was no accident. Soon Detective Kevin Hanson, who just happens to be Bel’s long-ago love, arrives on the scene—looking hotter than ever. Heartbreak and homicide hardly help Bel to feel more at home, but if she is going to make a new beginning for herself, including putting the past behind her, she must first steer clear of a cold-hearted killer.


It never bothered me when Caleigh McHugh, my first cousin on my mother’s side, insulted me when we were teenagers. We had been competing with each other since we were kids, and today, her wedding day, was no exception.

Because I was pretty sure that my IQ was higher than hers and since I come from a family that has always valued brains over beauty—well, most of the time—her insults didn’t really hurt. “You look plushy in that dress, Bel,” Caleigh said, giving me the once-over, making sure she looked better than I did.

[Read more of Wedding Bel Blues..]

May 23 2016 3:00pm

Wallander 4.03: “The Troubled Man” Episode Review

Early morning. Håkan von Enke (Terrence Hardiman) begins his day as he always does, winding the Mora clock in the front hall of his beautiful historic home. Taking the same walk. Thinking the same thoughts. Just as he described to Kurt Wallander in Episode 2: “A Lesson in Love.”

Only this time, von Enke doesn’t come home from his walk. This time, that troubled man disappears without a trace.

Kurt Wallander (Kenneth Branagh) is asked to investigate von Enke’s disappearance, in part because he’s a detective, but mainly because Håkan von Enke is the father-in-law of Wallander’s daughter Linda (Jeany Spark), which makes it a family matter. Wallander wants to set Linda’s mind at ease. Plus, he’s curious about the secrets Håkan revealed to him in Episode 2. It was pretty big stuff related to a high-level government cover-up that goes back 30 years. Wallander figures it’s related to Håkan’s disappearance.

Local detective Nils Ytterberg (Simon Chandler, who’s had roles in many of your favorite British mystery series from Midsomer Murders to The Bletchley Circle to Vera) isn’t having much luck finding Håkan. He’s happy for Wallander’s help, and Wallander is happy to be helpful, given that he’s been suspended from duty in Ystad.

For Kurt Wallander has troubles of his own.

[Each man is a half-open door...]

May 23 2016 2:00pm

Game of Thrones 6.05: “The Door”

“The Door” marked the official halfway point of Game of Thrones’ sixth season, and it did so with emphatic exclamation. We’ll get to the somber ending north of The Wall in a bit, but first, I want to give a standing ovation to the wonderful troupe of actors who perfectly summarized the entirety of Season 1. Give me them over the Sand Snakes any day of the week.

At the wall, we watched Sansa (Sophie Turner) first dismiss a submissive Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen) and then later channel his duplicitous ways in lying to Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) about where she found out about the Blackfish’s rebellion at Riverrun.

In the Dothraki Sea, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) offered Jorah (Iain Glen) a glimpse into a post-friend zone life, but only if he can figure out how to cure his incurable disease. Sounds about right for Jorah.

At the House of Black and White, Arya (Maisie Williams) and the Waif (Faye Marsay) dropped the gloves, much to Arya’s chagrin, and Jaqen H’ghar explains that the Faceless Men were once slaves in Valyria before going on to found the Free City of Braavos. He then sends Arya out with a vial of poison meant for Lady Crane, the actress playing Cersei in a reenactment of The War of the Five Kings. After watching the seemingly clever and decent actress, Arya grows unsure if the woman deserves the Many-Faced God’s gift.

In Meereen, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill) hold court with Kinvara (Ania Bukstein), a High Priestess of the Red Temple of Volantis. Tyrion, forever a believer in the power of positive press, urges Kinvara to deliver to the commonfolk the powerful story of Daenerys: mother of dragons, breaker of chains, and all that. Varys, on the other hand, is doubtful of the priestess's preachings...at first.

And finally, we dropped our anchors in Pyke to watch Yara (Gemma Whelan), with the help of Theon (Alfie Allen), attempt to take a seat on the Salt Throne. There’s only one problem, and he calls himself the storm.

[He’s definitely a hard and strong riser…]

May 23 2016 12:00pm

Under the Radar: Movies You May Have Missed—The Losers

Who doesn't like a good comic book movie?

(Notice I said good—I would never try to inflict The Green Lantern on you. I love y'all too much for that sort of betrayal, Ryan Reynolds's abs notwithstanding.)

Well, if you're up for another one—and yes, I'm aware we're all hitting that saturation point where we've maybe had too much of a good thing, what with there being roughly ten billion Marvel films and a glut of DC stuff in the tubes coming straight for us—then allow me to lead you down the path least taken.

I'm talking about a lesser known, Vertigo-flavored slice of fried gold that has never been spoken of in the same breath as Batman, Spider-Man, or any of those other Lycra-clad animal-themed superheroes.

I'm here to talk to you about the gloriousness that is The Losers.

Do you like rag-tag bands of not-so-merry men? Are you fond of underdog stories full of madcap hijinks and snarky dialogue? Is it just not a good time unless there are enough spent shell-casings to carpet a drug lord's bedroom?

Have I got the movie for you!

[Are you tired of grimdark comic movies? Introducing!]

May 23 2016 11:00am

Discount: Abandoned Prayers by Gregg Olsen

Abandoned Prayers: An Incredible True Story of Murder, Obsession, and Amish Secrets by Gregg Olsen is the true crime account of Eli Stutzman, the son of an Amish Bishop that had haunting secrets. Get the ebook for only $1.99 until Friday 5/27!

On Christmas Eve in 1985, a hunter found a young boy's body along an icy corn field in Nebraska. The residents of Chester, Nebraska buried him as “Little Boy Blue,” unclaimed and unidentified— until a phone call from Ohio two years later led authorities to Eli Stutzman, the boy's father.

Eli Stutzman, the son of an Amish bishop, was by all appearances a dedicated farmer and family man in the country's strictest religious sect. But behind his quiet façade was a man involved with pornography, sadomasochism, and drugs. After the suspicious death of his pregnant wife, Stutzman took his preschool-age son, Danny, and hit the road on a sexual odyssey ending with his conviction for murder. But the mystery of Eli Stutzman and the fate of his son didn't end on the barren Nebraska plains. It was just beginning…


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

Buy at Amazon Buy at Barnes and Noble Buy at iTunes

May 23 2016 10:00am

A Game for All the Family: New Excerpt

Sophie Hannah

A Game for All the Family by Sophie Hannah is a standalone thriller by this New York Times bestselling author, where a woman is pulled into a deadly game of deception, secrets, and lies, and must find the truth in order to defeat a mysterious opponent, protect her daughter, and save her own life (Available May 24, 2016).

You thought you knew who you were. A stranger knows better.

You’ve left the city—and the career that nearly destroyed you—for a fresh start on the coast. But trouble begins when your daughter withdraws, after her new best friend, George, is unfairly expelled from school.

You beg the principal to reconsider, only to be told that George hasn’t been expelled. Because there is, and was, no George.

Who is lying? Who is real? Who is in danger? Who is in control? As you search for answers, the anonymous calls begin—a stranger, who insists that you and she share a traumatic past and a guilty secret. And then the caller threatens your life. . . .

This is Justine’s story. This is Justine’s family. This is Justine’s game. But it could be yours.

[Read an excerpt of A Game for All the Family here...]

May 22 2016 11:00am

Jane Doe January: New Excerpt

Emily Winslow

Jane Doe January by Emily Winslow is a compelling, real-life crime mystery and gripping memoir of the cold case prosecution of a serial rapist, told by one of his victims. (Available May 24, 2016).

In 1992, college student Emily Winslow was raped off-campus by a stranger. In 2013, the man was identified by a DNA match in the FBI’s CODIS database of criminal DNA. This excerpt from Emily’s memoir of the cold-case prosecution that resulted, Jane Doe January (her fourth book after three detective novels), describes her journey back to Pittsburgh to testify in the preliminary hearing to establish the charges against him. 

The preliminary hearing is not set in Pittsburgh’s historic courthouse near my hotel. Instead it takes place a few blocks away, in the municipal court, a run-down building awkwardly shaped to look like a police badge from above.

Bill, the original detective from my case, has walked me there. We’ve been instructed to meet the other detectives, Dan and Aprill, in front of the “broken elevators.” They’re easy to find once we’re through the oversensitive metal detector and past the chipper, already-bored security lady; there are no working elevators to trick us.

[Read more of Jane Doe January here...]

May 20 2016 4:30pm

“Rocks-&-Rye Bones” Cocktail

What do you do when a baby is dropped off at your door? I wipe the sweat from my brow, remember that it's a fictional situation, and enjoy another cocktail!

So, put the book down for a quick minute and join us for Pick Your Poison—where we create a cocktail inspired by a recently published mystery, thriller, or crime novel!

This week, make a nice “Rocks-&-Rye Bones” cocktail—inspired by the 12th Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery by Carolyn Haines, Rock-a-Bye Bones!

[Check out the recipe below!]

May 20 2016 3:00pm

Alfred Hitchcock Is Not as Great as You Think

Alfred Hitchcock is brilliant. He made some absolutely amazing films. Certified classics—make no mistake. But is he as great as you, and the rest of the film snob world, think he is?

Here’s the thing: Hitchcock did one thing, and he did it very well (mostly). But, that’s just it. He only did ONE THING. Many directors in the classic period or so-called “golden age” of Hollywood were genre-hopping craftsmen, who were equally at home with a thriller, a comedy, a western, or even the occasional musical.

Hitchcock made everything from suspense to thriller. It’s like that bartender in The Blues Brothers. “We got both kinds—Country and Western.” Not much of a choice there, is it?

[Was Alfred Hitchcock really a genius?]

May 20 2016 12:30pm

Dear Professor Moriarty: Advice for a Harvard Man

This week's guest columnist is Professor Moriarty, who denies any knowledge of what happened to Prince Harry's missing puppy, though offering a large reward for finding the creature might be wise. 

Dear Professor Moriarty,

I'm a junior at Harvard who just got engaged to a beautiful pre-med whose parents are loaded. A dream, right? 

Here's the nightmare part: her brother. I live in one of their condos (yeah, they have three) and couldn't afford tuition, room, and board without this help. Her only brother, who she adores, is my roommate. Mostly, he amuses himself by tormenting me. Nair in my shampoo bottle, waking me up with an airhorn at 3 a.m. every morning and squirting Crazy Glue into the keyholes of my car—yeah, that's an average week.

It's ruining my life. Do I drop out of Harvard and break off the engagement to a great woman, or sit quietly and endure another two years of living hell?

Harvard Man Living with a Maniac

[Read Professor Moriarty's advice!]