<i>The Silence of the Sea</i>: New Excerpt The Silence of the Sea: New Excerpt Yrsa Sigurdardottir The 6th in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series. <i>Apricot's Revenge</i>: New Excerpt Apricot's Revenge: New Excerpt Song Ying A thought provoking detective novel. <i>The Orion Plan</i>: New Excerpt The Orion Plan: New Excerpt Mark Alpert An extraterrestrial thriller. <i>Murder on a Summer's Day</i>: New Excerpt Murder on a Summer's Day: New Excerpt Frances Brody A not-so-perfect summer day.
From The Blog
February 12, 2016
Happy Birthday to the Most Famous Lawyer/Thriller-Writer In History (It’s Not Who You Think)
Barry Lancet and Anthony Franze
February 11, 2016
History as Mystery: Part II
Jeannette de Beauvoir
February 11, 2016
False Starts: A Memoir of San Quentin and Other Prisons by Malcolm Braly
Brian Greene
February 10, 2016
History as Mystery: Part I
Jeannette de Beauvoir
February 10, 2016
Man Tosses Live Gator at Wendy’s Cashier
Teddy Pierson
Fri
Feb 12 2016 10:00am

Happy Birthday to the Most Famous Lawyer/Thriller-Writer In History (It’s Not Who You Think)

Who’s the most famous lawyer-author of all time? Nope, not John Grisham.

  • Here are some hints:
  • Today is his birthday.
  • He grew up in a log cabin.
  • He wore a tall top hat.
  • And, oh yeah, he helped free the slaves.

Surprised? We were, too.

But in April, 1846—or eight-score-and-ten years ago—then-lawyer Abraham Lincoln published a short crime story in a Quincy, Illinois newspaper. The tale, published under the awkward title of “Remarkable Case of Arrest for Murder,” found its way over a hundred years later into Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine as “The Trailor Murder Mystery.”

Our sixteenth president was—according to various accounts—a “great admirer” of Edgar Allan Poe, and wrote the story “based on a peculiar murder/disappearance case he defended, and which is detailed in several biographies.” 

[See what Lincoln's true crime thriller was like...]

Thu
Feb 11 2016 3:00pm

History as Mystery: Part II

Yesterday, in History as Mystery Part I, I explored why I love historical mysteries so much and offered 10 of my absolute favorites as sort of a crash course reading list to get you started. Now that you’re clearly convinced of how great these stories can be, it’s your turn to start exploring topics for the next bestseller!

Part II offers some great material for the would-be writers of historical mysteries: 10 mysteries from the past that have never been solved. I’ll bet that you could craft a story around at least one of them!

[It's a mystery which mysteries will be on the list...]

Thu
Feb 11 2016 12:30pm

Getting to Know Deadpool: Marvel’s Newest and Mouthiest Movie Star

The Marvel Studios and 20th Century Fox films inspired by Marvel Comics feature a variety of very different super powered heroes and villains, but if there's one trait many of them share, it's the propensity to crack wise or offer up sarcasm in the face of danger. On February 12th, moviegoers will meet the one Marvel character whose tongue is as sharp as the two katanas he swings.

I'm talking, of course, about the title character of Fox's new Deadpool film, starring Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson—a smart-mouthed and sarcastic mercenary with cancer who volunteers for an experiment that transforms him into a manic, horribly disfigured, unkillable super soldier. Think Bugs Bunny with the fighting skills and healing factor of the X-Men's Wolverine.

Now, some of you unfamiliar with Deadpool's comic book background may be thinking, “Hey! We've seen this character before in the first Wolverine movie!” And you sort of did. Ryan Reynolds played Wade Wilson in the flashback portions of the movie, but the character he became in the present day—that definitely wasn't Deadpool!

Reynolds is actually a huge fan of the character, and a faithful Deadpool feature film adaptation, inspired by the character’s comic adventures, has long been a passion project for him.

Fans of Deadpool comics understand why, too. The character was introduced to the world twenty-five years ago this month, in the pages of “New Mutants” #98, by his creators, Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld. Since then, a number of creators have had fantastic, imaginative, and incredibly hilarious runs on the character.

He's evolved over the years, too. He's still the same mouthy, manic, merc his fans have come to know and love, but these days, he's married to a demon queen, he’s a member of the Avengers, and he’s even a successful business man!

So, in this piece, we'll take a look back at the character's comic history, his core traits, and offer up some suggestions for readers looking to become acquainted—or reacquainted—with Deadpool’s exploits as a comic character.

[Shhh. My common sense is tingling...]

Thu
Feb 11 2016 10:15am

False Starts: A Memoir of San Quentin and Other Prisons by Malcolm Braly

Previously, I wrote an appreciation of Malcolm Braly’s 1961 prison novel Felony Tank as part of my Lost Classics of Noir series for Criminal Element. I singled out the book for being a noteworthy and under-appreciated work of edgy crime fiction, as well as a standout tale about life behind bars. There’s a reason—besides his writing talent—that Braly (1925-1980) wrote so well about his prison life, via Felony Tank and his more celebrated correctional facility novel, On the Yard (1967): he spent the majority of his adult life in penal institutions.

Thanks to Stark House Press’s new reissue of Braly’s 1976 jailhouse memoirs, False Starts: A Memoir of San Quentin and Other Prisons, those of us with an interest in the author can now read his non-fiction account of the penitentiary existence.

False Starts is really more than a prison memoir, despite its subtitle. It’s more like a full autobiography up to that point in the writer’s life. In the first chapter, Braly describes his childhood and early teen years in the parts of California where he was raised, letting us see how, and perhaps why, he drifted into the life of crime that found him detained behind bars for so many of his adult years.

[See what lead him down this path...]

Wed
Feb 10 2016 2:45pm

History as Mystery: Part I

What’s so great about the past?

It’s true that historical mysteries are rarely the most popular crime fiction sub-genre, but I’m a dreamer—I’d like to change all that.

There are amazing mysteries to be plumbed; stories already pre-assembled and ready to be told. When you read a historical mystery, you’re not just looking into the mind and life of a person who’s very different from you (assuming, of course, that you don’t happen to be a murderer), you’re also taking your own personal Tardis to a time and culture that can be foreign to you as well.

And there are some seriously great historical mysteries out there. Here are 10 of my favorites, in no particular order:

[See what made the list...]

Wed
Feb 10 2016 12:30pm

American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson 1.02: “The Run of His Life”

Yesterday, I had to endure a jammed up commute, a long day’s work, my annual co-op board meeting, and the New Hampshire primary broadcast. None of these were unreasonably unpleasant, but they were really draining.

I was looking forward to last night’s episode of American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, if only to see a portrayal of a guy who was far more exhausted than I could ever even imagine being.

We left off last week’s premiere with some dead bodies, Simpson in cuffs, a few key Simpson freak-outs, a media circus, a suicide attempt in Lil’ Kim Kardashian’s room, a daring escape, and then, of course, the white Bronco—cruising down the freeway toward one of the most memorable media moments of the decade. It was like a human Hindenburg disaster when we were watching it live. We were witnessing an icon, a legend, self-immolate on every channel.

[And now we're witnessing it again, on one channel...]

Wed
Feb 10 2016 10:00am
Excerpt

The Silence of the Sea: New Excerpt

Yrsa Sigurdardottir

The Silence of the Sea by Yrsa Sigurdardottir is an Icelandic thriller and the 6th book in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series that features a mysterious luxury yacht that crashes into the pier completely empty leaving Thora to investigate this “cursed” ship (Available February 16, 2016).

A luxury yacht crashes into a Reykjavik pier. But the boat is empty; no one is on board. What has happened to the crew? And what has happened to the family who were very much present when the yacht left Lisbon?

What should Thora Gudmundsdottir, the series sleuth, make of the rumors that the vessel was cursed? She is spooked even more when she boards the yacht and thinks she sees one of the missing children. Where is Karitas, the glamorous young wife of the yacht's former owner? And whose is the body that has washed up further along the shore?

Chapter 1

The repairman scratched his neck, his expression a mixture of exasperation and astonishment. “Tell me again exactly how it happened.” He tapped a small spanner on the lid of the photocopier. “I can’t count how many of these I’ve dealt with, but this is a new one on me.”

Thóra’s smile was devoid of amusement. “I know. So you said. Look, can you mend it or not?” She resisted the temptation to hold her nose in spite of the stench rising from the machine. In hindsight it had been an extremely bad idea to hold a staff party in the office but it had never occurred to her that someone might vomit on the glass of the photocopier, then close the lid neatly on the mess. “Maybe it would be best if you took it to your workshop and carried out the repairs there.”

“You could have limited the damage by calling me out straight away instead of leaving it over the weekend.”

[Read more from The Silence of the Sea here...]

Wed
Feb 10 2016 8:45am

Man Tosses Live Gator at Wendy’s Cashier

A live three-foot long alligator tossed through a drive-thru window.

A man who allegedly tossed a gator through a Wendy's drive-thru window has finally been taken into custody, reports ABC News

The man, Joshua James, 23, has been accused of throwing a live three-foot long alligator through a drive-thru window at his local Wendy's.

According to the Sheriff's report, James pulled up for his order, and after a server handed over his drink and turned around, he tossed the gator into the drive-through window.

While the incident happened about a year ago, the suspect was just apprehended by a US Marshall this week. Newly-obtained CCTV footage of the act led to his recent arrest.

His mother told the local TV channel WPTV that her son hurled the gator as part of a joke aimed at a friend who worked there. “He's a prankster. He does stuff like this because he thinks it is amusing”, she claims.

James faces charges of unlawful possession and transportation of an alligator and aggravated assault.

Tue
Feb 9 2016 4:30pm

The X-Files 10.04: “Home Again”

SCULLY: Back in the day, didn't we ever come across the ability to wish someone back to life?

MULDER: I invented it. When you were in the hospital like this.

SCULLY: You're a dark wizard, Mulder.

MULDER: What else is new?

There's a cost for gentrification.

And I'm not just talking money—when cities decide to “clean up” certain neighborhoods and make them more appealing to businesses and families, what do you suppose happens to the poor and homeless who used to walk those alleys? The ones that used to shelter in those run down buildings?

It's a fraught topic of debate; a real bone of contention. And in this week's episode, Mulder and Scully face some unusually bloody ramifications from such a project.

The opening shot of men using power hoses against the homeless sure does hit straight to the gut, especially given the demonstrations, protests, and marches in recent years. Right from the get go, we're meant to sympathize with the people who are literally being washed off the street like trash, treated as less than human.

So when a garbage truck pulls up outside of the offices of the men responsible, and a hulking, rotting figure steps inside, we already know what's coming.

[I bet he “takes out the trash”...]

Tue
Feb 9 2016 1:00pm

Murder Ballads: William Shaw and Lisa Levy Talk Music, Crime Fiction, and the 60s

The glory of the historical mystery is in recreating a time and place both familiar and new. Too often (for me, at least), I find the details in historical fiction maddening and anachronistic, a result of superficial research or the easy belief in old tropes about a period.

Happily, William Shaw has avoided these traps in his Breen and Tozer series, set in the much documented days of Swinging London. Shaw cannily makes his two detectives—Cathal “Paddy” Breen, a man bewildered by the social and political changes of the 1960s; and Helen Tozer, a rock and roll fan and a pioneering female police officer in the conservative Met—excellent foils for one another and keen observers of their time.

A former music journalist, Shaw integrates the uprising of British youth and the surging popularity of rock and roll into his trilogy: She’s Leaving Home, The Kings of London, and the recent A Song for the Brokenhearted. I asked Shaw about his research and his relationship to music, in his work and his life.

[Let's join them...]

Tue
Feb 9 2016 10:00am
Excerpt

Apricot’s Revenge: New Excerpt

Song Ying

Apricot's Revenge by Song Ying is a thought provoking detective novel about a high-profile murder that explores social issues in modern day China (Available February 16, 2016).

A business tycoon in China is found dead; he apparently suffered a heart attack while swimming. His body is washed onto a beach in a popular resort known as the Hawaii of the East. But soon it becomes clear that he was murdered. Three immediate beneficiaries of his death become the suspects: the vice president of the company, Zhou, who is in line to take over his position; his young widow, Zhu, who stands to inherit a huge amount of wealth; and his arch business rival, Hong, who is competing in a bid over a piece of hot property.

Nie Feng, a young investigative reporter for a magazine, interviewed the victim just a few days before he died. Through his own research, Nie Feng discovers a new suspect who is not on the police’s radar.

ONE

Fog Over Lesser Meisha

— 1 —

Lesser Meisha, an enchanting beach.

A famed seaside resort in Shenzhen, it was known as the “Hawai’i of the East.” Swarms of vacationing tourists came every weekend to relax on the sand, ride the waves, or just play in the water.

A line of beach tents along the water’s edge created a unique scene as night fell. Shaped like yurts or pyramids, they came in a variety of colors—reds and blues and yellows—and from a distance looked like flowers blooming in the setting sun. At eighty yuan a night, they were the favorite lodging choice for young tourists and lovers on vacation, both because they were so much cheaper than the five-hundred-a-night Seaview Hotel and because they were much more romantic. The tents were thrown up as dusk descended, when a pleasant breeze blew in from the sea. Young vacationers began to sing and dance, while others slept to the relaxing accompaniment of ocean waves. Was there anything better than that?

Six o’clock, or thereabouts, on the morning of June twenty-fifth. Dawn had barely broken when a couple emerged from one of the tents. Lovers, apparently. He was wearing glasses and was dressed in jeans that failed to hide his beer belly. The woman, in a yellow T-shirt over a short white skirt, was not pretty, but her youth made up for that. He had his arm around her waist, contentment from a night of pleasure written all over his face. She smiled shyly and playfully pushed him away. They had arrived the previous afternoon. Beer Belly managed a computer company; she worked as his secretary or, to use the popular term, his Secret Sweetheart.

[Read more from Apricot's Revenge here...]

Mon
Feb 8 2016 5:00pm

Jason Bourne: New Trailer

Last night, some of us focused on the athletic competition of a sport's elite teams battling it out for the championship; some of us focused on the theater of what was a memorable half-time show (see: Chris Martin's shoes); and some of us focused on what went on between the broadcast—the ads—particularly the new movie trailers.

And last night, we got a 30 second peak at the upcoming Bourne movie marking the return of Matt Damon as Jason Bourne and Paul Greengrass directing him. Apparently, Jason Bourne is back (in the aptly titled Jason Bourne), he's ripped, and he remembers everything.

[Watch the trailer here...]

Mon
Feb 8 2016 1:00pm

Believe the Lie: Looking Back at Season Five of The X-Files

MULDER: Well, maybe you don't know what you're looking for.

SCULLY: Like evidence of conjury or the black arts? Or shamanism, divination, Wicca, or any kind of pagan or neo-pagan practice? Charms, cards, familiars, bloodstones, or hex signs, or any kind of the ritual tableau associated with the occult; Santeria, Voudun, Macumba, or any high or low magic...

MULDER: Scully?

SCULLY: Yes?

MULDER: Marry me.

He kids, but he really doesn't.

Regardless of what Chris Carter said for years, it's obvious to anyone half-awake that Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Mulder (David Duchovny) are, to quote Clueless, “stupid butt-crazy in love.”

Sure, they have an unusual courtship that involves running from black ops bagmen, shape-shifting assassins, and clones that melt into green goo—but then every relationship has its ups and downs.

Yet even five seasons in, we still haven't tasted the sweet satisfaction of vindication. Ah well—we're halfway to the finish line by now, and we can take comfort in the knowledge that they'll lock lips eventually.

And Mulder calls Scully his “one in five billion,” which is basically a marriage vow.

This season features the end of the cancer arc and some mondo vital plot points—as well as the best episode of the entire run—so strap in and get started with:

[Oooh! Oooh! Is it Episode 1?]

Mon
Feb 8 2016 10:00am
Excerpt

The Orion Plan: New Excerpt

Mark Alpert

The Orion Plan by Mark Alpert is an extraterrestrial thriller that sees an alien species find a way to send a probe across hundreds of light-years to begin the process of colonizing Earth unless NASA scientist Sarah Pooley and her team can stop them  (Available February 16, 2016). 

Scientists thought that Earth was safe from invasion. The distance between stars is so great that it seemed impossible for even the most advanced civilizations to send a large spaceship from one star system to another.

But now an alien species―from a planet hundreds of light-years from Earth―has found a way.

A small spherical probe lands in an empty corner of New York City. It soon drills into the ground underneath, drawing electricity from the power lines to jump-start its automated expansion and prepare for alien colonization.

When the government proves slow to react, NASA scientist Dr. Sarah Pooley realizes she must lead the effort to stop the probe before it becomes too powerful. Meanwhile, the first people who encounter the alien device are discovering just how insidious this interstellar intruder can be.

ONE

Ventura, California | June 20, 2016 | 12:09 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time

Sarah didn’t see the asteroid until it was too late. By the time she glimpsed it on her laptop’s screen, the rock was just an hour away from impact.

She wouldn’t have seen it at all if her neighbor’s dog hadn’t woken her. The stupid mutt had started barking at midnight for no reason. Unable to fall back to sleep, Sarah had turned on her MacBook and downloaded the latest images from the Sky Survey observatory. The telescope was five hundred miles away, in southern Arizona, but all the members of the Sky Survey team had twenty-four hour access to its observations. Although Sarah loved her work, this particular task—looking for slight changes in the pixilated images of the constellations—was tedious and tiring. After just ten minutes of squinting at her laptop she was usually ready to return to bed.

But not tonight. Instead, she stared in bewilderment at a sequence of images of the Scorpius constellation. In the first picture, captured by the telescope at 9:24 P.M. Pacific daylight time, a faint dot appeared next to Antares, the star at the center of the scorpion’s body. The next five images showed the dot drifting eastward and growing steadily brighter. In the last picture, taken just before midnight, the object glared like a spotlight above the scorpion’s tail.

[Read more of The Orion Plan here...]

Sun
Feb 7 2016 1:00pm

Top 5 NFL Criminals

Tonight, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos will square off with Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in Levi’s Stadium in the San Francisco Bay Area of Santa Clara, California. And while this is the biggest annual sporting event in America, football players are not necessarily saints (even if they do play for New Orleans)—many of them are hardened criminals, some sinister enough to rival the most gruesome hard-boiled villains.

So, with that in mind, I’d like to bring you my Top 5 Worst Criminals in NFL History:

[See who made the list...]

Sat
Feb 6 2016 11:30am
Excerpt

Murder on a Summer’s Day: New Excerpt

Frances Brody

Murder on a Summer's Day by Frances Brody is the 5th installment of the Kate Shackleton Mystery series where Kate must work to solve the inexplicable murder of Maharajah Narayan found shot through the heart and placed in the woods (Available February 9, 2016). 

When the India Office seek help in finding Maharajah Narayan, last seen hunting on the Bolton Abbey estate, they call upon the expertise of renowned amateur detective Kate Shackleton to investigate.

But soon a missing persons case turns to murder. Shot through the heart, Narayan's body has obviously not been in the woods overnight. Who brought it here, and from where? And what has happened to the hugely valuable diamond that was in the Maharajah's possession?

An inexplicable murder ...

As Kate digs deeper, she soon discovers that vengeance takes many forms. Was the Maharajah's sacrilegious act of shooting a white doe to blame? Or are growing rumors of a political motive too powerful for Kate to discount?

One thing Kate is sure of: her own skills and insights. Qualities that she is sure will help her unravel a mysterious murder on that fateful summer's day.

One

Light found its way through the gap in the curtains. I sleep with the window open so usually the birds wake me before the clock does. Reaching out to stop the repeater alarm clock, I sent it flying from the bedside table onto the floor. It landed face up. Squinting at the luminous figures, I made out the time. Big hand at twelve, little hand at five, but I had not set the alarm. The ringing continued. Not the alarm, the telephone.

Somewhere in the garden, or the wood behind my house, a wood pigeon cooed itself silly. I stumbled out of bed, blinking away sleep. The ringing grew louder as I stepped onto the landing. Whoever was telephoning to me at this ungodly hour on an August Saturday morning did not intend to hang up and try again later.

As I hurried downstairs to the hall, my first thought was that something might be wrong with my mother or father. This anxiety led me to stub my toe on the foot of the hall stand. Cursing inwardly, I picked up the receiver.

[Read more from Murder on a Summer's Day here...]

Fri
Feb 5 2016 3:30pm
Excerpt

Prime Time: New Excerpt

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Prime Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan is the first book in the Charlotte McNally series following reporter Charlotte McNally as she investigates a story about email, murder, mayhem, and a multimillion-dollar fraud ring (Available February 9, 2016).

In the cutthroat world of television journalism, seasoned reporter Charlotte McNally knows that she'd better pull out all the stops or kiss her job goodbye. But it's her life that might be on the line when she learns that an innocent-looking e-mail offer resulted in murder, mayhem, and a multimillion-dollar fraud ring.

Her investigation leads her straight to Josh Gelston, who is a little too helpful and a lot too handsome. Charlie might have a nose for news, but men are a whole other matter. Now she has to decide whether she can trust Josh...before she ends up as the next lead story.

CHAPTER ONE

Between the hot flashes, the hangover and all the spam on my computer, there’s no way I’ll get anything done before eight o’clock this morning. I came in early to get ahead, and already I’m behind.

I take a restorative sip of my murky-but-effective vending machine coffee, and start my one-finger delete. Away go the online offers for cheap vacations, low refinancing rates and medicine from Canada. Adios to international driver’s licenses and work-at-home moneymaking schemes.

At least I’m not the only one here. Downstairs in the newsroom, overcaffeinated producers working the graveyard shift click intently through the wires, scanning their computers to find stories for the noon newscast. The sleek new anchorwoman, Ellen Cavenagh, doesn’t have to be in her chair for the local news update until 8:24, so the “new face of Channel 3,” as the promos brand her, is probably in her dressing room perfecting the shimmer level of her lip gloss.

[Read more of Prime Time here...]

Fri
Feb 5 2016 12:30pm

Funeral Crashers: Woman Shows up to Her Own Funeral

Ghosts may not be real in the paranormal sense of a spirit world interacting with our own—however, they are real in the literal sense, when the woman that you paid to have murdered shows up to greet you at her own funeral.

Today, The Washington Post reported the story of Noela Rukundo—a woman of African descent from the country of Burundi, now living in Melbourne, Australia.

Almost exactly a year ago, her husband of 11 years had paid to have her kidnapped and murdered in the capital city of Bujumbura in Burundi, after they had flown back to attend the funeral of Noel’s stepmother. However, thanks to circumstance and some principled hitmen, things didn’t go exactly as planned.

[See how she got out of this mess...]

Fri
Feb 5 2016 11:00am
Excerpt

Exclusive Video of Author David McCallum Reading Once a Crooked Man

David McCallum

Watch The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and NCIS star David McCallum expertly narrate his debut thriller, Once a Crooked Man.

Crime pays. And pays well.

Sal, Max and Enzo Bruschetti have proved this over a lifetime of nefarious activity that they have kept hidden from law enforcement. Nowhere in any file, on any computer is there a record of anything illegal from which they have profited. But Max has a problem. His body is getting old and his doctor has told him to take it easy. Max has decided that the time has come for the family to retire.

But when young actor Harry Murphy overhears the Bruschetti brothers planning changes to their organization, including the murder of a man in London who knows too much, the Bruschetti's plans begin to unravel.

After Harry makes the well-intentioned if egregious mistake of trying to warn the Bruchetti's intended victim he finds himself alone in a foreign country, on the wrong side of the law, with a suitcase full of cash and a dangerous man on his trail. And while his good looks, charm and cheerful persistence may prove assets in the turbulent events that follow, none of Harry's past roles have prepared him for what happens next.

See a video of this beloved, long-time television actor use his experience with thrills and crime to bring to life this wonderfully quirky crime debut to listeners.

[Watch the video here...]

Thu
Feb 4 2016 1:50pm

Taken! 10 Great Heist Movies

Ah, the heist. Who hasn’t thought of it—maybe even dreamed about it—imagining both the daring nature of the action itself and the rich reward should it be successful? Turns out there are a lot of great heists, both in real life and in fiction, that have become the subject of some of the most memorable films in history.

Sometimes, a movie is so good that the story is resurrected and recreated for a new generation. That’s what happened with The Italian Job, first done in 1969 and remade in 2003, and Ocean’s Eleven (1960 and 2001). In both cases, I thought each version deserved its own place in my little heist hall of fame. In both cases, I felt that the original version had more depth and more thoughtfulness–make of that what you will.

[See what made the list!]