Review: <i>The New York Times Book of Crime</i>, Edited by Kevin Flynn Review: The New York Times Book of Crime, Edited by Kevin Flynn Jenny Maloney Read Jenny Maloney's review! <i>The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency</i>: New Excerpt The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency: New Excerpt Mandy Morton The 1st book in a new series that turns the traditional British cozy on its head. Review: <i>Bad Boy Boogie</i> by Thomas Pluck Review: Bad Boy Boogie by Thomas Pluck Neliza Drew Read Neliza Drew's review! <i>Conviction</i>: New Excerpt Conviction: New Excerpt Julia Dahl The 3rd book in the Rebekah Roberts series.
From The Blog
March 23, 2017
Review: Personal Shopper (2017)
Peter Foy
March 21, 2017
Q&A with Gretchen Archer, Author of Double Up
Crime HQ and Gretchen Archer
March 17, 2017
Passionate About Pulp: A Conan Double-Feature (Is What Is Best in Life)
Angie Barry
March 16, 2017
Research Ride-Along
kristen lepionka
March 16, 2017
Q&A with Lyndsay Faye, Author of The Whole Art of Detection
Lyndsay Faye and Ardi Alspach
Thu
Mar 23 2017 5:00pm

Review: Personal Shopper (2017)

It’s rational to think that one hasn’t fully matured as a human until they’ve come to understand death. No matter how much one has been told about the taxing toll of losing a loved one throughout their life, it’s really impossible to know what grief feels like until you’ve actually experienced it. The turmoil and soul-crushing despair that one must go through isn’t comparable to anything else in life, and that’s often the case for why ghost stories tend to be so personal yet universal. For that reason Personal Shopper, the new supernatural thriller from French filmmaker Olivier Assayas, finds comfortable footing in a semi-familiar template while also refusing to give into clichés.

The film’s story is about Maureen (Kristen Stewart), an American working in Paris as a personal shopper for a wealthy celebrity. Currently struggling after the death of her twin brother Lewis (from an ailment that she also possesses), Maureen tries using her background as a medium to see if she can communicate with her brother from the hereafter. Close while alive, the two siblings had made a pact that they would send each other a sign if either one of them died. After several occurrences where she interacts with spirits, she begins to receive anonymous text messages, which heightens both her fear and hope of reaching out to Lewis again.

[Brother from another ... plane of existence]

Thu
Mar 23 2017 1:00pm

Only a Boss Can Tell You

Watch former Philadelphia Mafia Boss Ralph Natale tell the untold truth on Jimmy Hoffa, and then make sure to sign in and comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of Last Don Standing: The Secret Life of Mob Boss Ralph Natale by Larry McShane and Dan Pearson!

Comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of Last Don Standing: The Secret Life of Mob Boss Ralph Natale by Larry McShane & Dan Pearson!

To enter, make sure you're a registered member of the site and simply leave a comment below.

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

Last Don Standing Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at http://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2017/03/only-a-boss-can-tell-you-last-don-standing-comment-sweepstakes beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) March 23, 2017. Sweepstakes ends 12:59 p.m. ET April 6, 2017. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Read an excerpt of Last Don Standing!

 

To learn more or order a copy, visit:

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Thu
Mar 23 2017 12:00pm

Review: The New York Times Book of Crime, Edited by Kevin Flynn

The New York Times Book of Crime, edited by Kevin Flynn, is a thorough collection of history's greatest crimes covered by one of the top news sources of all time.

The title says 166 Years of Covering the Beat, and nothing makes that clearer than the opening chapter: “Assassination.” This compilation of articles is kicked off by an 1865 article on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the attempted assassination of Secretary of State William Seward on the same evening. The breakdown of the crime and its aftermath serves as the starting point for a very thorough and interesting exploration of The New York Times’ journalism on some of the most fascinating crimes in history. 

Editor Kevin Flynn has gathered the stories with the largest impact of the past century and a half. Each chapter depicts a different kind of crime: assassination, heists, kidnappings, mass murder, the mob, murder, prison, serial killers, sex crimes, vice, and white collar criminal activity all get their moment on the page. And every page is covered by some of the best journalists who have ever lived. You want to know the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the biggest news stories in the last 166 years as presented at the time they happened? Then this book is for you. 

[Read Jenny Maloney's review of The New York Times Book of Crime...]

Thu
Mar 23 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency: New Excerpt

Mandy Morton

The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency by Mandy Morton is the 1st book in a new series that turns the traditional British cozy on its head and features feline crime-solvers (available March 28, 2017).

Hettie Bagshot has bitten off more than any cat could chew. As soon as she launches her No. 2 Feline Detective Agency, she’s bucketed into a case: Furcross, home for slightly older cats, has a nasty spate of bodysnatching, and three of the residents have been stolen from their graves. Hettie and her sidekick, Tilly, set out to reveal the terrible truth. Is Nurse Mogadon involved in a deadly game? Has the haberdashery department of Malkin & Sprinkle become a mortuary? And what flavor will Betty Butter’s pie of the week be?

In a haze of catnip and pastry, Hettie steers the Furcross Case to its conclusion, but will she get there before the body count rises—and the pies sell out?

[Read the full excerpt from The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency...]

Wed
Mar 22 2017 5:00pm

Cooking the Books: Cold Pressed Murder by Kelly Lane

In this delightful 2nd installment of the Olive Grove mystery series, Eva Knox collides with not one but two dead bodies and has to contend with a whole passel of sisterly secrets and gossipy townsfolk.

It’s the weekend of Abundance, Georgia’s, Farm Family Fare—held this year at the Knox family’s olive oil plantation. Three celebrity chefs are headlining the event, raising funds for the local needy. Eva is grinning and bearing her way through both the oppressive heat and the incessant disapproval of her eldest sister—prim, pretty southern belle Daphne—when a local farmer literally collapses on top of Eva. And if that isn’t enough tragedy for one festival, the next morning one of the celebrity chefs is found dead in the deceased farmer’s refrigeration truck.

[Recipe and pictures below!]

Wed
Mar 22 2017 3:00pm

The Decorator Who Knew Too Much by Diane Vallere: A Visual Guide

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

Knowledge is half the battle—but this week, Madison Night might know too much.... Take a visual tour of Diane Vallere's 4th Madison Night Mystery, The Decorator Who Knew Too Much, with GIFnotes!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Wed
Mar 22 2017 1:00pm

Review: Bad Boy Boogie by Thomas Pluck

Bad Boy Boogie by Thomas Pluck is the 1st book in the new Jay Desmarteaux Crime Thriller series.

Jay Desmarteaux walks out of prison after 25 years with a new set of rules learned from mentors inside, survival skills he’s adopted to stay alive, and every mechanics certification they offered. He’s also got some ideas about revenge because—well, because he did his time but wasn’t the only one involved in the crime. 

Jay squinted at the road. The only vehicle waiting in the early summer heat was a black Suburban parked at the yellow curb. The wind played with his shock of black hair. He had spent twenty-five years as a monk locked inside a dank Shaolin temple dedicated to violence and human predation while the men who put him there lived free from fear. 

Men who needed killing.

As a story of revenge and redemption, this story includes a great deal of violence. One reviewer loosely summarized it as the noiriest noir, and parts of it are very dark. There are a few elements, too, that may be difficult to navigate, so proceed with caution if gore or sexual assault bother you.

[Read Neliza Drew's review of Bad Boy Boogie...]

Wed
Mar 22 2017 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: March 21, 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 is a week of threes! Becky Masterman released the thrilling 3rd installment in the Brigid Quinn series, and Greg Iles also published the final installment in the Natchez Burning Trilogy, a suspenseful thriller that will leave your heart racing. See what else this week brings in the way of books:

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

Wed
Mar 22 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

Conviction: New Excerpt

Julia Dahl

Conviction by Julia Dahl is the 3rd book in the Rebekah Roberts series (available March 28, 2017).

In the summer of 1992, a year after riots exploded between black and Jewish neighbors in Crown Heights, a black family is brutally murdered in their Brooklyn home. A teenager is quickly convicted, and the justice system moves on.

Twenty-two years later, journalist Rebekah Roberts gets a letter: I didn't do it. Frustrated with her work at the city’s sleaziest tabloid, Rebekah starts to dig. But witnesses are missing, memories faded, and almost no one wants to talk about that grim, violent time in New York City—not even Saul Katz, a former cop and her source in Brooklyn’s insular Hasidic community.

So she goes it alone. And as she gets closer to the truth of that night, Rebekah finds herself in the path of a killer with two decades of secrets to protect.

[Read an excerpt of Conviction...]

Tue
Mar 21 2017 4:00pm

Which Season of Dexter Is Your Favorite?

Starring Michael C. Hall as a serial killer with a code, Dexter fascinated audiences for its full 8-season run. Each season distinctively pitted the vigilante against an array of villainous killers and suspenseful situations. Who could forget John Lithgow as the ritualistic “family man” who killed in threes? Or the apocalyptic Colin Hanks, who staged murders based on biblical passages? With so many great seasons to choose from, we want to know what season of Dexter is YOUR favorite!

[Vote below!]

Tue
Mar 21 2017 3:00pm

Q&A with Gretchen Archer, Author of Double Up

Gretchen Archer, author of the Davis Way Crime Caper series, started writing when her eldest left the nest to pursue higher education. Since, she's written six books—her latest, Double Up. Gretchen took time out of her busy schedule to answer some of CrimeHQ's questions about her popular series, her “Super Secret Spy” Davis Way, and what she's currently reading!

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Tue
Mar 21 2017 1:00pm

Review: Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love

Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love is an astonishing debut crime thriller about an unforgettable woman who combines the genius and ferocity of Lisbeth Salander with the ruthless ambition of Walter White.

Melissa Scrivner Love has written an absolutely remarkable and completely unforgettable heroine in Lola, the titular character of Love’s debut thriller. It should come as no surprise—given Love’s accomplishments in screenwriting for television shows like Life, CSI: Miami, and Person of Interest—that this novel is well-paced, expertly plotted, and cinematic in scope. There is nothing predictable here, as Lola fights for a place in the male-dominated gang culture of South Central LA.

There are only five living members of the Crenshaw Six, a new gang fighting for territory and respect. Pretty soon, they’ve caught the eye of a major drug cartel and are tasked with stealing from a rival cartel in order to prove their worth. We discover that Garcia, the gang’s supposed leader, is a front for the real leader of the Six—Lola. She’s a smart, inventive woman who has figured out how to lead a gang and gain respect for them not by using brute force, but by using cunning and men’s assumptions about a woman’s place in this society. She can go more places, hear more things, and spy on her rivals because they all have made the mistake of underestimating her. It’s brilliant.

[Read Ardi Alspach's review of Lola...]

Tue
Mar 21 2017 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole Part II

Last week, we began The Wind Through the Keyhole with a major storm and another of Roland's stories. This week, we get a story within a story within a story! 

In Wizard and Glass, we discovered that Roland had accidentally killed his mother and returned a crystal ball from Maerlyn’s Rainbow to his father. His newest ka-tet—Jake, Susannah, Eddie, and Oy—are following The Path of the Beam when they encounter Marten, now calling himself Randall Flagg, in a twisted version of Emerald City. Roland just misses killing Flagg but managed to gun down Andrew Quick, aka Tick-Tock Man, who was working for Flagg.

The Wind Through The Keyhole was written to chronologically follow Wizard and Glass even though it was released in 2012, long after the 7th novel, The Dark Tower (2004). For that reason, we have decided to continue Roland’s adventures in sequential order since Stephen King calls it The Dark Tower 4.5.

Come join us … before the world moves on.

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

This is a shorter book with only five sections, so the plan is to split the book into three parts (about 100 pages each) 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 get a story within a story within a story! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part II of The Wind Through the Keyhole: The Wind Through the Keyhole!


CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread


[Storyception...]

Tue
Mar 21 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

Catalina Eddy: New Excerpt

Daniel Pyne

Catalina Eddy by Daniel Pyne is a gritty, hardboiled exploration into the immutable police underworld of Southern California.

An obstinate Los Angeles detective investigates the murder of his estranged wife while fears of nuclear war and Communism grip the nation; in Losertown, a mid-career attorney in San Diego chases down a legendary drug kingpin but chafes against the Reagan Revolution policies of his new boss; and in Portuguese Bend, set in the present day, an undercover cop is paralyzed in a gunfight but determined to solve what may be her last case as a police officer in Long Beach. They are all, in one way or another, stuck in dreary endless loops of love, murder, and the quest for clarity, release, and redemption.

[Read an excerpt from Catalina Eddy...]

Mon
Mar 20 2017 4:30pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 7.14: “The Other Side”

In last night's episode of The Walking Dead, we were granted a few characterization moments in an attempt by showrunners to make a wildly unpopular character making stupid choices a little more human, and to make a wildly popular character making stupid choices a little less ... well ... stupid. Daryl's apology and confession to Maggie provided an elegant window into his tortured mindset this season, while Rosita's heart-to-hearts with Sasha helped slightly redee— who are we kidding, she's still Rosita. Meanwhile, Eugene's true colors began to show, tequila stock is up in the apocalypse, and the Hilltop is undergoing an unspoken coup d'etat.

Onward!

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Mon
Mar 20 2017 3:00pm

Review: Single Malt Murder by Melinda Mullet

Single Malt Murder by Melinda Mullet is the 1st novel in an engaging new series blending fine spirits with chilling mystery (available March 21, 2017).

“There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip” is both an ancient Scottish proverb and an apropos commentary on Melinda Mullet’s inaugural Whisky Business Mystery, Single Malt Murder.

Award-winning photojournalist Abigail Logan unexpectedly inherits the Abbey Glen Distillery from her uncle Ben. The details spill out in a lachrymose and boozy evening with her oldest friend, the dapper and debonair Patrick Cooke, who tells Abi she looks like something “the cat dragged in on an off night.”

Tonight he looked even more out of place than usual next to the scruffy journalists and media types that call this corner of London’s Fleet Street home, but the Scrivener’s Arms had been our regular post-work watering hole for more than ten years, and I refused to migrate to the trendier West End bars just because Patrick had recently been promoted to associate editor of Wine and Spirits Monthly.

[Read Janet Webb's review of Single Malt Murder...]

Mon
Mar 20 2017 1:00pm

Audiobook Review: What You Don’t Know by JoAnn Chaney (Read by Christina DeLaine)

What You Don't Know by JoAnn Chaney is a gripping, terrifying debut novel that follows those most affected by an infamous serial killer. 

“He doesn't deny anything.” Coming from Paul Hoskins, the gumshoe detective who has just identified a man responsible for deadly attacks across Denver, this admission might set you feeling that his case is done and dusted. But no, it’s just the beginning.

From that start of JoAnn Chaney's staccato tale of a string of connected killings, the certainty of one man's original guilt doesn't stop a lifetime—and several shortened lifetimes—of connected secrets, many guiltily held. 

While Hoskins’s suspect, Jacky Seever, is pulled off the streets in 2008, the book shifts forward in time to 2015. His acts might remind you of Illinois killer John Wayne Gacy, but we’re in firmly fictional territory, shifting between perspectives of detectives, reporters, victims, and loyal family living under the long shadow of Seever’s crimes. From that climactic beginning, we see how the bystanders’ ambitions to understand the case shape their lives.

[Read Juliet Fletcher's review of What You Don't Know...]

Mon
Mar 20 2017 12:00pm

Review: Raw (2017)

When your debut feature film receives attention for containing materials that causes audience members to faint, one must wonder what that says about your capabilities as an artist/provocateur. This did indeed happen when French director Julia Ducournau screened her film Raw at The Toronto Film Festival last fall, and it’s an ugly fact that’s been latched onto the film up to its wide release in the States (premiering ahead of its release in Europe). 

Ducournau went on to say that she was shocked to hear of this and also dismayed because she felt that cinema shouldn’t be something that can possibly inflict harm on viewers. Regardless, there’s little doubt that the press headlines helped Raw get a distributor, and hopefully it will attract horror fans to catch a movie that’s leagues more subdued than your standard gorefest. In fact, in many ways Raw is anything but a shocker.

[Read more about the movie on everyone's lips!]

Mon
Mar 20 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

Baker Street Irregulars: New Excerpt

Michael A. Ventrella and Jonathan Maberry

Baker Street Irregulars, edited by Michael A. Ventrella and Jonathan Maberry, features thirteen authors—including Gail Z. Martin, David Gerrold, and Jonathan Maberry—who come together to pen short stories innovating Sherlock Holmes, adapting and revolutionizing the iconic character (available March 21, 2017).

Read an excerpt from Baker Street Irregulars, then make sure to sign in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of this wonderful Sherlock-inspired anthology!

Sherlock Holmes is one of the most iconic and lasting figures in literature. His feats of detection are legendary, and he continues to capture audiences today in stories, movies, and on TV. In this new anthology, Baker Street Irregulars, authors present the celebrated detective in more than a dozen wildly entertaining new ways. In Ryk Spoor’s thrilling “The Adventures of a Reluctant Detective,” Sherlock is a re-creation in a holodeck. In Hildy Silverman’s mesmerizing ”A Scandal in the Bloodline,” Sherlock is a vampire. Heidi McLaughlin sends Sherlock back to college, while Beth Patterson, in the charming "Code Cracker,” turns him into a parrot. The settings range from Russia in the near-future to a reality show, from a dystopian world to an orchestra. Without losing the very qualities that make Sherlock so illustrious a character, these authors spin new webs of mystery around their own singular riff on one of fiction’s truly singular characters.

[Read an excerpt from Baker Street Irregulars...]

Sat
Mar 18 2017 11:00am
Excerpt

Follow Me Down: New Excerpt

Sherri Smith

Follow Me Down by Sherri Smith is a rare find—a gutsy, visceral, and beautifully crafted psychological thriller (available March 21, 2017).

Mia Haas has built her life far from the North Dakota town where she grew up, but when she receives word that her twin brother is missing, she is forced to return home. Back to the people she left behind, the person she used to be, and the secrets she thought she’d buried.

Once hailed as the golden boy of their town, and now a popular high school teacher, Lucas Haas disappears the same day the body of one of his students is pulled from the river. Trying to wrap her head around the rumors of Lucas’s affair with the teen, and unable to reconcile the media’s portrayal of Lucas as a murderer with her own memories of him, Mia is desperate to find another suspect.

All the while, she wonders: If he’s innocent, why did he run?

As Mia reevaluates their difficult, shared history and launches her own investigation into the grisly murder, she uncovers secrets that could exonerate Lucas—or seal his fate. In a small town where everyone’s lives are intertwined, Mia must confront her own demons if she wants to get out alive.

[Read an excerpt from Follow Me Down...]