FM: <i>Looking Through Darkness</i> by Aimee and David Thurlo FM: Looking Through Darkness by Aimee and David Thurlo Vanessa L. Parker Back to the trading post we go! <i>Rainy Day Women</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Rainy Day Women: Exclusive Excerpt Kay Kendall 1969 wasn't as groovy as you think... <i>The Devil's Share</i>: New Excerpt The Devil's Share: New Excerpt Wallace Stroby It's always the easy gigs that end up deadly... FM: <i>One Way or Another</i> by Elizabeth Adler FM: One Way or Another by Elizabeth Adler Doreen Sheridan Even while drowning, she was plotting revenge.
From The Blog
July 1, 2015
Man Steals Van, Gets Lost and Runs Out of Gas
Teddy Pierson
June 30, 2015
Under the Radar: Push (2009)
Angie Barry
June 29, 2015
Careers: Passion for Execution? Willing to Relocate?
Crime HQ
June 26, 2015
Announcing The M.O.'s "Wishful Thinking" Story!
Crime HQ
June 25, 2015
Man Arrested After Running Naked Through Walmart
Teddy Pierson
Fri
Jul 3 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Looking Through Darkness by Aimee and David Thurlo

Looking Through Darkness by Aimee and David Thurlo is the latest mystery in the Trading Post series set on a Navajo Reservation (available July 7, 2015).

Like any good mystery, the first scene in Looking Through Darkness is a murder. Set in the Navajo Nation, New Mexico, Kurt Vance is out in the wilderness on a hunt with his two business partners. He hears something, a twig snap, so he turns to see what caused the sound. He never finds out. The next thing he hears is a loud boom with him falling to the ground, looking up trying to make sense of the fact that he’s bleeding. Karma, he thinks, which is pretty much what authors Aimee and David Thurlo want you to think since they have gone out of their way to describe how Kurt has cheated on his wife, lied to almost everyone, and stolen thousands of dollars. As a reader, I’m not sure how much sympathy we are supposed to have for this character, but we certainly have enough for his wife, Leigh Ann, the main character of Looking Through Darkness, the second in the new Trading Post series.

[Let's get to the characters...]

Fri
Jul 3 2015 9:00am
Excerpt

Rainy Day Women: Exclusive Excerpt

Kay Kendall

Rainy Day Women by Kendall Kay is the 2nd Austin Starr mystery set in 1969 amidst the Charles Manson murders and the Woodstock Music Festival (available July 7, 2015).

In 1969, during the week of the Manson murders and Woodstock, Austin Starr, the intrepid amateur sleuth with an infant in tow, flies across the continent to support a friend suspected of murdering women's liberation activists in Seattle and Vancouver. Then her former CIA trainer warns that an old enemy has contracted a hit on her. Her anxious husband demands that she give up her quest and fly back to him. How much should Austin risk when tracking the killer puts her and her baby's life in danger?

Chapter Three

David and I stared at each other. I stood with my back against the wall, my hand covering my mouth, my eyes popping wide.

He broke the silence.

[Continue reading Rainy Day Women...]

Thu
Jul 2 2015 2:00pm

Summer TV: A Digital Tour of Europe

I hate watching reruns of mystery and crime TV shows I’ve already seen—it’s not much fun to tune in when you already know who did it. And, while the networks offer plenty of summer replacements, this season, none captured my attention as much as the shows I enjoy the most.

So, while I’ve been longing for new episodes of Longmire, and imagining what fall’s Masterpiece Mystery will bring, I’ve turned to Netflix streaming video to get my fix of murder and mayhem with crime programs from across the ocean.

My digital tour of Europe’s popular mystery programing includes several satisfying entries from four countries: Broadchurch from England, Witnesses from France, Annika Bengtzon: Crime Reporter from Sweden and Dicte from Denmark.

I’d never seen or heard of any of these programs before. While each of them is very different, they have several things in common. The plots in all four series are very complicated and revolve around children—the killing, abuse, abandonment and revenge of children who deserved better. The other common factor is the excellent actors in each show. Whether a policeman, policewoman, or crime reporter, they all feel real. While they may go off on their own to check out a hunch or gather information, for the most part they don’t seem to hesitate to call for help or back up when they need it. I also found the most striking difference to be physical. These crime solvers look more like regular people than the stars we’re used to seeing on American television, even the actress who plays Annika Bengtzon and is stunning. They’re all good looking, but not perfect, which I feel makes them more like the rest of us, complete with idiosyncratic habits. It also makes each show more believable.

[Off to England we go. Keep away from the cliff...]

Thu
Jul 2 2015 10:00am

Conspiracies Allure Because I’m a Liar (and So Are You)

Call me naïve, but I believe humans have been to the moon. I know several intelligent people who do not believe humans have been to the moon and, while I believe they are mistaken, I do not think them crazy.

Because I know this: consensus reality is not capital-R, Reality.

Or, as Napoleon Bonaparte is credited with saying, “History is a set of lies agreed upon.” (I owe thanks to Mr. Vickers, my high school history teacher, for posting that quote on the classroom wall and incorporating it into his lectures.)

We are a story-telling species, and we shape our past into a set of manageable narratives. But we are liars. In our agreed-upon lies, we so often reduce humans to white hats and black hats, as if we were fallen angels instead of risen apes. And more often than not, we edit these stories to paint ourselves in a favorable light, to give ourselves the white hat.

This is the biggest conspiracy of all, this quirk of human nature, because, as Sir Winston Churchill definitely said, “History is written by the victors.” You’d have to be blind to deny the truth of Churchill’s statement. The stories told by the powerful shape our consensus reality far more profoundly than do the stories told by the defeated. And every day, that imbalance comes into play as we invent tomorrow’s history.

[This is getting deep, bear with me...]

Wed
Jul 1 2015 3:30pm
Excerpt

The Devil’s Share: New Excerpt

Wallace Stroby

The Devil's Share by Wallace Stroby is the 4th thriller in the Crissa Stone series about a professional thief who finds herself on the run after a botched gig  (available July 7, 2015).

It's been a year since professional thief Crissa Stone last pulled a job, and she's spent that time under the radar, very carefully not drawing attention to herself. That kind of life is safe, but it's boring, and it's lonely, and it's not very lucrative. So when Crissa starts to get antsy—and low on funds—she agrees to act as a thief-for-hire, partnering with a wealthy art collector to steal a truckload of plundered Iraqi artifacts before they're repatriated to their native country. But what's supposed to be a “give-up” robbery with few complications quickly turns deadly. Soon Crissa is on the run again, with both an ex-military hit squad and her own partners-in-crime in pursuit. And what should be the easiest job of her career—robbing a man who wants to be robbed—might just turn out to be the most dangerous.

One

With dusk, the setting sun turned the ocean to fire. Crissa stood on the balcony and looked out across the hills, the houses there almost hidden by the trees. Through the haze, she could see all the way out to the beach and the amusement pier, the darkening water beyond. Up here, the traffic noise from Santa Monica Boulevard was just a hum.

[Continue reading The Devil's Share!]

Wed
Jul 1 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: One Way or Another by Elizabeth Adler

One Way or Another by Elizabeth Adler is a thriller that opens aboard a luxury yacht where a woman is thrown into the ocean in a clear case of attempted murder (available July 7, 2015).

In Elizabeth Adler’s latest thriller, a young woman named Angie is bludgeoned aboard a luxury yacht, thrown overboard, and left for dead in the waters of the Aegean. Marco Polo Mahoney, famed portrait painter, is the only witness from his Turkish seaside cottage. Despite his best efforts to rescue her — or at the very least find her body — she eludes him. Soon, he is unable to get the thought of the drowning girl out of his head. This tests his relationship with London-based Martha Patrons, a multi-talented interior decorator with a lovely, irresponsible aspiring actress of a younger sister, Lucy. Martha is as practical as she is beautiful, and though she is supportive of her lover, she has other issues to deal with, such as the foreign billionaire who has recently started showing a little too much interest in seventeen year-old Lucy. Unfortunately for Martha, Lucy’s fate is set to be intertwined with Angie’s, sucking them all unwitting into a vortex of terror and death.

Hurtling rapidly from one plot twist to the next, One Way Or Another blends the glitz of an international thriller with high Gothic touches. Remarkably, this novel reminded me of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, though there is nary a supernatural element in sight in this globe-trotting tale of murder and vengeance. The villains are monstrous and mysterious, diabolical figures at odds with heroes who stand for normalcy and propriety (despite intermittent moments of weakness.) A sort of Victorian morality permeates the proceedings, with the strong, loving ties between Marco, Martha, and Lucy being the highlight of the book’s interpersonal relationships.

[Don't forget about Angie...]

Wed
Jul 1 2015 8:45am

Stealing a Van, You’re Doing it Wrong

A man driving a stolen van was caught by police, because he ran out of gas after getting lost on a highway in Pennsylvania, according to The Daily News.

Cristian Osorio of Queens, New York took the van and tried to drive it to Syracuse, but instead got lost on Route 33 in Plainfield Township, police said. 

Not to aid scofflaws, but he should have used his phone’s GPS. Osario is charged with receiving stolen property and unauthorized use of a vehicle. He was arraigned Saturday afternoon and sent to Northampton County Prison in lieu of $15,000 bail.

Tue
Jun 30 2015 1:00pm

Under the Radar: Genre Movies You May Have Missed — Push (2009)

By now, Chris Evans is a bona fide Hollywood star. Everyone knows his name and face, and he's made a big mark in pop culture with his roles in four comic book adaptations: The Fantastic Four (where he was Johnny Storm, the Human Torch), Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World (Evil Ex Lucas Lee), The Losers (Jensen), and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Steve Rogers, aka Captain America).

(He likes to say that he was never big into comics and it's just a coincidence that he's starred in so many adaptations, but we know better. As the folks at Tumblr like to say, it's no coincidence that he has the perfect superhero shoulder-to-waist ratio.)

But before he was the superpowered soldier with the star-spangled uniform, he played another guy with superpowers in the little-known film Push.

Nick Gant (Evans) is what's known as a Mover, which is just another way of saying telekinetic. Like Jean Grey, he can move things with his mind. Which makes life difficult for Nick, because there's an organization very interested in people like him called Division. Division has been “collecting” superpowered folks for several decades now: testing them, classifying them, and doing their best to weaponize them for the good of the government.

[Sounds recognizable enough so far...]

Tue
Jun 30 2015 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Death in Brittany by Jean-Luc Bannalec

Death in Brittany by Jean-Luc Bannalec marks the debut of the internationally best-selling procuedural series featuring the coffee-loving Commissaire Georges Dupin who's just relocated from Paris to a quaint coastal town (available June 30, 2015).

When it comes to crime, I read noir stuff primarily. Speaking broadly, I read a lot of crime fiction from the criminal’s point of view. But every now and then, I get the craving for a procedural, and at the same time, I wonder what locale to explore through the story. Procedurals often make for great armchair traveling, as every mystery devotee knows: what is more fun than diving into a mystery set in a place you’ve always wanted to visit but never have? Besides the pleasure of the puzzle, you submerge yourself in an environment, a culture. This is what I was looking for when I picked up Jean-Luc Bannalec’s Death in Brittany, and overall, reading the book gave me what I wanted.

[Off we go!]

Mon
Jun 29 2015 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander

A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander is the second book in the Bakeshop Mystery series featuring baker Jules Capshaw in her hometown of Ashland, Oregon (available June 30, 2015).

Reality TV meets cozy mystery, with a little bit of murder thrown in. The town of Ashland is known for its Oregon Shakespeare Festival, but the last of the plays are being performed and the theater company is about to go into hiatus for the fall. The town is experiencing cooler weather and a slowdown in tourist traffic. What better time for a television crew to set up shop to film a reality show for the Pastry Channel? Juliet Montague Capshaw aka Jules, has recently moved back to her hometown to help her mother run Torte, a family owned bakery and coffee shop. She is roped into being a contestant on the show and soon finds out that there is as much drama behind the scenes as there is on camera. Specifically, Chef Marco is causing a lot of problems on set as he finds it hard to remain sober for filming.

[There's no such thing as “cooking” wine...]

Mon
Jun 29 2015 11:30am

True Detective 2.02: “Night Finds You”

“We get the world we deserve.” – Ray Velcoro

After so much dense setup in the first episode, if you were hoping for more room to breathe and enjoy time with the characters—morose as some of them are—you only get a little here, as the tightly interconnected story weaves outward, crammed close like the Los Angeles sprawl that the helicopter shots keep showing us between scenes.  We get some very brief moments of levity as Ray and Antigone begin investigating Caspere’s murder, but the story remains in a very dark place.

Frank can’t sleep. Jordan tells him to stop thinking, echoing Pascal’s lament that “All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Frank tells her what keeps him up at night, the fear that he died a long time ago, when his drunken father locked him in the basement alone while he was out on a bender, and didn’t return for several days. Leaving young Frank to beat a rat to death in the dark, as the power went out. Frank doesn’t say whether he ate the rat or not, but it’s a distinct possibility, and Jordan asks how many stories like this Frank is holding inside. And we can guess that there are a lot. He’s the most introspective of the characters, to say the least; the others seem oblivious of their wounds and scars and how they affect their behavior.

[Clarity is key...]

Mon
Jun 29 2015 10:45am

Careers: Passion for Execution? Willing to Relocate?

No, they don't mean the usual corporate-speak kind of “execution.” Saudi Arabia is hiring for the real deal. According to RT, the kingdom

which executes more criminals than any nation except China and Iran, wants to hire eight new executioners. A surge in executions has been witnessed under new King Salman’s rule.

The job description published online on Monday says no special training is required from applicants. The executioners would be required to behead condemned criminals in public as well as carry out amputations on those convicted of lesser offenses...

Apparently, the positions get paid at the lower end of the civil service scale, but given Saudi Arabia's ranking as only 3rd in worldwide executions, it's a role with good security and growth potential for the right candidate.

 

Leading image from animated series Executioner, created by Greg Grabianski and Andy Rheingold—Revolver Mag article on “Most Metal Cartoons” at link

Sun
Jun 28 2015 12:00pm
Excerpt

The Map of Chaos: New Excerpt

Felix Palma

The Map of Chaos by Felix J. Palma is the third part in the Victorian-era Map of Time trilogy series (available June 30, 2015).

When the person he loves most dies in tragic circumstances, the mysterious protagonist of The Map of Chaos does all he can to speak to her one last time. A session with a renowned medium seems to offer the only solution, but the experience unleashes terrible forces that bring the world to the brink of disaster. Salvation can only be found in The Map of Chaos, an obscure book that he is desperate to uncover. In his search, he is given invaluable help by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Lewis Carroll, and of course by H. G. Wells, whose Invisible Man seems to have escaped from the pages of his famous novel to sow terror among mankind. They alone can discover the means to save the world and to find the path that will reunite the lovers separated by death.

[Start reading The Map of Chaos now!]

Fri
Jun 26 2015 2:30pm
Excerpt

Lawyer for the Dog: New Excerpt

Lee Robinson

Lawyer for the Dog by Lee Robinson tells the tale of Sally Baynard, a divorced public defender who's forced to look after Sherman, a miniature schnauzer (available July 7, 2015).

 

One of the sharpest attorneys in Charleston, S.C., Sally Baynard isn't your typical southern belle. She's certainly not what her mother hoped she'd grow up to be, especially since she divorced her husband, Family Court Judge Joe Baynard, and his historic family with their historic wealth and historic houses. Maybe Sally was never going to be a proper society lady, but her success as a public defender and family lawyer have been enough for her. She's represented murderers, burglars, drug dealers and lately has taken on some of the thorniest divorces, all cases closed with her Sally Bright Baynard wit, charm and brains.

Or have they? One case she's never successfully closed is her marriage. And when Judge Joe assigns her to one of his divorce cases by appointing her as the Lawyer for the Dog — Sherman, a miniature schnauzer— she's forced into close quarters with him again. Juggling the needs of the dog, the angry owners, her amorous but uncommunicative ex-husband, her aging, Alzheimer's-ridden mother, and the expectations of the court is more than Sally could have imagined. And as rascally Sherman digs his way into Sally's heart, he brings along his charming vet Tony, a man who makes Sally question her views on love and marriage.

 

[Start reading Lawyer for the Dog...]

Sat
Jun 27 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Elimination by Ed Gorman

Elimination by Ed Gorman is the final political thriller in the Dev Conrad series where the investigator must figure out who tried to kill a Congress member running for re-election (available July 1, 2015).

It seems possible that my lifelong interest in the American political process is what drew me to read Sleeping Dogs, the first in the political mystery series featuring Dev Conrad, a seasoned political consultant with a background as an investigator for the U. S. Army.

But I freely admit that the appeal for me was the author’s name: Ed Gorman. I’d been a Gorman groupie for years, and the thought of a new series written by the master of mystery, horror, and westerns had me running to the nearest bookstore. Every few years over the past decade, a new Dev Conrad book would be released, bringing the combined allure of politics and murder. I relished each one.

Still, many of my favorite series have come to an end and this one is no exception. I must confess that I had more than one tear in my eye when I finished reading Elimination, the final mystery in the Dev Conrad series.

[It was a fitting goodbye...]

Fri
Jun 26 2015 9:30pm

Hannibal 3.04: “Aperitivo” Whets the Bloodlust

In “Apertivo,” a cadre of fractious, murderous conspirators maneuvers to converge upon Caesar (okay, Hannibal). In Republican Rome, a lamb was sacrificed to Jupiter on the ides of each month, and it was by this date in March in 44 B.C.E. that a seer is reported to have told a scoffing Julius Caesar that harm would befall him. One historian reports that diviner was an Etruscan haruspex, or one who reads entrails and the livers of sacrificed animals. Hepatomancy. Hannibal would approve.

By leaving a handful of clever and resourceful victims alive—it's roster time!—Dr. Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) foresaw himself becoming the center of their attentions. But he's not only on their minds, because he's the gravitational point that everyone's preferred triggerman Will Graham is actually compelled to orbit, as Chilton points out to Alana Bloom, who has become much more interesting since her defenestration. Forget the Concerned Friend. Bring on the Crusading Fate!

[Onto the enemies list!]

Fri
Jun 26 2015 8:45am

Announcing The M.O.’s “Wishful Thinking” Story!

Thanks for checking out our shortlist of great short crime stories and voting! We're excited to announce the “Wishful Thinking” story we'll be publishing in its entirety is...

“The Cocoon” by Louis Rakovich

We were, again, delighted and vexed by the overall quality of the story submissions as well as those of the four finalists. In a couple of weeks, we'll have the reader-selected story here for your perusal and enjoyment! On Friday, July 10th, you'll see the chrysalis emerge at last!

Thu
Jun 25 2015 2:00pm

Killers, Jailers, and Bloody Hands: Nine of Gunsmoke’s Greatest Episodes

TV’s Gunsmoke ran over twenty years, 635 episodes (1955-1975), and five television movies (1987-1994). Given such a popular, high-quality series it would be foolish—darn near impossible—to say these are definitively its greatest adventures. So I’ll call them almost two fists’ worth of the most memorable tales, and, please, challenge me in the comments with your own selections.

“Matt Gets It” (1955)

John Wayne introduces Gunsmoke’s debut episode and the program’s lead actor Jim Arness by explaining to the viewers that what they are about to watch is an adult Western and that “you might as well get used to him, like you’ve had to get used to me.” The actors are far from establishing their characters, but all the elements are in place with a distinctive first plot featuring gunslinger Dan Grat (Paul Richards), who goads people into showdowns, when he gets the upper hand on Matt, nearly killing him. After recovering, the marshal discovers why the killer prefers to be a bit too close when engaging a fire fight and uses that knowledge to his advantage.

Note: These early episodes opened with Matt wandering among the headstones on Boot Hill, observing the “Gomorrah of the Plains” (Dodge City) in the distance. These deliberations (via James Arness’s voiceover) about the city, his role, or some other philosophizing point allows us to get into the mind of a hero that would become much more closed-off as the years passed.

[Get on your horse and let's head to the rest...]

Thu
Jun 25 2015 12:00pm
Excerpt

The Bones of You: Exclusive Excerpt

Debbie Howells

The Bones of You is the debut thriller by Debbie Howells where the seemingly perfect daughter of an even more seemingly perfect family is murdered (available June 30, 2015).

Read this exclusive excerpt from Chapters 6 and 7 of The Bones of You! And then comment for a chance to win a copy of Debbie Howells' debut thriller!

I have a gardener’s inherent belief in the natural order of things.  Soft‑petalled flowers that go to seed.  The resolute passage of the seasons.  Swallows that fly thousands of miles to follow the eternal summer.

Children who don’t die before their parents.

When Kate receives a phone call with news that Rosie Anderson is missing, she’s stunned and disturbed. Rosie is eighteen, the same age as Kate’s daughter, and a beautiful, quiet, and kind young woman. Though the locals are optimistic—girls like Rosie don’t get into real trouble—Kate’s sense of foreboding is confirmed when Rosie is found fatally beaten and stabbed.

Who would kill the perfect daughter, from the perfect family? Yet the more Kate entwines herself with the Andersons—graceful mother Jo, renowned journalist father Neal, watchful younger sister Delphine—the more she is convinced that not everything is as it seems. Anonymous notes arrive, urging Kate to unravel the tangled threads of Rosie’s life and death, though she has no idea where they will lead.

[Continue on to our exclusive excerpt of The Bones of You...]

Thu
Jun 25 2015 8:45am

Man Arrested After Running Naked Through Walmart

Two men were recently arrested after a video showed one of the men streaking through a Walmart in Kentucky.

According to The Huffington Post, David Daniels and Timothy Smith were arrested over the weekend after a video was taken of a man running naked through Walmart pouring milk (and chocolate milk) on himself and yelling he was on fire.

The man stripped down inside the store wearing nothing but a Halloween mask, socks, and shoes.

The Pike County Sheriff Rodney Scott told the local TV station that the streaker and camera operator are both guilty of indecent exposure. He also believes the prank was planned.

Check out the video... if you dare: