Review: <i>Her Darkest Nightmare</i> by Brenda Novak Review: Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak Janet Webb Read Janet Webb's review! <i>End Game</i>: New Excerpt End Game: New Excerpt David Hagberg The 19th book in the Kirk McGarvey series. <i>Curioddity</i>: New Excerpt Curioddity: New Excerpt Paul Jenkins A quirky and fast-paced debut novel. <i>Death Among the Doilies</i>: New Excerpt Death Among the Doilies: New Excerpt Mollie Cox Bryan The 1st Cora Crafts Mystery!
From The Blog
August 28, 2016
It All Began With A Haircut
Paul Jenkins
August 26, 2016
Page to Screen: Comics I’d Love to See on My TV—Mouse Guard
Angie Barry
August 25, 2016
One and Done: Marc Bojanowski, The Dog Fighter
Eric Beetner
August 25, 2016
Waking the Dead and Baking Pies with Pushing Daisies
Angie Barry
August 23, 2016
Page to Screen: Woman in the Dunes by Kōbō Abe
Brian Greene
Aug 29 2016 4:00pm

Review: Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak

Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak is the 1st in an electric new series, featuring psychiatrist Dr. Evelyn Talbot and her controversial Alaskan mental institution, Hanover House (Available August 30, 2016).

Dr. Evelyn Talbot, a 36-year-old psychiatrist, calls upon her inner resources of courage, defiance, and indomitable willpower, refusing to allow her life to be defined by a sexual and physical attack twenty years earlier by a serial killer—aka her ex-boyfriend Jasper.

Talbot trains at Harvard, becoming a world-renowned expert on the criminally insane, specializing in serial killers. To further her research, especially in order to prevent horrific attacks from occurring, she becomes “the force behind Hanover House, a maximum-security facility located in a small Alaskan town.” The inmates are anyone’s worst nightmare, making the first book in Brenda Novak’s new series, Her Darkest Nightmare (The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles), very aptly titled.

[Read Janet Webb's review of Her Darkest Nightmare...]

Aug 29 2016 2:00pm

Agatha Raisin 1.04: “The Potted Gardener” Episode Review

This week, the village of Carsley is plagued by joy riders. The episode opens with a yellow car tearing up the green late at night, blasting loud thumping music, red and orange flames painted down the side of the car. As if that’s not enough trouble in this quiet little Cotswolds village, the residents all wake up the next morning to find that their gardens have been vandalized. Some have uprooted trees, while others find dead fish in the koi pond or smashed pots in the greenhouse. Why is this significant? The Open Gardens Competition is coming up and everyone has been pruning and primping their entries.

Agatha Raisin's (Ashley Jensen) garden is the only one not vandalized, although it looks as if it has been. Apparently, she is going with a Zen theme. She reports that she is attempting to detox her life and be at one with nature—trying to get the qi flowing. Her aim is harmony and peace, but her blended veggie drinks appear to be nasty, and Roy Silver (Mathew Horne) is not having any.

[Read Kerry Hammond's review of “The Potted Gardener”...]

Aug 29 2016 12:30pm

Crime/Mystery/Thrillers Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix in September 2016

After an admittedly tepid August, September comes out swinging with a superb list of newly added movies—including the entire Jaws series to help you live every week like it's shark week.

Then, Wagner Moura gives you the bump you need to stay up all night and binge-watch Season 2 of Narcos, with his chilling portrayal of Colombian drug kingpin, Pablo Escobar.

As if that's not enough, the month rounds out with new seasons from The Walking Dead, Longmire, Gotham, Wallander, and so much more.

Finally, here to Defend you from boredom and punch you from September into October, Marvel releases the much anticipated first season of Luke Cage on September 30th.

Send the kids back to school because I know what I'm doing for the next month!

[Check out the list here...]

Aug 29 2016 10:15am

The Night Of Series Finale: “The Call of the Wild” Episode Review

My neighbors Shannon and Natanya agreed with me: what we saw of The Night Of was Naz’s interpretation of events. The show lingered on surveillance footage to remind us to only trust what we see with our own eyes. But, in the end, it didn’t matter. That was not the story.

The story was, once again, crime fiction taking the Dead Girl Trope and using Andrea as a catalyst for a story about how she ruined a young man’s life by getting savagely murdered after luring him with sex and drugs. So, the undertaker Mr. Day was the one who was right in the end.

[The undertaker always gets the last laugh...]

Aug 29 2016 10:00am

End Game: New Excerpt

David Hagberg

End Game by David HagbergRetired CIA assassin Kirk McGarvey faces the most formidable adversary of his long and storied career in End Game by David Hagberg (Available September 6, 2016).

Langley is experiencing a series of gruesome murders. The CIA’s own headquarters should be the safest spot on the planet, but a highly professional, violently psychopathic assassin, who hideously disfigures his victims, strikes without mercy.

The murders spread from Langley to a prison outside of Athens, where the first clue to what will become the End Game surfaces. A code carved into four copper panels of the legendary statue in a courtyard at CIA headquarters, known as Kryptos, predicts the means and the terrible necessity for the serial killings.

Before the first Iraq war, something horrifying was buried in the foothills above the oil city of Kirkuk. It will not remain buried forever.

Only Kirk McGarvey, Pete Boylan, and the CIA’s odd-duck genius, Otto Rencke, can find the truth still buried in Iraq. A truth so devastating it could well ignite the entire Middle East into an unstoppable, apocalyptic war.


Walter Wager heaved himself off the floor, using the edge of his desk for leverage, blood running down the collar of his white shirt from a ragged wound in the side of his neck. He was an old man, even older than his fifty-four, because of the life he’d led as a deep-cover agent for the Central Intelligence Agency.

He was no longer an NOC, and he’d struggled for the last year, sitting behind a desk, in a tiny office buried on the third floor of the Original Headquarters Building, trying to lead a normal life, trying to fit in with the normal day-to-day routine without the nearly constant danger he’d faced for thirty-five years.

[Read the full excerpt from End Game...]

Aug 28 2016 12:00pm

It All Began With A Haircut

June, 2006: Parenthood and work were taking their toll. People moaned that my column was getting late. I vowed to arbitrarily murder the next person who knocked on my door. That made me feel better. And my brief encounter with the world of Korean hairstylists also did me the world of good.

Hello, Chums!

I received more than my usual share of hate mail this week, which pleases me to no end. It proves that at least three of you are paying attention.

What seems to have drawn the ire of some of the more hydrophobic fans (look it up) is that I did not submit an episode of this column last week, thus disappointing my insatiable army of Fanatical Floggers. I promise you that as soon as I make up an excuse for this indiscretion, I will post it here.

Apparently, thousands of you set your clocks by the regular Thursday dose of merriment this column provides. No doubt you are often late for work as a result of this, and I suggest you buy a better clock, you cheap bastards.

Anyway, all of this pissing and moaning has really galvanized me into action. I hereby promise that I will do my utmost to provide you with your weekly spoonful of madness, and I can already guarantee that I will break that promise if next week is anything remotely like this week.

That is why, gentle readers, I must present a little spot for your consumption that I like to call…

It All Began With A Haircut

It all began when I needed a haircut.

Now most people, when they need a haircut, go to the hairdressers. After much careful consideration I decided last Friday that I, too, would follow this drastic course of action. Let it not be said that I am unwilling to learn my lesson after the “lawnmower” incident. The first thing you should know is that the Flowbee is both a waste of money and a complete crock of shit. The second thing you should know is that early Native Americans could have saved themselves a lot of time and effort if they had learned to scalp people as effectively as I did to myself with some hair clippers from Wal-Mart and a packet of ordinary household bleach.

No, it was time for professionals to enter the fray. And so while Torak and Nigh Perfect were visiting Grandma and Grandpa Perfect, I paid a visit to my local hairdresser.

At least, that was the plan.

[Immediate derailment of said plan...]

Aug 27 2016 1:00pm

Curioddity: New Excerpt

Paul Jenkins

Curioddity by Paul Jenkins is an quirky, fast-paced debut novel that is as peculiar as it is fun to read (Available August 30, 2016).

Will Morgan is a creature of habit―a low-budget insurance detective who walks to and from work with the flow of one-way traffic, and for whom imagination is a thing of the distant past. When a job opportunity enters the frame in the form of the mysterious Mr. Dinsdale―curator of the ever so slightly less-than-impressive Curioddity Museum―Will reluctantly accepts the task of finding a missing box of levity (the opposite of gravity). What he soon learns, however, is that there is another world out there―a world of magic we can only see by learning to un-look at things―and in this world there are people who want to close the Curioddity museum down. With the help of his eccentric new girlfriend Lucy, Will will do everything he can to deliver on his promise to help Mr. Dinsdale keep the Curioddity Museum in business.

[Read an excerpt from Curioddity...]

Aug 26 2016 4:30pm

“Mr. Ginsdale” Cocktail

What do you do when the boss at your new job is sort of a weirdo—charming but peculiar for sure? I create a cocktail based off his name, drink a couple, and hope he un-looks the other way!

So, get a little strange with this week's Pick Your Poison—where we create a cocktail inspired by a recently published mystery, thriller, or crime novel—the “Mr. Ginsdale” cocktail, inspired by Paul Jenkins's upcoming debut novel, Curioddity!

[Check out the recipe below!]

Aug 26 2016 2:30pm

Page to Screen: Comics I’d Love to See on My TV—Mouse Guard

The Series: Mouse Guard by David Petersen.
The Heroes: Warrior mice who patrol to keep their fellow rodents safe from predators.
The Ideal Format: An animated series—hand-drawn, not CGI, to better emulate Petersen's original designs.

The natural world has always been a brutal place. “Red in tooth and claw,” as the poets say. Plenty of capable, healthy, smart humans die while enjoying the outdoors every year.

Imagine how much harder it is to survive when you're only a couple inches tall and have very little in the way of either teeth or claws. When just about everything around you would like nothing more than to swallow you whole. 

Life is never easy on the lowest link of the food chain, and it's hard to imagine a creature more helpless than a mouse. 

[Read more about Mouse Guard...]

Aug 26 2016 1:00pm

Dear Wallander: Advice for a Concerned Mother

This week's guest columnist is Kurt Wallander, the brooding Swedish police inspector who looks like he hasn't shaved, or slept, for days. 

Dear Wallander,

I'm the mother of three beautiful young boys—ages 3, 6, and 8—and one of them is lying to me. I found Gilly the Goldfish on the rug, ten feet from her tank. Clearly, she didn't make that leap by herself. 

Luckily, I got her back into the water and she seems okay.

All three of my boys deny doing this. In your experience, what's the best way of getting the truth out of them—and how can my husband and I ever trust them with the life of another pet?

—Mom Wants Answers

[Read Wallander's advice!]

Aug 26 2016 11:00am

Nun Robbed at Knifepoint

We have, yet again, hit a low within the perpderpiverse this week. You might want to shield your grandmother from this one. Two women were arrested this week after they allegedly robbed a nun of her rosary beads. Yup, a nun's rosary beads.

The nun, from Daughters of Mary of Nazareth Convent in Massachusetts, was strolling down the street, minding her own business, when a woman approached her and attempted to snatch a small satchel she was carrying from her hand.

According to ABC News, the nun said she only opened her satchel when she noticed the knife the suspect was brandishing. Even though she knew there was no money inside, the suspect wanted it anyway. “I guess I’ll take the rosary beads,” the one suspect allegedly told the nun while the other acted as a lookout.

Police later located the two women, identified as Vanessa and Crystal Young, and found the knife that they used in the robbery. Police also found a bunch of cellphones and a checkbook from other capers the pair committed. Crystal Young was released but Vanessa Young is being held on $5,000 bail.

Aug 26 2016 10:00am

Death Among the Doilies: New Excerpt

Mollie Cox Bryan

Death Among the Doilies by Mollie Cox Bryan is the 1st Cora Crafts Mystery, featuring crafting tips and a murder or two (Available August 30, 2016)!

For thirty-something blogger Cora Chevalier, small-town Indigo Gap, North Carolina, seems like the perfect place to reinvent her life. Shedding a stressful past as a counselor for a women’s shelter, Cora is pouring all her talents—and most of her savings—into a craft retreat business, with help from close pal and resident potter Jane Starr. Between transforming her Victorian estate into a crafter’s paradise and babysitting Jane’s daughter, the new entrepreneur has no time for distractions. Especially rumors about the murder of a local school librarian.

But when Jane’s fingerprints match those found at the grisly crime scene, Cora not only worries about her friend, but her own reputation. With angry townsfolk eager for justice and both Jane’s innocence and the retreat at risk, she must rely on her creative chops to unlace the truth behind the beloved librarian’s disturbing demise. Because if the killer’s patterns aren’t pinned, Cora’s handiwork could end up in stitches…

[Read an excerpt from Death Among the Doilies...]

Aug 25 2016 4:30pm

The Problem with the Vampires in Blade

Blade is one of the older successful superhero films, appearing at a time when people had renewed interest in vampires. But, there has always been one thing that bothered me about the portrayal of vampires in Blade—they were weak.

Much of the fear regarding vampires relies on the idea that they are nearly unstoppable forces, requiring groups of people to dispatch even one. But, the opening action scene of Blade shows a club full of hundreds of vampires easily dispatched by Blade using an arsenal of weapons. Yes, the weapons are specially designed with vampires in mind, including stakes, silver bullets and blades, ultraviolet lights, and garlic-infused “mace.”

When struck, the offending area of the vampire (often the heart or head) simply disintegrates, melting away into nothingness. Blade is a one man, vampire-slaying army, whereas, in other portrayals, a single vampire could cause the same level of destruction among humanity by shrugging off nearly every weapon known to man.

So why did the writers of Blade choose to weaken vampires? Well, obviously, this is a box-office action flick, but I think there’s a deeper story going on. I think Blade has a subtle, hidden fight of mythology vs. science.


Aug 25 2016 3:00pm

One and Done: Marc Bojanowski, The Dog Fighter

I picked up a strange book called The Dog Fighter without any prior knowledge of the author. This was in 2004, and the high praise this debut novel was getting intrigued me enough to give it a shot. One of the hooks was that the writer used no punctuation beyond periods and question marks. No quotations, no contractions, and not a comma in sight. (At the time, I’d never read Cormac McCarthy. Forgive me.)

So, I gave it a shot.

The book was good. Very literary, but it had a sleazy side I liked. I decided to keep an eye on this young upstart, Marc Bojanowski.

[Find out more about Marc Bojanowski...]

Aug 25 2016 1:30pm

Waking the Dead and Baking Pies with Pushing Daisies

In the lovely little town of Coeur de Coeur...

The word “necromancer” brings to mind a very specific image: black robes, black nails, black teeth, maybe some ravens and unlucky black cats, dribbly candles (black, of course), and ebon shadows (continuing in the black-ish theme).

Heavy on the grim, dark, and evil, basically.

There was a very unusual restaurant run by a very unusual baker...

So when Ned the Piemaker appears onscreen in “Pie-lette”—the only thing black about him being his fitted t-shirt—that preconception is pretty much dashed to bits.

Because gangly, awkward, handsome Ned (played by the ever-charming and tree-tall Lee Pace, before his was a more recognizable face), with his floofy hair and puppy eyes, his earnest sincerity and his aw-shucks smile, is a necromancer. Albeit, one who'd much rather just bake pies and who raises the dead through a natural fluke rather than in dark magic ceremonies, but a necromancer nonetheless.

[He's actually quite the Necromantic...]

Aug 25 2016 12:00pm

5 Incredible Prison Escapes

Human beings can get pretty creative when backed into a corner—or locked in a cage. While not everyone has to crawl through a river of shit to come out clean on the other side, some pretty drastic measures were taken by these 5 escape artists.

[Tonight there's gonna be a jailbreak...]

Aug 25 2016 10:00am

Pumpkin Picking with Murder: New Excerpt

Auralee Wallace

Pumpkin Picking with Murder by Auralee WallacePumpkin Picking with Murder is the 2nd book in Auralee Wallace's Otter Lake Mystery series (Available August 30, 2016).

When murder strikes in the Tunnel of Love, Erica Bloom has to rock the boat to catch a killer…

For a small town like Otter Lake, New Hampshire, the annual Fall Festival is a big deal: a Ferris wheel, corn maze, caramel apples, and pumpkin pies—even a Tunnel of Love. Back in her hometown, Erica Bloom is trying to enjoy herself, which includes getting better acquainted with Sheriff Grady Forrester. But when a swan boat sails out of the heart-shaped exit of the tunnel with a dead man slumped over a wing, her own romance will have to take a backseat.

Speaking of love affairs, the other passenger in the boat—and only witness to the elderly Mr. Masterson’s swan song—is not his wife. It’s Erica’s beloved and feisty “aunt,” Tweety, who quickly becomes the prime suspect. Vowing to clear Tweety, Erica teams up with her sassy BFF and self-appointed security expert Freddie Ng to solve the murder—despite the objections of Grady, who’s convinced the amateurs are going overboard in their investigation. And he just may be right. But as Erica and Freddie start to dredge up long-kept small-town secrets, will they heading straight into troubled waters?

Chapter One

“Okay,” I said, stepping off the dock onto the cracked asphalt of the parking lot. “I’m here. Can you please tell me what’s going on now?”

“Nope,” the voice on the other end of my phone said. “It’s a surprise. You have to see it.”

I sighed and turned my face up to the warm autumn sun. “You know I don’t have really great experiences with surprises. In fact, I pretty much hate them. Especially when I’m … here.”

[Read the full excerpt from Pumpkin Picking with Murder...]

Aug 24 2016 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: Purl Up and Die by Maggie Sefton

It’s been quite a while since I last had the chance to hang out with the Lambspun fabric artists who form the nexus of Maggie Sefton’s bestselling Knitting Mystery series, so I had a lot of catching up to do! Fortunately, Purl Up And Die treats fans, as well as more casual readers, to an in-depth look at their lives, even as they are affected by another shocking murder. 

Kelly Flynn is our sleuthing heroine, a CPA and amateur knitter whose own limited skills with the needles make her very relatable to novice knitters. She spends a lot of time at the House Of Lambspun—the fabric, fiber, and yarn shop just across the driveway from her home—with its attached Pete’s Porch Cafe. Kelly loves textures, and the book is full of sensual descriptions of the various wares available at Lambspun (which is based on a real Colorado knitting store). Kelly also loves her coffee, as well as playing and coaching softball with the various Fort Connor leagues that form a big part of the summertime social schedules of herself and her close-knit (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun) circle of friends.

[Recipe and pictures below!]

Aug 24 2016 2:30pm

A Deadly Thaw: Visual Guide

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

This week, there are murders, secrets, and mysteries—oh my! Take a visual tour through Sarah Ward's 2nd Inspector Francis Sadler novel, A Deadly Thaw!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]