<i>Paradime</i>: New Excerpt Paradime: New Excerpt Alan Glynn A thrilling novel of a 21st-century identity crisis. Review: <i>Murder on Brittany Shores</i> by Jean-Luc Bannalec Review: Murder on Brittany Shores by Jean-Luc Bannalec Dirk Robertson Read Dirk Robertson's review! Review: <i>Dark Matter</i> by Blake Crouch Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch Brian Greene Read Brian Greene's review! <i>The Second Death</i>: New Excerpt The Second Death: New Excerpt Peter Tremayne The 26th book in the Mysteries of Ancient Ireland series.
From The Blog
July 25, 2016
The Antihero This World Deserves
Thom Truelove
July 25, 2016
Passionate About Pulp: Revisiting Dick Tracy (1990)
Angie Barry
July 22, 2016
Page to Screen: Comics I’d Love to See on My TV—Rat Queens
Angie Barry
July 22, 2016
Man Uses Brain to Get High Like a Zombie
Teddy Pierson
July 21, 2016
10 Essential Giallo Films
Brian Greene
Showing posts by: Angie Barry click to see Angie Barry's profile
Mon
Jul 25 2016 3:30pm

Passionate About Pulp: Revisiting Dick Tracy (1990)

THE SUBGENRE: Comic book noir.
THE HERO: Hardnosed detective Dick Tracy.
THE VILLAIN: Crime boss Alphonse “Big Boy” Caprice.
THE LOVE INTEREST(S): Loyal “Girl Friday” Tess Trueheart and gangster's moll Breathless Mahoney.
THE SETTING: A 1920's metropolis.

Pulp fiction gets a bad name in my opinion—no, not the Quentin Tarantino flick where Travolta jams a giant needle into Uma Thurman's chest and Christopher Walken has the creepiest speech ever about a watch.

When I talk about pulp, I'm talking about a brand of story that jumped straight off of 20th-century magazine shelves and WHAM!-ed and BAM!-ed their way across the big screen.

Gruff detectives, flying aces, adventurers, and early superheroes abound in pulp flicks. There are a lot of fedoras, trench coats, goggles, and impressive boots on display. Our hero carries a pistol or a knife, maybe even a magic ring or jetpack.

They travel to exotic locales or prowl dark city streets, ever on the watch for an innocent in need of saving, a damsel in need of smooching, and a baddie in need of a swift punch to the jaw.

[POW! Right in the kisser!]

Fri
Jul 22 2016 11:00pm

Outcast 1.07: “The Damage Done” Episode Review

Anderson (Philip Glenister) is cleaning up the aftermath of his bloody encounter with Evil Data/Sidney (Brent Spiner)—good God, talk about a bathroom of horrors—when Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey) arrives for their standing poker game. 

But, it's difficult to keep your mind on the game when there's a pentagram still oozing on your chest. It's even harder when Giles provokes Ogden (Pete Burris) into some light fisticuffs over the card table; afterwards, the good Reverend has no choice but to reveal what happened to the Chief, who is understandably frustrated that he didn't come directly to him.

What's the point in having a BFF on the police department if you don't call him when a demonic psycho breaks into your church to carve arcane symbols on your body?

[Lay down your soul to the god's rock n' roll...]

Fri
Jul 22 2016 2:30pm

Page to Screen: Comics I’d Love to See on My TV—Rat Queens

The Series: Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch, and Stjepan Sejic.
The Heroes: A team of hard-drinking, foul-mouthed, fun-loving, totally asskicking female mercenaries.
The Ideal Format: A live-action series with a serious budget for the necessary magical SFX and prosthetics—HBO or Starz would be a good fit, given the mature subject matter.

When you hear “Dungeons & Dragons campaign,” your mind probably conjures up a dank basement, a card table, and four or five pimply boys with nasal voices and smudged glasses.

In truth, the D&D community is full of women, college students, and fantasy geeks of all ages and stripes who love to tell stories and enjoy a sense of community. The parents'-basement-dwelling social outcast is more an outlier than an apt representative of the collective whole. 

In my own personal experience, I've known over a dozen lady D&Ders to every one man. That's a helluva ratio.

Which is why Rat Queens is so damn important: it's essentially a D&D campaign driven by women. The heart of the story follows the eponymous mercenary team, a brash quartet who know what they want and just go for it.

[I know what I want, and I want it now...]

Fri
Jul 15 2016 11:00pm

Outcast 1.06: “From the Shadows it Watches” Episode Review

I don't know about you, but there are few things I enjoy more than a night in with a glass of booze and a stack of movies. 

The VHS tapes Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) has selected for the evening's entertainment, the ones chronicling dozens of past exorcisms, aren't what I'd usually go for. But, to each their own, I guess.

....Has anyone else in this crazy town been at all concerned about the sheer VOLUME of people being possessed in such a small backwoods area??? Just speaking from a law-of-averages viewpoint here, this number seems unusually high to me. If your population is under 10k and you're having dozens of people climbing the walls speaking Latin in reverse, maybe you should think about ringing up the Pope.

Just saying.

[Don't leave me hangin' on the telephone...]

Fri
Jul 15 2016 2:00pm

Review: Day By Day Armageddon: Ghost Run by J.L. Bourne

Ghost Run by J.L. Bourne is the 4th installment of the Day by Day Armageddon series (Available July 19, 2016).

...The lock flew off; a tiny piece of steel struck me in the forehead, right between my mask and hood, splattering a few droplets of blood down into the fray below.

The undead went beserk.

I jammed my boot down blindly, striking bone and teeth, loosening the creature's bear-trap grip on my foot. Without looking, I threw myself upward, hitting the hatch with the back of my head and spilling light into the darkness below. Resembling strange deep-sea plant life, an ocean of hands reached up in unison to somehow will me back down the ladder and into their arms. One of them emerged from the array of limbs...

I took the shot down the hole, sending the thing back into the sea of waving hands.

Our narrator is Kilroy, a former military commander turned ultimate zompocalypse survivor. It's been over two years since the undead arose and the living fought back with nuclear bombs, reducing much of America—and probably the entire world—into a wasteland that’s both radioactive and teeming with hungry zombies.

[Read Angie Barry's review of Day by Day Armageddon: Ghost Run...]

Fri
Jul 8 2016 11:00pm

Outcast 1.05: “The Road Before Us” Episode Review

In the wake of last week's revelations about the demonically afflicted in Rome, West Virginia, Kyle (Patrick Fugit) is in something of a tailspin of worry about his estranged wife, Allison (Kate Lyn Sheil). He desperately wants to talk to her, face to face, and assure himself that she's no longer a threat to herself or their daughter Amber.

The only problem? It's technically illegal for him to do that. Given his recent stint in prison and Allison's restraining order, even setting foot on his erstwhile property could land him in jail again. 

The Reverend (Philip Glenister) humors him to an extent, driving him to the curb so they can—somewhat creepily—watch the house for a while. Word to the wise: if you want to convince your wife that you mean her well, maybe don't lurk outside her house at night staring up at the windows?

[Every breath you take, every move you make...I'll be watching you]

Fri
Jul 1 2016 1:00pm

Review: The Big Sheep by Robert Kroese

The Big Sheep by Robert Kroese is a delicate balance of sci-fi, mystery, and humor.

“That's a really big sheep,” said Erasmus Keane, his observational powers functioning as flawlessly as ever.

The woman in the lab coat nodded curtly. “He's a Lincoln Longwool,” she said. “Largest breed of sheep in the world.” She had introduced herself as Dr. Kelly Takemago, Director of Research for the Esper Corporation. We were standing in her lab, a vast white room filled with the low humming of vaguely terrifying machines that hung from the ceiling like colossal clockwork bats. Poised in the middle of the room was the sheep in question, which Keane and I were regarding with professional interest. The sheep, in turn, was regarding us. It didn't appear impressed.

Our narrator is Blake Fowler, an erstwhile chief of security that has become a professional babysitter and bodyguard. The detective, Erasmus Keane, is made along your standard Sherlockian lines: he has absolutely no social skills, very poor hygiene, is so caught up in his own thoughts that he rarely eats or pays attention to those around him, can be a complete asshole, and is always—always—the smartest man in the room.

[Read Angie Barry's review of The Big Sheep...]

Fri
Jun 24 2016 11:00pm

Outcast 1.04: “A Wrath Unseen” Episode Review

Boy, nothing says depressing quite like a funeral with only three attendants—and of those three, Kyle (Patrick Fugit), is the only one that doesn't have to be there. 

Poor neighbor Norville is being buried following his “suicide”—I put that in quotations because there's definitely something wiggy about it, a suspicion that's only reinforced when Evil Data (Brent Spiner, who finally introduces himself as “Sidney”) appears and claims to be one of Norville's old friends.

Uh huh. I buy that.

[Read Angie's review of Episode 1.04: “A Wrath Unseen”]

Fri
Jun 24 2016 3:00pm

Page to Screen: Comics I’d Love to See on My TV—The Sandman

The Series: The Sandman by Neil Gaiman.
The Hero: Dream (also known as Morpheus, among other aliases) of the Endless.
The Ideal Format: A live action series with significant amounts of CGI and puppetry, à la Mirrormask and the Henson films of the 80's.

It's one of the most critically acclaimed comic series of all time, and one of the first graphic novels to ever make the New York Times Bestseller list.

It was one of only five graphic novels to be included in Entertainment Weekly's “100 best reads” (it came in at #46, in fact).

It's garnered more than 26 Eisner Awards, Bram Stoker Awards, a World Fantasy Award, and was nominated for a Hugo.

With all of that acclaim, and with its rather rabid fanbase, why hasn't The Sandman already been adapted for film or TV?

[Cause it's hard to watch TV when you're dreaming?]

Fri
Jun 17 2016 11:00pm

Outcast 1.03: “All Alone Now” Episode Review

Police partners and long-time friends, Brock (Lee Tergesen) and Luke (JR Bourne), go bowling as a double-date with Luke's wife and a friend—but Brock's not acting like himself. He's consistently throwing gutterballs and being unforgivably rude to his date. 

With the night shot, he follows Luke and wife Teri home. The diagnosis seems simple enough: Brock's coming down with something. So, Luke heads to the store for soup and medicine, while Teri puts on the kettle for tea.

But this is no mere cold or flu, and no sooner is Luke gone before Brock is brutalizing his helpful, kind wife. The cop returns home to find his wife horribly murdered and his erstwhile friend looming over her corpse.

[Symptoms include: pale skin, crass language, body contortion, black goo]

Fri
Jun 10 2016 11:00pm

Outcast 1.02: “(I Remember) When She Loved Me” Episode Review

Picking up right where we left off last week, little Joshua is still carrying the marks of his exorcism. Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) is rabble-rousing his congregation. Kyle (Patrick Fugit) is putting his life back together: cleaning the house, getting the water turned back on, wrapping a present for his daughter's seventh birthday.

But the trauma of the past is ever-present and insidious. The scars on the walls only mirror the scars of the mind. A tooth under the stove can trigger all sorts of unpleasant memories.

(Jiminy Christmas, that was a terrible little beat. How Kyle can live in a house permeated by such fear and pain, where the physical marks of his experience abound, where a bloody human tooth can still be lying under the stove, is hard to stomach. I probably would have put a torch to the place years ago; but I digress.)

[Burn it! Burn it with fire!]

Mon
Jun 6 2016 12:00pm

Review: Doing the Devil’s Work by Bill Loehfelm

Doing the Devil's Work by Bill Loehfelm is a gritty, provocative story of a flawed woman struggling to be a good cop and the 3rd installment of the Marueen Coughlin series (Available in paperback June 7, 2016).

Someone's been cutting throats in New Orleans.

The victims weren't nice men—in fact, considering they were Neo-Nazi homegrown terrorists, the type more than willing to kill a few cops and innocent bystanders if given the chance, the number of people sad about their passing could only be recorded in the negative digits.

Still, murder is murder, and Officer Maureen Coughlin is duty-bound to get to the bottom of things.

Then, a traffic stop goes terribly wrong, opening a can that isn't so much full of worms as it is venomous snakes. In only a handful of hours, Maureen finds herself standing on dangerously shifting ground, unsure of who to trust or how to get out of the quicksand.

[Read Angie Barry's review of Doing the Devil's Work...]

Fri
Jun 3 2016 11:00pm

Outcast Series Premiere 1.01: “A Darkness Surrounds Him”

I've been a horror fan for half of my life. My comfort films include John Carpenter's The Thing and Dawn of the Dead; they're just the thing to perk me up after an especially rotten day. I wrote my thesis on the socio-political commentary in zombie films.

But, for all of my love of monsters, specters, and the undead of every kind, I do have an Achilles heel. That one subgenre of horror that I avoid like the plague, that I hesitate to come within even ten feet of.

I don't do demonic possession stories.

[Read Angie Barry's review of the Outcast series premiere!]

Tue
May 31 2016 3:00pm

Review: Stealing the Countess by David Housewright

Stealing the Countess is the 13th book in the Rushmore McKenzie series by the Edgar Award-winner David Housewright (Available today!).

The Countess Borromeo has disappeared from a charming B&B. No one knows who took her, when they took her, or what they plan to do with her.

The Maestro, Paul Duclos, was the last to see her. He insists it isn't his fault.

“What was I supposed to do?” he asked. “Handcuff her to my wrist? Hire armed guards to escort us to rehearsals, to concert halls? You can't live like that. It's untenable. ...I never let her out of my sight. But if you worried about someone running off with her, if you gave in to paranoia, you'd never leave the house.”

“The fact remains,” I said. “Someone stole your four-million-dollar Stradivarius violin.”

That's right—the Countess Borromeo isn't a woman at all. She's a priceless instrument, made by the world's best-known craftsman. In the wake of her theft, the insurance company announces they have no intention of paying the thieves for her safe return. The fact that she's irreplaceable doesn't seem to perturb them much.

[Read Angie Barry's review of Stealing the Countess...]

Fri
May 27 2016 2:30pm

Page to Screen: Comics I’d Love to See on My TV—Lackadaisy Cats

The Series: Lackadaisy Cats by Tracy J. Butler.
The Heroes: Anthropomorphized cats in a Prohibition setting. 
The Ideal Format: An animated series—think Boardwalk Empire meets Disney.

It's 1927, and Prohibition is in full swing. Also in full swing is a thriving underground of liquor smuggling, speakeasies, and criminal activity, punctuated by the rat-a-tat-tat of Tommy guns. 

In the midst of this, the Lackadaisy Speakeasy—built in the limestone caverns beneath St. Louis—is struggling. The previous owner, Atlas May, has been dead for a year—gunned down in the street by a rival faction.

Was his death merely a case of friendly competition turned foul? A bribe to a corrupt cop that backfired? Or was Atlas's beautiful wife, former jazz musician Mitzi, involved? 

[When asked about it, Atlas merely shrugged...]

Mon
May 23 2016 12:00pm

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

Who doesn't like a good comic book movie?

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

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

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

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

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

Have I got the movie for you!

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

Thu
May 12 2016 3:00pm

Why So Serious? A Little Less Grimdark and a Little More Fun, Please

“Are you a Marvel or a DC?”

It's become one of those questions—just as everyone has to pick Bats or Supes or side with Cap over Iron Man. And, for the most part, I've been firmly in the Marvel camp.

Mainly because, when I go to the theater to see a comic book movie, I want to have fun.

And fun is something that the DC films have been majorly lacking in the last decade. Because, for some inexplicable reason, someone decided that comic book movies needed to be serious. Heavy. Realistic.

Really, really grimdark.

[Bring back the fun!]

Mon
May 9 2016 11:00am

Under the Radar: Movies You May Have Missed—RED / RED 2

Hollywood tells us that the world of espionage is glamorous, dangerous, sexy, and unpredictable. It's full of femme fatales, debonair secret agents, car chases, and equal parts gunfire and explosions.

Bond, Bourne, Hunt: these are our heroes. They're handsome, muscular, and always ready with a quip. They go through women like tissue papers—women who are always smokin' hot and rarely to be trusted.

But what happens in twenty, thirty, forty years? What happens when the world's best spies are grey-haired—or have no hair at all—and their respective governments decide their work is a “young man's game”?

[What happens is RED and RED 2...]

Wed
May 4 2016 3:00pm

Fresh Meat: Sent to the Devil by Laura Lebow

Sent to the Devil by Laura Lebow is the 2nd Lorenzo Da Ponte historical mystery.

“You! What do you want with me?”

“You know what I want you to do,” the man hissed...

“No!” He tried to shout, but his voice was merely a croak. “No! I will not!”

The old man saw a blurred motion, and then pain seared his neck. An owl hooted in the distance as blood spattered over the stone steps.

“I am dying!” he cried. But he could not hear his own voice, only a loud gurgling, and after a few moments, nothing...

Spring, 1788. Austria is on the brink of war with the Ottoman Empire and already soldiers are dying of disease in the camps along the front. The exiled Venetian Lorenzo Da Ponte—Royal Librettist for the Emperor—is hard at work revising his lyrics for Mozart's opera, Don Giovanni.

And a killer stalks the streets of Vienna.

When the murderer attacks Da Ponte's closest friend, a retired priest, the poet finds himself, yet again, unwillingly embroiled in death and madness. Well aware of how prejudiced the police force can be, and how easily victims can be forgotten, Da Ponte agrees to assist a nobleman Richard Benda in tracking down the culprit.

[Read Angie Barry's review of Sent to the Devil here...]

Fri
Apr 29 2016 1:30pm

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

The Series: Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona (and others, including Joss Whedon).
The Heroes: The teenaged sons and daughters of a secret society of super-villains known as the Pride.
The Ideal Format: A live-action Netflix series in the vein of Daredevil and Jessica Jones.

See also: Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 Review: Episodes 1-4

Who hasn't said they hate their parents at one time or another? Who hasn't thought about—or actually followed through with—running away from home? Being a teenager is a confusing welter of hormones and emotions, and everybody looks at authority figures with distrust from time to time.

But what if your parents and their friends weren't really the nice doctors, businessmen, actors, and engineers they pretend to be? What if their little cocktail parties were hiding something darker? Like...human sacrifice?

When you realize Mom and Dad are super-villains bent on world destruction, what else can you do but run away?

[Talk about pressure to join the family business...]