<i>The Charmers</i>: New Excerpt The Charmers: New Excerpt Elizabeth Adler A page-turner of a novel that will keep you riveted up until the end. <i>The Big Sheep</i>: New Excerpt The Big Sheep: New Excerpt Robert Kroese A balance of sci-fi, mystery, and humor. Review: <i>First Strike</i> by Ben Coes Review: First Strike by Ben Coes Janet Webb The 6th Dewey Andreas thriller. <i>Black Sails, Disco Inferno</i>: New Excerpt Black Sails, Disco Inferno: New Excerpt Andrez Bergen A 70s noir-style retelling of a classic romance.
From The Blog
June 24, 2016
Page to Screen: Comics I'd Love to See on My TV—The Sandman
Angie Barry
June 23, 2016
Cooking the Books: The Diva Serves High Tea by Krista Davis
Doreen Sheridan
June 23, 2016
Q&A with Spencer Kope, Author of Collecting the Dead
Crime HQ and Spencer Kope
June 22, 2016
The Real Serial Killer Behind the Play Arsenic and Old Lace
Kristen Houghton
June 22, 2016
Let There Be Linda Blog Tour: Sneak Peak and Exclusive Q&A with Author Rich Leder
Rich Leder
Showing posts by: Angie Barry click to see Angie Barry's profile
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...]

Thu
Apr 28 2016 3:30pm

Mad About Norman: The Enduring Appeal of Psycho

Horror audiences take so much for granted. So many of the monsters, tropes, and scenarios of the genre have been hammered into us over the years that we've become quite jaded.

“Oh,” we say halfway through the trailer or synopsis blurb, “another serial killer story—yawn.”

We fail to appreciate that clichés had to start somewhere. As difficult as it may be to believe, the pop culture landscape hasn't always been awash with obsessive stalkers, murderous Peeping Toms, and slashers with severe mommy issues and low impulse control.

[Kill, kill, kill...mom, mom, mom]

Thu
Apr 7 2016 12:15pm

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny is the 2007 Agatha Award winner for “Best Novel,” and the 2nd in the Chief Inspector Gamache series.

Had CC de Poitiers known she was going to be murdered, she might have bought her husband, Richard, a Christmas gift. She might even have gone to her daughter's end of term pageant at Miss Edward's School for Girls, or “girths” as CC liked to tease her expansive daughter. Had CC de Poitiers known the end was near she might have been at work instead of in the cheapest room the Ritz in Montreal had to offer. But the only end she knew was near belonged to a man named Saul...

Some mysteries you read for the mystery itself—the twisty turns, the convoluted plot, the red herrings, and clever reveals. Some you read for the witty dialogue or derring-do; others for the atmosphere and impressive research involved in bringing the setting to life.

And some you read for the characters.

[Read Angie Barry's review of A Fatal Grace here...]

Fri
Mar 25 2016 3:00pm

Page to Screen: Comics I’d Love to See on My TV—Beasts of Burden

The Series: Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson
The Heroes: A pack of dogs—Jack, Whitey, Pugsley, Ace, Rex, Miranda—and one cat, The Orphan.
The Ideal Format: An animated series, a la Scooby Doo, only much darker.

Beasts of Burden is a little-known gem of a comic series, set in the idyllic town of Burden Hill. This quaint hamlet looks like any other you might find on a long drive through the country: there are white picket fences galore, charming patches of woodland, sprinklers in the front yards, and dog houses in the back.

The humans of Burden Hill live in blissful ignorance of any of the dark forces surrounding them—because their devoted pets are busy fighting them off to protect their oblivious masters.

[Makes you wonder if your own furry friends fight crime...]

Mon
Mar 14 2016 3:45pm

10 Comics That Could Become the next Hit TV Show

At this point, it's probably only a matter of time until every superhero on the books gets their own movie or Netflix series. Some feel we're hitting saturation levels, and that's true to an extent.

But, the real issue with “Comic Adaptation Fatigue” isn't that we're necessarily tired of superheroes—we're just tired of seeing the same superheroes every five years. Truly, there are only so many Spider-man origin stories, so many gritty, grim-dark Batman epics we need OR want.

What Hollywood needs to remember is that variety is the spice of life. Rather than constantly playing it safe by incessantly rebooting the same ten characters, what audiences really want is brand new takes on brand new characters.

Delve into the underdogs and cult classics, screenwriters! Stretch yourselves and think outside the box. Adapt a comic series that isn't already a household name; turn it into a household name instead!

Netflix/Marvel is already way ahead of the game here—the Average Joe on the street didn't know who Jessica Jones was last year, and only serious comic fans knew about Luke Cage, Iron Fist, or—hell—the Guardians of the Galaxy.

I know it's a serious fight to get a chance-y pitch picked up by a studio. Movies are expensive, awash with red tape, and exceedingly more difficult to get made and distributed—which is why TV needs to become the great bastion for comic adaptations.

It's on TV (or Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime) where lesser-known properties could get a chance to shine and stretch out. The episodic nature allows for greater depth of world and character building—just the thing for a rich, complex comic story. Not to mention, it's way more likely to get a pilot season than a summer blockbuster.

Which is why I'm going to spotlight 10 comic series over the next 10 months that I think would make smashing television shows. I'll cover the gamut from classic superheroes to fantasy and sci-fi, both smaller-scale stories and sweeping epics, a couple series you've definitely heard of and a few I'm sure you haven't.

Here's a taste of what's to come...

[Take a peak at what might become your new favorite show...]

Mon
Mar 14 2016 1:00pm

Under the Radar: Movies You May Have Missed—Colombiana

I can still remember the first time I saw the trailer for Colombiana.

I can't remember the movie I was actually in the theater to see at the time, strangely enough, but I remember that trailer: the frenetic cuts, the percussive beats of the action and dialogue, the indelible image of Zoe Saldana in that skin-tight, matte black catsuit. I'm a sucker for a well-edited action trailer, and this one was, as Tony the Tiger would say, grrrreat.

But then, somehow, I missed it during its initial run. Perhaps I was too busy at the time, or maybe the local release was just an abbreviated one. Whatever the reason, I didn't get a chance to see Colombiana until this year, reminded of its existence by a friend with likeminded tastes.

[Read Angie Barry's review of Colombiana...]

Fri
Mar 11 2016 2:30pm

The 12 Worst James Bond Films: A Feminist’s Take on the World’s Favorite Spy

Whenever I complain about the misogyny in a James Bond film, I'm inevitably told: “What do you expect? It's Bond.”

The fact that this is said so matter-of-factly—it's often delivered in a condescending tone of voice, as if my outrage is unreasonable—is appalling. An entire series of movies shouldn't carry such a reputation like a badge of honor, as if it's perfectly normal and unsurprising.

This just proves how deeply ingrained misogyny is in our society. It's seen as a natural state of being, rather than the true imbalance of power it really is.

I shouldn't have to point out that a man forcing himself on a lady is horrific rather than sexy or masculine; or that coercing a woman into doing something she's uncomfortable with is deplorable.

This is no-brainer level stuff here, people.

And just because James Bond is “the world's greatest spy,” that doesn't mean he should be let off the hook when he does disgusting shit. His defense squad can cry all they want about how he does questionable things in the name of the greater good/to save the world/to protect Queen and Country—I'm still going to call a bastard a bastard when he acts like one.

So here are the worst twelve Bond flicks, ranked once again by how decently the ladies in each story are treated:

[See the 12 worst Bond films from a feminist's perspective]

Fri
Mar 4 2016 5:45pm

The 12 Best James Bond Films: A Feminist’s Take on the World’s Favorite Spy

My mother is still shocked that I enjoy James Bond.

Partly because Bond has always been one of the ultimate male fantasies, a testosterone-and-martini-soaked wish-fulfillment on steroids.

But mostly because I'm a very vocal feminist, and the Bond franchise has always been, well, let's put it bluntly here—disgustingly misogynistic.

But as a feminist who enjoys action films—a genre that is almost always tailored for men—you sort of have to learn how to adjust your anger. You either look past the gross aspects or you look away completely.

(Though I'm hoping the recent success of amazing films like Mad Max: Fury Road may bring about a shift in the way Hollywood handles action in the future; we shouldn't have to keep settling for crumbs and put up with bad behavior. We should be given more feminist genre films without having to constantly scream and beg for them—but I digress.)

[See which Bond films made the list...]