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From The Blog
February 20, 2017
Happy President's Day to the Most Famous Lawyer/Thriller-Writer In History (It’s Not Who You Think)
Barry Lancet and Anthony Franze
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Crime HQ
Showing posts by: Angie Barry click to see Angie Barry's profile
Fri
Feb 3 2017 1:00pm

Review: Brotherhood in Death by J.D. Robb

To celebrate the upcoming release of J.D. Robb's 44th Eve Dallas mystery, Echoes in Death, we're taking a look back at every single book in the In Death series. Today, Angie Barry reviews #42, Brotherhood in Death.

Eve leaned forward, just a little. “You can kiss my ass.”

Color flooded Mandy's face. “How dare you. You can be sure I'll contact your superior and report your behavior.”

“That would be Whitney, Commander Jack. Cop Central.” Eve took out her badge. “Make a note of the name and number. I cleaned up some of your husband's blood in that ridiculous old house today—you think about that. You think about that and the fact that you can't find him. And you remember Dennis Mira ended up unconscious on the floor, shedding some of his own blood, because he tried to help. And you—”

“Eve,” Roarke murmured.

“No, not done. And you think about the fact a cop came to your door to inform you, to gather information in the investigation of your husband's whereabouts, and you stonewalled. As a cop I'm now looking right at you, right straight at you as my chief suspect. You got anything hiding in your closets, sister? I guarantee I'll find it.”

In the 42nd installment of her In Death series, J.D. Robb makes things decidedly personal for Lieutenant Eve Dallas. 

[Read Angie Barry's review of Brotherhood in Death...]

Mon
Jan 9 2017 12:00pm

Review: Burning Bright by Nicholas Petrie

Burning Bright by Nicholas Petrie is the 2nd book in the Peter Ash series, where Ash has a woman’s life in his hands—and her mystery is stranger than he could ever imagine (available January 10, 2017).

One week ago, investigative journalist June Cassidy lost her mother. Two days ago, men in a black SUV tried to snatch her off the street. Today, she's hiding over a hundred feet off the ground, on a research platform built around California redwoods.

Meanwhile...

Last night, Peter Ash was trekking through the forest with nothing but a pack on his back and the white static in his head—a souvenir from his tours in Afghanistan. So long as he sticks to wide open spaces, the static is manageable. It's only when he ventures indoors that the claustrophobia becomes too much to bear. 

[Read Angie Barry's review of Burning Bright...]

Fri
Dec 30 2016 4:00pm

Page to Screen: Comics I’d Love to See on My TV—Scud: The Disposable Assassin

The Series: Scud: the Disposable Assassin by Rob Schrab (co-creator of The Sarah Silverman Program), featuring additional writing from Dan Harmon (Community, Rick and Morty)
The Hero: The aforementioned disposable robot assassin, Scud.
The Ideal Format: An animated show in the style of Freakazoid or Invader Zim (with Æon Flux flourishes).  

Imagine what the world will be like five hundred years in the future—or even a thousand. What do you see?

Filmmakers in the forties and fifties imagined flying cars, helpful robots, and heroic square-jawed astronauts facing off against monstrous aliens. Gene Rodenberry gave us an even more optimistic vision in the sixties, with all of mankind finally united in peace, allied with interplanetary species not so different from us, human enterprise now driven by space exploration and the advancement of knowledge. 

The future hasn't always been a bright and rosy place, though. There are plenty of pessimists who have predicted dystopian governments (Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Brave New World), man's creations turning against us (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Terminator), or extraterrestrial life-forms that will never come in peace (Alien, The War of the Worlds).

Which is more plausible: the golly gee-whiz brightness of technological and societal advancement, or the grittier and more nihilistic darkness of galactic violence and degradation?

[What will the future bring?]

Fri
Dec 23 2016 3:00pm

The Cautionary Tale of Gremlins

Each year there's some new, hot thing every kid wants and every parent is desperate to get. Cabbage Patch Dolls. Tickle Me Elmo. This year, it's some bizarre Tamagotchi/Furby hybrid called Hatchimals

Such toys may be outrageously over-priced and hard to find, but at least they're inanimate. If the kids fall out of love with them midway through January, the worst thing that happens is some grumbling about money swirling down the drain and just one more toy to clutter up the house. 

What about all of the cute puppies and kittens and hamsters purchased every year for Christmas morning? The sweet little pets that might not stay little for long or require more upkeep than anticipated? The animals that end up buried in shoeboxes when Little Timmy forgets to feed them for a straight week, abandoned by the side of the road, or dumped at the pound when the novelty wears off?

[That got dark quick...]

Wed
Dec 21 2016 12:00pm

Under the Radar: Movies You May Have Missed—The Ref (1994)

As the poet once said: it's a hard knock life.

For Gus (Denis Leary), Christmas is an especially trying time. His latest job is a bust. He's had a nasty run-in with a rather toothy dog. His boozy business partner Murray (Richard Bright) vamoosed and left him up the proverbial creek without a paddle (or a van).

Oh, and every cop in town is looking for him.

See, Gus is a cat burglar. The good ol' American Dream ain't what it used to be, and after being disappointed by life, he's just making the best of it. This gig was supposed to be the last, the big score, the job that would allow him to finally retire his safe-cracking skills for good. Instead, he finds himself bleeding, reeking of cat pee, and in a real bind.

How to escape town before the city-wide manhunt closes in on him like a noose? The answer seems simple enough: just take a hostage or two, steal their car, and get out while the getting's good. 

[Simple enough, right?]

Tue
Dec 20 2016 3:00pm

A Christmas Party (Is Always More Fun with Murder)

Wouldn't it be lovely if Hallmark actually told the truth about the holiday season? 

Sure, it would be great if every family get-together was full of warmth, good cheer, and high spirits. If the only problem was running out of eggnog and the only arguing was over who was going to hand out the presents after dinner.

Unfortunately for a lot of us Scrooges, the holidays aren't nearly so saccharine and tingly. Instead of jingle bells, there's screaming children, politics-fueled war over the candied yams, and a general sense that the time would have been better spent in bed at home, alone, our sole company a bottle of wine.

It's no real wonder, then, why murder mysteries set during the Yuletide are so appealing. Where better to find a body than under the Christmas tree, in a house packed full of resentment, frayed feelings, and bow-bedazzled gifts? Murder tends to occur close to home, after all, and a forced gathering of disjointed family members provides a jolly pool of suspects.

[I like my eggnog with a little murder...]

Wed
Nov 30 2016 4:15pm

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

The Series: Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.
The Heroes: Alana and Marko—once enemy combatants in an intergalactic war, now married and on the run from both of their governments—and a ragtag bunch of allies.
The Ideal Format: A live-action fantasy epic with extensive animatronics, CGI, and sweet alien makeup.

Star-crossed lovers aren't a new thing.

The trope has been a staple of fiction since long before Shakespeare penned Romeo and Juliet (to the frustration of high school students as-yet-unborn).

Star-crossed lovers in space is pretty new, though. In the case of Saga, the lovers are—at times—even literally star crossed.

When we first meet Alana—a lady with fairy wings growing out of her back—and Marko—a handsome guy with curved ram's horns—the couple are on the run with significant bounties on their heads. Seems they've broken one of the cardinal rules of their galaxy: rather than blindly hate or kill each other, they've fallen in love.

[All ya need is love, doot da doo do doo...]

Fri
Nov 18 2016 3:00pm

Passionate About Pulp: Revisiting The Phantom (1996)

THE SUBGENRE: Comic adaptation/supernatural adventure.
THE HERO: Kit Walker, aka jungle hero The Phantom.
THE VILLAIN: Megalomaniac businessman Xander Drax.
THE SETTING: 1939 NYC and the jungles of the fictional country “Bengalla.”

Twenty generations ago, a young cabin boy witnessed the slaughter of his ship's entire crew—including his father—by merciless pirates known as the Singh Brotherhood. 

Taken in by a native tribe, the boy vowed vengeance and assumed the crime-fighting mantle of The Phantom, a title and mission that are passed down from father to son until “piracy, greed, cruelty, and injustice” are finally defeated. 

Due to this unbroken chain of similarly-uniformed heroes, folks begin to believe the Phantom is immortal and call him “The Ghost Who Walks.” In actuality, the Phantom has no magical powers; he's just an awesome fighter, great with guns, and has an awesome ring and a pet wolf called Devil.

That's still pretty sweet in terms of superhero accoutrements. I want a pet wolf called Devil. 

[Who doesn't?]

Mon
Oct 31 2016 3:30pm

The Adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe: The Good, the Bad, and the Appalling

Poor Edgar. 

While he enjoyed a modicum of critical success in his lifetime, he died at the age of forty, penniless and under mysterious, still unsolved circumstances. He was orphaned at an early age, clashed frequently with his foster father, lost his young wife to tuberculosis, and his reputation was almost completely destroyed by his archrival, who somehow managed to become Poe's literary executor and launched a smear campaign that lingers to this day.

Talk about a tragic, depressing life. No wonder the guy was obsessed with death, loss, and madness. 

In the 150+ years since his death, it's a shame that many adaptations of his stories have been so schlocky. Why is it so hard to do an atmospheric, genuinely thrilling Poe adapt? The man's widely considered the foremost American voice in Romanticism and the inventor of detective fiction for crying out loud.

I think we need to make Guillermo del Toro put down the twelve other projects he's always carrying around and do a big budget Fall of the House of Usher or something. He's the only guy I'd trust at this point.

If you're a fan of Poe, there are plenty of films—and a handful of TV shows—to choose from. Here's just a handful of the most notable:

[See what Poe adapts made the cut...]

Fri
Oct 28 2016 3:30pm

Page to Screen: Comics I’d Love to See on My TV—The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl

The Series: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North (of Dinosaur Comics fame!) and Erica Henderson.
The Heroes: The titular heroine, aka Doreen Green, and several friends with similarly rhyming names and animal-based powers (like Chipmunk Hunk and Koi Boi).
The Ideal Format: A live-action half-hour comedy series—think Marvel's answer to Brooklyn Nine-Nine

She may not be as intimidating as Thor. She's not a snarky billionaire like Iron Man. She's not as noble or as inspiring as Captain America.

So? None of that changes the fact that Squirrel Girl is a legit hero in her own right, despite her goofy name and silly powers. 

What, exactly, are SG's powers?

[Learn more about The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl!]

Fri
Oct 28 2016 1:00pm

Bruce Campbell: King of B-Movies

You may know him as “that guy with the chainsaw for a hand,” or “the aging Elvis who fights a mummy in a retirement home,” or “the hammy actor with a killer chin.”

Or maybe you don't know him at all.

Bruce Campbell may not be a household name—well, he is in my house, but then, B-movies are a way of life in the Barry family. So, mostly he's not a household name. 

Which is a shame. Because he should be. 

[Hail to the king, baby...]

Thu
Oct 27 2016 4:15pm

The Horror Hostess with the Mostest: Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

Before Joel, Mike, and the Bots mocked B-movies for Mystery Science Theater...

Before Cinematic Titanic and Rifftrax...

There was the bodacious, curvaceous, outrageous Elvira.

The alter ego of Cassandra Peterson, Elvira sprang onto the scene in the early 80s, hosting late night horror flicks for a Los Angeles-based television network. It wasn't long before she busted—hold on to your butts; that won't be my last terrible pun, I promise—onto the national scene, her signature cleavage-baring dress and snarky, innuendo-laced commentary catching on with the public in a big, bosomy way.

[Read more about Elvira!]

Wed
Oct 26 2016 10:00am

Review: Dracula vs. Hitler by Patrick Sheane Duncan

Dracula vs. Hitler by Patrick Sheane Duncan is a thrilling action adventure featuring one of the world's greatest fictional monsters facing off against an historical monster in 1941 Romania. 

In the spring of 1941, Hitler's war machine is moving steadily across Europe, crushing any resistance it encounters beneath its fascist boots. Countries fall like dominos beneath the awesome might and horrific violence of the Nazi party. 

Then, the Germans reach Romania, the adopted homeland of one Dr. Abraham Van Helsing...

It has, of course, been decades since the doctor's infamous battle against the greatest evil the world had ever known—the greatest evil prior to Hitler's ascent, that is. Now an old man, Van Helsing recognizes the warning signs and knows that Hitler and his cruel, barbaric forces must be stopped. Sadly, they will not be stopped by the small (if hardy) guerrilla rebels he and his wild daughter Lucy lead.

[Read Angie Barry's review of Dracula vs. Hitler...]

Mon
Oct 24 2016 12:00pm

Beauty & the B-Movie: Loving a Hated Genre

What is a B-movie?

Some—dismissive and so-called “highbrow” critics—say B-movies are irredeemable dreck. A waste of celluloid, money, and precious time. Films that scraped the bottom of the barrel and shouldn't have bothered.

A part of me pities these detractors. Such attitudes strike me as very narrow, dour, and joyless. Such folks probably deny themselves all sorts of cheap, simple pleasures and can't be much fun at parties.

As an ardent horror and adventure fan—and a lover of zombie flicks in particular—I'm often put into a position where I have to defend B-movies.

Think you know zombie films? Take our quiz and find out! Angie got 9/10—see if you can best the best!

[With a lawnmower? Or possibly a chainsaw hand!?]

Fri
Oct 21 2016 2:30pm

7 Books to Read If You Love The Walking Dead

It's no surprise that The Walking Dead remains one of the most popular series on TV.

After all, it combines the best qualities of zombie fiction into a single package: an unsettling and plausible post-apocalyptic setting; badass survivors to love and root for; intimidating villains; and some of the goriest action, scariest moments, and most disgusting monsters ever seen on cable. 

When you only get an episode a week, however, and have to suffer through weeks/months of hiatuses in between seasons, there's plenty of time to crave more zompocalypse goodness. 

Make sure to check back each Monday for CrimeHQ's unique coverage of Season 7 of The Walking Dead!

To that end, here's an Angie Approved (TM) List of Must Read Novels that will help scratch that undead, End of Times itch...

[See what you'll be reading next!]

Fri
Oct 14 2016 12:00pm

7 Books to Read If You Loved The Others

As the days get shorter and an autumn chill finally rolls in, nothing quite hits the spot like some ghostly, gothic fiction. October is a time for witches, spooks, and all things macabre.

If you're like me, you line up a full 31 days worth of horror films, stock the bedside table with spooky novels, and wish you had a dramatic robe to wear as you stalk the somber halls of a cobwebby mansion ringing with tortured echoes...

Ahem. As I was saying: it's not hard to find a good movie this time of year, what with every station devoting the entire month to a line-up of horror. A bit harder to find is a really solid chiller, the sort of book that'll keep you up long past the witching hour.

So allow me to recommend just a handful of my favorites, a few books right up there with The Others in terms of atmosphere and unsettling themes...

[See what you'll be reading this month!]

Fri
Sep 30 2016 2:30pm

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

The Series: Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Ríos.
The Heroes: A rag-tag group of sinners and mystical beings.
The Ideal Format: Live-action blended with CGI wizardry, prosthetics, or even animatronics and puppetry.

Once in a blue moon, something comes along that truly revolutionizes a genre. A story appears that challenges expectations and melds established tropes into something brand new and breathtaking.

I'm not being hyperbolic when I say Pretty Deadly is just such a story. It’s one of the greatest comics of the last ten years. Equal parts Western, mythic fairy tale, and supernatural adventure, it's something you just have to see to believe—and it would make one hell of a television series.

[Get the Network on the phone, stat!]

Fri
Sep 23 2016 2:00pm

Passionate About Pulp: Revisiting Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

THE SUBGENRE: Cartoon noir.
THE HERO(ES): Private eye Eddie Valiant and the eponymous Toon.
THE VILLAIN: The mad Judge Doom.
THE LOVE INTEREST(S): Loyal “Girl Friday” Dolores and femme fatale Jessica.
THE SETTING: An alternate 1940's Hollywood.

1947, Hollywood. It's a familiar setting to any fan of noir.

This Hollywood, however, is different in one very significant way: there's a strange neighborhood on its fringe called Toontown. It's a Technicolor dream world with inhabitants that are downright animated...

Private eye Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) has a chip on his shoulder the size of Gibraltar when it comes to Toons: those brightly-colored, two-dimensional characters that routinely smash through walls, break plates over their heads, and burst into frequent song and dance numbers—anything to make people laugh. 

[Don't hit me! I'll hit me! Cause I'm craaaazzzyyyy...]

Wed
Sep 21 2016 12:00pm

Page to Screen—Rebecca: du Maurier vs. Hitchcock

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again...”

It's a haunting opening to a gothic romance often mentioned in the same breath as Jane Eyre; natural, given both stories follow young, inexperienced women falling in love with remote, brooding, dangerous men. 

But while Jane had an inner core of adamantium to guide her, the heroine of Rebecca is far more vulnerable and adrift. 

Our narrator, barely twenty-one, finds herself in the orbit of the wealthy and mysterious widower, Maxim de Winter—a much older English aristocrat. Following a whirlwind romance in Monte Carlo, the two marry. 

This second Mrs. de Winter is deeply in love with her distant husband and assumes her situation will only improve—she no longer has to work as a companion for a tiresome old woman now that she's the mistress of Manderley, Maxim's sprawling English estate. They will go back to England and settle into a comfortable life together.

[But wait, there's more!]

Thu
Sep 8 2016 12:30pm

Review: The Shattered Tree by Charles Todd

The Shattered Tree by Charles Todd is the 8th Bess Crawford Mystery that sees the Great War nearing an end, but not without plenty of murder, mystery, and mayhem in its final throes.   

He crawled as far as the shattered tree and lay there, faint from the effort. But he knew he had to keep moving. When he stopped, when the sweat dried on his skin, he'd begin to shiver again, wracking his body until his teeth chattered. There wasn't enough left of his uniform to keep him warm, and his captors, God help them, had taken his boots. Good English leather. He'd stolen them himself from a corpse.

He grimaced, afraid to look at his torn feet. He'd lost too much blood from his other wounds. The one in his leg had mercifully stopped bleeding, and the cut in his hairline had clotted over, but the damage had been done. He was light-headed from lack of food, finding it hard to concentrate. A crow couldn't find enough to eat in this countryside after four years of war. He'd be dead soon if he didn't reach his own lines.

To his left the firing was heavy. Rifles and machine guns. An assault under way. But in which direction? He could see the flashes, but they told him nothing. Which way...?

In the final days of the Great War—October 1918, to be precise—Bess Crawford, a nursing Sister on the front lines, helps save the life of an unusual man. His feet are horribly lacerated from walking miles without boots and his French uniform is in tatters, but when he shouts out in pain, it isn't French he's speaking: it's German. Fluent German, in fact.

[Read Angie Barry's review of The Shattered Tree...]