<i>Apricot's Revenge</i>: New Excerpt Apricot's Revenge: New Excerpt Song Ying A thought provoking detective novel. <i>The Orion Plan</i>: New Excerpt The Orion Plan: New Excerpt Mark Alpert An extraterrestrial thriller. <i>Murder on a Summer's Day</i>: New Excerpt Murder on a Summer's Day: New Excerpt Frances Brody A not-so-perfect summer day. <i>Prime Time</i>: New Excerpt Prime Time: New Excerpt Hank Phillippi Ryan The first in the Charlotte McNally series.
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Jeannette De Beauvoir
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Feb 9 2016 4:30pm

The X-Files 10.04: “Home Again”

SCULLY: Back in the day, didn't we ever come across the ability to wish someone back to life?

MULDER: I invented it. When you were in the hospital like this.

SCULLY: You're a dark wizard, Mulder.

MULDER: What else is new?

There's a cost for gentrification.

And I'm not just talking money—when cities decide to “clean up” certain neighborhoods and make them more appealing to businesses and families, what do you suppose happens to the poor and homeless who used to walk those alleys? The ones that used to shelter in those run down buildings?

It's a fraught topic of debate; a real bone of contention. And in this week's episode, Mulder and Scully face some unusually bloody ramifications from such a project.

The opening shot of men using power hoses against the homeless sure does hit straight to the gut, especially given the demonstrations, protests, and marches in recent years. Right from the get go, we're meant to sympathize with the people who are literally being washed off the street like trash, treated as less than human.

So when a garbage truck pulls up outside of the offices of the men responsible, and a hulking, rotting figure steps inside, we already know what's coming.

[I bet he “takes out the trash”...]

Feb 8 2016 1:00pm

Believe the Lie: Looking Back at Season Five of The X-Files

MULDER: Well, maybe you don't know what you're looking for.

SCULLY: Like evidence of conjury or the black arts? Or shamanism, divination, Wicca, or any kind of pagan or neo-pagan practice? Charms, cards, familiars, bloodstones, or hex signs, or any kind of the ritual tableau associated with the occult; Santeria, Voudun, Macumba, or any high or low magic...

MULDER: Scully?


MULDER: Marry me.

He kids, but he really doesn't.

Regardless of what Chris Carter said for years, it's obvious to anyone half-awake that Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Mulder (David Duchovny) are, to quote Clueless, “stupid butt-crazy in love.”

Sure, they have an unusual courtship that involves running from black ops bagmen, shape-shifting assassins, and clones that melt into green goo—but then every relationship has its ups and downs.

Yet even five seasons in, we still haven't tasted the sweet satisfaction of vindication. Ah well—we're halfway to the finish line by now, and we can take comfort in the knowledge that they'll lock lips eventually.

And Mulder calls Scully his “one in five billion,” which is basically a marriage vow.

This season features the end of the cancer arc and some mondo vital plot points—as well as the best episode of the entire run—so strap in and get started with:

[Oooh! Oooh! Is it Episode 1?]

Feb 2 2016 8:20pm

The X-Files 10.03: “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”

MULDER: So we're looking for a man-sized horned lizard—with human teeth!

SCULLY: *stare*

MULDER: ...Sounds a bit silly, doesn't it?

I can die happy now.

I hadn't realized my life was lacking quite so much joy before this episode—I know better now.

Oh my lord—I haven't laughed that hard in ages. Bless Darin Morgan for delivering another incredible episode; it's hard to believe he could top “Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose” or “Jose Chung's From Outer Space,” but “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” has absolutely jumped to the top of my Fave X-Files Adventures List.

A couple huffing paint in the woods (one of whom is my boy Tyler Labine of Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil) sees a giant lizard attacking one man while another lies dead in the undergrowth. Another three bodies are found, all suspiciously gnawed about the neck, and the case lands on Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully’s (Gillian Anderson) desk.

Just as Mulder decides to throw in the towel re: monster hunting. Our boy has always been known for his impeccable timing.

[Every Monday night at 8 p.m. ET...]

Feb 1 2016 5:00pm

Apology Is Policy: Looking Back at Season Four of The X-Files

MULDER: A growth?

SCULLY: A tumor. You're the only one I've called.

MULDER: ...But it's treatable?

SCULLY: The truth is that the type and placement of the tumor makes it difficult—to the extreme.

MULDER: I refuse to believe that.

That's right—the guy who can believe in Bigfoot, black magic, and aliens point blank refuses to believe that Dana Scully won't beat cancer.

It's like the writers all sat down and decided that season four would focus on two things:

  1. Being as disgusting as possible.
  2. Crushing the fans' hearts and souls.

In the first camp, we have some of the bloodiest, most appalling monsters and crimes to ever appear on the show. And in the second, we have Scully's now-infamous cancer arc—which was the stuff of epic dinner table/lunchroom debates.

I can vividly remember comforting my friend Amanda, who was very invested in Scully and Mulder's relationship, as she recapped the previous night's episode to me through tears over our PB&J sandwiches. The X-Files was something that I largely had to experience vicariously when it originally aired, as it wasn't the sort of programming my parents deemed appropriate for a ten-year-old (rightly so, I'm sure; we were more of a Star Trek: The Next Generation household at the time).

But even then—before the horror bug had properly bitten me, before I had built up a tolerance for thrillers and could sit through a zombie flick with a plate of spaghetti—I was still intrigued.

Even then, I knew The X-Files was something that should be in my wheelhouse.

Mainly because it's a show about dichotomies: about the conflicts between good and evil, the sacred and the profane, the horrible and the beautiful, fervent belief versus solid science. It's this mixture of clashing opposites that makes it so compelling and layered, and Season 4 is a powerful turning point for both the leads and the series as a whole.

Here are the important episodes to check out—or avoid, as the case may be.

[Bring it on, Season 4...]

Jan 26 2016 9:10pm

The X-Files 10.02: “Founder’s Mutation”

SCULLY: It could be dangerous.

MULDER: *scoffs* When has that ever stopped us before?

Ever get a ringing in your ears?

Has it ever been bad enough that you contemplated using something sharp and pointy to make it stop?

Dr. Sanjay’s (Christopher Logan) work for the mysterious “Founder,” Augustus Goldman (Doug Savant), comes to an abrupt, terminal end when he does just that.

On the list of images you can't unsee, a man shoving a letter opener into his head is high on the list. The only word that really suffices is:

Agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) are on the scene in no time. Predictably, Mulder doesn't see this as a straightforward suicide and begins to dig into the doctor's private life, while Scully dons her usual smock and gets busy autopsying.

[X-Files making Y cuts]

Jan 26 2016 2:00pm

Deny Everything: Looking Back at Season Three of The X-Files

MULDER: I was dead, but now I'm back!

Oh, Mulder—always the flair for the dramatic. That's why we love you.

Well, that—and your floofy hair, devotion to Scully, and consuming obsession with finding The Truth.

So often in our media, men are depicted as rugged, athletic, and stoic, while their female counterparts are emotional and high-strung. Yet, in The X-Files, there's a degree of role reversal that (perhaps sadly) remains refreshing.

It's Mulder (David Duchovny) who's often blinded by his emotions and passionate obsessions—the one who is frequently pushed to the edges of mental breakdowns or hysteria. While Dana (Gillian Anderson) does occasionally need rescuing in the course of their investigations, Mulder has to be saved just as often from his own poor decisions and paranoia.

In terms of sheer badass moments, I'd argue that Scully kicks literal butt far more often than Mulder. She's the better shot of the two, while he's the one more likely to cause a screaming scene in a hospital—and how often do you see that in a male/female partnership?

And, to be quite honest, without her logic, pragmatism, and medical knowledge, Mulder's bacon—and the world's—would've been cooked long ago.

In season three, our duo overcomes near-death experiences, faces familiar foes, and becomes even more entrenched in the sweeping government alien conspiracy. It's a wild ride from start to finish:

[Ride the Wild Haze...]

Jan 25 2016 7:20pm

The X-Files 10.01: “My Struggle”

TAD O'MALLEY: What Bill O'Reilly knows about the truth could fill an eyedropper.

Men in black. Roswell. Government conspiracies.

The X-Files is back.

When last we saw FBI agents Dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), the government had officially shut down the X-Files, and our heroes had set off to try their hands at a normal life—together.

But, it seems that the last thirteen years have been less than rosy; when their story resumes, Mulder and Scully are no longer together. Mulder is apparently a depressive shut-in while Dana has returned to medicine.

Not at all what longtime fans had hoped for, but perhaps this new case will change all that.

[Perhaps Mulder found a younger, more attractive case...]

Jan 24 2016 1:30pm

Trust No One: Looking Back at Season Two of The X-Files

SCULLY: ...And you're worried that for all these years you've been seeing elves?

MULDER: In my case, little green men.

The X-Files are no more.

Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) has been reassigned to mind-numbing surveillance work, while Dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) teaches at the academy in Quantico. In the wake of Deep Throat's death, Mulder no longer has the support he needs within the Bureau to continue his search for the truth.

Naturally, this state of affairs doesn't last long. It's hard to keep a true crusader down.

If Season One pushed the envelope, Season Two rips it in half. The stakes are higher than ever for our heroes—and the number of stellar episodes makes this season a must-see.

[The must C-Files...]

Jan 23 2016 2:00pm

I Want to Believe: Looking Back at Season One of The X-Files

SCULLY: Agent Mulder, I'm Dana Scully. I've been assigned to work with you.

MULDER: Oh really? I was under the impression you were sent here to spy on me.

And the rest, they say, is history.

Well, history—and conspiracies, and aliens, and mutants, and precognition, and ghosts, and...

It's still somewhat mind-boggling that The X-Files was a show that not only aired on basic cable, but thrived there. It was relegated to the Friday night dead-zone where almost every other show has consistently failed; yet from that vantage, it became a true juggernaut of pop culture.

It ran for nine seasons and spawned two feature films. All while having a main character literally named Fox.

[The truth is out there...]

Dec 22 2015 2:00pm

A Criminal Christmas

I will never be Buddy the Elf.

Anyone who's known me for longer than a hot minute knows the Yuletide season turns me into an absolute Grinch pre-heart-growing-three-times-bigger. The sight of green and red lights actually makes me break out into itchy hives.

And don't even get me started on the jingly carols.

Which means, I'm always going to gravitate towards the darker side of the holidays, where murder and mayhem mixes with the mistletoe. As I've already covered my favorite horror-based alternatives to holiday cheer in “Holidays for the Halloween-Hearted,” I thought I'd shine a light on some great Christmas-themed mysteries.

[Shall we call them—Christmysteries? You're right, I'll go home...]

Dec 11 2015 2:00pm

The Golden Age of Mystery: Dorothy L. Sayers’ Have His Carcase

In the second Lord Peter/Harriet Vane case, a walking tour of the English coast hardly goes according to plan when Miss Vane, mystery writer and once accused murderess, stumbles across a body on the beach.

Exonerated of the poisoning murder of her former lover, Harriet is vacationing far from London in the hopes of distancing herself from her past ordeals—and to gain some perspective on Lord Peter Wimsey, the aristocratic sleuth who saved her from the gallows (and proposes marriage at every possible opportunity).

So, when she finds a bearded foreigner on a rock not far from the tide-line, his throat brutally cut and no sign of a murderer's footprints in the sand, she's more than a little perturbed. Unfamiliar with the area, it takes her a frustrating amount of time to notify the police, and by then, the victim has been washed out to sea.

With only Harriet's photographs and the evidence she collected as proof that there really was a man on Flat Iron Rock, the author finds herself in quite a sticky situation. As the only witness and an obvious suspect, Harriet is now trapped in the small resort town of Wilvercombe.

[Better than being Trapped in the Closet...]

Dec 10 2015 11:40am

8 Spies, Assassins, and Secret Agents You Need to Know

Undercover ops and fancy gadgetry; cold War tensions and hand-to-hand combat; secret government programs and high-speed chases—espionage films have been a mainstay in Hollywood since before WWII, and recent years have only seen an uptick in their popularity.

Little wonder, they're full of action, mystery, exotic locales, and sex. Everyone always looks so cool with their designer duds, sharp sunglasses, and shiny guns.

In the mood for some derring-do? Here's the crème de la crème of the bunch. This is hardly an exhaustive list—think of it more as a primer of the need-to-knows in the genre.

So here's your mission, should you choose to accept it...

[Don't worry, it won't self-destruct...]

Dec 8 2015 10:20am

“This Is a Time for Ghosts”: Horror and the Great War

OBSERVATION: Between 1914 and 1919 war and influenza have claimed more than a million lives in Britain alone.

CONCLUSION: This is a time for ghosts.

Florence Cathcart (The Awakening)

Some things are inherently, across the board, creepy. Antique wheelchairs; derelict buildings—especially when they were once grand homes that loom over the landscape; nursery rhymes—doubly so when sung by small children; sepia-toned photographs of unsmiling families standing stiffly posed; old, threadbare toys.

There's just something about the relics of the past that unnerves us. Maybe it's the musty smell, the very tangible evidence of how time brings about death and decay, or the knowledge that the people in those pictures, who lived in those buildings, who once played with those toys, have long since been buried. Buried—but perhaps not entirely gone...

[I ain't afraid of no ghost...]

Dec 6 2015 12:30pm

Murder, Melbourne, and Miss Fisher: A Roaring Series Set in the Roaring Twenties

When the Honorable Miss Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis, owner of one of the best faces known to man) sashays into Melbourne, the city truly doesn't know what's hit it. With her Louise Brooks-style bob and a pearl-handled pistol in her purse, the fashionable heiress doesn't hesitate to speak her mind and flaunt her stuff.

She's everything a well-bred young lady shouldn't be in 1928: independent, open about her sexuality, and prone to the most dramatic of exploits—from driving a bright, red Hispano-Suiza roadster at high speeds to teaching young ladies self-defense; from dancing sexy tangos with Russian émigrés to getting into knife fights in Chinatown.

And sometimes she even wears trousers.

[Trousers? Now you've gone too far...]

Dec 4 2015 11:30am

The Golden Age of Mystery: Dorothy L. Sayers’ Strong Poison

London, 1929

Miss Harriet Vane is on trial for murder.

It's a most scandalous case. The victim, Philip Boyes, was not only an author who advocated free love and anarchy—he was the accused murderer's lover for more than a year. But following a nasty split, Boyes started falling ill, and always after a chance encounter with Miss Vane. Until one evening in May, when a bad stomachache turned fatal, it was revealed that it was no gastritis that had afflicted Boyes.

It was arsenic.

[The coward's weapon...]

Dec 3 2015 1:15pm

Top 5 Movie Devils

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.”

-Kevin Spacey, The Usual Suspects (1995)


He goes by many names: Satan, Morningstar, Lucifer, Old Scratch, Beelzebub. He's a man of wealth and taste, according to the song. He has horns, or cloven hooves, or a tail—or perhaps he wears Armani and carries a briefcase instead of a pitchfork.

No matter what he looks like, he's always bad news. Charming and tempting, he’s the sort of guy who's happy to help you out, but for a price—and it's always a steep one. The Devil does not accept credit, and there is no layaway plan.

He's been the Big Bad for thousands of years; the end all and be all of immoral, you could say. You can't get much worse than the root of all evil. So, naturally, he's been a big favorite when it comes to impressive villains for heroes to overcome.

But not all Satans are equal. A lot of things have to come together to make a great Devil: you have to cast the right actor, you have to style them well, and you have to give them a meaty script to chew, just for starters.

Here are a few of the most memorable:

[Which versions of the Dark Lord made the list...]

Oct 22 2015 2:00pm

Under the Radar: Movies You May Have Missed — What We Do in the Shadows

We need to show New Zealand more respect.

After all, the Kiwis gave us Lord of the Rings. The ruggedly handsome Cliff Curtis (of Fear the Walking Dead and recent Under the Radar film Push). The hilarious comedy duo/show Flight of the Conchords.

And now they've delivered What We Do In the Shadows,one of the funniest horror comedies in decades.

Framed as a documentary, the story follows a very unusual quartet of roomies in the months leading up to a wild party known as The Unholy Masquerade.

Viago, Vladislav, Deacon, and Petyr share a flat in Wellington. As in most flatting situations, there's the occasional conflict between clashing personalities. Even the friendliest of roommates bicker at times.

The fact that these roomies are all vampires just means things often get literally bloody.

[After all, they really vant your blood...]

Oct 14 2015 1:00pm

Champagne Sleuthing with Nick and Nora: A Look at the Thin Man Films

Ah, to be a mystery fan in the 1930s...

Pulp fiction was rife with the jaded private eye. Magazines like Black Mask brimmed with femme fatales. Cigarette smoke filled rooms dimly lit and latticed by half-opened blinds. Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe and Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade stalked the crime-ridden alleys in search of answers, the collars of their trench coats flipped up against the rain.

Yes, sir, it was a good time for the atmospheric crime drama. But amidst all of the grit and grime and deadly affairs, one pair of sleuths stands out.

He's a retired private eye and knows his way around a gun, yes, but he also prefers to go for the light quip and glass of bourbon when his back is against the wall. She's his wealthy socialite wife, more than prepared to match him glass for glass and quip for quip.

In the murky sea of noir, Nick and Nora Charles stand out because, well, they're fun. They're goofy and witty and obviously fond of each other. There's never any question that their trust in each other is anything less than absolute. They indulge in booze and physical comedy, can't resist cracking jokes at the suspects' expense, and dance around the mayhem in a light two-step where other private eyes would brood or glower.

[Really, you just want to hang out with them...]

Oct 2 2015 9:00am

CSI Shrewsbury: Brother Cadfael’s Medieval Mysteries

Brother Cadfael came before fingerprinting and DNA testing, before security cameras and GPS phone tracking, back when detectives had their work cut out for them when it came to solving murders. Barring a confession or finding the bloody dagger on a suspect, it was difficult to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that someone was truly guilty.

Which makes Ellis Peters' medieval sleuth all the more impressive: armed only with his own instincts and varied life experiences, he winkled out a number of miscreants in the course of twenty novels and thirteen television adaptations. By finding just a spring of a plant on the victim, he could determine where the man died and why.

When first we meet him, this singular hero is a sixty-something monk at the Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul in Shrewsbury, a town not far from the border between England and Wales. It's been several years since the Welsh Cadfael took up his Benedictine habit and became the herbalist of the Abbey.

[He didn't always serve...]

Sep 18 2015 2:30pm

The Golden Age of Mystery: Dorothy L. Sayers’ Gaudy Night

When Harriet Vane receives an invitation to attend her Oxford Gaudy — a class reunion — she's also given a most unusual request from her old professors. A poison pen is running amok at the ladies' college of Shrewsbury and the dons are terrified that the nasty notes, malicious vandalism, and obscene threats against them will escalate into outright violence.

If word of this campaign were to reach the press, it would only further smear women's education, a fight that the dons are still waging. Oxford may have finally opened its doors to female students, but they're still very much second class citizens of the campus compared to the male body.

Shrewsbury (a thinly veiled stand-in for Somerville College, Dorothy Sayers' alma mater) receives far less funding than the colleges reserved for men and is allowed to accept a much smaller percentage of students. Lady scholars are still dismissed by their masculine counterparts, and the critics of such education will renew the cry of 'soured virginity' if the poison pen's actions come to light.

[Sounds pretty harsh...]