<i>Trail of Echoes</i>: New Excerpt Trail of Echoes: New Excerpt Rachel Howzell Hall The latest Elouise Norton mystery novel from Rachel Howzell Hall. Now Win <i>This</i>!: True Crime Thursday Sweepstakes Now Win This!: True Crime Thursday Sweepstakes Crime HQ Register to win 8 true crime tales! Review: <i>The Silent Dead</i> by Tetsuya Honda Review: The Silent Dead by Tetsuya Honda Doreen Sheridan Read Doreen Sheridan's review of this Japanese police procedural! <i>The Underdogs</i>: New Excerpt The Underdogs: New Excerpt Sara Hammel In the tradition of The Westing Game comes this debut mystery.
From The Blog
May 26, 2016
Mood, Music, & Mysteries
Kristen Houghton
May 25, 2016
Nate Heller & Mike Hammer
Max Allan Collins
May 25, 2016
An Interview with Louise Penny
Crime HQ
May 25, 2016
Under Burning Skies: Best of 21st-Century Western Movies
David Cranmer
May 24, 2016
Antiheroes: Top 5 Reasons a Little Bad Feels So Good
Guy Bergstrom
Showing posts by: Angie Barry click to see Angie Barry's profile
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!]

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!]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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]

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...]

Mar 1 2016 4:00pm

I Still Want to Believe: The Power of The X-Files

Plenty have talked about the impact The X-Files has had on the pop culture and TV landscapes. There's no denying that it has, in one way or another, shaped the genre television that has followed in its wake. The “monster of the week” format has been emulated by numerous shows (Supernatural, Sleepy Hollow, Teen Wolf, just to name a few); the dichotomy of a true believer and a skeptic has been echoed dozens of times in other series with partner dynamics.

It proved that just because a show featured aliens or monsters, that didn't mean it couldn't also be philosophical, topical, and compelling. You can, surprisingly, learn a lot about human nature in stories abounding with shape-shifters, prehistoric parasites, and mutants.

But The X-Files is also a deeply personal show for a lot of us. In a world where belief in the impossible is derided as childish, when being open to the weird and implausible can get you branded crazy, The X-Files encourages us to look to the stars, embrace the fairy tales, and accept that some things in life are just inexplicable.

[Spoken like a true X-Phile...]

Feb 29 2016 5:30pm

The Truth Is Out There: Looking Back at Seasons 8-9 of The X-Files

REYES: You don't care what these people have sacrificed over the last nine years, what's been lost to their cause! You make a mockery of it, gladdened it proves your point. What is the point of all of this? To destroy a man who seeks the truth... Or to destroy the truth so no man can seek it?!

The amount of time Mulder and Scully spend in hospitals—either in their own bed or beside the other's—is both alarming and quite ridiculous.

Of course, their closure rate is low: they're more often in the ICU than in the field in these later seasons.

Though, considering the days/weeks/months they've also lost due to alien abduction and government kidnappings, I suppose the real miracle is that they're still “kicking it in the ass,” as Kim Manners would say.

[Check out Angie's favorite moments from Seasons 8-9...]

Feb 23 2016 8:00pm

The X-Files 10.06: “My Struggle II”

CIGARETTE SMOKING MAN: It's too late for your heroics now.

MULDER: I don't believe that!

CIGARETTE SMOKING MAN: You don't want to believe.

Six weeks—and five episodes—ago, rabble-rouser Tad O'Malley (Joel McHale) went off the air.

He picks a helluva time to resume broadcasting.

It all starts with Mulder pulling yet another disappearing act. At this point, I think micro-chipping him might be best; every time he takes off, things go from bad to worse for Sculls and Co.

In less than a day, hospitals are overrun with victims suffering from anthrax, Spanish influenza, rubella—hell, even the plague. While Scully watches in horror, everyone around her is stricken in one way or another.

What the hell is going on?

[Find out what the hell is going on...]

Feb 22 2016 3:05pm

Believe to Understand: Looking Back at Season Seven of The X-Files

MULDER: The end of my world was unrecognizable and upside down. There was one thing that remained the same. You were my friend, and you told me the truth. Even when the world was falling apart, you were my constant... My touchstone.
SCULLY: And you are mine.

If there's one thing The X-Files has taught me, it's that it's easier to face the slings, arrows, and weirdness of the world if you've got at least one person you can always rely on—just one person who will believe you, no matter how crazy your story is.

(And if there's a second thing, it's that you should never go anywhere without kosher salt and a cell phone.)

Where would Mulder be without Scully? Six feet under, imprisoned, or institutionalized, no doubt.

And where would Scully be without Mulder? Well, she'd probably have a much more successful career, actually, and most likely wouldn't have been abducted, experimented on, or attacked by so many toothy monsters.

Okay, so maybe not all friendships are equally balanced.

[I have a friend, Dan, who's mooched off me for years...]

Feb 16 2016 6:30pm

The X-Files 10.05: “Babylon”

MILLER: Hello? Anyone down here?

SCULLY: Nobody but the FBI's most unwanted!

MULDER: *stare*

SCULLY: I've been waiting twenty-three years to say that.

MULDER: How did it feel?

SCULLY: Pretty good!

It's a sad, upsetting fact that when an American program opens with a Muslim man praying, you immediately expect the worse.

Since 9/11, countless TV shows and movies have conditioned us—Muslims showing piety and devout faith must be terrorists.

And I'm pretty damn disappointed that The X-Files continued that tradition.

[For shame, The X-Files. For shame...]

Feb 15 2016 4:00pm

All Lies Lead to the Truth: Looking Back at Season Six of The X-Files

MULDER: “Dear Diary, today my heart leapt when Agent Scully suggested spontaneous human combustion...”

SCULLY: Shut up!

For all that The X-Files is a show about the crazy, the unpredictable, and the inexplicable, it's funny how many things stay the same.

Six seasons in, and Mulder still can't make decent life choices; he's still, to crib a Parks and Recreations joke, Fox Mulder: Human Disaster. He claims that he “does not gaze at Agent Scully,” yet everyone they meet immediately assumes they're a couple.

Probably because their chemistry is powerful enough to give bystanders third degree burns—and because there's an awful lot of gazing. From both parties.

[So much gazing...]

Feb 9 2016 5:30pm

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 2:00pm

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?]