<i>A Ghostly Grave</i>: New Excerpt A Ghostly Grave: New Excerpt Tonya Kappes Chicken Teater's ghost wants justice. Comment for your chance to win! <i>The Stranger She Loved</i>: New Excerpt The Stranger She Loved: New Excerpt Shanna Hogan Don't move your mistress in right after you kill your wife... <i>The Patriot Threat</i>: New Audio Excerpt The Patriot Threat: New Audio Excerpt Steve Berry Comment on the Writer's Cut of the new Cotton Malone thriller for a chance to win! Fresh Meat: <i>Knuckleball</i> by Tom Pitts Fresh Meat: Knuckleball by Tom Pitts Court Haslett Baseball plays the backdrop in this gritty San Francisco Noir.
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Lost Classics of Noir: The Big Heat by William P. McGivern
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Showing posts by: Clare Toohey click to see Clare Toohey's profile
Feb 7 2015 6:00pm

Fresh Meat: Drawing Conclusions by Deirdre Verne

Drawing Conclusions by Deirdre Verne is the first Sketch in Crime mystery featuring CeCe Prentice, an eco-conscious freegan and artist suspicious of the death of her twin brother, a prominent genetic researcher (available February 8, 2015).

We meet CeCe Prentice on her way into a Dumpster. By choice. She's a Freegan, an eco-conscious artist in her twenties who hates waste and lives with four green friends on Long Island's North Shore, “experimenting with organic farming and subsistence living.” They live in part of CeCe's inheritance, the rundown former Harbor Master's home that's been in her family for generations. Among newer family traditions, CeCe's been estranged for decades from her father, who's never approved of her bohemian existence and who runs a laboratory that's a major local employer:

The venerable Dr. William Prentice was the founder and lead scientist of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, the central clearing house for all things DNA in the United States and around the globe. It was the home of the double helix, the national genome project, and a slew of other international scientific studies. In the world of hard-core science, it was hard to get bigger than Dr. William Prentice, a man who had devoted nearly fifty years searching for the cure. Which cure? Who cares. Take your pick. From what little I understood (or wanted to) about DNA, once those elusive little genomes were trapped and mapped, the answer would tumble out and wrap itself around a prescription bottle with a child-safety lid fully intact.

But it isn't her father that causes the cops to visit her home. They come because of another doctor and researcher, her brilliant twin brother, Teddy, who she adores. Not even thirty, he's found dead in his office at the lab.

[Surrounded by doctors, still not safe...]

Jan 30 2015 10:30am

Automatic Crime Sonnet Robot, Activate!

If modern robots can write your letters, why not poetry, and what richer fodder for auto-verse than CrimeHQ's tweets could there be? Submitting our thread to the genius of Poetweet (meaning Edgar Allan, we'll assume, rather than some merely generically tormented garret-dweller), the following mashed-up sonnet was generated. It's loosely rhymed stanzas are odd enough to intrigue and profound enough to delight, so please grab your bongos, or at least snap your fingers, as you read this aloud:

Detective Ficti

Stella Hardesty (more)
How about cookies shaped like this?
Dealer William Stanley Moore, 1925
Clock tower to say “hi” to his...

“cat fight” in a whole new light:
Edits on Gotham last night...
Art, for the transcendent moment.

Day. I've got that one covered!
For its ferocity and over...
Day: not a single person murdered

Directly from your favorite auth...
It's the love that counts!
For Doyle's famous sleuth!

If Adam Dalgleish can both fight crime and write poetry, why shouldn't Robocop? It is the love that counts for Doyle's famous sleuth. Oh Poetweet, you see right through us.


h/t: CrimeHQ's Twitter maven herself, Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts.

Image via sweetheartsinner's Etsy shop.

Jan 16 2015 10:45am

Affordable and Thoughtful: The 21st Century Robot Forger

Robot forgery's been around for centuries now, really. Autopen machines to recreate signatures have existed since Thomas Jefferson began using one in 1804. This graceful robotic mannequin used to write advertising in store windows in 1929. Some authors have elaborated and experiemented with them for remote, but personalized book signings in the 21st century. There's now even a Torah-writing robot that can complete a scroll in 3 months, versus a human year, though something ineffable's lost without the goose quill and prayers. But now, we enter the age of the completely flexible and more affordable robotic cyber-forger. This is the technology behind several start-ups offering to “handwrite” notes as a personal service. According to Aviva Rutkin in New Scientist:

Customers can choose from a number of preset fonts, designed to look messy, stylish, or formal. Or for $199, Bond will mimic a customer's own handwriting, and for $499 they will invite you to work with handwriting experts for a day to improve it first. Bond also offers options based on the handwriting of famous people such as Sigmund Freud.

Why, of course. Even reproducing the handwriting of famous people. Or embodying any characteristic one chooses to display. What could possibly go wrong? I should also note this—ha ha—from an owner of one of the emerging firms:

“We're not trying to fool people into believing that someone wrote the note for them,” says Sonny Caberwal, founder of Bond, a New York City handwriting service that launched in November. “We're trying to give people a tool to express themselves in the way they want.”

Whatever you say. Write on. Now where did I stash that pile of aged parchment?

Leading image and much more cool historical info at Cyberneticzoo.

Jan 9 2015 9:45am

What is it About Legos that Screams Death?

With The memento mori continues to be updated for our times. This Lego video pierces us with the painful truth behind our entire existence, not just when stepping on one in bare feet.

The School of Life is not the first, however, to be inspired by plastic blocks to examinations of transience and inevitable decay. Check out these artistically abandoned Victorian houses created in the medium. Not bummed reminded enough of your mortality? Well, there's the iMori app for that.

Oh, all right, you ghouls!

More Lethal Lego Videos:

Cake or Death

The Reichenbach Fall

Silence: Lotion in the Basket

Nov 4 2014 2:30pm

Fresh Meat: The Year I Died Seven Times by Eric Beetner

The Year I Died Seven Times, Book #7 by Eric BeetnerThe Year I Died Seven Times by Eric Beetner is a 7-part serialized novel about Ridley Allen, who'll be punished by stubborn love, gnawing curiosity, and a perverse knack for survival after his Japanese girlfriend disappears (Book #7, the final installment, is available November 4, 2014).

Being a fan of short fiction as I am, also of series characters and episodic TV, I'm always excited to see people playing with serials. I'm happy to report this one is a blast, and not least of all because our hero really does die seven times. If you look closely at the title's cover, you'll see blood splotches on the calendar that forms the background. Each splotch marks a month in which an installment (and one of Ridley's deaths) occurs. This is no spoiler. From the scene that kicks off Book #1:

Had to be no more than fifteen seconds and the entire trunk filled, which meant the whole car had gone under. When the last of the air belched out from the seams where the trunk lid met the bodywork, I felt the car get sucked down like some sea monster has a hold of it or something. All I know is I picked up speed in a race to the bottom. I don't remember the moment when I blacked out or anything. I was too stunned and numb from the cold and a little dizzy from the whole lack of breathing thing. I couldn't believe it.

Believe it, reader, he's really dying, and that's where all the fun begins!

[There's dead-dead, but also a little bit dead...]

Jul 22 2014 9:30am

In Memoriam: James Garner (...Beep)

James Garner as Jim RockfordWith his square jaw and magnetic charm, he played soldiers, lovers, marshals, judges, a sheriff for a day, gambler Bret Maverick, Philip Marlowe, and even Wyatt Earp, switching effortlessly between television and movies well into his twilight. But I'll always recall James Garner first in his role as the iconic P.I., Jim Rockford, the wise-cracking, sportcoated beach bum with the broken-down trailer and the suspicious mind. Thanks for all the great times. Myself, I like to imagine he's in a solid gold Firebird somewhere, making J-Turns in the ether. Read Robert J. Lewis's Homage to a 70's Detective for much more.

And finally, to offer a celebratory tribute that you'll find nowhere else, here are the ice dancers from Donny and Marie Osmond's TV show, skating their hearts out—in life preservers no less—to one of the catchiest TV theme songs ever.

Jun 24 2014 9:15am

Prized, But Not Necessarily Prizes: The Strange Plight of the Hot and Busted

A tumblr specializing only in mugshots of hotties? Why yes, of course there is: Hot & Busted brings you all the miscreant man-candy (and, um, other specimens) you can feast upon with your eyes. In fact, the leftmost arrestee became a sensation after his recent felony weapons arrest, because the Stockton, CA Police Department's Facebook page posted his mugshot and netted close to 2500 mostly-drooling comments in 12 hours. Another novel (and sketchy) service from your always-on interweebs.

More from News10 on Mr. Left-to-Right. Don't dare if your weak heart gets broken by things like prior convictions.

May 5 2014 8:45am

2014’s Agatha Award Winners Announced

Hank Phillippi Ryan, author of The Wrong Woman, with her Best Contemporary Novel Agatha AwardAsk the winning authors to make you some tea—they've got the gear! This weekend, during the Malice Domestic convention in Maryland, the winners of this year's Agatha Awards were announced.

(Shhh- This pic of a beaming Hank Phillippi Ryan and her award comes via our flat-out theft from the Tweetstream of @JSpencerFleming, a sister nominee.)






Best Historical Novel: A Question of Honor by Charles Todd

Best Children's/YA: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein

Best Contemporary Novel: The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Best Nonfiction: The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before The Civil War by Daniel Stashower

Best First Novel: Death Al Dente by Leslie Budewitz

Best Short Story: “The Care and Feeding of House Plants” in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine by Art Taylor


To clarify any confusion on dates, these awards are given in 2014—we typically discuss them this way so you know they're the latest, red-hot news—but they're granted for works published during the previous year, so the award says 2013. Check here to see all the terrific nominees, and congratulations to the winners!

Apr 9 2014 8:45am

Monuments to the Everyday: Claes Oldenburg as Crime Poet?

The Apple Core, a sculpture by Claes Oldenburg

Pop artist as crime poet? Well, Claes Oldenburg's work repeatedly makes monuments out of the everyday detritus of living, from apple cores to clothespins. By aggrandizing the humble, he offers a fresh perspective and dispels complacence, which is what I think crime stories do. They delve into what's tawdry, venal, cruel, or tragic with such purpose and attention that we come to consider events and people far differently than we do blipped statistics or stale news items.

Here are three minutes of Claes Oldenburg's wonderful words, excerpted from his “Ode to Possibilities” (1961), read in honor of National Poetry Month and as an unusual stop on April's blog tour for crime poetry, 30 Days of The 5-2.

He's for  “an art that embroils itself with the everyday crap” and “an art that imitates the human, that is comic, if necessary, or violent, whatever is necessary.” IMO, that's the enduring attraction of the crime genre. Do you agree?

The complete text, with much more background on the artist and his work, may be found at the Walker Art Center.

Dec 18 2013 10:45am

Low-Rent Robot Police On the Sniff in Silicon Valley

Model K10 is better in open spaces, K5 in close quarters/ Photo: KnightscopeVia the International Business Times:

Silicon Valley startup Knightscope has created robots that can replace policemen - and cost just $6.25 (£3.80) an hour to rent.

The robots, which are 1.50 metres (59.06 inches) tall and weigh 136 kilos (about 21 stone), are able to collect real time data and utilise predictive analytics to provide a commanding but friendly physical presence...

“Imagine a friend that can see, hear, feel and smell; that would tirelessly watch over your neighbourhood, keep your loved ones safe and put a smile on anyone walking by your business”, Knightscope said when introducing the robots during the recent Plug and Play Winter Expo in Sunnyvale.

Because there's nothing quite a friendly as unrelenting surveillance and data gathering on people who haven't done anything...you know, just in case.

I think we might feel better if it looked less like a derma-peeled Dalek and more like Almost Human's Michael Ealy (or even Karl Urban, IYKWIMAITYD).

h/t: Fark

Nov 18 2013 9:45am

Thrift Store Landscape Paintings Improved by Monsters

Thrift Store Painting, perfected by Artist Thyrza Segal


Paintings at thrift stores get a bad rap, possibly because they're the kind of things people wanted rid of enough to donate. (Hey, the donors could have burned them or turned them in for use as in quality testing at the Sharpie factory, right?) Anyway, artists Chris McMahon and Thyrza Segal decided instead to perfect discarded landscape paintings by adding monsters, trying as well as they could to match the original paint and color scheme, so the addition would harmonize completely, like the buckaroo roping a who-knows-what above. There are more brilliant improvements to behold at Twisted Sifter (hat tips and thanks), and just remember, Winter Gift Season is Coming.

Thrift Store Painting, perfected by Artist Chris McMahon

Oct 22 2013 8:45am

Death Watch Counts Down Your Life, Comes in Black

Tikker Death WatchAmong many new ventures one can fund on Kickstarter is this one: Tikker is a death watch that collects health questionnaire answers and your current age to let you proudly sport a digital countdown toward your estimated demise. This is designed to help wearers value life more, and accordingly, not to waste time—most particularly it seems on negative emotions and skipping vacations.

Not to be a naysayer *ahem,* but there are plenty of stories where rage, pride, revenge, and even plain old boredom become potent motivation for positive outcomes. Just the effort of trying to achieve almost anything can be frustrating and misery-making. Most victory laps have a jagged path of fits and starts, advancements and setbacks in their wake. Perhaps one's individual contentedness really is the most important product of every moment (Not happy?...What about now? Halt valueless activity! Embrace the Smiley Face!). But then again, pain and failure only persist until the moment they don't. As Edison said, “I believe that restlessness is discontent, and discontent is merely the first necessity of progress.”

Here's the somewhat creepy pitch video, so you can judge the whole death watch concept for yourself!

Sep 16 2013 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye

Seven for a Secret, a Timothy Wilde thriller of historic New York City, by Lyndsay FayeSeven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye is the second historical crime novel featuring Timothy Wilde, a copper of Gotham's fledgling police force in 1846, sworn to uphold slave-catching laws while confronted by a vile trade that abducts even free people of color into bondage (available September 17, 2013).

Timothy Wilde knows New York City intimately, and it's spoiling for a fight. Heaving with change, beset by the tensions of industrial expansion, ethnic groups clash as the Civil War looms in the not-too distant future. His hometown is being inundated by Irish refugees of the potato famine, as well as free colored people, also vying for work and undercutting employment among the rest of the city's striving mish-mosh of residents. The reinforcement of nasty old bigotries and spawning of new ones would worry any man sworn to uphold order, but Timothy Wilde's also innately curious about people, a man who's rubbed shoulders with outcasts and empire-builders alike.

This city plays with its residents a mortal game of musical chairs, and when the langing pianofaorte shops, the consequence for the loser is either a slow death or a short one. There is simply not enough here. Not enough work, enough food, enough walls with roofs topping them. Maybe there would be if we filled in half the Atlantic. But today, there aren't enough chairs for the tens of thousands tearing their way into the parlor for a try.

[“...who pitches whom on the hardwood first?”]

Jun 30 2013 5:30pm

Are You Doing ABC’s Whodunnit?

Last Sunday marked the premiere of ABC's new “reality” series Whodunnit. Thirteen guests and a butler assemble at a manor house (you know how we forever adore those). When one guest gets “murdered,” the rest have to find the identity of the rampaging killer as one by one they're eliminated or executed or whatever. This isn't the First 48, so we're not facing real deaths or crimes, but a game.

[Check out the promo and more groundless speculation!]

Jun 26 2013 8:45am

Free Room, Walrus Costume, Fish Tossing. Seems Legit.

Echo in a walrus Halloween costume by Kristin Kittle

If I lived with someone making these sounds, I'd call poison control, but to someone else, they represent the ideal roommate. Here's a recent U.K. ad for free lodging:

Among the many things I have done in my life is to spend three years alone on St. Lawrence Island. These were perhaps the most intense and fascinating years of my life, and I was kept in companionship with a walrus whom I named Gregory. Never have I had such a fulfilling friendship with anyone, human or otherwise, and upon leaving the island I was heartbroken for months...

I have, over the last few months, been constructing a realistic walrus costume, which should fit most people of average proportions, and allow for full and easy movement in character. To take on the position as my lodger you must be prepared to wear the walrus suit for approximately two hours each day (in practice, this is not two hours every day - I merely state it here so you are able to have a clear idea of the workload). Whilst in the walrus costume you must be a walrus - there must be no speaking in a human voice, and any communication must entail making utterances in the voice of a walrus - I believe there aer recordings available on the web - to me, the voice is the most natural thing I have ever heard. Other duties will involve catching and eating the fish and crabs that I will occasionally throw to you whilst you are being the walrus.

He doesn't want to hear any talk about shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings, but you'll have to read the rest to learn about the accordion.

It reminded me of this ad seeking a paid person to dress as an owl and watch the advertiser sleep. If this is a thing now, what do we call it?

Nature noises via Soundboard. Image of Echo by Kristin Kittle via Southern Living.

Jun 17 2013 8:45am

Killer Stiletto Heels Cost $100k (in Bail)

Heels designed by Tom Ford and photographed by Terry RichardsonA woman in Houston, Texas recently committed murder “with a deadly weapon, namely a shoe...” At least, that's what the police think after Ana Lilia Trujillo answered the victim's apartment door covered in blood and with her repeatedly stabbed boyfriend lying dead in the hallway next to her discarded shoe. According to CNN, who also has video from her preliminary hearing:

[Alf Stefan] Andersson, a research professor from the University of Houston, had 10 puncture wounds on his head — some as deep as an inch and a half — and 15 to 20 puncture wounds along his face, arms, and neck, prosecutors say, according to CNN affiliate KTRK.

The accused had apparently threatened others with this kind of behavior before, making “killer heels” not just a figure of speech, but her actual weapon of choice. (And she's not alone! Check this partial list of other assaults and murder by stiletto attack.)

The dangerous-looking Tom Ford heel pictured above is also indeed killer, but only in our preferred, stylistic sense. Photograph by Terry Richardson.

Jun 5 2013 8:45am

The Epic Can-Do of Thumbs & Ammo

“Real tough guys don't need guns, they just need a positive, can-do attitude.”

This is the proposition behind the amazeballs Thumbs & Ammo blog that goes out proving it, day in, day out.

Here are several samples, but there are SO many great ones, it's impossible to choose a favorite. Check it out for yourself!




May 30 2013 8:45am

The BeSSSt Python Cake From An Ophidiophobic Baker

Francesca Pitcher of the UK’s North Star Cakes is a very talented sculptor and baker, but more than that, a very generous mom. We know this, because she faced her own deep fear of snakes, using a half-dozen sponge cakes and white chocolate fondant to craft this Amelanistic Burmese python, the real version being one of the most deadly non-venomous snakes there is. Pitcher’s daughter requested the ssssspooky sssixth birthday theme after a zoo visit, and it’s so hard to believe it’s just a cake, you’ll have to scroll down to be sure.

Get more info and great images at the Mirror and learn how its baker had to lock the finished cake away because she couldn’t bear looking at it. The kids, on the other hand, fought over who got to eat the head. Pythons of the world second that emotion.

May 21 2013 8:45am

Memento Mori: Abandoned Victorian Lego Houses

Artist Mike Doyle is a genius in Lego, and this piece from his Abandoned Houses Series is all and only Lego, no foreign materials, paint, glue, screws, or altered blocks. It was created over 600 hours of effort out of somewhere between 110,000 and 130,000 blocks in black, white, dark and light bluish gray, transparent clear, and translucent black. Here's what he says about it:

The third installment of this abandoned house series continues its textural exploration of decay with a Victorian home engulfed in mud... For me, this piece speaks to the inherent unpredictability of those things which we call our foundation. Like a little dollhouse, a seemingly secure home is plucked up and set on a new path. This charming home, lovingly embellished with ornamental fancy was no match for nature. The fancy embellishments serve as a reminder of our earlier focus on the material world, while the aftermath removes us from that focus. The piece offers no answers or necessarily any hope, but rather points to life’s fragility.

It’s spooky and amazing, and here’s a close-up of Victorian with Tree, just because!

Hat tip: This is Colossal

Apr 29 2013 8:45am

When Your Heart Stops Beating, You’ll Keep Tweeting

That's the official tagline of a recently launched Twitter app.

To be clear, you’re not creating or scheduling them in advance—heck no, that’s old horse-and-buggy stuff. Via MSN.com, I learned the very latest thing is using artificial intelligence (A.I.) to mine a user’s tweets for verbiage and subject matter, thereby making the computer able to construct plausible post-mortem quips. Then, for as long as you like, it can tweet as a dead, digital version of you. How very satisfying knowing that your #coffeestainoftheday or *facepalms* will go on.

This unusual legacy is assembled on your behalf courtesy of _LIVESON, which calls itself “your social afterlife,” if social means something like confabbing with a solar calculator or an aphorism generator. However, they’ll even let you assign someone as digital executor, presumably a human, who’s got the good sense authority to shut the service off.

For me, you could probably just auto-tweet pirate insults every other day and save the drag on Haley Joel Osment’s CPU.