<i>Time of Departure</i>: New Excerpt Time of Departure: New Excerpt Douglas Schofield Mystery, romance, and a bit of Sci-Fi. Don't mind if I do. <i>Ornaments of Death</i>: New Excerpt Ornaments of Death: New Excerpt Jane K. Cleland Josie Prescott is at it again! <i>The Red Storm</i>: New Excerpt The Red Storm: New Excerpt Grant Bywaters The debut novel by a former private investigator. <i>Riot Most Uncouth</i>: New Excerpt Riot Most Uncouth: New Excerpt Daniel Friedman The first in a new series featuring Lord Byron.
From The Blog
November 29, 2015
Troubled Waters Ahead: 7 Great Cruise Ship Mysteries
Crime HQ
Pirate of the Sky: An Unsolved Thanksgiving Mystery
November 24, 2015
The ZINNG: "You Like Me! You Really Like Me!"
Crime HQ
November 23, 2015
Set Sail with Steve Berry!
Crime HQ
November 20, 2015
“You’ve Come a Relatively Middling Distance, Baby”: Signs of Shift in Female Fictional Detectives
Janice MacDonald
Showing posts by: Corrina Lawson click to see Corrina Lawson's profile
Nov 20 2015 3:30pm

Heroes Reborn 1.10: “11:53 to Odessa"

With 3 episodes left in this “event” miniseries, we break for the holiday season being no closer to saving the world than when we began. Tommy is still without his memory or real allies, and Malina is stuck with our mass-murdering psycho, Luke. Okay, he’s reformed now, but I’m with Noah—no reason to trust this dude (though Zachary Levi is at least making me feel his pain).

“11:53 to Odessa” is more about moving pieces into place than pushing the story forward. That’s more than a bit frustrating after all the momentum of the flashback Odessa episodes.

So, where do we stand?

[Let's find out...]

Nov 13 2015 11:30am

Heroes Reborn 1.09: “Sundae, Bloody Sundae”

Last week, I wished for more character development from the mustache-twirling villain of Heroes Reborn, Erica. I’m not sure viewers got that, but we sure got something.

In a scene straight out of Game of Thrones, Erica shot and killed a deer and was later seen butchering it.

I guess this was meant to show the depths of her commitment to letting the worldwide disaster take place and thus ensure the survival of a hand-picked number of the human race but it was so weirdly out of place that it colored what was mostly a fine episode.

Why did a deer decide to wander in front of Erica’s home? Why did she happen to have a rifle handy? Isn’t there a law against weapons discharge in a public place? And what the heck was the overall point of the scene, save to inspire me to a possible Erica/Tywin Lannister fanfic in my head? (They bond about irresponsible children and the joys of killing and butchering one’s own food.)

[She better lock her bathroom...]

Nov 9 2015 4:00pm

Heroes Reborn 1.08: “June 13th – Part Two”

As I was watching the second part of “June 13th,” it occurred to me that the date has a double meaning, not just referring to the bombing, but also to Nathan and Malina’s birthday.

Given that these are the kids who will save the world, that’s not a coincidence.

I expected this second part to provide a number of answers to what’s gone before in this series. I had no expectations that it would include revelations on the level of the twins but, still, the episode managed to include several surprises and throw just enough confusion on the present that I wish I was binge watching the show rather than viewing it week-to-week.

Part 2 also provided some lovely character moments, including Noah mourning future Molly while past Molly is working with him, Otomo and Miko’s parting, and Hiro’s sacrifice for his newfound family.

What did we learn?

[Let's find out...]

Nov 2 2015 12:45pm

Heroes Reborn 1.07: “June 13th – Part One”

I had several theories about what would happen when Hiro and Noah went back in time to Odessa on June 13th.

One, I doubted they would stop the bomb. Two, I thought that Noah was the one who mind-wiped himself.  Three, I hoped Claire would be alive.

Right on one. Two remains to be seen but the Magic Eight-Ball tells me it’s likely. Three?

There, the show threw a total swerve.

Claire was dead. But she was pregnant. With twins. Which she died giving birth to.

These kids are totally Tommy/Nathan and Malina aka the kids who will save the world from epic catastrophe.

My next question: Who’s Daddy?

[And have we met him?]

Oct 23 2015 11:00am

Heroes Reborn 1.06: “Game Over"

“Game Over” was the best episode of the reboot so far, and not just because it reunited Noah and Hiro.

It’s because the storylines finally overlapped, collided, and the stakes became even higher. The fact that the two deaths this episode felt more like side issues is indicative of how much was packed into this hour. Halfway through the mini-series, all is in motion.

Noah and Quentin attacked the secret Renautus facility looking for answers after a little waterboarding of Harris. Ren and Miko also converged there after determining that’s the real world location for the person Miko must rescue. Of course, that person turns out to be Hiro, as speculated since the beginning.

[Welcome back!]

Oct 16 2015 2:00pm

Heroes Reborn 1.05: “Lion’s Den”

Quick cuts between multiple plotlines seems to be one of the trends in episodic television, the theory being that viewers might forgot about one of the main cast members if they’re ignored for an episode or two. Or perhaps they’re worried viewers might tune out if the episode doesn’t focus on their favorite.

What’s lost is the ability to dig deeper into a character. Lost did this so well, memorably with the episode focused on Locke in season one, perhaps one of the best episodes of network television ever.

That’s the problem Heroes Reborn had for me last night. I was most invested in Noah, Quentin and Taylor’s attempt to confront Erica and Erica’s plans to commit genocide but that’s primarily because I’m invested in Noah from the previous incarnation of Heroes. Part of the reason I’m so invested is Noah? Because he received one of those spotlight episodes early on in that series.

For instance, take our Jedi and Padawan. The fact that I have to keep looking up their names (Farah and Malina) and instead refer to them as their function is a clue that they’re not fully realized characters. They’re plot devices with clichéd dialogue to toss out to the audience, like “When the moment comes, you will be ready, I promise.”

Once that line was said, I turned to my husband and said, “Well, that’s it. The mentor’s gone this episode.” And, of course, the pair was separated, with Farah’s fate in doubt, though the padawan has a mysterious letter with instructions about said saving of the world. Why these instructions couldn’t have been passed along during the trek in the Northwest woods is not made clear.

[That might have made more sense...]

Oct 9 2015 2:00pm

Heroes Reborn 1.04: “The Needs of the Many”

The visual of humans being hooked into part of some machine has become cliché. How do I know this? Because the Heroes Reborn scene last night immediately reminded me of similar scenes in two recent films.

One, in Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, is played as horror. The other, in The Lego Movie, is played for laughs.

Not having a big budget like Scorch Trials, Heroes Reborn went with a sterile white room. The reveal should have had emotional resonance, given Molly Walker’s self-sacrifice to avoid being cog in the Machine. Alas, I’ve seen it before.

When Heroes first arrived on television, it offered something different. Now, the world’s caught up to its stories. That’s crystal clear by the use of the word “inhuman” at the end of the show, the same word that’s being used to describe the people whose powers are evolving in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

“Forget the past, save the future” would be good advice for the show overall, because it seems too much of the same instead of going for something new.

I’ve enjoyed watching the revival but I remain uncertain what it has to say.

[And that's a slippery slope for a TV show to stand on...]

Oct 2 2015 10:00am

Heroes Reborn 1.03: “Under the Mask”

If the two-episode premiere was mostly setup, the third episode took those seemingly random plotlines and turned up the pressure. In the process, the show has started to overcome the problems that plagued the original series: cohesion and lack of forward momentum.

And this episode did it well enough to overcome the “people with powers hunted even though they didn’t do anything” trope. If the rest of the season retains this quality, I’ll be impressed and pleased.

I’ve been familiar with the above trope since I started reading X-Men comics in 1980 and mostly it bores me. Yet by the end of last night’s episode, I was at the edge of my seat, horrified by what happened to Molly Walker.  Kudos to Francesca Eastwood for making me care. (And, yes, she’s the daughter of Clint Eastwood and Frances Fischer.)

[She wasn't feeling lucky...]

Sep 25 2015 1:30pm

Heroes Reborn: Good Enough to Pull Viewers In

The first season of the original Heroes rightly became a phenomenon. It contained a cast full of appealing and multi-cultural characters, a central mystery, a freaky villain, and a wonderful finale that tied up all the disparate plot threads.

Alas, Season 2 arrived and instead of a continuation, it was more like a reset, as characters who’d grown instead reverted to where they were at the start of Season 1. I bailed at the end of this season with a sad sigh.

But I’m totally on board with a reboot that might fulfill the promise of the wonderful first season.

Does Heroes Reborn do that?

[Click through to find out!]

Jul 28 2015 12:00pm

The Essential Jim Gordon Stories, Or, When Gordon Became Batman

In the current storyline in DC’s Batman and Detective Comics, Jim Gordon’s shaved his mustache, ditched the overcoat, and done some serious body sculpting for his new job—the pilot of a new robotic Batman suit that is protecting Gotham, because the real Batman is feared dead from a final confrontation with the Joker.

I thought Jim Gordon had reached the height of popularity when an entire show, Gotham, was built around him.

No. Not even close.

Because now he’s Batman.

It’s quite a pinnacle for a character introduced in 1939, who stayed in the background for decades, and then was shown as an ineffective bumbler in the Batman (1966) television show.

[Every bat has its day...]

Jun 3 2015 2:00pm

Now That You’ve Watched Daredevil, Read These Comics

Daredevil’s thirteen-episode season was a non-stop crime noir thrill ride populated by characters that stayed with me long after my binge watch ended.

The bad news: a second season won’t happen until sometime in 2016.

The good news: the comics listed below will help pass the time until then. It’s no coincidence that the first four creative runs are similar to the television show. The television show drew heavily on these stories for inspiration for storylines, atmosphere, and characters.

The last run listed? It’s just pure comic fun that should be read anyway.

[Let's start at the beginning...]

May 31 2015 7:30pm

Fresh Meat: Stay by Victor Gischler

Stay by Victor Gischler is a thriller about a stay-at-home dad who must juggle his home life with his military past (available June 2, 2015).

Stay by Victor Gischler is the pulse-pounding story of a special operations officer defending his family from a mob conspiracy and a dangerous hit man from his past.

But what sets this book apart from the usual action tale is that the hero, David, is also a stay-at-home dad.

This contrast is what attracted me to the book. Stay delivered on that promise, with domestic scenes of getting kids to school mixed in with a minivan car chase, a tense sequence on a boat in the waters around Manhattan, and a climax at one of New York City’s conference hotels.

The story moved so quickly that I read the book in one sitting, as the bulk of the action takes place in one very long night in Manhattan, with only one small bit of respite as David recovers from his exertions on the boat.  

[Don't skip this quick hitting read!]

May 14 2015 1:30pm

Batman Eternal: The Only Gotham Story You Need

Setting is character. The iconic image of Batman on the rooftops of Gotham City, protecting his dark, violent world tells the reader all they need to know about what kind of person this masked man is.

The television show Gotham has, to mixed success, attempted to make the city as much of a character as any of its citizens, though it labors under the handicap of not being able to use Batman or any of the city’s costumed heroes.

For that, readers need Batman Eternal, a 52 chapter story published in weekly installments last year. This year-long story, written by all the talent currently writing the Batman books, creates and epic story about Gotham and all its myriad facets.

Batman Eternal features every aspect of Gotham: the mob, costumed heroes, the colorful villains, the GCPD, the press, and the supernatural corners that lurk in the darkness. While an ambitious a story with a large cast could seem intimidating to a newcomers, each plotline has a tentpole that hold the elements together and provides its own point of view the city and its citizens.

[You'll be tearing through the pages in no time...]

May 5 2015 3:55pm

Gotham Season Finale: 1.22: “All Happy Families Are Alike”

Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz ) has so much to learn about his own parents./ courtesy FOX

It started, as the Batman legend does, with the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne in front of their young son, Bruce.

What Gotham promised to viewers in the premiere was a story about Jim Gordon’s fight to bring order to a chaotic city, Oswald Cobblepot’s quest to become Gotham’s crime lord, and Bruce Wayne’s dedication to finding justice, if not for his parents, for his city.

The season finale brought these plotlines full circle, with Gordon desperately trying to save Gotham from being a war zone, with Penguin confronting his rivals, with Selina possibly taking a step away from Bruce and to the dark side, and with Bruce and Alfred discovering part of his father’s legacy.

Unfortunately, the season-long journey to this point meandered, sometimes into utter ridiculousness. Promising ideas, such as Gordon recruiting detectives Allen and Montoya as allies, fizzled.  Penguin’s arc eventually stalled. Everyone but Bruce and Alfred forgot about solving the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne.

I wondered if the finale could possibly be good enough to redeeme the season and bring me back next year.

[Drum roll please...?]

Apr 28 2015 2:30pm

Gotham: 1.21 “The Anvil or the Hammer”

Barbara Kean in Detective Comics #500 / DC Comics

I know, a lot happened last night on Gotham, particularly the gang war set up for the finale of this season, but first, let’s talk about a character whose failure to become more than cardboard is indicative of Gotham’s overall failings.

In all her incarnations, Barbara Kean has never come off well. In the 1970s, she didn’t even have a name, she was simply Jim Gordon’s late wife and Barbara Gordon’s mother. She was finally given life by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano in 1981, in the classic “To Kill A Legend” story in Detective Comics #500.  (Brennert complained of receiving no compensation for co-creating Kean when Gotham added her to its list of characters.)

In Batman: Year One, Frank Miller wrote Kean as a long-suffering wife, a pale shade of Detective Sarah Essen, Gordon’s true love. Eventually, the elder Barbara died in a car accident. Sometimes Barbara (Batgirl) Gordon was her daughter, sometimes her niece. More recently, Kean was written as slightly mentally unbalanced due to terrorization by her firstborn, the unhinged Jim Gordon, Jr.

The first reports of Gotham cited Barbara Kean as a doctor, a definite step up in her characterization. I’m not sure what happened to that angle, but instead, we’ve gotten Barbara going from Jim’s supportive girlfriend to drug-addicted girlfriend of Detective Renee Montoya, to passively floating through life, to Selina’s fashion consultant, to outright victim.

Gotham 1.21: The Anvil or the Hammer, Erin Richards as Barbara Kean, Milo Ventimiglia as Christian Grey, the Ogre

[She's pretty in pink...]

Apr 21 2015 10:00am

Gotham 1.20: “Under the Knife”

It finally happened. Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) finally conduct an actual police investigation, though I’m still having trouble buying the premise. Their target is the serial killer with the secret bondage room, ala Christian Grey, who’s looking for the perfect woman, i.e. a woman who does anything he tells her to do.

In other events, the young Bat and Cat attend a ball and banter, Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) takes his first step into villainy, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) returns worried about a job (she has a job?) with a new twist that’s only vaguely more interesting than the blank slate she’s been previously, and Oswald’s mother is menaced by Maroni (David Zayas).

Oh, and Gotham puts Morena Baccarin in a bathtub for no particular reason other than it seemed to want a T & A scene.

[I'm sure that got your attention...]

Apr 14 2015 9:45am

Gotham 1.19: “Beasts of Prey”

Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) in the “Beasts of Prey” episode of GOTHAM.

This weekend, I was binge-watching a great superhero noir series set in a corrupt city where the only justice to be had was by skirting the edges of the law. The show also featured a magnetic, compelling villain with a plan for full control.

But enough about Daredevil.

In fairness to Gotham,  part of the reason Daredevil is so much better is that it’s only 13 episodes, creating a tight focus, doesn’t have network restrictions on subject matter, and doesn’t have the network interference which might be part of Gotham’s largest flaw: the lack of focus.

Gotham is so diffuse that none of its stories end up being compelling, especially when the characters stumble into things rather than being proactive. Perhaps this is why I enjoyed Fish’s escape from DollMaker Island most this week: Fish (Jada Pinkett Smith) not only has a goal, to escape, but a smart plan to accomplish it. Bonus: she even rescues the people she said she would rescue, while making sure she leaves dead enemies behind. Not to mention being able to play the Dollmaker for a fool and fly a helicopter after taking a bullet.

[There's only one Fish in Gotham's sea...]

Mar 3 2015 11:15am

Gotham 1.18: “Everyone Has a Cobblepot”

 Detective Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Dent (Nicholas D'Agosto) investigate a lead in the "Everyone Has A Cobblepot" episode of GOTHAM.

“Petulance and naiveté are a bad combination.”

That’s Police Commissioner Loeb (Peter Scolari) telling Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) that he’s going about fighting corruption in the department the wrong way. But it might as well have been the audience rolling their eyes at yet another Gordon plan to stop corruption by yelling at people.

Perhaps Loeb’s comments stung because, in this episode, Gordon does a small amount of actual investigative work in an effort to find the evidence of murder and other misdeeds that Loeb has on, well, practically every member of the GCPD.

“Everyone Has a Cobblepot” also served up yet another offensive parody of the mentally ill, reassured viewers that Alfred (Sean Pertwee) will recover from last week’s stabbing, provided Fish (Jada Pinkett Smith) with a new eye, and showed that Selina (Camren Bicondova) is attached to Bruce (David Mazouz), whatever she may claim. Oh, and Harvey Dent (Nicholas D'Agosto) shows up but he makes little impression.

The episode also featured Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor), which was good, and lacked Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), which is double good. But, unfortunately, the episode itself was mediocre, much like most of the season.

[Same old, same old...]

Feb 24 2015 11:15am

Gotham 1.17: “Red Hood”

When I complained that Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) needed more to do on Gotham, her sexing up Selina (Camren Bicondova) isn’t what I had in mind.

In an episode of Gotham filled with odd (and sometimes violent) twists, Barbara’s insistence that Selina would look great in an adult evening dress stands out. That’s going to make future conversations between Catwoman and Barbara (Batgirl) Gordon awkward.

“Hey, didn’t that dress used to belong to my mom?”

“Yeah, I got it when we were living together.”

O_o. I’m not sure the show intended the scene to come across as sexually predatory on Barbara’s part. I suspect it was meant to be a girl bonding moment. But it certainly plays as if the only reason Barbara wants Selina in sexy clothes is because she finds Selina attractive. And given their respective ages, that slides Barbara close to sexual predator.

If the show actually wants to go there, Erin Richards played it perfectly. If the point of Barbara’s character is to show how a basically decent person becomes corrupted by the darkness in Gotham and then Gordon, representing the light, brings her back from the brink, I’m good with that, save that Barbara’s descent needs to be more than moping, looking sad, a few short sex scenes with Renee and Jim, and lots of wine consumption.

[She's a pint of Ben and Jerry's short of a full-blown cliche...]

Feb 17 2015 11:00am

Gotham 1.16: “The Blind Fortune Teller”

My eldest son (19) wandered in during this week’s episode during the scene where the snake finds its handler’s body. I tried to explain.

His response: “This show is so dumb.”

Yes, it is. That was made even clearer when I watched Sleepy Hollow immediately after Gotham. After floundering for some time, Hollow has found its stride again. Gotham is in the same old rut and looks to remain there.

That’s evident with the tale of a possible Joker origin in this episode. The Joker is the nuclear option of Batman stories. If you’re going to use him, it needs to be memorable and unique, especially with Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight seared into recent memory.

Gotham fumbles its chance.

[And it doesn't recover the ball...]