Review: <i>A Single Spy</i> by William Christie Review: A Single Spy by William Christie David Cranmer Read David Cranmer's review! <i>Incendiary</i>: New Excerpt Incendiary: New Excerpt Michael Cannell The search for a serial bomber who stalked the streets of 1950s NYC. <i>The Fallen</i>: New Excerpt The Fallen: New Excerpt Eric van Lustbader The 2nd book in the Testament series. Review: <i>Brew or Die</i> by Caroline Fardig Review: Brew or Die by Caroline Fardig Janet Webb Read Janet Webb's review!
From The Blog
April 27, 2017
Loving the Unlikable: My Favorite Female Characters
Marianne Delacourt
April 27, 2017
Q&A with Patricia Abbott, Author of Shot in Detroit
Patricia Abbott and Katherine Tomlinson
April 26, 2017
Backgammon: “The Cruelest Game” in Film and Literature
David Cranmer
April 26, 2017
A Field Guide to Sociopaths, Psychopaths, Narcissists, and Other Abusers: An Interview with Zak Mucha
Thomas Pluck and Zak Mucha
April 25, 2017
Page to Screen: Rumble Fish & The Outsiders
Brian Greene
Showing posts by: Corrina Lawson click to see Corrina Lawson's profile
Feb 7 2017 2:00pm

Review: Echoes in Death by J.D. Robb

Echoes in Death by J.D. Robb is the 44th book in the In Death series featuring Eve Dallas.

As I read the first three chapters of Echoes in Death, I wondered if the book was written intentionally as a jumping-on point for new readers. It certainly reads that way, catching readers up to speed on the characters, their relationships, and the futuristic setting all in the first two chapters. 

Intentional or not, if you’re curious about the In Death series, yes, you can start with this 44th book.

The story opens from the point of view of a victim: Daphne Strazza, a young doctor’s wife. Injured, terrified, and convinced she’s been attacked by the literal devil, she stumbles into the street into the path of the limousine carrying Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband Roarke as they head home from a charity event. 

[Read Corrina Lawson's review of Echoes in Death...]

Feb 3 2017 4:00pm

Before Jessica Jones, There Was Eve Dallas

When Jessica Jones premiered on Netflix in 2015, it was met with critical acclaim for its portrayal of a rape victim seizing control of her life, all tossed with an extra slice of “fight the partriarchy.” “Groundbreaking,” critics said.

For all the praise, one would think the show contained the first character in pop culture to have this kind of character arc or feature this kind of heroine.

See also: Jessica Jones Review: Season 1, Episodes 1-4

But before there was Jessica Jones, there was Eve Dallas, who came to life twenty years before. Dallas is the lead character of J.D. Robb’s (aka Nora Roberts) In Death series. The first book in that series, Naked in Death, was published in 1995. And even if you’re counting the comics—which I don’t because the versions of Jessica Jones were different—Eve Dallas is six years older than Alias (which introduced Jones).

[Read more from Corrina Lawson!]

Feb 2 2017 5:30pm

Nora Roberts: One of Literature’s Most Underrated Authors

I initially conceived of this article as a way to convince readers who dismiss Nora Roberts with a wave and an eye roll of her considerable writing skills. But I put that article away because my words, no matter how eloquent they might be, wouldn’t cut it. The best supporting evidence for Nora Roberts is Nora Roberts’s own words.

Instead, I pulled short excerpts from Roberts’s stories and juxtaposed them with bestselling or acclaimed works by authors who don’t receive the same unearned, unwarranted, and unnecessary look of disdain.

[See why you should be reading Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb...]

Jan 23 2017 2:00pm

Review: New York to Dallas 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, Corrina Lawson reviews #33, New York to Dallas.

New York to Dallas may be the most important book in the entire In Death series. In a nod to the story’s unique place, it’s the only book not to have “In Death” in the title.

The title has a two-layered meaning. The first is the obvious physical journey that Lt. Eve Dallas must take from New York City to Dallas, Texas to chase an escaped serial killer who has already taken a hostage. The second journey is symbolic, as Eve returns to the city where she was found wandering in an alley, injured, bloody, and amnesiac—the place where she initially became Eve Dallas. Now, she’s become Lt. Eve Dallas of New York. But the events of this book strip her emotions back down to that lost and broken child, and it’s only with supreme effort that she defeats her internal and external demons.

[Read Corrina Lawson's review of New York to Dallas...]

Dec 21 2016 2:00pm

Review: Witness 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, Corrina Lawson reviews #10, Witness in Death.

This book begins with a murder, as so many of the In Death books do, but this is the only one that begins with Eve Dallas, Roarke, and a packed audience witnessing a murder in a theater. 

Witness in Death is a classic whodunit. Opening night for a revival of the classic play Witness for the Prosecution ends with the actual, on-stage murder of the leading man, cleverly cloaked under the guise of the play’s final death scene. The investigation leads Eve into the world of the theater, still recognizable despite any possible changes the future might have ushered in. 

The fun of this entry in the In Death series is watching Eve interrogate actors whose job it is to present a false face, and there’s no more memorable character than the play’s leading lady—an actress at the end of her prime yet still captivating. Did she know the prop knife had been switched out for the real thing? Could she truly be faking her surprise? Or is she just another victim?

[Read Corrina Lawson's review of Witness in Death...]

Dec 19 2016 2:00pm

Review: Conspiracy 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, Corrina Lawson reviews #8, Conspiracy in Death.

When we first signed up to review books from the In Death series, Conspiracy in Death was at the top of my list. Why? Because it’s the first book where Eve Dallas completely falls apart. 

No, I’m not a sadistic reader who wants to see her favorite characters suffer. But seeing Lt. Eve Dallas lose all faith in herself allowed me (and other readers) a window into what being a cop means to Eve and why she does what she does. 

Eve has been depressed and upset before in this series—such as when she and Roarke temporarily broke up in Glory in Death, or when she finally recovered the memories of killing her father in self-defense—but never has Eve’s sense of self been so under attack as in Conspiracy in Death.

“They took my badge,” Eve says, at her lowest moment. 

[Read Corrina Lawson's review of Conspiracy in Death...]

Sep 7 2016 1:00pm

Review: Winter’s Child by Margaret Coel

Winter's Child by Margaret Coel is the 20th Wind River Mystery as Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden and Father John O’Malley discover that a centuries-old mystery is tied to a modern-day crime on the Wind River Reservation.

There are three elements I consider essential for a great detective story: fascinating lead characters, a compelling mystery, and a setting that feels as if the reader can step into that world.

Winter’s Child by Margaret Coel—the 20th book in her Wind River series—contains two of those three elements. Well, two and a half. While I felt only half of the detective team was compelling as a lead, I suspect the failing is more on my part than the author’s—as I’m coming in as a new reader to a series that already has 19 books to establish characterization and relationships.

The title Winter’s Child has a double meaning—as do most of the greatest mysteries. Literally, it concerns a child abandoned in the middle of winter on the doorstep of an Arapaho couple. Now five years old, the couple wants to formally adopt the child they were forced to care for. The legal case pulls in Vicky Holden, an Arapaho attorney, as part of the legal team, but the murder of her co-counsel in front of her indicates that the mystery surrounding the child is deadly.

[Read Corrina Lawson's review of Winter's Child...]

May 24 2016 12:00pm

The Top 10 Castle Episodes of All-Time

Castle ended this month, after eight seasons on the air, amid a swirl of controversy. The show chose not to renew Stania Katic’s contract, and plans for Season 9 included Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion) as the lead, with no Kate Beckett, despite the fact the show was based on the relationship between the characters. 

Despite all this, however it got there, the series finale contained a happily ever after.

The controversy of its ending distracted from the fact that Castle had an excellent run. The quality remained high, up until it’s last two seasons, despite the fact Castle and Beckett first got together at the end of Season 4—putting a lie to the adage that once characters get together, the show falls apart. More of my choices for top ten episodes are in Season 5 than any other season.

What really seemed to spell doom for the show, instead, was a switch in showrunners after Season 6, when creators Andrew Marlowe and Terri Miller stopped helming the show. That quality drop was clear when I began making my list, and no episodes past Season 6 made the cut—though one from Season 7 is an honorable mention.

So, here, in sequential order, are my picks for the best ten episodes of the series, with a few honorable mentions at the end. 

[See which episodes made the list!]

Apr 18 2016 10:30am

The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter

The Strangler Vine by M.J. CarterThe Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter is the 1st Blake and Avery Mystery, set in the untamed wilds of nineteenth-century colonial India. It is nominated for an Edgar Award for “Best Novel.”

“You’re a better man than, I, Gunga Din.”

That’s one of the most famous lines in cinematic history, from the movie Gunga Din, in which three movie stars—er, British soldiers—take on the Thuggee cult. The first time I watched Gunga Din, I was inspired to look up the Thuggee cult, and was surprised to learn it was a real thing and not a Hollywood invention.  

And, of course, “Gunga Din” is also a poem by Rudyard Kipling, which concludes that the title character is superior to the British officers to whom he’s given his life.

It was good to be reminded of that as I read The Strangler Vine.

[Read Corrina Lawson's full review of The Strangler Vine here!]

Jan 22 2016 1:30pm

Heroes Reborn 1.13: “Project Reborn”

Heroes traveling through time to save the world from destruction! Go!           

No, not the premiere of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

I’m talking about the finale of the Heroes Reborn miniseries, which aired in the same time slot as DC’s newest superhero show. There has been a lot of hype about Legends and little about Heroes Reborn, which may explain why there are no plans for another season of the Heroes reboot. In the real world, Project Reborn has been a failure.

And yet, despite the show’s flaws—the uneven pacing, the shallow villain, the numerous plot holes—the show brought home the ending in style. That was one enjoyable hour of television.

[Like a phoenix from the ashes, it was Reborn...]

Jan 15 2016 4:30pm

Heroes Reborn 1.12: “Company Woman”

All season, Erica Kravid (Rya Kihlstedt) has been a mustache-twirling, one-dimensional villain convinced that her plan to rescue a chosen few from the End of the World™ is morally justifiable.

I’ve gotten used to that.

But instead of using the show’s penultimate episode to show how our heroes gather to save the world, Erica’s backstory takes center stage.  In a callback to one of the original series’ best episodes, “Company Man,” this one is called “Company Woman.”


All the callback to “Company Man” did was remind me how good the first season of Heroes was and how meandering this miniseries has been.

[From Heroes to zeros...]

Jan 8 2016 3:00pm

Heroes Reborn 1.11: “Send in the Clones”

Two episodes left in this mini-series, and we still don’t have the twins united. That’s a good indication of everything wrong with this show.

It had an intriguing start that centered around Noah Bennett (Jack Coleman) and his twin grandchildren, with several characters meandering in and out, but the two-part time travel episode where Hiro (Masi Oka) finally appeared actually got me excited for the show.

Of course, that’s just when the show went off the air, blowing away any momentum it had. I have to wonder if NBC thought they could just sneak in the last three episodes, because I’ve seen so little marketing for the show’s return. Do they already consider it a failed experiment?

Either way, tonight featured a few advances in the story. Too few, but we’ll take what we can get. We have three basic plots that intersect:

[I can be your Heroes, baby...]

Nov 20 2015 4:30pm

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 12:30pm

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 5:00pm

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 1:45pm

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 12:00pm

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 3:00pm

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 3:00pm

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 11:00am

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...]