Now Win <i>This</i>!: The Shot in the Dark Sweepstakes Now Win This!: The Shot in the Dark Sweepstakes Crime HQ These five books will hit you when you least expect it! FM: <i>The Nightingale Before Christmas</i> by Donna Andrews FM: The Nightingale Before Christmas by Donna Andrews Nikki Bonanni Christmas decorating is serious business. FM: <i>The Counterfeit Heiress</i> by Tasha Alexander FM: The Counterfeit Heiress by Tasha Alexander Angie Barry Not everyone is who they seem... FM: <i>Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld</i> by Jake Halpern FM: Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld by Jake Halpern Lance Charnes Debt collecting is cutthroat.
From The Blog
October 24, 2014
(Brain) Food for Worms: Halloween at Criminal Element
Crime HQ
October 22, 2014
John Wayne Turned Cop: McQ and Brannigan
Edward A. Grainger
October 22, 2014
The Cowboy Rides Away: John Wayne and The Shootist (1976)
Jake Hinkson
October 22, 2014
In the Kitchen with Walter W.
Crime HQ
October 21, 2014
99 Percent of You Might Be Jack the Ripper, Or His Victim
Crime HQ
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Oct 24 2014 9:30am

(Brain) Food for Worms: Halloween at Criminal Element

Don’t look now, but Halloween is just around the corner, and with it comes the one time each year where our morbid obsession with all things scary is celebrated! If you’re looking to get that heart rate thumping, look no further; here are the links that will send even the biggest adrenaline junkie running for his mummy.

Are you simply looking for some reading recommendations? We’ve got you covered. Head over here for a list of books guaranteed to be chock full of thrills, chills, and kills! If you’re one of those people who have a hard time deciding on which book to read, we’ve got a convenient flow chart that will make choosing your next scare easier than fighting Dracula at daybreak.

Michael Nethercott wants to take this opportunity to scare with you a gothic whatdunit from Henry JamesThe Turn of the Screw. Roger Clarke has been studying ghosts since his days at Eton College, where there just happens to be an inn that played host to both one of England’s best ghost story writers, M.R. James, as well as a famous ghost sighting from the 17th Century! Comment on Clarke’s post for a chance to win a copy of his updated book Ghosts: A Natural History! And if that’s not enough ghosts for you, check out the true story of the haunted house where Peter James lived.

When it comes to screaming at the top of your voice, is television your medium of choice? If so, you’re in luck. Join Jake Hinkson for his Twin Peaks rewatch as he visits David Lynch’s eerie small town with big secrets. Oh, and did you hear? Twin Peaks will be returning in 2015! (We’re not trying to take credit or anything…) If monsters are more your thing, you’ll want to check out our Hemlock Grove coverage, where Meghan Schuler not only provided a primer to catch you up, but also complete Season 2 episodic recaps, all from one brutal weekend of binge! Monsters and Meghan seem to go well together, as she is currently covering American Horror Story: Freak Show too! If you like monsters, chances are you’ve seen Grimm. But you may have missed The Mythology of Grimm, a book dedicated to breaking down the fairy tale and folklore roots of the show!

Guillermo del Toro is a master of the horror genre, whether it be on television or at the movies. Luckily, we have a resident del Toro expert on call—Angie Barry! Angie put del Toro’s films under the knife as she vivisected his entire filmography. Then it was onto TV and The Strain, where Angie not only covered each episode of Season 1, but also interviewed two regular cast members: Sean Astin and Kevin Durand. Angie's love for the paranormal transcends del Toro, which explains her attendance at the 13th Annual Mothman Festival in West Virginia!

Movies can be bloodcurdling too, for both good and bad reasons. Sometimes, writes Michael Nethercott, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, and everything comes out the perfect level of campy-creepy. And sometimes, as Brian Greene notes, the perfect mix of Gothicism, eroticism, and vampirism come together into something great, like in Daughters of Darkness. But every once in a while, a clunker comes along, bringing out the terrible, awful, and very worst of movies. May we present our awesomely bad Crimes Against Film series.

Now of course, to assume everyone is as infatuated with morbidity would be witchful thinking. Halloween can be fun too, as proven by Dixie Lyle’s To Die Fur and Leigh Perry’s The Skeleton Takes a Bow. You can head on over to all of our cozy coverage, if you’d like. But be careful where you click…you never know where you’ll find yourself at Criminal Element.

Oct 22 2014 8:45am

In the Kitchen with Walter W.

Miss Breaking Bad so much you can taste it? So does Walter Wheat, the pseudonymous author of Baking Bad, a parody/tribute cookbook due out on October 28. True, Ricin Krispie Squares might not sound like something you’ll pack in a school lunchbox, but the 20 some-odd (some really odd) recipes are genuine and inspired by (but not associated with) everybody’s favorite chemistry teacher.

Take a look:

Oct 21 2014 12:00pm

Now Win This!: The Shot in the Dark Sweepstakes

These five books will hit you when you least expect it! Register to enter for a chance to win!

Click here to enter for a chance to win!

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Oct 21 2014 9:30am

99 Percent of You Might Be Jack the Ripper, Or His Victim

There has been a wave of examination of the latest Ripper case solution by crime enthusiasts and now four other molecular biologists and DNA experts. Upon the culprit's “revelation” back in September, our position was curious but watchful, not out of superior scientific knowledge, merely jaded experience. Well, catching up to the present day (and leaving aside other logical questions around the Eddowes shawl used for DNA testing), a digital discrepancy appears to make a huge difference in the conclusion, at least for people of European descent—if that's you, describe your whereabouts in 1888, please.

From the book Naming Jack the Ripper by Russell Edwards, owner of the shawl:

“This DNA alteration is known as global private mutation (314.1C) and it is not very common in worldwide population, as it has frequency estimate of 0.000003506, i.e. approximately 1/290,000. This figure has been calculated using the database at Institute of Legal Medicine, GMI, based on the latest available information. Thus, this result indicates the shawl contains human DNA identical to Karen Miller's [Catherine Eddowes' descendant] for this mitochondrial DNA segment,” he [Dr. Jari Louhelainen] says.

According to the Independent's latest article by Science Editor Steve Connor:

But experts with detailed knowledge of the GMI's mtDNA database claimed that Dr. Louhelainen made an “error of nomenclature” because the mutation in question should be written as “315.1C” and not “314.1C”. Had Dr. Louhelainen done this, and followed standard forensic practice, he would have discovered the mutation was not rare at all but shared by more than 99 per cent of people of European descent.

“If the match frequency really is 90 per cent plus, and not 1/290,000, then obviously there is no significance whatsoever in the match between the shawl and Eddowes' descendant, and the same match would have been seen with almost anyone who had handled the shawl over the years,” Professor Jeffreys said.

So, there's that to consider. Methodical examination of results and critical peer review work well, but not necessarily instantly. We'll have more updates if and when they occur. As we like to say: We've waited this long...

Oct 20 2014 10:15am

“If You Can Take It, You Can Make It”: Trailer for Unbroken

Unbroken is the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olypmic runner for the United States who would later be taken prisoner by the Japanese army during World War II.

Directed by Angelina Jolie, and written by Joel and Ethan Coen, Unbroken will premiere Christmas Day with lofty expectations of leaving its mark at the Academy Awards. Lead actor Jack O'Connell (Skins) looks likely to join Best Lead Actor discussions along with other would-be first-time nominees Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), and Steve Carrell (Foxcatcher).

Are you excited for Unbroken? Do you think it has Oscar postential?

Oct 17 2014 9:30am

The Bahia Emerald: 6 Years in Court, 840 Pounds, Almost 400 Million Dollars

The long-disputed ownership of the enormous Bahia Emerald may soon be simplified, as at least one claimant recently lost his legal bid. Ever since its discovery in Brazil in 2001, there have been strange, almost mythical, stories attached to the emerald, and genuine wrangling over the rights to the cluster of gem crystals, estimated to be worth almost 400 million dollars. According to the Telegraph:

The Bahia is one of the world's largest emeralds with about 180,000 carats and stands about three feet tall...

It was later said to have been stored at a warehouse in New Orleans that was flooded during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and then stolen from another warehouse in the Los Angeles suburb of El Monte. It was sighted briefly in Idaho before authorities finally seized it in Las Vegas in 2008.

The gem is now being held in storage by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department until the case is resolved.

If it's hard to get your head around how huge that really is, imagine something that weighs as much as a water buffalo on the evidence table.

Emerald image via National Geographic, Buffalo via Bajiroo.

Oct 16 2014 8:45am

Madly in Love: Edgar Allan Poe Short Story Adapted for Film

If you're a rabid Edgar Allan Poe enthusiast, like many of us are—especially around Halloween—then you might want to add Stonehearst Asylum to your list of movies to see this month. The movie, out Friday, is an adaptation of Poe's “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether,” in which a young man becomes enchanted by a colleague when he visits an insane asylum, only to find out that she—and all the other “staff” are actually its former patients.

Will you be seeing this adaptation in theaters, waiting for it to come out on DVD, or skipping it altogether?

Oct 14 2014 9:30am

Cremains of the Day: .....In....Spaaaaace!

If not space, the stratosphere at least. A company founded by people with a “background in aerospace engineering and satellites” is now offering to release your beloved's ashes from 20 miles above the earth with a weather balloon, also to film it for your later memories. Here's Mesoloft's promo video:

According to the Huffington Post:

The ashes return to Earth as dust or, possibly, in raindrops or snowflakes. The entire flight is captured for posterity on two GoPro cameras that are attached to the balloon and the payload holding the ashes. The shroud that carries the urn can be kept as a souvenir, according to Mesoloft co-founder Chris Winfield...

Winfield said the balloons and the payloads stay in the air for about two hours and the company ensures they land in a five-mile radius of where they took flight.

The company also has to send out a notice to pilots to make sure planes don't bump into the funeral balloons.

Read it all and adjust your final documents accordingly.

Oct 9 2014 8:45am

Which Fictional Place Would Make the Best Haunted House?

Halloween is just a few short weeks away and with all the horror movies, candy, and costumes, there also comes one of our favorite fall traditions—the haunted house. Recently, a list of the ten most terrifying haunted houses was posted on Yahoo! Travel. Former asylums, prisons, and the old standard—cornfields—were all represented on the list.

There are certainly a lot of creepy villains out there in the mystery world, and a lot of creepy places for those villains to take you. It got us to thinking, which fictional location would you choose as the best haunted house? What Big Bads would you choose to work it (on the guarantee that they can't kill/eat/torture the customers)?

Oct 7 2014 8:45am

Twin Peaks: Not Claiming Credit for Its Return, But...

...but Jake Hinkson's Twin Peaks Rewatch recalls the show's greatness, and then, along comes this announcement of a series return. Via Deadline:

One of the top cult series of all time is coming back with a new limited series on Showtime from its original creators, David Lynch and Mark Frost. The nine-episode series will go into production in 2015 for a premiere in 2016 to mark the 25th anniversary of when the series finished its run on ABC. In a fact that will delight Twin Peaks devotees, Lynch and Frost will write and produce all nine episodes, with Lynch set to direct every episode.

There are further winks and rumors, even by Agent Cooper himself, that Kyle MacLachlan will return to his role as we rejoin the town in the present day. It remains to be seen who else will return and in what form, but we're down with this damn fine news!

Oct 6 2014 9:30am

Black Sea: Treasure-Hunting Nazi Gold by Submarine

There will be gold lust, danger, and Scottish accents in confined spaces in the upcoming Black Sea (January, 2015). Directed by Kevin Macdonald (Last King of Scotland), it stars Jude Law as a desperate submarine captain who assembles a (rag-tag) group of (misfits and) divers to retrieve sunken Nazi gold from the cold dark sea. But what the sea takes, she desires to keep, and we've all learned by now that mens' better angels come down with laryngitis in the presence of treasure...

Sep 30 2014 12:00pm

Now Win This!: The Second Paper Capers Sweepstakes

These five suspenseful paperbacks might bend, but you're more likely to break! Register to enter for a chance to win!

This Sweepstakes has ended. Thanks for entering!

This is NOT a Comments Sweepstakes. You must click the link above to enter.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry. Promotion begins September 30, 2014, at 12:00 pm ET, and ends October 14, 2014, 11:59 am ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[Find out what's included!]

Sep 29 2014 8:45am

K.I.T.T. Has Not Become the Knight Industries Tween TruLuv

Please, stop breathing exhaust fumes, it's going to be okay. Justin Bieber isn't really the new KITT of Knight Rider, well, not exactly. Yes, he filmed scenes for a movie at Venice Beach last week with David Hasselhoff, once crime-fighter Michael Knight. And yes, he is, apparently, doing the voice of the car, but...

The movie they were working on is a comedy, working titles Killing Hasselhoff and Celebrity Death Pool. Via Inquisitr, it's about a “desperate nightclub owner who embarks on a plan to pay off his massive debt with a loan shark by attempting to win the club’s celebrity [death] pool with the help of a hit man.”

Tweets from the set indicate Justin's part is very brief—it would have to be with only one day of filming. Upon considering the Beebs as KITT, the interweeb's strangled cries of Nooooooooo (music to any PR person's ears) lasted far longer than the “20 seconds” of screen time promised by screenwriter Peter Hoare. Currently, the bit is set to be a closing credit bonus, even if it feels more like it's just boning those of us who don't prefer to see every single bit of our pasts in worse, regurgitated forms.
Sep 25 2014 8:45am

Being John Malkovich Being Other Celebrities: An Homage

Homages to popular iconic images aren't new, but they feel pretty new when the one posing is John Malkovich. While Malkovich recreated famous portraits from Alfred Hitchcock, Albert Einstein, and Ernest Hemingway (among many others), one of the more memorable (and maybe less flattering) was that of Marilyn Monroe. Have you seen the portraits? What do you think?