<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 27, 2016
Page to Screen: Comics I'd Love to See on My TV—Lackadaisy Cats
Angie Barry
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
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May 25, 2016
Under Burning Skies: Best of 21st-Century Western Movies
David Cranmer
Showing posts by: Dave Richards click to see Dave Richards's profile
Wed
Apr 13 2016 5:00pm

Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 Review: Episodes 11-13

Hello, and welcome back to the final installment of this edition of Binge-Worthy, where I'll look at the final three episodes of Daredevil Season 2 from my perspective as a longtime comic fan. We'll talk character arcs and choices, take a look at some of the many lingering questions that the finale raised, and I'll share some clues and Easter eggs you may have missed.

So let's get to it! These final three episodes: Episode 11, “.380”; Episode 12, “The Dark at the End of the Tunnel”; and Episode 13, “A Cold Day in Hell's Kitchen” bring an epic Season 2 to a close and really hammer home some of this season's underlying themes—like the inevitability of change, the cost of fighting wars and how they can change you, and how who you are is forged not by where you came from, but the choices you make.

[Heavy stuff for a superhero show...]

Wed
Apr 6 2016 4:30pm

Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 Review: Episodes 8-10

Hello, and welcome back to the penultimate installment of this latest edition of Binge-Worthy. If you've been following my reviews, you know that the episodes I'm going to talk about here made me very happy. Not only did we get the emergence of the Hand as I had hoped, but we also get Frank Castle embracing his destiny and the triumphant return of Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk! For me, these three episodes—Episode 8, “Guilty As Sin”; Episode 9, “Seven Minutes in Heaven”; and Episode 10, “The Man in the Box”—were my favorites, so far. So, let's dive into them from my perspective as a comic fan and chat about characters, comic Easter Eggs, and where I think things might go next.

[Binge-read this review of Episodes 8-10]

Tue
Mar 29 2016 3:30pm

Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 Review: Episodes 5-7

Hello again! Welcome back to my look at Season 2 of Marvel's Daredevil series, which just keeps getting better and better as it unfolds more twists and turns. Last time, I took a look at the series’ first four episodes, which introduced viewers to John Bernthal's Frank Castle (AKA the Punisher)—the vengeance-hungry vigilante that turned the lives of Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson, and Karen Page upside down. In today's installment, I'll continue my look at the character arcs, Easter eggs, and events from my perspective as a comic fan, as I dive into Episode 5, “Kinbaku”; Episode 6, “Regrets Only”; and Episode 7, “Semper Fidelis.”

[Binge read this article on Daredevil Season 2]

Wed
Mar 23 2016 4:45pm

Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 Review: Episodes 1-4

Hello! Welcome back to Hell's Kitchen!

My name is Dave Richards—I was your guide through Marvel's Netflix series Jessica Jones, discussing the show from my perspective as a comic fan. Now, I'm back for a look at Season 2 of Marvel's Daredevil.

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

I'm especially excited to be returning to the small screen, fictionalized version of the Kitchen because it means catching up with some of the great characters introduced and established in Season 1 of the show, and getting to meet some new ones—including the Marvel Cinematic Universe incarnations of the Punisher and Elektra, two characters I really enjoy from the comics.

So let's get started! In this initial installment, I'll be examining Episode 1, “Bang”; Episode 2, “Dogs to a Gunfight”; Episode 3, “New York's Finest”; and Episode 4, “Penny and Dime.” I'll look at some of the major events, offer my thoughts on characters, and point out some of the Easter Eggs for comic book fans like myself.

[Read Dave Richards recap of Daredevil Season 2: Episodes 1-4]

Wed
Mar 16 2016 4:00pm

Who Is the Punisher?

Before their film and television studios became entertainment powerhouses, Marvel Comics sold the rights to their characters to a number of different studios. Over the years, those rights have reverted back to Marvel, allowing them to introduce and incorporate a number of fan-favorite characters into their ever growing Cinematic Universe.

Last year, Marvel Cinematic Universe fans finally got their chance to meet blind-lawyer-turned-superhero, Matt Murdock, with the premiere of the gritty and gripping Daredevil series on Netflix. This week, Daredevil returns for a second season, and he's bringing with him the Punisher—making his triumphant return/debut to Marvel, after starring in other films.

So, in this piece, I'll get you ready for Daredevil Season Two by recommending some stories from the Punisher's 42-year comic history and sharing my thoughts on the previous Punisher films and one video game adaptation.

[Learn about the Punisher before Friday's release of Daredevil Season 2]

Thu
Feb 11 2016 1:30pm

Getting to Know Deadpool: Marvel’s Newest and Mouthiest Movie Star

The Marvel Studios and 20th Century Fox films inspired by Marvel Comics feature a variety of very different super powered heroes and villains, but if there's one trait many of them share, it's the propensity to crack wise or offer up sarcasm in the face of danger. On February 12th, moviegoers will meet the one Marvel character whose tongue is as sharp as the two katanas he swings.

I'm talking, of course, about the title character of Fox's new Deadpool film, starring Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson—a smart-mouthed and sarcastic mercenary with cancer who volunteers for an experiment that transforms him into a manic, horribly disfigured, unkillable super soldier. Think Bugs Bunny with the fighting skills and healing factor of the X-Men's Wolverine.

Now, some of you unfamiliar with Deadpool's comic book background may be thinking, “Hey! We've seen this character before in the first Wolverine movie!” And you sort of did. Ryan Reynolds played Wade Wilson in the flashback portions of the movie, but the character he became in the present day—that definitely wasn't Deadpool!

Reynolds is actually a huge fan of the character, and a faithful Deadpool feature film adaptation, inspired by the character’s comic adventures, has long been a passion project for him.

Fans of Deadpool comics understand why, too. The character was introduced to the world twenty-five years ago this month, in the pages of “New Mutants” #98, by his creators, Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld. Since then, a number of creators have had fantastic, imaginative, and incredibly hilarious runs on the character.

He's evolved over the years, too. He's still the same mouthy, manic, merc his fans have come to know and love, but these days, he's married to a demon queen, he’s a member of the Avengers, and he’s even a successful business man!

So, in this piece, we'll take a look back at the character's comic history, his core traits, and offer up some suggestions for readers looking to become acquainted—or reacquainted—with Deadpool’s exploits as a comic character.

[Shhh. My common sense is tingling...]

Fri
Jan 22 2016 5:15pm

Celebrating 75 Years of Captain America

I don't remember how young I was when I discovered reruns of the 1966 Marvel animation show on a local syndication network, but it had to be the very early '80s. What I remember most was Captain America's cheesy and incredibly catchy theme, which featured the lyrical refrain:

“When Captain America throws his mighty shield.”

That was my very first encounter with Marvel's Sentinel of Liberty, and it may be one of the reasons why I started collecting comics in 1984—I was drawn to Captain America. His nobility and ability to inspire instantly hooked me as a fan. Now, some 32 years later, Cap remains my favorite comic book superhero and he's become a worldwide icon. It's both a little surreal and really cool that the Star Spangled Avenger has become a part of the public zeitgeist—and this year, his role in pop culture will only grow larger.

That's because 2016 is the 75th anniversary of Cap's creation, and come May, Marvel Studios will release the third Cap film, Captain America: Civil War. The film will split most of the cinematic incarnations of the Marvel heroes into two warring factions; one lead by Chris Evans's Cap and one lead by Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man.

So, as a Cap fan, I have a lot to look forward to—but I never expected ABC to air a one-hour documentary style special on my favorite character! That special, Marvel's Captain America: 75 Heroic Years, did a pretty great job breaking down the history and appeal of the character, as well as, several signature story lines in about 45-48 minutes (if you count commercials). However, there's still some stuff they left out or could have expanded upon more.

[They say old soldiers never die, Volkov...]

Wed
Dec 23 2015 2:00pm

A Batman Christmas: The Yuletide Hero Gotham Deserves

The Holidays are supposed to be a time of peace on Earth and goodwill towards everyone, but as popular culture has shown us, some people view them as a season of sinister opportunity. So, some of the most fun and enjoyable Christmas tales are the ones where we get thrilling confrontations between valiant heroes and the vile villains looking to exploit, poison, and pervert the Yuletide season. It's why so many people consider Die Hard a Christmas film. It's also why when Christmas Eve arrives in Gotham City, Santa isn't the only one prowling roof tops.

At first glance, Batman seems like an odd fit for a story set at Christmas time, but over the course of the character's 76-year history, Bill Finger and Bob Kane's Dark Knight Detective has had plenty of Christmas set adventures. This Holiday Hero is not just reserved for the comics, but also appears in other media like television, film, and even video games. In this piece, we'll look at why the holidays are such an interesting time to set a Batman story and some of the more memorable and recent examples of the Dark Knight's Yuletide adventures.

[Holy holidays, Batman! Looks like it's almost Christmas...]

Mon
Dec 7 2015 12:00pm

Jessica Jones Review: Season 1, Episodes 11-13

Hello! Welcome back to my final look at what will hopefully be the inaugural season of Marvel's Jessica Jones from my perspective as a fan of the Marvel Comics that inspired the series. Today we'll be looking at Episode 11 “AKA I've got the Blues,” Episode 12 “AKA Take a Bloody Number,” and Episode 13, the season finale, “AKA Smile”

See also: Episodes 8-10

A lot went down in these climactic episodes. We had explosive action, secret revelations, and choices and consequences that set many of our characters on new paths. So let's take a look at these episodes, and what they mean for both future adventures of Jessica and the next Marvel Netflix show, Luke Cage.

Let's start off with Jessica (Krysten Ritter). Last time, I speculated that getting to know such an optimistic and caring person like her foster sister, Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), is what set Jessica on a heroic path. I think that's what helps keep her on it, but that's not what made her a hero.

[Let me guess, it was the booze...]

Thu
Dec 3 2015 11:00am

Jessica Jones Review: Season 1, Episodes 8-10

Hello and welcome back once again to my look at Marvel's Jessica Jones series. Today, we've reached the penultimate installment of my 4 part feature where we'll look at Episode 8 “AKA WWJD?”, Episode 9 “AKA Sin Bin,” and Episode 10 “AKA 1,000 Cuts.”

See also: Episodes 5-7

You know how last time I talked about how much of a monster I thought Kilgrave (David Tennant) was? Well, these episodes were a reminder that monsters are born, not made. But they also illustrated another thing I talked about last time, the power of choice. We see 3 monstrous figures in this episode and ultimately they all choose the paths they walk down. They know what they're doing is wrong and hurts others, but they choose self-interest, despite it all.

So, once again, we had some riveting episodes full of powerful drama and insane twists and turns. Let's take a look at these events, the characters involved, and the role that established Marvel Comics characters and concepts play in them.

Since we're talking about monsters, I feel like we should start with Kilgrave. We find out a lot more about him in these episodes. Surprisingly, yes, I did feel a little sympathetic towards him, but only a little.

[Sympathy for the devil...]

Mon
Nov 30 2015 2:30pm

Jessica Jones Review: Season 1, Episodes 5-7

Welcome back to my recaps of Marvel’s Jessica Jones. Last time, I took a look at the show’s initial four episodes and analyzed, evaluated, and shared a comic fan’s insight into the characters and events.

In part 2, I’ll do the same with Episode 5 “AKA the Sandwich Saved Me,” Episode 6 “AKA You’re a Winner!”, and Episode 7 “AKA Top Shelf Perverts.”

See also: Episodes 1-4
 

The more I watch this show, the more I become convinced that it’s about choices—the choices a person makes, the choices others make for them, and how they handle the consequences of both. That’s a recipe for some potent and powerful drama, and it lead to some fantastic scenes. So, let’s dive in and take a specific look at the characters, some of their pivotal choices, and more.

[What choice will you make...]

Tue
Nov 24 2015 12:00pm

Jessica Jones Review: Season 1, Episodes 1-4

Hello! Welcome to my recaps of Marvel's Jessica Jones. I'm Dave Richards and I'll be your sort of guide as we look at the latest offering from Marvel Studios and Netflix—a series adapted and inspired by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos's Marvel Comic series Alias, which ran from 2001-2004 and examined what happens when the world of the hardboiled shamus intersects with the fantastic realm of super powers. That's an especially fascinating combination for me since I love both super heroes and detective stories.

I was originally a fan of the ALIAS comics, and I'm huge fan of the genres it combines, so that love will of course filter into my perspective on Jessica Jones. For this initial recap, I'll be looking at the series’ first four episodes: “AKA Ladies Night,” “AKA Crush Syndrome,” “AKA It's Called Whiskey,” and “AKA 99 Friends.” I'll break down some important plot points and offer insights and observations from my perspective as a lover of both the Private Detective genre and Marvel Comics.

[Let's binge...]

Wed
Sep 30 2015 3:30pm

Netflix and Marvel’s Jessica Jones: A Primer

Marvel's Jessica Jones brings the dangerous world of a super-powered private detective to Netflix. The feature film and television adaptations of Marvel Comics characters like Iron Man, Captain America, the Avengers, and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have been thrilling viewers across the world for years, primarily as science fiction tales or techno-thrillers where valiant heroes battle high-tech terrorists. Recently though, Marvel Studios has begun spinning tales with more appeal to crime fans. The film Ant-Man was pretty much a heist comedy, and the Netflix television series Daredevil took viewers to the mean streets of Hell's Kitchen, where a blind lawyer-turned-titular-vigilante with super senses battles a powerful crime boss.

This November 20th, Netflix airs its 13-episode Season 1 of Jessica Jones, a series with even more appeal to crime fans, chronicling the case of a costumed superhero-turned-private-detective and her battle with a monstrous villain from her past who’s resurfaced to torment her in the present. The fantastic comic series it's based on and the great cast means this is a series crime fans should get excited for.

[It shouldn't be too hard...]

Mon
May 5 2014 11:00pm

Fresh Meat The Zodiac Deception by Gary Kriss

The Zodiac Deception by Gary Kriss is a debut historical thriller, in which an American con man, educated by both Houdini and Conan Doyle, is sent to deceive Himmler into assassinating Hitler (available May 6, 2014).

“All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players.”

That line from Shakespeare's As You Like It is uttered by the protagonist of Gary Kriss's debut novel about half way through the book, but it's one of the story's central and most interesting themes. Because if you think about it, spies and con men are essentially actors trying to convince their audience that the stories they are hearing are important and true, and they're playing those parts as if their lives depended on their success. For a spy or a con man, a bad review can mean imprisonment or death.

In The Zodiac Deception, Kriss plunges his protagonist into espionage's equivalent of opening night in a Broadway production where the actors have had hardly any time to prepare and their audience includes some of the most paranoid, bloodthirsty, and dangerous men in the world. The novel is set in Nazi Germany, circa 1942, and con man turned spy David Walker has been tasked by OSS Chief Wild Bill Donovan with the impossible mission of convincing SS Commander Heinrich Himmler to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

[Right, sure, no problem...]

Tue
Dec 17 2013 12:30am

Holiday Havoc: 5 Warped, Weird, & Wonderful Christmas Graphic Novels

Christmas is a time where an overweight immortal man pilots a sleigh of flying reindeer across the globe, an angel shows a suicidal man the impact he’s had on the world, and spectral entities show misers the error of their ways. So, we’re used to Yuletide tales of strange and in some cases frightening phenomenon. Watching these tales unfold on the silver and small screens has become a holiday tradition for many, but there’s another medium that tells these kinds of stories in a powerful, unique, and exciting way that Hollywood can’t approach, and that’s comic books and graphic novels. We'll start this list with some hilarious, warped, and bloody Yuletide fun:

 

The Last Christmas by Brian Posehn & Gerry Duggan, artist Rick Remender

Imagine a mash up of Rankin-Bass Christmas specials, The Road Warrior, and The Walking Dead. If you're horrified by that, then move along! But if you like your Christmas cheer blended with twisted black humor and over-the-top violence...

Duggan, Posehn, and Remender's tale takes readers to a violent, post-apocalyptic world being ravaged by marauding gangs and zombie mutants. When the gangs hit the North Pole and murder Mrs. Claus, Santa decides to give up on Christmas and life, but the belief of one good boy keeps him alive. So will Santa be able to over come his personal demons to save the boy from an army of evil and bring back Christmas to the world? That's the central question in this story that blends festive delight and post-apocalyptic carnage into wickedly funny, perverse, and exciting holiday cocktail.

 

[More visions of sugarplums and flying horses ahead...]

Wed
Dec 11 2013 3:45pm

Holiday Havoc: Christmas Films with Explosions

Santa rides to give presents and kick-ass, and he's all out of presents.The holidays are a time for peace on Earth and good will towards man. So movies set at that time often involve heartwarming and cute scenes like Tiny Tim saying, “God bless us everyone;” Jimmy Stewart running through Bedford Falls wishing everybody a, “Merry Christmas;” and the guy from The Walking Dead telling Kiera Knightly that she’s perfect. That’s fine, and those are some scenes from good movies, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a good action sequence at Christmas time. In fact, it can be a lot of fun to watch brave heroes and heroines battle to preserve the spirit of the season. So, if you’re in the mood for some mayhem to go along with your cheer, here are several exciting holiday classics to consider:

Die Hard  (1988) & Die Hard 2 (1990)

These are the two films that probably come to mind when most people think about Christmas action movies, and for good reason, too. Watching a lone everyman (granted, his everyman quality tended to diminish as the film franchise went on), John McClane, try to save Christmas from an army of bad guys is a lot of fun, especially when their leader is Alan Rickman. The tension, humor, and Rickman’s villainy make the first film one of the greatest action movies of all time, but the sequel where McClane tries to liberate a busy holiday airport from the grip of William Sadler’s rogue military unit is a lot of fun, too.

If the first Die Hard is already a regularly part of your holiday viewing, you might want to try reading the novel it's based on, Roderick Thorp's Nothing Lasts Forever, which is a much darker and grittier story. It features an older protagonist named Joe Leland, but it's still fantastic. I'm currently reading 58 Minutes by Walter Wager, which was the inspiration for Die Hard 2.

[KaBOOM! Santa's got a half dozen more to drop on you...]

Tue
Nov 5 2013 10:30am

Fresh Meat: One More Body by Josh Stallings

One More body by Josh StallingsOne More Body by Josh Stallings is the third book in the Moses McGuire noir series (available November 5, 2013).

Character is king in all forms of fiction, especially crime fiction. It's the reason why we follow intrepid detectives, world weary criminals, and driven tough guys into nightmare worlds of depravity and violence. It's why we root for these characters to over come seemingly unbeatable odds and it's why our heart bleeds for them when their personal demons over come them. Josh Stallings clearly understands this.  It's why his previous Moses McGuire novels Beautiful, Naked & Dead, and Out There Bad are so damn good  It's also why his newest McGuire novel, One More Body, is another powerful, poignant, exciting, and just plain cool read.

Another simple truth of fiction is that actions have consequences. Heroes, aren't just heroic because they risk life and limb to take on great threats. They're also heroic because the violence often required to destroy these threats affects these heroes on a deep, psychological level. This is something else that Stallings understands. When we first check in with Moses McGuire at the beginning of One More Body, the psychological wounds of what he saw and had to do in his previous outing are still very raw. Since the McGuire novels are predominately told in first person narrative here he tells us just how haunted he actually is:

[Everyone has ghosts...]

Thu
Oct 24 2013 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Silent City by Alex Segura

Silent City by Alex SeguraSilent City by Alex Segura is the first book in a new series about reporter-turned-P.I., Pete Fernandez (available October 29, 2013).

It takes a hard man to become a private investigator.  Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlowe investigated crimes for the Los Angeles' D.A.'s Office before he went into business for himself. Robert B. Parker's Spenser was a soldier, a boxer, and a state trooper before he became a gumshoe. And before Robert Crais' Elvis Cole became the self-proclaimed “World's Greatest Detective,” he was an army ranger.

So, is a guy who makes his living editing the sports section of a Miami news paper cut out to be a private detective? In his debut novel, Silent City, former Archie Comics writer Alex Segura makes a fun and compelling argument for the idea of a journalist turned private detective.

[It's more than just fact finding and leads, you know. ]

Mon
Oct 7 2013 9:30am

Fresh Meat: Dying is My Business by Nicholas Kaufmann

Dying is My Business by Nicholas KaufmannDying is My Business by Nicholas Kaufmann is the first book in an urban fantasy detective series (available October 8, 2013).

The Urban Fantasy story with its blend of the Sword and Sorcery and Crime/Detective genres has proven to be a potent and fun literary cocktail. That doesn't mean though that the mix can't be improved upon or revitalized by adding in new elements to spice things up. Nicholas Kaufmann proves that in his new novel Dying is My Business by throwing in some ideas and elements from an entirely different medium, comic books, specifically Marvel ones. These simple story-telling ideas pioneered by creators like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are just as effective in prose and blend together nicely with the Crime and Sword and Sorcery conventions to make Dying is My Business a fun and unique story.

The first Marvel Comics style element I noticed in Kaufmann's novel is the idea that super powers are not always a blessing. In fact they can ruin your life and the lives of others around you. You see that in Spider-Man, who's always wrestling with his responsibilities to his costumed and personal lives, or in members of the X-Men, like Rogue whose ability to absorb powers and memories rendered her unable to touch another human being for fear of leaving them comatose or worse. That makes these characters' heroic actions extra poignant and powerful.

[The two big p's...]

Sun
Jun 30 2013 10:00am

The Big Score: Soundtracks for Crime Novels

Joker in Dark KnightMovies and television shows are interesting forms of entertainment because so many different elements are blended together into one narrative. The scene that a writer constructs is just as important as the way an actor delivers a line in that scene, or the way the director and cinematographer choose to film that scene. One element that often gets overlooked though is music. The right background music can add so much power, drama, and pathos to a film or a television show.

Score music doesn't have to be exclusive to films and television though. One of the great things about reading a novel or a short story is many elements of the narrative are left up to you. So when I read I usually have my iPod handy so I can pick a piece of music to highlight the mood and tone of a scene I'm reading. Many of them are score tracks from great crime and action films.

In this piece I'll share some of the tracks I use on a regular basis when I'm reading crime novels and what scenes I think they're appropriate for. Plus, I've provided YouTube videos so you can decide if you want to include them in your own personal crime novel soundtracks.

[Let the music take you to a more criminal mindset!]