<i>Murder on a Summer's Day</i>: New Excerpt Murder on a Summer's Day: New Excerpt Frances Brody A not-so-perfect summer day. <i>Prime Time</i>: New Excerpt Prime Time: New Excerpt Hank Phillippi Ryan The first in the Charlotte McNally series. <i>Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman</i>: New Excerpt Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman: New Excerpt Tessa Arlen Nominated for Best First Novel! <i>Into Oblivion</i>: New Excerpt Into Oblivion: New Excerpt Arnaldur Indridason An Icelandic thriller.
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Showing posts by: Dave Richards click to see Dave Richards's profile
Fri
Jan 22 2016 4:15pm

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 1:00pm

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 11:00am

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 Jonesfrom 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 10:00am

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 1:30pm

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 11:00am

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 2:30pm

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 10:00pm

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...]

Mon
Dec 16 2013 11:30pm

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 2:45pm

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 9:30am

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 10:00am

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 8:30am

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 9:00am

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!]

Thu
May 23 2013 11:00am

Nobody Expects the Space Inquisition: Warhammer 40K Tie-in Novels

My first experience with Games Workshop’s tabletop miniature war game Warhammer 40,000 left me rather unimpressed. Basically it involved moving around a bunch of little metal figures and rolling dice to see if I hit anything. The figures were these cool futuristic looking soldiers, but you had to paint them and my painting skills are terrible.

Still there was something about the visual aesthetic of the miniatures and the world they inhabit that stuck with me. Imagine a world that combines noirish intrigue, Lovecraftian horror, psychic powers, the futuristic war machines and technology of Star Wars and Dune, the fantasy races of Tolkein, and features a very cool heavy metal album style visual aesthetic. That’s the expertly blended cocktail that is the universe of Warhammer 40K. It might not have impressed me to see it played out on a tabletop, but it was epically cool in my head. So one day I decided to take another a look at the larger Warhammer 40K universe, especially the tie-in fiction.

[We’re thinking this will be epically cool on the page...]

Sun
May 12 2013 9:00am

My Sword is Quick: Fantasy Meets Crime Fiction

Escapism is one of the appeals of the fantasy genre. It’s a chance to visit a world where impossible things like magic and monsters are real, and to go on epic quests to save the world. It can be just as fun and interesting though to see those elements bump up against real world events such as crime and murder. Generally you only see that collision in fantasy tales set in the modern worlds like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series. There are a number of authors, though, who have combined the elements of crime and noir with stories set in mythical or ancient realms.

[Crime and Fantasy were made for each other!]

Mon
Feb 4 2013 9:30am

Fresh Meat: This is Life by Seth Harwood

This is Life by Seth Harwood is the second Jack Palms mystery, set in San Francisco (available February 19, 2013).

I grew up in the ’80s and fondly remember the action movies of that era. They were exciting and full of edge-of-your-seat thrills. Violence was a big part of those thrills, but one of the things I firmly remember from watching those movies as a kid was how utterly terrifying the violence could be. Gunshots were loud! When people were hit by them blood exploded from their bodies! Violence wasn’t glamorized, it was ugly and painful. So the best of these films managed to be both visceral and exciting, but also give you a sense that death and destruction were forces that you didn’t want to be part of your world. Those are hard stories to tell because fun and grim consequences are not easy things to balance, but writer Seth Harwood does an admirable job in his latest thriller to hit print, This is Life.

[It is all about the balance...]

Mon
Jan 7 2013 9:30am

Help Hawkeye Hit a Bull’s-Eye for Hurricane Relief

His skill with a bow and arrow is so great that it allows him to stand shoulder to shoulder with gods, giants, and legends. His name is Clint Barton aka Hawkeye and this summer filmgoers everywhere were introduced to him thanks to the feature film adaptation of Marvel Comics’ “Avengers” series.

Hawkeye (as portrayed by Jeremy Renner) spent quite a bit of the film in thrall to the villainous Loki so people who were meeting him for the first time only caught a glimpse of the character’s aim, cunning, sarcasm, and heart. Readers who have been following Hawkeye’s comic book adventures since his introduction in 1964’s “Tales of Suspense” #57 know the Avenging Archer possesses all of these qualities in spades, especially if they’re reading the current Hawkeye series by writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja.

Hawkeye would go on to fight alongside Iron Man, but in his initial comic book appearances in “Tales of Suspense” he fought against the Armored Avenger. Those early battles came about because of the machinations of his future teammate the Black Widow who was still a spy for the Soviet Union at the time and would become an Avenger herself years later.

[His aim is true...]

Mon
Dec 17 2012 9:30am

Fresh Meat: Flash Gordon: The Tyrant of Mongo: The Complete Flash Gordon Library 1937-1941 by Alex Raymond and Don Moore

Flash Gordon: The Tyrant of Mongo: The Complete Flash Gordon Library 1937-1941 by Alex Raymond and Don MooreHe took on a high-tech empire decades before Luke Skywalker and his friends challenged Darth Vader and his Emperor. He was leading bands of freemen in guerrilla operations years before Frank Herbert recorded the adventures of Paul Atreides in his classic science fiction novel Dune. Of course, I’m talking about that fictional character whose adventures are the subject of one of the catchiest Queen songs ever: Flash Gordon.

Flash made his debut in newspaper comic strips in 1934 and would go on to become one of the most influential science fiction heroes of all time. His four-color adventures and the movie serials based on them would inspire the creation of landmark science fiction franchises like Star Trek and Star Wars. The reason Flash’s adventures had such a monumental impact on popular culture was because of the creators involved: the artist Alex Raymond and the strip’s writer Don Moore. Recently fans in the U.S. have been given a chance to rediscover or become acquainted with Raymond and Moore’s Flash Gordon work thanks to a beautiful series of library edition hardcovers.

The latest collected edition in the series Flash Gordon: The Tyrant of Mongo Sundays 1937-1941 collects Moore and Raymond’s Sunday strips which detail Flash’s epic adventures across the planet Mongo and his quest to bring down the empire of Ming, the titular tyrant. The book opens with an informative essay by comics writer and Flash Gordon historian Doug Murray, and then you get your first glimpse of a lavish and beautiful world...

[Take me to Mongo!]

Thu
Nov 1 2012 3:00pm

The Wire on a Reservation: Jason Aaron’s Native American Crime Saga Scalped

The Wire (2002-2008)

If you were an HBO subscriber from 2002 to 2008 you got to watch something special unfold. That something special was of course David Simon’s acclaimed drama The Wire, which at first glance appeared to be a police procedural about the war on drugs on the streets of Baltimore. Viewers quickly discovered though that The Wire was about so much more. The cops and the criminals were fully fleshed out characters with both positive and negative personality traits, and each season their struggle bumped up against, and influenced, the lives of the citizens and institutions of Baltimore, including the unions, the politicians, the schools, and the newspaper.

So by the end of its run it was clear that The Wire wasn’t just a crime show. It was a television program about the entire community of Baltimore and its struggle to survive. That’s the reason it fascinated so many viewers during its run and that’s why it continues to capture the imagination of viewers discovering it for the first time years later on DVD.

[And if you liked that, you’re gonna love this!]