Discount: <i>Tom Clancy's Op-Center: Into the Fire</i> Discount: Tom Clancy's Op-Center: Into the Fire Crime HQ Get a digital copy for only $2.99 through 6/5! Review: <i>Where Dead Men Meet</i> by Mark Mills Review: Where Dead Men Meet by Mark Mills Dirk Robertson Read Dirk Robertson's review! <i>Killing for You</i>: New Excerpt Killing for You: New Excerpt Keith Elliot Greenberg A shocking and authoritative account of a brutal double murder. Review: <i>City of Angels</i> by Kristi Belcamino Review: City of Angels by Kristi Belcamino Dave Richards Read Dave Richards review!
From The Blog
May 25, 2017
Page to Screen: Nightmare Alley
Brian Greene
May 18, 2017
Discovering a Sister in Crime: Eleanor T. Bland
Stephane Dunn
May 16, 2017
Q&A with Court Merrigan, Author of The Broken Country
David Cranmer and Court Merrigan
May 15, 2017
Adventures in Research, Part I: Time of Departure
Douglas Schofield
May 12, 2017
5 Reasons 50s-Era Cuba Is the Perfect Setting for a Thriller
Paul Vidich
Showing posts by: John Valeri click to see John Valeri's profile
May 8 2017 3:00pm

Review: Silent Rain by Karin Salvalaggio

Silent Rain by Karin SalvalaggioSilent Rain by Karin Salvalaggio is the 4th book in the Macy Greeley Mystery series (available May 9, 2017).

London-based, American-bred Karin Salvalaggio returns with her fourth crime novel, Silent Rain, which reunites series protagonist Macy Greeley, a Montana police detective, and survivor Grace Adams (now going by the surname Larson) for the first time since the author’s 2014 debut, Bone Dust White.  

Silent Rain opens on Halloween night. Grace, dressed up like Stephen King’s Carrie—post prom horror show (though nobody recognizes her)—is commemorating the occasion with friends at the K-Bar’s annual themed costume party. While she finds herself battling a throng of overzealous Elvis lookalikes with wandering hands, it’s the reappearance of her stalker—just the most recent in an endless string of mostly harmless gawkers who have discovered her identity—that impels her to make a hasty getaway under cover of darkness. Emboldened by booze and bravado, Grace stumbles through the suburban streets of Bolton, eventually blacking out on somebody’s lawn. An hour later, her stupor is shattered by the sound of sirens piercing the quiet.

[Read John Valeri's review of Silent Rain...]

May 2 2017 11:00am

Review: Walking on My Grave by Carolyn Hart

Walking on My Grave by Carolyn Hart is the 26th and final Death on Demand Mystery, where bookseller Annie Darling learns murder and money go hand in hand.

New York Times-bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Carolyn Hart returns with Walking on My Grave—the 26th and final entry in her beloved, critically acclaimed Death on Demand series.

Annie Darling, owner of Broward’s Rock’s Death on Demand mystery bookshop, has a challenge on her hands for the quiet months of winter: preparing three chapbooks written by her trio of crime-solving cohorts—novelist Emma Clyde, do-gooder Henny Brawley, and mother-in-law Laurel Darling Roethke—for printing. The welcome solitude of that project is broken when fellow islander Ves Roundtree pays Annie an unexpected visit and confides that she’s the victim of an attempted murder made to appear as if an accident. Despite a moment of hesitancy, fiercely loyal and justice-minded Annie pledges allegiance to her aggrieved friend.   

[Read John Valeri's review of Walking on My Grave...]

Apr 25 2017 2:00pm

Q&A with John Rector, Author of The Ridge

John Rector is a Wall Street Journal and internationally bestselling author. His novels include Ruthless, Out of the Black, Already Gone, The Cold Kiss, and The Grove. Mr. Rector’s award-winning short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and is collected in The Walls Around Us; his novella, Lost Things, earned him the International Thriller Award. Mr. Rector’s latest, The Ridge (available April 25, 2017), is published by Thomas & Mercer, Amazon’s Mystery/Thriller/Suspense imprint. 

Recently, the author generously made time to answer questions about creative inspiration, genre classification, setting serving story, and the inevitable influence of the outside world on fiction. 

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Apr 20 2017 3:00pm

Review: Say No More by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Say No More by Hank Phillippi Ryan is the 5th book in the Jane Ryland series, nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Novel.

The dynamic Hank Phillippi Ryan is no stranger to accolades. Her crime novels have earned 5 Agatha Awards as well as the Anthony, Daphne du Maurier, Macavity, and Mary Higgins Clark honors; her most recent, 2016’s Say No More, is a nominee for this year’s prize given in grandmaster Clark’s name. Further, the author—who is also the on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affiliate—has won 33 Emmys and 13 Edward R. Murrow Awards for her groundbreaking exposes. Not surprisingly, professional pedigree has largely informed her fiction.

Say No More is Ryan’s 5th novel to feature 30-something reporter Jane Ryland, who has largely redeemed herself in the eyes of the public following the humiliation of being fired for refusing to give up a source. This story opens as Jane and her producer, Fiola, witness a hit-and-run car accident on an early Monday morning in Boston—a seemingly insignificant event that later proves to be anything but. Meanwhile, Jane’s (somewhat undercover) boyfriend, homicide detective Jake Brogan, is called to the scene of a suspicious drowning in an uppity, tight-lipped community known as the Reserve. The victim, Avery Morgan, was a Hollywood screenwriter guest teaching at the equally secretive Adams Bay College.

[Read John Valeri's review of Say No More...]

Apr 11 2017 11:00am

Q&A with Harry Hunsicker, Author of The Devil’s Country

Harry Hunsicker is a 4th-generation native of Dallas and former executive vice-president of the Mystery Writers of America. A Shamus and Thriller Award nominee, he has also had a short story (“West of Nowhere”) selected for inclusion in the anthology The Best American Mystery Stories 2011 after initial publication in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Mr. Hunsicker has written two series, one featuring Dallas PI Lee Henry Oswald and the other disgraced ex-cop Jon Cantrell. The Devil’s Country (available April 11, 2017) is his 7th novel.

Recently, Mr. Hunsicker took time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about his inspiration for creating a new character and canvas, the importance of setting, and the ingenuity of his publisher, Thomas & Mercer.

[Read the full Q&A below...]

Apr 5 2017 12:00pm

Review: Of Books and Bagpipes by Paige Shelton

Of Books and Bagpipes by Paige Shelton is the 2nd book in the Scottish Bookshop Mystery series.

Last year, nationally bestselling author Paige Shelton debuted a new mystery series set in Scotland featuring Kansas-born Delaney Nichols. A recent transplant to the area, Delaney found employment at The Cracked Spine—a modest-yet-magical bookstore specializing in rare manuscripts and housing an eclectic assortment of historical artifacts—and also discovered a surprising knack for solving whodunits. 

In Of Books and Bagpipes, Delaney embraces a new adventure of sorts when her boss, Edwin MacAlister, dispatches her to Castle Doune to retrieve an old comic book (Oor Wullie) from a man who pledges to be dressed as famed Scottish knight William Wallace. But when Delaney arrives, accompanied by her proudly protective landlord and frequent chauffeur, Elias, they stumble upon the reenactor’s dead body, cause unknown. Delaney quickly alerts the authorities but neglects to share with them the purpose of her visit, or the fact that she found Oor Wullie—which she instinctively secretes in her coat—hidden within a nook of the castle’s wall.

[Read John Valeri's review of Of Books and Bagpipes...]

Apr 1 2017 12:00pm

Q&A with Karen E. Olson, Author of Betrayed

Karen E. Olson is the author of Betrayed (available April 1, 2017)—the 3rd book in her critically acclaimed Black Hat Thriller series.

Recently, Ms. Olson generously agreed to answer some questions about creative inspiration and process.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Mar 28 2017 2:00pm

Q&A with Laura Caldwell & Leslie S. Klinger, Co-Editors of Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted

Laura Caldwell and Leslie S. Klinger are co-editors of Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted (available March 28, 2017), which pairs genre luminaries such as Lee Child, Sara Paretsky, Laurie R. King, Jan Burke, and S. J. Rozan with exonerated inmates to illuminate the realities of wrongful conviction.

Recently, Ms. Caldwell and Mr. Klinger generously agreed to answer some questions about their collaborative process and the intent behind Anatomy of Innocence.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Mar 27 2017 2:00pm

Review: Bone White by Wendy Corsi Staub

Bone White by Wendy Corsi Staub is the 3rd and final book in the Mundy's Landing Trilogy (available March 28, 2017).

“We shall never tell.” This cryptic phrase, discovered in a centuries-old letter, is the driving force that propels Emerson Mundy on a decisive search for truth in Bone White, the final book in New York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub’s Mundy’s Landing Trilogy. Consumed by grief over her father’s death and looking to escape the attention of an overzealous boyfriend, Emerson skips town to travel cross-country from California to Mundy’s Landing, New York. There, she hopes to reclaim her ancestral heritage—but soon finds that the family name is a burden to bear.

Mundy’s Landing—a seemingly idyllic Hudson River Valley town—has a dark past that continually haunts its present. Despite the recent resolution of the infamous Sleeping Beauty Murders (see 2016’s Mary Higgins Clark Award-nominated Blue Moon), there’s another skeleton in the village’s proverbial closet: a cannibalization scandal that sent founding colonists James and Elizabeth Mundy to the gallows, leaving their three children—and future generations—to protect the family’s carefully safeguarded secrets. But when aged town historian Aurora “Ora” Abrams proffers a long-hidden disembodied skull for forensic analysis—the results of which harken back to that fateful winter of 1666, when starvation plagued the settlement—she inadvertently sets in motion yet another series of sordid affairs.

[Read John Valeri's review of Bone White...]

Feb 24 2017 4:00pm

Review: Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert by Patricia Cornwell

Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert by Patricia Cornwell is a comprehensive and intriguing exposé of one of the world’s most chilling cases of serial murder—and the police force that failed to solve it (available February 28, 2017).

In 2001, acclaimed crime novelist Patricia Cornwell stepped away from fiction to investigate the facts and fallacies surrounding London’s infamous Jack the Ripper killings. The book that followed, Portrait of a Killer (2002), identified British painter Walter Sickert as the culprit—and earned Cornwell widespread derision among so-called Ripperologists. Fifteen years later, she returns with Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert—a revised and expanded edition of her earlier work, featuring eight new chapters, detailed maps, and hundreds of images that further illuminate her case.

Cornwell—internationally recognized for her novels featuring medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta, who most recently appeared in Chaos (2016)—is credited with popularizing the forensic thriller, and she continues to research advanced scientific principles for use in her books. She applies these same techniques in pursuit of the Ripper; in addition to the countless hours required for investigation and travel, she also invested millions of dollars of her own money in her search for truth.

[Read John Valeri's review of Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert...]

Jan 24 2017 2:00pm

Review: Celebrity 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, John Valeri reviews #34, Celebrity in Death.

Lieutenant Eve Dallas isn’t much impressed by the thought of rubbing elbows with Hollywood’s elite at a fancy dinner for the cast and crew of The Icove Agenda—a film-in-progress based on one of her most celebrated cases. Nevertheless, she and her partner, the effervescent Det. Delia Peabody, find themselves making nice at director Mason Roundtree’s swanky New York pad; after all, public relations are of the utmost importance to the brass. But when an actresses is found dead in the pool, the A-list becomes the suspect list in J.D. Robb’s Celebrity in Death, the 34th book in this futuristic crime series.     

Though the plot is somewhat reminiscent of Wes Craven’s horror film Scream 3 (2000), it plays better on the page than it did on the big screen—and Robb’s characters are every bit as self-aware as celluloid ones. Maybe more so. The fact that the victim—twenty-seven-year-old K.T. Harris—was portraying Peabody adds a brilliantly emotional bent to the story (it’s easy for Dallas and Co. to visualize her when viewing the corpse). Circumstances are further complicated by the fact that Harris was universally disliked, meaning that the motives for her murder are plentiful. A second, related death proves that hers was not an isolated incident—and that Dallas and Peabody are up against a ticking clock.

[Read John Valeri's review of Celebrity in Death...]

Dec 30 2016 2:00pm

Review: Imitation 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, John Valeri reviews #17, Imitation in Death.

Criminal Element’s commitment to reviewing each of J.D. Robb’s forty-three Eve Dallas novels in anticipation of the forthcoming Echoes in Death (out February 7th) provided me with a rare experience: to read an established author for the very first time midway through a phenomenally popular and successful series. 

To say that Nora Roberts, and her much darker literary alter ego J.D. Robb, has been on my radar would be an understatement. That my introduction to her work would come via Imitation in Death—a seductive whodunit that focuses on a cunning copycat killer recreating some of history’s most notorious crimes—strikes me as appropriate, given my decades-long fascination with the macabre and an unabashed love of such genre books that meld fiction with fact.

[Read John Valeri's review of Imitation in Death...]

Nov 29 2016 2:00pm

Review: Glow of Death by Jane K. Cleland

Glow of Death by Jane K. Cleland is the 11th Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery (Available November 29, 2016).

It’s the Fourth of July in New Hampshire’s picturesque seacoast town of Rocky Point, but the patriotic celebration is outshadowed by real-life fireworks when murder trumps merriment in Jane K. Cleland’s 11th Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery, Glow of Death

What started as a promising business venture—the appraisal of a rare Tiffany lamp expected to fetch as much as $1.5 million at auction—ends in mystery when Josie is called to the scene of the crime and asked to identify the victim: Ava Towson, the lamp’s co-owner. But when Josie gets a look at the body, she realizes that she doesn’t recognize the face staring back at her. It soon becomes clear that persons unknown impersonated Ava and her wealthy business mogul husband, Edwin, in the hopes of perpetuating a fraud. Having been bamboozled, Josie—always an ambassador of justice—vows to discover the truth.

[Read John B. Valeri's review of Glow of Death...]

Nov 11 2016 1:00pm

Review: Chaos by Patricia Cornwell

Chaos by Patricia Cornwell is the 24th thriller in the #1 New York Times bestselling author's popular high-stakes series starring medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta (Available November 15, 2016).

Fans of Patricia Cornwell know that it’s never good news when Dr. Kay Scarpetta’s cell phone rings after hours. Even worse when her husband’s, FBI profiler Benton Wesley, chirps simultaneously.

So when both are interrupted at an intimate dinner at Harvard’s exclusive Faculty Club in the opening pages of Chaos, readers are right to suspect that some version of hell has broken loose. Indeed, these calls bring chilling news on an otherwise unusually humid fall evening: the body of a bicyclist has been found dead alongside the Charles River.

[Read John B. Valeri's review of Chaos...]

Sep 8 2016 4:30pm

Review: Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah

Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah is the newest Hercule Poirot novel, continuing the legacy of Agatha Christie's legendary sleuth and commemorating his 100th anniversary in print. 

After resurrecting Dame Agatha Christie’s iconic detective, Hercule Poirot, in the global bestseller The Monogram Murders (2014), Sophie Hannah revisits the famously finicky Belgian in Closed Casket to commemorate his 100th anniversary in print.

As Closed Casket opens, readers bear witness to an act that will have dire repercussions: the changing of Lady Athelinda Playford’s will. Lady Playford, a beloved mystery author who makes her home at Lillieoak in Clonakilty, County Cork—an homage to Christie and her famed Greenway estate—has decided to make the announcement at a dinner party attended by her two children and their significant others (as well as her lawyers and various house staff). Perhaps sensing the furor that their disinheritance might cause, she has also invited Hercule Poirot to be present—but in the hopes of preventing a murder or in solving one? Regardless of her intent, a murder does occur—albeit a seemingly unexpected one, complete with an eyewitness—and Poirot must engage his little grey cells. 

[Read John Valeri's review of Closed Casket...]

Aug 18 2016 12:00pm

Review: Without a Doubt by Marcia Clark (w/ Teresa Carpenter)

Without a Doubt by Marcia Clark (w/ Teresa Carpenter) is the true crime memoir from the head prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, rereleased with a strong new foreword from Ms. Clark addressing how her views—and the public's—have shifted.

Despite years of shunning “Trial of the Century”-related publicity, Marcia Clark found herself back in the spotlight in 2016—more than two decades after she led the failed criminal prosecution of O.J. Simpson.

Not only did Sarah Paulson’s nuanced, empathic portrayal of her in FX’s hit mini-series American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson earn the actress an Emmy nomination, but it helped to redefine Clark’s image and made her something of a feminist icon among Gen Xers. Further, Clark participated in ESPN’s expansive documentary, OJ: Made in America, contributing to an important and revelatory discourse about race relations in America. Taken as a whole, the two projects sharply illuminated how factors such as race, celebrity, and sexism contributed to a subversion of justice that resulted in Simpson’s acquittal. 

Check out the Rev. Spyro's coverage of American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson!

[Read John Valeri's review of Without a Doubt...]

Aug 23 2012 10:30am

Fresh Meat: Nightwatcher by Wendy Corsi Staub

Nightwatcher by Wendy Corsi StaubNightwatcher by Wendy Corsi Staub is the first book in a new thriller trilogy (available August 28, 2012).

September 10, 2001:  As night falls upon an unsuspecting New York City, Allison Taylor’s most pressing concern is braving the rain—and the notorious cab drivers—to attend a Marc Jacobs fashion show at the Pier. A recent transplant to Manhattan, Allison is just beginning to make a name for herself in the industry. Little does she know that her reality is about to be dramatically altered—or that she will become the target of a sadistic killer.

Flash forward: The very next morning, Allison encounters a world on fire.  The city is paralyzed with fear and uncertainty in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack that has claimed countless innocent lives and brought down the Twin Towers in a moment of absolute horror that will live on forever. But another evil has struck even closer to home. Allison later discovers her upstairs neighbor, Kristina, slaughtered in her bed. Her murderer has escaped into darkness, and will take full advantage of the ensuing chaos to carry out a sinister plot—one that will bring vengeance straight to Allison’s door.

[A killer in a wounded city . . .]

Jul 31 2012 10:30am

What’s Your Favorite Scary TV Show?: Scream Franchise to Hit TV

Drew Barrymore in ScreamAfter scaring up a new generation of moviegoers in Wes Craven’s savvy, rule-bending Scream (and its subsequent sequels), the killer(s) best known as Ghostface is now ready to slash his—her? their?—way into your living room.

As Mark Ausiello reported for TVLine, MTV is developing a weekly series based on the feature film franchise. The project is being overseen by former MTV executives Tony DiSanto and Liz Gateley under their DiGa production company. If the show comes to fruition, it would mark the second Scream-inspired project in recent years.

Scream 4 (aka SCRE4M) hit the big screen in April of 2011—but it made more of a whimper than anything else.

[“There are certain RULES that one must abide by . . .”]

May 25 2012 2:45pm

The Case for Marcia Clark

O.J. Simpson prosecutor, Marcia Clark, turned crime author (Photo Courtesy of John Valeri)Recently, I had the opportunity to go on book tour with Marcia Clark as she ushered her second crime novel, Guilt by Degrees, into the world. (Translation: Marcia Clark went on book tour and I independently followed her as she traversed the East Coast—three states in four nights!) Seeing as she gamely refrained from taking out a restraining order on me, I can now share some eyewitness testimony from the road.

[Is that an O.J. pun in the making?]