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Showing posts by: John Valeri click to see John Valeri's profile
Fri
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...]

Tue
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...]

Fri
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...]

Tue
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...]

Fri
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...]

Thu
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...]

Thu
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...]

Thu
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 . . .]

Tue
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 . . .”]

Fri
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?]