Review: <i>Fantasy in Death</i> by J.D. Robb Review: Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb Meghan Harker Read Meghan Harker's review! <i>A Death at the Yoga Cafe</i>: New Excerpt A Death at the Yoga Cafe: New Excerpt Michelle Kelly The 2nd book in the Keeley Carpenter series. Review: <i>Kindred in Death</i> by J.D. Robb Review: Kindred in Death by J.D. Robb Dirk Robertson Read Dirk Robertson's review! The Dark Tower: <i>Wizard and Glass</i>, Part II The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass, Part II David Cranmer Join the discussion!
From The Blog
January 17, 2017
2017 Left Coast Crime "Lefty" Awards Nominations
Crime HQ
January 14, 2017
Discount: The Advocate's Daughter by Anthony Franze
Crime HQ
January 13, 2017
5 Gateway Marvel Comics for Crime Fiction Fans
Dave Richards
January 10, 2017
Into the Woods and Off the Grid: Three Profiles
Erica Ferencik
January 9, 2017
Historical Novels: Fact vs. Fiction
Nicola Cornick
Showing posts by: Kristen Houghton click to see Kristen Houghton's profile
Jan 13 2017 1:00pm

Review: Salvation 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, Kristen Houghton reviews #27, Salvation in Death.

Hector Ortiz had been a good man. He had lived for a hundred and sixteen years, and his large family and many friends were gathered for his funeral mass. At St. Cristóbal’s Church, the priest officiated with the dignity and respect Señor Ortiz deserved.

But while Father Flores is performing the Rite of Communion at the mass, he suddenly and unexpectedly dies on the altar. This is no death related to natural causes; it is a murder. Someone has spiked the communion wine with poison, causing the priest to die in front of a church filled with mourners. 

Miguel was officiating the funeral mass, and was taking Communion. He drank, and he seemed, almost immediately, to seize. His body shook, and he gasped for air. And he collapsed.” López spoke with the faintest of accents, an exotic sheen over rough wood.

[Read Kristen Houghton's review of Salvation in Death...]

Jan 6 2017 1:00pm

Review: Memory 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, Kristen Houghton reviews #22, Memory in Death.

If you’ve had a childhood as bad as Lt. Eve Dallas, the last person you want to see during the holiday season is the foster “mother” who made your life hell during the time you were in her “care.”

Eve’s got enough on her hands as the story opens, what with an office-party Santa falling out of a 36th-story window and killing an innocent bystander below. Ol’ Saint Nick was high on drugs when he took the header out the window. 

Lt. Dallas of the New York Police and Security Department promptly finds and arrests the dealer and returns to her precinct where she is met by a woman named Trudy Lombard. This unwelcome Ghost of Christmas Past is the foster mother who terrorized an eight-year-old Eve back in Texas. The abuse continued until Eve escaped by running away. 

[Read Kristen Houghton's review of Memory in Death...]

Jan 2 2017 4:00pm

Lisbeth Salander’s Assassin’s Guide to New Year’s Resolutions

This week's guest columnist is Lisbeth Salander, who's a hacker but not a hack, Wasp but not a WASP, and an all-around tough-as-nails badass.

Dear Readers,

The end of a very interesting year is fast coming to an end, and this is the time when most people make those alcohol-soaked, maudlin resolutions for the new year. I say most because I have never made one damned resolution just for the sake of a new year. I mean, come on, just because the calendar switches from December 31st to January 1st, that’s not a valid reason to write up a list of “life improvements” that you won’t keep past the end of the first month! No, the switch in a calendar does not impact Salander. Ha.

Some of you are more than curious about my lifestyle and what I do besides writing this column. I’m sure you know that I have killed people, hacked accounts, destroyed top-level billionaires. The list goes on and on. But you seem to want to know how I do what I do.

To that end, I have decided to give you what I call the “Assassin’s Guide to Survival Resolutions.” Good for this new year and any year. They work for me. Here goes. You will need:

[Check out Lisbeth Salander's Assassin's Guide to Survival!]

Dec 27 2016 1:00pm

Review: Reunion 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, Kristen Houghton reviews #14, Reunion in Death.

Lt. Eve Dallas is back in J.D. Robb's popular In Death series. This time, she’s facing a recently released murderer who is out to even the score with Eve. Early in her law enforcement career, Eve testified against the woman, and she hasn’t forgotten that the young lieutenant’s testimony was the final nail in the coffin. She plots a violent “reunion.” It turns out that the just-released killer has spent her years in lockup planning how to confuse, humiliate, and ultimately destroy Dallas. 

It begins with the poisoning of middle-aged, wealthy men in seemingly innocuous circumstances on Eve Dallas’s beat. 

Murder was work. Death was a serious chore for the killer, the victim, for the survivors. And for those who stood for the dead. Some went about the job devotedly, others carelessly.

And for some, murder was a labor of love.

[Read Kristen Houghton's review of Reunion in Death...]

Dec 19 2016 4:30pm

Holidays and Murder: The Best Mysteries for Christmastime

A U.S. survey has come out with an interesting statistic: more murders take place during the holidays than at any other time of the year. It seems the season of “good will to all” has a caveat. Don’t the holidays bring out the best in people? Makes you look at your holiday-celebrating family and neighbors in a whole new way.

With that scary thought in mind, it doesn’t surprise me that many murder mysteries are set during the holiday season—most notably at Christmastime. With all the redundant “Ho-Ho-Hos” and “Fa-La-Las” echoing in our brains, it’s no wonder that we sometimes need a break from all the cheer. Having to be happy all the holiday season puts a tremendous amount of strain on all of us. What you need is to find some time to kick back and enjoy a good book.

So why not fill your cup with the heavily-spiked eggnog that Aunt Martha brought you as a present and settle down to read some nice, nasty holiday murder mysteries.

[Hopefully not spiked with poison...]

Dec 16 2016 12:00pm

Dear Lisbeth Salander: I HATE the Holidays!

This week's guest columnist is Lisbeth Salander, who's a hacker but not a hack, Wasp but not a WASP, and an all-around tough-as-nails badass.

Dear Lisbeth Salander,

Okay, I’m just going to say it; I HATE the holidays. It’s crap. Nothing but fighting, drunken relatives, expensive gifts no one can afford, and forced cheer. I’m sick of it all. I want to go to a resort, get away from all the false happiness, and just be by myself with a beach, an ocean view, and a good bottle of wine. Am I wrong? 

I have a demanding job, I live in the city500 miles away from the ol’ family homeand really can’t stomach the thought of the long drive to be with relatives. My mother, who expects me to “come home” for the holidays, says that I’m thinking in a selfish way and should just “suck it up and be nice.” She says she and my father raised me to be a man and do the right thing.

I’m 28 years old, unmarried, and I want to get away by myself for a change. Am I really being selfish or am I just being true to my own self?

Holiday Blue

[Read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's advice!]

Dec 12 2016 10:00am

Unrepentant: Pray for Us Sinners: New Excerpt

Kristen Houghton

Unrepentant: Pray for Us Sinners by Kristen Houghton is the 3rd book in the Cate Harlow Private Investigation series (Available December 15, 2016).

Cate Harlow's best friend, the lovely “lady of the New York City evening” Melissa Aubrincourt asks Cate and Cate's ex-husband, NYPD Detective Will Benigni to come to New Orleans. Her beloved Tante Anjali, the woman who raised Melissa, has been arrested for murder.

What she doesn't tell Cate is that she needs her to conduct a private investigation into this murder of a notorious voodoo priestess who had been accused of kidnapping girls for a sex trade. As a “gifted person of magic” and powerful voodooienne rival of the murdered woman, Tante Anjali, is the prime suspect. She was found kneeling over the body of the murder victim, Fleur-SalI Cloutier, holding a bloody knife in her hands, yet she swears she did not kill her.

But Anjali Aubrincourt is more than evasive about what really happened the night of the murder. Cate believes she is protecting the real murderer, but who and why? The answer to both may come from an imaginative fairy-like child who believes in magic and a goddess named Sainte Ursule.

While Will works tirelessly with the New Orleans police and legal systems, Cate's own private investigation into the murder takes her into the mystical and frightening heart of New Orleans voodoo magic where the dead and the living co-exist, and a possible connection to witchcraft in her own family.

[Read an excerpt from Unrepentant: Pray for Us Sinners...]

Dec 8 2016 3:00pm

Murder, Mystery, and Scandinavia: The Perfect Combination

If you like the setting of your murder mysteries to take place in a cold, snowy climate, you’re not alone. The newest and bloodiest murder mysteries now seem to take place in Scandinavia. There’s something about murder, mystery, and the bitter cold that seem to go together, and it seems that readers have been entertained by them for years.

The first tastes of “murder in the cold” were not centered in Scandinavia at all, but in Canada. King of the Royal Mounties by Zane Grey and Sgt. Preston of the Yukon by Fran Striker not only paid homage to the brave officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but also took pleasure in the descriptions of the snow and cold where they work. But those thrillers were mild.

[Find out more about Scandinavian thriller!]

Dec 1 2016 1:00pm

The 1830 True Murder Behind Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”

A brutal crime in Salem, Massachusetts inspired author Edgar Allan Poe to write his famous psychological murder mystery, “The Tell-Tale Heart.” On the evening of April 6, 1830, the murder of 82-year-old Captain Joseph White, a wealthy retired shipmaster and trader, shocked the residents of the small town of Salem. 

White lived in a distinguished landmark house in Salem with Benjamin White, a distant relative and house handyman; Lydia Kimball, a domestic servant; and Mary Beckford, his housekeeper niece. Mrs. Beckford’s daughter, also named Mary, lived a short distance away in the town of Wenham and was married to Captain White's grandnephew, Joseph J. Knapp. 


Nov 21 2016 12:00pm

Review: Stone Coffin by Kjell Eriksson

Stone Coffin: A Mystery by Kjell ErikssonStone Coffin by Kjell Eriksson is the 7th book in the Ann Lindell series (Available November 22, 2016).

This is another page-turning mystery of murder, intrigue, and action by Kjell Eriksson, featuring his popular detective Ann Lindell. Like all good murder mysteries, this is a complex thriller that begins with life remembrances but also death. The remembrance lies in a poignant memory of the birth of a child and the passing of that child’s grandmother.

Six years and one day ago, Emily was born, and the very next day her grandmother died. Every anniversary of her death they walked to the church and laid flowers on her grave. They also sat on the low stone wall for a while. The woman would drink coffee and her daughter some juice.

The walk took them half an hour. They could have taken the car but preferred to walk. The slow trip to the church enabled reflection. She had loved her mother above all else. It was as if Emily had filled in for her Nana. As one love slipped away, another arrived.

She and her newborn had been transported in the Akademiska hospital to the unit where her mother lay in a state between consciousness and sleep.

[Read Kristen Houghton's review of Stone Coffin...]

Nov 17 2016 4:30pm

Review: The Best of the Horror Zine: The Early Years, edited by Jeani Rector

The Best of the Horror Zine: The Early Years is an anthology edited by Jeani Rector that features horror short stories collected from the best of the first four anthologies from this award-winning, long-running ezine.

Out of the corner of your eye you see something … there’s a shadow in the room that you can’t explain. When you open a certain door, a chill runs through you—it’s a mystery. Everyone enjoys being frightened; we love experiencing fear through reading a horror story. The natural high from the fantasized fight-or-flight response feels great. We love horror because there’s something about the genre that is similar to shouting, “I’m not afraid of death, I’m entertained by it!”

Reading a good short horror story in an anthology is a pleasure. One of the best anthologies I have read recently is The Best of the Horror Zine: The Early Years. It contains fiction from renowned masters of the macabre, all hand-chosen by editor and master horror writer herself, Jeani Rector, who pens an excellent scary story in “The Bus Station.

[Read Kristen Houghton's review...]

Nov 11 2016 1:00pm

Dear Lisbeth Salander: Post-Election Tension

This week's guest columnist is Lisbeth Salander, who's a hacker but not a hack, Wasp but not a WASP, and an all-around tough-as-nails badass.


Okay, so by now you’ve read or heard about the presidential election in the United States. So many people are either sick to their stomachs or elated, depending on the success or failure of their chosen candidate. The world I knew has gone crazy and turned completely upside-down. People are at each other’s throats and saying all kinds of horrible things.

My question to you is: How do I deal with all the changes that seem to be coming down the road? I’m only 22, and I feel scared, anxious, and angry. What can I do to make sure that my own future is secure and not totally screwed?

Please help!

Uncertain Future Girl

[Read Lisbeth Salander's advice!]

Oct 27 2016 10:00am

The Grimmest of Fairy Tales

“There once was a man who lived a life so strange, it had to be true. Only he could see what no one else can—the darkness inside ... the real monster within ... and he’s the one who must stop them. This is his calling. This is his duty. This is the life of a Grimm."

Grimm, the fan and critic favorite TV show created by David Greenwalt, Jim Kouf, and Stephen Carpenter, begins its 6th and final season this coming January, 2017. The wonderfully successful series’ final season gives viewers a chance to say goodbye to characters that are immensely appealing and likeable. 

Having reached its 100th-episode milestone last season, the show has long been a critics’ choice. “Terrific and trendsetting … Grimm has become a beacon of solid narrative and a weekly reminder of why monsters matter,” said The Los Angeles Times, while The New York Times called Grimm, “Engaging, clever, tense, funny and well-paced, featuring a remarkably appealing cast.”

[Read more about the hit series Grimm...]

Oct 25 2016 10:00am

Review: Night Watch by Iris & Roy Johansen

Night Watch by Iris Johansen, Roy Johansen (Kendra Michaels Series #4)Night Watch by Iris and Roy Johansen is book #4 in the Kendra Michaels series (Available October 25, 2016).

Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen are a mother-and-son duo who created the character of Kendra Michaels, a hired gun for both the CIA and FBI, and Night Watch is the latest in the popular series. The premise of the series—a blind woman has her sight restored by a researcher working for an organization called the Night Watch Project, thus giving her a new life—is intriguing and exciting.

Kendra Michaels is a person whose senses are keen and on-target. Having been sightless for twenty years, her other senses—hearing, smell, taste, touch—are, in a sense, super-charged. Combine that with the new gift of sight she receives, and you have an investigator with a powerful edge.

[Read Kristen Houghton's review of Night Watch...]

Oct 21 2016 12:00pm

Dear Lisbeth Salander: What Are You Going to Be for Halloween?

This week's guest columnist is Lisbeth Salander, who's a hacker but not a hack, Wasp but not a WASP, and an all-around tough-as-nails badass.


With a Halloween party just around the corner, I am torn about what to wear. What fairy-tale figure should I be for that one night? Do I go sweet and angelic like the older versions of Disney characters, or do I opt for something more in the vein of tough and can-take-care-of-myself modern mode?

My boyfriend wants me to be either Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, but I have no idea why he chose those two. I’d like to be either Elsa from Frozen or Ursula the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid. Please help me decide what to do. I value your advice; what would you be for Halloween?

Not Sugar Sweet

[Read Lisbeth Salander’s advice!]

Oct 17 2016 12:00pm

Rosemary’s Baby: A Halloween Page to Screen Classic!

Ah, to be young and newly married and looking for that perfect first place to live! Such much fun, so many concerns—some of which are will we get the apartment we really want and will we get along with our new neighbors?

Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse are an ordinary young couple who believe they’ve found their dream place at a gothic looking, pre-war building called The Bramford. It’s large and surprisingly inexpensive. Despite being warned that The Bramford has a disturbing history involving witchcraft and murder, they choose to overlook this and settle into their nice, large apartment. Hey, you can’t really blame them; cheap, expansive pre-war NYC apartments are hard to find!

Getting along with the neighbors doesn’t seem to be a problem either, since Minnie and Roman Castevet, an eccentric elderly couple in the nearby apartment, seems to take an interest in the young pair. 

[A creepy, Satanic interest...]

Oct 6 2016 12:30pm

Review: All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris

All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris

All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris is the 9th book in the Aurora Teagarden series (Available October 4, 2016).

New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris gives her fans what they’ve been clamoring for—a return to the fun and excitement of the Aurora Teagarden series.

In the small Georgia town where a pregnant and happy Aurora Teagarden lives, four teens suddenly vanish from the school soccer field one afternoon. One of them is Aurora’s fifteen-year-old brother Phillip, who goes missing along with two of his friends. The fourth missing child, who was with them at the field, is an eleven-year-old girl who was just hoping to get a ride home from soccer practice. 

But that’s not all; an even worse discovery is made at the children’s last known destination. A dead body—another girl named Tammy, who was the girlfriend of one of the missing boys—has been found there.

[Read Kristen Houghton's review of All the Little Liars...]

Sep 15 2016 3:30pm

The New Orleans Setting for Unrepentant: Pray for Us Sinners

New Orleans is a city that is rich in music, cuisine, and Mardi Gras mania. Its summers are known for their stifling heat and humidity; at one time it was notorious for the outbreaks of Yellow Fever during those steaming summers. Add to all this the fact that New Orleans has an air of mystery from the mingling of religious beliefs and superstitions strongly influenced by Catholicism, Spiritualism, and Voodoo and you have the perfect setting for a murder mystery.

New Orleans was my only choice for Unrepentant: Pray for Us Sinners, Book 3 in the Cate Harlow Private Investigation series. It begins, as all good murder mysteries do, with a bloody murder. 

[New Orleans and murder? I'm sold...]

Sep 15 2016 12:30pm

Review: Pushing Up Daisies by M.C. Beaton

Pushing Up Daisies by M.C. Beaton is the 27th book in the Agatha Raisin series (Available September 20, 2016).

There's a newcomer in the town of Carsely in the Cotswolds, and he's a retired New Scotland Yard Detective. What’s a private detective supposed to do when she feels her territory is being threatened?

Agatha Raisin, private detective, resident in the Cotswold village of Carsely, should have been a contented and happy woman. Business at her agency was brisk. It was a rare fine English autumn. But the serpent of jealousy was hissing in her ear. Agatha had been jealous of women before but never in one hundred years had she expected to be jealous of her best friend, Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar’s wife.

There was a newcomer in the village, Gerald Devere, a retired New Scotland Yard detective and, of all people, Mrs. Bloxby appeared smitten. She had dyed her hair a rich brown and had taken to wearing attractive clothes instead of her usual old droopy ones.

[Read Kristen Houghton's review of Pushing Up Daisies...]

Sep 9 2016 12:00pm

Dear Lisbeth Salander: Paging Dr. Perv

This week's guest columnist is Lisbeth Salander, who's a hacker but not a hack, Wasp but not a WASP, and an all-around tough-as-nails badass.


I need advice desperately. I am a 19-year-old woman who sees a psychologist. I have to see him because I tend to cut myself when under stress. He came highly recommended by my family doctor. 

My therapist, who is 57, has been giving me obvious sexually abusive hints throughout the course of my therapy sessions. Things begin to escalate as we spend more time together. He is neither married nor does he have any children. He is creepy looking. My friends have even noticed how withdrawn I am becoming. He is a school counselor, and I shudder to think of any girl having to go through the same thing as I am.

When I’m in his office, he always asks me about sex—and not just regular sex, but truly kinky, weird stuff that involves pain. He says that’s normal for me because I seem to like pain, since I cut myself. Nothing has happened yet, but I’m afraid of him, and I know that if I say something to anyone, he will tell people that I’m lying and crazy. Please help.

—Cari the Cutter

[Read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's advice!]