Now Win <i>This</i>!: Murder in the First Sweepstakes Now Win This!: Murder in the First Sweepstakes Crime HQ The jury has spoken, and all nine books are guilty of murder! <i>Basket Case</i>: New Excerpt Basket Case: New Excerpt Nancy Haddock Who is the weaver of this intricate murder plot? TBR Confessions: Jungle Warfare, Nazi Rebellion, and Killer Clowns TBR Confessions: Jungle Warfare, Nazi Rebellion, and Killer Clowns Joe Brosnan War and clowns. What could go wrong? TBR Confessions: Fat Bob, Foxgloves, and Deadly Ghosts TBR Confessions: Fat Bob, Foxgloves, and Deadly Ghosts Clare Toohey Welcome to our absurdly towering To Be Read piles--timber...!
From The Blog
August 31, 2015
The ZINNG: The Scents of Outlaws and Spies
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August 28, 2015
The ZINNG: Stephen King, OITNB, and Ulysses
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August 26, 2015
From Page to Screen with Night and the City
Brian Greene
August 25, 2015
The ZINNG: Bank Heists and a Pit of Despair
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August 24, 2015
The ZINNG: Lolita and Victor Frankenstein
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Showing posts by: Kristin Centorcelli click to see Kristin Centorcelli's profile
Mon
May 11 2015 9:00am

Fresh Meat: Anatomy of Evil by Will Thomas

Anatomy of Evil by Will Thomas is the seventh Barker & Llewelyn historical mystery, and in London in 1888, who would they seek but the Ripper (available May 12, 2015)?

I’m always up for a clever take on the Jake the Ripper mythos, and who better to take on the famous killer than private enquiry agent Cyrus Barker and his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn? Thomas has it in his head to search for the killer himself, but gets caught on a late night outing with a friend by Barker, who is puzzled as to why Llewelyn didn’t let him in on the search. Turns out Barker is happy to help, and as luck would have it, is recruited to act as liaison to Scotland Yard’s Criminal Investigation Department.  Navigating the jurisdictional infighting between departments is one thing, but finding a killer who seems to strike at any time, and so brutally, is quite another.

[That's one tough task ahead of them...]

Sat
Feb 21 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Outsiders by Gerald Seymour

The Outsiders by Gerald Seymour is an espionage thriller featuring MI5 agent Winnie Monks who follows a Russian crime czar to Spain for revenge of a brutal murder from years ago (available February 24, 2015).

If you were to ask Jonno’s parents about their son, they would describe him as ordinary, a good enough sort, but never reaching for the stars, so to speak. So, when Jonno and his girlfriend Posie discover that MI5 agents have set up shop upstairs in the villa that they’re housesitting, on the Costa del Sol in Spain, it’s shocking that Jonno seems to find an obstinacy within himself that borders on reckless. He’s self riotously furious on the behalf of the elderly couple that owns the villa (who he hardly knows, having gotten the housesitting gig through his own mother), until he witnesses a horror next door, at the villa that is the focus of the agents’ surveillance, that swiftly changes his mind, especially after he learns about the person they’re actually there to report on.

[So much for that Spain getaway...]

Sun
Apr 27 2014 11:00am

Fresh Meat: The Curse of the Brimstone Contract by Corrina Lawson

The Curse of the Brimstone Contract by Corrina Lawson is the Steampunk Detectives series debut, featuring a woman who learns she possesses magical abilities after a garment of her design kills a client (available April 29, 2014).

Joan Krieger is very excited to present her new clothing creations to the fashion forward Lady Grey, but when Lady Grey discovers a scarf among her new clothes, a scarf that shouldn’t have been there, she is delighted and insists on wearing it.  Outfitted in her progressive new duds, she climbs into her steam carriage for an outing, but it’s a doomed outing, because the scarf suddenly takes on a life of its own, and soon, Lady Grey’s life is snuffed out. Joan and her mother are horrified. They’ve had a run of bad luck with clients recently who died while wearing their creations, and it’s threatening their very livelihood. To Joan’s horror, as soon as her father, who has been ill, hears of the most recent catastrophe, he informs her that she has been promised to a certain Sir August Milverton, who has vowed to help their business stay afloat once they are married. However, Sir August is not only two decades her senior, but he’s also not Jewish. Joan struggles with the desire to help her family and her wish to marry someone within her faith.

[Failure is not an option for Joan, she's sacrificed too much...]

Fri
Feb 14 2014 12:30pm

Fresh Meat: The Innocent Sleep by Karen Perry

The Innocent Sleep by Karen PerryThe Innocent Sleep by Karen Perry (the pseudonym for co-authors Karen Gillece and Paul Perry) is an international thriller, featuring a father whose presumed-dead son might not be as dead as he thought (available February 18, 2014).

Tangiers in 2005 is a place teeming with color, and life. Perfect for an artist like Harry, who is living there with his wife Robin, and young son Dillon. Dillon has always had serious problems sleeping, but tonight Harry has added something to his milk that will help him sleep, because it’s Robin’s birthday, and Harry wants things to be perfect when she gets home.

“He stirs a cup of warm milk, blinks, and looks out again onto the changing and otherworldly colors of the sky.

Setting the spoon down onto the counter, he turns from the open window and crosses to where the boy is sitting, his face tightened in concentration at the jigsaw puzzle before him.

“Here,” his father says, holding out the cup.

The boy does not look up.

“No, Daddy, I don’t want to.”

His father hands him the cup again. The boy hesitates before reaching out, and in that moment, Harry feels the faintest beat of indecision. He ignores it and nods his head at the boy in encouragement.

The boy takes long, slow gulps. A small dribble of milk escapes from the corner of his mouth, and his father wipes it away. Dillon gulps again and hands the cup back. “Here, Daddy,” he says. “Finished.”

Harry takes the cup and walks to the sink to rinse it. At its bottom there is a fine residue of powder. He fills the cup with water and watches the residue flow up and out of it and down into the drain.”

[Things are about to be anything but perfect...]

Mon
Nov 18 2013 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: Burnt Black By Ed Kovacs

Burnt Black by Ed Kovacs

Burnt Black by Ed Kovacs is the third novel in the Cliff St. James series about a detective living and working in a post-Katrina New Orleans (available November 19, 2013).

In the third installment of Ed Kovacs’s New Orleans crime series, his edgy protagonist, NOPD Homicide Detective Cliff St. James (who continues his P.I. business on the side) is alerted to a potential murder that has occurred next door to the house that he and his partner, Honey Baybee, have spotted while house hunting for her mother. Turns out it’s not just one person dead, but two, and at the base of what looks like an altar, no less. In fact, when they enter the house, they immediately knew this scene would be out of the ordinary. 

[Which is quite the claim in New Orleans...]

Tue
Aug 6 2013 10:00am

Fresh Meat: The Good Thief’s Guide to Berlin by Chris Ewan

The Good Thief's Guide to Berlin by Chris Ewan, Book 5 about writer and criminal Charlie HowardThe Good Thief's Guide to Berlin by Chris Ewan is the fifth novel about globetrotting writer-slash-criminal Charlie Howard (available August 6, 2013).

When Charlie Howard’s literary agent, Victoria, secures a burglary deal for him in Berlin, along with a few possible foreign deals for his new book, he’s not surprised by her initiative. However, when he meets with his contact, who turns out to be working for the British Embassy, his instructions for the theft are rather frustrating and also incomplete. The contact refuses to tell Charlie what he’s supposed to steal, only that there are four apartments that he must search, and he’ll know the item when he sees it. Now, before we get into the thick of things, keep in mind Charlie has a few rules of his own when it comes to his chosen profession.

“Rules. They can be a tricky proposition for a thief like me. It’s not often I find myself on the right side of the law, and the truth is, I enjoy breaking most rules as much as I relish breaking into a stranger’s home. But there are certain rules I try very hard to obey. Naturally, the rules I’m talking about are ones I’ve devised for myself. Over the years, the list has grown pretty long, though it all developed from one simple principle: Don’t get caught.

Want to hear a selection? Well, let’s see. I never break into a property that’s occupied, unless I absolutely have to. I use my picks wherever possible, because I don’t enjoy destroying someone’s door. I don’t ransack or leave a mess. If I’m working for myself, I target folks who can afford it, and I rarely steal anything of sentimental value. If I’m hired on commission, I only work for people I trust or individuals who pay me enough to overcome my concerns. I always wear gloves. I always knock before I enter. I always lock up before I leave. And, as of now, I have a new rule to add to my list. Don’t admire the view.”

[But if you'd like to admire the rest of this post...]

Sat
May 25 2013 10:00am

Tropical Summer Reads

Summer is right around the corner, and how better to pass the time than with some reads set in exotic locales or, just as fun, on the beach? Whether you’re looking for something light and breezy or a walk on the darker side of summer, no worries, we’ve got you covered!

If it’s a light, fun read you’re looking for, I have a few recommendations that  might just fit the bill.

[We’re so ready to feel some sand between our pages...]

Wed
May 22 2013 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Wounded Prey by Sean Lynch

Wounded Prey by Sean LynchWounded Prey by Sean Lynch is the first Detectives Farrell and Kearns thriller (available May 28, 3013).

In 1967, the Vietnam War was in full swing, and Staff Sergeant Bob Farrell is on the hunt for a killer after a Saigon prostitute’s little boy is found hanging from his ankles from a light post, his throat cut. Luckily, there were witnesses, and it wasn’t too hard to figure out who the culprit was, especially since he was described as having a pronounced limp. Anti-American sentiment made it hard to conduct a thorough investigation, but when MPs search the convalescent barracks; they get more than they bargain for.

Luckily, they are finally able to take him down, but not without serious injury to the two MPs. Lance Corporal Vernon Emil Slocum is in custody, but unfortunately, Farrell’s investigation is over before it begins. Slocum is ferried away by unnamed men, and Farrell doesn’t see him again. Now it’s 1987, twenty years after the events, and Farrell is a retired cop, chain-smoking and drinking in his dingy apartment, wondering why he hasn’t done all the things he’s planned, when he sees a headline in the newspaper about a young girl killed in much the same way as the little boy in Saigon, and about the rookie police officer, Kevin Kearns, who happened to be nearby and attempted to take on Slocum with no success. Farrell is suddenly very certain about what he must do. Kearns will be used as a scapegoat for the crime, and Farrell knows it, and a monster is on the loose.

Kearns is also painfully aware of what’s about to happen to him.

[But how can he possibly stop it?]

Sun
May 12 2013 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Healer by Antti Tuomainen

The Healer by Antti TuomainenThe Healer by Antti Tuomainen is a novel of dystopian, futuristic Nordic noir (available May 14, 2013).

Tapani Lehtinen’s wife, Johanna is missing. She’s a reporter and routinely goes out on assignment for days at a time, but always checks in with her husband, and it’s been twenty-four hours since he’s heard from her. After visiting her editor and expressing his concerns, the editor reluctantly tells him that she’s been working on a story about The Healer, a killer who’s been targeting families of high powered men involved in the seeming destruction of the environment, thus being part of the cause of the deteriorating climate of Helsinki and the surrounding areas. The editor is dubious that something bad has happened to Johanna, but seems to soften a bit when Tapani explains the nature of their relationship.

[The heat is on in Helsinki...]

Mon
Apr 8 2013 9:30am

Fresh Meat: Untold Damage by Robert K. Lewis

Untold Damage by Robert K. LewisUntold Damage by Robert K. Lewis is a dark mystery debut featuring a drug-addicted former cop (available April 8, 2013).

Mark Mallen is a former undercover cop for the San Francisco Police Department. Now he’s a heroin junkie, estranged from his wife and nine-year-old daughter. He spends his days shooting up, scoring, and making kites for the daughter he never sees.

He woke up with a needle in his arm.

Waking up with the pin still in him was something new. First time, actually. Made him think of how Vodka was the last drink a chronic drunk can take. Because their stomach’s given out from all the abuse heaped on it. Vodka was the last stop before a coffin. The last line in the sand, crossed.

When Oberon Kane, a cop that Mark had worked with in the past, shows up at his place, Mark is instantly ashamed of his appearance and living conditions.

[But shame isn't enough to straighten out a junkie]

Mon
Mar 25 2013 9:30am

Fresh Meat: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Ordinary Grace by William Kent KruegerOrdinary Grace by William Kent Krueger is a literary mystery and coming of age story set in 1961 (available March 26, 2013).

It’s 1961 in New Bremen, Minnesota, and a mentally handicapped boy has been inexplicably hit by a train. It wasn’t unusual for little Bobby Cole to play on the tracks, but from what the police can tell, it looks like he just lay there and waited for the train to claim him. There should have been plenty of time for him to get out of the way from the oncoming train, but the police have no evidence to suggest that foul play was involved. The town is devastated by this news, and it’s cast a pall over the citizens of New Bremen. It’s also the event in which thirteen-year-old Frank Drum begins his story.

[Foul play, or just play?]

Sat
Mar 2 2013 10:30am

Fresh Meat: Evil In All Its Disguises by Hilary Davidson

Evil in All Its Disguises by Hilary DavidsonEvil in All Its Disguises by Hilary Davidson is the third Lily Moore mystery and is set in Acapulco (available March 5, 2013).

Lily Moore has just arrived at the Hotel Cerón in Acapulco on a press junket when one of her fellow journalists, Skye McDermott approaches her, wanting to talk. She’s traveled with Skye before and has always enjoyed her company, but Skye is obviously distraught and needs someone to confide in. After a conversation that confuses, more than enlightens Lily about Skye’s situation, Skye leaves the table to take a phone call, and never returns. Lily is puzzled, especially since Skye not only mentioned Lily’s ex-boyfriend, Martin Sklar, but she also left behind her bag containing her passport. Skye is nowhere to be found and Lily is at a loss. It also seems that the hotel manager, who is connected to Martin, and the person in charge of the press junket aren’t interested in finding Skye at all. Soon, she begins to notice some odd things about the Hotel Cerón, beginning with her own room.

[And not odd like stale mints on the pillow, either]

Sun
Feb 17 2013 11:00am

Fresh Meat: A Good Death by Christopher R. Cox

A Good Death by Christopher R. Cox is an atmospheric almost-traditional mystery set in Thailand (available February 19, 2013).

A woman is found dead of an apparent OD in a grimy backpackers’ hostel in Thailand, a needle still stuck in her arm. A passport found at the scene identifies her as Linda Watts, a Thai refugee who found her way to the U.S. as a child, and supposedly made good in the finance industry. It soon comes to light that a half-million-dollar life insurance policy was up for grabs, and Linda Watts’s insurance company believes she’s still alive. Enter PI Sebastian (Bass) Damon. Soon, Damon is in Thailand and up to his eyeballs in trouble. After all, Thailand is a whole other world, full of corruption, death, and wild, exotic beauty. Is Linda Watts’s death a good death? That’s what Sebastian must prove, against all odds. Unfortunately, his surroundings constantly work against him, and it’s this use of time and place (Thailand in the ’90s) that makes this mystery so atmospheric.

[And atmosphere is only the beginning]

Tue
Feb 5 2013 10:30am

Fresh Meat: Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore

Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore is a supernatural noir novel set in Los Angeles about a necromancer hunting his sister’s killer (available February 5, 2013).

In 2012, Stephen Blackmoore burst onto the scene with his supernatural noir City of the Lost, featuring the rough and tumble Joe Sunday. Now he’s back with Dead Things, the story of Eric Carter, a powerful necromancer who’s haunted not only by the ghosts he sees on a daily basis, but also by his own past. He’s just finished the takedown of a killer who cheated death and is using voodoo mojo to commit heinous crimes when he gets a call from an old friend. Carter’s sister, Lucy, is dead, and Carter knows he must get to the bottom of it, but when he visits the crime scene, he finds out that her death was only a tool to get his attention. As he heads out find answers, he thinks about the sister he hasn’t seen in fifteen years, and about her place in a family of powerful mages.

Lucy could barely manipulate a coin toss. That puts her ahead of most people with talent, but still at the bottom tier.

I wouldn’t say she was a disappointment to our parents, but she was the black sheep. Mom and Dad had magic to spare. Some of it got to me. Almost none of it went to Lucy. She practiced relentlessly. Kept telling me that one of these days she’d get that coin toss down pat and show me. She never did.

[Time to make amends for the past...]

Mon
Nov 19 2012 10:30am

Murder in the Locked Room

The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan PoeThe locked room mystery has always held a special fascination for suspense fans.

Perhaps the most popular—and earliest—of them is Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” in which a mother and daughter are murdered—the mother so brutally ravaged she is almost decapitated and the daughter strangled and stuffed up a chimney—in a room locked from the inside and otherwise inaccessible. In 1841 this was pretty potent stuff. Keep in mind, the mystery genre was not established until the 19th century, and Poe’s stories of murder and mayhem were an extremely popular diversion.

As popular and undeniably entertaining as Poe’s stories were, the Golden Age of detective fiction (mostly the 1920s and 1930s) ushered in a master of the locked-room mystery subgenre, John Dickson Carr. Carr’s novel The Hollow Man was voted the best locked-room mystery of all time by a group of authors and reviewers, and in fact gives a rather detailed explanation for crime writers as to how a criminal could engineer the appearance or illusion of a sealed room, when, of course, logic dictates that the murderer must have had a means of escape.

[Almost a perfect crime!]

Sun
Nov 11 2012 11:00am

Noir in Film: 5 Great Films Adapted from Noir Classics

The Big Sleep (1946)Raymond Chandler is considered one of the fathers of noir for good reason. His wonderful creation, Philip Marlowe, is one of the most popular detectives in crime fiction, and all of his books were adapted for films. In my opinion, the best of these is The Big Sleep (1946) adapted from the Chandler novel of the same name and starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It’s also directed by Howard Hawkes, one of the masters of that film period and his skill at directing such a sweeping, complex piece is firmly on display. Don’t let complex scare you away though. The point of The Big Sleep is in the journey taken to find out whodunit, not actually the “who” who “dunit,” so sit back and enjoy Bogey and Bacall at their best. For an updated version, you can try the 1978 adaptation starring Robert Mitchum.

[Adding to the “To Be Watched” List...]

Thu
Oct 25 2012 10:30am

Fresh Meat: The Tangled Bridge by Rhodi Hawk

The Tangled Bridge by Rhodi HawkThe Tangled Bridge by Rhodi Hawk is a paranormal thriller (available October 30, 2012).

Lapses in time are par for the course for Madeleine LaBlanc and out of body experiences are becoming more and more common. A family legacy has left her in league with a river devil, whom she calls Severin, but she’s not quite sure if the river spirit is friend or foe. As the novel opens, Madeleine loses time and finds herself at the scene of a murder by the levee. As she and her boyfriend Ethan wait for the police, Severin shows her a vision.

[Not a vision of loveliness...]

Thu
Oct 18 2012 10:30am

Fresh Meat: Beluga by Rick Gavin

Beluga by Rick GavinBeluga by Rick Gavin is the second book in the humorous noir series featuring former cop Nick Reid and his partner Desmond (available October 30, 2012).

In Rick Gavin’s second outing starring former cop Nick Reid and his partner, man of few words Desmond, Desmond’s former brother-in-law, fresh from prison, has commandeered a load of Michelins that need to be sold quick. Nick and Desmond just happen to have a little extra cash, and decide to “invest” in the tire haul, in spite of initial misgivings. Turns out they really should have listened to their instincts, because some very nasty people are connected to those tires, and they’re not afraid to lay some serious hurt on Nick and the gang. Nick and Desmond are no pushovers, though, and they’re more than ready for a fight.

[Don’t “tread” on them!]

Wed
Sep 19 2012 10:30am

Behind Every Gangster is a Good Moll

Jean Harlow in Public Enemy.You’ve heard the saying “Behind every man is a good woman”, yes? Well, the same holds true for gangsters. To be sure, the famous gangsters of the Dirty Thirties, like Bugsy Siegel, John Dillinger, Al Capone, Clyde Barrow, and Pretty Boy Floyd were killers and thieves (among other unsavory things) but did that stop their women from loving them and staying by their sides? Not these ladies! In fact, they even helped their men commit their crimes, cementing themselves in the public consciousness forever. These women took “lovin’ the bad boy” way too far, so you have to ask yourself: what was in it for them? I’m guessing money and the excitement of notoriety, at least for some, so check ’em out, and you be the judge!

[Was it an adrenaline rush or a stolen heart?]

Wed
Aug 22 2012 2:00pm

The Women of Noir: Primer Part 2

She looks like a pulp princess and she writes like one too!Back in May, I introduced a few dames of noir that are worthy of top spots on your reading list. Well, I’m back with more, so here we go!

I believe I mentioned Cathi Unsworth in my last post, so we’ll start with her, shall we? Ms. Unsworth, a London noir dame, is the author of The Not Knowing, The Singer, Weirdo, and Bad Penny Blues. She also edited the London Noir anthology in 2006. If you love books that deal with the seamy underbelly of London, and the gritty London music scene, particularly in the ’60s and the ’80s, mixed with a healthy dose of mayhem and murder, Ms. Unsworth is your gal. She’s got an eye for detail that will leave you reeling.

[And it’ll be the best feeling you ever had!]