Now Win <i>This</i>!: The Hard Hitting Sweepstakes Now Win This!: The Hard Hitting Sweepstakes Crime HQ Brace yourself before entering! <i>Last to Know</i>: A New Excerpt Last to Know: A New Excerpt Elizabeth Adler The body might have burned in the fire, but she had already been stabbed to death. FM: <i>Rocket Girl Vol. 1"</i> by Amy Reeder & Brandon Montclare FM: Rocket Girl Vol. 1" by Amy Reeder & Brandon Montclare Doreen Sheridan Fix the past to save the future. <i>Atonement of Blood</i>: A New Excerpt Atonement of Blood: A New Excerpt Peter Tremayne An attempted assassination sends Fidelma into enemy territory.
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July 18, 2014
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Showing posts by: Leslie Gilbert Elman click to see Leslie Gilbert Elman's profile
Tue
Jul 22 2014 11:15am

Endeavour 2.04: Season Finale “Neverland”

The final episode of Endeavour Series 2 was a corker.

We don’t do spoilers on Masterpiece Mystery programs, but I would suggest that you go and watch “Neverland” right now if you haven’t already. Then go back and watch it again, knowing what you know. It’s better the second time.

We begin, as we tend to do, with a montage of characters and situations: DI Thursday is in for his physical exam; a young man, who bears a passing resemblance to Morse himself, is in prison; an Oxford professor lectures on the Siege Perilous in the legend of the Knights of the Round Table; a ventriloquist prepares for a Vaudeville-style show; there’s a benefit for the Police Widows and Orphans; and Morse is in the choir singing “as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.” There’s so much going on that Colin Dexter’s cameo flashes by within seconds of the episode’s start.

Then the prisoner escapes, a young boy runs away from home, and Thursday and Morse are off and running.

[Plus ça change as they say...]

Tue
Jul 15 2014 10:15am

Endeavour 2.03: “Sway”

Everyone is wearing a poppy for remembrance, which should give you a clue that this episode will concern the past and the sins committed then. It also concerns a murderer who is very much present in the minds of Morse and his colleagues, and who plans to continue murdering in the future unless they can stop him.

Time is of the essence in “Sway.” The endlessness of time; mathematical infinity; ouroboros, the snake that devours its tail, symbolizing eternity...

Time; and possibly the Rolling Stones, although I’m not certain about the last part.

As the episode begins, a newspaper headline trumpets the case of the moment:  “Woman Strangled – Oxford housewife willingly opened door to killer.” This refers to the murder of Anne Curran Matthews.

At the office, Morse is typing up a report for Chief Superintendent Bright concerning the “amalgamation” of police stations. This might pose a problem for Morse in the future, but it’s certainly not enough to occupy all of his intellect right now. He’s turning over the Curran Matthews case in his mind and associating it with another open case. They’re not identical, but there are similarities.

Moments later, another victim is found. Vivienne Haldane, the wife of an Oxford professor, has been strangled with a silk stocking. (“Not hers,” says Dr. DeBryn.) Physical relations had taken place within an hour or two of death. (“Nothing to say ‘unwillingly,’” says Dr. DeBryn.) And the pieces begin to fall into place for Morse.

There are now three cases involving women who were strangled with silk stockings. More specifically, married women who spend most of their time apart from their husbands and who weren’t wearing their wedding rings when their bodies were found.

[So much for playing Happy Families...]

Mon
Jul 14 2014 8:45am

Death Becomes Her, Or is it That Fabulous Veil?

“Death Becomes Her,” the fall exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Anna Wintour Costume Center presents a stitch-by-stitch account of what the well-dressed widow was wearing a century or two ago.

There were rules for such things, naturally, and we can thank high-profile mourners, such as Queen Victoria and her daughter-in-law Queen Alexandra for elevating the social importance of mourning attire. (Mourning gowns belonging to each woman will be part of the exhibition.)

Yet according to Harold Koda, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute, mourning wasn’t always seen simply as a bereaved wife’s dedication to her departed spouse. “The veiled widow  could elicit sympathy as well as predatory male advances,” he says. “As a woman of sexual experience without marital constraints, she was often imagined as a potential threat to the social order.”

Just who was she peering at through her long black veil?

Death Becomes Her” runs from October 21, 2014 to February 1, 2015, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Tue
Jul 8 2014 11:00am

Endeavour 2.02: “Nocturne”

Call this episode “Morse Goes Gothic.” The opening credits make it clear we’re not dealing only with the here and now, which, in Endeavour time, is 1966. The dead bodies of Victorian youngsters and their nursemaid littering a croquet lawn should be a clue. (Blood dripping slowly down the side of a pram is an inspired touch.)

For football fans of the sort Morse would know, 1966 lives forever as the year England both hosted and won the World Cup. Presumably all eyes, with the exception of Morse’s baby blues, were on the telly watching the England squad do their thing. However, national pride can’t stand in the way of murder. Thus, we begin this episode with the murder of a man visiting the Museum of Natural History. His bloody body is found in an off-limits gallery, throat slashed, apparently killed with an Indian dagger called a katar.

Are we surprised that Morse knows nothing about the football but possesses more than average knowledge about Indian daggers? Of course not.

He thinks the weapon is an odd choice for slashing a man’s throat, being more of a stabbing weapon intended to pierce through armor.

[Morse has other ways to surprise us...]

Tue
Jul 1 2014 11:30am

Endeavour 2.01: “Trove”

Word to the wise: You’d better be on your toes when you’re dealing with Endeavour.

If you’d forgotten this, the first two minutes of “Trove” will remind you. They’re a deluge of information: Miss Great Britain participates in a ceremonial ribbon-cutting; Morse undergoes a physical exam; a car pulls into a gas station; a dark-haired young woman reviews the route map of a procession through Oxford; political candidate Barbara Batten makes a campaign speech; someone writes cryptic notes on a hotel memo pad...

And we’re not even through the opening credits!

If there was ever a show to record, rewind, and rewatch, it’s Endeavour. Clues are everywhere, and while you’re concentrating on scanning the screen for visual hints or hunting for Morse creator Colin Dexter’s cameo (Did you spot him?), you’re missing the verbal clues and rapid-fire dialog provided by series creator/writer Russell Lewis.

I’ll admit I did quite a lot of rewinding on this one, partly because I’m a little out of condition Morse-wise (it’s been a year after all) and partly because there really is an awful lot going on in this episode including blind alleys, red herrings, and a couple of deductions that still have me wondering how we traveled from point A to point B.

[But that’s neither here nor there...]

Mon
Jun 23 2014 12:30pm

Masterpiece Mystery: The Escape Artist: Episode 2

Remember that fabulous life Will Burton was living in Episode 1 of The Escape Artist?

Right. Neither does he.

All it took was the smallest gesture toward the wrongest person to shatter Will’s world. The wrongest person being the skin-crawlingly icky murderer Liam Foyle.

“We may dislike Mr. Foyle, but we don’t have to like him to defend him,” Will pronounced with such objective certainty in the first episode.

Well, he’s not objective anymore, and he’s only certain about one thing: he wants someone to pay for the crime that has caused him such grief. That’s ironic, since Will has spent his whole professional life helping criminals avoid precisely the sort of justice he’s seeking now.

The proverbial shoe is on the other foot.

[And it’s the wrong size...]

Mon
Jun 16 2014 4:45pm

Masterpiece Mystery: The Escape Artist: Episode 1

Will Burton has a really good life: a beautiful wife, a great kid, a fluffy dog, a fabulous city apartment, and a picture-perfect country home. Unfortunately, Will the barrister also has a client who creeps him out. Him and us.

“I don’t like people very much. I’m not a nice person,” says Liam Foyle in a spectacular example of understatement.

Foyle has been accused of the brutal, calculated murder of a young woman. It’s Will’s job to ensure Foyle is not convicted, which he does; but he’s not happy about it. And that is about to cause a problem for Will.

The Escape Artist was created and written by David Wolstencroft, who also created and wrote the series we in the U.S. know as MI5 and that people in the U.K. call Spooks. If you know that show, you know Wolstencroft is a master at leading viewers in  a particular direction only to reveal that they’d been holding the map upside down and backwards all along. And that’s about to cause a problem for me, because it’s nearly impossible to write about this two-part series on PBS Masterpiece Mystery without revealing spoilers—and you know we won’t do that.

[I don’t want to spoil the party...]

Thu
Jun 12 2014 8:45am

Putting a Price on Holmes

If you could put a dollar value on your passion for Sherlock Holmes, what would it be? In the neighborhood of $250,000 to $350,000? Then you might be in luck. That’s the estimated price for a rare and authenticated manuscript of “The Adventure of Black Peter” by Arthur Conan Doyle going up for sale at Christie’s New York.

The sale catalog says:

Original Sherlock Holmes manuscripts only rarely come to market, and only 16 are in private hands. “The Adventure of Black Peter”is from 1903 and is accompanied by a later autograph letter, “To Mr. Collier with best Xmas wishes, December 1908, from Arthur Conan Doyle,” presumably to Peter F. Collier (1849-1909), founder and publisher of Collier’s Weekly magazine, who commissioned the story to bring the great detective back from the dead. Boldly titled at the head of the first page “The Return of Sherlock Holmes,” “VI,” “The Adventure of Black Peter,” the manuscript features scattered authorial corrections and revisions in ink and pencil. The case involved the gruesome murder by harpoon of Black Peter, a menacing former seaman, and the recovery of stolen securities.

Also for sale in the June 19, 2014, auction of Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts is an original gouache and watercolor drawing by Sidney Paget for the publication of “The Adventure of Silver Blaze” in The Strand Magazine, December 1892. It illustrates the line: “I lay back against the cushions, puffing at my cigar, while Holmes, leaning forward, with his long, thin forefinger checking off the points upon the palm of his left hand, gave me a sketch of the events which had led to our journey.” Of the estimated 350 illustrations done by Sidney Paget for the Sherlock Holmes stories, only about 30 have survived. This one is expected to fetch $40,000 to $60,000.

Photo Credit: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2014

Tue
Jun 10 2014 9:45am

Too Much Tennant? Never!

David Tennant: The hardest working man in show business.

 

Is it possible to see too much of David Tennant? No matter your answer (even if it’s “Who?”), prepare yourself for a whole lotta David Tennant in the coming months.

First up is The Escape Artist, a legal thriller that will air in the U.S. on PBS Masterpiece Mystery June 15 and 22 (and that we’ll cover here on CriminalElement, natch). The two-parter about a defense attorney who might have secured one “not guilty” verdict too many, was created and written by David Wolstencroft, who also created MI5 (Spooks).

Then we have Gracepoint...

For reasons that must have made sense to someone, Fox has decided to remake the BAFTA-winning ITV series Broadchurch, only this time it’s set in the U.S. As he did in the U.K. series, David Tennant (now sporting an American accent that doesn’t suit him at all) stars as a detective called in to investigate the murder of a young boy in a close-knit coastal community. Anna Gunn plays his colleague Ellie Miller, Michael Peña is the victim’s father, and yes, that’s Nick Nolte in the trailer for the 10-part series coming this fall.

If you saw Broadchurch, which aired on BBC America last year, you’ll recognize in this trailer nearly shot-by-shot recreations of pivotal scenes from the original. Why do it again? (Really. I’m asking why.)

Especially since...

Series 2 of Broadchurch just began shooting in the U.K. fresh off BAFTA wins for Best Drama Series, Best Actress (Olivia Colman), and Best Supporting Actor (David Bradley). David Tennant is back with his natural voice as DI Alec Harvey and Olivia Colman returns as DS Ellie Miller. Several other cast members are back as well, and joining them will be Charlotte Rampling, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, James D’Arcy, and Eve Myles.

Chris Chibnall, the series creator and writer, also wrote series 2. In the official announcement from ITV, director of drama Steve November says, “We’re delighted Broadchurch is back in production, but we’re remaining tight-lipped about how the story develops.” Yet despite efforts to keep everything hush-hush, fan photos were leaked onto Twitter just as soon as filming started in late May. (Search out spoilers if you want, but please don’t  post them here!)

BBC America should bring it to us next year. They’d be silly not to, ’cause you know you simply can’t have too much David Tennant.

Tue
Jun 3 2014 8:45am

Will We Spy MI5 on the Big Screen?

L to R Spooks: Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) and Will Crombie (Kit Harrington)

Because somehow you knew you hadn’t seen the last of Harry Pearce, we bring you news of Spooks: The Greater Good, a full-length feature film installment of the TV series know as Spooks in the U.K. and MI5 in the U.S. of A.

Here’s the brief:

Terrorist Adam Qasim escaping from MI5 custody during a routine handover – with head of counterterrorism, Harry Pearce, blamed. When Pearce disappears one night off a bridge into the Thames, his protégé Will Crombie is called in to help uncover a conspiracy which stretches from Vietnam to the Mediterranean.

Peter Firth reprises his role as Harry Pearce. (Who else could?) Following in the hunky, Action Man footsteps of Matthew Macfadyen, Rupert Penry-Jones, and Richard Armitage, is Kit Harrington (aka Jon Snow from Game of Thrones—possibly the only show in history to rival MI5 for main character carnage) as Will Crombie. Also in the cast are Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty) and Tuppence Middleton (The Lady Vanishes).

The writers are Jonathan Brackley and Sam Vincent, who collaborated on a number of scripts for the series, including the finale. (If you saw it, ’nuff said.) The director is Bharat Nalluri, who directed several episodes of the series, including the finale. They’re filming in London now, and production photos such as the one above have been released to the press periodically.

Release is set for 2014. I’m guessing that there’s slim chance of this film making it to theaters in the U.S., but  surely the Interwebs will allow us to see it in some form. In the meantime, you can stay up to date on the progress by following @spooksthemovie on Twitter.  I know I will.

Thanks to Den of Geek for the heads up.

Tue
May 6 2014 5:15pm

2014’s Edgar Awards: A Grand Night for Books


I considered titling this post “The Night I Hugged John Connolly,” but that might sound like I’m showing off. So I’ll begin my recap of the 68th annual Edgar Awards gala banquet at the nominees’ cocktail party, the prelude to the grandest evening in the mystery community’s year.

In a reception room at the Grand Hyatt in New York City, the Edgar Award nominees circulate, pose for photos, and try to appear nonchalant about their nominations. They’ve had months to accustom themselves to the sound of “Edgar Award nominee” attached to their names. Mystery Writers of America revealed the nominees’ list in January. Nevertheless, this is the night the winners are announced and it’s only natural for everyone to feel jitters.

[Put us out of our misery!]

Tue
May 6 2014 1:30pm

The Bletchley Circle 2.04: “Uncustomed Goods” Part 2

It’s disconcerting to see Millie in distress. When her confidence is shaken so is ours.

We know she has a perfectly good reason to feel traumatized. In last week’s episode of The Bletchley Circle, Millie stumbled upon the body of her happy-go-lucky pal Jasper, “co-pilot” in her scheme to provide cut-price luxury goods to fashionable women. Not long before that , someone described Jasper as a bookie’s best friend. Apparently he wasn’t everyone’s best friend, though. Jasper was brutally beaten and left where someone would find him. Someone like Millie.

The women of the Circle have already been advised to “tell the Old Bill and go home,” if they discover Jasper’s fallen afoul of a certain group of Maltese gangsters. Those heavies are trafficking in more than ciggies and silk stockings; they’re bringing in young women from eastern Europe for nefarious purposes.

So, Millie and her friends dutifully make a report and wait for an investigation. Surely Scotland Yard won’t ignore such a heinous crime. Yet they do...

And that’s where we begin this week’s episode, the conclusion of “Uncustomed Goods” and the final episode of The Bletchley Circle.

[Talk about shaking your confidence...]

Mon
Apr 28 2014 3:30pm

The Bletchley Circle 2.03: “Uncustomed Goods”

What’s a girl gotta do to pay the bills?

You’d think that being a gorgeous, vivacious smarty-pants fluent in multiple languages would make it a snap to find gainful employment. Millie (Rachael Stirling) would tell you otherwise. After the last Bletchley Circle caper left her with her government clearance rescinded, Millie has struggled to make ends meet and that’s not easy when you’re a girl who’s used to a certain standard of living. (The fact that Millie freely admits to her “sense of entitlement” makes me love her all the more.)

Now that Susan’s relocated to India, where her husband has taken a foreign posting, Millie has gravitated toward Alice (Hattie Morahan) for friendship. That was sort of inevitable, don’t you think? Besides being two smarties attracted to trouble, they currently have unemployment in common. Alice can’t find a job either. Seems no one wants to hire a secretary who’s done time for the sensational murder of her former lover. Go figure.

“I was acquitted,” Alice tells a prospective employer.

“Yes, but you were in prison,” he replies. “And in the newspapers.”

[Maybe there is such a thing as bad publicity...]

Mon
Apr 21 2014 4:00pm

The Bletchley Circle 2.02: “Blood on Their Hands” Part 2

We begin this episode in an unusual position: a step ahead of the women of the Bletchley Circle.

A man is in the hospital, his body covered with ugly, blistery chemical burns. He’s expected to die, and when he does his cause of death will be falsified. We know this; our heroines don’t. So we have a few minutes to feel clever or to try piecing things together on our own before the “Circle” closes in on the truth.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. Alice Merren declined her opportunity for appeal and her execution date has been set. Only five days remain for the women to determine who really murdered John Richards and why.

[It’s time to make the pieces fit...]

Mon
Apr 14 2014 11:15am

The Bletchley Circle 2.01: “Blood on Their Hands” Part 1

Bletchley Circle Cast: (l to r) Julie Graham as Jean, Anna Maxwell Martin as Susan, Sophie Rundle as Lucy, Rachael Stirling as Millie

The first series of The Bletchley Circle reminded us that sisterhood is powerful. So it’s no surprise when Jean (Julie Graham) feels compelled to defend the innocence of a former Bletchley Park codebreaker, even when the woman refuses to defend herself.

It’s 1953, ten years after Jean crossed paths with Alice Merren (Hattie Morahan) at Bletchley. Now Alice is facing trial for the murder of John Richards, a fellow scientist with whom she’d had an affair all those years ago. Alice hasn’t denied involvement in his murder, but she hasn’t confessed to it either. That’s enough proof of doubt for Jean, who resolves to demonstrate Alice’s innocence. But Jean can’t do it alone; she needs the other members of the “Bletchley Circle” to help her.

(This trailer's from ITV's UK run of the series in January.)

“Blood on Their Hands” (a two-part episode that concludes next week) packs a lot of plot into a scant 45 minutes, and the show’s creators don’t waste any time reviewing the material from Series 1. So, first, a recommendation: If you don’t have total recall of previous episodes, you’ll want to revisit them; it will help put this story in context.

[Will the circle be unbroken?]

Sat
Mar 29 2014 12:00pm

Is this the Father Brown You Know?

Father Brown, the BBC series starring Mark Williams has been airing on select American Public Television stations. The show is as cozy as it can be—from the top of the parish church steeple to the bottom of the garden—and it’s a perfect diversion for everyone who’s been missing Miss Marple, but I’m not sure you’d recognize this TV Father Brown as G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown.

The new TV Father Brown is doughy and disarming in his apparent naïveté, just like the character in the short stories. But he’s also a modern thinker; surprisingly tolerant and broad-minded. (Imagine the original Father Brown pressing his hands together in a Namaste greeting! )

The series is set in the 1950s not the 1910s, ’20s and ’30s when Chesterton was writing. And Father Brown is a priest in a village populated by the cast of characters one normally finds in villages conceived for cozy mystery TV series: the gossipy church secretary who bakes prize-winning scones and grows prize-winning roses; the flirty titled lady with an eye for anyone in trousers; the police detective who grudgingly accepts the amateur sleuth’s help....

[Recognize anyone yet?]

Fri
Mar 7 2014 4:00pm

Scott & Bailey: The Girls are Back in Town

If you’ve been pining for the return of Christine Cagney and Mary Beth Lacey since they solved their last case back in 1988, I have some good news for you.

Even if you’ve never heard of Cagney &  Lacey (perish the thought!), listen up.

The girls are back in town—except this time the girls are Janet Scott and Rachel Bailey and the town is Manchester, England. The ITV series Scott & Bailey, available on some Public Television stations (including WGBH in Boston, KCET and KPBS in southern California, and WLIW in the New York area), is close enough to Cagney & Lacey to be an unmistakable homage, yet original enough to stand on its own.

[Let’s hear it for the girls...]

Thu
Nov 21 2013 9:45am

You Know We Appreciate a Good Quirke

On the list of stuff we want to see, let’s put Quirke, a new BBC series based on the novels of John Banville writing as Benjamin Black. Set in the 1950s, the series stars Gabriel Byrne as Quirke (no first name necessary), chief pathologist in the Dublin city morgue. The cast includes Stanley Townsend (you’ve seen him in Zen and Sherlock) and Michael Gambon (yeah, yeah, he’s Dumbledore; but he’ll always be Maigret to us).

The first three episodes are based on the novels Christine Falls, The Silver Swan, and Elegy for April. Will they air in the U.S.? That’s a mystery. Right now, the U.K. air date is still given as “sometime this autumn.” Nevertheless, there’s lots of talk about this series... and now we’re talking about it, too.

Thu
Nov 7 2013 9:45am

Poirot’s Final Four

The good news and the bad news is that the final four episodes of Poirot are being broadcast in the U.K. now. David Suchet wanted very much to give fans a complete set of the Poirot stories, and the producers wisely agreed. So, while we’re thrilled that we have more Poirot to look forward to, we’re naturally sad that this will be the end. We’ve been watching him since 1989, after all.

The Big Four, Dead Man’s Folly (featuring Zoë Wanamaker reprising her role as crime writer Ariadne Oliver), The Labours of Hercules, and Curtain: Poirot’s Final Case will be coming to the U.S. sometime next year. For now, we have a teaser of Dead Man’s Folly, filmed on location at Greenway, Dame Agatha Christie's home in Devon. Yes, it is a little galling, Ariadne, that we'll have to wait for more!

Thu
Oct 3 2013 8:45pm

Fresh Meat: Death on Demand by Paul Thomas

Death on Deman by Paul ThomasDeath on Demand by Paul Thomas is a police procedural featuring Maori detective Tito Ihaka and set in Auckland, New Zealand (available October 8, 2013).

Tito Ihaka possesses all the qualities that make a police procedural protagonist: street smarts, an insolent manner, an appreciation for the female form, and a facility with snappy banter, most of which would be unrepeatable in polite company. Although you know he’s a dedicated lawman, he’s always just this side of the line that separates good guys and bad guys.

Yallop bookmarked the paperback and put it aside. “Why are you a cop, Ihaka? We both know it’s not for the money.”

Ihaka shrugged. “A bloke’s got to do something.”

“That’s it?”

“And I’m good at it.”

“Yeah, but you’d be just as good playing for the other team—and much better rewarded.”

“…a brainbox like you doesn’t ask a question without knowing the answer, so you tell me: why am I a cop?”

Yallop leaned back, pink with admiration for his own perceptiveness. “Becoming a cop was the only way to prevent yourself becoming a crim. As you’re well aware, you’ve got deep-seated antisocial tendencies. If you weren’t a cop, sooner or later they would’ve come to the fore. So the answer to the question is: self-awareness.”

[That’s one answer, anyway…]