<i>The Stolen Marriage</i>: Excerpt The Stolen Marriage: Excerpt Diane Chamberlain An emotionally captivating novel of secrets, betrayals, prejudice, and forgiveness. Review: <i>Meddling and Murder</i> by Ovidia Yu Review: Meddling and Murder by Ovidia Yu Doreen Sheridan Read Doreen Sheridan's review! <i>Death on Tap</i>: Excerpt Death on Tap: Excerpt Ellie Alexander The first in the new Sloan Krause Mystery series. Review: <i>OSS Operation Black Mail</i> by Ann Todd Review: OSS Operation Black Mail by Ann Todd Chris Wolak Read Chris Wolak's review!
From The Blog
September 22, 2017
Drunk Man Calls 911 for Lift Home
Teddy Pierson
September 22, 2017
Video: M. C. Beaton Discusses The Witches' Tree
M. C. Beaton
September 21, 2017
Adventures in Research, Part III: Killing Pace
Douglas Schofield
September 15, 2017
Drunk Man Sells Car, Forgets, Reports Car Stolen
Teddy Pierson
September 14, 2017
Celebrating Robert Mitchum's Centennial: The Noir
David Cranmer
Sat
Sep 23 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

Diane Chamberlain Excerpt: The Stolen Marriage

Diane Chamberlain

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain is an emotionally captivating novel of secrets, betrayals, prejudice, and forgiveness that is steeped in history and filled with heart-wrenching twists (available October 3, 2017).

One mistake, one fateful night, and Tess DeMello’s life is changed forever.

It is 1944. Pregnant, alone, and riddled with guilt, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly gives up her budding career as a nurse and ends her engagement to the love of her life, unable to live a lie. Instead, she turns to the baby’s father for help and agrees to marry him, moving to the small, rural town of Hickory, North Carolina. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows her no affection. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.

The people of Hickory love and respect Henry but see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain. When one of the town’s golden girls dies in a terrible accident, everyone holds Tess responsible. But Henry keeps his secrets even closer now, though it seems that everyone knows something about him that Tess does not.

When a sudden polio epidemic strikes Hickory, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess knows she is needed and defies Henry’s wishes to begin working at there. Through this work, she begins to find purpose and meaning. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle the truth behind her husband’s mysterious behavior and find the love―and the life―she was meant to have?

[Read an excerpt from The Stolen Marriage...]

Fri
Sep 22 2017 4:30pm

Book-Inspired Cocktails: “var Spirit = null;”

When the future of democracy is about to implode, the freedom of choice becomes even more sacred?

So choose your favorite spirit with this week's Pick Your Poison—where we create a cocktail inspired by a recently published mystery, thriller, or crime novel—the “var Spirit = null;” cocktail, inspired by Malka Older's second Centenal Cycle novel, Null States!

[Check out the recipe below!]

Fri
Sep 22 2017 3:00pm

Review: Meddling and Murder by Ovidia Yu

Meddling and Murder by Ovidia Yu is the fourth book in the Aunty Lee Mysteries series.

We’re back with another excellent installment of the Aunty Lee Mysteries series, with one thing notably missing but an addition that I’m going to flatter myself into thinking is about me (cue the Carly Simon right here). In this fourth book of the Singapore-set series, Aunty Lee is quite cross at her Filipina maid, Nina, who refuses to let Aunty Lee encourage the romantic attentions of Inspector Salim, the police officer who’s been in love with Nina over the course of several books now. Nina knows how difficult it is for two people of such differing social statuses to have a successful relationship, much less marry, as Salim has proposed. She’s too much of a realist to encourage him, so she has decided to snub him altogether. This greatly annoys Aunty Lee, who believes in true love and working things out.

Ovidia Yu not only presents their differing viewpoints with honesty and sensitivity but also includes Salim’s own complicated thought processes as he struggles to reconcile his love for Nina with his love for his country:

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of Meddling and Murder...]

Fri
Sep 22 2017 1:00pm

Drunk Man Calls 911 for Lift Home

When you are way too drunk to drive home, who do you call? A friend? Uber? The Ghostbusters? This week's perp derp decided against all of those and instead dialed 911. Brilliant!

According to WFMZ News, a New Jersey man allegedly called 911 to get a ride to his apartment in Mansfield Township. Police published a statement that said:

“We understand and empathize with the people who will comment and say well, at least he didn't drive drunk.”

It also went on to say:

“We are happy he didn't get behind the wheel and get in an accident and hurt somebody or himself, but that's not the issue here. The main issue here is tying up the 911 line for a gratuitous ride home. We want the public to know that 911 is for emergencies—and that's it.”

Fortunately, the man finally got a lift home, but not before he was charged with disorderly conduct.

Fri
Sep 22 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

Ellie Alexander Excerpt: Death on Tap

Ellie Alexander

Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander is the first book in the new Sloan Krause Mystery series (available October 3, 2017).

Take a visual tour of Death on Tap with GIFnotes!

When Sloan Krause walks in on her husband, Mac, screwing the barmaid, she gives him the boot. Sloan has spent her life in Leavenworth, Washington becoming an expert in brewing craft beer, and she doesn’t have time to be held back by her soon-to-be ex-husband. She decides to strike out on her own, breaking away from the Krause family brewery, and goes to work for Nitro, the hip new nano-brewery in the Bavarian-themed town. Nitro’s owner, brewmaster Garrett Strong, has the brew-world abuzz with his newest recipe, “Pucker-Up IPA.” This place is the new cool place in town, and Mac can’t help but be green with envy at their success.

But just as Sloan is settling into her new gig, she finds one of Nitro’s competitors dead in the fermenting tub, clutching the secret recipe for the IPA. When Mac, is arrested, Sloan knows that her ex might be a cheater, but a murderer? No way. Danger is brewing in Beervaria and suddenly Sloan is on the case.

[Read an excerpt from Death on Tap...]

Thu
Sep 21 2017 4:00pm

Adventures in Research, Part III: Killing Pace

In Parts I and II of this series, I related some of the odd insights and unique landscapes my wife Melody and I experienced during research trips for my novels Time of Departure (2015) and Storm Rising (2016). This instalment—and the one to follow—will focus on our travels around Sicily in pursuit of key settings for my next novel, Killing Pace, which is due for release by St. Martin’s Press in November.

But, as you will see, Storm Rising was also haunting our movements.

When it comes to the weird, the wonderful, and the uncanny, Sicily is in a class of its own. All of those descriptors certainly apply to our visits to the two locations I will describe below. But first, a few words about perceptions. For those of you who haven’t had a chance to visit Sicily, let me just explain what that storied island is not: It is not The Godfather. Yes, many of its souvenir shops exploit the old stereotypes, offering tawdry souvenirs like mugs and fridge magnets featuring Marlon Brando’s brooding visage. But over the many weeks Melody and I spent crisscrossing the island on three separate visits (once in 2013; twice in 2015), we never encountered any of those dudes you saw guarding Michael Corleone in the film. You know the ones: hard men wearing cloth caps, slouching along dusty backroads with luparas slung on their shoulders.

[Read more about Douglas Schofield's research adventures!]

Thu
Sep 21 2017 3:00pm

Review: OSS Operation Black Mail: One Woman’s Covert War Against the Imperial Japanese Army by Ann Todd

OSS Operation Black Mail: One Woman's Covert War Against the Imperial Japanese Army by Ann Todd is the story of a remarkable woman, Elizabeth “Betty” McIntosh, who fought World War II on the front lines of psychological warfare.

OSS Operation Black Mail is the story of Elizabeth “Betty” McIntosh and so much more. The bulk of this book concerns McIntosh’s experience in World War II and how the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) operated against the Japanese in China-Burma-India. Along the way, we learn about how the U.S. intelligence community rapidly formed during WWII, the gender obstacles that women agents faced, interagency bickering, tensions between allies, and how agents operated on the ground, all from a very different theater of war—one that hasn’t been written about as much as the war effort in Europe or the Pacific. The book also touches on the early years of the Cold War, Hoover’s investigations into communist activities, and McCarthy’s fanatical assault on American citizens.

McIntosh was recruited into the OSS in 1943 due to her background as a reporter and her personal interest in Japanese language and culture. She was also not afraid of taking risks, as attested by her hike up an active volcano as multiple pairs of shoes melted under her feet.

[Read Chris Wolak's review of OSS Operation Black Mail...]

Thu
Sep 21 2017 1:00pm

Discount: Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak

Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak is the first in a new series featuring psychiatrist Dr. Evelyn Talbot and her controversial Alaskan mental institution, Hanover House—get a digital copy for only $2.99 through October 2!

Evelyn Talbot knows that a psychopath can look perfectly normal. She was only sixteen when her own boyfriend Jasper imprisoned and tortured her—and left her for dead. Now an eminent psychiatrist who specializes in the criminal mind, Evelyn is the force behind Hanover House, a maximum-security facility located in a small Alaskan town. Her job puts her at odds with Sergeant Amarok, who is convinced that Hanover is a threat to his community…even as his attraction to beautiful Evelyn threatens to tear his world apart.

Then, just as the bitter Alaskan winter cuts both town and prison off from the outside world, the mutilated body of a local woman turns up. For Amarok, this is the final proof he needs: Hanover has to go. Evelyn, though, has reason to fear that the crime is a personal message to her—the first sign that the killer who haunts her dreams has found her again ... and that the life she has so carefully rebuilt will never be the same… 

Read Janet Webb's review of Her Darkest Nightmare!

 

To learn more or order a copy, visit:

Buy at Amazon Buy at Barnes and NobleBuy at Books a MillionBuy at iTunes

Thu
Sep 21 2017 12:00pm

Review: The Last Chicago Boss: My Life with the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club by Peter “Big” Pete James with Kerrie Droban

The Last Chicago Boss: My Life with the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club by Peter “Big Pete” James is a startling and unprecedented expose into the inner workings of the Outlaw Nation from the unique perspective of its renowned leader, all brought to life through never-before-revealed interviews, police files, wiretaps, recordings, and trial transcripts.

The Last Chicago Boss surprised me. To be honest, I’m not sure what I expected from the memoir of the ex-boss of one of those most notorious motorcycle clubs in the country, but this insider’s view of a tribe of people often feared and shunned by the general public reveals that, while some of the stereotypes of motorcycle gangs have a foundation in truth, there’s a lot more there than meets the eye.

Peter “Big Pete” James is a legend in the international motorcycle community. At the age of 45, he joined the Outlaws with the intention of being Boss of Chicago—but he didn’t stop there. Big Pete details in his memoir how he not only built up the Outlaws as the most badass and elite motorcycle clubs in Chicago but how he also created the Confederation of Clubs (CoC) to unite all kinds of clubs under his command.

[Read Ardi Alspach's review of The Last Chicago Boss...]

Thu
Sep 21 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

Philip Jett Excerpt: The Death of an Heir

Philip Jett

The Death of an Heir by Philip JettThe Death of an Heir is Philip Jett's chilling true account of the Coors family’s gilded American dream that turned into a nightmare when a meticulously plotted kidnapping went horribly wrong (available September 26, 2017).

In the 1950s and 60s, the Coors dynasty reigned over Golden, Colorado, seemingly invincible. When rumblings about labor unions threatened to destabilize the family's brewery, Adolph Coors, Jr., the septuagenarian president of the company, drew a hard line, refusing to budge. They had worked hard for what they had, and no one had a right to take it from them. What they'd soon realize was that they had more to lose than they could have imagined.

On the morning of Tuesday, February 9, 1960, Adolph “Ad” Coors III, the 44-year-old CEO of the multimillion dollar Colorado beer empire, stepped into his car and headed for the brewery twelve miles away. At a bridge he stopped to help a man in a yellow Mercury sedan. On the back seat lay handcuffs and leg irons. The glove box held a ransom note ready to be mailed. His coat pocket shielded a loaded pistol.

What happened next set off the largest U.S. manhunt since the Lindbergh kidnapping. State and local authorities, along with the FBI personally spearheaded by its director J. Edgar Hoover, burst into action attempting to locate Ad and his kidnapper. The dragnet spanned a continent. All the while, Ad’s grief-stricken wife and children waited, tormented by the unrelenting silence. The Death of an Heir reveals the true story behind the tragic murder of Colorado’s favorite son.

[Read an excerpt from Null States...]

Wed
Sep 20 2017 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: A Disguise to Die For by Diane Vallere

I finally went back and read the first in this series, and oh man, I definitely missed out by not starting here first. The second and third books are each enjoyable standalone experiences, but I have to say that this first novel in the Costume Shop Mystery series really sets the stage for everything that follows—especially when it comes to the interior life of our heroine, Margo Tamblyn.

In A Disguise to Die For, Margo’s dad, Jerry, has just suffered a heart attack, so she’s taken time off from her job as a magician’s assistant in nearby Las Vegas to come tend to the family business. Disguise DeLimit is a store that has specialized in costumes for decades, stocking not only the relatively inexpensive items you can purchase from your average party store but also deluxe costumes that you can either rent or buy, which many do, even ordering from far away or in bulk for themed events.

[Recipe and pictures included below!]

Wed
Sep 20 2017 3:30pm

The Witches’ Tree by M. C. Beaton: A Visual Guide

GIFnotes: Giving you the basic plot summary of an upcoming book with the help of the Graphics Interchange Format.

This week, head back to the Cotswolds with a visual tour of M. C. Beaton's 28th Agatha Raisin Mystery, The Witches' Tree!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Wed
Sep 20 2017 2:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: September 19, 2017

Every Wednesday, we here at Criminal Element will put together a list of Staff Picks of the books that published the day before—sharing the ones that we are looking forward to reading the most!

A new Sophie Hannah and Nelson DeMille highlight an awesome week of books! See what else we're reading:

[See this week's Top 5...]

Wed
Sep 20 2017 1:00pm

Review: The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille

The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille is a blistering new novel featuring an exciting new character—U.S. Army combat veteran Daniel “Mac” MacCormick, now a charter boat captain, who is about to set sail on his most dangerous cruise.

All 35-year-old Army vet Daniel “Mac” MacCormick wants to do is take out fishing groups on his charter boat, The Maine, make a little money, and enjoy the Key West sunsets. When he’s approached with a job by a lawyer named Carlos Macia, known for being heavily involved with anti-Castro groups, he’s admittedly a little suspicious.

“I’m interested in chartering your boat for a cruise to Cuba.”

I didn’t respond.

“There is a fishing tournament, sailing from here to Havana in a few weeks.”

“Does the Cuban Navy know about this?”

He smiled. “This is an authorized event, of course—the Pescando Por la Paz.” He reminded me, “We are normalizing relations. The Cuban Thaw.”

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of The Cuban Affair...]

Wed
Sep 20 2017 12:00pm

Review: Murderous Mistral by Cay Rademacher

Murderous Mistral by Cay Rademacher is the first book in the Roger Blanc Provence Mystery series.

Welcome to Provence, that picturesque area of France to where hard-nosed Capitaine Roger Blanc of the gendarmerie has just been transferred from Paris after nearly single-handedly exposing the corruption of a former trade minister. It might sound like a promotion (is Provence not the loveliest part of France, located in the warm south, after all?), but Blanc knows that he’s really being removed from investigating the powerful in the nation’s capital. On hearing the news, his wife decided it was time to come clean and admit that she had a lover in Paris whom she’d rather stay with than accept exile with Blanc. At least Blanc has a place to stay in Gadet, the nowhere town to which he’s been assigned; an uncle willed him a decrepit old olive oil mill years ago. Admittedly, it’s a dump.

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of Murderous Mistral...]

Wed
Sep 20 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

Archer Mayor Excerpt: Trace

Archer Mayor

Trace by Archer MayorTrace by Archer Mayor is the 28th book in the Joe Gunther series (available September 26, 2017).

The Vermont Bureau of Investigation (VBI) has been pulled onto three cases at the same time; meanwhile, VBI head Joe Gunther has to take time off to care for his ailing mother.

Those cases are now in the hands of the individual investigators. Sammie Martens is assigned a murder case. The victim is a young woman, the roommate of the daughter of Medical Examiner Beverly Hillstrom. A recent transplant from Albany, New York, Sammie must find out what put a hit man on the trail of this seemingly innocent young woman.

Lester Spinney takes over a famous cold case, a double murder where a state trooper and a motorist were killed in an exchange of gunfire. Or so it has seemed for years. When Lester is told that the motorist’s fingerprints were planted on the gun he’s supposed to have fired, it opens the question—who really killed the state trooper?

Willy Kunkle’s case starts with a child's discovery of three teeth on a railroad track, leading eventually to a case of possible sabotage against critical military equipment.

[Read an excerpt from Trace...]

Tue
Sep 19 2017 3:00pm

Mysterious Ways: 5 Books Featuring Ordinary People Solving Mysteries

Read Brad Abraham's exclusive guest post about mysteries featuring ordinary people, then make sure to sign in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of his debut novel, Magicians Impossible!

To describe a novel as a mystery conjures images of hardboiled detectives, plucky criminologists, driven cops, and clever British pensioners. But at their heart, every book is a mystery in its own way. What story hasn’t centered on a character or characters seeking the answer to some question or a higher truth about the world or about themselves? A mystery can be set in worlds both mundane and magical and in times past, present, and future—some don’t even have a resolution at all, other than to impart some lesson on the one seeking an answer to the thing that keeps them up at night. Some don’t even need a detective.

Here are five of the latter, mysteries featuring ordinary people seeking answers that put them into physical, emotional, and psychological danger. Scheming corporate headhunters, grieving boyfriends, white-trash detectives, hipster writers, and an entire community—they’re all here.

[Check out Brad Abraham's list of mysteries!]