Review: <i>American Static</i> by Tom Pitts Review: American Static by Tom Pitts Scott Adlerberg Read Scott Adlerberg's review! <i>Enforcing the Paw</i>: Excerpt Enforcing the Paw: Excerpt Diane Kelly The sixth book in the Paw Enforcement series. Review: <i>The Child</i> by Fiona Barton Review: The Child by Fiona Barton Kristin Centorcelli Read Kristin Centorcelli's review! The Dark Tower: <i>The Dark Tower</i> Part I The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower Part I David Cranmer Join our discussion!
From The Blog
June 27, 2017
Q&A with William Shaw, Author of The Birdwatcher
William Shaw and John Valeri
June 26, 2017
Liz Talbot: The Benefits of Writing Your Avatar
Susan M. Boyer
June 23, 2017
Thieves Steal GPS Devices that Lead to Their Arrest
Teddy Pierson
June 22, 2017
Q&A with J. Leon Pridgen II, Author of Unit 416
Crime HQ and J. Leon Pridgen II
June 16, 2017
Waiting for Nuggets Leads to 911 Call
Teddy Pierson
Jun 28 2017 5:00pm

Cooking the Books: Grilling the Subject by Daryl Wood Gerber

Jenna Hart—owner of the darling Cookbook Nook, a cookbook and notions store in gorgeous Crystal Cove, California—is ready and revved up for the Wild West Extravaganza that’s set to take over town. She’s stocked up on western-themed books and tools, and she’s looking forward to enjoying the festivities with boyfriend Rhett as well as with friends and family.

So when her father is accused of the murder of a contentious neighbor early into the celebration, all Jenna’s plans come to a screeching halt as she ignores the pleas of his protégée, town sheriff Cinnamon Pritchett, and hurriedly investigates in order to clear his name. Along the way, she discovers more than she bargained for about a former co-worker who went from pudgy to player as well as a glamorous film star and several Cookbook Nook regulars. But perhaps the most astonishing thing of all is the complete opposite of a murder: a shocking return from the dead!

[Recipe and pictures below!]

Jun 28 2017 4:00pm

Paradise Valley by C. J. Box: A Visual Guide

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

This week, take a visual tour of the fourth and final book in the Highway Quartet from C. J. Box, Paradise Valley!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Jun 28 2017 1:00pm

Review: American Static by Tom Pitts

American Static by Tom Pitts is a fast-paced crime thriller set against the backdrop of Northern California's wine country, Oakland's mean streets, and San Francisco's peaks and alleys, written by a man who knows the underbelly of the city like no one else.

In classic noir stories—fiction or film—it only takes one bad decision or one wrong turn on the highway or one chance encounter with the wrong person to completely upend a life. A life unruffled and mostly stress-free can turn into a nightmare real fast. Such is the case in Tom Pitts’s novel American Static, a book that starts with a mugging at a roadside bus station and never once slackens after that. 

The victim of that mugging, a teenager named Steven, accepts help on the spot from the man who offers it. And this one choice made by Steven—an understandable choice at that—leads him into a world brand new to him, where danger and betrayal and death are the norms.

[Read Scott Adlerberg's review of American Static...]

Jun 28 2017 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: June 27, 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 Liz Talbot Mystery from Susan M. Boyer and the latest psychological suspense thriller from Fiona Barton highlight some great books! See what else we're reading this week:

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

Jun 28 2017 10:00am

Diane Kelly Excerpt: Enforcing the Paw

Diane Kelly

Enforcing the Paw by Diane KellyEnforcing the Paw by Diane Kelly is the sixth book in the Paw Enforcement series (available June 27, 2017).

When a case of he-said/she-said turns criminal, it’s up to Megan Luz and her devoted K-9 to dig for the truth.

When relationships go south, some people just can’t—or won’t—let go. When Fort Worth Police Officer Megan Luz and her pawed partner Brigit investigate a series of stalking incidents involving a couple who recently broke up, their detective powers are put to the test. Is this a case of a controlling creep who refuses to accept rejection—or one about a woman scorned whose fury has been unleashed?

As hostilities escalate between the former lovers, the situation goes from romantically dysfunctional to downright dangerous. He insists his former flame has become a crazy ex-girlfriend intent on vengeance. She alleges that he is a master of manipulation and lays blame entirely at his feet. Who’s the culprit and who’s the victim? Can Megan and Brigit sniff out the truth before somebody ends up dead?

[Read an excerpt from Enforcing the Paw...]

Jun 27 2017 3:00pm

Q&A with William Shaw, Author of The Birdwatcher

William Shaw is a novelist and award-winning pop culture journalist. He has regularly written for the UK’s Observer and Independent as well as the New York Times. Mr. Shaw’s books include the series titles She’s Leaving Home, The Kings of London, and A Song for the Brokenhearted. His newest, The Birdwatcher (available June 27, 2017), is a standalone published by Mulholland Books.

Recently, the Sussex, England-based author generously indulged a few curiosities about branching out from series books, creating complex characters, learning the nuances of birdwatching, and the differences between British and American crime novels, among other topics.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Jun 27 2017 1:00pm

Review: The Child by Fiona Barton

The Child by Fiona Barton is a brand new novel of twisting psychological suspense from the author of the New York Times bestseller The Widow.

It’s always refreshing to see a woman in her 50s portrayed as wonderfully as Fiona Barton portrays journalist Kate Waters. Kate has a definite Mary Tyler Moore vibe going on, if you zipped her forward to 2012. When she catches wind of a baby’s skeleton that’s been found at a construction site, her ears perk up immediately:

Kate Waters loved a needle-in-a-haystack job. The glint of something in the dark. Something to absorb her totally. Something to sink her teeth into. Something to get her out of the office.

She’s determined to sink her teeth into a new story, a juicy one, and she squeezes everything she can out of the little bit of information she has.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of The Child...]

Jun 27 2017 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower Part I

Last week, we closed out Song of Susannah on somewhat of an anticlimactic ending. This week, Stephen King flexes his writing muscles with a thrilling and chilling opening to the final book in the series, The Dark Tower.

The Dark Tower is very close, but our ka-tet is spread far and wide. Roland and Eddie are in 1977 where they have just finished meeting with the author Stephen King. In 1999, Father Callahan and Jake are about to storm The Dixie Pig lounge where Susannah is being held along with Mia, who is about to give birth to an unholy demon: this child has the DNA combo of Roland and Susannah and a “co-father” in the Crimson King. So, we are very close to our destination, the stakes are high, and it’s anybody’s guess who will live to see The Dark Tower.

*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!

The Dark Tower looms on the horizon for both our ka-tet and you, our loyal readers, as we count down the days to the premiere of The Dark Tower film. The plan is to finish the series on the Tuesday before the premiere, so we'll be splitting The Dark Tower into four sections (about 200 pages each) and meeting here at our usual time (Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET) to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This week, Jake and Callahan storm the Dixie Pig as we close out the sixth Dark Tower book! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part IV of Song of Susannah: 12th Stanza: “Jake and Callahan” – Coda: “Pages from a Writer's Journal”!

CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread

[Our journey has reached its final leg...]

Jun 27 2017 10:00am

Steven James Excerpt: Every Deadly Kiss

Steven James

Every Deadly Kiss by Steven James is the 10th book in the Bowers Files, where FBI special agent Patrick Bowers grapples with a baffling series of murders in Detroit—and discovers a terror plot with roots that stretch back centuries (available July 4, 2017).

Called in by an ex-girlfriend to consult on a case, Patrick encounters the work of a killer who displays a stunning degree of ruthlessness. Bowers is shocked to find that the slayings are linked not just to his own history with a known terrorist, but to his former lover as well—and that her secret past might hold the key to stopping the crime spree. As layers of intrigue peel away, the city is pushed ever closer to a seemingly unstoppable bioweapon attack. 

[Read an excerpt from Every Deadly Kiss...]

Jun 26 2017 4:00pm

Liz Talbot: The Benefits of Writing Your Avatar

My very first career goal, at age eight, was to be Nancy Drew. Later, the first of my many college majors was criminal justice. Then came English, followed by drama and astronomy. I had a hard time settling on something. My dreams were of investigating crime or writing about it.

My parents were unenthusiastic, to say the least, about both of these pursuits. They wanted me to have a career that wouldn't involve carrying a gun or spending another ten years in their house while I wrote a novel and chased publication. They admonished me frequently and emphatically, telling me to “Get your mind on something sensible.” I settled on Computer Business Systems.

Programming computers is based on logic. Algorithms appealed to the part of my brain that likes solving puzzles and mysteries. But years later, when the company I worked for went out of business, I jumped at the chance for a career change. My inner Nancy Drew wanted out.

[I think all of our inner Nancy Drews want out...]

Jun 26 2017 3:00pm

How History Influenced My Mystery: The Murder of Elijah Lovejoy

Read Jonathan F. Putnam's exclusive guest post about Elijah Lovejoy, the anti-slavery martyr that inspired his latest Lincoln & Speed historical mystery, and make sure to sign in and comment below for a chance to win Perish from the Earth!

My new historical mystery, Perish from the Earth, is being published by Crooked Lane Books in July. Perish is the second book in my Lincoln & Speed Mystery series, which features the young Abraham Lincoln and his real-life best friend Joshua Speed as a kind of Holmes and Watson on the American frontier. The series is set in the late 1830s when Lincoln (not yet married to Mary Todd) and Speed shared a room—and, indeed, a bed—in Springfield, Illinois, where Lincoln was a newly admitted member of the bar, while Speed ran a general store.

[Read more from Jonathan F. Putnam!]

Jun 26 2017 1:00pm

Grantchester 3.01: Episode Review

You might recall that the former archdeacon in Grantchester left under a cloud of “embarrassment” last season. That’s the politest way to describe what occurred. Suffice it to say no one misses him, and his departure means that, this season, Sidney Chambers (James Norton) has a new boss. 

Gabriel Atubo (Gary Beadle, whom you might recognize from EastEnders, The Interceptor, or possibly even Absolutely Fabulous) is the new archdeacon in town. It’s hard to know what’s on his agenda, but it’s a safe bet that he’ll present a new set of problems for Sidney. To start, he pointedly “hopes” he can count on Sidney to lead by example. That’s tough for Sidney when there’s jazz, whiskey, swing dancing, Amanda (Morven Christie), and all the temptations of secular life that make it inconvenient to be a vicar.

Even more discouraging, Atubo seems ready to make life uncomfortable for gentle, good-hearted curate Leonard Finch (Al Weaver), and that would be intolerable. As the list of characters behaving badly grows with each episode, Leonard remains the beacon of decency in Grantchester. What he needs is a shot of self-confidence, not a judgmental superior watching his every move. (Back off, Gabriel.)

Regarding “The Situation” that caused such consternation in the previous episode: she’s now a cuddly, baby girl named Grace, Amanda’s child with her estranged husband. And though Sidney and Amanda are edging toward playing Happy Families, circumstances make a full-fledged relationship impossible. 

“You can’t be a vicar and be with her,” says Mrs. Maguire (Tessa Peake-Jones). “You can’t marry a divorced woman and that’s the truth of it.”

[The truth hurts…]

Jun 26 2017 12:00pm

Crime/Mystery/Thrillers Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix in July 2017

July is a month for laughs but hardly for crime and mystery. With several new standup specials in the works, death and deception take a backseat this month. However, Netflix is bringing us an exclusive early release of Rogue One, so things aren't all bad!

See what other crime/mystery/thriller entertainment is coming to (and leaving) Netflix in July! 

[See the full list below...]

Jun 26 2017 10:00am

Chris Jameson Excerpt: Shark Island

Chris Jameson

Shark Island by Chris JamesonIn Shark Island by Chris Jameson, a shark attack survivor believes she has already lived through her worst nightmare—she's dead wrong (available June 27, 2017).

Naomi Cardiff is not one to give up without a fight—and now, after learning about a series of shark attacks in Cape Cod, she’s joined a team of scientists to put a stop to the terror. The plan: to lure the sharks to a remote island far from the populated coastline. Meanwhile, a fierce Nor’Easter is underway...

In the midst of the storm, an alarming number of Great Whites have come to slaughter the seals in a vicious feeding frenzy. When sharks ram and breach the hull, Naomi and her team must jump ship and swim desperately through a sea of circling fins and gaping jaws to the tiny island. But as the swells from the storm begin to swallow their rocky refuge, how will they manage to make it out alive?

[Read an excerpt from Shark Island...]

Jun 25 2017 11:00am

Charles Harris Excerpt: The Breaking of Liam Glass

Charles Harris

The Breaking of Liam Glass by Charles Harris is a darkly satirical look at the deep splits in modern communities, which is not so much a whodunnit as a blackly comic what-they-did-after-it satire that resonates in a timely way (available June 29, 2017).

Teenage footballer Liam Glass is stabbed on an estate next to London's Regents Park and, with an eye to the main chance, journalist Jason Crowthorne sets out to make the most of the story and build a crusade against teenage knife-crime.

In the following 24 hours, Jason creates his campaign, hiding a scoop from rival journalists and avoiding arrest. But other powerful figures are determined to exploit the boy's story as much as they can, and they have fewer scruples! 

[Read an excerpt from The Breaking of Liam Glass...]

Jun 24 2017 11:11am

Steven Barnes Excerpt: Twelve Days

Steven Barnes

Twelve Days by Steven BarnesTwelve Days by Steven Barnes is a paranormal thriller about a broken family who struggles to hold itself together against a plot to unleash global genocide (available June 27, 2017).

Around the world, leaders and notorious criminals alike are mysteriously dying. A terrorist group promises a series of deaths within two months. And against the backdrop of the apocalypse, the lives of a small shattered family and a broken soldier are transformed in the bustling city of Atlanta.

Olympia Dorsey is a journalist and mother, with a cynical teenage daughter and an autistic son named Hannibal, all trying to heal from a personal tragedy. Across the street, Ex–Special Forces soldier Terry Nicolas and his wartime unit have reunited Stateside to carry out a risky heist that will not only right a terrible injustice, but also set them up for life—at the cost of their honor. Terry and the family's visit to an unusual martial arts exhibition brings them into contact with Madame Gupta, a teacher of singular skill who offers not just a way for Terry to tap into mastery beyond his dreams, but also for Hannibal to transcend the limits of his condition. But to see these promises realized, Terry will need to betray those with whom he fought and bled.

Meanwhile, as the death toll gains momentum and society itself teeters on the edge of collapse, Olympia's fragile clan is placed in jeopardy, and Terry comes to understand the terrible price he must pay to prevent catastrophe.

[Read an excerpt from Twelve Days...]

Jun 23 2017 5:30pm

Book-Inspired Cocktails: “Pocket Kangaroo”

What do you do when you can open “hyper-space shunt” into a “pocket universe” to store things? Keep some vodka ice cold for any occasion!

Who needs to shake a martini anyway? Be cooler than Bond with think this week's Pick Your Poison—where we create a cocktail inspired by a recently published mystery, thriller, or crime novel—the “Pocket Kangaroo” cocktail, inspired by Curtis C. Chen's unique outer-space thriller Kangaroo Too!

[Check out the recipe below!]

Jun 23 2017 3:00pm

Review: Lowcountry Bonfire by Susan M. Boyer

Lowcountry Bonfire by Susan M. Boyer is the 6th book in the Liz Talbot Mystery series (available June 27, 2017).

Southern scribe Susan M. Boyer revisits her USA Today bestselling series with Lowcountry Bonfire—the sixth mystery to feature PI Liz Talbot. Earlier titles have won the author an abundance of accolades (including the coveted Agatha Award and the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense) and nominations along with an enthusiastic readership. This newest delivers on the sass and smarts they’ve come to expect.

“Let it burn.” With these prophetic words, Tammy Sue Lyerly lights a match and sets fire to her cheating husband’s 1969 Mustang convertible, which she’s loaded up with his clothing, in the middle of their driveway. It’s the kind of spectacle that draws the neighbors’ attention (not to mention the volunteer firemen’s), so there’s a curious crowd on hand when the car’s trunk is popped open, revealing local mechanic Zeke Lyerly’s stiff, awkwardly splayed body inside. It's something a scorned wife would be expected to answer for, except Tammy barely manages to let out a blood-curdling scream before passing out cold.

[Read John Valeri's review of Lowcountry Bonfire...]