Review: <i>Killman Creek</i> by Rachel Caine Review: Killman Creek by Rachel Caine Kristin Centorcelli Read Kristin Centorcelli's review! Review: <i>One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning</i> by David Moody Review: One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning by David Moody Dave Richards Read Dave Richards's review! Discount: <i>Orphan X</i> by Gregg Hurwitz Discount: Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz Crime HQ Get a digital copy for only $2.99! Review: <i>The Ninth Grave</i> by Stefan Ahnhem Review: The Ninth Grave by Stefan Ahnhem Ardi Alspach Read Ardi Alspach's review!
From The Blog
December 12, 2017
Review: Le Samourai (1967)
Brian Greene
December 8, 2017
Two Lovers Against the Law
Adam Wagner
December 7, 2017
Spy Games
Bill Rapp
December 7, 2017
Writing from the Perspective of an Animal
Abi Curtis
December 1, 2017
Burglars Attempt to Break into Home Being Investigated for a Break-In
Adam Wagner
Dec 13 2017 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: Honey-Baked Homicide by Gayle Leeson

The Down South Cafe Mystery series just goes from strength to strength with this third installment of the series! Our heroine Amy Flowers is doing well enough with her cafe that she’s thinking of hosting a sort of farmer’s market for local growers on a consignment basis, beginning with the local beekeeper, Stuart Landon, and his delicious honey.

Stuart is a mysterious figure in Winter Garden, Virginia, who showed up some two decades earlier to buy a secluded farm that he seems to use primarily to hide out from the rest of the townsfolk. Amy’s adorable Great-Aunt Bess is convinced he’s some sort of retired secret agent, but even she is shocked when he’s found with his throat slit, quite dead, in the parking lot of Amy’s cafe.

Stuart’s death unearths all sorts of secrets, and while Amy doesn’t set out to investigate his murder, she does find herself caught up in the aftermath when the truth of his origins is slowly revealed. His long-lost family shows up in town, as does an engineer for a gas company looking for deposits that could make several landowners wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. Amy soon finds herself in the crosshairs of a ruthless killer who won’t stop at only one murder.

[Recipe and pictures included!]

Dec 13 2017 4:00pm

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen: A Visual Guide

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

A scary love triangle where you don't know who to trust—take a visual tour through Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen's psychological thriller, The Wife Between Us!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Dec 13 2017 2:00pm

Marvel’s The Punisher Season 1 Review: Episodes 11-13

Hello, and welcome back to my look at the first Marvel/Netflix spin-off, The Punisher, which continues the blood-soaked and bullet-riddled journey of the Jon Bernthal-played title character who was introduced back in DaredevilSeason 2. With this installment, it's time to go out guns blazing because we're tackling the season's final episodes: Episode 11: “Danger Close”; Episode 12: “Home”; and Episode 13: “Memento Mori.” I'll offer up my perspective as a comic book journalist and a longtime Marvel Comics fan on what I thought went right with the episodes and talk about what the end means for the series, its characters, and the future of The Punisher.

So let's begin, but be careful of any broken mirrors! The glass could cut you up something fierce!

[Read Dave Richards’s review of Episodes 11-13…]

Dec 13 2017 1:00pm

Longmire 6:08: “Cowboy Bill” Episode Review

The spavined storyline of Longmire vs. Nighthorse continues. Nighthorse (A Martinez) wants to stay out of the prison population, preferring solitary confinement where the long reach of Malachi Strand can’t whack him. (Hard to believe it’s even a question that they would toss him in the general population considering he’s a wealthy “leading” citizen of the community.) So, Nighthorse shares with Longmire (Robert Taylor) how to get to Irish mob guru, Shane Muldoon (Dylan Walsh), by leaving comments on a website as user “Sitting Bull.”

It works, and Vic (Kate Sackhoff) and Longmire confront Shane at a tourist attraction. Realizing what he’s up against, Shane promises to give up Malachi. He lied. Instead, a few hours later (or the next day … the timeline on this show can be hard to pinpoint, with characters popping in and out like quarks), FBI Agent Decker (Raphael Sbarge) shows up at Longmire’s ranch to thank him because Muldoon has turned himself in.

[Read David Cranmer's review of “Cowboy Bill”...]

Dec 13 2017 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: December 12, 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!

This week, three cozies pair with Garry Disher's Australian noir and Rachel Caine's second Stillhouse Lake thriller to highlight a great week of books! See what we're reading:

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

Dec 12 2017 3:00pm

Review: Killman Creek by Rachel Caine

Every time Gwen closed her eyes, she saw him in her nightmares. Now her eyes are open, and he’s not going away. Killman Creek by Rachel Caine is the second book in the Stillhouse Lake series.

I’m a huge Rachel Caine fan, and her Weather Warden series is one of the best urban fantasy series out there. I’m not at all surprised that she can crank out killer thrillers too.

A little background: in the first book, Stillhouse Lake, Gina Royal is a happy (or so she thought) wife to Melvin and mother of son Brady and daughter Lily—until a drunk driver crashes a car into their garage, revealing a dead woman. After she was cleared of any wrongdoing (nearly everyone thought she helped her husband in his grisly work), she packed up her kids, moved to Stillhouse Lake, and became Gwen Proctor. There, she hoped to get a little peace from the trolls that continually threatened her and her family. Well, of course, she didn’t, and here we are.

Now, Gwen, along with her friend (and hopefully more) Sam Cade—who is also the brother of one of Melvin’s victims—are on the run from her ex-husband, who has escaped from prison:

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Killman Creek...]

Dec 12 2017 1:00pm

Review: Le Samourai (1967)

1967 was the year of the Summer of Love, but during that year, French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville (1917-73) put together and released a movie that couldn’t have been more removed from the splashy colors and free-love mood of the swinging moment in cultural time. Le Samourai is a stark, moody, decidedly un-psychedelic crime film that Melville directed based on his own original story. It stars Alain Delon, who became an important collaborator of Melville's as well as a personal friend. Criterion has just released a new version of the film with their usual stash of bonus materials, which offers a prompt for a fresh examination.

Arthouse sex symbol Delon plays the lead character, Jef Costello, a 30-year old lone wolf who sometimes takes on work as a contract killer. Costello doesn’t talk more than he has to, and he doesn’t exhibit much emotion. He spends a lot of time looking handsome and soberly removed from it all as he smokes fat French cigarettes and wears fedoras.

[Ooh la la!]

Dec 12 2017 12:00pm

Review: One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning by David Moody

In One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning, David Moody returns to the world of his Hater trilogy with a new fast-paced and wonderfully dark story about humanity’s fight for survival in the face of the impending apocalypse.

Crime fiction and apocalyptic horror have more in common than fans of the individual genres might realize. That's because apocalyptic horror is about how survivors at the end of the world suddenly cope in a reality where there are no laws, and crime fiction is about how corruption and society can transform law-abiding citizens into hardened criminals and violent malefactors into enforcers of ultimate justice. So both types of tales are about dangerous circumstances, how we survive them, and how they fundamentally change our natures.

David Moody combines crime fiction and apocalyptics horror in One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning—the first book in a new trilogy (The Final War) set in his Hater series of novels. This novel is set on Skek, a remote island off the coast of the U.K, which is a pretty spooky and interesting place:

[Read Dave Richards's review of One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning...]

Dec 12 2017 10:00am

Discount: Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz

Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz is a masterful thriller and the first in the electrifying series featuring Evan Smoak.

Get a digital copy of Orphan X for only $2.99 through January 8, 2018!

Who is Orphan X?

The Nowhere Man is a legendary figure spoken about only in whispers. It’s said that when he’s reached by the truly desperate and deserving, the Nowhere Man can and will do anything to protect and save them. But he’s not merely a legend.

Evan Smoak is a man with skills, resources, and a personal mission to help those with nowhere else to turn. He’s also a man with a dangerous past. Chosen as a child, he was raised and trained as an Orphan, an off-the-books black box program designed to create the perfect deniable intelligence asset: An assassin. Evan was Orphan X—until he broke with the program and used everything he learned to disappear. But now someone is on his tail. Someone with similar skills and training who will exploit Evan’s secret new identity as the Nowhere Man to eliminate him.

Read an excerpt from Orphan X!


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

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

Dec 11 2017 5:00pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 8.08: “How It’s Gotta Be”

Welp, here we are. The midseason finale. After eight episodes, all that really happened is Rick and Co.'s plan didn't work (is it any surprise? I'm not even sure they had one) and Negan and the Saviors shifted the momentum of the fight. All the dark and foreboding elements of the first half seemed only to foreshadow the literal darkness of “How It's Gotta Be”—seriously, we couldn't see anything the entire 90 minutes. And the big reveal fell flat. It seemed inconsequential and tossed in for dramatic effect as it had nothing to do with the current storyline.

This show has fallen off the rails, and I had hoped it could regain its momentum and right the ship—but as Carl opines throughout the episode, “It's more than just hope.”

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Dec 11 2017 3:00pm

Review: The Ninth Grave by Stefan Ahnhem

Would you kill for the one you love? That's the question that international bestseller Stefan Ahnhem's The Ninth Grave: A Fabian Risk Novel seeks to answer in this spine-tingling thriller set six months before the events in Victim Without a Face (available December 5, 2017).

The Ninth Grave, second in a new series by Swedish author Stefan Ahnhem, follows not one but two detectives in two countries on two cases—but the similarities end up being too striking to ignore as we follow each side of the story down a twisted and dark path to an astonishing conclusion.

Ahnhem is a gifted storyteller, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the complex whodunnit that’s actually set sixth months prior to his first novel featuring the same detective, Fabian Risk. It’s certainly not necessary to have read the first novel in order to understand and enjoy this second one, but I have a feeling that those who encounter this novel first will definitely be coming back for more.

[Read Ardi Alspach's review of The Ninth Grave...]

Dec 11 2017 1:00pm

Watch the First Teaser Trailer for Season 2 of Netflix and Marvel’s Jessica Joness

She’s back.

Netflix and Marvel have released the first teaser trailer for Season 2 of Jessica Jones, and if the minute of action we get is any indication, it should be explosive. The hard-drinking PI’s signature wit and incredible power are on full display as Jones gets back to investigating after the tumultuous events of the first season of The Defenders.

Season 2 of Jessica Jones drops in full on March 8, 2018.

[Watch the teaser trailer for Season 2 of Jessica Jones!]

Dec 11 2017 12:00pm

Longmire 6:07: “Opiates and Antibiotics” Episode Review

Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) is damn near giddy with relief from being out from under the dark prosecution cloud. He grabs a bottle of libation from his office and heads into the next room to celebrate with his coworkers. I’ve often wondered: if TV characters were flesh and blood and actually went through the colossal amount of shit that they do, how damaged would they be?! Mental breakdowns all around, I’m certain.

So, it’s good to see Longmire happy, but of course, it’s short-lived. Already at full throttle: The Ferg (Adam Bartley), working with Zach (Barry Sloane), has discovered the Irish mob are back in town and partnering with Malachi. Also, Vic (Kate Sackhoff) reveals there’s a 17th puncture in the late Ian Whitmore’s body that wasn’t caused by an arrow but by a syringe—and the contents of that injection, heroin, is what killed him.

[Read David Cranmer's review of “Opiates and Antibiotics”...]

Dec 11 2017 10:00am

Donna Malane Excerpt: My Brother’s Keeper

Donna Malane

From New Zealand author Donna Malane, My Brother's Keeper is a dark and twisting mystery that leaves no stone―or page―unturned (available December 19, 2017).

Diane Rowe is a missing persons expert. Ex-con Karen needs Diane's help to track down her fourteen-year-old daughter, Sunny, whom she's lost contact with while she's been in prison.

To Diane, this appears at first glance to be a simple case of a mother wanting to reunite with a beloved daughter. Tracking the girl down is easy. However, convincing her to meet her mother is no easy task. And at the back of Diane's mind is a nagging thought―that guilt and innocence aren't straightforward and nothing is quite what it seems. Does Karen really want to fix the wrongs of the past or is there something darker at play here that will take all of Diane's skills to uncover?

[Read an excerpt from My Brother's Keeper...]

Dec 8 2017 4:30pm

Book-Inspired Cocktails: “Ginger Schnapped”

What do you do when your friend is wrongfully accused of murder and your spice shop is burglarized?

Take the edge off with this week's Pick Your Poison—where we create a cocktail inspired by a recently published mystery, thriller, or crime novel—the “Ginger Schnapped” cocktail, inspired by Gail Oust's fifth Spice Shop Mystery, Ginger Snapped!

[Check out the recipe below!]

Dec 8 2017 3:00pm

Review: Strong to the Bone by Jon Land

Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong takes on a gang of neo-Nazis in Strong to the Bone, an action-packed novel of the critically acclaimed Caitlin Strong series by Jon Land.

Jon Land is on the brink of mainstream superstardom, and his consistent excellence may just be the factor that tips the balance in his favor. He has written more than 40 novels in a celebrated career that has traversed genres and collaborators. These include the popular Blaine McCracken books as well as a critically acclaimed, award-winning series featuring Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong; recent titles from the latter have earned the author distinctions, including the 2014 International Book Award and 2013 USA Best Book Award for Mystery-Suspense (Strong Rain Falling), the 2016 Beverly Hills Book Award for Best Mystery (Strong Light of Day), and the 2017 International Book Award for Best Action Thriller (Strong Cold Dead).

Land’s newest, Strong to the Bone—winner of the 2017 American Book Fest Best Book Award for Mystery-Suspense and the ninth thriller to feature Caitlin Strong—finds his protagonist in an introspective state, confronting internal demons as well as the ones she’s accustomed to eradicating with the quick draw of her gun. What begins as a rare date night out with her beau, Cort Wesley Masters, quickly turns sour when the two stumble upon a raging brawl between college fraternities at a local barbecue joint. The report of a sexual assault in progress reaches Caitlin, and she commandeers a fire engine to part the rowdy crowd and rescue the victim. It’s not exactly standard protocol, but Caitlin’s never been much for rules or rank.

[Read John Valeri's review of Strong to the Bone...]

Dec 8 2017 1:00pm

Longmire 6:06: “No Greater Character Endorsement” Episode Review

I had forgotten how much I appreciate Warren Zevon’s singing. His gruff, world-weary rendition of “Back in the High Life Again” opens the show as we follow Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor), who is reading Lucian Connally’s (Peter Weller) letter that admits he killed Tucker Baggett and dictates how to dispose of his remains. A touching, elegiac tribute to one of the finest characters this show has wrought. The opener concludes with Longmire having a shot at The Red Pony, slamming the glass upside down on the bar with the show’s titles playing over. Stylish, fitting.

The Ferg (Adam Bartley) gets called to a residential home because a neighbor has made a noise complaint. Inside, bound to a chair, is the corpse of Ian Whitmore with sixteen arrows plunged into his chest and the phrase “Hector Lives” carved into his back. Ferg interviews the neighbor and discovers it’s none other than former deputy Zach Heflin (Barry Sloane). He’s still a quirky son of a gun, but he drops a clue for Ferg that, yes, he had seen a silver suburban parked out front. He figured there was a drug dealer in the house because of all the vehicles parked outside at odd hours.

[Read David Cranmer's review of “No Greater Character Endorsement”...]

Dec 8 2017 12:00pm

Review: Bel, Book, and Scandal by Maggie McConnon

Maggie McConnon rings in Christmas in Bel, Book, and Scandal—the third adventure for everybody’s favorite Irish-American culinary artist turned amateur sleuth, Bel McGrath (available December 5, 2017).

Take a visual tour through Bel, Book, and Scandal with GIFnotes!

Belfast McGrath is a no-nonsense kind of gal. Irish down to her dark red curls, she is a strong and more-than-capable protagonist. She is a chef, and her most comfortable moments are in the kitchen, to be sure, but her mind is constantly sleuthing. Add the element of her mystery—a missing childhood friend—and desire fuels her quest. She will stop at nothing to find her answers.

The McGrath’s are a tight-knit Irish family. There’s the Pilates-expert mother, the soft-hearted artist father, and a bevy of boisterous brothers. The setting is cozy and inviting with the Manor hosting several different events and always planning for more.

[Read Amber Keller's review of Bel, Book, and Scandal...]

Dec 8 2017 11:00am

Two Lovers Against the Law

True love is hard to quantify. What would you do if the girl you loved was locked up each night, secured in her prison by lock and key? Would you work out a plan to break her out, to steal her away?

Police in Australia recently released security-cam footage of a man’s daring display of love at all costs. Well … love at no cost. See, this Perp Derp broke into an adult fantasy store and stole a $4,500 “Dorothy” model sex doll. Wearing a stocking and balaclava over his face, our Casanova Crook used bolt cutters to get through a locked fence before smashing his way into the store and absconding with his booty.

Police are still on the lookout for the romantic wrongdoer but have released footage of the theft: