Volker Kutscher Excerpt: <i>Babylon Berlin</i> Volker Kutscher Excerpt: Babylon Berlin Volker Kutscher The first in the new Detective Gereon Rath series. Cozy Bookshelf Shopping List: February 2018 Cozy Bookshelf Shopping List: February 2018 Crime HQ Check out February's offerings! Discount: <i>A Is for Alibi</i> by Sue Grafton Discount: A Is for Alibi by Sue Grafton Crime HQ Get a digital copy for only $2.99! Review: <i>The Weight of an Infinite Sky</i> by Carrie La Seur Review: The Weight of an Infinite Sky by Carrie La Seur Jenny Maloney Read Jenny Maloney's review!
From The Blog
January 16, 2018
Q&A with Christopher Reich, Author of The Take
Christopher Reich and John Valeri
January 12, 2018
Man Steals Tank, Crashes through Store Window, Steals Bottle of Wine
Adam Wagner
January 9, 2018
Q&A with C. J. Tudor, Author of The Chalk Man
C. J. Tudor and John Valeri
January 8, 2018
Q&A with Aimee Hix, Author of What Doesn’t Kill You
Aimee Hix and John Valeri
January 5, 2018
Man Drinks 20 Pints of Stella & Bites Security Guard's Leg
Adam Wagner
Jan 17 2018 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: January 16, 2018

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, a new Nick Petrie Peter Ash thriller and Deanna Raybourn's third Veronica Speedwell mystery highlight a killer week of books! See what else we're reading:

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

Jan 17 2018 10:00am

Volker Kutscher Excerpt: Babylon Berlin

Babylon Berlin is the first book in the international-bestselling series from Volker Kutscher that centers on Detective Gereon Rath caught up in a web of drugs, sex, political intrigue, and murder in Berlin as Germany teeters on the edge of Nazism.

It’s 1929 and Berlin is the vibrating metropolis of post-war Germany―full of bars and brothels and dissatisfied workers at the point of revolt. Gereon Rath is new in town and new to the police department.

When a dead man without an identity, bearing traces of atrocious torture, is discovered, Rath sees a chance to find his way back into the homicide division. He discovers a connection with a circle of oppositional exiled Russians who try to purchase arms with smuggled gold in order to prepare a coup d’état. But there are other people trying to get hold of the gold and the guns, too. Raths finds himself up against paramilitaries and organized criminals. He falls in love with Charlotte, a typist in the homicide squad, and misuses her insider’s knowledge for his personal investigations. And as he gets further entangled with the case, he never imagined becoming a suspect himself.

[Read an excerpt from Babylon Berlin...]

Jan 16 2018 4:00pm

Poll: Vera Stanhope Mystery Novels or Vera TV Show?


Read an excerpt from Hidden Depths!

Jan 16 2018 2:00pm

Discount: A Is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

A Is for Alibi by Sue Grafton is the first book in the Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Mysteries series.

Get a digital copy of the book that started it all for only $2.99 through February 5th!

A tough-talking former cop, private investigator Kinsey Millhone has set up a modest detective agency in a quiet corner of Santa Teresa, California. A twice-divorced loner with few personal possessions and fewer personal attachments, she's got a soft spot for underdogs and lost causes.

That's why she draws desperate clients like Nikki Fife. Eight years ago, she was convicted of killing her philandering husband. Now she's out on parole and needs Kinsey's help to find the real killer. But after all this time, clearing Nikki's bad name won't be easy.

If there's one thing that makes Kinsey Millhone feel alive, it's playing on the edge. When her investigation turns up a second corpse, more suspects, and a new reason to kill, Kinsey discovers that the edge is closer—and sharper—than she imagined.

Read David Cranmer's review of A Is for Alibi!


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

Buy at Amazon Buy at Barnes and NobleBuy at iTunes

Jan 16 2018 1:00pm

Q&A with Christopher Reich, Author of The Take

Christopher Reich is the New York Times bestselling author of thrillers including Numbered Account, Rules of Deception, Rules of Vengeance, Rules of Betrayal, and The Devil’s Banker. The Patriot’s Club won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Novel in 2006. Reich’s newest, The Take, marks the launch of a new series featuring Simon Riske, a spy who’s been likened to James Bond and Jack Reacher. Having traveled far and wide, the author now makes his home in Encinitas, California.

Recently, Mr. Reich entertained questions pertaining to the launch of his new series, creating a protagonist who’s at once familiar and original, drawing on fact to inform fiction, and bringing suspense alive through setting. He also teases what comes next for Simon Riske…

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Jan 16 2018 12:00pm

Review: The Weight of an Infinite Sky by Carrie La Seur

The Weight of an Infinite Sky by Carrie La Seur explores the heart and mystery of Big Sky Country in this evocative and atmospheric novel of family, home, love, and responsibility inspired by William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

After his father’s surprise death, Anthony Fry—son of cattle ranchers Dean and Sarah Fry—returns home to Billings, Montana, to run a small theater camp and to, ostensibly, help his mother with the ranch. When he arrives, he finds his uncle Neal helping out much more than he ever could. Anthony’s mother and his uncle then proceed to get married … a mere three months after Dean’s death.

The shock of his mother’s remarriage isn’t the only thing playing on Anthony’s mind. A mining company is insisting that he sign away his rights to the ranch so they can strip the ranch land for coal. The love of Anthony’s life—Hilary, who had a nervous breakdown just before he left for New York—is back in town. And teenagers are leaving him love poetry.

[Read Jenny Maloney's review of The Weight of an Infinite Sky...]

Jan 16 2018 10:00am

Ward Larsen Excerpt: Cutting Edge

Ward Larsen

A helicopter crash alters a Coast Guard rescue swimmer's life forever in Cutting Edge, a suspense thriller by USA Today bestselling author Ward Larsen (available January 23, 2018).

Trey DeBolt is a young man at the crest of life. His role as a Coast Guard rescue swimmer in Alaska offers him a rewarding job and limitless adventure. Then a tragic accident alters his life: during a harrowing rescue, his helicopter goes down.

Severely injured, DeBolt awakens in a seaside cabin in Maine, thousands of miles from where the accident occurred. His lone nurse lets slip that he has been officially declared dead, lost in the crash. Back in Alaska, however, Coast Guard investigator Shannon Lund uncovers evidence that DeBolt might still be alive. Her search quickly becomes personal, but before she can intervene, chaos erupts outside a cabin in the wilds of Maine.

The nurse who has been treating DeBolt is brutally killed by military-trained assassins. DeBolt is only saved when a bizarre vision guides him to safety. Soon other images appear, impossible revelations that are unfailing in their accuracy. As he runs for his life, DeBolt discovers he has been drawn into an ultra-secret government project. The power it bestows is boundless, both a gift and a curse. Yet one thing is certain: Trey DeBolt has abilities no human has ever known.

[Read an excerpt from Cutting Edge...]

Jan 15 2018 3:00pm

Watch the Official Teaser Trailer for RKSS’s Upcoming Horror Thriller, Summer of ’84

Stranger Things. It.

There’s something about kids on bikes banding together to take down a threat. Call it nostalgia. Call it childhood innocence. Call it whatever you want—it works.

From RKSS, the directors of the cult Netflix movie Turbo Kid, comes Summer of ’84—the latest nostalgia-fueled teen thriller to hit the big screen.

Summer, 1984: The perfect time to be 15 years old and free. But when neighborhood conspiracy theorist Davey Armstrong begins to suspect his police officer neighbor might be the serial killer all over the local news, he and his three best friends begin an investigation that soon turns dangerous.

Written by Matt Leslie and Stephen J. SmithSummer of ’84 stars Graham Verchere (Fargo), Judah Lewis (Demolition), Cory Gruter-Andrew (The 100), Caleb Emery (Goosebumps), and Rich Sommer (Mad Men).

Check out the trailer below!

Jan 15 2018 12:00pm

Review: The Night Market by Jonathan Moore

The Night Market by Jonathan Moore is a mind-bending, masterfully plotted near-future thriller that makes your most paranoid fantasies seem like child’s play (available January 16, 2018).

What’s “near-future noir” mean to you? Does it sound like what happens if Philip K. Dick edits a Raymond Chandler novel? If so, you have an idea of what Jonathan Moore’s The Night Market is about.

Hardboiled San Francisco PD Inspector Ross Carver is investigating a possible murder scene featuring a truly ugly-dead (i.e., dissolving) victim when he and his partner, Cleve Jenner, are jumped by moon-suited FBI agents. The Men in Tyvek shoot up the two cops with something that’s supposed to keep them from becoming equally ugly-dead but also knocks them out.

Carver can’t remember what happened when he wakes up in bed two days later feeling like he went six rounds with a Mack truck. Another surprise: Mia Westcott—until now, merely the pretty neighbor-lady—is reading to him. Mia feeds Carver a story that launches him into trying to recover those lost days. Needless to say, Carver, Jenner, and Mia end up diving into the deep end of a vast, subterranean conspiracy that threatens the existence of free will and memory itself.

[Read Lance Charnes's review of The Night Market...]

Jan 15 2018 10:00am

Ann Cleeves Excerpt: Hidden Depths

Ann Cleeves

Now available in the U.S., Hidden Depths is the third book in Diamond Dagger award-winning crime novelist Ann Cleeves’s Vera Stanhope series, brought to life in the hit TV series Vera (available January 23, 2018).

On a hot summer on the Northumberland coast, Julie Armstrong arrives home from a night out to find her son murdered. Luke has been strangled, laid out in a bath of water and covered with wild flowers.

This stylized murder scene has Inspector Vera Stanhope and her team intrigued. But now, Vera must work quickly to find this killer who is making art out of death. As local residents are forced to share their private lives, sinister secrets are slowly unearthed.

And all the while the killer remains in their midst, waiting for an opportunity to prepare another beautiful, watery grave…

[Read an excerpt from Hidden Depths...]

Jan 12 2018 4:30pm

Book-Inspired Cocktails: “Gamblin’ Jack”

Revenge is a drink best served cold.

So is this week's Pick Your Poison—where we create a cocktail inspired by a recently published mystery, thriller, or crime novel—the “Gamblin' Jack” cocktail, inspired by Scott Adlerberg's historical revenge thriller, Jack Waters! I bet you can't have just one...

[Check out the recipe below!]

Jan 12 2018 2:00pm

Search Party: Why the TBS Hit Is the Crime Series Millennials (for Better or Worse) Need

**Spoilers Ahead**

Search Party has the dubious distinction of being a series that’s true colors don’t show right away. In fact, it really isn’t until the second season that the series shows its true ethos, primarily because it performs the impossible feat of turning the debut season’s idea on its head while still retaining its identity. What’s more, the show actually lacerates the culture it depicts, offering us characters that become increasingly more deplorable—and even criminal in their actions—yet also avoiding the pitfall of being cynical by being all-too nuanced and self-aware in its presentation and commentary. Not too shabby for a show that’s concept would seem out of place for the YA section at your local library.

From afar, one might mistake Search Party’s idea of having something of a gimmick to it, especially if judging the first season alone. (If you don’t want the ending of the first season to be ruined, then don’t read a single thing about the second!) Following a group of 20-something New Yorkers who bring it upon themselves to find a missing classmate would seem like a clear attempt at modernizing the Nancy Drew mystery series for the smartphone age. The advertising suggests this as well, with the bright colors, character renderings that are cheekily modeled off of traditional teen-mystery novels, and the throwback titles (promos for the first season referred to it as “The Curious Case of the Lost Soul”). Still, it doesn’t take too long to delve into Search Party and realize that the programmatic formatting is just a hook and that there is something far more intelligent going on.

[Read more about Search Party!]

Jan 12 2018 12:00pm

Discount: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

First Grave on the Right is the smashing, award-winning (winner of the 2012 Rita Award for Best First Book) debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper.

Get a digital copy of the first Charley Davidson mystery for only $2.99 through February 5th!

Charley sees dead people. That's right, she sees dead people. And it's her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e., murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she's been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life ... and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

See also: Charley Davidson’s Crime-Solving Tips (Supernatural Abilities Required)


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

Buy at Amazon Buy at Barnes and NobleBuy at iTunes

Jan 12 2018 11:00am

Military Joyride: Man Steals Tank, Crashes through Store Window, Steals Bottle of Wine

Let’s play a game: Russia or Florida?

Recently, a drunk man stole a tank from a military base, drove it through the streets, crashed it through a grocery store, got out of the tank, walked around in the aisles, and tried to steal a bottle of wine before the police finally arrested him.

If it weren’t for the snow in the picture above, the Sunshine State would have been a perfectly reasonable answer (and I wouldn’t be surprised if you could do a quick Google search and find a similar story). But alas, Russia is in the news again—this time, at least, for hilarious reasons.

According to The Guardian, the man stole the armored vehicle from a military driving school in Apatity, Russia, on Wednesday. Sounds like a dream joyride to me—but then again, I am from Florida…

Jan 11 2018 4:00pm

Watch the First Trailer for Investigation Discovery’s Upcoming True Crime Docuseries, Love & Hate Crime

“I have to live with the fact that I killed Mercedes, and she’s in hell.”

Deadline recently reported that Investigation Discovery has released the first teaser trailer and premiere date for their upcoming show Love & Hate Crime—a true crime docuseries that will explore crimes of hate and prejudice in the US. The trailer shows an incarcerated Josh Vallum expressing the crushing guilt he lives with on a constant basis for his role in the 2015 murder of Mercedes Williamson.

Mercedes was a 17-year-old transgender female. Josh Vallum had ties to the Latin Kings street gang in Mississippi. However, the Latin Kings are strict in their hatred for homosexual behavior—the punishment: death. So to protect his reputation and prevent gang retaliation, Vallum drove Williamson to a secluded area, stabbed her repeatedly, and bashed her head in with a hammer.

Vallum pleaded guilty to avoid trial and was sentenced to life in prison. In addition, he was prosecuted under the US Hate Crimes Prevention Act, his case becoming the first successful transgender hate-crime prosecution ever.

Investigation Discovery has the full story and more in Episode 1 of Love & Hate Crime, premiering Sunday, February 5th!

[Watch a clip from Love & Hate Crime!]

Jan 11 2018 3:00pm

Discount: The Defense by Steve Cavanagh

Eddie Flynn used to be a con artist. Then he became a lawyer. Turns out the two aren't that different.

Get a digital copy of Steve Cavanagh's The Defense, the first book in the Eddie Flynn series, for only $2.99 through February 5th!

Former con artist turned lawyer Eddie Flynn gave up the law a year ago after a disastrous case, and he vowed never to step foot in a courtroom again. But now he doesn't have a choice. The head of the Russian mob in New York City, on trial for murder, has kidnapped Eddie's ten-year-old daughter: Eddie has to take this case whether he likes it or not.

Using his razor-sharp wit and every con, bluff, grift, and trick in the book, Eddie has only forty-eight hours to defend an impossible murder trial. And if he loses this case, he loses everything.

Read an excerpt from The Defense!


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

Buy at Amazon Buy at Barnes and NobleBuy at iTunes

Jan 11 2018 1:00pm

Review: The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor

The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor is a riveting and relentlessly compelling psychological suspense debut that weaves a mystery about a childhood game gone dangerously awry and keeps readers guessing right up to the shocking ending.

Author C. J. Tudor is a student of thrillers that boldly venture into the realm of horror fiction, and her writing reflects the fact that she’s learned all the important lessons. In The Chalk Man, her impressive debut, she plays around with a plethora of tropes and eventually delivers a finale that makes her first novel feel more like the work of a seasoned author than a first offering. Perhaps more impressive than her playfulness is the absolute dominion of every element in the last third of the novel, which is something few authors could have pulled off in a narrative that includes incursions into the world of dreams, a story that takes place in two different time periods, and plenty of mental illness.

Back in 1986, Eddie Adams was a regular 12-year-old kid who enjoyed vacations, going to the park, collecting things, and spending as much time as possible with his friends, Hoppo, Metal Mickey, Fat Gave, and Nicky. They all lived in a small, unexciting English village, and any bit of excitement was welcome. Their lives were slowly changing with every step further into adolescence, but they were suddenly thrown into a world of chaos when they found a dismembered body in the woods by following chalk figures left on trees, which eerily resembled their own way of communicating with each other.

[Read Gabino Iglesias's review of The Chalk Man...]

Jan 11 2018 12:00pm

Review: Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna

As addictive, cinematic, and binge-worthy a narrative as The Wire and The Killing, Two Girls Down introduces Louisa Luna as a thriller writer of immense talent and verve.

Fair warning: set aside enough time to finish Two Girls Down in one sitting because you won’t be able to stop until it's over. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: two young girls disappear during a quick shopping trip to Target. Their single mother, Jamie Brandt, is heartsick and distraught. Jamie’s aunt, Maggie Shambley, contacts Alice Vega, a famous California bounty hunter, to ask her to locate her missing nieces. In less than 24 hours, Vega arrives in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. She needs a partner, someone who knows the local scene. Max Caplan, “Cap,” is her choice—once a local cop, now a private detective.

Cap is a bit of a philosopher. A private detective has a lot of time to ponder human foibles while surreptitiously monitoring illicit activities. He’s divorced, so he understands the futility of anyone getting “to have it all.” Although, he’d be out of business if folks didn’t try—or so he muses during a nooner stakeout.

[Read Janet Webb's review of Two Girls Down...]

Jan 11 2018 10:00am

Mari Hannah Excerpt: The Silent Room

Mari Hannah

One fugitive. A deadly plot. No rules. The Silent Room by Mari Hannah is an ingenious and lightning-fast thriller that reviewers agree is “not to be missed” (available January 16, 2018).

Detective Sergeant Matthew Ryan wants to clear the name of his former boss, who stands accused of official corruption. But before he can do so, his boss disappears. Did he escape from police custody, or was he kidnapped? Or did something even worse happen to him?

The Silent Room has everything a good thriller should have―compelling characters, a gripping plot and storyline, superb pacing, and a strong sense of place. In addition it has heart, something many thrillers sorely lack. Add some truly scary villains, vast uncertainty about whom to trust, and a loudly ticking clock, and we have ourselves a thriller that will grip readers from the first pages and never let go.

[Read an excerpt from The Silent Room...]