Review: <i>Deadfall</i> by Linda Fairstein Review: Deadfall by Linda Fairstein John Valeri Read John Valeri's review! Review: <i>LoveMurder</i> by Saul Black Review: LoveMurder by Saul Black Kristin Centorcelli Read Kristin Centorcelli's review! <i>Penance of the Damned</i>: Excerpt Penance of the Damned: Excerpt Peter Tremayne The 27th book in the Sister Fidelma series. Review: <i>Incarnate</i> by Josh Stolberg Review: Incarnate by Josh Stolberg Kristin Centorcelli Read Kristin Centorcelli's review!
From The Blog
July 22, 2017
The Gothic Origins of the Contemporary Crime Thriller
Chuck Caruso
July 22, 2017
Ramming McDonald’s, Demanding Drugs, Wire Chewer, and More!
Crime HQ
July 21, 2017
Q&A with Kaye George
Kaye George and Katherine Tomlinson
July 21, 2017
Woman Gets DWI After Attempting to Bail Out Friend
Teddy Pierson
July 20, 2017
Buddy Cops with an Undead Twist
Michael Haspil
Jul 22 2017 12:00pm

The Gothic Origins of the Contemporary Crime Thriller

People have always loved reading about murder. Even back in the mid-18th century, the Newgate Calendar (also known as The Malefactors’ Bloody Register) titillated the public with gruesome accounts of true crimes. Ostensibly, this bulletin of executions at Newgate Prison published criminals’ confessions as a way to warn people about the mortal perils of their wanton ways, cautioning them against drinking, gambling, and prostitution. 

Interestingly, in the early days of the Enlightenment, these criminals were seen as examples of the fate that might befall any of us who strayed from God’s path, and their executions were typically accompanied by a sermon that embraced the lost soul back into the fold. Only later in the Enlightenment did we learn to psychologically distance ourselves from these murderers, kidnappers, and thieves in order to see them as somehow monstrously “other.” Karen Halttunen explores this brilliantly in her admirably accessible study Murder Most Foul from Harvard University Press (2000).

[Read more about the Gothic origins of Crime Fiction!]

Jul 21 2017 4:30pm

Book-Inspired Cocktails: “Forget Me Not”

What do you do when it feels like you're losing your mind? 

Drink yourself back to sanity with this week's Pick Your Poison—where we create a cocktail inspired by a recently published mystery, thriller, or crime novel—the “Forget Me Not” cocktail, inspired by B. A. Paris's latest propulsive psychological thriller, The Breakdown!

[Check out the recipe below!]

Jul 21 2017 3:00pm

Q&A with Kaye George, Editor of the Anthology Day of the Dark

Nationally bestselling and award winning author Kaye George (who also writes as Janet Cantrell) is the editor of Day of the Dark, a new collection of short crime-themed stories inspired by the total eclipse that will occur on August 21st. Published by Wildside Press, the book is available in digital and print forms on all platforms. 

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Jul 21 2017 2:00pm

Review: Deadfall by Linda Fairstein

Hunting a killer within New York’s urban jungle becomes the biggest case of Alexandra Cooper’s career in New York Times bestselling author Linda Fairstein’s latest riveting thriller, Deadfall.

Perennial bestseller Linda Fairstein returns with Deadfall—the 19th book to feature series protagonist Alexandra “Alex” Cooper. Chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney’s office in Manhattan for more than two decades before stepping away to write crime fiction full-time, Fairstein is considered the nation’s foremost legal expert on sexual assault and domestic violence. Her books are grounded in an authenticity of time and place that is nearly unrivaled among contemporaries.

Deadfall opens in the immediate aftermath of a shocking crime: a drive-by shooting outside New York City’s famed Metropolitan Museum of Art that leaves District Attorney Paul Battaglia dead in Alex Cooper’s arms. Despite her intimate familiarity with violence—including having prosecuted the most heinous of cases and surviving a recent kidnapping that left her traumatized (2015’s Devil’s Bridge)—Alex can barely fathom the reality of what she’s witnessed:

[Read John Valeri's review of Deadfall...]

Jul 21 2017 1:00pm

Review: LoveMurder by Saul Black

LoveMurder by Saul Black is the second book in the Valerie Hart series, where the San Diego homicide detective must enlist the help of the very serial killer she helped put away (available July 25, 2017). 

Katherine Glass is one of the evilest, most diabolical serial killers that San Diego Homicide Detective Valerie Hart has ever put behind bars—but she didn’t work alone. She had a lover who they called the Man in the Mask (he always wore a mask and never revealed his face). Together with Katherine, the two tortured, raped, and murdered at least six women, maybe more. Although Katherine Glass has been in jail for 6 years, her partner has remained free. And as far as law enforcement knows, he’s been quiet … until now. When the violated body of Elizabeth Lambert is found, a note is found with her, and it’s addressed directly to Valerie:

Dear Valerie,

Katherine Glass stays in prison, more people die. You know who I am, but I’ve left you Danielle’s ring by way of substantiation. They’ll get fair warning, as Elizabeth did. (Look carefully, please.) No videos yet, but there will be. This one is just to open the channel. You’ve been waiting for this. More to follow.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of LoveMurder...]

Jul 21 2017 12:00pm

Woman Gets DWI After Attempting to Bail Out Friend

You know that old saying, “Friends don't let friends drive drunk”? It seems someone forgot to mention that to a bunch of Louisiana residents.

According to the NY Post, police pulled over what they described as “a car full of drunk people,” and the driver was arrested for DWI. After the driver was taken into custody, the other passengers—who were also drunk—were sent on their merry way in a cab. The police officers figured that was the end of the story. Nope.

About one hour later, one of the drunk passengers returned to pick up the impounded vehicle and post bail for their friend. The police officer remembered her and placed her under arrest for driving while intoxicated.

Police offered their Saturday morning cartoon PSA, saying “Lesson of the day ... don't drive drunk to a police station in order to bail out your drunk friend!”

Jul 21 2017 10:00am

Peter Tremayne Excerpt: Penance of the Damned

Peter Tremayne

Penance of the Damned by Peter TremaynePenance of the Damned by Peter Tremayne is the 27th book in the Sister Fidelma series (available July 25, 2017).

Ireland, AD 671. King Colgú of Cashel is shocked to learn that his loyal Chief Bishop and advisor has been murdered in the old enemy fortress of the Uí Fidgente. When word reaches Cashel that the culprit will be executed under new law, a larger conflict looms.

Dispatched to investigate, Fidelma and her companion Eadulf discover that the man facing punishment is Gormán—commander of the King’s bodyguard. But Fidelma cannot believe Gormán would carry out such an act—and yet he was found locked in a chamber with the body, weapon in hand. The evidence is stacked against him.

If they are to exonerate Gormán and keep the peace between the kingdoms, Fidelma and Eadulf must find the true culprit. As the threat of war looms, the date of execution drawers ever closer...

[Read an excerpt from Penance of the Damned...]

Jul 20 2017 4:00pm

Latest Unidentified Victim of John Wayne Gacy Identified

When asked who the top 5 most infamous and prolific serial killers in American history are, John Wayne Gacy likely appears on every list. Known as the “Killer Clown” due to his work as a children’s performer, Mr. Gacy claimed 33 victims at his Norwood Park ranch house in Cook County, Illinois (a part of metropolitan Chicago). From 1972 to 1978, Gacy would lure teenage boys and young men to his home where he would torture, sexually assault, and murder them, burying 26 of his victims in the crawl space beneath his house. Gacy was convicted of 33 murders in 1980 and sentenced to death, executed by lethal injection in 1994.

Recently, a team of investigators was able to use DNA evidence to identify the remains of one the seven unknown victims: 16-year-old James Byron Haakenson, a runaway from St. Paul, Minnesota, who had been missing since 1976. Using DNA from two of Haakenson’s siblings, combined with the original missing persons reports, the investigators were able to confirm the remains belonged to the missing Haakenson.

After reopening the investigation in 2011, the Cook County Sheriff's Office has been able to identify two of the eight originally unknown victims. With six still unidentified, the case remains open.

Jul 20 2017 3:00pm

Buddy Cops with an Undead Twist

Among police and detective stories, we've come to expect certain tropes: the Amateur Detective, the Genius Detective, the Good Cop Who Breaks All the Rules, The Supernatural Cop, and dare I say, the Vampire Detective. While Graveyard Shift's characters share many traits with the last, the one that stands out for me is the Buddy Cop trope.

Growing up, I loved Buddy Cop films (I still do): CHiPS, Starsky and Hutch, Alien Nation, Cagney and Lacey, Lethal Weapon, Miami Vice, and a dozen others. The trope works best when the partners are at odds with one another. We get many pairings of the neat guy and the slob (even better when the slob is a dog) or the streetwise cop used to working alone and undercover paired with the straight-laced, by-the-book cop. The examples can go on and on. Eventually, the partners’ traits rub off on one another and, though they may have started off disliking one another, they become fast friends—sometimes even more.

[Learn about Michael Haspil's unlikely and undead Buddy Cop team...]

Jul 20 2017 1:00pm

Review: Incarnate by Josh Stolberg

In Incarnate by Josh Stolberg, an ambitious and sharp-witted clinical psychiatrist turns detective when one of her patients comes under investigation for a series of brutal murders—is she a psychopath or a victim herself? (Available July 25, 2017.)

Psychiatric resident Kim Patterson is really good at what she does, but that didn’t keep her from getting fired from her job in San Diego. Thankfully, she was given a second chance at Jarvis Regional Hospital in the tiny town of Jarvis, Alaska. She’s chafing under the scrutiny of her supervisors—one of which, Dr. Kyle Berman, she’s having an affair with—and things don’t get any easier when 19-year-old Scarlett Hascall comes in with her boss from the fast food place she works at. She supposedly flung a fryer at his face but has no memory of actually doing the deed. When Kim starts asking questions, Scarlett acts strangely, setting off alarms for Kim.

“Something I’m a little confused about,” Kim said cautiously, scooting her own chair close so that she was knee to knee with Scarlett. “You don’t seem too surprised by Darren’s accusations. Most people, they get accused of something like that, they’re likely to fly off the handle. Or at least make it clear that they weren’t involved.”

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Incarnate...]

Jul 20 2017 12:00pm

Prime Suspect: Tennison Deserves Prequel Time

It’s been years since we last saw Superintendent Jane Tennison with all her ugly, angry demons on display in Prime Suspect. Helen Mirren left us with an indelible impression of the character created by author Lynda LaPlante—one that can’t truly be replicated. (Sorry Maria Bello, but the American version of Prime Suspect was never going to be a winner.)

Then, along came Endeavour to show us you can go home again, provided you arrive earlier than when you left. Take that favorite character and make him or her simpler, more innocent, more open, less encumbered. Fill in the flesh on the bones of the character’s past. That way there’s less pressure to replicate success and more opportunity to evolve. 

Of course, it helps if you show respect for the original, because you know the audience does. It also helps if you have a great story to tell and a fine cast to tell it. Prime Suspect: Tennison (aka Prime Suspect 1973) delivers on all fronts. 

[Please ma’am, may we have another?]

Jul 20 2017 10:00am

Adam Christopher Excerpt: Killing Is My Business

Adam Christopher

Killing Is My Business by Adam ChristopherKilling Is My Business by Adam Christopher is the second book in the Ray Electromatic Mysteries series (available July 25, 2017).

Another golden morning in a seedy town, and a new memory tape and assignment for intrepid PI-turned-hitman—and last robot left in working order—Raymond Electromatic. But his skills may be rustier than he remembered in Killing Is My Business, the latest in Christopher's robot noir oeuvre, hot on the heels of the acclaimed Made to Kill.


Listen to this:

Vaughan Delaney was a planner for the city of Los Angeles. He occupied a position high enough up the ladder that entitled him to an office at an equally high altitude in a tall building downtown that was home to a number of other local government desks. The office came with a salary that was high for a city employee but nothing to write a favorite uncle about, and a view that was simply to die for.

[Read an excerpt from Killing Is My Business...]

Jul 19 2017 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: The Hammett Hex by Victoria Abbott

Jordan Bingham is ready for a vacation! Her beau, Officer Travis “Smiley” Dekker, has bought them two tickets to San Francisco, the stomping grounds of Sam Spade and the Continental Op, to name just two of Dashiell Hammett’s famed fictional creations. To Jordan’s delight, Smiley is a huge Hammett fan, though she prefers cozies herself. Regardless, a romantic getaway to a mystery-related setting sounds like the perfect vacation for our lovebirds.

After getting the grudging permission of her cantankerous employer, Vera van Alst, Jordan relishes the prospect of her first week off in two years. Well, mostly off: as part of the bargain she struck with Vera, she's expected to track down a signed first edition of Hammett's Red Harvest for Vera’s extensive mystery novel collection. Jordan figures this will be a breeze, what with her experience and contacts as a book researcher as well as with her larcenous family's far-flung connections.

[Recipe and pictures included below!]

Jul 19 2017 3:00pm

Telling Tales by Ann Cleeves: A Visual Guide

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

This week takes a look at the old addage “innocent until proven guilty” with Telling Tales, a Vera Stanhope mystery from Ann Cleeves! Take a visual tour with GIFnotes!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Jul 19 2017 2:00pm

Review: Soul Cage by Tetsuya Honda

Soul Cage by Tetsuya HondaSoul Cage by Tetsuya Honda is the second book in the Lieutenant Himekawa series, where a severed hand, a missing body, and a victim who was living under a false identity all add up to the most complex and challenging case yet for the homicide detective.

Mishima was standing on the scaffolding three windows down. He looked up at a length of scaffolding above his head, stretched out his arm, and applied his wrench to a joint clamp.

He stayed in that position for a while, quite motionless. 

Eventually, Mishima's right foot began to edge silently forward. One centimeter. Two centimeters. Now, just a millimeter or two.

I knew that if I kept watching, chances were I'd yell out before he'd done what he had to do. Which was the last thing I should do—for his sake, more than anyone's.

[Read Angie Barry's review of Soul Cage...]

Jul 19 2017 12:00pm

Andrew Gross Bonus Chapter: The Saboteur

Andrew Gross

This is an exclusive bonus chapter from The Saboteur by Andrew Gross, which you won't find anywhere else. The Saboteur details the heroics of a group of unlikely Norwegian soldiers tasked with covertly disrupting the Nazi's attempts to build an atomic bomb. The Norwegians weren't the Allies' first choice, but after the failed British mission you'll read about below, it became clear that they were our last hope. The Saboteur by Andrew Gross is available August 22, 2017.

February, 1943. Both the Allies and the Nazis are closing in on attempts to construct the decisive weapon of the war.

Kurt Nordstrum, an engineer in Oslo, puts his life aside to take up arms against the Germans as part of the Norwegian resistance. After the loss of his fiancée, his outfit whittled to shreds, he commandeers a coastal steamer and escapes to England to transmit secret evidence of the Nazis’s progress towards an atomic bomb at an isolated factory in Norway. There, he joins a team of dedicated Norwegians in training in the Scottish Highlands for a mission to disrupt the Nazis’ plans before they advance any further.

Parachuted onto the most unforgiving terrain in Europe, braving the fiercest of mountain storms, Nordstrum and his team attempt the most daring raid of the war, targeting the heavily-guarded factory built on a shelf of rock thought to be impregnable, a mission even they know they likely will not survive. Months later, Nordstrum is called upon again to do the impossible, opposed by both elite Nazi soldiers and a long-standing enemy who is now a local collaborator―one man against overwhelming odds, with the fate of the war in the balance, but the choice to act means putting the one person he has a chance to love in peril.

[Read a bonus chapter from The Saboteur...]

Jul 19 2017 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: July 18, 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!

B. A. Paris's highly anticipated sophomore effort and a new Andy Carpenter mystery from David Rosenfelt highlight a fantastic week of books! See what else we're reading:

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

Jul 19 2017 10:00am

Jane Casey Excerpt: Let the Dead Speak

Jane Casey

Let the Dead Speak by Jane CaseyWith Let the Dead Speak, Jane Casey returns with another taut, richly drawn novel that will grip readers from the opening pages to the stunning conclusion (available July 25, 2017).

When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds her mother missing, the house covered in blood. Everything points to murder, except for one thing: there’s no sign of the body.

London detective Maeve Kerrigan and the homicide team turn their attention to the neighbours. The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter and Chloe Emery definitely have something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighborhood’s favorite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat, or is there more behind the charismatic façade?

As a body fails to materialize, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of testimonies and accusations. Who is lying, and who is not? And soon Maeve starts to realize that not only will the answer lead to Kate Emery, but more lives may hang in the balance.

[Read an excerpt from Let the Dead Speak...]

Jul 18 2017 4:00pm

Page to Screen: Roadside Picnic & Stalker (1979)

Some admirers of the science fiction novel Roadside Picnic, written by the brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, might feel that the book has not received the critical and popular recognition it deserves, particularly in comparison to the film that was made from it: Andrei Tarkovsky’s widely celebrated Stalker (1979). But really, those of us who appreciate the novel should be thankful that we are aware of it at all.

Completed by the Russian brothers in 1971 and published in a magazine the following year, it was held up in book form for several years due to Soviet censorship. And when the authorities of the Strugatsky brothers’ home country did finally see fit to allow the story to appear as a book, it came out in a heavily censored version. However, the novel finally saw its release in its original form—in scores of different languages—and for this, we can be grateful. Criterion Collection’s new edition of the Tarkovsky film provides an opportunity for a fresh look at both novel and movie.

[Read more about Roadside Picnic and Stalker!]