<i>The Italian Party</i>: Excerpt The Italian Party: Excerpt Christina Lynch A delicious and sharply funny page-turner about “innocent” Americans abroad in 1950s Siena. Review: <i>I Bring Sorrow & Other Stories of Transgression</i> by Patricia Abbott Review: I Bring Sorrow & Other Stories of Transgression by Patricia Abbott Kristin Centorcelli Read Kristin Centorcelli's review! <i>Gods of Howl Mountain</i>: Excerpt Gods of Howl Mountain: Excerpt Taylor Brown A world of folk healers, whiskey-runners, and dark family secrets in 1950s North Carolina. Cozy Bookshelf Shopping List: April 2018 Cozy Bookshelf Shopping List: April 2018 Crime HQ Check out April's offerings!
From The Blog
March 16, 2018
Like Stealing Candy from... "Gumball Bandit" Steals Large Gumball Machine from Sacramento Animal Shelter
Adam Wagner
March 13, 2018
Q&A with Sebastian Rotella, Author of Rip Crew
Sebastian Rotella and John Valeri
March 9, 2018
Murder and Mayhem in Chicago
Lori Rader-Day and Dana Kaye
March 9, 2018
Robbery with a Chance of Meatballs: Man Steals Meatballs & Gets Caught Red-Handed
Adam Wagner
March 6, 2018
50 Years of Reading Mysteries
Patricia Abbott
Mar 13 2018 1:00pm

Q&A with Sebastian Rotella, Author of Rip Crew

Sebastian Rotella is the celebrated author of The Convert’s Song and Triple Crossing, which the New York Times Book Review named its favorite debut crime novel and action thriller of 2011; he also authored the non-fiction work, Twilight on the Line, which was a New York Times Notable Book. A senior reporter covering international security issues for ProPublica, Rotella previously spent 23 years at the Los Angeles Times, where he served as bureau chief in Paris and Buenos Aires and correspondent at the Mexican border. His accolades include a Peabody Award, Columbia University's Dart Award and Moors Cabot Prize for Latin American coverage, the German Marshall Fund's Weitz Prize for reporting in Europe, five Overseas Press Club Awards, and The Urbino Prize of Italy; Rotella is also an Emmy nominee and was a Pulitzer finalist for international reporting in 2006. His third novel, Rip Crew (available March 13, 2018), revisits protagonist Valentine Pescatore and recently earned a Starred Review from Kirkus.

Recently, the author entertained questions pertaining to the significance of titles, the evolution of characters and story arc, the importance of description and dialogue, the appeal of international intrigue, and the influence of fact on fiction; Rotella also teased a new direction for his next novel.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Mar 13 2018 12:00pm

Review: This is How it Ends by Eva Dolan

This is How it Ends by Eva Dolan is a standalone psychological thriller that examines friendship, suspicion, and betrayal (available March 13, 2018).

Best known for her Zigic and Ferreira crime series, This is How it Ends is Eva Dolan’s first standalone thriller, and after reading it, there is no doubt that her career is in zero danger of ending anytime soon.

Disclaimer: I have been an online friend of Eva Dolan’s since I began writing crime fiction in 2010. I haven’t read her series, but I am a fan of her short fiction, and I was eager to read this book. So I had very high hopes for it. You know, the kind of hopes that are often dashed when a book doesn’t meet your expectations?

Well, no worries here. The book exceeded my every expectation. It is a masterful thriller that slowly ramps up the tension and keeps the needle pinned until the very last page.

Set in the ever-more-gentrified London, she wastes no time in introducing the story: Ella, a young, anti-gentrification activist, calls for help from Molly, an old leftist with a sharp tongue and sharper mind, because she is in serious trouble. They are at a party to benefit the tenants of a mostly-abandoned apartment tower slated for demolition—if the few remaining occupants can be lured into taking payoffs or forced to leave. In one of the abandoned flats, we find Ella with the body of a young man.

It was an accident.

[Read Thomas Pluck's review of This is How it Ends...]

Mar 13 2018 10:00am

Kelli Stanley Excerpt: City of Sharks

Kelli Stanley

City of Sharks by Kelli Stanley is the fourth book in the award-winning Miranda Corbie Mystery series, painting a rich, authentic portrait of 1940s San Francisco (available March 20, 2018).

The blonde secretary was scared when she visited Miranda Corbie’s office. A shove into a streetcar track, a box of poisoned chocolates…hateful, violent letters.

Someone was trying to kill her.

Miranda isn’t sure of anything at first except that Louise Crowley, the blonde who works as an assistant to Niles Alexander, San Francisco publisher, is in trouble. Despite her own preparations for an imminent voyage to a blitzkrieged Britain and a painful farewell to the city she loves, Miranda decides to help Louise and takes on her last case as a private detective in San Francisco…investigating her client, surveying the publishing world of 1940, and stumbling into murder with a trail that leads straight to Alcatraz…an island city of sharks.

Along the way, Miranda explores her beloved San Francisco once more, from Playland-at-the-Beach to Chinatown to Nob Hill and Treasure Island. She encounters John Steinbeck and C.S. Forester, and is aided and abetted by the charming and dapper San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen. And she also discovers personal truths she’s long denied…

[Read an excerpt from City of Sharks...]

Mar 12 2018 3:00pm

Review: A Dangerous Game by Heather Graham

A Dangerous Game by Heather Graham is the third book in the New York Confidential series (available March 13, 2018).

New York City: “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” Give that old chestnut a tug—there’s not a crime imaginable that hasn’t played out in the Big Apple. It’s an ideal setting for the third book in Heather Graham’s New York Confidential romantic-suspense series.

Working late at her office, Psychologist Kieran Finnegan is confronted by a distraught woman who thrusts an infant into her arms. Kieran tears after her, shoving through the crowds on the sidewalk.

“Listen, I’ll help you, I’ll help the baby! It’s all right…”

It wasn’t in any way all right. The woman lurched forward, as if she would fall into Kieran’s arms, if Kieran had just been close enough.

She wasn’t.

The woman fell face-first down onto the sidewalk.

That’s when Kieran saw the knife protruding from the woman’s back and the rivulets of blood suddenly forming all around her and joining together to create a crimson pool.

[Read Janet Webb's review of A Dangerous Game...]

Mar 12 2018 1:00pm

Watch the Trailer for HLN’s Upcoming True Crime Docuseries Unmasking a Killer

HLN is reopening the manhunt for the Golden State Killer with their upcoming five-part docuseries Unmasking a Killer, premiering Sunday, March 18 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The Golden State Killer is one of the most prolific serial killers in history, evading capture for roughly 40 years and being tied to 51 attacks and 12 murders throughout California. Now, with new evidence suggesting the killer might still be alive, the FBI has offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the killer’s arrest.

Through five one-hour episodes, Unmasking A Killer takes an in-depth look at the manhunt, patterns, escape methods and mind games of the Golden State Killer, raising a key to catching the criminal – potentially linking him to another series of unsolved crimes. Interviews with investigators, law enforcement and victims, who have never spoken out publicly, offer information to help solve the mystery of a man who has managed to fly successfully under the radar for decades.

Stay tuned here on Criminal Element as we cover each episode every Thursday!

Watch the trailer for Unmasking a Killer!

Mar 12 2018 12:00pm

Review: The Sandman by Lars Kepler

The Sandman by Lars Kepler tells the chilling story of a manipulative serial killer and the two brilliant police agents who must try to beat him at his own game.

Thirteen years ago, Mikael and Felicia Kohler-Frost disappeared and were thought dead—victims of Sweden’s sadistic serial killer Jurek Walter. After his arrest by Detective Inspector Joona Linna, Jurek refused to speak. Mikael and Felicia are declared dead. Time passes. Then, on an icy night over a decade after Jurek’s imprisonment, Mikael—emaciated and suffering from Legionnaire’s disease—stumbles out of the forest. And he has important news: his sister Felicia is alive too.

But Mikael can’t remember where he was held. All he remembers is darkness, a capsule-like door, and a strange man who may or may not be Jurek Walter. Whenever the man arrives, he smells like sand, and Mikael and Felicia fall asleep. Detective Joona Linna always suspected that Jurek Walter had an accomplice. Now, with the appearance of the Sandman, it looks like he was right, and the race is on to save Mikael’s sister.

[Read Jenny Maloney's review of The Sandman...]

Mar 12 2018 11:00am

Steve Berry Excerpt: The Bishop’s Pawn

Steve Berry

The Bishop's Pawn by Steve Berry is the 13th book in the Cotton Malone series (available March 20, 2018).

History notes that the ugly feud between J. Edgar Hoover and Martin Luther King Jr., marked by years of illegal surveillance and the accumulation of secret files, ended on April 4, 1968, when King was assassinated by James Earl Ray. But that may not have been the case.

Now, fifty years later, former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone must reckon with the truth of what really happened that fateful day in Memphis.

It all turns on an incident from eighteen years ago, when Malone, as a young Navy lawyer, is trying hard not to live up to his burgeoning reputation as a maverick. When Stephanie Nelle, a high-level Justice Department lawyer, enlists him to help with an investigation, he jumps at the opportunity. But he soon discovers that two opposing forces―the Justice Department and the FBI―are at war over a rare coin and a cadre of secret files containing explosive revelations about the King assassination, information that could ruin innocent lives and threaten the legacy of the civil rights movement’s greatest martyr.

Malone’s decision to see it through to the end—from the raucous bars of Mexico to the clear waters of the Dry Tortugas and, ultimately, into the halls of power within Washington D.C. itself—not only changes his own life, but the course of history.

[Read an excerpt from The Bishop's Pawn...]

Mar 10 2018 11:00am
Original Story

Michael David Ares Excerpt: Dayfall

Michael David Ares

Dayfall by Michael David Ares is a post-apocalyptic, dystopian thriller that sees parts of the northern hemisphere shrouded in darkness from nuclear winter, causing crime rates to skyrocket (available March 13, 2018).


In the near future, patches of the northern hemisphere have been shrouded in years of darkness from a nuclear winter, and the water level has risen in the North Atlantic. The island of Manhattan has lost its outer edges to flooding and is now ringed by a large seawall.

The darkness and isolation have allowed crime and sin to thrive in the never-ending shadows of the once great city, and when the sun finally begins to reappear, everything gets worse. A serial killer cuts a bloody swath across the city during the initial periods of daylight, and a violent panic sweeps through crowds on the streets. The Manhattan police, riddled with corruption and apathy, are at a loss.

That's when the Mayor recruits Jon Phillips, a small-town Pennsylvania cop who had just single-handedly stopped a high-profile serial killer in his own area, and flies him into the insanity of this new New York City. The young detective is partnered with a shady older cop and begins to investigate the crimes amidst the vagaries of a twenty-four hour nightlife he has never experienced before. Soon realizing that he was chosen for reasons other than what he was told, Jon is left with no one to trust and forced to go on the run in the dark streets, and below them in the maze of the underground. Against all odds he still hopes that he can save his own life, the woman of his dreams, and maybe even the whole city before the arrival of the mysterious and dreaded event that has come to be known as ... DAYFALL.

[Read an excerpt from Dayfall...]

Mar 9 2018 5:30pm

Book-Inspired Cocktails: “Fade to Stout”

A lot of times, people drink to forget—but when you're an amnesiac, you don't need booze for that.

So drink to remember with this week's Pick Your Poison—where we create a cocktail inspired by a recently published mystery, thriller, or crime novel—the "Fade to Stout” cocktail, inspired by David Rosenfelt's second Doug Brock novel, Fade to Black!

[Check out the recipe below!]

Mar 9 2018 4:00pm

Was Breaking Bad the Greatest TV Drama of All Time?

*Spoilers Follow*

It’s hard to believe it’s been a full decade since we were first introduced to Breaking Bad’s tighty-whities-wearing protagonist Walter White. The series, which found Mr. White taking on the unlikely position of a crystal-meth manufacturer after discovering he has stage-three lung cancer, initially presented him as a milquetoast high school chemistry teacher whose woe and misfortune cast him as a sympathetic sap. Of course, we all know that image didn’t hold for long—as his seemingly noble mandate for entering the drug game (“I’m doing this for my family”) soon gave way to infatuation—but his long, dark trek proved to be one of the most engaging and satisfying character arcs in television history. Many would even say Breaking Bad was simply the greatest TV series of all time, and when taking it in as a whole, it’s reasonable to understand why one would say that.

What are the greatest TV dramas of all time? Well, when talking of vogue releases of the 21st century, Breaking Bad is always considered—with perhaps just as many suggestions for Mad Men, The Sopranos, and The Wire. What separates Breaking Bad from these candidates, however, is not only is it more accessible but it's also more varied. While Breaking Bad is essentially a crime drama with heavy influence from pulp fiction and Westerns, it certainly didn’t keep remain exclusive to the hardboiled set. The show definitely possessed a surreal factor to it that was captured through brilliant directing and intelligent production decisions.

[“I am the one who knocks!”]

Mar 9 2018 2:00pm

Murder and Mayhem in Chicago: Conference Co-Founders Lori Rader-Day and Dana Kaye Discuss Chicago’s Vibrant Crime Fiction Scene

We're thrilled to welcome Lori Rader-Day and Dana Kaye to CrimeHQ as they discuss the upcoming Murder and Mayhem in Chicago crime fiction conference. 

Lori Rader-Day: When you approached me about the idea of bringing Murder and Mayhem to Chicago, it seemed like such a natural fit. Chicago is such a rich crime fiction city, and yet there wasn’t an event like this in town. Chicago is such a writer’s city, I knew we’d have no shortage of speakers to invite.

Dana Kaye: Exactly! Chicago is so flush with crime fiction talent that hosting a crime fiction conference here seemed like a no-brainer. With veteran Chicago authors like Mary Kubica and Jamie Freveletti paired with new voices like Danny Gardner (A Negro and an Ofay) and Cheryl Reed (Poison Girls), we have a dynamic and diverse group of local authors. And, of course, we have Gillian Flynn whose novel Gone Girl must have hit every bestseller list imaginable.

While we have so many talented authors here, Chicago still seems to be the city that most publishers overlook, and I was hoping that this conference could help change that.

[Read more about the Murder and Mayhem conference in Chicago!]

Mar 9 2018 1:00pm

Robbery with a Chance of Meatballs: Man Steals Meatballs & Gets Caught Red-Handed

According to localnews21.com, police were called to a residence in the Hazle Township of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, on a suspected robbery—the contraband: a pot of meatballs. The victim claims the missing meatballs were stolen from inside his garage. When police arrived, the pot was found on the street outside the residence.

Leahman Potter, 48, was caught red-handed (and red-shirted) when police noticed the man had red sauce on his face and clothing. Police noticed Potter had an active warrant and took him into custody, charging the peckish perp with burglary, criminal trespass, and theft by unlawful taking. That’s a spicy meatball!

Mar 9 2018 11:00am

Alice Feeney Excerpt: Sometimes I Lie

Alice Feeney

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney is a debut novel and brilliant psychological thriller that asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it's the truth? (Available March 13, 2018.)

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:

1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from twenty years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it's the truth?

[Read an excerpt from Sometimes I Lie...]

Mar 8 2018 4:00pm

Review: The Hunger by Alma Katsu

The Hunger by Alma Katsu is a tense and gripping reimagining of one of America's most fascinating historical moments, the Donner Party, with a supernatural twist.

Anyone who’s taken a US History class has most likely heard of the Donner Party and knows exactly why this band of pioneers seeking to settle in California is famous above all others: cannibalism. It’s a word that frightens us to our very core and yet also fascinates us, grabbing hold of that morbid curiosity that we feel about things that defy societal standards. Alma Katsu’s novel The Hunger clings very close to the truth as she delves deep into the story of the families that banded together to move out West before it was settled and laces it with just enough of the supernatural to make an already perilous situation even more chilling.

The Hunger is told from a myriad of viewpoints. Charles Stanton is a bachelor looking to leave a tragic past behind. Tamsen Donner, the wife of party leader George Donner, is a vain woman who seems to take more pride in her looks than in her family; she believes in superstition and witchcraft and is a social pariah because of it. Mary Graves is a daughter from a large family, an innocent in love. Edwin Bryant is a writer who might be a little too obsessed with local Indian lore. Elitha Donner is one of Tamsen’s step-daughters who can hear the dead speak. And James Reed, the other party leader, has a secret he’d kill to protect.

[Read Ardi Alspach's review of The Hunger...]

Mar 8 2018 1:00pm

Review: The Feed by Nick Clark Windo

The Feed by Nick Clark Windo is set in a unique and vividly imagined post-apocalyptic world—a startling and timely debut that explores what it is to be human and what it truly means to be connected in the digital age (available March 13, 2018).

The one thing science fiction is dealing with better than any other genre right now is technological advances. The genre has always “lived” in the future, and now that the future is here, authors are pushing things further, exploring new possibilities, and walking a fine line between pure imagination and plausibility. Nick Clark Windo’s The Feed mixes the internet’s ubiquity with a post-apocalyptic scenario and a lot of emotion to create a hybrid novel that walks the line between an adventure narrative, a horror story, and a classic science fiction tale. 

The Feed used to be accessible everywhere and at any time. It was inside the brain of most people and thus almost inescapable. The instant access to everything was addicting, and people started using it for everything. Every conversation, every memory, every moment at work, and every second dedicated to leisure was intricately tied to the Feed. Tom—whose father created the Feed—and Kate were no different, although Tom fought against the addiction and liked to have moments unplugged from it.

[Read Gabino Iglesias's review of The Feed...]

Mar 8 2018 11:00am

Christi Daugherty Excerpt: The Echo Killing

Christi Daugherty

When a murder echoing a 15-year-old cold case rocks the Southern town of Savannah, crime reporter Harper McClain risks everything to find the identity of this calculated killer in Christi Daugherty's new novel The Echo Killing (available March 13, 2018).

A city of antebellum architecture, picturesque parks, and cobblestone streets, Savannah moves at a graceful pace. But for Harper McClain, the timeless beauty and culture that distinguishes her home’s Southern heritage vanishes during the dark and dangerous nights. She wouldn’t have it any other way. Not even finding her mother brutally murdered in their home when she was twelve has made her love Savannah any less.

Her mother’s killer was never found, and that unsolved murder left Harper with an obsession that drove her to become one of the best crime reporters in the state of Georgia. She spends her nights with the police, searching for criminals. Her latest investigation takes her to the scene of a homicide where the details are hauntingly familiar: a young girl being led from the scene by a detective, a female victim naked and stabbed multiple times in the kitchen, and no traces of any evidence pointing towards a suspect.

Harper has seen all of this before in her own life. The similarities between the murder of Marie Whitney and her own mother’s death lead her to believe they’re both victims of the same killer. At last, she has the chance to find the murderer who’s eluded justice for fifteen years and make sure another little girl isn’t forever haunted by a senseless act of violence―even if it puts Harper in the killer’s cross-hairs…

[Read an excerpt from The Echo Killing...]

Mar 7 2018 6:00pm

Cooking the Books: Plum Tea Crazy by Laura Childs

The 19th installment of the bestselling Tea Shop Mystery series plunges us straight into the action as our heroine, tea shop owner Theodosia Brown, and her trusty sidekick/tea sommelier, Drayton Conneley, are enjoying the air at the Charleston mansion of their old friend Timothy Neville. They’ve arrived too late to his Gaslights and Galleons Parade viewing party to be properly introduced to the other guests, but they’ve arrived just in time to see local banker Carson Lanier plummet from the third-story widow’s walk.

Theo quickly runs down to the railing on which Carson has fallen and determines that he is, indeed, dead. To her surprise, the main wound comes not from where the metal railing impaled him but from what appears to be a crossbow quarrel to his chest.

Thinking quickly, she notices that the bed and breakfast across the way not only provides a prime vantage point from which to aim a weapon at the widow’s walk but also has a suspiciously open window. She and Drayton rush towards the inn in search of a killer, and while they don’t find one that night, the events of the next few days have them in hot pursuit of a murderer all too ready to use every advantage and every dirty trick to not only escape justice but also harm Theo and her friends.

[Recipe and pictures included below!]

Mar 7 2018 5:00pm

Lost Books and Old Bones by Paige Shelton: A Visual Guide

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

Lost Books and Old Bones by Paige Shelton is the third book in the Scottish Bookshop Mystery series featuring bookseller and amateur sleuth Delaney Nichols—take a visual tour with GIFnotes!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Mar 7 2018 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: March 6, 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, Phillip Margolin's first in a new legal thriller series highlights an incredible week of books! See what else we're reading:

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