<i>Date with Malice</i>: Excerpt Date with Malice: Excerpt Julia Chapman The second book in the Samson and Delilah Mystery series. Discount: <i>The Nearest Exit</i> by Olen Steinhauer Discount: The Nearest Exit by Olen Steinhauer Crime HQ Get a digital copy for only $2.99! Review: <i>The Silent Companions</i> by Laura Purcell Review: The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell Gabino Iglesias Read Gabino Iglesias's review! Review: <i>Last Ferry Home</i> by Kent Harrington Review: Last Ferry Home by Kent Harrington Kristin Centorcelli Read Kristin Centorcelli's review!
From The Blog
March 27, 2018
Dark Streets, Green River: The Murder and Mayhem Conference in Chicago
Susanna Calkins
March 23, 2018
Driver in the UK Tries to Pass as Homer Simpson After Getting Pulled Over
Adam Wagner
March 19, 2018
Q&A with Christi Daugherty, Author of The Echo Killing
Christi Daugherty and Crime HQ
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
Mar 23 2018 3:00pm

Review: Tangerine by Christine Mangan

Tangerine by Christine Mangan is a sharp dagger of a book—a debut so tightly wound, so replete with exotic imagery and charm, so full of precise details and extraordinary craftsmanship, it will leave you absolutely breathless (available March 27, 2018).

The manuscript that eventually became Tangerine was plucked from a slush pile by literary agent Elisabeth Weed, whom Christine Mangan thanks in her acknowledgments. This will no doubt give un-agented and unpublished writers a spark of hope. Mangan doesn’t go into great detail about the hard work she put into this novel or the number of drafts she wrote to get to publication, but I can tell you about the rollercoaster ride I went on while reading her first novel. I was quickly pulled into the story and found myself going up and down with it—enjoying it, not liking it, thinking that it was clever, thinking that it was stupid, thinking that maybe I was stupid and not getting something. Eventually, I started to make connections. After finishing the novel, I started making even more connections—and now I’m in desperate need of a friend to read it so we can discuss.

The novel starts at the end, a prologue set in Spain. Three men pull a dead body out of the water. The narrator is thinking—about Tangier, about her—and tells the reader that her mind now “often plays tricks” on her. And then, with Chapter One, we’re in Tangier. It’s 1956, and although the rationing of World War II might be fading away, the shockwaves from the war are reverberating, causing a swelling of discontent.

[Read Chris Wolak's review of Tangerine...]

Mar 23 2018 2:00pm

Hope in the Face of Wrongful Imprisonment: Listen to an Audio Excerpt from Anthony Ray Hinton’s The Sun Does Shine

Anthony Ray Hinton

The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton is a powerful, revealing story of hope, love, justice, and the power of reading by a man who spent thirty years on death row for a crime he didn't commit.

In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. Stunned, confused, and only twenty-nine years old, Hinton knew that it was a case of mistaken identity and believed that the truth would prove his innocence and ultimately set him free.

But with no money and a different system of justice for a poor black man in the South, Hinton was sentenced to death by electrocution. He spent his first three years on Death Row at Holman State Prison in agonizing silence―full of despair and anger toward all those who had sent an innocent man to his death. But as Hinton realized and accepted his fate, he resolved not only to survive, but find a way to live on Death Row. For the next twenty-seven years he was a beacon―transforming not only his own spirit, but those of his fellow inmates, fifty-four of whom were executed mere feet from his cell. With the help of civil rights attorney and bestselling author of Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson, Hinton won his release in 2015.

[Listen to an audio excerpt from The Sun Does Shine...]

Mar 23 2018 1:00pm

Review: The Bishop’s Pawn by Steve Berry

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

Steve Berry is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author who has more than 20 million books in print, translated into 40 languages. These include 13 novels featuring protagonist Cotton Malone as well as four standalones. He and his wife are co-founders of the History Matters foundation, which is dedicated to historical preservation; Berry also sits on the Smithsonian Libraries Advisories Board. His newest work, The Bishop’s Pawn, is an origin story of sorts that explores the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on its 15th anniversary.

Present Day: “How ironic, I think, that this all started with a murder, and now it appears it might end with another.” This internal thought begins the prologue, which finds former Justice Department agent and current antiquarian bookseller Cotton Malone inside Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic childhood home under cover of darkness. He’s there at the behest of an old acquaintance (their reunion is all but inevitable); though not a stranger, this person is no friend, either—as evidenced by the fact that he’s armed with a gun and intends to use it. The one question that remains is: on whom? Of course, readers will have to wait for that answer as the narrative shifts back in time.

[Read John Valeri's review of The Bishop's Pawn...]

Mar 23 2018 12:00pm

Driver in the UK Tries to Pass as Homer Simpson After Getting Pulled Over

“You can't depend on me all your life. You have to learn that there's a little Homer Simpson in all of us.”

A woman in the UK recently attempted to pass as the yellow, four-fingered buffoon by handing an officer a fake driver’s license claiming she was none other than Homer Simpson. While they clearly share no physical resemblance, she resembles Homer in spirit, as the offense does seem like something he would do.

The woman’s car was seized and she was reported for driving with no insurance and driving without a proper license.

She and Matthew McConaughey would be the perfect couple!

Mar 23 2018 10:00am

David Hagberg Excerpt: Flash Points

David Hagberg

Flash Points by David Hagberg is the 22nd book in the Kirk McGarvey series—an action-packed thriller about a plot to lead a president towards impeachment (available March 27, 2018).

Retired CIA assassin Kirk McGarvey is taking a much needed break. Then a bomb in his car explodes just as he's leaving the vehicle. He barely escapes with his life.

The men who went after McGarvey are also after the President of the United States. A controversial candidate, he has just won a heated, heavily contested presidential election. Now his enemies are determined to push him out of office. These men hire a contractor to set up three terrorist assaults in the US as well as other attacks around the globe in hopes of driving him from office. These strikes are at flash points so critical they could incite all-out nuclear war.

But the president’s enemies have not reckoned on Kirk McGarvey. He has survived their attempt on his life, and he is determined to hunt them down and stop them at all costs.

They made a mistake in going after the CIA’s #1 assassin.

[Read an excerpt from Flash Points...]

Mar 22 2018 4:00pm

Unmasking a Killer, Part 2: “The Pattern of a Killer” Episode Review

While Episode 1 of HLN’s newest docuseries, Unmasking a Killer, gave us a broad overview of everything that happened in the original search for the Golden State Killer—also known as the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker—Episode 2 dives deep into the killer’s modus operandi, or the particular way in which he committed his crimes and how they evolved over time as he learned. As one of the detectives interviewed said, “This case is why we lock our doors at night.”

During the time when he was only known as the East Area Rapist, his usual method was to stalk victims, often prowling around the house and the neighborhood to meticulously plan his escape route as well as the rape itself. Backdoors in quiet, middleclass neighborhoods weren’t commonly kept locked, so at first, he was able to just let himself in to case the house and hide tools for later use during his crimes. That soon changed as news of his attacks quickly spread around the area. But he was persistent and organized and not without skill, which is why this man has gone uncaptured for 40 years.

[Read Ardi Alspach's review of Episode 2 of Unmasking a Killer...]

Mar 22 2018 3:00pm

Review: The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James is a chilling modern-day Gothic tale about the power of sisterhood and the search for the truth to secrets that shouldn't stay buried.

In the damp emptiness of the dining hall, Anthony’s cell phone rang.

Fiona didn’t have to watch him answer it. It was enough to hear his voice, short at first, then growing harsh and tense. He listened for a long moment. “I’ll be there,” he said, and hung up.

She turned around. He was drawn and still, his gaze faraway, a man in a long black cashmere coat in a ruined room. He put his hands in the pockets of his coat, and when he looked at her, his face was pale again, his expression shaken.

“There’s been—a discovery,” he said. “I don’t—they’ve found something. It seems to be a body. In the well.”

The breath went out of her in an exhalation as the moment froze, suspended. She felt shock, yes. Surprise. But part of her knew only acceptance. Part of her had expected nothing else.

Of course there are bodies here. This is Idlewild Hall.

“Take me there,” she said to him. “I can help.”

In rural Vermont, in the struggling town of Barrons, there’s a dark place.

Idlewild Hall. A sprawling complex of decaying buildings, once a boarding school for “problematic girls.” The place where—20 years ago—the body of Fiona Sheridan’s sister, Deb, was found in 1994.

Fiona, now 36 and a journalist, is unable to truly move on with her life in the wake of Deb’s death. Tim Christopher, Deb’s boyfriend and the heir to the town’s wealthiest family, has spent the last two decades in prison for the murder. She should have closure.

[Read Angie Barry's review of The Broken Girls...]

Mar 22 2018 1:00pm

Review: Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien

Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien is the first book in the new Noodle Shop Mystery series (available March 27, 2018).

Take a visual tour of Death by Dumpling with GIFnotes!

Lana Lee is 27 years old and, after a cascade of poor life choices, has found herself working as a server in her family’s restaurant to make ends meet. Ho-Lee Noodle House is one of the most prosperous shops in Asia Village, a charming Asian-themed plaza located on the west side of Cleveland, Ohio. Asia Village is the brainchild and baby of Thomas Feng, the 50-something property owner with an allergy to shrimp so deadly that he carries an Epi-pen with him at all times. It seems like business as usual when Lana delivers a take-out order to Mr. Feng’s office after the cook who usually doubles as the delivery man begs off due to other pressing orders. Everyone at Ho-Lee Noodle House knows about the allergy, so Mr. Feng being found dead soon after seems like tragic happenstance—until the coroner rules that he died from a reaction to shrimp dumplings, with his Epi-pen nowhere to be found.

Lana is stunned to discover that she’s the prime suspect given that she was the last person to handle his food. She’s even more astonished when the death brings out not only the ugly side of some of her neighbors but also deep, dark secrets from Asia Village’s past. Unwilling to sit idly by while her character is besmirched, she proceeds to methodically investigate—despite the stern warnings of the detective in charge, the dreamy Adam Trudeau (and with a last name like that, I keep envisioning him as a certain good-looking Prime Minister. I don’t think anyone can blame me).

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of Death by Dumpling...]

Mar 22 2018 12:00pm

Review: Second Story Man by Charles Salzberg

Second Story Man by Charles Salzberg is a thrilling novel that develops into a cat-and-mouse contest between the two lawmen and a master burglar (available March 26, 2018).

I love a good no-good thief.

Now, I am also inordinately fond of Bernie Rhodenbarr, Lawrence Block’s Burglar who will rob you blind but may also solve your murder if he stumbles on your still-warm corpse during a job. But even Bernie usually does so because he’s been blamed for it, not out of the goodness of his larcenous little heart. If you’ve ever been robbed or burgled, you know that the violation is a lasting wound. Even if you can afford to lose what was taken, knowing that a stranger was in your home pawing over your things is hard to forget. So I’m not a fan of making fictional thieves honorable—or worse, angels with sticky fingers.

They don’t have to be murderous, though the basis for one of my favorite movies, Thief, was home invader Frank Hohimer (pseudonym of thief John Seybold), author of The Home Invaders. In the movie, he cut through safes with thermal lances; in reality, they broke into rich people’s homes and stuck a gun in their faces—and in one case, allegedly raped their daughter. Not quite as romantic. I don’t want to read a sympathetic story about thieves like that. Parker, who wouldn’t work with a rape-o like that, is much more palatable.

[Read Thomas Pluck's review of Second Story Man...]

Mar 22 2018 10:00am

Jessica Strawser Excerpt: Not That I Could Tell

Jessica Strawser

An innocent night of fun takes a shocking turn in Not That I Could Tell, the next page-turner from Jessica Strawser (available March 27, 2018).

When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.

By Monday morning, one of them is gone.

Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce―and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her―and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions―especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.

As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors―and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.

[Read an excerpt from Not That I Could Tell...]

Mar 21 2018 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: Marinating in Murder by Linda Wiken

Event planner JJ Tanner is looking forward to a picnic outing with her Culinary Capers club—a group of friends who meet to choose recipes from a cookbook one member picks each month to put together a dinner from. The gang has met up in the driveway of one member, Alison Manovich, to convoy over to the picnic grounds. When Alison unlocks her SUV to load up the trunk with goodies, she has the shock of her life when she discovers a dead body inside. Worse still, it’s the body of her estranged husband, James Bailey.

Alison is a police officer, so she quickly alerts her colleagues and calmly accepts a suspension with pay while James’s death is being investigated. JJ is eager to do everything she can to help Alison; she has had some success helping solve murders in the past, after all. At first, Alison wants JJ to leave the investigating to the professionals. But then, they learn that James has been leading a double life with another wife in New York State, just an hour’s drive away from their Vermont town of Half Moon Bay.

Despite her shellshock, Alison knows that she needs all the help she can get. With the information Alison gives her and the invaluable help of former cop turned private detective Ty Devine, JJ sets out both to clear Alison’s name and figure out the enigma that was the dearly departed.

[Recipe and pictures included below!]

Mar 21 2018 3:30pm

The Glass Room 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.

From Crime Writers Association's Diamond Dagger Award winner Ann Cleeves comes The Glass Room, published for the first time in the US—take a visual tour of the fifth Vera Stanhope mystery with GIFnotes!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Mar 21 2018 1:00pm

Marvel’s Jessica Jones Season 2 Review: Episodes 5-7

Hello, and welcome back to my look at Season 2 of Netflix and Marvel's Jessica Jones, where Krysten Ritter plays the titular hard-drinking, haunted, superpowered, super sleuth. Last time, we kicked things off with a look at Episodes 1-4. Today, we'll finish the first half of the season with a look at Episode 5: “AKA The Octopus”; Episode 6: “AKA Facetime”; and Episode 7: “AKA I Want Your Cray Cray.” Once again, I'll be exploring the aspects of the show I thought did and did not work while using my perspective and knowledge as a longtime Marvel Comics fan and comic journalist to illuminate any Easter eggs or differences from the source materials you might have missed.

So put down that weird inhaler (are you sure it's for your allergies?), and let's go!

[Read Dave Richards’s review of Episodes 5-7…]

Mar 21 2018 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: March 20, 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, Steve Berry's latest Cotton Malone thriller combines with the final completed Mickey Spillane novel to highlight a killer week of books! See what else we're reading:

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

Mar 21 2018 10:00am

Jonathan Maberry Excerpt: Glimpse

Jonathan Maberry

Glimpse by Jonathan Maberry is a chilling thriller that explores what happens when reality and nightmares converge—and how far one will go to protect the innocent when their own brain is a threat (available March 27, 2018).

Rain Thomas is a mess. Seven years an addict and three difficult years clean. Racked by guilt for the baby she gave up for adoption when she was sixteen. Still grieving for the boy’s father who died in Iraq. Alone, discarded by her family, with only the damaged members of her narcotics anonymous meetings as friends. Them, and the voices in her head.

One morning, on the way to a much-needed job interview, she borrows reading glasses to review her resume. There is a small crack in one lens and through that damaged slice of glass she sees a young boy go running down the aisle of the subway train. Is he screaming with laughter or just screaming? When she tries to find the boy, he’s gone and no one has seen him.

The day spins out of control. Rain loses whole chunks of time. She has no idea where her days went. The voices she hears are telling her horrible things. And even stranger things are happening. Unsure whether she is going insane, Rain sets out to find answers to long buried questions about an earlier life she has avoided for years―in what may be the most dangerous collision of all, that between reality and nightmare.

How far will one person go to save someone they love?

[Read an excerpt from Glimpse...]

Mar 20 2018 4:00pm

Vote for Your Favorite New Crime TV Series


Let us know what you're watching in the comments below!

Mar 20 2018 3:00pm

Would You Like Murder with That? Catching up with AMC’s McMafia

Rich gangsters and rich executives have much in common. They have unlimited travel budgets, they don’t worry about the global roaming charges on their unlocked quad-band cell phones, they always stay in first-class digs even in the Third World, and they have to deal with supply snafus, bumbling employees, regulation, and competitors muscling in on their territory. The main difference is that when the gangsters say they “made a killing,” it’s not a figure of speech.

Global investment-fund manager Alex Godman finds out just how thin the line is between executive and Mafioso in AMC’s eight-part international crime series, McMafia.

[Read more about why you should be watching McMafia!]

Mar 20 2018 2:00pm

Discount: Collecting the Dead by Spencer Kope

Collecting the Dead by Spencer Kope is the first book in the Special Tracking Unit series featuring synesthete tracker Magnus “Steps” Craig.

In anticipation of Spencer Kope's second book in the Special Tracking Unit series, Whispers of the Dead (available April 17, 2018), get the first book in the series, Collecting the Dead, for only $2.99 through April 3rd!

Magnus “Steps” Craig is part of the elite three-man Special Tracking Unit of the FBI. Called in on special cases where his skills are particularly needed, he works as a tracker. The media dubs him “The Human Bloodhound,” since Steps is renowned for his incredible ability to find and follow trails over any surface better than anyone else. But there's a secret to his success. Steps has a special ability—a kind of synesthesia—where he can see the 'essence' of a person, something he calls 'shine,' on everything they've touched. His ability is known to only a few people—his father, the director of the FBI, and his partner, Special Agent Jimmy Donovan.

When the remains of a murdered woman are found, Steps recognizes the shine left by the murderer from another crime scene with a physically similar victim. And he uncovers the signature at both scenes—the mark of a sad face. At the same time, another killer, one Steps has dubbed Leonardo and has been trying to track for over ten years, appears again, taunting Steps. But while Steps tries to find a clue that will lead him to Leonardo, the case of the Sad Face Killer heats up. The team uncovers eleven possible victims: missing women who fit the same pattern. Using his skill and the resources of the Bureau, it is a race against time to find the killer before it's too late.

Read an excerpt from Collecting the Dead!


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

Buy at Amazon Buy at Barnes and NobleBuy at iTunes

Mar 20 2018 1:00pm

Why You Should Be Watching Hap & Leonard

Because it’s Joe Fucking Lansdale.

That really should be the end of this article. If you don’t know the work of Joe R. Lansdale, Hap & Leonard is a wonderful introduction to his most popular books. If you already enjoy his work, watching the series on Sundance is like reading the books for the first time again. They capture the tone and spirit perfectly and bring the characters to life, right down to Hap’s hippie soul and Leonard’s irascible, rugged individualism (and Nilla wafers). Which is quite a feat because, while Joe is a champion storyteller, his voice is a large part of what makes his work so enjoyable. Like Robert Parker, Walter Mosley, and Laura Lippman, he can write about something mundane and make it as gripping as a thriller because he writes with a voice that we follow like the little bouncing red ball over song lyrics, if you’re old enough to remember those.

[Read more about why you should be watching Hap & Leonard!]

Mar 20 2018 12:00pm

Review: The Temptation of Forgiveness by Donna Leon

The Temptation of Forgiveness by Donna Leon is the 27th novel in the bestselling Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series, where a suspicious accident leads Brunetti to uncover a longstanding scam with disturbing unintended consequences (available March 20, 2018).

In this 27th installment of the Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series, our hero—a detective in the state police force stationed in Venice—is approached by a friend of his wife Paola’s. Professoressa Elisa Crosera is concerned about changes in her 15-year-old son’s behavior and suspects they may be due to drugs. She wants Brunetti to investigate who might be selling drugs to kids at Sandro’s school, but she doesn’t have any actual proof or leads.

Brunetti is too polite to tell her that adolescent boys tend to go through periods of off-putting behavior that isn’t necessarily illegal or immoral, but he does promise to look into any suspicious drug activity around the Albertini, the private school in which both of Crosera’s children are enrolled. To do so, he must make inquiries with a somewhat unusual contact whom he discusses with his colleague and friend, Commissario Claudia Griffoni, in a conversation that is extremely illuminating of the Italian way of life:

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of The Temptation of Forgiveness...]