Review: <i>Madness Treads Lightly</i> by Polina Dashkova Review: Madness Treads Lightly by Polina Dashkova Ardi Alspach Read Ardi Alspach's review! Discount: <i>The Prisoner of Hell Gate</i> by Dana I. Wolff Discount: The Prisoner of Hell Gate by Dana I. Wolff Crime HQ Get a digital copy for $1.99 through October! Cover Reveal: <i>Not Her Daughter</i> by Rea Frey Cover Reveal: Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey Crime HQ See the beautiful cover & order your copy today! <i>Dying to Live</i>: Excerpt Dying to Live: Excerpt Michael Stanley The sixth Detective Kubu Mystery, set against the richly beautiful backdrop of Botswana.
From The Blog
October 17, 2017
Review: Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Adam Wagner
October 15, 2017
Executed 100 Years Ago: Who Was Mata Hari?
David Cranmer
October 13, 2017
6 Eerie, Mysterious, and Unsettling Unsolved Mysteries
Angie Barry
October 13, 2017
Man Arrested for 28th DUI
Teddy Pierson
October 12, 2017
Celebrating Robert Mitchum’s Centennial: Mitch Goes to War
David Cranmer
Sun
Oct 15 2017 10:00pm

The Deuce 1.06: “Why Me?” Episode Review

After last week’s emotional high point, you have to expect a low, and this is an enjoyable coast toward the inevitable. We learn the why behind the “No Go Zone” of Times Square. The culmination of free speech rulings allowing pornographic films to be filmed in the United States and the Knapp Commission scaring the hell out of police bigwigs downtown.

That doesn’t stop Lieutenant Sweeney from waltzing into the massage parlor to let Vinnie know the street tax is $500 a week, even if they have the blessing from town hall. They know the ax is coming, and they are stealing all that they can before it comes down on their necks. 

Elaine starts working with Harvey the porno director, who we learn is working for the Genovese crime family when they sit in on a court case where the judge finds their smut films have “socially redeeming value” and dismisses the charges. But Elaine wants to work behind the camera and keeps pushing for it. There isn’t enough filming happening yet, but the sluice gates are about to open.

[Read Thomas Pluck's review of “Why Me?”...]

Sun
Oct 15 2017 3:00pm

Executed 100 Years Ago: Who Was Mata Hari?

Exotic dancing and espionage are the twin peaks that come to mind when the name Mata Hari is mentioned. But what is her full, true story? Lost to time and blurred in key passages, for sure. Fact and fiction began cross-pollinating quite early, furthered in great part by her own exaggerations in efforts to hype her lascivious career. Journalists lapped it up for purple prose lines like, “so feline, extremely feminine, majestically tragic, the thousand curves and movements of her body trembling in a thousand rhythms.” Today's Hollywood publicists have nothing on Ms. Hari when it comes to self-promotion and aggrandizement. She discovered early in her stage career that the more outlandish a rumor reported by the press, the more people paid to see her dance.

It all began for the modestly named Margaretha Zelle on August 7, 1876, born in the Netherlands to well-to-do parents. Her father—a haberdasher made even richer by successful speculation in the burgeoning oil industry—provided a comfortable existence for the family until 1889 when he nosedived into bankruptcy. Poverty sparked a chain of events that guided her ill-fated trajectory: her father remarried, her mother died when she was fifteen, and a young Margaretha was left to drift from a godfather to an uncle, never regaining her family stability.

[The spy who loved money...]

Fri
Oct 13 2017 3:00pm

6 Eerie, Mysterious, and Unsettling Unsolved Mysteries

Who doesn’t love Unsolved Mysteries?

With his deep voice, stoic manner, and popular performance as the infamous Federal Agent Eliot Ness, Robert Stack was an ideal host for stories that were strange, criminal, and creepy. Sure, the mixture of interviews and reenactments could be hammy, but the mysteries themselves…

I like to think my fascination with the weird stems from childhood viewings of Unsolved Mysteries with my grandma. To this day, the distinctive theme music hits me directly in the nostalgic solar plexus.

Amazon has made the early seasons available on Prime streaming, and I highly recommend revisiting them. Meanwhile, here are a few of the most intriguing unsolved mysteries Stack never got the chance to narrate—some true campfire stories to tell this Halloween season:

[See all the spooky unsolved mysteries!]

Fri
Oct 13 2017 1:00pm

Review: The Templar Brotherhood by James Becker

The Templar Brotherhood by James Becker is the third book in the Lost Treasure of the Templars series—a breakneck thriller that whisks readers into the shadowy secret chambers of the Knights Templar.

Check out James Becker's guest post about the Knights of Templar's influence through history and their presence today!

In the third book of the Lost Treasure of the Templars series, Robin Jessup and David Mallory are fresh off an adventure that nearly cost them their lives in a series of Swiss caves. But it wasn’t for naught. They came back with a set of archives that could lead to the lost treasure of the Templars. 

They had managed to locate the Archive among several chests of documents hidden away for over half a millennium in a complex cave system they’d found at the end of a valley in Switzerland, caves that extended in a network below the nearby hills. In some ways that had been the easy bit, but they had also managed to convince both the Swiss authorities and a group of armed Italian thugs that the Archive had been destroyed. These men were enforcers employed by a militant arm of the Ordo Praedicatorum, the Dominican order whose members had emerged to become the pope’s personal torturers and assassins in the medieval period.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of The Templar Brotherhood...]

Fri
Oct 13 2017 12:00pm

Man Arrested for 28th DUI

Nothing to be proud of

Most of us strive to be the best at something while we are on this planet. Some want to be the best baseball player. Others might want to be the best at eating hot dogs. This week's perp derp is the best at being arrested for drunk driving.

According to The New York Post, a man was charged with his 28th—yes, 28th—DUI. The police say the man has broken the record for the number of drunk driving arrests in the state of New York. He went for the gold and got it ... or perhaps he went for the bottle of Goldschläger.

The man's criminal history highlight reel already includes spending four years in prison for a prior drunken driving offense. He has also been ordered to seek treatment on at least 12 other occasions, which does not seem to be working out for him.

During the traffic stop that led to his record-breaking arrest, he said, “I am way over. Take me to jail.” At least he did not play any games with the police and accepted his new title.

If convicted of his latest charge, the maximum sentence he will face is seven years in prison. In my opinion, that seems very lenient...

Fri
Oct 13 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

David L. Golemon Excerpt: In the Still of the Night

David L. Golemon

In the Still of the Night by David L. GolemonSet in the world of The Supernaturals, one of Riffle’s Ten Best Haunted House Books of All Time, In the Still of the Night is a supernatural thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Event Group series, David L. Golemon, that will make your Halloween extra spooky this year (available October 17, 2017).

Five years ago, the ghost-hunting Supernaturals disbanded after being accused of faking their footage of the haunting at Summer Place. Now, the eccentric, but brilliant, team of scientists and paranormal experts are being asked to join forces once again— this time to save the President.

Through strenuous investigation and mysterious messages about returning home, the team soon discovers the long lost home of the president: a small town in California called Moreno, a modern ghost town.

When the Supernaturals go to Moreno for answers, they find a presence; something came to Moreno after WWII, something that’s still locked in a steel vault in the basement of the town’s old movie theater.

To make matters worse, the thing in the basement is starting to pull them into its time, Halloween of 1963. With the body count rising, it’ll be up to the Supernaturals to find an explanation for what this paranormal being is and how to defeat it.

[Read an excerpt from In the Still of the Night...]

Thu
Oct 12 2017 4:00pm
Original Story

“Close Enough” by Shannon Baker

Shannon Baker

“Close Enough” is a thrilling Kate Fox short story from author Shannon Baker that bridges the gap between Stripped Bare and Dark Signal.

Reeling from her recent divorce, Kate Fox is campaigning against her ex to become the next Grand County, Nebraska Sherriff. When a child goes missing in the Sandhills, the whole town organizes a search and rescue mission. But Kate doesn’t think Ethan wandered off—something more nefarious is going on. With a dangerous winter storm fast approaching, Kate must find Ethan before it’s too late.

[Read Shannon Baker's “Close Enough” below...]

Thu
Oct 12 2017 4:00pm

Celebrating Robert Mitchum’s Centennial: Mitch Goes to War

We’ve been celebrating one hundred years of Robert Mitchum, having already looked back at his noir and Western films. Another genre he dominated was war movies, often projecting the great inner strength of tight-lipped heroes who fought the good fight, usually against staggering odds. Here are several of the best:

[See Robert Mitchum's best war movies!]

Thu
Oct 12 2017 3:00pm

Ben Stiller to Direct True Crime Series for Showtime

It’s not every day the name Ben Stiller tops the news of true-crime entertainment. Known more for his silly comedies (Zoolander, There’s Something About Mary), Stiller is toning down the humor for his new Showtime miniseries, which will dramatize the escape of David Sweat and Richard Matt from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, NY. 

Filmed in upstate New York where the escape took place, Escape from Dannemora stars Paul Dano as Sweat, Benicio Del Toro as Matt, and Patricia Arquette as Joyce Mitchell, the prison seamstress who helped them escape. 

Escape from Dannemora is scheduled to premiere in 2018. Head over to Entertainment Weekly to view the first-look photos of the series, the cast, and Stiller behind the camera!

Thu
Oct 12 2017 1:00pm

Review: The Four Horsemen by Gregory Dowling

The Four Horsemen by Gregory DowlingThe Four Horsemen by Gregory Dowling is the second book in the Alvise Marangon Mysteries series.

No matter the historic period, some elements of a detective story are eternal. Someone doesn’t want the truth to come out. Often the detective is a free spirit, willing to push past the “don’t bother” advice given. A mysterious, sultry lady is frequently in the cast of characters. Lastly, the detective can take a punch, although it’s not unusual for them to avoid a beating through clever diversionary tactics. The Four Horsemen—18th-century Venetian setting notwithstanding—ticks all these boxes.

Licensed Venetian tour guide Alvise Marangon, who Gregory Dowling introduced in Ascension, is relaxing in his usual watering-hole, the Malvasia del Remedio:

[Read Janet Webb's review of The Four Horsemen...]

Thu
Oct 12 2017 12:00pm

Review: Death in St. Petersburg by Tasha Alexander

Death in St. Petersburg by Tasha Alexander is the 12th book in the Lady Emily Mysteries series.

From a distance, the crimson spray coloring the snow looked more like scattered rose petals than evidence of a grisly murder. Upon closer approach, however, the broken body, delicate and graceful, revealed the truth of the scene in its full horror. 

The victim’s pale skin, almost translucent, had been slashed and desecrated in an act of inhumane violence. But even so, her beauty could not be denied.

Perhaps St. Petersburg required elegance even in death.

Lady Emily is enjoying the magic of snowy St. Petersburg, attending balls, high-society dinners, and ballets with her old friend Cécile while her husband, Colin Hargreaves, does his usual shadowy, secretive work as an agent for the English crown. The beauties of Russia have thoroughly charmed the lady detective—right up to the moment she finds a dead prima ballerina lying in the snow. 

[Read Angie Barry's review of Death in St. Petersburg...]

Thu
Oct 12 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

Shannon Baker Excerpt: Dark Signal

Shannon Baker

Dark Signal by Shannon BakerDark Signal by Shannon Baker is the second installment in the Kate Fox mystery series, starring a female Longmire in the atmospheric Nebraska Sandhills (available October 17, 2017).

Reeling from her recent divorce, Kate Fox has just been sworn in as Grand County, Nebraska Sheriff when tragedy strikes. A railroad accident has left engineer Chad Mills dead, his conductor Bobby Jenkins in shock. Kate soon realizes that the accident was likely murder.

Who would want to kill Chad Mills? Kate finds that he made a few enemies as president of the railroad workers union. Meanwhile, his widow is behaving oddly. And why was his neighbor Josh Stevens at the Mills house on the night of the accident?

While her loud and meddling family conspires to help Kate past her divorce, State Patrol Officer Trey closes in on Josh Stevens as the suspect. Kate doesn’t believe it. She may not have the experience, but she’s lived in the Sandhills her whole life and knows the land and the people. Something doesn’t add up—and Kate must find the real killer before he can strike again.

[Read an excerpt from Dark Signal...]

Wed
Oct 11 2017 4:00pm

Cooking the Books: Blueberry Muffin Murder by Joanne Fluke

So really, I’m at the point where I’m feeling like the Hannah Swensen mysteries are a bit like a grown-up version of the beloved Nancy Drew books. Our heroine is smart and charming, has a strong supporting cast, and the dialog sparkles with gentle humor. The mystery itself is solid and the romances sweet.

By the third novel in the Hannah Swensen series, one does feel that there’s a formula being followed, but it’s such a winning recipe that I, for one, certainly don’t mind. And did I mention that the mystery is solid? Every book I’ve read in this series so far has been a perfect example of the cozy genre.

In Blueberry Muffin Murder, the glamorous domestic diva and cooking show host, Connie Mac, has descended upon Lake Eden to grace their Winter Carnival—a festival dreamed up by Mayor Bascombe to drum up tourism in the doldrums of the late Minnesota winter. Hannah gets roped into giving the celebrity a tour of the carnival ahead of Connie’s unveiling of the official cake that she’s baked for the occasion—an experience that leads Hannah to believe that Connie is nothing like her public image of sweetness and light.

[Recipe and pictures included below!]

Wed
Oct 11 2017 3:15pm

The Vineyard Victims by Ellen Crosby: A Visual Guide

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

This week, take a visual tour of Ellen Crosby's eighth Wine Country Mystery, The Vineyard Victims!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Wed
Oct 11 2017 1:00pm

The Knights Templar Through History

My word is my bond

That might sound like a modern expression, but it’s actually derived from the banking activities of perhaps the most mysterious and secretive organization that has ever existed: the Knights Templar.

The order was formed sometime around 1118 in Jerusalem, ostensibly to protect Christian pilgrims on the roads of the Holy Land—though how only nine knights could have achieved this is unclear. Its last Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, was burned alive at the stake in 1314. But during those two centuries, the Templars rose from obscurity to dominate life in medieval Europe. In the process, they became far wealthier than most of the states they counted as their clients and invented the essentials of the modern banking system.

But can their shadowy influence be seen or felt today?

[Read more about the Knights Templar...]

Wed
Oct 11 2017 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: October 10, 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, it's cozies and historical mysteries galore! See what we're reading:

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

Wed
Oct 11 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

Dana Middleton Excerpt: Open If You Dare

Dana Middleton

Open If You Dare by Dana MiddletonOpen If You Dare by Dana Middleton is a middle-grade mystery novel where three friends work together to solve the mystery of a long-buried box planted by a dead girl 40 years ago (available October 17, 2017).

Like Birdie Adams didn’t have enough problems this summer. But Birdie’s Birdie. And if a long-buried box has “Open if you dare” written on its lid, then Birdie and her best friends, Ally and Rose, are going to open it.

And now, along with everything else that’s going on—Ally’s pitching slump, Rose’s banishment to Britain, and Birdie’s annoying younger sister being, you know, annoying—the best friends are caught up in solving a mystery planted by a dead girl forty years ago.

[Read an excerpt from Open If You Dare...]