Review: <i>The Night at the Crossroads</i> by Georges Simenon Review: The Night at the Crossroads by Georges Simenon Jake Hinkson Read Jake Hinkson's review! <i>To Right the Wrongs</i>: Excerpt To Right the Wrongs: Excerpt Sheryl Scarborough The second book in the Erin Blake series. Discount: <i>Don't Look for Me</i> by Loren D. Estleman Discount: Don't Look for Me by Loren D. Estleman Crime HQ Get a digital copy for only $2.99! Review: <i>All the Deadly Lies</i> by Marian Lanouette Review: All the Deadly Lies by Marian Lanouette John Valeri Read John Valeri's review!
From The Blog
February 23, 2018
What If We’re Living In an Alternative-History Novel?
Mitch Silver
February 23, 2018
How to Lose the Cops in 10 Days: Suspected Car Thief Tries to Convince Police He's Matthew McConaughey
Adam Wagner
February 22, 2018
5 Crime Fiction Titles with a Strong Sense of Place
Chris Rhatigan
February 21, 2018
Judging a Book by Its Covers
Eric Beetner
February 19, 2018
What I Learned from Tom Ripley, Bruno Antony, and Patricia Highsmith
Mitch Silver
Feb 19 2018 4:00pm

What I Learned from Tom Ripley, Bruno Antony, and Patricia Highsmith

My wife Ellen’s maiden name is Highsmith. And yes, she’s related. Which was the entire flimsy reason that I decided to read each of Aunt Pat’s five Tom Ripley thrillers. That and my love of all things Alfred Hitchcock—especially Strangers on a Train, the movie Hitch made from Patricia Highsmith’s first published novel.

If you’ve never read The Talented Mr. Ripley—well, what are you waiting for? Even if you have, and you’ve seen the Matt Damon movie to boot, there’s a lot to be gleaned from a re-reading of her handling of plot, character, and atmosphere.

Villains were her specialty. Start with Bruno Antony, her first baddie, who meets architect Guy Haines on a train. Over drinks, Bruno learns that Guy’s wife, Miriam, refuses to give him a divorce. After a little more conversation, Bruno says, “Want me to dope out the perfect murder of your wife for you? You might want to use it sometime.”

[Read more from Mitch Silver!]

Feb 19 2018 3:00pm

Review: Down the River unto the Sea by Walter Mosley

Down the River unto the Sea by Walter Mosley is the first book in a new series featuring Joe King Oliver, a disgraced former cop turned private detective in New York City (available February 20, 2018).

Walter Mosley writes with a voice that flows as easy as that river of the title, and he introduces a series character who is both familiar and new with his latest. Set in modern-day New York City, we meet disgraced cop turned detective Joe King Oliver, 10 years after a rape accusation on the job killed his career, put him in solitary in Riker’s for three months, and left him with ugly scars inside and out. Not an easy character to sympathize with. We get Joe’s side of the story first, and according to him, it was entirely consensual. But I wasn’t sure if Mosley was writing an unreliable narrator. Here’s a paragraph that encapsulates Joe King Oliver:

There was a chill in the morning air but I had my wind breaker on, a sweater beneath that. Pedestrian traffic was still pretty light at that time of day and the breezes can get a little stiff. The combination of solitude and cold somehow imparted the feeling of freedom; so much so that I was on the brink of laughter. I knew these emotions indicated an instability of mind but I didn’t care. A man can live his whole life following the rules set down by happenstance and the cash-coated bait of security-cosseted morality; an entire lifetime and in the end he wouldn’t have done one thing to be proud of.

By the end of Down the River unto the Sea, he will have done that one thing.

[Read Thomas Pluck's review of Down the River unto the Sea...]

Feb 19 2018 1:00pm

Watch the Trailer for Season 4 of Amazon Prime’s Bosch

Good news, Bosch fans! Amazon has announced they’ve greenlit a fifth season while simultaneously revealing the release date for Season 4. Based on Michael Connelly’s best-selling crime novels, the ten-episode fourth season drops on April 13th.

When an attorney is murdered on the eve of his civil rights trial against the LAPD, homicide Det. Harry Bosch is assigned to lead a Task Force to solve the crime before the city erupts in a riot. Bosch must pursue every lead, even if it turns the spotlight back on his own department. One murder intertwines with another, and Bosch must reconcile his past to find a justice that has long eluded him.

Starring Titus Welliver as the tenacious LAPD homicide detective, Season 4 of Bosch is based on the novel Angels Flight. Watch a trailer for Season 4 below!

See also: Bosch: A Novel Approach to Mystery Television

Feb 19 2018 12:00pm

Review: The Throne of Caesar by Steven Saylor

The Throne of Caesar by Steven Saylor is the 16th Novel of Ancient Rome, which turns to the most famous murder in history: It’s Rome, 44 B.C., and the Ides of March are approaching (available February 20, 2018).

Author Steven Saylor had a real dilemma on his hands. With 15 historical mystery novels set in ancient Rome under his belt, he eventually had to address perhaps the most famous murder of ancient Roman times: the murder of Caesar.

The mystery part is the challenge here. Anyone who’s heard the line “Et tu, Brute?” from Shakespeare is familiar with at least one of the Roman dictator’s killers. Saylor still does a great job building the tension towards the anticipated stabbing of Caesar in the back, showing both the chaos and the odd politics of the aftermath, and throwing in another famously savage murder as a twist. When the destination of the story is known, it’s the journey that’s important, and Saylor delivers a fascinating eyewitness account of one of the seminal events in ancient times.

Gordianus, who has a reputation for solving murders and causing people to unwittingly divulge information, is summoned by none other than Caesar himself on March 10 to ascertain whether there’s a plot against him that he should be concerned about before he leaves Rome on his latest conquest of a foreign land. The date Caesar is to address the Senate one more time before leaving? March 15. The Ides of March, of course. Spoiler alert! 

[Read Brian Bandell's review of The Throne of Caesar...]

Feb 19 2018 10:00am

Ellen Hart Excerpt: A Whisper of Bones

Ellen Hart

A Whisper of Bones by Ellen Hart is the 25th book in the Jane Lawless Mysteries series (available February 27, 2018).

Take a visual tour of A Whisper of Bones with GIFnotes!

Britt Ickles doesn’t remember much from her only visit to her mother’s childhood home when she was a kid, except for playing with her cousin Timmy and the eruption of a sudden family feud. That’s why, when she drops by unannounced after years of silence, she’s shocked when her aunts tell her Timmy never existed, that she must be confusing him with someone else. But Britt can’t shake the feeling that Timmy did exist…and that something horrible has happened to him. Something her aunts want to cover up.

Britt hires Jane Lawless, hoping the private investigator can figure out what really happened to her cousin. When a fire in the family’s garage leads to the discovery of buried bones and one of the aunts dies suddenly and suspiciously, Jane can’t help but be pulled into the case. Do the bones belong to Timmy? Was the aunt’s death an accident, suicide, or homicide? What dark secret has this family been hiding for decades? It all depends on Jane Lawless to unravel.

[Read an excerpt from A Whisper of Bones...]

Feb 16 2018 4:30pm

Book-Inspired Cocktails: “Whiskey in the Water”

Every good detective has an origin story. A first case. A place where it all began.

So as we return to Charles Lenox's roots, let's also return to the roots of the “water of life” with this week's Pick Your Poison—where we create a cocktail inspired by a recently published mystery, thriller, or crime novel—the "Whiskey in the Water” cocktail, inspired by Charles Finch's prequel Charles Lenox mystery, The Woman in the Water!

[Check out the recipe below!]

Feb 16 2018 3:00pm

Discount: Blackout by David Rosenfelt

Blackout by David Rosenfelt is a propulsive and compelling thriller and the first book in the Doug Brock thriller series.

In anticipation of the second book in the Doug Brock series, Fade to Black, get a digital copy of the book that started it all, Blackout, for only $2.99 through March 5th!

New Jersey state police officer Doug Brock has been after infamous criminal Nicholas Bennett for years. When Bennett kills someone close to Doug, however, Doug's investigation—and his life—start spiraling out of control. He's placed on indefinite suspension from the police force and breaks things off with his fiancé, but he can't let the case go, and he continues an off-the-books investigation on his own. When Doug's former partner on the force, Nate Alvarez, receives a call from Doug saying he's discovered something big, something terrifying, something they need to call in the FBI to handle, Nate is furious that Doug has still been working the case.

But when the call ends abruptly, and shortly afterward Doug is found in a hotel room, shot and in critical condition, Nate’s anger turns to fear. When Doug finally awakens from his coma, however, he has no memory of the case, or even the last several years of his life. But the pull of what he might have discovered is too strong, and he finds himself immersed in a desperate search for truth once again, regardless of the danger.

Read an excerpt from Blackout!


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

Buy at Amazon Buy at Barnes and NobleBuy at iTunes

Feb 16 2018 1:00pm

Review: The Bookworm by Mitch Silver

The Bookworm by Mitch Silver takes readers from a secret operation during World War II―with appearances by Noel Coward and Winston Churchill―to present day London and Moscow, where Lara Klimt, “the Bookworm,” must employ all her skills to prevent an international conspiracy.

Moscow-based Larissa “Lara” Menelova Klimt (aka “The Bookworm” to her friends) is a geohistorian. She studies how geography determines a people’s history, rather than political or cultural influences. She also just finished the manuscript for a book, The Origins of the Great Patriotic War.

Lara loves spending time in the Osobyi Arkhiv, pouring through Nazi documents and listening to the ‘40s-era Dictaphone machine recordings of dictated letters from Hitler, Himmler, and the like. She also has a shiny new teaching position at Moscow State University, and other than a divorce on the horizon, things are beginning to come together. When she’s approached after class, given a shopping bag full of six cylinders, and ordered by a mysterious man to give them a listen, she’s skeptical.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of The Bookworm...]

Feb 16 2018 12:00pm

Shotgun Blues: Man Gets Ticketed for Driving in the HOV Lane with Mannequin as Passenger

Traffic sucks. We all wish we could just scoot over that solid white line into the HOV lane and cruise all the way home. Well, someone in Canada must have been watching Lars and the Real Girl and had a great idea. 

According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a vehicle caught a patrolling officer's eye when it sped into the HOV lane without signaling. After pulling the vehicle over, the officer noticed a strange companion riding shotgun. A mannequin dressed in a hoodie and sunglasses was propped up to look like a passenger in an attempt to meet the minimum two-person law for riding in the HOV lane.

The officer issued the driver several citations for the offenses and seized the mannequin for questioning.

Feb 16 2018 10:00am

Courtney Alameda Excerpt: Pitch Dark

Courtney Alameda

Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda is equal parts science-fiction, horror, and space adventure—a thrilling ride that will be sure to stay with readers long after the last pages (available February 20, 2018).

Lost to time, Tuck Morgan and his crew have slept in stasis aboard the USS John Muir for centuries. Their ship harbors a chunk of Earth, which unbeknownst to them, is the last hope for the failing human race.

Laura Cruz is a shipraider searching the galaxy for the history that was scattered to the stars. Once her family locates the John Muir and its precious cargo, they are certain human civilization is saved.

When Tuck's and Laura’s worlds collide―literally―the two teens must outwit their enemies, evade brutal monsters that kill with sound, and work together to save the John Muir ... and the whole human race.

[Read an excerpt from Pitch Dark...]

Feb 15 2018 4:30pm

Waco: “Of Milk and Men” Episode Review

Episode 4 of Paramount’s six-part miniseries Waco has us deep into the siege. The ATF has withdrawn leadership, and the FBI has brought in a Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) and negotiators. The relationships among Koresh, his right-hand man, Steve Schneider—adeptly portrayed by actor Paul Sparks (House of Cards, Boardwalk Empire)—and FBI Negotiator Gary Noesner have evolved over time as events escalate, but the main dynamic highlighted in “Of Milk and Men” is the one between Noesner and HRT command.

Before I get to the episode review, I want to return to the original source material for a bit: David Thibodeau’s memoir, Waco: A Survivor’s Story. Thibodeau sort of glosses over some of the events that take place in Episode 4—such as the milk delivery incident—but he does bring up some points about both the definition of a cult and what is legally considered a hostage barricade situation. He and his coauthor, Leon Whiteson, conducted meticulous research—all cited within the book—to support many of the claims Thibodeau makes throughout. In fact, the show seems to rely heavily on these primary sources, as well as Thibodeau and Noesner’s accounts, to piece together a balanced view of the siege at Mount Carmel.

[Read Ardi Alspach's review of “Of Milk and Men”...]

Feb 15 2018 3:00pm

Review: A Dangerous Crossing by Ausma Zehanat Khan

A Dangerous Crossing by Ausma Zehanat Khan is a the fourth book in the Rachel Getty & Esa Khattak series.

I had two great regrets upon finishing this novel. The first—and one I am certain Ausma Zehanat Khan aims to elicit in her readers—is that I do not do more to aid in the humanitarian efforts to resettle refugees. While A Dangerous Crossing concerns itself primarily with the effects the Syrian civil war has had in displacing thousands from their homes—

Wait, that’s too sanitary, too nice a term. “Displacing people from their homes” sounds like eviction and not the murder and destruction it actually entails. President Assad of Syria has turned the full force of his military on Syrian civilians, on their homes, and most grotesquely in a catalog of horrors, on the rescue workers who try to pull survivors out of the rubble. He bombs his own cities—striking with missiles and chemicals—and follows this with indiscriminate jailings and torture. The average Syrian has to run, spending all their money on bribes to escape a government determined to destroy everything they know and love.

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of A Dangerous Crossing...]

Feb 15 2018 12:00pm

Review: The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir

The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir is the first installment in the new Children's House series featuring the psychologist Freyja and the police officer Huldar.

Yrsa Sigurdardóttir’s newest thriller—the first in the new Children's House series—is a terrifying treat whether you’re new to her novels or already a fan. In the prologue, which takes place in 1987, three siblings are separated: the little girl, who is the youngest, goes to a different family than her two older brothers after a crime committed by their grandfather against their mother. No other details about the crime are given, however, and we’re left with a melancholy feeling going into the main story, which picks up in 2015.

When Elísa Bjarnadóttir is murdered, it rocks her small Icelandic community. The murder is bad enough, but it’s how it’s perpetrated that really shocks police: after duct taping her head, a vacuum was shoved down Elísa’s throat, pulling the breath from her body and collapsing her lungs, among other things. Her husband, a doctor, was out of town. Her two older boys were found out on the street in front of the house shouting for help after they were locked in their room, presumably by the killer, and crawled out through a mirror. The only one of the family that might have seen anything was Elísa’s seven-year-old daughter, Margrét, who was found cowering silently under the bed near where her mother was murdered.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of The Legacy...]

Feb 14 2018 5:00pm

David Rosenfelt Excerpt: Fade to Black

David Rosenfelt

In Fade to Black, the thrilling sequel to Blackout from David Rosenfelt, Policeman Doug Brock helps a fellow victim of amnesia untangle a murder case and discovers he may not be as distant as he thinks (available March 13, 2018).

After getting shot in the line of duty, New Jersey state police officer Doug Brock has been busy rebuilding his life. He’s reunited with his fiancé and started to get some of his memories back. He hopes he can continue to recover with the help of an amnesia support group and that the damage from his past isn’t permanent.

It isn’t until fellow group member Sean Conner approaches him after a meeting that Doug realizes the trouble is just beginning. Sean has discovered in his attic what can only be called a scrapbook of a murder victim, but he has no recollection of the girl’s identity or why he might have gathered this information. Doug agrees to help and convinces his captain to open what had been a cold case. When he discovers that he had a personal connection to this case, suddenly he’s questioning everything he thought he knew about the case, about Sean, and about his own past.

[Read an excerpt from Fade to Black...]

Feb 14 2018 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: Plum Pudding Murder by Joanne Fluke

Only 10 more shopping days until Christmas, but our heroine Hannah Swensen has already bought all her presents and is focusing on her business interests. Providing the snacks sold at the seasonal Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot—which is more mini-carnival than your typical tree-selling enterprise—is putting a little extra money in her bakery’s coffers. When her mother, Delores, claims that she doesn’t want to go alone to a business class she’s enrolled in at the local community college, Hannah quickly realizes that accompanying her mother will be an opportunity to sharpen her own skills as well.

Unfortunately, her business class experience starts poorly when she runs into an old flame while walking through campus. The class itself is pretty awesome—until Hannah finds uncomfortable parallels between the ethically dubious business practices it highlights and her own dealings with the Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot.

Hannah decides to discuss this with the lot’s owner, Larry Jaeger, and he’s quick to promise amends. Unfortunately, when Hannah and her sometimes-boyfriend Norman Rhodes stop by Larry’s trailer to pick up the check he owes her, they find more than they bargained for in Larry’s shot-dead corpse.

[Recipe and pictures included below!]

Feb 14 2018 3:30pm

The Purloined Puzzle by Parnell Hall: A Visual Guide

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

Amateur sleuth and crossword impresario Cora Felton is asked to solve a puzzle, only to find that it’s been stolen―and a murder weapon has been left in its place. Take a visual tour of Parnell Hall's The Purloined Puzzle!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Feb 14 2018 1:00pm

Review: The Plea by Steve Cavanagh

An innocent client. A wife in jeopardy. A locked-room mystery. The Plea by Steve Cavanagh is the second book in the Eddie Flynn series.

Former con-artist Eddie Flynn is not your typical New York lawyer. His modus operandi owes everything to his years running cons. He’s broke, so his office moonlights as his residence. Eddie can’t afford a state-of-the-art security system—he goes old school.

The paneled front door to my building had been painted blue about a month ago. The reverse side of the door boasted a hand-cut, steel-back plate—a little surprise for anyone who thought they could kick through one of the panels and open the door from the inside.

It was that kind of neighborhood.

And it’s that kind of old-fashioned expertise that makes up Eddie’s toolkit. He’s always observing, comparing, and contrasting, never taking anything at face value. His dad was an artist at the art of the con.

I learned from him, and over time I’d developed a deft touch: a profound sense of weight, feel, and movement. My father called it “smart hands.” It was this finely honed sense that told me something was wrong.

[Read Janet Webb's review of The Plea...]

Feb 14 2018 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: February 13, 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, the first book in a new series from Yrsa Sigurdardóttir and Steve Cavanagh's second Eddie Flynn legal thriller highlight a fantastic week of books. See what else we're reading:

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


Charles Finch Excerpt: The Woman in the Water

Charles Finch

The Woman in the Water by Charles Finch is a prequel to the Charles Lenox series, which takes readers back to Lenox's very first case and the ruthless serial killer who would set him on the course to become one of London’s most brilliant detectives (available February 20, 2018).

London, 1850: A young Charles Lenox struggles to make a name for himself as a detective…without a single case. Scotland Yard refuses to take him seriously and his friends deride him for attempting a profession at all. But when an anonymous writer sends a letter to the paper claiming to have committed the perfect crime―and promising to kill again―Lenox is convinced that this is his chance to prove himself.

The writer’s first victim is a young woman whose body is found in a naval trunk, caught up in the rushes of a small islet in the middle of the Thames. With few clues to go on, Lenox endeavors to solve the crime before another innocent life is lost. When the killer’s sights are turned toward those whom Lenox holds most dear, the stakes are raised and Lenox is trapped in a desperate game of cat and mouse.

[Read an excerpt from The Woman in the Water...]