Review: <i>Orphan Agent Prima Pawn</i> by Elizabeth Kiem Review: Orphan Agent Prima Pawn by Elizabeth Kiem Doreen Sheridan Read Doreen Sheridan's review! Review: <i>The Room of White Fire</i> by T. Jefferson Parker Review: The Room of White Fire by T. Jefferson Parker Kristin Centorcelli Read Kristin Centorcelli's review! Review: <i>Shattered</i> by Allison Brennan Review: Shattered by Allison Brennan Debbie Meldrum Read Debbie Meldrum's review! Discount: <i>This Book Is Full of Spiders</i> by David Wong Discount: This Book Is Full of Spiders by David Wong Crime HQ Only $2.99 through August!
From The Blog
August 18, 2017
From HR to PI
Adam Walker Phillips
August 18, 2017
Boat’s Distress Call Leads to Huge Marijuana Bust
Teddy Pierson
August 15, 2017
Page to Screen: Hopscotch
Brian Greene
August 15, 2017
Q&A with Kelley Armstrong, Author of Rituals
Kelley Armstrong and John Valeri
August 14, 2017
A Different Kind of Crime Family
Allison Brennan
Aug 22 2017 3:00pm

Review: Orphan Agent Prima Pawn by Elizabeth Kiem

Orphan Agent Prima Pawn by Elizabeth Kiem is the third and final book in The Bolshoi Saga.

I’m not sure which obsession was greater with me when I was in my early teens: to be a ballerina or to have paranormal powers. If someone had offered me the ability for both, I would likely have cried for joy. Reading Elizabeth Kiem’s Orphan Agent Prima Pawn reminded me so much of those days but added even more intrigue than my younger, drama-loving self could have imagined. Plus, it’s set in the Soviet Union in 1958, a milieu very far removed from anywhere I’d ever been or dreamed of being.

The dictator Joseph Stalin has died, and his successor Nikita Khruschev has ushered in an era of more relaxed cultural and social mores. Sixteen-year-old Svetlana “Sveta” Kravshina has spent the last eight years growing up in an orphanage for the children of Enemies of the People. Her mother, the wife of a disgraced then-executed general, has just been released from the gulag and wants to see her again. Sveta is unsure of her own feelings, especially given the distance that has grown between them. They wrote to each other regularly at the beginning of their separation:

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of Orphan Agent Prima Pawn...]

Aug 22 2017 2:00pm

Review: The Room of White Fire by T. Jefferson Parker

The Room of White Fire by T. Jefferson Parker follows a P.I. who must hunt down a soldier who is damaged by war, dangerous, and on the run.

Full disclosure: I’m a huge, huge fan of T. Jefferson Parker’s work. I remember reading Where Serpents Lie and thinking “This is what suspense can be?” The Blue Hour is also a favorite—one of the best cop stories (with a heartbreaking romance to boot) that I’ve ever read. Then, on to the distinct border noir of his Charlie Hood series, which combines complex themes of crime and family (or what makes a family) laced with a literary mysticism that seems as natural a part of the landscape as does the hoods and cops that make up the cast. The Room of White Fire is no exception to Parker’s history of excellence, and it introduces a new character to fall in love with. 

In it, we meet Roland Ford—ex-cop, ex-Marine, pilot, current PI, and widower of nearly three years. When he’s offered a job to find 28-year-old Clay Hickman, it seems straightforward at first. Clay has “escaped” from Arcadia, a mental health facility that looks more like a spa than a hospital, and Ford is told that he is erratic and possibly dangerous. His doctor, Paige Hulet, is desperate to get him back before he hurts himself or others. As for getting off the grounds, Clay talked a 19-year-old woman named Sequoia into helping him dig out under the perimeter fence. Ford tries to get an idea of Clay’s mindset:

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of The Room of White Fire...]

Aug 22 2017 1:00pm

Review: Shattered by Allison Brennan

Shattered by Allison BrennanAllison Brennan's two series collide in Shattered, a powerful, enthralling read about the craving for revenge and the desire for justice (available August 22, 2017).

Read an excerpt from Shattered!

Maxine Revere travels to Phoenix at the request of an old college friend. His wife is about to go on trial for the murder of their son. John, the old friend, has found similarities between his son’s murder and the murders of three other boys over the previous twenty years. The first boy was Justin Stanton, Lucy Kincaid’s nephew and best friend at the time. Max agrees to investigate the cold cases but not the current one.

Andrew Stanton—San Diego DA and Justin’s father—will not turn over anything from the investigation into his son’s death until Lucy agrees that there is something to investigate. She shows up in San Diego with Sean Rogan. He makes it crystal clear that Max had better not look any further into the couple’s past or publish anything about them without their express permission. Of course, this rankles Max. But she’s backed into a corner. Then, Lucy informs her she will be staying and helping with the investigation—off the FBI clock. Maxine is not at all amused with the Rogans.

[Read Debbie Meldrum's review of Shattered...]

Aug 22 2017 11:00am

Discount: This Book Is Full of Spiders by David Wong

The sequel to the genre-bending, humorous, cult sensation John Dies At the End returns fans to the ridiculous adventures of David and John as they are inadvertently charged with saving the world from a zombie apocalypse. Downpriced to $2.99 throughout August in anticipation of the third and final book in the series, What The Hell Did I Just Read?, releasing 10/3.

Warning: You may have a huge, invisible spider living in your skull. THIS IS NOT A METAPHOR.

You will dismiss this as ridiculous fear-mongering. Dismissing things as ridiculous fear-mongering is, in fact, the first symptom of parasitic spider infection—the creature stimulates skepticism, in order to prevent you from seeking a cure. That's just as well, since the “cure” involves learning what a chainsaw tastes like. You can't feel the spider, because it controls your nerve endings. You won't even feel it when it breeds. And it will breed.

Just stay calm, and remember that telling you about the spider situation is not the same as having caused it. I'm just the messenger. Even if I did sort of cause it. Either way, I won't hold it against you if you're upset. I know that's just the spider talking.


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

Buy at Amazon Buy at Barnes and NobleBuy at Books a Million Buy at iTunes

Aug 22 2017 10:00am

Roger Johns Excerpt: Dark River Rising

Roger Johns

Dark River Rising by Roger JohnsDark River Rising by Roger Johns is a tense and expertly-plotted debut mystery set against the bayous of Louisiana (available August 29, 2017).

Read Roger Johns's exclusive guest post about why he focuses heavily on setting.

Baton Rouge Police Detective Wallace Hartman has had better days. With her long-time partner and mentor on medical leave and a personal life in shambles, she’s called to the scene of a particularly gruesome murder: the body of a known criminal has been found in a deserted warehouse, a snake sewn into his belly. Obvious signs of torture point to a cunning and cold-blooded killer who will stop at nothing to find what he’s looking for.

When Federal Agent Mason Cunningham arrives on the scene, Wallace expects a hostile takeover of the case. But when a scientist with ties to the victim goes missing from a government lab, she needs Mason’s federal connections as much as he needs her local insight, and the two form an uneasy partnership to solve a case that grows more complicated—and dangerous—by the minute.

Meanwhile, the killer lurks in the shadows with an agenda no one saw coming, and when Wallace and Mason threaten to get in the way they risk losing everything they hold dear. Including their lives.

[Read an excerpt from Dark River Rising...]

Aug 21 2017 4:30pm

Watch the Teaser Trailer for Marvel’s The Punisher

On Friday, fans of Netflix’s Marvel series were treated to the long-awaited Season 1 of The Defenders—the team that brings together the protagonists of the four major series so far (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist) in an Avengers-style mashup. But those, like me, who finished the entire series already were also treated to a little bit more…

After the credits of Episode 8 of The Defenders, Marvel snuck in a quick teaser trailer to the upcoming series The Punisher. Reprising his role from Daredevil Season 2, Jon Bernthal returns as Frank Castle, aka the Punisher, a vigilante who employs extreme measures in his war on crime. If his Punisher is anything like it was in Daredevil, criminals beware—he’s coming … and he’s coming to collect.

[Watch the trailer below!]

Aug 21 2017 3:00pm

Review: Telling Tales by Ann Cleeves

Telling Tales by Ann Cleeves is the second book in the Vera Stanhope series, where a ten-year-old murder case is reopened, leading to an investigation into a small town full of big secrets (available August 22, 2017).

My introduction to Deputy Chief Inspector (DCI) Vera Stanhope of the Northumbria Police came by way of my local public television station, which for the past several years has hosted Vera, the television series based on the edge-of-your-seat novels written by Ann Cleeves. As soon as I saw the first couple of episodes, I immediately went in search of the books. Some were harder to find than others.

As time went by, I was totally frustrated by the fact that once a book was released in England, we here in the USA would have to sit around tapping our toes and watching reruns of the series while waiting for the book to be released in the United States.

Telling Tales, the book I am so pleased to talk about today, was the second book written in the series. I am ecstatic that Minotaur Books went back to the beginning of Vera’s literary life and is publishing US editions. The first book, The Crow Trap, is already available, and Telling Tales will be released August 22, 2017. Minotaur Books will release two books each year until we are caught up with the series.

[Read Terrie Farley Moran's review of Telling Tales...]

Aug 21 2017 1:30pm

Game of Thrones 7.06: “Beyond the Wall”

Like Jaime Lannister, “Beyond the Wall” was equal parts good and bad. And that has been the unifying theme of Season 7: good and bad. For every Drogon incinerating the Lannister army scene, we get a eunuch sex scene. For every Arya avengement, we get an Arya bafflement. With every Queen of Thorns mic drop comes a plotline ball drop.

So sure, it’s easy to question the showrunners – David Benioff and Dan Weiss – and ask why it was a good idea to have seven men take on the army of the dead just on the off chance of capturing a wight so they can convince the honorable Cersei Lannister to pause her fight for the throne and help out in defeating the White Walkers. But it’s not exactly fair to Benioff and Weiss. For six seasons they’ve had their hands held by George R. R. Martin and his brilliant source material. But now they’re on their own, with only the general destination in mind. So while it’s not perfect, be glad that we have it at all, because if it were up to Martin, we might never get to see how this story unfolds. And if you're going to blame anyone, blame Martin. It's his fault we're not getting to experience his version.

[Ice, ice, dragon…]

Aug 21 2017 1:00pm

Review: Two to Die For by Allison Brennan

Two to Die For by Allison Brennan is a double novella with thrilling stories in both the Lucy Kincaid series and the Max Revere series. 

The “two” in the title refers to the two novellas that make up this book. The first, Spiral, involves Lucy Kincaid and Sean Rogan. The second, Retired, features Maxine Revere. So this is a twofer review. 

Spiral finds Sean and Lucy on their honeymoon in Vail, Colorado. Two whole weeks to relax and enjoy the new cabin Sean bought as a wedding present and vacation home. They attend the preview night for an art festival in town. Sean picks up some photographs of the area to hang in their home in San Antonio. Lucy finds a few items to give to friends and family for Christmas. Sean suggests splitting up the list and seeing who can finish first. 

While they go their separate ways, each sees interactions that pique their interest. Lucy meets a woman who sells chainsaw carvings of bears. She’s fascinated by the art but saddened when she hears that this will be the last show. She wants to help the woman and her husband but has to meet up with Sean.

[Read Debbie Meldrum's review of Two to Die For...]

Aug 21 2017 11:00am

Endeavour 4.01: “Game” Episode Review

A swimming pool, Joan Thursday leaving home, a welder in a pumping station, Holy Communion, a mainframe computer, a concert, preparations for a chess match, a crime writer reading his latest novel at a bookstore—a flood of disparate images that will coalesce given time…

Endeavour is back. 

And “flood” is the right word for the opening montage because this first episode of the fourth season revolves around water. A refreshing swim, a therapeutic bath, a sacramental font of holy water, the River Cherwell flowing through Oxford, droplets running down a steamy mirror—all have perilous implications.

[The element of life...]

Aug 21 2017 10:00am

Louise Penny Excerpt: Glass Houses

Louise Penny

Glass Houses by Louise Penny is the 13th book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series, which shatters the conventions of the crime novel to explore what Gandhi called the court of conscience— a court that supersedes all others (available August 29, 2017).

When a mysterious figure appears in Three Pines one cold November day, Armand Gamache and the rest of the villagers are at first curious. Then wary. Through rain and sleet, the figure stands unmoving, staring ahead.

From the moment its shadow falls over the village, Gamache, now Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Québec, suspects the creature has deep roots and a dark purpose. Yet he does nothing. What can he do? Only watch and wait. And hope his mounting fears are not realized.

But when the figure vanishes overnight and a body is discovered, it falls to Gamache to discover if a debt has been paid or levied.

Months later, on a steamy July day as the trial for the accused begins in Montréal, Chief Superintendent Gamache continues to struggle with actions he set in motion that bitter November, from which there is no going back. More than the accused is on trial. Gamache’s own conscience is standing in judgment.

[Read an excerpt from Glass Houses...]

Aug 20 2017 1:00pm

Review: Make Them Pay by Allison Brennan

Make Them Pay by Allison Brennan is the 12th book in the Lucy Kincaid series, where Lucy and Sean Rogan are finally tying the knot, but the Rogan family has other plans.

Make Them Pay is the 12th of Allison Brennan’s Lucy Kincaid series. It opens 17 years ago with an invitation to a quest, a search for an elusive treasure. Liam and Eden Rogan are 19-year-old twins. Their siblings are talented and successful; Liam, in particular, feels at odds with his family. His father, Paul Rogan, sets him straight.

“Liam—you have the best of Sheila and me.”

Liam shrugged. He didn’t want to be placated.

“Kane is all military, strategy, tactician. Duke is the organizer, a leader. Sean is just fucking brilliant, sometimes he scares me. There’s nothing he can’t fix, and he’s what? Fifteen?”

“Fourteen,” Liam corrected.

Paul looked confused for a minute, then nodded. “Right. But you and Eden are the visionaries. Your mom and I see what can be, and we invent gadgets, as you say, to fill a need. We love it. But if we had a solid lead on the Alamo Treasure, we’d drop everything to find it. The history alone ... No one believes it exists, thinking that it’s just a myth. But we know it’s there.”

Liam had of course heard about the treasure from his dad and Uncle Carlo. What would now be tens of millions of dollars of gold and silver, lost in Mexico en route to Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett at the Alamo while the fort was under siege by General Santa Anna. 

[Read Janet Webb's review of Make Them Pay...]

Aug 19 2017 1:00pm

Review: The Lost Girls by Allison Brennan

The Lost Girls by Allison Brennan is the 11th book in the Lucy Kincaid series, where two missing girls and an abandoned baby lead to a seedy underworld of human trafficking. 

In a small Texas town, a recently—and reluctantly—retired priest discovers a baby beneath a statue of St. Elizabeth on the grounds of Our Lady of Sorrows Church. The infant is no more than a day old, and already her very existence points toward something dark and ugly. For she is wrapped in a bloody shirt on which the message “Trust no one” has been scrawled in blood, and Siobhan Walsh—a crusading photojournalist looking for two young women with the help of Father Sebastian—is convinced the baby’s mother is one of the “lost girls.” She knows that the baby’s mother would not have abandoned her child except in the direst circumstance, and her efforts to find out what might have happened leads her to a jail cell in a little Texas town between San Antonio and Laredo.

And that’s where FBI agents Noah Armstrong and Lucy Kincaid come in. Lucy’s engaged to the brother of the man Siobhan relies on to help keep her safe, a security specialist named Kane Rogan, who is always advising her not to get involved in “causes.” Siobhan doesn’t want to face her attraction to Kane—it’s complicated—and Lucy completely understands. When she thinks about being with Sean Rogan, when she just utters the word “husband” aloud, it fills her with anxiety and ambivalence. 

[Read Katherine Tomlinson's review of The Lost Girls...]

Aug 18 2017 4:30pm

Book-Inspired Cocktails: “Rosé & DiNunzio”

What happens when the quest for justice pits you against your own partner? 

Try and make amends with this week's Pick Your Poison—where we create a cocktail inspired by a recently published mystery, thriller, or crime novel—the “Rosé & DiNunzio” cocktail, inspired by Lisa Scottoline's fifth Rosato & DiNunzio novel, Exposed!

[Check out the recipe below!]

Aug 18 2017 3:00pm

From HR to PI

Read this exclusive guest post from Adam Walker Phillips, then make sure to sign in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of The Silent Second!

Human Resources and private detection were never meant to be a good match.

The basic premise for a new kind of amateur sleuth was to throw a disaffected corporate cog—someone searching for a meaning in a job that has none—into the heart of a murder mystery where he might very well find that purpose in life. When I was refining the premise further to a specific job within a company, Human Resources became the clear choice. What better job to personify disillusionment and existential crisis than the person watching over all the disillusioned people undergoing existential crises in their meaningless jobs? 

[Read more from Adam Walker Phillips!]

Aug 18 2017 2:00pm

Review: Darkansas by Jarret Middleton

Darkansas by Jarret Middleton is a dark, compelling novel of country noir about a family with a secret past and a curse several generations old.

Rural or country noir can be one of the most heartfelt and entertaining crime subgenres when done by capable authors such as Daniel Woodrell and David Joy. Now, Jarret Middleton’s extraordinary new novel, Darkansas, has placed its author in that distinguished group. Dark, bizarre, and steeped in the culture of the Ozarks, Darkansas is a hybrid narrative that inhabits the interstitial space between crime, horror, literary fiction, and mystery. 

Jordan Bayne is an ex-con eking out a life working as a musician and living in a small, filthy room in San Antonio, Texas. He is a haunted man who’s constantly in trouble and always on the run, sometimes from things he can’t put his finger on. He’s also condemned to live in the shadow of his brother, Malcolm, who works in the insurance business and has never been in trouble, and his father, Walker, a man who’s a legend in the music business. When Malcolm comes back home to the Ozarks to get married, the two brothers and their father are thrown into a maelstrom of repressed emotions and dark family history that threatens to not only derail the festivities but also end in death.

[Read Gabino Iglesias's review of Darkansas...]

Aug 18 2017 1:00pm

Review: No Good Deed by Allison Brennan

No Good Deed by Allison Brennan is the tenth Lucy Kincaid novel, where the FBI agent must stop a corrupt former DEA agent who is out for revenge.

Allison Brennan’s tenth Lucy Kincaid novel, No Good Deed, starts out with a bang—well, machine-gun fire. Well, a villainy internal monologue and then machine-gun fire. Followed by an explosion. As one does. 

FBI Agent Lucy Kincaid is hot on the trail of corrupt former DEA Agent Nicole Rollins, recently escaped from her prison transport in the above-mentioned blaze of glory. A church school bus full of children and one active bomb provide the perfect distraction for her getaway. Kincaid suspects bombing and body count are a smoke screen for a far more sinister plot. When a former FBI agent with ties to a previous case is murdered and Kincaid’s fiancé’s brother vanishes, Lucy is more certain than ever that Rollins is gunning for her.

[Read Meghan Harker's review of No Good Deed...]

Aug 18 2017 12:00pm

Boat’s Distress Call Leads to Huge Marijuana Bust

Here is another story where a couple of lame-brain crooks did something just plain stupid. This time, we take to the seven seas to follow a couple of marijuana smugglers who ran into some mechanical problems with their boat.

According to a report by CNN, the U.S. Coast Guard announced that they arrested two people and seized 1,200 pounds of marijuana after receiving a distress call while out on patrol off the shores of San Diego.

According to the reports, two boat flares were spotted by two different patrols at around 10:45 p.m. After reaching the boat in distress and learning of the shipment, the crew transferred the huge bundles of pot to a Coast Guard ship and towed the seized boat to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection dock.