<i>Twelve Days</i>: Excerpt Twelve Days: Excerpt Steven Barnes A paranormal thriller about a family who struggles against a plot to unleash global genocide. Review: <i>Lowcountry Bonfire</i> by Susan M. Boyer Review: Lowcountry Bonfire by Susan M. Boyer John Valeri Read John Valeri's review! Review: <i>Indigo</i> by Charlaine Harris Review: Indigo by Charlaine Harris Doreen Sheridan Read Doreen Sheridan's review! <i>Blackmail</i>: Excerpt Blackmail: Excerpt Rick Campbell A bold military and political strike by the Russian government leaves the U.S. reeling.
From The Blog
June 23, 2017
Thieves Steal GPS Devices that Lead to Their Arrest
Teddy Pierson
June 22, 2017
Q&A with J. Leon Pridgen II, Author of Unit 416
Crime HQ and J. Leon Pridgen II
June 16, 2017
Waiting for Nuggets Leads to 911 Call
Teddy Pierson
June 15, 2017
Adventures in Research, Part II: Storm Rising
Douglas Schofield
June 13, 2017
You Only Live Twice: Discovering Donald Westlake’s Lost James Bond Novel
Charles Ardai
Sat
Jun 24 2017 11:11am
Excerpt

Steven Barnes Excerpt: Twelve Days

Steven Barnes

Twelve Days by Steven BarnesTwelve Days by Steven Barnes is a paranormal thriller about a broken family who struggles to hold itself together against a plot to unleash global genocide (available June 27, 2017).

Around the world, leaders and notorious criminals alike are mysteriously dying. A terrorist group promises a series of deaths within two months. And against the backdrop of the apocalypse, the lives of a small shattered family and a broken soldier are transformed in the bustling city of Atlanta.

Olympia Dorsey is a journalist and mother, with a cynical teenage daughter and an autistic son named Hannibal, all trying to heal from a personal tragedy. Across the street, Ex–Special Forces soldier Terry Nicolas and his wartime unit have reunited Stateside to carry out a risky heist that will not only right a terrible injustice, but also set them up for life—at the cost of their honor. Terry and the family's visit to an unusual martial arts exhibition brings them into contact with Madame Gupta, a teacher of singular skill who offers not just a way for Terry to tap into mastery beyond his dreams, but also for Hannibal to transcend the limits of his condition. But to see these promises realized, Terry will need to betray those with whom he fought and bled.

Meanwhile, as the death toll gains momentum and society itself teeters on the edge of collapse, Olympia's fragile clan is placed in jeopardy, and Terry comes to understand the terrible price he must pay to prevent catastrophe.

[Read an excerpt from Twelve Days...]

Fri
Jun 23 2017 5:30pm

Book-Inspired Cocktails: “Pocket Kangaroo”

What do you do when you can open “hyper-space shunt” into a “pocket universe” to store things? Keep some vodka ice cold for any occasion!

Who needs to shake a martini anyway? Be cooler than Bond with think this week's Pick Your Poison—where we create a cocktail inspired by a recently published mystery, thriller, or crime novel—the “Pocket Kangaroo” cocktail, inspired by Curtis C. Chen's unique outer-space thriller Kangaroo Too!

[Check out the recipe below!]

Fri
Jun 23 2017 3:00pm

Review: Lowcountry Bonfire by Susan M. Boyer

Lowcountry Bonfire by Susan M. Boyer is the 6th book in the Liz Talbot Mystery series (available June 27, 2017).

Southern scribe Susan M. Boyer revisits her USA Today bestselling series with Lowcountry Bonfire—the sixth mystery to feature PI Liz Talbot. Earlier titles have won the author an abundance of accolades (including the coveted Agatha Award and the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense) and nominations along with an enthusiastic readership. This newest delivers on the sass and smarts they’ve come to expect.

“Let it burn.” With these prophetic words, Tammy Sue Lyerly lights a match and sets fire to her cheating husband’s 1969 Mustang convertible, which she’s loaded up with his clothing, in the middle of their driveway. It’s the kind of spectacle that draws the neighbors’ attention (not to mention the volunteer firemen’s), so there’s a curious crowd on hand when the car’s trunk is popped open, revealing local mechanic Zeke Lyerly’s stiff, awkwardly splayed body inside. It's something a scorned wife would be expected to answer for, except Tammy barely manages to let out a blood-curdling scream before passing out cold.

[Read John Valeri's review of Lowcountry Bonfire...]

Fri
Jun 23 2017 1:00pm

Review: Indigo by Charlaine Harris

Indigo by Charlaine HarrisIn Indigo, Charlaine Harris, Christopher Golden, Kelley Armstrong, Jonathan Maberry, Kat Richardson, Seanan McGuire, Tim Lebbon, Cherie Priest, James Moore, and Mark Morris join forces to bring you a crime-solving novel like you’ve never read before.

Read Doreen Sheridan's review while sipping a delicious “GINdigo” cocktail inspired by the book!

A mosaic novel—much like its namesake in the visual arts—is a novel in fragments, requiring several authors to contribute a chapter each in order to build a primarily linear narrative whole. More complex novels of this type (with my personal favorite so far being George R. R. Martin’s Fort Freak) also present each chapter from the viewpoint of different characters, so you get a pretty cool Rashomon-type story that builds to a thrilling ending. 

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of Indigo...]

Fri
Jun 23 2017 11:01am

Thieves Steal GPS Devices that Lead to Their Arrest

It takes a special kind of perp derp to steal 100 GPS tracking devices and expect not to get caught. But then we wouldn't have this column...

According to NBC, a couple of thieves stole over 100 GPS devices from a Silicon Valley company called RoamBee, who specializes in tracking technology. And as you might have easily guessed, they were caught within hours of the heist after police tracked them down using the stolen devices themselves. Duh!  

The GPS company co-founder Vidya Subramanian told reporters,"The moment we realized they had a box of trackers, we went into recovery mode. We notified the police and equipped them to track the devices, and in about 5 or 6 hours, it was done.”

The two rocket scientists thieves were arrested. Here is the strangest part of this story: besides the stolen GPS devices, police also found a stolen photo album containing irreplaceable shots from World War II.

I am glad to know those photos now have a chance to make their way back to the rightful owners. Maybe RoamBee should specialize in a Find My War Photos app for the future...

Fri
Jun 23 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

Rick Campbell Excerpt: Blackmail

Rick Campbell

Blackmail by Rick CampbellBlackmail by Rick Campbell follows a bold military and political strike by the Russian government that leaves the U.S. reeling, crippled, and vulnerable, with only a desperate long-shot chance to avoid a devastating world war (available June 27, 2017).

The U.S. aircraft carrier patrolling the Western Pacific Ocean is severely damaged by a surprise salvo of cruise missiles. While the Russian government officially apologizes, claiming it was the result of fire control accident during a training exercise, it was instead a calculated provocation. With the U.S. Pacific fleet already severely under strength, the Russian President decides that the US response is a clear indication of their weakness, militarily and politically, and initiates a bold plan.

Political unrest is spreading through the Eastern European states. The Russian Northern Fleet moves swiftly in the Mediterranean Sea, the Russian army is moving west to the border, and Russian Baltic and Black Sea Fleets are mobilized. In one bold strike, the Russian army moves to reoccupy a large number of the industrialized areas of the former USSR, while blockading the vital sea passages through which the world’s oil and natural gas transit. To make matters worse, Russia’s Special Forces have wired every major oil and natural gas pipeline with explosives. If the U.S. makes one move to thwart Russia, they’ll destroy them all. The U.S. is risking disaster if it acts, but the alternative is quite possibly worse. Torn between the unthinkable and the impossible, the only possible move—to launch an attack on all fronts, simultaneously.

[Read an excerpt from Blackmail...]

Thu
Jun 22 2017 4:30pm

Beyond Reasonable Doubt: “The Murdered Bride” Episode Review

HLN, a channel affiliated with CNN, has released their first acquired produced content (Nutopia) in Beyond Reasonable Doubt, and true crime fans should rejoice at this news! The first three episodes in this six-part series have already aired and are available On Demand. The next episode, “The Murdered Bride,” airs on HLN on June 25th at 8 pm ET/PT, and it’s definitely not too late to start watching.

Each episode in this series is an in-depth look into one high-profile case from the past century that remained unsolved until advances in forensic science and technology shed new light on old evidence. In “The Murdered Bride,” it was advances in DNA profiling that turned things around. The investigators were heading in one direction when the search came to a dead end. Evidence was lacking, and there were no clear suspects in the 1986 murder of Sherri Rasmussen.

[Learn more about Beyond Reasonable Doubt...]

Thu
Jun 22 2017 3:00pm

Q&A with J. Leon Pridgen II, Author of Unit 416

J. Leon Pridgen II has done it all—from his time in the Army with the 82nd Airborne Division to sets on Hollywood to authoring several successful novels. His latest, Unit 416, tells the tale of a band of unlikely heroes who work together to elevate their lives and become an unstoppable team of soldiers.

Recently, Mr. Pridgen took the time to answer some questions about Unit 416, his writing influences, and the research that went into the novel in this exclusive Q&A!

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Thu
Jun 22 2017 1:00pm

Review: A God in the Shed by J-F. Dubeau

A God in the Shed by J-F. Dubeau is a chilling paranormal thriller about a small town and a powerful, evil god that wreaks havoc among its citizens. 

This turned out to be one of my favorite reads of 2017. Author J-F. Dubeau brings a unique and intriguing tale ripe with small-town folks and long-term secrets that have entrapped the locals for centuries, all revolving around a sinister serial killer that has terrorized the community. And now it's up to a teenage girl to save them all.

Venus McKenzie is a 15-year-old girl with an interesting life. Her parents are New Age types that had only recently moved back to the quaint town of Saint-Ferdinand. They feel that the more freedom their daughter is given, the more she will become a strong, independent young person. This doesn’t sound so bad until Venus begins to harbor resentment due mainly to the bullying she is receiving from jealous schoolmates.

[Read Amber Keller's review of A God in Shed...]

Thu
Jun 22 2017 12:00pm
Excerpt

Sharon Bolton Excerpt: “Lacey’s Wedding”

Sharon Bolton

As we count down the days until the next Sharon Bolton novel (Dead Woman Walking is available in the US on September 5th!), we're thrilled to offer you a sneak peak at Sharon Bolton's most recent short story, “Lacey's Wedding,” which answers the very important question asked at the end of the last Lacey Flint story.

Comment below for the chance to win one of three Dead Woman Walking ARCs, plus the full PDF of “Lacey's Wedding”! If you don't happen to be chosen as a winner, you can visit Sharon Bolton's website, upload proof of purchase of Dead Woman Walking, and you'll receive the full PDF.

Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor. She’s seen the killer’s face—but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime. Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe—but it could be the most dangerous place of all...

[Read an excerpt from “Lacey's Wedding”...]

Thu
Jun 22 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

Tom Pitts Excerpt: American Static

Tom Pitts

American Static by Tom Pitts is a fast-paced crime thriller set against the backdrop of Northern California's wine country, Oakland's mean streets, and San Francisco's peaks and alleys, written by a man who knows the underbelly of the city like no one else (Available June 26, 2017).

After being beaten and left for dead, Steven finds himself stranded alongside the 101 in a small Northern California town. When a mysterious stranger named Quinn offers a hand in exchange for help reuniting with his daughter in San Francisco, Steven gets in the car and begins a journey from which there is no return.

Quinn has an agenda all his own and he's unleashing vengeance at each stop along his path. With a coked-up sadist ex-cop chasing Quinn, and two mismatched small town cops chasing the ex-cop, Steven is unaware of the violent tempest brewing.

Corrupt cops and death-dealing gangsters manipulate the maze each of them must navigate to get to the one thing they're all after: Teresa, the girl holding the secret that will rip open a decades-old scandal and scorch San Francisco's City Hall.

Steven finds Teresa homeless and strung out as their pursuers close in and bodies begin to pile high on the Bay Area's back streets. Hand in hand Steven and Teresa lead the mad parade of desperate men to the edge of the void.

[Read an excerpt from American Static...]

Wed
Jun 21 2017 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: A Just Clause by Lorna Barrett

We're back in Stoneham, New Hampshire, the fabled Booktown that gives this bestselling mystery series its name. It’s just a few days before the first Wine and Jazz Festival, which has several of our cast of characters in a tizzy of organization. Our heroine, Tricia Miles, is in a different sort of tizzy, however. Thriller author Steve Richardson—who she met and flirted with on the cruise detailed in the preceding book, Title Wave—is coming from out of state to the mystery bookstore she owns for a reading and signing.

Tricia isn't sure if she wants to pick up where they left off, as she knows long-distance relationships are more complicated than she has time or energy for. But any worries over her own romantic life are tossed out the window when her father shows up unexpectedly, announcing that he's left her mother and needs money and a place to stay.

John Miles’s previous visit some months earlier hadn't gone very well: he'd left abruptly with a list of outstanding debts as well as a good number of items that did not belong to him. Tricia's older sister, Angelica, is especially steamed, as she had to cover for him with the townsfolk. But then, a woman with a checkered past is found murdered right after Steve’s signing, and John becomes prime suspect.

[Recipe and pictures below!]

Wed
Jun 21 2017 3:30pm

Cat About Town by Cate Conte: 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 Cate Conte's first Cat Cafe Mystery, Cat About Town—a frisky new mystery series set in a small New England town, where an unlikely citizen is called in to solve the purrfect crime!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Wed
Jun 21 2017 1:00pm

Q&A with Barry Lancet, Author of The Spy Across the Table

Read this exclusive Q&A with author Barry Lancet, and then make sure you're signed in and comment for a chance to win a copy of his latest Jim Brodie thriller!

I first met Barry Lancet in 2012 through the International Thriller Writers organization’s Debut Authors Program. It was an unlikely friendship, if only because Barry lives in Tokyo and I’m in Washington, D.C. But I liked his dry sense of humor and his Larry David-esque worldview. And then I read an advanced copy of his debut novel, Japantown, and was blown away by his talent. I wasn’t surprised that it later won numerous awards and citations and that the Jim Brodie series was optioned for television by J. J. Abrams. 

Learn how you can win a signed copy of Anthony Franze's latest legal thriller, The Outsider, from Goodreads!

Now, five years and collectively seven books between us, we’ve shared many laughs and misadventures. And even though he’s a notorious welcher on bets (he owes me hundreds of beers), and despite once making me brave D.C. traffic to drive him to the airport—not to catch a plane but for research for his book—he’s one of my closest friends. So it was with great pleasure that when I read his latest Brodie book, The Spy Across the Table, I loved it. Like Barry, Jim Brodie has gotten better with each book, and this one amps up the tension and political intrigue. 

When Criminal Element asked me to interview Barry, they had no idea we were close friends. And I suspect they didn’t know that would make for an unconventional Q&A:  

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Wed
Jun 21 2017 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: June 20, 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!

A new Don Winslow and the 7th Dewey Andreas thriller by Ben Coes highlight a great week of books! See what else we're reading:

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

Wed
Jun 21 2017 11:00am

Review: Kangaroo Too by Curtis C. Chen

Kangaroo Too by Curtis C. ChenSet in the same world as Waypoint Kangaroo, Curtis C. Chen's Kangaroo Too is bursting with adrenaline and intrigue in this unique outer-space adventure.

Hurray! Finally, the sequel to Curtis C Chen’s hilarious and compelling sci-fi spy thriller Waypoint Kangaroo is out! The tie-in puzzle website (the first book had one too) doesn't seem to be ready yet, however, as I keep getting a “Wait for it…” notification as I tab back and forth between browser windows while I’m supposed to be writing this review. Or maybe I’m not as good at puzzle-solving as I think? Clearly, it must be the former.

Set in a future where mankind is busy colonizing the solar system, our narrator—codenamed Kangaroo—has a superpower and, so far as he and his bosses know, is the only person in the universe to have one. I’ll let him explain it in his own words, though:

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of Kangaroo Too...]

Wed
Jun 21 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

M. C. Beaton Excerpt: The Witches’ Tree

M. C. Beaton

The Witches Tree by M. C. BeatonThe Witches' Tree by M. C. Beaton is the 28th book in the Agatha Raisin series (available October 7, 2017).

Cotswolds inhabitants are used to inclement weather, but the night sky is especially foggy as Rory and Molly Devere, the new vicar, and his wife, drive slowly home from a dinner party in their village of Sumpton Harcourt. They strain to see the road ahead—and then suddenly brake, screeching to a halt. Right in front of them, aglow in the headlights, a body hangs from a gnarled tree at the edge of town. Margaret Darby, an elderly spinster, has been murdered—and the villagers are bewildered as to who would commit such a crime.

Agatha Raisin rises to the occasion (a little glad for the excitement, to tell the truth, after a long run of lost cats and divorces on the books). But Sumpton Harcourt is a small and private village, she finds—a place that poses more questions than answers. And when two more murders follow the first, Agatha begins to fear for her reputation—and even her life. That the village has its own coven of witches certainly doesn't make her feel any better...

[Read an excerpt from The Witches' Tree...]

Tue
Jun 20 2017 3:00pm

Review: The Force by Don Winslow

The Force by Don Winslow is a haunting and heartbreaking story of greed and violence, inequality and race, crime and injustice, retribution and redemption that reveals the seemingly insurmountable tensions between the police and the diverse citizens they serve.

His old priests might have told him that there are sins of commission and sins of omission, that it’s not always the things you do, but the things you don’t that cost you your soul. That sometimes it’s not the spoken lie but the unspoken truth that opens the door to betrayal.

Don Winslow has a unique voice, one that’s partly shaped by public transit. He said his chapters were short in the early days because he wrote on the train to and from work: a 21-minute ride. Yet, he persisted.

My first Winslow was The Winter of Frankie Machine, about an old wiseguy who just wants to surf but gets pulled back into the life by a mobster’s kid who wants to make a name for himself. No matter if he writes about a silverback mobster, a New York cop, a Mexican journalist, or a woman drug lord who’s twice as ruthless to keep the wolves at bay, he inhabits his characters. If you haven’t read his thriller Savages, you are missing out on a prime piece of crime fiction built on an astute knowledge of drug cartels and a mastery of character. Ben, Chon, and O are unforgettable. His epic The Cartel brings the horror of the drug war to life like no other work of art.

[Read Thomas Pluck's review of The Force...]