Audiobook Review: <i>Murder on the Orient Express</i>, Read by Kenneth Branagh Audiobook Review: Murder on the Orient Express, Read by Kenneth Branagh Danielle Prielipp Read Danielle Prielipp's review! Review: <i>Stealing Ghosts</i> by Lance Charnes Review: Stealing Ghosts by Lance Charnes David Cranmer Read David Cranmer's review! <i>Killin Pace</i>: Excerpt Killin Pace: Excerpt Douglas Schofield A high-octane, heart-pounding tale set in Everglades City, Florida, and Sicily, Italy. Review: <i>A Season to Lie</i> by Emily Littlejohn Review: A Season to Lie by Emily Littlejohn Amber Keller Read Amber Keller's review!
From The Blog
November 17, 2017
Man Flees Police, Hides Under the Covers, Claims He's "Just Sleeping"
Adam Wagner
November 16, 2017
Back to J. D. Robb's Future
Janet Webb
November 16, 2017
Writing the Private Detective vs. the Police Detective
T.R. Ragan
November 16, 2017
Why the Time Is Ripe for the Farming Cozy
Wendy Tyson
November 15, 2017
Q&A with Jessica Keener, Author of Strangers in Budapest
Jessica Keener and John Valeri
Showing posts tagged: David Cranmer click to see more stuff tagged with David Cranmer
Fri
Nov 17 2017 1:00pm

Review: Stealing Ghosts by Lance Charnes

Stealing Ghosts by Lance Charnes is the second book in the DeWitt Agency Files series.

The DeWitt Agency opens for business again, and I, for one, appreciate the clever way that author Lance Charnes jumps into the plot with his protagonist Matt Friedrich eyeing an attractive lady.

The first thing you notice is her eyes.

Big, dark, luminous. She’s no blushing ingénue; those eyes grab you and pin you to the wall. Think you got what it takes? they say. Come find out.

If you don’t fall in, you see the face around those eyes. High cheekbones, a razor-sharp jaw, a long semi-Roman nose, full lips parted just a bit.

Mr. Charnes goes on to emphasize the woman’s creamy skin, and I thought, here we go: a male writer getting lost in the overboard and often cringy explanation of a female character. But then comes the kicker: “Her names Dorotea. She’s ninety-one years old. One look stole my heart. Now I’m stealing her.” Ha! 

[Read David Cranmer's review of Stealing Ghosts...]

Tue
Nov 14 2017 3:00pm

Review: Blood Run by Jamie Freveletti

Blood Run by Jamie Freveletti is the fifth book in the Emma Caldridge series, where the biochemist and her team must stop the spread of a smallpox virus and avoid the ruthless government attempting to stop her.

If Jamie Freveletti had arrived on the literary scene ahead of Raymond Chandler, the famous quote instead may have read, “When in doubt, come through the door with a grenade launcher.” In her latest novel, Blood Run, her biochemist protagonist, Emma Caldridge, is three hundred miles east of Dakar, Senegal, when the armored vehicle she and three others are riding in is ambushed.

The heavy car shuddered when a second grenade exploded near the roof, and another rain of bullets hit the driver's side window. It failed in a shower of tiny glass slivers and shrapnel. Emma watched in horror as a splash of red washed over the clear divider between the driver and the passenger area.

“The driver's been hit,” Emma said to the two others.

She pressed the button to lower the glass divider, like those found in limousines, to access the front seat. She was glad that it still moved. That meant that the car hadn't yet lost power. She knew that a car taking fire, even an armored car, had seconds to escape the first hit. A vehicle that didn't move while under attack would eventually be breached, no matter how extensive the armoring.

[Read David Cranmer's review of Blood Run...]

Mon
Nov 13 2017 12:00pm

Review: The Savage by Frank Bill

The Savage by Frank Bill is an unnerving vision of a fractured America gone terribly wrong and a study of what happens when the last systems of morality and society collapse (available November 14, 2017).

Vladimir Nabokov’s Bend Sinister was published in 1947, three years after the allies defeated the axis of evil and two years prior to George Orwell’s more heralded 1984. Completing an essential 20th-century dystopian triumvirate is Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which arrived in 1986 during the waning years of the Cold War. All three books at the time of publication were viewed as masterpieces set in the near future. I can remember discussing 1984 in that titular year and my mother’s cautionary remark that it could still happen “a few years from now.”

Unlike the setting of a dreaded near future found in this esteemed trio, Frank Bill’s The Savage feels like the desperate now. It’s not just 21st-century geopolitical fears as two world leaders seem hellbent on taking us down a real Fury Road, it’s also families throughout the American landscape being gutted by the opioid crisis, facing anxieties over losing health care, and befalling the horror of psychotic cretins shooting up music concerts and halls of worship.

[Read David Cranmer's review of The Savage...]

Thu
Nov 9 2017 12:00pm

Review: Trading Down by Stephen Norman

Trading Down by Stephen Norman is a fast-paced cyberthriller set inside an investment bank under cyber-attack.

A novel on the banking infrastructure and what could happen if it was obliterated is certainly appropriate to modern times. Seems like a week doesn’t pass without news of another treacherous breach of everything from our financial systems straight up to the presidential election. Unfortunately, Trading Down has a shaky start at its foundation, trundles along, never reaching its full potential.

The story begins in Dubai, 2007. A scene of horror as a woman douses herself with gasoline, making her sari “wet, almost see-through. It clings to her full breasts and buttocks.” A hapless guard is splashed with the fuel as she goes on to ignite the gas.

Halfway he falls over and lies writhing. He has made the mistake of breathing in. Pale blue and orange flames caress his face.

Behind him, the figure of the woman can be seen. She could be dancing in a nightclub. Her hands are together, above her head. The sari is gone, the hair ablaze, strangely floating upwards in the flames. One leg on the ground, the other lifted, every part of her is on fire.

[Read David Cranmer's review of Trading Down...]

Tue
Nov 7 2017 3:00pm

Review: The Midnight Line by Lee Child

The Midnight Line by Lee Child is the 22nd book in the Jack Reacher series.

I dip into the Jack Reacher novels every few years and have enjoyed these visits with the wandering, destructive, one-man tango. Lee Child's latest plot is a decent one. On a stop while traveling toward the Lake Superior region, Reacher spots a 2005 West Point graduation ring in a pawn shop window and contemplates why someone would have hocked such a prized accomplishment. He starts threading his way to an answer when his inquiry leads him to the anemic trope of a name, Jimmy Rat, and you guessed it, violence follows:

Jimmy Rat said nothing. Reacher watched the window with his left eye. With his right he saw Jimmy Rat nod. The reflection in the glass showed the guy behind winding up a big roundhouse right. Clearly the plan was to smack Reacher on the ear. Maybe topple him off the chair. At least soften him up a little.

Didn't work.

Reacher chose the path of least resistance. He ducked his head, and let the punch scythe through the empty air above it. Then he bounced back up, and launched from his feet, and twisted, and used his falling-backward momentum to jerk his elbow into the guy's kidney, which was rotating around into position just in time. It was a good solid hit. The guy went down hard. Reacher fell back in his chair and sat there like absolutely nothing had happened.

[Read David Cranmer's review of The Midnight Line...]

Sun
Oct 15 2017 2:00pm

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...]

Thu
Oct 12 2017 3:00pm

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
Sep 14 2017 2:00pm

Celebrating Robert Mitchum’s Centennial: The Noir

Robert Mitchum (1917-1997) may have gotten his start in Westerns, but it’s his reputation in the world of noir that became indelible. Other actors had ascended the genre throne before him, but with Out of the Past, “The Soul of Film Noir” stole the crown and never looked back. The following list could have easily been twice as long, but these six are essential to his iconic status.

[Check out David Cranmer's top 6 Mitchum films noir!]

Mon
Sep 4 2017 3:00pm

Twin Peaks: The Return Season Finale Review: Parts 17 and 18

Part 17: “The past dictates the future.”

The penultimate episode begins with Gordon Cole (David Lynch) revealing to Albert (Miguel Ferrer) and Tammy (Chrysta Bell) a secret he has harbored a quarter of a century—namely that “Jowday” (or “Jao Dei”), known in modern times as Judy, is “an extreme negative force” wandering the earth. So, beyond BOB (Frank Silva) is another puppeteer.

In the meantime, at the sheriff’s department in Twin Peaks, Bad Coop (Kyle MacLachlan) arrives where he is greeted by overly friendly Andy (who has forgotten pretty much all The Fireman showed him—what was the point then?), who takes him into Sheriff Truman’s (Robert Forster) office. Truman and Bad Coop begin making idle talk—the doppelgänger turns down coffee—when Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) calls to say he’s entered the town and asks Truman to put on a hot pot of java.

[Read David Cranmer's review of the final two episodes!]

Mon
Aug 28 2017 3:15pm

Twin Peaks: The Return Review: Parts 14, 15, and 16

Part 14: “We Are Like the Dreamer”

Heaps of reveal in this surreal saturated episode, although certain junctions are far from satisfactory. What works: David Bowie, once again, as the time-tripping FBI Agent Phillip Jefferies asks Gordon Cole (David Lynch), “Who do you think this is there?” pointing to Agent Cooper (Kyle Maclachlan). That pivotal scene from the prequel Fire Walk With Me (1992) takes on new relevance knowing what we now know about Bad Coop—I like the puzzlement on Albert’s and Gordon’s faces as they realize they had forgotten Jefferies’s appearance at the Philadelphia office. (Nice cameo by the beautiful Monica Belluci, who routinely graces Gordon’s dreams guiding him toward revelations.) Plus, more backstory as Albert is filling in Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell), freshly minted on the Blue Rose case that teamed Jefferies and Cole. It seems that the two Coopers are not the first time this duplicitous event has occurred, and Tammy tosses out a word I had to look up: Tulpa—extra bodies that can travel to other realms via thoughtform.

[Read David Cranmer's recap of Episodes 14-16...]

Mon
Aug 7 2017 3:00pm

Twin Peaks: The Return Review: Parts 11, 12, and 13

Part 11: “There’s Fire Where You Are Going”

Some boys playing catch see Miriam Sullivan (Sarah Jean Long) crawling out of the woods after being left for dead by Richard Horne (Eamon Faron). Elsewhere, Becky (Amanda Seyfried) is wielding a gun and screaming mad at hubby Steven (Caleb Landry Jones). She asks her mom, Shelly Briggs, for a car, resorting to a grab-and-go of the keys, and then locks herself in the car. 

Shelly pulls a nice Starsky & Hutch jump-on-the-hood maneuver only to be flung off when her narcissistic offspring can only think of one thing—killing her man, who is holed up with another woman. 

[Read David Cranmer's recap of Parts 11-13 of Twin Peaks: The Return!]

Sun
Aug 6 2017 11:00am

Celebrating Robert Mitchum’s Centennial: The Westerns

Robert Mitchum’s (1917-1997) first Western film (third film, overall) was Hoppy Serves a Writ (1943), starring William Boyd as Hopalong Cassidy, and his last was the idiosyncratic “psychedelic Western” Dead Man (1995), starring Johnny Depp. Unusual bookends for an actor who made some of the finest of the genre in the middle of the 20th century.

[Check out Robert Mitchum's best Western roles!]

Tue
Aug 1 2017 11:00am

The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower Part VI, The Final Chapters

Last week, we were left wondering if laughter really is the best medicine. This week, we make it to the Dark Tower as we close out our long journey through Stephen King's magnum opus. 

The Dark Tower is very close, but our ka-tet is spread far and wide. Roland and Eddie are in 1977 where they have just finished meeting with the author Stephen King. In 1999, Father Callahan and Jake are about to storm The Dixie Pig lounge where Susannah is being held along with Mia, who is about to give birth to an unholy demon: this child has the DNA combo of Roland and Susannah and a “co-father” in the Crimson King. So, we are very close to our destination, the stakes are high, and it’s anybody’s guess who will live to see The Dark Tower.

*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!

The Dark Tower looms on the horizon for both our ka-tet and you, our loyal readers, as we count down the days to the premiere of The Dark Tower film. The plan is to finish the series on the Tuesday before the premiere, so we'll be splitting The Dark Tower into six sections (about 200 pages each) and meeting here at our usual time (Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET) to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This week, we finally make it to the Dark Tower as we close out our long journey of Stephen King's magnum opus. Join us in the comments for a discussion of the final chapters of The Dark Tower: PART FIVE: The Scarlet Field of Can'-Ka No Rey – CODA: Found!


CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread


[Our journey has reached its final leg...]

Wed
Jul 26 2017 12:00pm

Review: Killing Is My Business by Adam Christopher

Killing Is My Business by Adam ChristopherKilling Is My Business by Adam Christopher is the second book in the Ray Electromatic Mysteries series.

Check out Adam Christopher's discussion of genre and how his robot noir blurs the lines between sci-fi and crime fiction!

Adam Christopher is a joy to read. It would be agreeably prodigious if those seven words are all you will need to buy his latest novel, but in case further urging is needed (and to justify my humble fee to my editor), here’s what Killing Is My Business is all about with two selections that exemplify his sharp entertaining prose.

Raymond Electromatic is a “steel-titanium skin” robot created by the late Professor Thornton, initially programmed as a private detective but currently working as an assassin out of the City of Angels. He receives his missions from another machine, Ada. While on the job, he likes to have a cup of black coffee at hand and read pulp fiction paperbacks in between cruising in a Buick for his intended target. One serious drawback, it would seem, is that he’s missing his long-term memory.

[Read David Cranmer's review of Killing Is My Business...]

Tue
Jul 25 2017 11:00am

The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower Part V

Last week, a van nearly took the author's life. This week, we're left wondering if laughter really is the best medicine. 

The Dark Tower is very close, but our ka-tet is spread far and wide. Roland and Eddie are in 1977 where they have just finished meeting with the author Stephen King. In 1999, Father Callahan and Jake are about to storm The Dixie Pig lounge where Susannah is being held along with Mia, who is about to give birth to an unholy demon: this child has the DNA combo of Roland and Susannah and a “co-father” in the Crimson King. So, we are very close to our destination, the stakes are high, and it’s anybody’s guess who will live to see The Dark Tower.

*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!

The Dark Tower looms on the horizon for both our ka-tet and you, our loyal readers, as we count down the days to the premiere of The Dark Tower film. The plan is to finish the series on the Tuesday before the premiere, so we'll be splitting The Dark Tower into six sections (about 200 pages each) and meeting here at our usual time (Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET) to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This week, we are left wondering if laughter really is the best medicine. Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part V of The Dark Tower: PART FOUR: The White Lands of Empathica, Dandelo!


CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread


[Our journey has reached its final leg...]

Tue
Jul 18 2017 11:00am

The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower Part IV

Last week, the ka-tet lost another at the Battle of Devar-Toi as they free the Breakers and save the beam. This week, the author Stephen King is saved, but at what expense? 

The Dark Tower is very close, but our ka-tet is spread far and wide. Roland and Eddie are in 1977 where they have just finished meeting with the author Stephen King. In 1999, Father Callahan and Jake are about to storm The Dixie Pig lounge where Susannah is being held along with Mia, who is about to give birth to an unholy demon: this child has the DNA combo of Roland and Susannah and a “co-father” in the Crimson King. So, we are very close to our destination, the stakes are high, and it’s anybody’s guess who will live to see The Dark Tower.

*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!

The Dark Tower looms on the horizon for both our ka-tet and you, our loyal readers, as we count down the days to the premiere of The Dark Tower film. The plan is to finish the series on the Tuesday before the premiere, so we'll be splitting The Dark Tower into six sections (about 200 pages each) and meeting here at our usual time (Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET) to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This week, the author Stephen King is saved, but at what expense? Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part IV of The Dark Tower: PART THREE: In this Haze of Green and Gold, Ves'-Ka Gan!


CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread


[Our journey has reached its final leg...]

Mon
Jul 17 2017 2:00pm

Twin Peaks: The Return Review: Parts 8, 9, and 10

Part 8: “Gotta Light?”

Hard to convey the vibe this reviewer got from experiencing a seminal moment in television history without coming across as an awestruck fanboy. So, what the hell, let me just embrace it by doubling down: this ranks next to Mulholland Drive (2001) and Blue Velvet (1986) as one of Lynch’s crowning directorial achievements.

“Gotta Light” is a subversive, expressionistic, and harrowing episode with prolonged scenes—even by Lynch standards—of no dialogue. “As soon as you put things in words, no one ever sees the film the same way,” he was quoted as saying in The New Yorker. The sobering result: we hear the eerie, discordant “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima” by Penderecki as we bear witness to the first atomic bomb test at White Sands, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945, and are pulled into the mushroom cloud among the swirling atoms of hellfire and destruction.

[Read more about Parts 8-10 of Twin Peaks: The Return...]

Tue
Jul 11 2017 11:00am

The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower Part III

Last week, we lost Father Callahan but ran into an old friend. This week, the ka-tet loses another at the Battle of Devar-Toi as they free the Breakers and save the beam.

The Dark Tower is very close, but our ka-tet is spread far and wide. Roland and Eddie are in 1977 where they have just finished meeting with the author Stephen King. In 1999, Father Callahan and Jake are about to storm The Dixie Pig lounge where Susannah is being held along with Mia, who is about to give birth to an unholy demon: this child has the DNA combo of Roland and Susannah and a “co-father” in the Crimson King. So, we are very close to our destination, the stakes are high, and it’s anybody’s guess who will live to see The Dark Tower.

*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!

The Dark Tower looms on the horizon for both our ka-tet and you, our loyal readers, as we count down the days to the premiere of The Dark Tower film. The plan is to finish the series on the Tuesday before the premiere, so we'll be splitting The Dark Tower into six sections (about 200 pages each) and meeting here at our usual time (Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET) to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This week, the ka-tet loses another at the Battle of Devar-Toi as they free the Breakers and save the beam. Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part III of The Dark Tower: PART TWO: Blue Heaven, Devar-Toi: VIII: “Notes from the Ginger Bread House” – XII: “The Tet Breaks”!


CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread


[Our journey has reached its final leg...]

Tue
Jul 4 2017 2:00pm

An Artistic Debut: Reviewing SoHo Sins by Richard Vine

SoHo Sins by Richard Vine is an intriguing debut novel about the underworld of the New York art scene (now available in paperback!).

Read David Cranmer's review of SoHo Sins by Richard Vine, and then make sure to sign in and comment below for a chance to win a paperback copy!

“You can’t deal successfully in art if you dwell on where the money comes from and how it gets made. I concern myself with my clients’ tastes and credit ratings, not their ethics.” —Jackson Wyeth

Nothing like an admixture of art plus murder for a mystery-fused suspense tale. A classic example is Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Grey, where a vain man's portrait ages as he stays youthful and in a final fit of indignation, he stabs at his degenerate likeness with horrific repercussions. The film The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947) catches Humphrey Bogart, as Geoffrey Carroll, painting images of his wives before planning their deaths. (There's just something, dare I say, creepy when the camera zooms in on the canvas of these human creations and that other world of color, seeming to hold court against mankind's devious nature, enacting lustful revenge.) 

[Read David Cranmer's review of SoHo Sins...]

Tue
Jul 4 2017 11:00am

The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower Part II

Last week, we began our final book of the series, The Dark Tower, with a chilling and thrilling opening. This week, the ka-tet reunites (minus the late Father Callahan) and Roland runs into an old friend.

The Dark Tower is very close, but our ka-tet is spread far and wide. Roland and Eddie are in 1977 where they have just finished meeting with the author Stephen King. In 1999, Father Callahan and Jake are about to storm The Dixie Pig lounge where Susannah is being held along with Mia, who is about to give birth to an unholy demon: this child has the DNA combo of Roland and Susannah and a “co-father” in the Crimson King. So, we are very close to our destination, the stakes are high, and it’s anybody’s guess who will live to see The Dark Tower.

*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!

The Dark Tower looms on the horizon for both our ka-tet and you, our loyal readers, as we count down the days to the premiere of The Dark Tower film. The plan is to finish the series on the Tuesday before the premiere, so we'll be splitting The Dark Tower into six sections (about 200 pages each) and meeting here at our usual time (Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET) to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This week, the ka-tet reunites and Roland runs into an old friend. Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part II of The Dark Tower: PART TWO: Blue Heaven, Devar-Toi: 1: “The Devar-Tete” – VII: “Ka-Shume”!


CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread


[Our journey has reached its final leg...]