<i>The Breaking of Liam Glass</i>: Excerpt The Breaking of Liam Glass: Excerpt Charles Harris A darkly satirical look at the deep splits in modern communities. <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!
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
Showing posts tagged: David Cranmer click to see more stuff tagged with David Cranmer
Tue
Jun 20 2017 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: Song of Susannah Part IV

Last week, we ran into Stephen King in his own story. This week, Jake and Callahan load up on weapons and storm into the Dixie Pig as we close out Song of Susannah.

On September 6th of last year, we began our journey on a reread of Stephen King’s epic series—soon to be a motion picture starring Idris Elba as Roland, the gunslinger. Faithfully each week, we’ve come closer to that looming Dark Tower in the distance that holds our world and Roland’s Gilead together, and that nexus is in danger of being destroyed by the Crimson King. Okay, let’s dig into Song of Susannah, which follows the obliteration of the Wolves, as our ka-tet is weighing the options…

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

Song of Susannah sets up nicely, splitting up the break-neck pace into digestible “stanzas.” So the plan is to read a few stanzas a week (about 130 pages) and meet 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, Jake and Callahan storm the Dixie Pig as we close out the sixth Dark Tower book! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part IV of Song of Susannah: 12th Stanza: “Jake and Callahan” – Coda: “Pages from a Writer's Journal”!


CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread


[And once we start, we don’t stop until we’re dead....]

Mon
Jun 19 2017 4:45pm

Twin Peaks: The Return Review: Parts 5, 6, and 7

Part 5: “Case Files”

In prison, Bad Coop (Kyle MacLachlan), observing his reflection, flashes back a quarter of a century to The Great Northern Hotel where he had smashed his head into his bathroom mirror, and there was creepy BOB (Frank Silva) sneering back at him. “You’re still with me. That’s good,” Bad Coop reassures himself in the present. Later, he gets his one phone call where he teases that he will call a Mr. Strawberry—alarming the warden—before changing his mind and punching a shitload of digits. Prison sirens and lights then begin to go amok as he speaks into the receiver, “The cow jumped over the moon.”

Meanwhile, Good Coop—known to family and co-workers as Dougie Jones—continues to wander around in a stupor with words like “case files,” “agent,” and “coffee” triggering glints into his previous life. Dougie’s boss at the Lucky 7 Insurance company is perturbed with his job performance and gives him a stack of folders to complete by the following day, stipulating that his career hangs in the balance. While many of us fans are looking forward to Dale Cooper’s full return (assuming he will snap out of it), Dougie’s “Chauncey Gardiner” existence is oddly entertaining.

[Like most of David Lynch's work...]

Mon
Jun 19 2017 3:00pm

Page to Screen: American Gods 1.08: “Come to Jesus” Review

The season finale sees the long overdue returns of Anansi and Bilquis. While Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones) is tailoring suits for big cheese Wednesday (Ian McShane) and his henchman Shadow (Ricky Whittle), he decides he must tell a story. One of a queen. 

We get the rundown of Bilquis (Yetide Badaki), watching her status slowly fade over the centuries into modern times until she is on the streets, destitute and ailing. And here we get a peek at her alliance, seduced to the other side by Tech Boy’s (Bruce Langley) promise of a large internet following, “Worship is a volume business … Whosoever has the most followers wins the game.” As time marches on, she looks none too pleased with having made an association with Tech Boy and the new gods. By show’s end, she’s on a bus on her way to Wisconsin. Knowing the show deviates on occasion from the book, we will have to wait until next season to see where her true allegiance lies.

[As long as she doesn't swallow us with her vagina first...]

Wed
Jun 14 2017 1:00pm

Review: The Mentor by Lee Matthew Goldberg

The Mentor by Lee Matthew Goldberg is a twisty, nail-biting thriller that explores how the love of words can lead to a deadly obsession with the fate of all those connected hanging in the balance.

Take a visual tour of The Mentor with GIFnotes!

Bentley College Professor William Lansing shoots a question out to his students, “Why does Meursault insist to the chaplain that he didn’t know what a sin was?” (Meursault is the protagonist from The Stranger, a Nobel winner in literature, written by acclaimed author Albert Camus.) Lansing scans his classroom to find the usual assortment of the bored and the clueless. William eventually supplies his own definitive answer:

“Expressing remorse would constitute his actions as wrong. He knows his views make him a stranger to society, and he is content with this judgment. He accepts death and looks forward to it with peace. The crowds will cheer hatefully at his beheading, but they will be cheering. This is what captivates the readers seventy years after the book’s publication. What keeps it and Camus eternal, immortal.”

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

Tue
Jun 13 2017 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: Song of Susannah Part III

Last week, we survived a thrilling shootout and got some answers about the demon baby inside Susannah/Mia. This week, things get a little wacky as we run into Stephen King himself in his own story.

On September 6th of last year, we began our journey on a reread of Stephen King’s epic series—soon to be a motion picture starring Idris Elba as Roland, the gunslinger. Faithfully each week, we’ve come closer to that looming Dark Tower in the distance that holds our world and Roland’s Gilead together, and that nexus is in danger of being destroyed by the Crimson King. Okay, let’s dig into Song of Susannah, which follows the obliteration of the Wolves, as our ka-tet is weighing the options…

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

Song of Susannah sets up nicely, splitting up the break-neck pace into digestible “stanzas.” So the plan is to read a few stanzas a week (about 130 pages) and meet 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, things get a little wacky as we run into Stephen King in his own story.... Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part III of Song of Susannah: 10th Stanza: “Susannah-Mio, Divided Girl of Mine” – 11th Stanza: “The Writer”!


CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread


[Authorception...]

Mon
Jun 12 2017 3:00pm

Page to Screen: American Gods 1.07: “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney” Review

At the Ibis and Jacquel funeral home, the bodies are piling up and keeping the godly duo busy. But Jacquel notes Ibis’s fingers are itching to return to writing and excuses his partner to begin another Coming to America, this one beginning in 1721. Ibis writes:

“It is fine fiction that America was founded by pilgrims seeking freedom to believe as they wished, that they came to the Americas, spread and bred and filled the empty land. In truth, the American colonies were as much a dumping ground as an escape, a forgetting place. In the days when you could be hanged in a London prison for the theft of 12 pennies, the Americas became a symbol of clemency.”

In Bantry Bay, Ireland, a young Essie MacGowan (Keller Viaene) listens to the stories her grandmother (Fionnula Flanagan) spins about magical creatures like fairies and leprechauns and believes in them deeply. Especially in the devilish leprechauns, for whom she begins setting out offerings of food, milk, and if she can spare it, portions of gold. Believing in something helps offset her feeling of loneliness while waiting for the return of her father, a ship’s captain, who is seemingly always at sea.

[“I was a king once ... General Mills did the rest.”]

Thu
Jun 8 2017 4:00pm

From Westlake with Love: Exploring Donald Westlake’s Lost Bond Novel, Forever and a Death

The James Bond I prefer, the “real” James Bond, is the one that exists outside of the bloated, by-the-numbers films. The highly profitable franchise produced few faithful adaptations, the genuine articles being Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), the loyal-in-gritty-spirit For Your Eyes Only (1981), and Casino Royale (2006). Otherwise, cinema JB is a cartoonish, pale comparison to the Bond that I highlighted in “The Gadgetless and Tired Assassin.”

That’s the 007 who has the feel of a tired public servant who's one martini away from turning his gun on himself or drinking himself into an oblivion. Not a handsome man—he has a visible scar on his face—but undeniably charismatic. He’s particularly ruthless, as in “The Hildebrand Rarity” (1960) where he covers up a murder by dumping a body overboard. There’s no bullshitting that the secret agent has a license to kill, and he takes the opportunity to use it if need be.

[Bond. James Bond.]

Wed
Jun 7 2017 1:00pm

Celebrating Dean Martin’s Centennial: The Westerns

Dean Martin (1917-1991) began his career as a crooner, racking up a number of hits including “Memories Are Made of This,” “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You,” and let’s hear it for my mom’s personal favorite, “That’s Amore.” He went on to star with Jerry Lewis in a string of blockbuster comedic film roles and was later a member of The Rat Pack, led by his buddy Frank Sinatra. In a 51-year career, he ran the gamut of the entertainment business. A consummate professional, even when he was pretending (or was he) to fall down drunk. 

Some of his biggest hits and most enduring classics are his Westerns. On what would have been his 100th birthday, here’s to a few of his best.

[That's a-Western!]

Tue
Jun 6 2017 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: Song of Susannah Part II

Last week, we opened Song of Susannah with a bang, as our gang gets split up and thrown to different whens. This week, the action continues with a thrilling shootout, and we get some answers about the demon baby inside Susannah/Mia.

On September 6th of last year, we began our journey on a reread of Stephen King’s epic series—soon to be a motion picture starring Idris Elba as Roland, the gunslinger. Faithfully each week, we’ve come closer to that looming Dark Tower in the distance that holds our world and Roland’s Gilead together, and that nexus is in danger of being destroyed by the Crimson King. Okay, let’s dig into Song of Susannah, which follows the obliteration of the Wolves, as our ka-tet is weighing the options…

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

Song of Susannah sets up nicely, splitting up the break-neck pace into digestible “stanzas.” So the plan is to read a few stanzas a week (about 130 pages) and meet 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 action continues with a thrilling shootout! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part II of Song of Susannah: 6th Stanza: “The Castle Allure” – 9th Stanza: “Eddie Bites His Tongue”!


CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread


[There's gonna be a showdown...]

Mon
Jun 5 2017 4:00pm

Page to Screen: American Gods 1.06: “A Murder of Gods” Review

The Coming to America segments have been my personal favorites thus far in the first season of American Gods, so much so that they often steal the show. But what a disappointment this week’s opening turned out to be.

Maybe it was the slow-mo action scene that lacked any palpable tension as a group of immigrants crossed the Rio Grande. Beforehand, there was a bit of praying, a quick shot of hand holding, and some grave instructions but little else. When one man who can’t swim begins to drown, Jesus is already there to lift him up, and then we see Christ walk across the water.

[Thy Kingdom Come...]

Tue
May 30 2017 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: Song of Susannah Part I

Last week, we fought the Wolves and Susannah/Mia took Black Thirteen and disappeared through the Unfound Door. This week, we begin Song of Susannah with a bang, as our gang gets split up and thrown to different whens and the beams start to collapse. 

On September 6th of last year, we began our journey on a reread of Stephen King’s epic series—soon to be a motion picture starring Idris Elba as Roland, the gunslinger. Faithfully each week, we’ve come closer to that looming Dark Tower in the distance that holds our world and Roland’s Gilead together, and that nexus is in danger of being destroyed by the Crimson King. Okay, let’s dig into Song of Susannah, which follows the obliteration of the Wolves, as our ka-tet is weighing the options…

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

Song of Susannah sets up nicely, splitting up the break-neck pace into digestible “stanzas.” So the plan is to read a few stanzas a week (about 130 pages) and meet 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 begin Song of Susannah as the gang gets split up and thrown through the Unfound Door to different whens! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part I of Song of Susannah: 1st Stanza: “Beamquake” – 5th Stanza: “The Turtle”!


CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread


[Go then, there are other worlds than these...]

Mon
May 29 2017 5:00pm

Page to Screen: American Gods 1.05: “Lemon Scented You” Review

Without exception, the opening vignettes to American Gods are mini-masterpieces destined to be viewed time and again as inquiring minds seek to know more about these nearly forgotten fables—expect lots of YouTube hits.

In a compelling animated segment, the very first god comes to America circa 14,000 BC. A tribe of people crosses the land bridge from Siberia, following the wooly mammoths in hopes of finding food for their starving people. Atsula and her clan carry an effigy of their god, Nunyunnini, while they make the treacherous journey across the frozen, barren landscape. Her baby dies along the way, and when they finally arrive in the new land, she becomes the ultimate sacrifice to a bison-like spirit so her people can live—only to confront a tribe that had come before them. They defeat the newly encountered rivals and take their food, and then they leave behind Nunyunnini to be forgotten over time. The scene, like other Coming to America sections, was in variance from the novel.

[Eddie Murphy's might be my favorite Coming to America...]

Mon
May 29 2017 3:00pm

Twin Peaks: The Return Review: Parts 3 and 4

If there was one thing that stood out in this week’s episodes, it was those regurgitation scenes. Ay, dios mio! More than once as Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is passing from the Black Lodge back to the land of the living. 

In what can only be described as a surreal trip for Coop, he gets sucked through an electrical outlet and rides the current until he switches bodies with a lookalike named Dougie Jones. The hapless Dougie was enjoying the company of a lady of the evening, Jade (Nafeesa Williams), who is washing up when Coop arrives and takes Dougie’s place. And there begins possibly the vilest puke scene ever delivered on camera (and if you can point to more disgusting exhibits, I’ll just take your word for it). Dougie is swept away to the Black Lodge, where the one-armed man, Gerard (Al Strobel), explains, “Someone manufactured you,” and bears witness as the doppelgänger disintegrates into nothing more than a little round ball.

[Barf. Yack. Puke. Hurl.]

Tue
May 23 2017 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: Wolves of the Calla Part VIII

Last week, Jake discovered Slightman the Elder's treasonous plan as the Calla geared up for the fight of their lives. This week, the battle against the Wolves commences as we close out Wolves of the Calla

Our previous read, The Wind Through The Keyhole, waylaid us in a town hall as a starkblast trapped our ka-tet with freezing conditions. Roland of Gilead spent the time palavering with Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy about long ago when him and fellow gunslinger Jamie tracked down and killed the shapeshifter Skin-Man. Intertwined in the narrative, we discover that Roland’s mother Gabrielle had learned from Randall Flagg that her son would murder her, and so in a letter she’d written in advance, she absolved Roland of the deed. After the icy weather passes, the ka-tet emerges and heads along the Path of the Beam toward Thunderclap.

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

We're back to wacky Stephen King chapters, so the plan is to read a section a week (about 100 pages) and meet 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 battle with the Wolves commences as we close out Wolves of the Calla! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part VIII of Wolves of the Calla: Part Three The Wolves, VII: “The Wolves” – Epilogue: “The Doorway Cave”!


CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread


[Leeeeeeeet's get ready to ruuuuummbllllle!]

Mon
May 22 2017 5:00pm

Page to Screen: American Gods 1.04: “Git Gone” Review

Every episode of American Gods has ended with me longing for more. All the Coming to America vignettes have been pitch perfect and the acting top-notch across the board, but if I hadn't read the extraordinary Neil Gaiman novel, I don't believe I would care what comes next and—like my two viewing companions—would have bailed.

There's a real slow turning of the narrative page here (yet when slow is done right, it can be exciting, à la Twin Peaks) that wasn't clicking in the first three episodes, and the compartmentalization of the book that kept the reader enthralled just didn’t have the same effect in the show. For someone who likes it when filmmakers stay true to the book, I have to admit that I’m glad they expanded the Laura Moon character in “Git Gone.” It provides a much-needed backstory to her relationship with Shadow, and it made this episode the first exceptional one of the series.

[Read David Cranmer's review of “Git Gone”...]

Mon
May 22 2017 3:00pm

Twin Peaks: The Return Review: Parts 1 and 2

Ahead of David Lynch’s revival, I went back and binged on the original series, interested to know if it would still capture me like it did 27 years ago. I was only a few years older than the fictional 17-year-old Laura Palmer when I sat with my mom and best friend Erik each week, religiously invested in Special Agent Cooper probing Laura’s grisly death. My mother didn’t laugh at the dark humor that Erik and I enjoyed over the slain girl’s mom wailing long past when other directors would have yelled “cut!” We had grown up on Lynch’s Blue Velvet and were more than prepared for the dramatic swings—after all, Dennis Hopper snuffing up oxygen through a mask is practically normal. Still, both generations were glued-fast to the intrigue.

[Read David Cranmer's review of Twin Peaks: The Return, Parts 1 and 2!]

Tue
May 16 2017 3:00pm

Q&A with Court Merrigan, Author of The Broken Country

Court Merrigan describes himself as a farm-raised country boy, recovering expat, teacher, and businessman. He lives in Wyoming with his family and has an alternate history Western novel just released from BEAT to a PULP books with a Crusoe-inspired title: The Broken Country: Being the Scabrous Exploits of Cyrus & Galina Van, Hellbent West during the Eighth Year of the Harrows, 1876; With an Account of Mappers, Bounty Hunters, a Tatar, and the Science of Phrenology

Editor and publisher of BTAP caught up with Mr. Merrigan on the virtual country trail to ask a few questions.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Tue
May 16 2017 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: Wolves of the Calla Part VII

Last week, Susannah's pregnancy became increasingly distressing. This week, Jake confirms the truth about Slightman the Elder, while Eddie finally takes out that traitor Messenger Robot. 

Our previous read, The Wind Through The Keyhole, waylaid us in a town hall as a starkblast trapped our ka-tet with freezing conditions. Roland of Gilead spent the time palavering with Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy about long ago when him and fellow gunslinger Jamie tracked down and killed the shapeshifter Skin-Man. Intertwined in the narrative, we discover that Roland’s mother Gabrielle had learned from Randall Flagg that her son would murder her, and so in a letter she’d written in advance, she absolved Roland of the deed. After the icy weather passes, the ka-tet emerges and heads along the Path of the Beam toward Thunderclap.

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

We're back to wacky Stephen King chapters, so the plan is to read a section a week (about 100 pages) and meet 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, Roland lies and schemes his way through his plan, while Eddie takes care of the traitor Messenger Robot! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part VII of Wolves of the Calla: Part Three The Wolves, III: “The Dogan, Part 2” – Part Three The Wolves, VI: “Before the Storm”!


CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread


[Bring on the wolves, we want to see the wolves, where are the wolves!?]

Mon
May 15 2017 4:45pm

Page to Screen: American Gods 1.03: “Head Full of Snow” Review

Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is a masterpiece of early 21st-century works, and a big reason for this triumph is the seemingly disjointed threads that make up the narrative—specifically the Coming to America vignettes that explore how multitudes of cultural immortals like Odin, Anansi, and others arrived on the North American shores. Reading Gods is a seamless laminar flow that, for some strange reason, the Starz program lacks.

I’m not sure why it’s not successfully making the transition, but after just three episodes there’s a noticeable discordant disconnect. The acting is superb, but the direction at times feels oddly paced—for example, a checkers game that went on and on a bit too long. The opening theme and musical score is excellent, though the musical selections (and make no mistake, I love my Dylan and CCR) are dated and fail to fit.

In the book, I never questioned why Shadow Moon decided to go along with Mr. Wednesday—it’s so smoothly written—but watching the narrative play out, I can’t help but ask why not run the other way from these combative, mischievous lunatics. It’s kind of like that great anecdote you’ve rehearsed in your head, and when you finally say it out loud, it doesn’t deliver as big. Still, there’s enough flashy stuff happening that it’s far from boring.

[Read David Cranmer's review of Episode 1.03: “Head Full of Snow”...]

Thu
May 11 2017 1:00pm

Review: A Twisted Vengeance by Candace Robb

A Twisted Vengeance by Candace Robb is a historical mystery set in York at the end of the 14th century, where young widow Kate Clifford—struggling to keep her businesses afloat—realizes that her mother is harboring a dangerous secret.

To say Kate Clifford’s mother, Eleanor, is a handful is an understatement. Eleanor flees Strasbourg, returning to York with three beguines to establish a Martha House. That, according to the book’s glossary, is “a household of lay religious women dedicated to serving the community.” Oh, and beguines are “a community of women leading lives of religious devotion who, unlike those who entered convents, were not bound by permanent vows.” Since A Twisted Vengeance takes place in 1399, the lexicon is useful—though, for the most part, the dialogue is modernized and easy to follow. 

Adding insult to injury, Eleanor moves into the residence next door to Kate, who’s running a guesthouse. Her “pious” mother’s keen eye takes note of the men who frequent the inn wanting a quiet moment with their mistresses. Kate also cares for her late husband Simon’s kids—not from a previous marriage, mind you, but with his own courtesan who has also passed away. She’s a busy woman with an extra complicated life, and Eleanor pokes at her: What would happen, she inquires, if people knew she was a bawd (a woman in charge of a brothel)?

[Read David Cranmer's review of A Twisted Vengeance...]