Discount: <i>Margaret Truman's Undiplomatic Murder</i> by Donald Bain Discount: Margaret Truman's Undiplomatic Murder by Donald Bain Crime HQ Get a digital copy for only $2.99! <i>Breaking Point</i>: Excerpt Breaking Point: Excerpt Allison Brennan The 13th book in the Lucy Kincaid series. Discount: <i>Someone to Watch Over Me</i> by Yrsa Sigurdardottir Discount: Someone to Watch Over Me by Yrsa Sigurdardottir Crime HQ Get a digital copy for only $2.99! Review: <i>Light It Up</i> by Nick Petrie Review: Light It Up by Nick Petrie Angie Barry Read Angie Barry's review!
From The Blog
January 19, 2018
Man Attempts to Pay for Drink at Domino's Pizza with Marijuana
Adam Wagner
January 19, 2018
Announcing 2018's Edgar Award Nominees
Crime HQ
January 18, 2018
Crime Fiction Hall of Fame: David Goodis
Brian Greene
January 16, 2018
Q&A with Christopher Reich, Author of The Take
Christopher Reich and John Valeri
January 12, 2018
Man Steals Tank, Crashes through Store Window, Steals Bottle of Wine
Adam Wagner
Thu
Jan 18 2018 2:00pm

Spear Phishing in the Desert: Harpoon: Inside the Covert War Against Terrorism’s Money Masters by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner & Samuel M. Katz

Harpoon: Inside the Covert War against Terrorism’s Money Masters by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner & Samuel M. Katz is a revelatory account of the cloak-and-dagger Israeli campaign to target the finances fueling terror organizations—an effort that became the blueprint for U.S. efforts to combat threats like ISIS and drug cartels.

When we read “Israel” and “counterterrorism” in the same sentence, we usually think of what the military calls “going kinetic”—a silenced .22, cell-phone bombs, Hellfires, invading Lebanon, that kind of thing. But there’s more than one way to skin a camel. Just like everything else, money makes terrorism go ‘round, and when the money stops, so does the music.

That, in a nutshell, is what Harpoon: Inside the Covert War against Terrorism’s Money Masters is all about. Israeli civil-rights attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and co-author Samuel M. Katz give us an inside-ish look at a years-long Mossad operation targeting the banks, money-changers, and paymasters who keep the Benjamins flowing to the welter of terrorist organizations elbowing each other in the Middle East.

Suicide bombers have been called “the poor man’s cruise missile,” but they’re not free. People have to be paid to recon the targets and recruit the bomber. They have to pay for safe houses, vehicles, the parts to make the bomb, and the specialist to build it. Once the bomber has self-detonated, the organization is on the hook for pension payments to his family.

[Read Lance Charnes's review of Harpoon...]

Thu
Jan 18 2018 12:00pm

Review: Light It Up by Nick Petrie

Light It Up by Nick Petrie is the third thriller starring war veteran Peter Ash, where a well-planned and flawlessly executed hijacking reveals the hidden dangers of Colorado's mellowest business, and Ash may find there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.

When we last saw Peter Ash—Iraq vet, capable outdoorsman, and an all-around decent guy—he’d just saved an investigative journalist from Black Ops mercenaries desperate for the world-shattering computer algorithm in her possession.

Light It Up picks up five months after the events of Burning Bright. Peter’s working on overcoming his PTSD-based claustrophobia while rebuilding hiking trails in Oregon. He’s determined to get better, though he knows it’ll be a long and winding road—because June Cassidy’s waiting at the end of it.

But all of his plans go awry when his friend Henry, a tough-as-nails Vietnam vet, asks for his help. Henry’s daughter has started a security company that protects legal cannabis growers in Colorado, and it seems modern-day highwaymen have started targeting her shipments.

Henry promises it’ll just be a couple runs. A few weeks in Colorado, some decent money in the bank, and a chance to strap on body armor and a gun again. Peter signs on—he’s never been able to turn a blind eye to a friend in need.

[Read Angie Barry's review of Light It Up...]

Wed
Jan 17 2018 1:00pm

Review: Jack Waters by Scott Adlerberg

Jack Waters by Scott Adlerberg is a historical thriller set in 1904 about an American guy from New Orleans—a poker player and fugitive murderer—who joins a Caribbean island revolution for utterly non-political reasons. He has his own reasons for joining the rebellion, based on revenge against someone high up in the country (available January 17, 2018).

In the years after the American Civil War, Jack Waters, a successful Louisianan gambler, lives the high life on a big plantation that he cherishes. Fancying himself a gentleman, he is well-respected within his circles. His trajectory for a life of ease is forever altered, however, when he finds himself running from the law after he kills a 22-year-old poker player.

The boy had the gall to cheat in his house, and then to think he could depart unscathed. In a flash, like a panther, Waters leapt over the round oak table, scattering cards and chips. He jumped onto the boy and they fell to the floor. The others yanked at his arms and shoulders, but they couldn’t get a grip on him. Waters pushed them away. He drew from under his shirt the long retractable knife he always carried for protection, and ignoring the boy’s cries for mercy, stabbed him in the heart.

[Read David Cranmer's review of Jack Waters...]

Tue
Jan 16 2018 12:00pm

Review: The Weight of an Infinite Sky by Carrie La Seur

The Weight of an Infinite Sky by Carrie La Seur explores the heart and mystery of Big Sky Country in this evocative and atmospheric novel of family, home, love, and responsibility inspired by William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

After his father’s surprise death, Anthony Fry—son of cattle ranchers Dean and Sarah Fry—returns home to Billings, Montana, to run a small theater camp and to, ostensibly, help his mother with the ranch. When he arrives, he finds his uncle Neal helping out much more than he ever could. Anthony’s mother and his uncle then proceed to get married … a mere three months after Dean’s death.

The shock of his mother’s remarriage isn’t the only thing playing on Anthony’s mind. A mining company is insisting that he sign away his rights to the ranch so they can strip the ranch land for coal. The love of Anthony’s life—Hilary, who had a nervous breakdown just before he left for New York—is back in town. And teenagers are leaving him love poetry.

[Read Jenny Maloney's review of The Weight of an Infinite Sky...]

Mon
Jan 15 2018 12:00pm

Review: The Night Market by Jonathan Moore

The Night Market by Jonathan Moore is a mind-bending, masterfully plotted near-future thriller that makes your most paranoid fantasies seem like child’s play (available January 16, 2018).

What’s “near-future noir” mean to you? Does it sound like what happens if Philip K. Dick edits a Raymond Chandler novel? If so, you have an idea of what Jonathan Moore’s The Night Market is about.

Hardboiled San Francisco PD Inspector Ross Carver is investigating a possible murder scene featuring a truly ugly-dead (i.e., dissolving) victim when he and his partner, Cleve Jenner, are jumped by moon-suited FBI agents. The Men in Tyvek shoot up the two cops with something that’s supposed to keep them from becoming equally ugly-dead but also knocks them out.

Carver can’t remember what happened when he wakes up in bed two days later feeling like he went six rounds with a Mack truck. Another surprise: Mia Westcott—until now, merely the pretty neighbor-lady—is reading to him. Mia feeds Carver a story that launches him into trying to recover those lost days. Needless to say, Carver, Jenner, and Mia end up diving into the deep end of a vast, subterranean conspiracy that threatens the existence of free will and memory itself.

[Read Lance Charnes's review of The Night Market...]

Thu
Jan 11 2018 1:00pm

Review: The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor

The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor is a riveting and relentlessly compelling psychological suspense debut that weaves a mystery about a childhood game gone dangerously awry and keeps readers guessing right up to the shocking ending.

Author C. J. Tudor is a student of thrillers that boldly venture into the realm of horror fiction, and her writing reflects the fact that she’s learned all the important lessons. In The Chalk Man, her impressive debut, she plays around with a plethora of tropes and eventually delivers a finale that makes her first novel feel more like the work of a seasoned author than a first offering. Perhaps more impressive than her playfulness is the absolute dominion of every element in the last third of the novel, which is something few authors could have pulled off in a narrative that includes incursions into the world of dreams, a story that takes place in two different time periods, and plenty of mental illness.

Back in 1986, Eddie Adams was a regular 12-year-old kid who enjoyed vacations, going to the park, collecting things, and spending as much time as possible with his friends, Hoppo, Metal Mickey, Fat Gave, and Nicky. They all lived in a small, unexciting English village, and any bit of excitement was welcome. Their lives were slowly changing with every step further into adolescence, but they were suddenly thrown into a world of chaos when they found a dismembered body in the woods by following chalk figures left on trees, which eerily resembled their own way of communicating with each other.

[Read Gabino Iglesias's review of The Chalk Man...]

Thu
Jan 11 2018 12:00pm

Review: Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna

As addictive, cinematic, and binge-worthy a narrative as The Wire and The Killing, Two Girls Down introduces Louisa Luna as a thriller writer of immense talent and verve.

Fair warning: set aside enough time to finish Two Girls Down in one sitting because you won’t be able to stop until it's over. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: two young girls disappear during a quick shopping trip to Target. Their single mother, Jamie Brandt, is heartsick and distraught. Jamie’s aunt, Maggie Shambley, contacts Alice Vega, a famous California bounty hunter, to ask her to locate her missing nieces. In less than 24 hours, Vega arrives in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. She needs a partner, someone who knows the local scene. Max Caplan, “Cap,” is her choice—once a local cop, now a private detective.

Cap is a bit of a philosopher. A private detective has a lot of time to ponder human foibles while surreptitiously monitoring illicit activities. He’s divorced, so he understands the futility of anyone getting “to have it all.” Although, he’d be out of business if folks didn’t try—or so he muses during a nooner stakeout.

[Read Janet Webb's review of Two Girls Down...]

Wed
Jan 10 2018 1:00pm

Review: Maigret, Lognon and the Gangsters by Georges Simenon

Maigret, Lognon and the Gangsters by Georges Simenon is the 39th book in the Maigret series, where Maigret goes up against a group of American gangsters and finds he just might have met his match.

Maigret, Lognon and the Gangsters (aka Maigret and the Killers) was the novel that made me a Maigret fan. I think I’d read a couple of Georges Simenon’s later efforts in the series and found them a little stale. Which is fair. Any series that runs to well over 70 installments is going to produce some duds. Like Picasso supposedly told André Malraux, “You can’t be a sorcerer all day long.”

With Maigret and the Killers (if you’ll excuse me for using the snappier American title of the old pulp version I know best), Simenon was working his magic. This is a classic installment in the series and a great place for newbies to begin. Fast, exciting, and compulsively readable, it is Simenon and Maigret at their best.

[Read Jake Hinkson's review of Maigret, Lognon and the Gangsters...]

Tue
Jan 9 2018 3:00pm

Review: Darkness, Sing Me a Song by David Housewright

David Housewright’s Edgar Award-winning Holland Taylor series returns with a case of murder resulting from tragic, twisted drama in an extremely wealthy family in Darkness, Sing Me a Song.

How often do fictional private detectives’ personal lives mirror their on-hand cases? More than you’d think. David Housewright’s Holland Taylor is “a PI who does simple background checks and other mostly unchallenging cases,” but he’s finally ready to put the misery of his wife and child’s death behind him and embrace life once more. Coincidentally, the former cop’s new case challenges him to his core.

Holland’s mother presses him to move on, although she’s sympathetic to how much he’s still consumed by memories of his wife Laura and their child. It’s a classic, excruciating phone call between a parent and a grown-up child. If Holland could get a word in edgewise, he might point out that he has a preponderance of women in his personal life.

[Read Janet Webb's review of Darkness, Sing Me a Song...]

Tue
Jan 9 2018 11:00am

Review: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds, which probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next (available January 9, 2018).

I have one sibling and often wonder what life would be like if I had a couple more, which is one of the things that drew me to Chloe Benjamin’s new novel. The other was wondering how she’d pull off a story about four siblings who have their death date hovering over their heads. Could such a premise be pulled off gracefully?

The answer is yes.

The novel opens with a prologue set in 1969 when the kids learn of their death dates. It’s the middle of a hot, sticky summer on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and the four bored Gold siblings are killing time when one hears about a fortune teller who can tell people the date they’re going to die. The kids—two girls and two boys—are seven, nine, 11, and 13 years old. It’s the last summer they’ll spend together as a group. By next year, their dynamics change as the two older siblings age into spending more time with their friends than their younger siblings.

[Read Chris Wolak's review of The Immortalists...]

Mon
Jan 8 2018 4:00pm

Crimes Against Film: Argoman, the Fantastic Superman (1967)

I’ve been writing a series of posts on Criterion Collection film releases for this site. Some of the Criterion titles I’ve covered have been things like campy romps and low-budget oddities, but most of the movies in question are decidedly highbrow fare: critically acclaimed cinematic works directed by noted auteurs.

As I’ve been plowing away at these pieces, another side of my film fanatic self—my inner trash-movie lover—has been knocking at my conscience, asking to be allowed to come out and play. So it’s time to give way to that urge for a moment while taking a break from all the high art. The moment has arrived to investigate the ridiculous yet pleasurable 1967 superhero Eurocrime work, Argoman, The Fantastic Superman.

[Read Brian Greene's Crimes Against Film review of Argoman...]

Mon
Jan 8 2018 3:00pm

Review: A Reckoning in the Back Country by Terry Shames

A Reckoning in the Back Country by Terry Shames is the seventh book in the Samuel Craddock Mystery series, where acting Police Chief Samuel Craddock investigates the murder of a visiting physician, whose mangled body is found in the woods (available January 9, 2018).

Do you remember the book that got you to fall in love with a genre? I honestly don’t remember which exact Nancy Drew novel made me a mystery fan forever at the tender age of 8, but now that I’m older and better at cataloguing my reading, I can say with certainty that Terry Shames’s A Reckoning in the Back Country has opened my eyes fully to the charms of the small-town police chief mystery series.

I think a large part of why this—of all the books about small-town policing that I have read and enjoyed to date—has given me a newfound appreciation of the subgenre is how authentic it reads, in large part because it refuses to traffic in tropes. Our hero, Samuel Craddock, is an older, widowed white man in the small Texas town of Jarrett Creek. His female neighbors dote on him, though he’s officially dating an emotionally damaged recent divorcee. His office is small: just him and three deputies, one of whom is temporary. Par for the course, so far.

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of A Reckoning in the Back Country...]

Mon
Jan 8 2018 12:00pm

Review: The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Twisted and deliciously chilling, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen's The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage—and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

Take a visual tour of The Wife Between Us with GIFnotes!

The young, vibrant woman stealing a husband isn’t a new trope, but it sure is a tired one. Good thing there’s The Wife Between Us. Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen put a new twist on a very old trope in this fun book. As for the twist itself? It actually surprised me, which is unusual for this jaded reader.

The setup seems simple: Nellie is a young and idealistic pre-K teacher preparing to marry the handsome Richard. Everything seems to be going well, but she keeps getting strange phone calls—mostly heavy breathing from a blocked number. Is it enough to ruin her post-wedding glow? Not really, but she is afraid of losing touch with her roommate and best friend Samantha once she’s married, and she hopes that won’t happen. Seems like normal concerns from a bride-to-be, right?

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of The Wife Between Us...]

Fri
Jan 5 2018 1:00pm

Review: Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley

In Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley, Victorian class lines are crossed as cook Kat Holloway is drawn into a murder that reaches all the way to the throne.

Death Below Stairs is the first full entry in Jennifer Ashley’s Kat Halloway series, following A Soupçon of Poison (Kat Holloway Mysteries, #0.5). Mrs. Halloway is a talented cook, highly sought-after for her culinary expertise. Cooks held a special status in the hierarchy of Victorian households. They operated independently, working in concert with the butler and housekeeper but answering only to their mistress. As a mark of respect, all cooks went by the courtesy title of Missus, be they married or not. Their undisputed queen, particularly below-stairs, was Mrs. Isabella Mary Beeton (1836-1865). Her famous cookery book was “a household guide all about cookery, household work, marketing, prices, provisions, trussing, serving, carving, menus,” to name just a few subjects.

Kat’s independence and intelligence combine to make her a keen observer of life above and below stairs in the Lord Rankin’s Mayfair mansion. It’s an “odd household”; Lord Rankin is an earl heavily immersed in financial matters, his titled wife affects die-away airs, and his sister-in-law chooses to dress as a man and indulge in a bohemian lifestyle.

[Read Janet Webb's review of Death Below Stairs...]

Thu
Jan 4 2018 3:00pm

Review: Scones and Scoundrels by Molly MacRae

Scones and Scoundrels by Molly MacRae is the second book in the Highland Bookshop Mystery series, which brings together a body outside a pub, a visiting author determined to find the killer, and a murderously good batch of scones.

Molly MacRae juggles several interconnected storylines in her second Highland Bookshop Mystery. Scones and Scoundrels opens with Janet Marsh and her business partners at Yon Bonnie Books discussing the demands of author Daphne Wood, who is scheduled to do a gala signing at their bookstore. Janet runs the bookstore with her daughter; the other partners manage the adjoining teashop and the second-floor bed and breakfast. What a coup for the Inversgail schools to secure a bestselling, modern-day Thoreau as their artist-in-residence for three months. Daphne Wood, formerly of Inversgail, Scotland, has been Canada’s environmental superstar for decades.

Rock stars with their demands for specifically colored M&Ms have nothing on Daphne Wood! Sharon Davis, the director of the Inversgail Library and Archives, shares Wood’s “lengthy and ludicrous list” with the owners of Yon Bonnie Books.

[Read Janet Webb's review of Scones and Scoundrels...]

Thu
Jan 4 2018 1:00pm

Review: Don’t Look for Me by Mason Cross

Don’t Look For Me by Mason Cross is a nail-biting new thriller—perfect for fans of Jack Reacher, Alex Cross, and Jason Bourne—about the desperate hunt for a woman who has a secret to kill for.

If Jack Reacher fans are looking for something to fill the void, Mason Cross’s Carter Blake just might fit the bill. Our hero is really good at finding people, but he’s taking a bit of a break in Grand Isle, Louisiana.

I had planned to stay a few weeks when I had arrived in early November, but the temperate climate had been hard to resist, so I decided to stay put until the New Year. While I was still within the technical limits of that decision, it was now early June and I had yet to make a move. The problem was, the Gulf Coast just kept getting more pleasant as the year advanced. I kept expecting to get tired of waking up to blue skies and beaches, and peace and quiet, but it never happened. I read books, I went for long runs, I ate good food in a different place every night. I did everything I could to not go looking for trouble, and for the most part, I was doing a good job.

But trouble is never far away from Carter, and soon he’ll be hit with news of a blast from his very storied past.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Don't Look for Me...]

Tue
Jan 2 2018 3:00pm

Review: Robicheaux by James Lee Burke

James Lee Burke’s most beloved character, Dave Robicheaux, returns in Robicheaux—a gritty, atmospheric mystery set in the towns and backwoods of Louisiana.

My favorite James Lee Burke is angry, old James Lee Burke.

With Robicheaux—his 21st novel starring the eponymous retired NOLA Homicide cop turned PI turned sheriff in the Elysian Babylon of Iberia Parish—Burke has written another operatic novel of human perseverance and frailty that will be familiar to fans of his work without being predictable or boring. By this time, we know his themes, his leitmotifs, and his riffs. Think of it like the framework of a sonnet, a canvas and palette, or a murder ballad rocker’s beat that allows the artist to create something new using hooks and phrases we know well.

Burke has seen what’s happening in our country before, and here, he seemingly predicts the Hollywood sexual assault scandals while he writes a story that makes knowing nods to Huey Long and Bud Schulberg’s A Face in the Crowd and spins a tale of a folksy son of a ruthless oil baron who rises in populist politics. Jimmy Nightingale is young, hides his narcissism well, and wants to be a good man—unlike the “outsider” politician he most assuredly is modeled after. He embraces the disgraced Klansman and politician Bobby Earl, who is not the Duke of Earl if you can’t figure out the Louisiana hatemonger he’s jabbing at. The one who inspired my favorite political bumper sticker: VOTE FOR THE CROOK! IT’S IMPORTANT. That was when David Duke ran against a convicted pol and lost, unlike today when an Alabama child molester nearly defeated a war hero. A different time.

[Read Thomas Pluck's review of Robicheaux...]

Tue
Jan 2 2018 1:00pm

Review: Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz

A broken promise reveals a terrifying legacy in Promise Not to Tell, the second book in the Cutler, Sutter & Salinas series by Jayne Ann Krentz.

Promise Not to Tell opens in a troubling fashion: a reclusive artist is convinced that the villain who ruined her life is still alive. No longer can Hannah Brewster believe the claims that the monster Quinton Zane is dead, because she senses she’s being watched—and then she spots Zane on the remote island where she lives.

She had known then that she could no longer deceive herself into thinking that she was hallucinating. The truth was always shatteringly clear at night.

At midnight she had picked up a brush, her hand firm and steady, and begun to paint her final picture. She had continued painting every night until her creation was finished.

And then she had waited for the demon to return.

When Zane returns, Hannah makes the decision to die rather than risk coming under Zane’s spell again:

[Read Janet Webb's review of Promise Not to Tell...]

Tue
Jan 2 2018 12:00pm

Review: A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis

A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis is the first book in the Searchers series—a race-against-time thriller where FBI Agent Elsa Myers may have to lose herself in order to save a missing girl.

The name Karen Ellis is new to the annals of crime fiction, but the powerhouse behind that pseudonym is one that discerning readers will recognize: Katia Lief. Lief is the internationally bestselling author of the four-book Karin Schaeffer series (among other works), the last of which, The Money Kill (2013), was nominated for the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark Award. A teacher of fiction writing at The New School in Manhattan, she makes her debut as Ellis with A Map of the Dark.

As the story opens, readers are introduced to FBI Agent Elsa Myers of the Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Unit (CARD). Though accustomed to professional crises, it’s a personal one that she’s reckoning with—her dad’s hospitalization due to a terminal cancer diagnosis—when her supervisor calls requesting her immediate assistance in the disappearance of 17-year-old Ruby Haverstock.

[Read John Valeri's review of A Map of the Dark...]

Fri
Dec 22 2017 12:00pm

Review: Death at Nuremberg by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV

Death at Nuremberg by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV follows a crafty American soldier caught between scheming Russians and secretive Nazis in post-World War II Germany in the fourth novel of the Clandestine Operations series (available December 26, 2017).

With more than 50 novels to his name, W.E.B. Griffin is one of the most prolific writers of military fiction, and his latest collaboration with his son, William E. Butterworth IV, explores the cloak-and-dagger games of post-World War II Germany—a time period that isn’t covered by authors nearly as much as the war itself. Everything should be set up for success with Death at Nuremberg, which follows Captain James D. Cronley Jr. as he’s assigned to guard a justice assigned to the Nuremberg trials of captured Nazis.

Even with a strong premise and interesting characters, it’s hard to become fully immersed in this novel due to the limited writing style. The dialog is terrific, but there’s too much of it. The novel is lacking in descriptions of setting and place, which is a shame because post-WWII Germany must have been a haunting sight with the ruins of war apparent on every street.

[Read Brian Bandell's review of Death at Nuremberg...]