<i>American Static</i>: Excerpt American Static: Excerpt Tom Pitts A fast-paced crime novel set in California. Review: <i>Kangaroo Too</i> by Curtis C. Chen Review: Kangaroo Too by Curtis C. Chen Doreen Sheridan Read Doreen Sheridan's review! <i>The Witches' Tree</i>: Excerpt The Witches' Tree: Excerpt M. C. Beaton The 28th book in the Agatha Raisin series. Review: <i>The Force</i> by Don Winslow Review: The Force by Don Winslow Thomas Pluck Read Thomas Pluck's review!
From The Blog
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
June 9, 2017
Arrogant Drug Dealer Busted During Facebook Live Stream
Teddy Pierson
June 7, 2017
Celebrating Dean Martin’s Centennial: The Westerns
David Cranmer
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...]

Tue
Jun 20 2017 1:00pm
Excerpt

Read the First 9 Chapters of LoveMurder by Saul Black

Saul Black

LoveMurder by Saul Black is the second book in the Valerie Hart series. Get an exclusive early peek with the first 9 chapters!

When she’s called to the murder scene, the last thing San Francisco Homicide detective Valerie Hart is expecting is for Katherine Glass to walk back into her life. Six years earlier, revulsion and fascination had gripped the nation in equal measure, as beautiful, intelligent, charming―and utterly evil―Katherine Glass had been convicted on six counts of Murder One. But the freshly mutilated corpse in the ground-floor apartment bears all the hallmarks of Katherine’s victims. And then there’s the note, with its chilling implications. Addressed to Valerie.

To stop the slaughter, Valerie has no choice. She must ask Katherine Glass to help her decipher the killer’s twisted message. But that means re-entering the pitch-black labyrinth that is Katherine’s mind, and this time Valerie isn’t so sure which one of them will survive.


Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9


[Read the first 9 chapters of LoveMurder!]

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....]

Tue
Jun 20 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

Susan M. Boyer Excerpt: Lowcountry Bonfire

Susan M. Boyer

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

Private Investigators Liz Talbot and Nate Andrews have worked their share of domestic cases. So when Tammy Sue Lyerly hires them to find out what her husband is hiding, they expect to find something looney but harmless. After all, this is the guy who claims to have been a DEA agent, a champion bull rider, and a NASCAR driver.

But when he turns up dead the morning after Liz and Nate deliver incriminating photos, Tammy Sue becomes the prime suspect. Questioning the truth of Zeke Lyerly’s tall-tales, Liz and Nate race to uncover small town scandals, long buried secrets, and the victim’s tumultuous past to keep Tammy Sue out of jail and the case from going up in flames.

[Read an excerpt from Lowcountry Bonfire...]

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...]

Mon
Jun 19 2017 1:00pm

Watch the Chilling Trailer for Happy Death Day

Living the same day over and over in a Groundhog Day-style nightmare is bad enough—but what if each of those days ended in your brutal murder? That’s the premise for Blumhouse’s (Split, Get Out, Whiplash) latest trippy horror thriller, Happy Death Day, in which a popular college student continues to relive the day of her death—with all its gory and terrifying details—until she finds the identity of her killer. 

Directed by Christoper Landon and starring Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews, and Charles Aitken, Happy Death Day premieres in October 2017, on Friday the 13th. 

[Watch the chilling trailer below!]

Mon
Jun 19 2017 12:00pm

Grantchester 3.00: Christmas Special Episode Review

Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy … Grantchester has returned. And this episode, which aired in the U.K. last December, opens with a rehearsal for a Christmas pageant. Thus, the aforementioned tidings.

In the past, I’ve been harsh with hunky vicar Sidney Chambers (James Norton) and his pals, which has distressed fans of the series. So, in the spirit of the season—Season 3, if you’re counting—I will endeavor to review these episodes charitably. 

Everyone’s preparing for Christmas 1954. Sidney and the curate Leonard Finch (Al Weaver) struggle with the lights for the tree. Mrs. Maguire (Tessa Peake-Jones) is baking up a storm. Cathy Keating (Kacey Ainsworth) has her eye on a telly for the family, but Geordie (Robson Green) vetoes the idea. And isn’t Dickens the puppy a big, handsome boy now?

Yet casting a shadow over the holiday preparations is a certain elephant in the room, which everyone chooses to call “The Situation.” (You can hear the capital letters whenever it’s mentioned.)

[There is freedom only in a situation…]

Mon
Jun 19 2017 10:00am
Excerpt

Ellie Alexander Excerpt: A Crime of Passion Fruit

Ellie Alexander

A Crime of Passion Fruit by Ellie Alexander is the 6th book in the Bakeshop Mystery series (available June 27, 2017).

Take a visual tour of A Crime of Passion Fruit with GIFnotes!

Torte―everybody’s favorite small-town family bakeshop―is headed for the high seas, where murder is about to make a splash...

Jules Capshaw is trying to keep her cool as Torte gets set to make its transformation from quaint, local confectionary café to royal pastry palace. Meanwhile, Jules’s estranged husband Carlos is making a desperate plea for her to come aboard his cruise ship and dazzle everyone with her signature sweets. She may be skeptical about returning to her former nautical life with Carlos but Jules can’t resist an all-expense-paid trip, either. If only she knew that a dead body would find its way onto the itinerary...

Now, instead of enjoying tropical drinks on deck between whipping up batches of sea-salted chocolates and flambéing fresh pineapple slices in the kitchen, Jules is plunged into dangerous waters. Her investigation leaves her with more questions than answers: Why can’t anyone on board identify the young woman? And how can she help Carlos keep passengers at ease with a killer in their midst? Jules feels like she’s ready to jump ship. Can she solve this case without getting in too deep?

[Read an excerpt from A Crime of Passion Fruit...]

Sun
Jun 18 2017 12:00pm
Excerpt

Nina Laurin Excerpt: Girl Last Seen

Nina Laurin

Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin is a debut psychological thriller replete with sharp twists and turns, and particularly perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins, Gillian Flynn, and Chelsea Cain (available June 20, 2017).

Two missing girls. Thirteen years apart.

Olivia Shaw has been missing since last Tuesday. She was last seen outside the entrance of her elementary school in Hunts Point wearing a white spring jacket, blue jeans, and pink boots.

I force myself to look at the face in the photo, into her slightly smudged features, and I can't bring myself to move. Olivia Shaw could be my mirror image, rewound to thirteen years ago.

If you have any knowledge of Olivia Shaw's whereabouts or any relevant information, please contact...

I've spent a long time peering into the faces of girls on missing posters, wondering which one replaced me in that basement. But they were never quite the right age, the right look, the right circumstances. Until Olivia Shaw, missing for one week tomorrow.

Whoever stole me was never found. But since I was taken, there hasn't been another girl.

And now there is.

[Read an excerpt from Girl Last Seen...]

Sat
Jun 17 2017 10:04am
Excerpt

Lou Dobbs, James O. Born Excerpt: Putin’s Gambit

James O. Born and Lou Dobbs

Putin's Gambit: A Novel by Lou Dobbs, James O. BornFrom TV broadcaster Lou Dobbs and award-winning author James O. Born comes Putin's Gambit, an international financial thriller about a KGB plot to use a series of terrorist attacks as cover for a Russian military incursion into Estonia (available June 20, 2017).

Adjusting to civilian life has not been easy for former Marine Derek Walsh. As he navigates a brutal job on Wall Street and a challenging romance, he wonders if he could be doing more with his life. When an inexplicable $200 million dollar money transfer is made on his computer, he is thrust into the world of international terror, and the global economy is knocked off its hinges.

On the other side of the Atlantic, a dangerous alliance has formed. Radical Islamists and Russian extremists have set the wheels in motion for Russia to assert its power in Europe. The US President has proven to be weak on foreign policy, the military is stretched too thin, and Vladimir Putin judges this to be the time for Russia to regain its Soviet Empire. Troops mass on the Estonian border, waiting for the order to move.

The FBI believes Walsh was involved in the money transfer, and a group of Russians are intent on killing him. As New Yorkers are outraged upon learning of the illegal money transfer, and the world economy crashes after a series of terrorist attacks, Walsh and his Marine buddies are the only ones that can keep the world from spinning off its axis.

[Read an excerpt from Putin's Gambit...]