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
Jan 16 2018 10:00am

Ward Larsen Excerpt: Cutting Edge

Ward Larsen

A helicopter crash alters a Coast Guard rescue swimmer's life forever in Cutting Edge, a suspense thriller by USA Today bestselling author Ward Larsen (available January 23, 2018).

Trey DeBolt is a young man at the crest of life. His role as a Coast Guard rescue swimmer in Alaska offers him a rewarding job and limitless adventure. Then a tragic accident alters his life: during a harrowing rescue, his helicopter goes down.

Severely injured, DeBolt awakens in a seaside cabin in Maine, thousands of miles from where the accident occurred. His lone nurse lets slip that he has been officially declared dead, lost in the crash. Back in Alaska, however, Coast Guard investigator Shannon Lund uncovers evidence that DeBolt might still be alive. Her search quickly becomes personal, but before she can intervene, chaos erupts outside a cabin in the wilds of Maine.

The nurse who has been treating DeBolt is brutally killed by military-trained assassins. DeBolt is only saved when a bizarre vision guides him to safety. Soon other images appear, impossible revelations that are unfailing in their accuracy. As he runs for his life, DeBolt discovers he has been drawn into an ultra-secret government project. The power it bestows is boundless, both a gift and a curse. Yet one thing is certain: Trey DeBolt has abilities no human has ever known.

[Read an excerpt from Cutting Edge...]

Jan 15 2018 3:00pm

Watch the Official Teaser Trailer for RKSS’s Upcoming Horror Thriller, Summer of ’84

Stranger Things. It.

There’s something about kids on bikes banding together to take down a threat. Call it nostalgia. Call it childhood innocence. Call it whatever you want—it works.

From RKSS, the directors of the cult Netflix movie Turbo Kid, comes Summer of ’84—the latest nostalgia-fueled teen thriller to hit the big screen.

Summer, 1984: The perfect time to be 15 years old and free. But when neighborhood conspiracy theorist Davey Armstrong begins to suspect his police officer neighbor might be the serial killer all over the local news, he and his three best friends begin an investigation that soon turns dangerous.

Written by Matt Leslie and Stephen J. SmithSummer of ’84 stars Graham Verchere (Fargo), Judah Lewis (Demolition), Cory Gruter-Andrew (The 100), Caleb Emery (Goosebumps), and Rich Sommer (Mad Men).

Check out the trailer below!

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...]

Jan 15 2018 10:00am

Ann Cleeves Excerpt: Hidden Depths

Ann Cleeves

Now available in the U.S., Hidden Depths is the third book in Diamond Dagger award-winning crime novelist Ann Cleeves’s Vera Stanhope series, brought to life in the hit TV series Vera (available January 23, 2018).

On a hot summer on the Northumberland coast, Julie Armstrong arrives home from a night out to find her son murdered. Luke has been strangled, laid out in a bath of water and covered with wild flowers.

This stylized murder scene has Inspector Vera Stanhope and her team intrigued. But now, Vera must work quickly to find this killer who is making art out of death. As local residents are forced to share their private lives, sinister secrets are slowly unearthed.

And all the while the killer remains in their midst, waiting for an opportunity to prepare another beautiful, watery grave…

[Read an excerpt from Hidden Depths...]

Jan 12 2018 4:30pm

Book-Inspired Cocktails: “Gamblin’ Jack”

Revenge is a drink best served cold.

So is this week's Pick Your Poison—where we create a cocktail inspired by a recently published mystery, thriller, or crime novel—the “Gamblin' Jack” cocktail, inspired by Scott Adlerberg's historical revenge thriller, Jack Waters! I bet you can't have just one...

[Check out the recipe below!]

Jan 12 2018 2:00pm

Search Party: Why the TBS Hit Is the Crime Series Millennials (for Better or Worse) Need

**Spoilers Ahead**

Search Party has the dubious distinction of being a series that’s true colors don’t show right away. In fact, it really isn’t until the second season that the series shows its true ethos, primarily because it performs the impossible feat of turning the debut season’s idea on its head while still retaining its identity. What’s more, the show actually lacerates the culture it depicts, offering us characters that become increasingly more deplorable—and even criminal in their actions—yet also avoiding the pitfall of being cynical by being all-too nuanced and self-aware in its presentation and commentary. Not too shabby for a show that’s concept would seem out of place for the YA section at your local library.

From afar, one might mistake Search Party’s idea of having something of a gimmick to it, especially if judging the first season alone. (If you don’t want the ending of the first season to be ruined, then don’t read a single thing about the second!) Following a group of 20-something New Yorkers who bring it upon themselves to find a missing classmate would seem like a clear attempt at modernizing the Nancy Drew mystery series for the smartphone age. The advertising suggests this as well, with the bright colors, character renderings that are cheekily modeled off of traditional teen-mystery novels, and the throwback titles (promos for the first season referred to it as “The Curious Case of the Lost Soul”). Still, it doesn’t take too long to delve into Search Party and realize that the programmatic formatting is just a hook and that there is something far more intelligent going on.

[Read more about Search Party!]

Jan 12 2018 12:00pm

Discount: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

First Grave on the Right is the smashing, award-winning (winner of the 2012 Rita Award for Best First Book) debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper.

Get a digital copy of the first Charley Davidson mystery for only $2.99 through February 5th!

Charley sees dead people. That's right, she sees dead people. And it's her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e., murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she's been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life ... and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

See also: Charley Davidson’s Crime-Solving Tips (Supernatural Abilities Required)


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

Buy at Amazon Buy at Barnes and NobleBuy at iTunes

Jan 12 2018 11:00am

Military Joyride: Man Steals Tank, Crashes through Store Window, Steals Bottle of Wine

Let’s play a game: Russia or Florida?

Recently, a drunk man stole a tank from a military base, drove it through the streets, crashed it through a grocery store, got out of the tank, walked around in the aisles, and tried to steal a bottle of wine before the police finally arrested him.

If it weren’t for the snow in the picture above, the Sunshine State would have been a perfectly reasonable answer (and I wouldn’t be surprised if you could do a quick Google search and find a similar story). But alas, Russia is in the news again—this time, at least, for hilarious reasons.

According to The Guardian, the man stole the armored vehicle from a military driving school in Apatity, Russia, on Wednesday. Sounds like a dream joyride to me—but then again, I am from Florida…

Jan 11 2018 4:00pm

Watch the First Trailer for Investigation Discovery’s Upcoming True Crime Docuseries, Love & Hate Crime

“I have to live with the fact that I killed Mercedes, and she’s in hell.”

Deadline recently reported that Investigation Discovery has released the first teaser trailer and premiere date for their upcoming show Love & Hate Crime—a true crime docuseries that will explore crimes of hate and prejudice in the US. The trailer shows an incarcerated Josh Vallum expressing the crushing guilt he lives with on a constant basis for his role in the 2015 murder of Mercedes Williamson.

Mercedes was a 17-year-old transgender female. Josh Vallum had ties to the Latin Kings street gang in Mississippi. However, the Latin Kings are strict in their hatred for homosexual behavior—the punishment: death. So to protect his reputation and prevent gang retaliation, Vallum drove Williamson to a secluded area, stabbed her repeatedly, and bashed her head in with a hammer.

Vallum pleaded guilty to avoid trial and was sentenced to life in prison. In addition, he was prosecuted under the US Hate Crimes Prevention Act, his case becoming the first successful transgender hate-crime prosecution ever.

Investigation Discovery has the full story and more in Episode 1 of Love & Hate Crime, premiering Sunday, February 5th!

[Watch a clip from Love & Hate Crime!]

Jan 11 2018 3:00pm

Discount: The Defense by Steve Cavanagh

Eddie Flynn used to be a con artist. Then he became a lawyer. Turns out the two aren't that different.

Get a digital copy of Steve Cavanagh's The Defense, the first book in the Eddie Flynn series, for only $2.99 through February 5th!

Former con artist turned lawyer Eddie Flynn gave up the law a year ago after a disastrous case, and he vowed never to step foot in a courtroom again. But now he doesn't have a choice. The head of the Russian mob in New York City, on trial for murder, has kidnapped Eddie's ten-year-old daughter: Eddie has to take this case whether he likes it or not.

Using his razor-sharp wit and every con, bluff, grift, and trick in the book, Eddie has only forty-eight hours to defend an impossible murder trial. And if he loses this case, he loses everything.

Read an excerpt from The Defense!


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

Buy at Amazon Buy at Barnes and NobleBuy at iTunes

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...]

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...]

Jan 11 2018 10:00am

Mari Hannah Excerpt: The Silent Room

Mari Hannah

One fugitive. A deadly plot. No rules. The Silent Room by Mari Hannah is an ingenious and lightning-fast thriller that reviewers agree is “not to be missed” (available January 16, 2018).

Detective Sergeant Matthew Ryan wants to clear the name of his former boss, who stands accused of official corruption. But before he can do so, his boss disappears. Did he escape from police custody, or was he kidnapped? Or did something even worse happen to him?

The Silent Room has everything a good thriller should have―compelling characters, a gripping plot and storyline, superb pacing, and a strong sense of place. In addition it has heart, something many thrillers sorely lack. Add some truly scary villains, vast uncertainty about whom to trust, and a loudly ticking clock, and we have ourselves a thriller that will grip readers from the first pages and never let go.

[Read an excerpt from The Silent Room...]

Jan 10 2018 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: Dial M for Mousse by Laura Bradford

Business is booming for Winnie Johnson, owner and baker of the Emergency Dessert Squad, a service that delivers wittily named, made-to-order desserts to the residents of Silver Lake, Ohio. And a good thing too, since Winnie needs something to take her mind off of her love-life woes.

Her professor boyfriend, Jay, has gone to Hollywood with his teenage daughter, Caroline, to facilitate a mother-child reunion after his ex walked out on their family nearly a dozen years ago. Caroline has always been hostile to Winnie, whom she views as an interloper, and she's only too happy to reunite with her now-movie-star mom. It’s pretty obvious that she harbors hopes of getting her parents back together and will do everything in her power to make that a reality. To make matters worse, Jay is terrible at communicating over the phone, leaving poor Winnie in a welter of loneliness and confusion.

Fortunately, she has her friends to support and distract her, as they come up with more cute names for a bunch of desserts to be delivered to a nearby artists’ retreat. For the first time, she has her assistant Renee come with her on a delivery, only to have them both stumble across a horrific tableau: the dead body of the retreat’s administrator surrounded by the gathered resident artists. When Winnie realizes that the artists were playing her and Renee—and that one of them must have been the murderer—she throws herself into finding out exactly whom.

[Recipe and pictures included below!]

Jan 10 2018 3:00pm

Dark in Death by J. D. Robb: A Visual Guide

GIFnotes: Giving you the basic plot summary of an upcoming book with the help of the Graphics Interchange Format.

Lieutenant Eve Dallas returns in Dark in Death and takes on a case of death imitating art—take a visual tour of J. D. Robb's 46th In Death novel, Dark in Death!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

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...]

Jan 10 2018 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: January 9, 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!

This week, Christopher J. Yates delivers his highly anticipated sophomore effort along with a diverse range of books! See what we're reading:

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

Jan 10 2018 10:00am

Nathan Singer Excerpt: Blackchurch Furnace

Nathan Singer

Blackchurch Furnace by Nathan Singer is a scathing satire of faith, family, and all that we hold dear, where the only thing you can believe in are the voices in your own head … and they are every bit as crazy as you are (available January 15, 2018).

Blackchurch is not the sort of place where folks are inclined to be up in each other’s business, and strange house guests at a neighbor’s pad are not likely to be noticed, let alone remarked upon. So on a day in early October, when two beat-up-looking crackers, a pregnant teenage whore, and a small, androgynous Japanese woman in a large-brimmed sombrero, sunglasses, and wrapped in a patchwork down comforter came to call on D’antre Philips with heads full of prophetic visions and tales of the apocalypse already in progress, nary an eye was blinked. When the end times do come to Blackchurch, it’ll be a day like any other day. And the next day will be too.

[Read an excerpt from Blackchurch Furnace...]

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...]