<i>Blackmail</i>: Audio Excerpt Blackmail: Audio Excerpt Rick Campbell Listen to Chapter 2! The Dark Tower: <i>The Dark Tower</i> Part V The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower Part V David Cranmer Join our discussion! <i>Stasi Child</i>: Excerpt Stasi Child: Excerpt David Young The first book in the Karin Müller series, set in East Berlin in 1975. Review: <i>The Lost Ones</i> by Sheena Kamal Review: The Lost Ones by Sheena Kamal Dirk Robertson Read Dirk Robertson's review!
From The Blog
July 24, 2017
Q&A with Richard Lange, Author of The Smack
Richard Lange and John Valeri
July 22, 2017
The Gothic Origins of the Contemporary Crime Thriller
Chuck Caruso
July 22, 2017
Ramming McDonald’s, Demanding Drugs, Wire Chewer, and More!
Crime HQ
July 21, 2017
Q&A with Kaye George
Kaye George and Katherine Tomlinson
July 21, 2017
Woman Gets DWI After Attempting to Bail Out Friend
Teddy Pierson
Jul 20 2017 3:00pm

Buddy Cops with an Undead Twist

Among police and detective stories, we've come to expect certain tropes: the Amateur Detective, the Genius Detective, the Good Cop Who Breaks All the Rules, The Supernatural Cop, and dare I say, the Vampire Detective. While Graveyard Shift's characters share many traits with the last, the one that stands out for me is the Buddy Cop trope.

Growing up, I loved Buddy Cop films (I still do): CHiPS, Starsky and Hutch, Alien Nation, Cagney and Lacey, Lethal Weapon, Miami Vice, and a dozen others. The trope works best when the partners are at odds with one another. We get many pairings of the neat guy and the slob (even better when the slob is a dog) or the streetwise cop used to working alone and undercover paired with the straight-laced, by-the-book cop. The examples can go on and on. Eventually, the partners’ traits rub off on one another and, though they may have started off disliking one another, they become fast friends—sometimes even more.

[Learn about Michael Haspil's unlikely and undead Buddy Cop team...]

Jul 20 2017 1:00pm

Review: Incarnate by Josh Stolberg

In Incarnate by Josh Stolberg, an ambitious and sharp-witted clinical psychiatrist turns detective when one of her patients comes under investigation for a series of brutal murders—is she a psychopath or a victim herself? (Available July 25, 2017.)

Psychiatric resident Kim Patterson is really good at what she does, but that didn’t keep her from getting fired from her job in San Diego. Thankfully, she was given a second chance at Jarvis Regional Hospital in the tiny town of Jarvis, Alaska. She’s chafing under the scrutiny of her supervisors—one of which, Dr. Kyle Berman, she’s having an affair with—and things don’t get any easier when 19-year-old Scarlett Hascall comes in with her boss from the fast food place she works at. She supposedly flung a fryer at his face but has no memory of actually doing the deed. When Kim starts asking questions, Scarlett acts strangely, setting off alarms for Kim.

“Something I’m a little confused about,” Kim said cautiously, scooting her own chair close so that she was knee to knee with Scarlett. “You don’t seem too surprised by Darren’s accusations. Most people, they get accused of something like that, they’re likely to fly off the handle. Or at least make it clear that they weren’t involved.”

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Incarnate...]

Jul 20 2017 12:00pm

Prime Suspect: Tennison Deserves Prequel Time

It’s been years since we last saw Superintendent Jane Tennison with all her ugly, angry demons on display in Prime Suspect. Helen Mirren left us with an indelible impression of the character created by author Lynda LaPlante—one that can’t truly be replicated. (Sorry Maria Bello, but the American version of Prime Suspect was never going to be a winner.)

Then, along came Endeavour to show us you can go home again, provided you arrive earlier than when you left. Take that favorite character and make him or her simpler, more innocent, more open, less encumbered. Fill in the flesh on the bones of the character’s past. That way there’s less pressure to replicate success and more opportunity to evolve. 

Of course, it helps if you show respect for the original, because you know the audience does. It also helps if you have a great story to tell and a fine cast to tell it. Prime Suspect: Tennison (aka Prime Suspect 1973) delivers on all fronts. 

[Please ma’am, may we have another?]

Jul 20 2017 10:00am

Adam Christopher Excerpt: Killing Is My Business

Adam Christopher

Killing Is My Business by Adam ChristopherKilling Is My Business by Adam Christopher is the second book in the Ray Electromatic Mysteries series (available July 25, 2017).

Another golden morning in a seedy town, and a new memory tape and assignment for intrepid PI-turned-hitman—and last robot left in working order—Raymond Electromatic. But his skills may be rustier than he remembered in Killing Is My Business, the latest in Christopher's robot noir oeuvre, hot on the heels of the acclaimed Made to Kill.


Listen to this:

Vaughan Delaney was a planner for the city of Los Angeles. He occupied a position high enough up the ladder that entitled him to an office at an equally high altitude in a tall building downtown that was home to a number of other local government desks. The office came with a salary that was high for a city employee but nothing to write a favorite uncle about, and a view that was simply to die for.

[Read an excerpt from Killing Is My Business...]

Jul 19 2017 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: The Hammett Hex by Victoria Abbott

Jordan Bingham is ready for a vacation! Her beau, Officer Travis “Smiley” Dekker, has bought them two tickets to San Francisco, the stomping grounds of Sam Spade and the Continental Op, to name just two of Dashiell Hammett’s famed fictional creations. To Jordan’s delight, Smiley is a huge Hammett fan, though she prefers cozies herself. Regardless, a romantic getaway to a mystery-related setting sounds like the perfect vacation for our lovebirds.

After getting the grudging permission of her cantankerous employer, Vera van Alst, Jordan relishes the prospect of her first week off in two years. Well, mostly off: as part of the bargain she struck with Vera, she's expected to track down a signed first edition of Hammett's Red Harvest for Vera’s extensive mystery novel collection. Jordan figures this will be a breeze, what with her experience and contacts as a book researcher as well as with her larcenous family's far-flung connections.

[Recipe and pictures included below!]

Jul 19 2017 3:00pm

Telling Tales by Ann Cleeves: A Visual Guide

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

This week takes a look at the old addage “innocent until proven guilty” with Telling Tales, a Vera Stanhope mystery from Ann Cleeves! Take a visual tour with GIFnotes!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Jul 19 2017 2:00pm

Review: Soul Cage by Tetsuya Honda

Soul Cage by Tetsuya HondaSoul Cage by Tetsuya Honda is the second book in the Lieutenant Himekawa series, where a severed hand, a missing body, and a victim who was living under a false identity all add up to the most complex and challenging case yet for the homicide detective.

Mishima was standing on the scaffolding three windows down. He looked up at a length of scaffolding above his head, stretched out his arm, and applied his wrench to a joint clamp.

He stayed in that position for a while, quite motionless. 

Eventually, Mishima's right foot began to edge silently forward. One centimeter. Two centimeters. Now, just a millimeter or two.

I knew that if I kept watching, chances were I'd yell out before he'd done what he had to do. Which was the last thing I should do—for his sake, more than anyone's.

[Read Angie Barry's review of Soul Cage...]

Jul 19 2017 12:00pm

Andrew Gross Bonus Chapter: The Saboteur

Andrew Gross

This is an exclusive bonus chapter from The Saboteur by Andrew Gross, which you won't find anywhere else. The Saboteur details the heroics of a group of unlikely Norwegian soldiers tasked with covertly disrupting the Nazi's attempts to build an atomic bomb. The Norwegians weren't the Allies' first choice, but after the failed British mission you'll read about below, it became clear that they were our last hope. The Saboteur by Andrew Gross is available August 22, 2017.

February, 1943. Both the Allies and the Nazis are closing in on attempts to construct the decisive weapon of the war.

Kurt Nordstrum, an engineer in Oslo, puts his life aside to take up arms against the Germans as part of the Norwegian resistance. After the loss of his fiancée, his outfit whittled to shreds, he commandeers a coastal steamer and escapes to England to transmit secret evidence of the Nazis’s progress towards an atomic bomb at an isolated factory in Norway. There, he joins a team of dedicated Norwegians in training in the Scottish Highlands for a mission to disrupt the Nazis’ plans before they advance any further.

Parachuted onto the most unforgiving terrain in Europe, braving the fiercest of mountain storms, Nordstrum and his team attempt the most daring raid of the war, targeting the heavily-guarded factory built on a shelf of rock thought to be impregnable, a mission even they know they likely will not survive. Months later, Nordstrum is called upon again to do the impossible, opposed by both elite Nazi soldiers and a long-standing enemy who is now a local collaborator―one man against overwhelming odds, with the fate of the war in the balance, but the choice to act means putting the one person he has a chance to love in peril.

[Read a bonus chapter from The Saboteur...]

Jul 19 2017 12:00pm

5 New Books to Read this Week: July 18, 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!

B. A. Paris's highly anticipated sophomore effort and a new Andy Carpenter mystery from David Rosenfelt highlight a fantastic week of books! See what else we're reading:

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

Jul 19 2017 10:00am

Jane Casey Excerpt: Let the Dead Speak

Jane Casey

Let the Dead Speak by Jane CaseyWith Let the Dead Speak, Jane Casey returns with another taut, richly drawn novel that will grip readers from the opening pages to the stunning conclusion (available July 25, 2017).

When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds her mother missing, the house covered in blood. Everything points to murder, except for one thing: there’s no sign of the body.

London detective Maeve Kerrigan and the homicide team turn their attention to the neighbours. The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter and Chloe Emery definitely have something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighborhood’s favorite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat, or is there more behind the charismatic façade?

As a body fails to materialize, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of testimonies and accusations. Who is lying, and who is not? And soon Maeve starts to realize that not only will the answer lead to Kate Emery, but more lives may hang in the balance.

[Read an excerpt from Let the Dead Speak...]

Jul 18 2017 4:00pm

Page to Screen: Roadside Picnic & Stalker (1979)

Some admirers of the science fiction novel Roadside Picnic, written by the brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, might feel that the book has not received the critical and popular recognition it deserves, particularly in comparison to the film that was made from it: Andrei Tarkovsky’s widely celebrated Stalker (1979). But really, those of us who appreciate the novel should be thankful that we are aware of it at all.

Completed by the Russian brothers in 1971 and published in a magazine the following year, it was held up in book form for several years due to Soviet censorship. And when the authorities of the Strugatsky brothers’ home country did finally see fit to allow the story to appear as a book, it came out in a heavily censored version. However, the novel finally saw its release in its original form—in scores of different languages—and for this, we can be grateful. Criterion Collection’s new edition of the Tarkovsky film provides an opportunity for a fresh look at both novel and movie.

[Read more about Roadside Picnic and Stalker!]

Jul 18 2017 3:00pm

Vote for Your Favorite George A. Romero Film



Let us know which movie you chose and why in the comments below!

Jul 18 2017 2:00pm

Review: The Student by Iain Ryan

The Student by Iain Ryan is high-paced, hardboiled regional noir: fresh, gritty, unnerving, with a stark and lonely beauty.

University campus novels involving crime date back to at least Dorothy L. Sayers’s Gaudy Night (1935), in which Lord Peter Wimsey and his mystery writer friend Harriet Vane investigate vandalism, poison-pen messages, and threats of murder at Oxford University, Harriet’s alma mater. More recently, there was Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, which takes place at a fictional Vermont college called Hampden, modeled on Bennington College, where Tartt went. In The Secret History, a murder does occur, though the novel has the form of an inverted mystery—a whydunit—with its killing taking place at the novel’s outset.

Over the years, campus mystery novels have tended to use their settings much like classic era detective writers used ships, country houses, and trains as sites for murder: the campus serves as an isolated environment where a detective investigates a crime among a small group of people. The campus forms a world unto itself, with codes of behavior unique to it.

[Read Scott Adlerberg's review of The Student...]

Jul 18 2017 1:00pm

Q&A with Marcus Sakey, Author of Afterlife

Markus Sakey is a novelist and screenwriter whose books have sold more than a million copies and been translated into dozens of languages. His titles include The Blade Itself, Good People (which was adapted for film and starred James Franco and Kate Hudson), and the Brilliance Trilogy: Brilliance, A Better World, and Written in Fire. Mr. Sakey’s newest, Afterlife (available July 18, 2017), is a standalone thriller that’s already been optioned for film by Imagine Entertainment with the author attached to write the screenplay.

Recently, the Chicago-based author generously made time to answer questions about creative inspiration, the importance of setting, genre classification, and the challenges of turning a full-length novel into a screenplay, among other topics.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Jul 18 2017 12:00pm

The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower Part IV

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

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

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

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

CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread

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

Jul 18 2017 11:00am

Review: The Breakdown by B. A. Paris

The Breakdown by B. A. ParisThe Breakdown by B. A. Paris is the next chilling, propulsive book from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors (available July 18, 2017).

Take a visual tour of The Breakdown—one of the most anticipated thrillers of 2017! 

It all begins on a dark and stormy night—a good night to try and get home fast. Despite warnings from her husband to take the longer-but-safer route, Cass decides to take a shortcut. With the rain beating against her windshield, it’s hard to see the road in front of her. She barely sees the car stopped on the side of the road, but when she does, she pulls over briefly and waits to see if the driver will come over to her. When the driver remains in her car, Cass moves on. 

The next day, the news breaks: a woman has been murdered. A woman in a parked car on the side of the road. A woman Cass passed by. A woman Cass knows. 

[Read Jenny Maloney's review of The Breakdown...]

Jul 18 2017 10:00am

C. J. Box Excerpt: Paradise Valley

C. J. Box

Paradise Valley by C. J. Box Paradise Valley by C. J. Box is the fourth and final book in the Highway Quartet (available July 25, 2017).

Take a visual tour of Paradise Valley with GIFnotes!

She almost caught him once. Now, he’s back.

For three years, Investigator Cassie Dewell has been on a hunt for a serial killer known as the Lizard King whose hunting grounds are the highways and truck stops where runaways and prostitutes are most likely to vanish. Cassie almost caught him...once.

Working for the Bakken County, North Dakota sheriff's department, Cassie has set what she believes is the perfect trap and she has lured him and his truck to a depot. But the plan goes horribly wrong, and the blame falls on Cassie. Disgraced, she loses her job and investigation into her role is put into motion.

At the same time, Kyle Westergaard, a troubled kid whom Cassie has taken under her wing, has disappeared after telling people that he’s going off on a long-planned adventure. Kyle's grandmother begs Cassie to find him and, with nothing else to do, Cassie agrees—all the while hunting the truck driver.

Now Cassie is a lone wolf. And in the same way that two streams converge into a river, Kyle's disappearance may have a more sinister meaning than anyone realizes. With no allies, no support, and only her own wits to rely on, Cassie must take down a killer who is as ruthless as he is cunning. But can she do it alone, without losing her own humanity or her own life?

[Read an excerpt from Paradise Valley...]

Jul 17 2017 5:00pm

Baby Driver: Why Edgar Wright’s Latest Is the Best Film of the Summer

For a movie that has accumulated such a high volume of accolades since its premiere, it’s a bit perplexing to find that Baby Driver is actually a bit of a difficult movie to review. Perhaps it’s because so much has been said about the film already, but the more likely reason is that the movie can be considered a sort of a self-review.

A pop-culture pastiche that uses an abundance of tropes, pop-culture references, and singular craft, Edgar Wright’s fifth film is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek assessment of the film industry’s current status quo while also being a radiant beacon of creativity. Whether this was a conscious decision on Wright’s part or not remains murky, but it certainly entices my mind the more I think about the possibility of Baby Driver being a deceptive film essay. That said, here goes my review anyway. Perhaps the best way to start is by addressing the man in the director’s chair.

[Read Peter Foy's review of Baby Driver...]

Jul 17 2017 3:00pm

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

Part 8: “Gotta Light?”

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

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

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

Jul 17 2017 2:00pm

2017 Thrillerfest Wrap Up

This year's Thrillerfest was a blast! Hosted at the Grand Hyatt in New York City, it was five glorious days of meeting authors, hearing their stories, getting advice and writing tips, and schmoozing with authors, industry, and fans alike.

Criminal Element was lucky enough to be there for it all, and in case you missed it, we streamed a few of the best panels on Facebook Live! Watch some great interviews with authors like Lee Child, Steve Berry, Kathy Reichs, Lisa Gardner, Karin Slaughter, and more:

[Videos, pictures, and winners, oh my!]