Review: <i>American Static</i> by Tom Pitts Review: American Static by Tom Pitts Scott Adlerberg Read Scott Adlerberg's review! <i>Enforcing the Paw</i>: Excerpt Enforcing the Paw: Excerpt Diane Kelly The sixth book in the Paw Enforcement series. Review: <i>The Child</i> by Fiona Barton Review: The Child by Fiona Barton Kristin Centorcelli Read Kristin Centorcelli's review! The Dark Tower: <i>The Dark Tower</i> Part I The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower Part I David Cranmer Join our discussion!
From The Blog
June 27, 2017
Q&A with William Shaw, Author of The Birdwatcher
William Shaw and John Valeri
June 26, 2017
Liz Talbot: The Benefits of Writing Your Avatar
Susan M. Boyer
June 23, 2017
Thieves Steal GPS Devices that Lead to Their Arrest
Teddy Pierson
June 22, 2017
Q&A with J. Leon Pridgen II, Author of Unit 416
Crime HQ and J. Leon Pridgen II
June 16, 2017
Waiting for Nuggets Leads to 911 Call
Teddy Pierson
Showing posts by: Angie Barry click to see Angie Barry's profile
Wed
Jun 7 2017 2:00pm

Review: The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes by Leonard Goldberg

The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes by Leonard Goldberg is a new thrilling tale of the great detective’s daughter and her companion Dr. John Watson, Jr. as they investigate a murder at the highest levels of British society.

Take a visual tour of The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes with GIFnotes!

Years have passed since the world's greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes, passed away peacefully in his sleep. His lifelong friend and crime-solving partner, Dr. Watson, is much grayer and a little stooped, but he still calls 221b Baker Street home—and he's still doing his best to continue Sherlock's work.

“There is a young woman downstairs who wishes to see you, Dr. Watson. Shall I show her up?”

“By all means.”

[Read Angie Barry's review of The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes...]

Mon
May 22 2017 12:00pm

Review: Sidney Chambers and the Persistence of Love by James Runcie

Sidney Chambers and the Persistence of Love by James Runcie is the 6th and final installment in the Grantchester Mystery series (available May 23, 2017).

Part-time sleuth and full-time priest, Sidney Chambers, is enjoying a beautiful May in 1971. Unfortunately, a peaceful walk gathering flowers with his young daughter, Anna, is ruined when the family discovers a dead body.

Although it was possible the man had died from natural causes, and there was probably a good enough reason for the plants he had been gathering, Sidney could not help but brood on the nature of fate, the chance of discovery and the possible sequence of events that had led up to that moment. He went to his study where he began to pray, seeking some kind of guidance, the beginning of understanding. Was it a sin to be so suspicious so frequently, or was he using the natural intuition that God had given him? Was his role as an accidental detective making him less loving and less effective as a priest?

[Read Angie Barry's review of Sidney Chambers and the Persistence of Love...]

Thu
May 11 2017 3:00pm

Review: The Last Iota by Robert Kroese

The Last Iota by Robert KroeseSet in the world of The Big Sheep, The Last Iota by Robert Kroese delivers another dystopian adventure novel full of wit and intrigue.

When last we saw Blake Fowler and Erasmus Keane—private detectives in a near-future L.A.—they had narrowly escaped a brush with femme fatale Selah Fiore, Hollywood actress-turned-cutthroat-businesswoman, with their lives.

Which makes the opening of their second adventure, The Last Iota, so unexpected. Our heroes have been summoned to a movie set by their erstwhile nemesis—it seems Selah is willing to let bygones be bygones due to a vital job she has for the pair. 

Before she details the exact nature of the job, they get a sneak peak at some movie-making magic:

We weren't watching the real Selah Fiore, of course. Selah Fiore was nearly sixty years old, and the woman on the screen appeared to be closer to thirty. This was Selah from her glory days, circa 2010. The voice was the real Selah's, but the image was a computer-generated facsimile combining Selah's appearance from thirty years ago, the real Selah's facial expressions, and the body of an android stand-in. 

[Read Angie Barry's review of The Last Iota...]

Thu
May 4 2017 1:00pm

Review: A Purely Private Matter by Darcie Wilde

A Purely Private Matter by Darcie Wilde is the 2nd Rosalind Thorne Mystery—inspired by the novels of Jane Austen—which sees the audacious Rosalind strive to aid those in need while navigating the halls of high society.

Regency London has been much romanticized thanks to the BBC and Masterpiece Theater; for most, the setting immediately brings to minds the witty romances of Jane Austen. But life there was not always rosy and romantic for the women of the haute ton. Society was a stifling, constrictive cage for many, and ladies could be ruined at the slightest provocation. 

Such is the case for the glamorous poet Mrs. Margaretta Seymore. Her belligerent husband is threatening to file a suit of “criminal conversation” against her oldest friend, infamous actor Fletcher Cavendish. As women are legally owned by their husbands, any man who interacts with them without the express permission of the husband can be sued for property damage under criminal conversation laws.

[Read Angie Barry's review of A Purely Private Matter...]

Mon
May 1 2017 2:00pm

Under the Radar: Stranger than Fiction (2006)

Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) is hearing voices.

Well, a voice. A middle-aged British woman's voice, to be exact. She's narrating everything he thinks, everything he feels, everything he does.

He's beginning to wonder if he isn't going crazy. That would be the logical assumption; given how bland and boring Harold's lonely life is as an IRS agent, he finds it hard to believe that something magical could actually be happening to him.

However, fact can be—as they say—stranger than fiction.

[Hey! That's the title of the movie...]

Thu
Apr 13 2017 3:00pm

Review: Decanting a Murder by Nadine Nettmann

Decanting a Murder by Nadine Nettmann is the 1st book in the Sommelier Mystery series, nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel.

Mark's body had been covered with a white sheet but the fingers of his right hand stuck out from underneath in a deathly curl.

“Flip him over again,” said Dean.

Deputy Peters pulled off the sheet and turned over the body.

“Recognize it?”

I stepped forward, swallowing hard. “Recognize what?”

“Look closer,” he pressed.

Firmly placed in Mark's back was a small knife attached to a wine opener.

“It's a wine opener.”

Detective Dean kept his focus on the body. “Yes, but you can identify its owner.”

“Me?” I tried to meet Dean's eyes but he wouldn't make eye contact. “Why?”

“Take a closer look.”

I crouched down. My eyes traced the polished wood of the opener until I reached the engraved name: Tessa B.

Katie Stillwell is not having the best day ever. A sommelier at an upscale restaurant in San Francisco, she's just flunked her master certification, something for which she's been studying for months. Then, an invitation to an exclusive vineyard—something that should have been exciting fun—ends in murder and a missing friend: a friend now suspected of said murder.

[Read Angie Barry's review of Decanting a Murder...]

Fri
Apr 7 2017 1:00pm

Review: Heart of Stone by James W. Ziskin

Heart of Stone by James W. Ziskin is the 4th book in the Ellie Stone Mystery series, nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original.

My interest was piqued. Why no swimming trunks? Why not remove the watch? Who were these two men, and why had they fallen to their deaths together?

“When did you find them?” I asked Terwilliger, rewinding my third roll of film.

“It wasn't me. A vacationer and his son were in a boat, fishing out there,” he said, pointing to the water beyond the cove. “They heard a yell and looked over here just in time to see one of them dive off the cliff. That was about two hours ago now.”

“Who put the tarps over the bodies?”

“You sure ask a lot of questions,” he said. “I did. The guy and his son showed up at the station to report what they saw, and I came out here right away to have a look.”

“So they saw him hit the ground?”

Terwilliger shook his head. “The rocks block the view.”

“Then how did they know he missed the water?” I asked.

He curled his lip. “No splash. And they heard the splat on the rocks.” He paused, seemingly picturing something in his head. “Probably took a second or two for the sound to reach them out on the water.”

I felt green.

The last week of August, 1961, proves to be an eventful one for reporter Ellie Stone. No sooner has she arrived in the Adirondacks to reconnect with her Aunt Lena and elderly Cousin Max—some of the only family she has left—before she hears that a convicted murderer has escaped and may be hiding in the local woods.

[Read Angie Barry's review of Heart of Stone...]

Tue
Apr 4 2017 3:00pm

Review: Get Me to the Grave on Time by D. E. Ireland

Get Me to the Grave on Time by D. E. Ireland is the 3rd book in the Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins Mystery series, nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel.

“When a handsome young man marries an older and much wealthier woman, it does give me pause.”

“Why?” Eliza asked. “Beautiful young women marry rich older men all the time.”

“...Do you really imagine he's marrying her for love?”

Eliza gave him a disapproving look. “You act as if he's marrying some toothless laundress from Spitalfields. Her Grace is still an attractive woman.”

“So is her money and title,” Higgins shot back. “No good will come of this. Of course no good results from any marriage. Infernal institution. My advice to anyone fool enough to enter into it is that offered by Montaigne, 'A good marriage would be between a blind wife and a deaf husband.' I don't think much of the French, but I'll make an exception for Montaigne.”

“Oh, you're always quoting other people when you don't have anything clever to say,” Eliza said. “I'd be right embarrassed to do that. It makes you look simple.”

[Read Angie Barry's review of Get Me to the Grave on Time...]

Thu
Mar 30 2017 12:00pm

Review: The Devil’s Feast by M. J. Carter

The Devil's Feast by M. J. Carter is the 3rd book in the Blake and Avery series in which the investigative team find themselves entangled in a case involving political conflicts, personal vendettas, and England’s first celebrity chef.

“...Sins, Captain Avery, sins express real truths about men. And every profession, it seems to me, has its typical sin. A version of what we in France call its déformation professionelle. For you soldiers, Captain, the sin is anger. For a soldier, anger is so tempting, is it not? Because it is not always a sin. Sometimes, a man must be angry in order to fight, non? And we know in our hearts that it is easier to feel anger than to feel fear. Somebody watching a kitchen in full service might think that there is much anger in a kitchen. The heat and the urgency produce this. But anger is not the chef's besetting sin. You might then conclude that it must be gluttony, since all of our days we are surrounded by enticements to eat and drink. But this too is not so. The chief sin of the chef and the kitchen, Captain Avery, is envy.”

London, 1842. Captain Avery, a soldier who made his name fighting tigers and wars in India, hasn't been in England long before getting mixed up in another mystery. His partner in crime, Jeremiah Blake, has been thrown into the debtors prison on a trumped-up charge—all because Blake refuses to accept the latest commission from his tyrannical patron, Collinson. 

This alone should be enough to worry Avery, who has tried to convince his stubborn friend to submit to no avail.

[Read Angie Barry's review of The Devil's Feast...]

Fri
Mar 17 2017 3:00pm

Passionate About Pulp: A Conan Double-Feature (Is What Is Best in Life)

THE SUBGENRE: Sword and sorcery adventure.
THE HERO: Conan the Barbarian, aka Conan the Cimmerian
THE VILLAIN: Thulsa Doom, leader of a snake cult (Conan the Barbarian); Queen Taramis, who plans to sacrifice her niece to raise a death god.
THE SETTING: The mystical “Hyborian Age,” after the fall of Atlantis but before known ancient civilizations appeared.

Conan the Barbarian hardly needs an introduction—the Robert E. Howard character has set the bar for almost every sword and sorcery adventure since his first pulp magazine appearance in 1932. We can thank Conan for the preponderance of giant, beefy strongmen that are such a staple of the genre. He's a rescuer of damsels in distress, an adventurer always ready for the next battle, and a king by his own hand.

In short: he's the ultimate testosterone-fueled male fantasy.

[Conan, what is best in life?]

Wed
Mar 15 2017 11:00am

Review: Murder at the Fortune Teller’s Table by Janet Finsilver

A Murder at the Fortune Teller's Table by Janet Finsilver is the 3rd book in the Kelly Jackson Mystery series.

“First you drink the coffee,” Auntie said. “ ... You must drink from the same side of the cup for the entire process and leave a little in the bottom. With your last sip, make a wish.”

I drank some more, then put the cup down with thoughts for a positive future. “Okay. There's just a little left.”

“Now put the saucer on it upside-down, swirl it three times, and flip it over.”

I did as instructed and managed to keep everything together when I upended it.

“Now it must rest for a short while.” Her voice was a broken whisper, and I leaned forward to catch her words. “The grounds need to flow into their shapes.”

She folded her hands and stared at the cup. After what seemed an eternity, Auntie carefully separated the cup and saucer. “The patterns—they tell of your past, present, and future...”

In the 3rd Kelly Jackson mystery from Janet Finsilver, the curious B&B manager finds herself embroiled in a double murder-by-poison, a convoluted family drama fifty years in the making—and a frightening encounter with some dangerous topiary.

Yes, really.

[Read Angie Barry's review of Murder at the Fortune Teller's Table...]

Mon
Mar 13 2017 1:00pm

Review: Skeleton God by Eliot Pattison

Skeleton God by Eliot Pattison is the 9th book in the Inspector Shan Tao Yun series (available March 14, 2017).

If you would know the age of the human soul, an old lama had once told Shan Tao Yun, look to Tibet. Here at the roof of the world, where humans were so battered, where wind and hail and tyranny had pounded so many for so long, it was a miracle the human spark remained at all. As Shan gazed at the old Tibetan herder beside him, knee deep in mud, grime covering his grizzled, weathered face, and saw the eyes shining with the joy of life, he knew that he was looking at something ancient and pure. In Tibet, souls were tried, and souls were tormented, but always souls endured.

With the very first paragraph, author Eliot Pattison sets the tone for the entire mystery to follow. Skeleton God is a heavy piece of fiction—frequently bleak, often vibrating with rage and terrible sadness, but ultimately laced with shreds of hope to buoy the spirit amidst all of the heartache and atrocities.

Inspector Shan has fallen greatly over the previous eight books in the series. After surviving years of hard labor in a brutal prison, after investigating corruption and incurring all manner of official punishments, the honor-bound and duty-driven investigator has been made constable of a remote village high in the mountains of Tibet: Yangkar. Here, the locals distrust him because he is Chinese, though he is far kinder and more sympathetic to their awful plights than many of his communist comrades would be.

[Read Angie Barry's review of Skeleton God...]

Fri
Mar 10 2017 3:00pm

Review: When Falcons Fall by C. S. Harris

When Falcons Fall by C. S. Harris is the 11th book in the Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery series.

It was the fly that got to him.

In the misty light of early morning, the dead woman looked as if she might be sleeping, her dusky lashes resting against cheeks of pale eggshell, her lips faintly parted. She lay at the edge of a clover-strewn meadow near the river, the back of her head nestled against a mossy log, her slim hands folded at the high waist of her fashionable dove gray mourning gown.

Then that fly came crawling out of her mouth.

Sebastian St. Cyr, Lord Devlin, has hardly arrived in the quiet village of Ayleswick-on-Teme in August of 1813 before he finds himself caught up in yet another series of mysterious deaths. 

Emma Chance, a young widow on a sketching excursion, had been in the area for less than a week before someone snuffed the life from her—and then posed her in a manner that suggested suicide. This careful cover leads Devlin to wonder: perhaps some of the other untimely deaths in the area were no mere accidents or suicides. Perhaps there's a murderer lurking in Ayleswick ... one who has been operating for nearly two decades.

[Read Angie Barry's review of When Falcons Fall...]

Thu
Feb 23 2017 5:30pm

Review: Grim Death and Bill the Electrocuted Criminal by Mike Mignola & Tom Sniegoski

Grim Death and Bill the Electrocuted Criminal by Mike Mignola and Tom SniegoskiGrim Death and Bill the Electrocuted Criminal by Mike Mignola and Tom Sniegoski is a beautifully illustrated, 1930s pulp-style novel featuring two unusual heroes who seek justice (available February 28, 2017).

I must look a sight, Bentley Hawthorne thought as he stood in the doorway of his family home, adorned in a ragged black suit and slouch hat, face hidden by a grinning skull mask.

He could just imagine the thoughts racing through his manservant's mind at the moment.

“Dear God, sir!” Pym exclaimed, clutching the heavy bathrobe about his throat. “You gave me a fright. I had no idea...”

The servant closed the door on the frigid morning rain, and turned his full attention on Bentley. “Here, let me look at you,” he said. “You're bleeding.”

“Yes, but not all of the blood is mine. Some of it's monkey.”

“Monkey?”

Bentley nodded. “Trained to commit the act of murder. Wouldn't have believed it myself if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes; furry devils wielding straight razors and...”

“Monkeys—with straight razors?” Pym asked incredulously.

Yes indeed, folks: this is a story with murder monkeys armed with straight razors. In a single page, Tom Sniegoski (and artistic collaborator Mike Mignola, who contributed several drawings to accompany the text) sets the entire tone for the following horror adventure.

[Read Angie Barry's review of Grim Death and Bill the Electrocuted Criminal...]

Fri
Feb 3 2017 2:00pm

Review: Brotherhood in Death by J.D. Robb

To celebrate the upcoming release of J.D. Robb's 44th Eve Dallas mystery, Echoes in Death, we're taking a look back at every single book in the In Death series. Today, Angie Barry reviews #42, Brotherhood in Death.

Eve leaned forward, just a little. “You can kiss my ass.”

Color flooded Mandy's face. “How dare you. You can be sure I'll contact your superior and report your behavior.”

“That would be Whitney, Commander Jack. Cop Central.” Eve took out her badge. “Make a note of the name and number. I cleaned up some of your husband's blood in that ridiculous old house today—you think about that. You think about that and the fact that you can't find him. And you remember Dennis Mira ended up unconscious on the floor, shedding some of his own blood, because he tried to help. And you—”

“Eve,” Roarke murmured.

“No, not done. And you think about the fact a cop came to your door to inform you, to gather information in the investigation of your husband's whereabouts, and you stonewalled. As a cop I'm now looking right at you, right straight at you as my chief suspect. You got anything hiding in your closets, sister? I guarantee I'll find it.”

In the 42nd installment of her In Death series, J.D. Robb makes things decidedly personal for Lieutenant Eve Dallas. 

[Read Angie Barry's review of Brotherhood in Death...]

Mon
Jan 9 2017 1:00pm

Review: Burning Bright by Nicholas Petrie

Burning Bright by Nicholas Petrie is the 2nd book in the Peter Ash series, where Ash has a woman’s life in his hands—and her mystery is stranger than he could ever imagine (available January 10, 2017).

One week ago, investigative journalist June Cassidy lost her mother. Two days ago, men in a black SUV tried to snatch her off the street. Today, she's hiding over a hundred feet off the ground, on a research platform built around California redwoods.

Meanwhile...

Last night, Peter Ash was trekking through the forest with nothing but a pack on his back and the white static in his head—a souvenir from his tours in Afghanistan. So long as he sticks to wide open spaces, the static is manageable. It's only when he ventures indoors that the claustrophobia becomes too much to bear. 

[Read Angie Barry's review of Burning Bright...]

Fri
Dec 30 2016 5:00pm

Page to Screen: Comics I’d Love to See on My TV—Scud: The Disposable Assassin

The Series: Scud: the Disposable Assassin by Rob Schrab (co-creator of The Sarah Silverman Program), featuring additional writing from Dan Harmon (Community, Rick and Morty)
The Hero: The aforementioned disposable robot assassin, Scud.
The Ideal Format: An animated show in the style of Freakazoid or Invader Zim (with Æon Flux flourishes).  

Imagine what the world will be like five hundred years in the future—or even a thousand. What do you see?

Filmmakers in the forties and fifties imagined flying cars, helpful robots, and heroic square-jawed astronauts facing off against monstrous aliens. Gene Rodenberry gave us an even more optimistic vision in the sixties, with all of mankind finally united in peace, allied with interplanetary species not so different from us, human enterprise now driven by space exploration and the advancement of knowledge. 

The future hasn't always been a bright and rosy place, though. There are plenty of pessimists who have predicted dystopian governments (Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Brave New World), man's creations turning against us (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Terminator), or extraterrestrial life-forms that will never come in peace (Alien, The War of the Worlds).

Which is more plausible: the golly gee-whiz brightness of technological and societal advancement, or the grittier and more nihilistic darkness of galactic violence and degradation?

[What will the future bring?]

Fri
Dec 23 2016 4:00pm

The Cautionary Tale of Gremlins

Each year there's some new, hot thing every kid wants and every parent is desperate to get. Cabbage Patch Dolls. Tickle Me Elmo. This year, it's some bizarre Tamagotchi/Furby hybrid called Hatchimals

Such toys may be outrageously over-priced and hard to find, but at least they're inanimate. If the kids fall out of love with them midway through January, the worst thing that happens is some grumbling about money swirling down the drain and just one more toy to clutter up the house. 

What about all of the cute puppies and kittens and hamsters purchased every year for Christmas morning? The sweet little pets that might not stay little for long or require more upkeep than anticipated? The animals that end up buried in shoeboxes when Little Timmy forgets to feed them for a straight week, abandoned by the side of the road, or dumped at the pound when the novelty wears off?

[That got dark quick...]

Wed
Dec 21 2016 1:00pm

Under the Radar: Movies You May Have Missed—The Ref (1994)

As the poet once said: it's a hard knock life.

For Gus (Denis Leary), Christmas is an especially trying time. His latest job is a bust. He's had a nasty run-in with a rather toothy dog. His boozy business partner Murray (Richard Bright) vamoosed and left him up the proverbial creek without a paddle (or a van).

Oh, and every cop in town is looking for him.

See, Gus is a cat burglar. The good ol' American Dream ain't what it used to be, and after being disappointed by life, he's just making the best of it. This gig was supposed to be the last, the big score, the job that would allow him to finally retire his safe-cracking skills for good. Instead, he finds himself bleeding, reeking of cat pee, and in a real bind.

How to escape town before the city-wide manhunt closes in on him like a noose? The answer seems simple enough: just take a hostage or two, steal their car, and get out while the getting's good. 

[Simple enough, right?]

Tue
Dec 20 2016 4:00pm

A Christmas Party (Is Always More Fun with Murder)

Wouldn't it be lovely if Hallmark actually told the truth about the holiday season? 

Sure, it would be great if every family get-together was full of warmth, good cheer, and high spirits. If the only problem was running out of eggnog and the only arguing was over who was going to hand out the presents after dinner.

Unfortunately for a lot of us Scrooges, the holidays aren't nearly so saccharine and tingly. Instead of jingle bells, there's screaming children, politics-fueled war over the candied yams, and a general sense that the time would have been better spent in bed at home, alone, our sole company a bottle of wine.

It's no real wonder, then, why murder mysteries set during the Yuletide are so appealing. Where better to find a body than under the Christmas tree, in a house packed full of resentment, frayed feelings, and bow-bedazzled gifts? Murder tends to occur close to home, after all, and a forced gathering of disjointed family members provides a jolly pool of suspects.

[I like my eggnog with a little murder...]