Review: <i>The Night at the Crossroads</i> by Georges Simenon Review: The Night at the Crossroads by Georges Simenon Jake Hinkson Read Jake Hinkson's review! <i>To Right the Wrongs</i>: Excerpt To Right the Wrongs: Excerpt Sheryl Scarborough The second book in the Erin Blake series. Discount: <i>Don't Look for Me</i> by Loren D. Estleman Discount: Don't Look for Me by Loren D. Estleman Crime HQ Get a digital copy for only $2.99! Review: <i>All the Deadly Lies</i> by Marian Lanouette Review: All the Deadly Lies by Marian Lanouette John Valeri Read John Valeri's review!
From The Blog
February 23, 2018
What If We’re Living In an Alternative-History Novel?
Mitch Silver
February 23, 2018
How to Lose the Cops in 10 Days: Suspected Car Thief Tries to Convince Police He's Matthew McConaughey
Adam Wagner
February 22, 2018
5 Crime Fiction Titles with a Strong Sense of Place
Chris Rhatigan
February 21, 2018
Judging a Book by Its Covers
Eric Beetner
February 19, 2018
What I Learned from Tom Ripley, Bruno Antony, and Patricia Highsmith
Mitch Silver
Showing posts by: Clare Toohey click to see Clare Toohey's profile
Sep 23 2015 8:30am

TBR Confessions: A Blue Labyrinth, 55 Heroes, and Magic

Do you have TBR Confessions to share? Don't keep them a secret! Give us the nod on 3 to 5 books for crime fans, and like the blabbermouths we are, we'll link to your full posts or write-ups wherever else they appear! Click the link to see more examples, submit via the Contact Us page, and let us rat you out!

JUST FINISHED: Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. I've read all of these and gobble them like hot buttered rolls, so when I was recently traveling and saw the new one (new to me at least, though it came out last year), I grabbed it. For those of us gleefully familiar with the wheels-within-wheels of the now 14 novels with spookily capable FBI Special Agent A.X.L (Aloysius) Pendergast, this tale returns to the always-dark questions lurking amid his intermittently brilliant and criminally insane family line. All of these moody novels contain elements of the creepy and exotic, the cruel and outlandish, plus entertaining mash-ups of strange, but genuine histories—this time, of the Salton Sea. As a fan-service bonus, this one even forced its characters back down into the research necropolis of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where the series all began with Relic. 

CURRENTLY READING: Protectors 2: Heroes, an anthology of 55 stories (whew!) to support Protect, the political lobby of the National Association to Protect Children. (Full disclosure: I wrote a story appearing here, but there are so many others, don't let that dissuade you.) Among contributors yakking around this digital water cooler: editor Thomas PluckHilary DavidsonLinda Rodriguez, Neliza Drew, Scott Adlerberg, Chad Eagleton, Laura K. Curtis *takes breath* but there are also stories from David MorrellS.J. Rozan, Reed Farrel Coleman, Joyce Carol Oates, Harlan Ellison, Joe R. Lansdale, Joelle Charbonneau. . . That's not even close to everyone, because it's an almost ridiculous amount of awesome for a single volume. I've been impressed by every story I've read, and by The End, I may stuff my typing fingers down the garbage disposal in shame. But for now, I'm enjoying the read!

DERAILER OF BEST INTENTIONS: Magic. 1400s-1950s. This unexpected present popped right to the TBR's top, and I had to remove it for safety, as it's the tallest, fattest, glossiest, slipcovered coffee table book you can imagine, packed with incredible images and sneaky characters. There are “more than 850 rarely seen vintage posters, photographs, handbills, and engravings as well as paintings by Hieronymus Bosch and Caravaggio among others...  Noel Daniel edited, and I can't imagine how long that and the layout must've taken. There's additional text by magic experts Mike Caveney, Jim Steinmeyer, and Ricky Jay, who shares works from his private collection as well. If you love ephemera and illustration, not to mention the deceitful history behind invitational chicanery, this book's incomparable. It's the Devil's whole shooting match in a Sunday go-to-meeting tuxedo.

Clare Toohey is a daytripper through genre gutters. She edits The M.O. and site wrangles here, freelances as an editor, writes short, surreal crime fiction, blogs at Women of Mystery, and tweets @clare2e.

See all posts by Clare Toohey at Criminal Element.

Aug 31 2015 10:45pm

Hannibal 3.13: “The Wrath of the Lamb” is Ended

Here we are, fannibalizing together a last time, much like Hannibal and Will in the blood-soaked (probably) series finale “The Wrath of the Lamb.” There was some returning to the inspiration of the source material for this episode, and oddly enough, because of times when the show departed, those twists didn't work as well as they might've.

Reba McClane (Rutina Wesley) was kidnapped by Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage), taken to his house for threats, then arson, then to witness, but in her sensorially limited way, his suicide by shotgun to the head. Clever, except that we're pretty used to people not really being dead in this show now. The Great Red Dragon, who's now living as kind of a subsidiary entity at the core of the ascendant Dolarhyde, isn't any deader than his host, who will soon make it known to a limited audience. I was glad we got to see Reba explain to Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) that she knows there's nothing wrong with her, other than wanting to back a strong horse and to be seen as one. As very not okay as the whole situation is, she'll go on to be as okay as she can.

But too soon and only metaphorically, Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) kisses off Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), asserting his rejection of the monster and his intent, post-TGRD, to head back to the cabin and the dogs and Molly and Walter. Ah, but then Dolarhyde attacks Will, who's apparently abandoned the good hideaway from his picture with Chilton for a motel with a cool neon sign and lousy security. Will's chance to save himself is to set up Hannibal, and maybe that's a good idea, because Will taking on Hannibal alone seems way overmatched.

[Empathy doesn't convey situational awareness...]

Aug 28 2015 10:00am

TBR Confessions: Fat Bob, Foxgloves, and Deadly Ghosts

My TBR Confessions include a smoking beagle, a wizard cop, and “ghosts” who aren't by Stephen Dobyns, Ben Aaronovitch, and Mary Roberts Rinehart.

CURRENTLY READING: Is Fat Bob Dead Yet? by Stephen Dobyns, which comes out September 1st. The novel begins with a shocking motorcycle accident in downtown New London, Connecticut. A nearby witness is a newcomer, an ambitious and disappointed young man who'll encounter gangs, crooks, cops and feds while working for a fundraising boondoggle addressing the bogus needs of ill-adjusted prom queens and nicotine-addicted beagles.

I became a fan of Dobyns after The Church of Dead Girls, a gorgeously claustrophobic kind of serial-killing Our Town. It's as scary and fine a small-town crime book as I've ever read. Part of what makes the novel great, IMO, is the continual unpacking of the characters and its floating perspective (a tricky maneuver which he nails), revealing secrets while obscuring others.

Dobyns also employs that technique in this darkly comic contemporary crime novel, which earns comparison to Carl Hiassen or Elmore Leonard, though I must toss in my hero, Donald E. Westlake. (You can read full write-ups from Kevin Canfield of the WaPo and Bev Vincent of Onyx Reviews.)  Is Fat Bob Dead Yet? has scores of pithily-drawn characters with memorably evocative names, destined to collide with each other. Above the scrum is the imposition of a (slightly) wiser narrative voice: “This would be the moment to use our cherry picker again, but how much can be said? Once we've reached a point beyond belief, words are unreliable.... Connor still hasn't seen the biker's head, which is just as well. It's been smashed to fragments, or on a rooftop, or is bobbing down the river.”

JUST FINISHED: Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch, number five in the Rivers of London series about a young, black London cop, Peter Grant, who's shunted into the much-mistrusted (for good reason) occult crimes area. When two girls go missing in the countryside, a simple offer of extra shoe leather turns up the kind of situation that gives task force leadership heartburn and PR issues. In this series, all the woo-woo is plainly not-celebrated, embarrassingly flouting the crisp acronyms and initiatives that compose modern policing. For me, all the procedural detail and realistic-seeming bureaucracy, with pokes at the absurdity of both, make the weird stuff delightfully weirder by contrast.

STOPPED HALFWAY: Having finished the aptly-titled The Confession by the fascinating Mary Roberts Rinehart, a title which I discuss a bit more at the Women of Mystery blog. Rinehart's plots can walk a line where characters are so beset by the unusual, the inexplicable, and worrying that they cease to trust their own conclusions and become prone to unearthly explanations for their mysteries. I find it more like classic psychological suspense, a kissing cousin to Gothic in its devotion to mood. My copy is a vintage Dell double-title, so the halfway stopping-point means I haven't finished Sight Unseen, but in the first few pages, the latter novel has assembled a cast of skeptical and curious neighbors for an evening's “fun” seance. Eventually, I will surely read on, because I have great faith that the dimly-lit escapade will end in tragedy!


  • Caught Read-Handed by Terrie Farley Moran, the 2nd cozy in her quirky Florida Read 'Em and Eat series
  • Concrete Angel by Patricia Abbott, a story of chilling family dysfunction in Philadephia in the seventies
  • Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett, originally appearing as a Blask Mask serial, featuring the tubby, middle-aged Continental Op and his pitiless retribution against the corrupt

Clare Toohey is a daytripper through genre gutters. She edits The M.O. and site wrangles here, freelances as an editor, writes short, surreal crime fiction, blogs at Women of Mystery, and tweets @clare2e.

See all posts by Clare Toohey at Criminal Element.

Aug 24 2015 8:30am

Hannibal 3.12: “The Number of the Beast is 666”

Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) envisions killing his wife and so consults the second-deadliest therapist in Baltimore. Supposing this is only his dragonic killer-empathy in overdrive, nonetheless, I didn't want to believe he'd seek the advice of Dr. Bedelia DuMaurier (Gillian Anderson) in her dispensary of smug.

The two spar over who is hurt more, who is more vulnerable, who is more beloved, who means more to Hannibal as object of affection or menu item. A pathetic sort of competition between two intimates who each chose to bend to Hannibal before breaking. Will sells out his new family as already lost to him—how loyal and kind, when they haven't even died. Molly's wounded and anxious and Walter's angry, but to consign them away rather than digging in with loyalty and love seems pretty conveniently cowardly. (Jack's no angel, but he didn't desert Bella, even though she betrayed him by trying to kill herself.)

Anyway, here are these two with their shining eyes, neither able to help each other or to capitulate. Bedelia, aka Bluebeard's wife, says Hannibal's in love with Will, provided that love equates to insatiable hunger. An accurate enough description of some relationships, but does Will ache for him, she asks? That's the question, because Will is the feeling one, not the hungering one.

[Are Hannibal's ears burning?]

Aug 17 2015 10:45pm

Hannibal 3.11: “And the Beast From the Sea”


In Hannibal's 3.11 “And the Beast From the Sea,” Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) discovers his best crime-stopping asset is the durability of his masochism. For a moment, I thought he'd really blame Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) in some way that cost more than blunt words, but he seems resigned to being used this way, at least as long as the full moon and the Tooth Fairy loom. We also finally get to see Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) strapped onto the hand truck and in the iconic mask—admit it, you've waited almost 3 whole seasons for it. Yay!

When Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage) gets one of his telephone therapy sessions, he expresses perturbation in the way he and The Great Red Dragon he's destined to become are diverging in their aims since his relationship with The Woman, Reba McClane (Rutina Wesley). Dolarhyde's also fascinated by his newfound ability to be turned on by sex with a partner who's alive. Hannibal, pot-stirrer that he is, says Dolarhyde shouldn't worry about losing Reba by sacrificing her to TGRD, because Dolarhyde can have her as long as he wants, even risk loving her, if he gets a scapegoat. Why, that fuzzy-faced, pointed-chin Will Graham has a family. Baaah. Hannibal's favorite spectator sport is manipulating humans into choosing whether they're predators or prey, and then setting up situations where they'll have to act upon it.

The reconstituted Scooby team of Jack, Will, and Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) frankly discuss the feasibility of getting the conflicted Tooth Fairy to kill himself, certainly before he can eat any more irreplaceable art. Well, perhaps they could manage that were they even half as cordially ruthless as Hannibal, or had they devoted the time he has to making it a specialty.

Pounding surf beneath the waxing moon and the sight of Dolarhyde carving the dragon into a tree reminds us the time is nigh.

[He's late, he's late, for a very important date...]

Aug 10 2015 7:45pm

Hannibal 3.10: “And the Woman Clothed In Sun”

In Hannibal's 3.10, it's getting late, but Tooth Fairies are night owls, and Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage) takes his pedo-van to Maryland on a pilgrimage to Hannibal's old, plastic-shrouded office. Within, he jumps wires in the telephony before unwrapping and starting up Hannibal's old computer, perhaps surprisingly, not claimed by law enforcement as a part of the investigation into his... everything. Via technology, Dolarhyde is announced as Byron Metcalfe, Hannibal's ersatz lawyer but his real, true Number One Fan.

(Welcome to a truly awful job. At least crime scene cleaners know that they're improving the feng shui, scrubbing the auras, making the horrible just a little bit better. But think about having to preserve that atmosphere of yuck, inviolate, carefully maintaing the lair of a supervillain against moth and water damage in anticipation of his returns... someday.)

Anyway, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) answers the call with receptivity that earns Dolarhyde's very best growl. Nicknames can be so cruel and misleading, the killers agree. Dolarhyde seems to be aiming towards a king-is-dead, long-live-the-king kind of coronation as the top Beast, and Dr. Lecter approves, as he always does of a worthy challenger. But as we've seen, Hannibal can make people think powerful things using just his voice. When Dolarhyde, with Hannibal's assistance, fully envisions himself as the flaming dragon on the rocky mount, I almost had to raise a lighter and a forefinger-pinky salute, because it was so metal and bad-ass. Yay!

I've also enjoyed how these remote phone conversations are visually assembled together in imagined space. Whether between hotel-bound Will and Molly in the casualness of the Graham cabin's bedroom last week, or in the now-familiar bookended chairs in Hannibal's office, letting the characters actually interact is a treat beyond watching them emote into plastic mouthpieces.

Dr. Bedelia DuMaurier (Gillian Anderson) is lecturing in front of a group of nodding, reputably academic-looking heads, stepping from behind the podium—not done in most mic'd up situations, but demonstrating she has no fear of this room. All one's self, she asserts, is a construct of the mind (to be dismantled by repeeated overwriting and strong drugs). But her bit about being swallowed by the beast tips that she knows there's something deeper, more primal than mentation underneath this “mind” to which she's so apparently devoted. She throws a gloss of Dante on it for the punters, but here's Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) to remind her she's a liar, and ask, well he never gets to what he wants to ask beyond, “How'd you manage to walk away unscarred? I'm covered in scars.” Good point. She's acting superior and know-it-all-y, as usual, tells Will to make an appointment. That's petty, Bedelia, because your house is as glass as the shattered table in your office.

[Meet another woman who appreciates a beast...]

Aug 3 2015 10:45pm

Hannibal 3.09: “And the Woman Clothed With the Sun...”

When Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) visits Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), we learn even the perennially-scruffy nature boy wears aftershave. The moon-phased Tooth Fairy is on a killing deadline, and the Baltimore State Psychiatric Hospital's apex killer-in-residence must be consulted. For his part, Hannibal appreciates a break from the professional “second-raters” and “pencil-lickers.” Wicked. (I recall when Will was a top expert in his field, that is, until he succumbed and went native, so to speak.)

Hannibal can tell Will's domestic life has expanded, that fatherhood has changed him. He digs in as Will tries to maintain distance, saying that Will only need remind himself of who Hannibal is, who he is himself on that selfsame axis, and that the memory of that alone should be enough for Will to figure out how the Tooth Fairy's choosing his victims. Yes, well, after more verbal foreplay, at last, to the casefiles!

We flashback to Hannibal's “fatherhood” of Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl), the parenthood which he tries to place heavily as a shared burden on Will. She'll adapt now, mutate later, the lesson every loving father teached at softball practice and blood rituals. Hannibal takes a big bottle of blood, and then, as they discuss how he would've killed her, they rather calmly discuss the flesh he also needs. Not a finger, so she can learn to play the harpsichord he's always on about, but a bit of something she can do without. We know it'll be the shell of her ear. Together they empty the bottle, enacting the pattern which will be taken for her fresh arterial spray. Among twisted killers, it's as sweet as a dad and daughter pancake breakfast.

[More family, more problems...]

Jul 30 2015 7:45am

Boomsticks Weekly!: Ash vs. Evil Dead

Grab your boomsticks, Bruce Campbell and Evil Dead fans, because the new “horror sitcom” for Starz is Ash vs. Evil Dead, where he returns to battle the numberless, ravening hordes of the abyss!

If you haven't seen the original quadrilogy of cult films, beginning with The Evil Dead (1981) and products of the unholy team of Bruce Cambell, director Sam Raimi, and producer Rob Tapert, the return of this “hero” and his narcissstic, shallow awfulness may not (yet) fill your heart with warmth. But more bad things have happened to Ash than anyone else who's survived dancing with the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis. For each time he asks for “some sugar,” he suffers, and mightily. Think of him like the Homer Simpson of horror, with a chainsaw for an arm, and get ready to enjoy the delighful despair of having only an over-the-hill, capital-L-loser and blowhard to champion all of humanity.

Promising good things, the team's back together for this series, and Sam Raimi will direct the first episode as well as writing for it. Jill Marie Jones, who you may recognize from Sleepy Hollow, will play Michigan State Trooper Amanda Fisher. Ray Santiago, Dana Delorenzo also star, along with Lucy Lawless who plays a mysterious figure named Ruby who blames Ash for... well, every terrible thing that's happened. Really can't blame her for that. The series premiere is October 31, 2105—natch.

Are you as jazzed as I am for the return of The Chin?

Jul 27 2015 10:23pm

Hannibal 3.08: “The Great Red Dragon” At Last Descends

Stray dogs and more Englishmen! Once Hannibal was captive, I felt safe vacating, so “The Great Red Dragon” is a late write-up. This episode had a dash of everything I love and may mourn if alternate media saviors don't intervene to #SaveHannibal.

The Baltimore State Hospital has inherited Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), and Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) seems to have inherited his taste in furnishings—check out her swanky, antiquified office. That's hardly possible with stony-broke state budgeting. Perhaps Margot Verger made a donation or endowment or something. I witnessed a variety of bad ideas, from giving Hannibal apparently crystal stemware from which to drink wine (while everyone in the group TV room gets juice boxes, I'm sure), to the fact that apparently Dr. Frederick Chilton (Raúl Esparza) lets the ghoulish chef prepare blood-based desserts. A kitchen...Hannibal....what could possibly go wrong? The legally-demented doc must be using knives, because there were adorable plate garnishes, too. He's also made clear that he still intends to polish off Alana at the time of his choosing, so that Lucite doesn't look thick enough to me.

All these comforts seem so very unwise, but what the heck? I was glad to see it. The Baltimore State Hospital would be no darned fun without capricious standards and institutionalized hubris! As long as Hannibal's happily locked up, enjoying the heavenly concerts of a boy soprano (Aiden Glenn) in the timeless grandeur of his memory palace, he'll stay put. Probably.

[No time for encores though...]

Jul 20 2015 9:30am

Hannibal 3.07: “Digestivo” Finishes Characters

Hannibal's “Digestivo” finishes characters with a burp, despite NBC moving our dinner reservation. Shifted to Saturday night, without preamble, this week's episode had lots of action for fannibals who don't care about the show's cancellation, not while there's still plenty to see in this season. (Of course, the more vigorous and plentiful the viewer affection, the better chance of the show being picked up elsewhere.)

After the disruption of another simply awful dinner party, we get to see the corrupt Questura (Giorgio Lupano) miss Hannibal “by that much,” at least that's what they'll say officially, while exporting their valuable trophies to Maryland for Mason's bounty. Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) is still drugged and bound, looking like a loose end in need of cutting, until the sniper par excellence, who always finds the vantage and angle, shoots those trying to kill him. Chiyoh (Tao Okamoto) also helps free him in exchange for information about Mason's lair. Jack says Will and Hannibal are on their way to Muskrat Farm, where pigs are spoken of with great admiration, but what's done to them... well, spare me from ever being held in such esteem.

[Do you smell bacon?]

Jul 11 2015 6:11am

Hannibal 3.06: “Dolce” For a Sweet Divorce

Hannibal 3.06's “Dolce” answers whether “Dr. Fell” will accept an amicable divorce over widowerhood. It also returns to Bedelia's axis of Betrayal vs. Forgiveness, and whichever of those claims to be deployed, it comes with lethal edges. As one couple parts, a new power couple will ascend, and the fans' favorite couple will finally reunite. Amid all this, there's a whole lot of shooting up.

Just after dawn, a badly-wounded Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) drags himself through deserted streets to the Palazzo Cappone after a long night of disembowling one unfaithful law enforcer and being beaten (he could've been killed) by another who waited until his attack no longer betrayed his obligations to his badge or his wife. Let us say that Dr. Fell feels a different sort of “until death” commitment to his faux Mrs. Fell, aka Dr. Bedelia DuMaurier (Gillian Anderson). But before they can negotiate the terms of their impending severance from married bliss, because payback is coming a-knocking, there's cleaning and stitching of flesh to do. As Bedelia sponges the blood from Hannibal's hand, we're reminded of how tenderly he cleaned her up after her first killing. As she stitches his leg—he's lucky it wasn't a compound fracture from that fall—he even looks a bit pleased with himself. Happiness is all about grabbing moments in the now, isn't it?

By now, you know it's impossible to discuss this series without spoilers, but of all the episodes this season, so far this one had the most twists and turns, highs (ahem) and lows.

[Spoil me, like purposely dry-aged meat!]

Jul 3 2015 6:30pm

Hannibal 3.05: “Contorno” Means Accompaniment

Casually, contorno is a “side dish,” but that phrase isn't reverent enough for Hannibal 3.05's ode to accompanying women.

I've pointed out other instances in which the women in this show just won't go along, and instead run on their own tracks. In this episode, we're reminded how each acts from her own motivational center, and how different those may be from the crossing swords (and ass-kicking) of Will, Jack, Hannibal, etc. If other episodes have been largely about the senses of sight or taste, and we won't be deprived in this one, this episode also adds interest in sound, voices, music, and things fostered in silence.

We begin with Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Chiyoh (Tao Okamoto) on a rocking train, like the one carrying a wistful-looking Hannibal in the series premiere. They're discussing how Hannibal schooled her to sharpen her sense of smell (perhaps to explain her tracking him later). The cannibal was already orphaned by the time she met him, she says, at the time her family sent her into service with his aunt, Lady Murasaki.

[How does a Lithuanian noble get a Japanese aunt?]

Jun 26 2015 8:30pm

Hannibal 3.04: “Aperitivo” Whets the Bloodlust

In “Apertivo,” a cadre of fractious, murderous conspirators maneuvers to converge upon Caesar (okay, Hannibal). In Republican Rome, a lamb was sacrificed to Jupiter on the ides of each month, and it was by this date in March in 44 B.C.E. that a seer is reported to have told a scoffing Julius Caesar that harm would befall him. One historian reports that diviner was an Etruscan haruspex, or one who reads entrails and the livers of sacrificed animals. Hepatomancy. Hannibal would approve.

By leaving a handful of clever and resourceful victims alive—it's roster time!—Dr. Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) foresaw himself becoming the center of their attentions. But he's not only on their minds, because he's the gravitational point that everyone's preferred triggerman Will Graham is actually compelled to orbit, as Chilton points out to Alana Bloom, who has become much more interesting since her defenestration. Forget the Concerned Friend. Bring on the Crusading Fate!

[Onto the enemies list!]

Jun 20 2015 8:00am

Hannibal 3.03: “Secondo” Means Choosing

In “Secondo,” Hannibal and Bedelia lounge in matching rompwear, while Jack mourns Will, who torments the tormented in the Lecter family vineyards.

In the novels as here, the well-heeled Hannibal lives at Florence's beautiful Palazzo Capponi. At home in their gorgeous apartments, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) is glum in a black satin something, and Dr. Bedelia du Maurier's (Gillian Anderson) matching him in the blackness of her garments and mood. The question of Will comes up, as it must, since Hannibal seems almost wistfully proud Will found him, and Bedelia thinks he may be stacking the deck for his favorite protegee. She tells Hannibal forgiveness takes two. It's an odd sentiment for a therapist and disastrous for the category of self-help books, entire shelves of which are dedicated to Letting Go. But at any rate, this will set up the first see-saw of the night, the axis between Betrayal and Forgiveness, the trembling, uncertain anticipation of which is compared in this conversation to falling in love. (And to think, I was concerned Willibal shippers might not get their share of joy.)

Bedelia seems remarkably sure, for the first time this season, that she'll be able to “navigate” a way out of her troubles. However, she puts the screws to Hannibal as to how and whether he will. She's prodding him with his recent self-destructiveness and the inevitability of his capture. Hannibal is almost supine as he tells her that Will is headed to a place he cannot go: home.

[Are Will's ears ringing in Lithuania?]

Jun 13 2015 8:30am

Hannibal 3.02: “Primavera” Springs Will Graham

In “Primavera,” we see Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) almost together again and meet Florence's Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi, a long-time pursuer of “The Monster of Florence” and here playing the third wheel and last-to-know.

First, I enjoyed getting to flashback in leisurely fashion upon the worst dinner party ever, the one that ended Season 2 with such huge amounts of cast carnage. Notably, we relived the tenderly intimate gutting of Hannibal's profiler, awash with blood and realizations of how much each has been changed by the other. We also got to relive the jugular-slashing of their erstwhile daughter-slash-devotee-slash-inconvenience, Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl).

Because this is a show that glories in its horrors, and Whodunnit? is the least exciting question (psst: it's Hannibal), there's no way to discuss it without SPOILERS, so be prepared.

[And don't attend parties with black stag on the menu.]

Jun 5 2015 8:15pm

Hannibal 3.01: an “Antipasto” of Drains and Snails

The Season 3 premiere,Antipasto” will imperil Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) in ways we've never witnessed. But even with the seemingly impossible challenges of identity theft under the suspicions of canny academic Florentines, and nursing—even provoking—the viper he spawned at his breast who is Bedelia du Maurier (Gillian Anderson), Hannibal's boredom may be growing dangerous.

Warning, this first one's going to get a little lengthy, but as the antipasto, and given previous seasons, I have some confidence we're setting the table with visual and story and character themes that are going to extend faaaar beyond one episode, at least through the first half of the season. Seriously, if I want to say anything about Hannibal and Bedelia, I'm just going to shorthand back here! So, let's dig in!

We begin the night's episode with a coolly-delivered “Bonsoir”. In a brief, neat echo of the blood-sculpture opening credits, shapes curl in smoke as Hannibal revs up a bike Sturgis-style to crash a reception in Paris. The honoree is an author and professor, Dr. Roman Fell (Jeremy Crutchley). As soon as Hannibal arrives, he's singled out by the professor's former assistant, Anthony Dimmond (Tom Wisdom). Handsome, ingratiating, and gnawingly jealous of his former boss, the poet Dimmond approaches Hannibal to dish on the evening's honoree, and, one also senses, to breathe in the scent of all that motorcycle leather.

At the end of the reception, Hannibal will give a metaphorical bonsoir to the man's liver after sauteeing it to his delectation (still leaky rare) and dining upon it in a confectionary apartment of white moldings, pale blue walls, and gold ornament that was so visually Parisian, I expected to see Audrey Hepburn's ghost in one corner. Hannibal will round out his evening with a bonsoir to the professor's wife (Catherine Tait), aussitôt gagné, aussitôt dépensé, which is what the internet tells me is French for easy come, easy go.

The dispatching and eating of these people, we're soon to understand, isn't because of Hannibal's intrinsic desire for this particular game. They're fine, but forgettable. The point is not to waste a chance at even a comparatively small pleasure if you must do the butchery anyway. See Dr. Abel Gideon's (Eddie Izzard) plight in this episode for an example of the lengthy, thoughtful preparation Hannibal gives to someone who actually interests him.

[Lomticks of meats and cheeses!]

May 27 2015 7:45am

A Taste of Hannibal’s Season 3!

Get a taste of the Season 3 trailer for Hannibal! 

Purely from later events, Thomas Harris fans already know Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) must have survived the bloodbath at Hannibal's to catch Dr. Lecter later, and we also know for sure that Dr. Chilton (Raúl Esparza) will be a future obstacle. But if you've forgotten how much of the cast was involved in the tremendous casualty count of the Season 2 finale, re-watch the episode coyly named for a seasonal dessert—see 2.13 “Mizumono” online at So much rainfall, and I didn't feel a bit clean afterwards.

It's also not a secret that there have been loads of Season 3 exteriors shot in Florence, so Dr. Hannibal Lecter's (Mads Mikkelsen) and Dr. Bedelia du Maurier's (Gillian Anderson) time in Italy will appear just as glorious as we'd expect from this gorgeously-designed show. I can't wait to see the chubby, disapproving faces of appalled marble putti

Hannibal's 13-episode Season 3 airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. Eastern from June 4th through September 5th, 2015.  If you're spoiler-sensitive, skip the rest of the post...

[I'm starving! Serve it up!]

May 7 2015 7:45am

True Crime Thursday: Thought Crimes, a Cannibal Cop, and the Marquis de Sade

Gilberto Valle was a six-year veteran of the NYPD when arrested. / courtesy HBOYou may recall the case of the baby-faced “Cannibal Cop,” Gilberto Valle III, who expressed fetishistic fantasies of killing, cooking, and consuming the flesh of women, including his wife. (See the documentary's trailer below for Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop.)

But Valle never actually did those things... well, he hasn't yet. Maybe he never would have and never will. That's an open question, answerable only by Valle. However, a recent Huffington Post article by Clay Calvert explains how Valle's resulting conviction for conspiracy to commit kidnapping will be argued this month in an appeal before the Second Circuit, a case which attorney Alan Dershowitz considers nothing less than “the future of the preventive state.” So the next question, one which our society and legal system must answer, is: What should we do pre-emptively, if anything, about the expression of such inclinations?

In 1785, the Marquis de Sade penned a twisted and bloodthirsty catalog of depravity called 120 Days of Sodom, or the School of Libertinism from his prison cell in the Bastille. In de Sade's story, four wealthy reprobates stock a remote castle with provisions and sex slaves, who include their own daughters. They're indulging in a four-month orgy designed to escalate until culminating in the erotic (?) slaughter of all the chattel, some of whom they intended to be pregant by that date so they can earn double-scores or something. This work, not widely available until the 20th century, has been condemned as pornography, praised as a blackly-humorous response to the Enlightenment, and treated as a subject for grim scientific research.

At the time it was written, it's said de Sade, far from engaging in the hedonistic revelries he scribbled, was suffering with uncontrolled gout and not quite enough money to bribe his jailers for better comforts.

[Express yourself... Then again, maybe don't.]

Apr 8 2015 9:30am

Fresh Meat: Thieves Fall Out by Gore Vidal (writing as Cameron Kay)

Thieves Fall Out by Gore Vidal (writing as Cameron Kay)Thieves Fall Out by Gore Vidal (writing as Cameron Kay) is a pulp novel, rediscovered after sixty years, about a broke American in post-WWII Cairo who gets involved in smuggling, intrigue, and revolution (available April 21, 2015).

This novel comes with comparisons to Casablanca right on the back—oh, it's understandable if you didn't notice that given the steamy front cover image by Glen Orbik. Well, I note that Egypt isn't Morocco, and this action's set post-WWII, but damned if they weren't right!

Dateline: Cairo, the dog days of summer in 1952, on the run-up to what we now know as the 23 July Revolution. If you're well-off or well-connected, there are pale, tiled rooms with gloved servants and cool beverages, places where international opportunists, trying not to sweatstain their gabardines, hide from the day's heat as they pantomime civilization. Outside the well-guarded hotels that cater to corrupt officials and smugglers, beggars swarm and impoverished natives foment revolution against a dissolute king.

After his rise-and-fall in oil wildcatting, then five years in the Army, where he boxed middleweight, Peter Wells finds himself in the capital city, thirty-one and stony broke. His most recent paid work was on a freighter that landed him at the docks of Cairo, resulting finally in a visit the U.S. Consulate:

“The last thing I remember was going into a dive a few blocks from here, about five o'clock yesterday afternoon. French place called Le Couteau Rouge. Next thing I knew, I woke up about an hour ago in a house with some woman I never saw before, Arab woman, asking me for money. Well, I couldn't remember a thing, but I was sure I paid in advance, knowing those places, so I got out fast. Then I found out too late I'd been rolled.”

Mr Case's Puritan face was set in a mask of bleak disgust....“Difficult,” said Mr. Case vaguely. “The Consulate doesn't like this sort of thing.”

“Neither do I.”

[For criminals, desperation's often in the job description...]

Feb 7 2015 5:00pm

Fresh Meat: Drawing Conclusions by Deirdre Verne

Drawing Conclusions by Deirdre Verne is the first Sketch in Crime mystery featuring CeCe Prentice, an eco-conscious freegan and artist suspicious of the death of her twin brother, a prominent genetic researcher (available February 8, 2015).

We meet CeCe Prentice on her way into a Dumpster. By choice. She's a Freegan, an eco-conscious artist in her twenties who hates waste and lives with four green friends on Long Island's North Shore, “experimenting with organic farming and subsistence living.” They live in part of CeCe's inheritance, the rundown former Harbor Master's home that's been in her family for generations. Among newer family traditions, CeCe's been estranged for decades from her father, who's never approved of her bohemian existence and who runs a laboratory that's a major local employer:

The venerable Dr. William Prentice was the founder and lead scientist of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, the central clearing house for all things DNA in the United States and around the globe. It was the home of the double helix, the national genome project, and a slew of other international scientific studies. In the world of hard-core science, it was hard to get bigger than Dr. William Prentice, a man who had devoted nearly fifty years searching for the cure. Which cure? Who cares. Take your pick. From what little I understood (or wanted to) about DNA, once those elusive little genomes were trapped and mapped, the answer would tumble out and wrap itself around a prescription bottle with a child-safety lid fully intact.

But it isn't her father that causes the cops to visit her home. They come because of another doctor and researcher, her brilliant twin brother, Teddy, who she adores. Not even thirty, he's found dead in his office at the lab.

[Surrounded by doctors, still not safe...]