<i>Killing Is My Business</i>: Excerpt Killing Is My Business: Excerpt Adam Christopher The second book in the Ray Electromatic Mysteries series. Review: <i>Soul Cage</i> by Tetsuya Honda Review: Soul Cage by Tetsuya Honda Angie Barry Read Angie Barry's review! <i>The Saboteur</i>: Bonus Chapter The Saboteur: Bonus Chapter Andrew Gross Read this exclusive bonus chapter about a failed British Mission in Norway during WWII. <i>Let the Dead Speak</i>: Excerpt Let the Dead Speak: Excerpt Jane Casey Jane Casey returns with another taut, richly drawn novel.
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2017 Thrillerfest Wrap Up
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Suspect Claims Van Full of Marijuana Was for Personal Use
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Showing posts by: Dave Richards click to see Dave Richards's profile
Jul 11 2017 3:00pm

Review: Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente

Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente is a brilliant debut that is both an homage to the Golden Age of Mystery and a thoroughly contemporary show-business satire (available July 11, 2017).

When a comedian bombs on stage, it's said that “they're dying.” There's even a classic quote that states, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” So there's a natural connection between the worlds of comedy and murderous crime fiction. In his debut novel, Ten Dead ComediansFred Van Lente draws upon that connection to create a captivating, hilarious, and overall fun murder mystery/satire. What makes the novel truly engaging, however, is the superb character development of his cast.

Van Lente is a veteran comic book creator who's worked for companies like Marvel, Valiant, and Dark Horse. He's also self-published several books. He's written both fantastical tales and biographical ones about prominent philosophers and comic book creators. So he knows how to mesh genre details with grounded real-world issues.

[Read Dave Richards's review of Ten Dead Comedians...]

May 24 2017 1:00pm

Review: City of Angels by Kristi Belcamino

City of Angels by Kristi Belcamino is an edgy, gritty, mature YA mystery about a young woman's struggle to not only belong—but survive.

One reason why I'm drawn to crime fiction is that it shows so-called “bad” people at their best and “good” people at their worst. That nuanced look at humanity and the forces out to corrupt it makes for some powerful, poignant, and pretty dark tales. You have to be an adult to fully appreciate and understand those types of stories though, right? You can't do a gritty, street level, crime story as a YA novel ... can you?

It turns out you can. City of Angels, Kristi Belcamino's (author of the Gabriella Giovanni series) debut YA crime novel, proved I need to reevaluate my assumptions about YA novels' ability to tell gritty and powerful crime stories. 

[Read Dave Richards's review of City of Angels...]

Apr 14 2017 3:30pm

Marvel’s Iron Fist Season 1 Review: Episodes 11-13

Hello, and welcome back! Today, we bring my look at Netflix's latest Marvel Comics adaptation, Iron Fist, to a close. In this final installment, we'll examine the last three episodes: Episode 11, “Lead Horse Back to the Stable”; Episode 12, “Bar the Big Boss”; and Episode 13, “Dragon Plays with Fire.” In addition to examining these episodes from my perspective as a longtime comic fan and pointing out some comic Easter eggs, I'll also talk about the lingering questions the series leaves for the next Netflix Marvel adaptation, The Defenders (where the various heroes of their four shows will join forces), and my thoughts on a possible second season of Iron Fist.

Let's begin!

[You are the worst Iron Fist...]

Apr 7 2017 4:00pm

Marvel’s Iron Fist Season 1 Review: Episodes 8-10

Hello, and welcome back! It's time to begin our look at the back half of Netflix's latest Marvel Comics adaptation, Iron Fist. In this penultimate installment of my feature, we'll examine Episode 8, “The Blessing of Many Fractures”; Episode 9, “The Mistress of All Agonies”; and Episode 10 “Black Tiger Steals Heart.” I'll also offer up my perspective as a long time Marvel Comics fan on the differences between the source material and how it was translated in the show, as well as some of the Easter Eggs for comic fans that viewers might have missed.

Let's begin!

[Check out Dave Richards's review of Iron Fist, Episodes 8-10...]

Mar 31 2017 3:00pm

Marvel’s Iron Fist Season 1 Review: Episodes 5-7

Hello, and welcome back to my look at Netflix's latest Marvel Comics adaptation, Iron Fist! Last time, we kicked things off with a look at episodes 1-4. Today, we'll reach the halfway point with a review of Episode 5, “Under Leaf Plucks Lotus”; Episode 6, “Immortal Emerges From the Cave”; and Episode 7, “Felling Tree With Roots.” From my perspective as a long-term Marvel Comics fan, we'll talk about what I thought worked and what didn't, examine some of the ties to other Marvel Netflix shows, and look at some of the comic Easter eggs that viewers may not have picked up on.

So let's get to it!

[Check out Episodes 5-7 of Iron Fist!]

Mar 24 2017 3:30pm

Marvel’s Iron Fist Season 1 Review: Episodes 1-4

Hello, and welcome back the world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe! My name is Dave Richards, and I was your guide in Criminal Element's look at the 2nd season of Netflix's television adaptation of Marvel Comics' Daredevil and the streaming network's 1st season of Jessica Jones. Now, I'm back to examine the latest Netflix Marvel series, Iron Fist, which lays the final groundwork for The Defenders series, where the stars of the four various Netflix shows will unite into an Avengers-style supergroup. 

In this piece, we'll look at the first four episodes of Iron Fist: “Snow Gives Way,” “Shadow Hawk Takes Flight,” “Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch,” and “Eight Diagram Dragon Palm.” I'll examine the action and prominent characters, look at how the series knits together threads from the other Netflix shows, and offer up my perspective as a long time Marvel Comic reader and fan of the friendship between the comic book incarnations of Danny Rand and Luke Cage. So let's begin!

[Who is Danny Rand?]

Feb 14 2017 2:00pm

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with These Criminal Couples

Love is an incredibly powerful emotion. So it’s no surprise that it’s a big motivating force in crime fiction. It sends broken criminals and lawmen on quests for redemption, and it can lead upstanding citizens on obsessive, self-destructive journeys. Sometimes, it can even do both. It also creates romantic pairings between some fascinating characters. 

In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought I’d take a look at some of my favorite couples from crime fiction in several different mediums. I’ll talk a little bit about the pairing, the appeal, and—if it was featured in multiple stories—some good ones to check out. That way you can celebrate in your preferred medium of choice with some tales about the power of love and how it motivates some compelling criminals, antiheroes, and vigilantes.

[Love is in the air...]

Feb 7 2017 4:30pm

The Vigilantes of MTV’s Sweet/Vicious Need Another Kickass Season

In an earlier article for this site, I documented how MTV's Sweet/Vicious—a show about two female college students who become vigilantes to take down the sexual predators stalking their school—was a cathartic, socially relevant, crime fan's cocktail that mixed together great characters with elements of shows like Veronica Mars, Breaking Bad, and early seasons of superhero shows like Netflix's Daredevil and the CW's Arrow.

So I was hooked early on, and with the show having recently wrapped it's 10-episode 1st season, I'm happy to report that my interest in the show has not waned. In fact, Sweet/Vicious has only one real problem in my book, but it's the best kind of problem to have: they have so many more great stories to tell! MTV definitely needs to give the series a second season.

[Get on the ball MTV—renew Sweet/Vicious!]

Jan 13 2017 5:00pm

5 Gateway Marvel Comics for Crime Fiction Fans

Crime fiction is usually set in a gritty, grounded world where protagonists are often forced to engage in morally murky decisions. Superhero stories often go in a different direction, featuring brightly clad characters with fantastic powers locked in a struggle of good versus evil. Factor that in with the fact that many of the superhero comics published by the big two publishers—Marvel and DC—have decades of long, complicated continuity attached to them, and it can be quite easy to decide superheroes are not for you. But, you may be doing yourself a disservice with that decision.

That's because what makes the shared universes that Marvel and DC Comics characters inhabit so interesting and fun is the diversity of elements that exist side by side. Plus, the Marvel Universe has prided itself on being “The world outside your window.” It's a place where the problems of our world collide with the fantastic elements of imagination and genre fiction. Over the years, a character like Spider-Man has battled costumed supervillains, mob bosses, vampires, and even threats from outer space while trying to balance things like having a personal life and making ends meet. 

[See what comics you should be reading!]

Dec 7 2016 2:00pm

Sweet/Vicious: A Socially Relvant Crime Fan’s Cocktail

If I told you that there was a new crime show that was both funny and socially relevant and successfully incorporated elements of other acclaimed shows while still treating its subject matter with utmost respect, what network would you guess it was on? It would have to be something like a Netflix Original series right? WRONG! HBO? NOPE! AMC or FX? Uh-uh. Believe it or not, the network in question is MTV.

The show is called Sweet/Vicious, and it's a cleverly blended cocktail of Veronica Mars and Arrow with a hint of Breaking Bad.

[A winning recipe...]

Dec 2 2016 5:00pm

5 Current Crime Comics You Should Be Reading

Superhero comic books are just as popular as the blockbuster films they inspire. So when you enter a comic store, you’re guaranteed to be bombarded with a whole host of titles featuring the adventures of heroes, from mainstream companies like DC Comics and Marvel to independent publishers. Similar to their onscreen counterparts, comics are in the middle of another golden age, with a range of diverse and quality titles. Thanks to the growth of major publishing imprints like DC Comics’ Vertigo line and independent publishers like Image Comics, there are comics for fans of almost every kind of genre—especially crime fiction. 

Of course, crime fiction is a very broad genre that can accompany a number of different stories and tones. So in this article, I’ll give you the low-down on several diverse and current crime comics, giving you a breakdown of the titles, who they’ll appeal to, and how to get caught up with each.

However, before we get into that, I'd like to provide readers who might be new to the world of comics with some tips to help you get caught up and stay current on the great books I’ll be discussing.

First, create yourself a pull list. Most reputable comic shops are happy to keep a pull list of titles for their regular customers. It’s a way of pre-ordering. Essentially, you let your retailer know which comics you’d be interested in buying, and they set aside the new issues of those titles for you when they become available. If, at any point, you decide a title is no longer for you, just let your retailer know and they’ll remove it from your pull list.

Second, immerse yourself in the burgeoning world of digital comics. It's not always easy to snag each new issue and carry them around all day—that's where sites like comiXology come in. Digital comics allow you to download your favorite issues and read them on any of your digital devices. All of the titles I’ll be discussing are available in both single issue and graphic novel form as digital comics via comiXology.

[See what comics you'll be reading next!]

Nov 18 2016 1:00pm

Dear Frank Castle: Waging Dinner Table Warfare Against Unruly Holiday Guests

This week’s guest columnist is former Marine Frank Castle, AKA the Punisher—a heavily armed vigilante with a fondness for shirts with death’s head skulls. He knows a little something about family and waging a one-man war against threats people are too polite ... or too civilized to confront directly.

Dear Frank,

The holidays are here again. That means I’m once again facing at least two family gatherings with my uncle and aunt. They hijack peaceful family dinners by bringing up divisive topics like religion and politics. Then, they go on to berate the career and family choices my sister and I have made with our lives. I can tell it upsets my parents, but they’re too polite to say anything about it.

How do I take back the dinner table and end my aunt and uncle’s reign of holiday terror?

—Harry, the Holiday Hostage

[Read the Punisher’s advice!]

Oct 28 2016 3:30pm

Four Color Criminal Nightmares: Comics to Get Crime Fans in the Halloween Spirit

October is upon us, which is the season where we celebrate ghosts, goblins, and all things scary. October is a great time to be a horror fan, but it’s also a pretty good time to be a crime fiction fan as well because tales about criminal and supernatural underworlds blend together like chocolate and peanut butter.

Sometimes they combine in subtle and delightful ways like the Slasher sub-genre (which includes films like the Halloween and Scream series), where normal people—often teens—must contend with rampaging serial killers. Other times, it's a full on collision where cops and criminals must confront forces of unspeakable evil.

These crime/horror mashup tales can be told via a number of a different mediums, but for my money, some of the most effective and fun tales that mesh the two highly compatible genres together are done via the four color world of comics. So here are four crime/horror comics to get you into the spirit of the Halloween season!

[See which comics you'll be buying on your next trip to the comic store!]

Sep 19 2016 4:30pm

Head Back to School with the Adolescent Assassins of Deadly Class

I haven’t attended school for some time now, but every year, without fail, I start to feel a bit of gnawing anxiety when it becomes clear that summer is over and fall is about to begin. I imagine that anxiety is even greater for kids headed back to high school. But what if there was a high school where tests and peer interactions didn’t just feel like life-and-death matters because of teen angst, they could literally kill you?

That’s part of the premise of Deadly Class—a creator-owned Image Comics series by writer Rick Remender and artist Wes Craig that transports readers back in time to the ‘80s and takes them to the clandestine halls of Kings Dominion School of the Deadly Arts, a secret school for teenage assassins.

The series, with its unique blend of slice-of-life-style adolescent angst and explosive violence, is a must for crime fans who enjoy both cinematic action and graphic fiction that explores the physical and emotional consequences of a life of violence. Plus, it’s about to return from a hiatus and a television adaptation is in the works!

So, if you’ve never heard of Deadly Class or have never had the pleasure of reading it, now’s the time to get acquainted. To help you catch up, I recently spoke with Rick Remender to help create this handy primer about the series.

[Where sleeping in class is a little more...permanent.]

Jul 27 2016 1:30pm

Review: The More They Disappear by Jesse Donaldson

The More They Disappear by Jesse Donaldson takes us to the front lines of the battle against small-town drug abuse in an unnerving tale of addiction, loss, and the battle to overcome the darkest parts of ourselves (Available August 2, 2016).

I grew up in the 80's during the “Just Say No” era, so the earliest crime fiction stories about the drug war in America that I saw and read were morally black-and-white tales about maverick cops fighting to bring down evil drug cartels. It wasn't until I got much older that I started to understand that when it came to stories about drugs, cops and criminals are only a small part of a much larger story—crime fiction that examined America's drug problem through many different lenses was much more powerful, haunting, and true. 

[Read Dave Richards's review of The More They Disappear...]

Jul 18 2016 2:00pm

Have Mercy: Never Too Young to Die (1986)

Let’s travel back in time to 1986—a magical time when blockbuster, over-the-top action movies ruled American cinema. That year saw the release of a number of big action movies, including one about a gun-toting, second-generation super spy out to save Los Angeles from an evil terrorist’s scheme to poison the city’s water supply.

Who do you think would have starred in this movie? Somebody like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, or Chuck Norris?

Nope, the answer—believe it or not—is John Stamos!

[Watch the hair!]

Jun 19 2016 12:00pm

Celebrate Father’s Day with 5 of Pop Culture’s Awesome & Ass-Kicking Single Dads

Being a parent is a herculean task, even when you have a wife or husband to help you out. But, successfully raising a child on your own is a task worthy of a legendary hero. Many of the labors single parents face are mundane and don't involve mortal peril, but everyday they're called on to employ an extraordinary amount of courage and selflessness to provide their children with the life they want them to have. Although, some of pop culture's legendary single parents do regularly risk life and limb in order to save the day, city, world, and sometimes the galaxy, while still providing for their kids.

So, in honor of Father's Day, I thought we might pay tribute so some of the greatest single fathers in TV, movies, and comics with a look at five awesome and ass-kicking single dads. We'll examine what makes these guys great fathers and provide you with some viewing material that showcases them at their best, so you and your dad can celebrate Father's Day with TV & movie marathon.

[See which dads make the list...]

Apr 13 2016 5:00pm

Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 Review: Episodes 11-13

Hello, and welcome back to the final installment of this edition of Binge-Worthy, where I'll look at the final three episodes of Daredevil Season 2 from my perspective as a longtime comic fan. We'll talk character arcs and choices, take a look at some of the many lingering questions that the finale raised, and I'll share some clues and Easter eggs you may have missed.

So let's get to it! These final three episodes: Episode 11, “.380”; Episode 12, “The Dark at the End of the Tunnel”; and Episode 13, “A Cold Day in Hell's Kitchen” bring an epic Season 2 to a close and really hammer home some of this season's underlying themes—like the inevitability of change, the cost of fighting wars and how they can change you, and how who you are is forged not by where you came from, but the choices you make.

[Heavy stuff for a superhero show...]

Apr 6 2016 4:30pm

Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 Review: Episodes 8-10

Hello, and welcome back to the penultimate installment of this latest edition of Binge-Worthy. If you've been following my reviews, you know that the episodes I'm going to talk about here made me very happy. Not only did we get the emergence of the Hand as I had hoped, but we also get Frank Castle embracing his destiny and the triumphant return of Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk! For me, these three episodes—Episode 8, “Guilty As Sin”; Episode 9, “Seven Minutes in Heaven”; and Episode 10, “The Man in the Box”—were my favorites, so far. So, let's dive into them from my perspective as a comic fan and chat about characters, comic Easter Eggs, and where I think things might go next.

[Binge-read this review of Episodes 8-10]

Mar 29 2016 3:30pm

Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 Review: Episodes 5-7

Hello again! Welcome back to my look at Season 2 of Marvel's Daredevil series, which just keeps getting better and better as it unfolds more twists and turns. Last time, I took a look at the series’ first four episodes, which introduced viewers to John Bernthal's Frank Castle (AKA the Punisher)—the vengeance-hungry vigilante that turned the lives of Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson, and Karen Page upside down. In today's installment, I'll continue my look at the character arcs, Easter eggs, and events from my perspective as a comic fan, as I dive into Episode 5, “Kinbaku”; Episode 6, “Regrets Only”; and Episode 7, “Semper Fidelis.”

[Binge read this article on Daredevil Season 2]