<i>Secrecy World</i>: Excerpt Secrecy World: Excerpt Jake Bernstein An inside look at the world revealed by the Panama Papers. <i>Hunter Killer</i>: Excerpt Hunter Killer: Excerpt David Poyer World War with China explodes in this new military thriller. Review: <i>The Best American Mystery Stories 2017</i> Review: The Best American Mystery Stories 2017 David Cranmer Read David Cranmer's review! <i>Blood Business</i>: Excerpt Blood Business: Excerpt Joshua Viola and Mario Acevedo An anthology of noir tales and crime stories from this world and beyond.
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Showing posts by: Elyse Dinh-McCrillis click to see Elyse Dinh-McCrillis's profile
Aug 20 2013 10:00am

Fresh Meat: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Night Film by Marisha Pessl is a literary thriller featuring a journalist investigating the death of a young woman, the daughter of a cult-horror director who hasn't been seen in public for decades (available August 20, 2013).

One of Elmore Leonard’s ten rules of writing says: “Don't go into great detail describing places and things.” It’s followed by: “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.”

Long-winded descriptions about places and things and people in books are exactly the sections I tend to skip. It’s usually because I’m eager to get to the action or the descriptions are bland clichés (crooked smile, anyone?).

But in Marisha Pessl’s Night Film, the author not only managed to make me not skip her descriptions, she amused me with many of them. The thriller is about a disgraced journalist named Scott McGrath seeking the truth behind the death of a reclusive cult director’s daughter. Authorities believe she jumped to her death, but McGrath thinks she may have been driven to it by her father, whom McGrath has compared to Charles Manson when it comes to the influence he has over his fans and followers.

[Feel free to describe more... ]

Nov 15 2011 9:30am

Whitechapel Episode Three: Jack, Meet Hannibal

Whitechapel castThe Whitechapel season one finale opened where episode two left off: with Mary Bousfield’s kidney bleeding on DS Miles’s breakfast table. Of course this makes him even grumpier (“My son picked up that parcel!”) and more determined to find the killer. Chandler points out it’s only half a kidney. A note the killer included in the package claims he fried up the other half and ate it, and that “it was very nice.” Well, I was eating fettucine with red sauce while watching this and it was not nice at all. (Spoilers aren’t nice either, unless you’re expecting them—Expect them!)

[Did you enjoy it with a nice Chianti?]

Nov 8 2011 11:30am

Whitechapel Part Two: Kidney of Darkness

Whitechapel, the castTomorrow night, the first season of Whitechapel draws to a close.  If you missed last week’s episode, here’s a brief recap so you don’t get lost in London’s dark streets . . .

After DI Chandler manages to convince his team of investigators that a Jack the Ripper copycat is on the prowl, they spend this week’s episode trying to prevent the next murder. Three women have been mutilated, and according to the Ripper canon, the next two will be killed on the same night—September 30. Chandler debates with Buchan, the self-declared Ripperologist, about whether or not both women were actual victims of the Ripper or if there had been a copycat even back in 1888. The trick is in deciding which murder scenario the current killer would imitate.

[Can you copycat a copycat?]

Nov 1 2011 9:30am

Jack The Ripper is Back in Whitechapel

WhitechapelKnowing that the BBC series Whitechapel (Wednesdays, BBC America, 10 p.m.) is about a copycat Jack the Ripper, I might not have watched it since I’m a complete scaredy cat when it comes to Ripperology. Everything about him and what he did creeps me out, even if the incidents happened over a hundred years ago. Whitechapel makes it worse by featuring a contemporary killer who’s aping the Ripper’s crimes almost to the letter, and he doesn’t limit himself to murdering only prostitutes. It’s almost enough to turn a girl into an agoraphobe.

So did I tune into Whitechapel because I’m a masochist or insane? No. I watched because it stars my man Rupert Penry-Jones, aka Adam Carter from MI-5, one of my favorite shows ever. RPJ is a dashing actor who I knew could bring some lightness to what was sure to be a grim show. Luckily he didn’t disappoint, because the first episode was so tense and gruesome, it almost made me vomit all the Halloween candy I’d ingested.

[Oh, might not want to miss this one.]

Aug 26 2011 1:00pm

Tips from MI-5: Bury The Lead...Please!

Richard Armitage, Spooks, MI-5 Season 9Lately, fans have been protesting the demise of their favorite TV characters, whether they are being killed off in Game of Thrones or, in the case of Glee, merely graduating from high school. Viewers are threatening to boycott! They swear to never watch again! My reaction? “It’s about time we Americans started killing series regulars.”

I’ve been a fan of the BBC’s MI-5 (the Brits call it Spooks) ever since the first season debuted on A&E ten years ago. The title is rather self-explanatory; the show is about a group of spies in the British Security Service. For whatever reason, A&E stopped airing new episodes a few years ago but that hasn’t stopped me from buying the DVDs, begging contacts in London to send me copies, or trying to find ways to watch online (I’m caught up with all nine available seasons now, thanks). The show is simply the most gripping TV drama/thriller I’ve seen in the last decade. Why? Because on MI-5, everyone is expendable.


Jul 28 2011 9:00am

The Case of the Missing Keys

Truffles are appropriate for any occasionA few months ago, when I visited my friend Julie (not her real name) on Mother’s Day, I was fretting that I hadn’t bought her a gift. Could I just pick up the tab for lunch, or did I have to get her something on top of that? I wasn’t sure what the etiquette was.

But I found her not in a celebratory mood at all when I arrived at her place. She was in a panic because she had lost the keys to her condo two days earlier. She was feeling unsafe, having no choice but to keep her doors unlocked whenever she went out, worrying that someone in the building might have found her keys and was planning to rob her, or worse, as she slept. Since she was renting in a security building, her landlord would charge a steep fee to change the locks to her condo and the main entrance, plus make new keys for all the other tenants. It was an expense she could not afford.

[The key to the mystery follows...]

Jul 2 2011 11:00am

Of Course the Special Guest Star Did It!

Mary Kay PlaceI hate that when an actor, especially a female one, reaches a certain age (*cough* 40 *cough*), his or her employability drops like a body wearing cement shoes in the ocean. It’s as if Hollywood doesn’t want us to know older people exist.

But there’s one place where I think veteran actors don’t belong: crime procedurals on TV. I can’t tell you how many times the mystery has been ruined for me on those shows (OK, three in the last week alone), even before the opening credits are over, because I’d see the “special guest star” billing followed by the likes of Brian Dennehy or Mary Kay Place. The minute those star’s names appear, I say to my husband, “S/he did it.” I don’t need to know who they play or what the case is about. They did it. Producers would not pay top money for high-caliber, award-winning character actors just to give them one scene on the witness stand spouting expositional information.

[Hmmm. Now that you mention it. . .]

Jun 20 2011 11:12am

Fresh Meat: The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler

The Hypnotist by Lars KeplerWhen a book arrives with as much buzz as Lars Kepler’s The Hypnotist, I often approach it with my eyes all squinty and suspicious, thinking, “What makes you so special?” More often than not, that question goes unanswered when I find the book doesn’t live up to its hype.

But I had no such problem with Hypnotist. Against my feeble protestations that I had other things to do and deadlines to meet, the book kept my butt in the chair until it was done with me. Talk about hypnotized.



[Unweaving the spell. . .]

May 20 2011 11:02am

Bones Season 6 Finale: B&B and more B’s

Emily Deshanel as Brennan and David Boreanaz as BoothBones usually has catchy tunes playing on its soundtrack every week but if there’s one song to convey season six’s entire arc, it’d have to be David Bowie’s “Changes,” because that’s exactly what almost every character experienced this past year.  Maybe the creators had that earworm, too, because the season finale was titled “The Change in the Game.”  Watch here at Fox if you haven't seen it yet, because we're spoiling to discuss it.

[Our first B is for BIG SPOILERS ahead. . .]

May 12 2011 3:00pm

Irresistible Itineraries: Crime Fiction as Travelogue

Liz Lemon with Poptart in mouthAs much as I pride myself on being an independent thinker, I admit I occasionally succumb to the power of suggestion. I have found myself watching TV after a perfectly fulfilling Thanksgiving dinner, wearing stretchy pants already crying uncle at the waist line, and suddenly feeling hungry for French fries, because a McDonald’s commercial comes on with the slo-mo zooming on a heap of golden fries frolicking under a shower of salt. I didn’t realize I wanted them until they were presented in glorious detail.

And so it goes when I’m reading a book or movie that takes place in a far-flung location, replete with exotic descriptions of local sights and cuisine. It could be a place that has never been on my top 10 list of vacation ideas, but I get all Liz Lemon-y and think, I want to go to there. It doesn’t matter if it’s the setting for unspeakable crimes in a mystery novel. Sometimes I even want to go because of that.

[I'll get in your back trunk and let you take me away if you promise me sandwiches. . .]

Apr 28 2011 12:00pm

Solving My Own Hit-and-Run

My very-intelligent father devours non-fiction books—he can probably name the fifth candidate to drop out of 1912’s presidential election. Dad says he rarely reads fiction, because he prefers educational books. I respect his views, but I’ve learned loads of interesting facts from reading crime fiction, and detective novels provide handy tools for everyday living. Let me tell you about my first car accident.

Insured by Mafia License PlateIn 1990, I had just moved to Los Angeles, when I was rear-ended on the freeway. Having a perfect driving record, I went into shock. I knew there was protocol to follow for accidents, but my brain went into lockdown, denying what had just occurred.  Instead of asking for the other driver’s license, I asked for his name, number, and address and scribbled them down. Before I could write down his plate number, he jumped in his car and took off!

[Time to put on the deerstalker and grab a pipe. . .]