Review: <i>The Cuban Affair</i> by Nelson DeMille Review: The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille Kristin Centorcelli Read Kristin Centorcelli's review! Review: <i>Murderous Mistral</i> by Cay Rademacher Review: Murderous Mistral by Cay Rademacher Doreen Sheridan Read Doreen Sheridan's review! <i>Trace</i>: Excerpt Trace: Excerpt Archer Mayor The 28th book in the Joe Gunther series. Review: <i>A Conspiracy of Ravens</i> by Terrence McCauley Review: A Conspiracy of Ravens by Terrence McCauley Jenny Maloney Read Jenny Maloney's review!
From The Blog
September 15, 2017
Drunk Man Sells Car, Forgets, Reports Car Stolen
Teddy Pierson
September 14, 2017
Celebrating Robert Mitchum's Centennial: The Noir
David Cranmer
September 13, 2017
Murder Was In His Eyes: The Chilling Truth of Domestic Abuse
Kaira Rouda
September 12, 2017
The Crime Writer’s Search for Unusual Murder Weapons
John Keyse-Walker
September 11, 2017
Ann Cleeves Discusses The Seagull with Brenda Blethyn
Crime HQ
Showing posts by: Katherine Tomlinson click to see Katherine Tomlinson's profile
Mon
Sep 18 2017 1:00pm

Review: Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke is a powerful thriller about the explosive intersection of love, race, and justice.

The first person we meet in the little Texas town of Lark is Geneva Sweet, proprietor of Geneva Sweet’s Sweets, a small roadside café where you can get a good meal washed down with iced tea—or maybe something a little stronger. We meet Geneva at the local “colored cemetery” where she’s visiting the two men in her life, her late husband Joe “Petey Pie” Sweet—a music man who was a devil on the guitar, Lord forgive him—and their son, Lil’ Joe. She brought her son an offering of two perfect peach fried pies knowing full well that as soon as she’s driven away, the groundskeeper is going to eat the pastries because one of her fried pies should never go uneaten. But before she leaves, she gives the Joes all the latest news and gossip. Or most of it anyway. 

Below her, an eighteen wheeler tore down Highway 59, sending up a gust of hot gassy air through the trees. It was a warm one for October, but nowadays they all were. Near eighty today, she’d heard, and here she was thinking it was about time to pull the holiday decorations from the trailer out back of her place.Climate change they call it. This keep up and I’ll live long enough to see hell on earth, I guess. She told all this to the two men in her life. Told them about the new fabric store in Timpson. The fact that Faith was bugging her for a car. The ugly shade of yellow Wally painted the icehouse. Look like someone coughed up a big mess of phlegm and threw it on the walls.

She didn’t mention the killings though, or the trouble bubbling in town.

She gave them that little bit of peace.

[Read Katherine Tomlinson's review of Bluebird, Bluebird...]

Sat
Aug 19 2017 1:00pm

Review: The Lost Girls by Allison Brennan

The Lost Girls by Allison Brennan is the 11th book in the Lucy Kincaid series, where two missing girls and an abandoned baby lead to a seedy underworld of human trafficking. 

In a small Texas town, a recently—and reluctantly—retired priest discovers a baby beneath a statue of St. Elizabeth on the grounds of Our Lady of Sorrows Church. The infant is no more than a day old, and already her very existence points toward something dark and ugly. For she is wrapped in a bloody shirt on which the message “Trust no one” has been scrawled in blood, and Siobhan Walsh—a crusading photojournalist looking for two young women with the help of Father Sebastian—is convinced the baby’s mother is one of the “lost girls.” She knows that the baby’s mother would not have abandoned her child except in the direst circumstance, and her efforts to find out what might have happened leads her to a jail cell in a little Texas town between San Antonio and Laredo.

And that’s where FBI agents Noah Armstrong and Lucy Kincaid come in. Lucy’s engaged to the brother of the man Siobhan relies on to help keep her safe, a security specialist named Kane Rogan, who is always advising her not to get involved in “causes.” Siobhan doesn’t want to face her attraction to Kane—it’s complicated—and Lucy completely understands. When she thinks about being with Sean Rogan, when she just utters the word “husband” aloud, it fills her with anxiety and ambivalence. 

[Read Katherine Tomlinson's review of The Lost Girls...]

Wed
Aug 16 2017 11:00am

Review: Dog Dish of Doom by E. J. Copperman

Dog Dish of Doom by E. J. CoppermanDog Dish of Doom by E. J. Copperman is the first book in the new Agent to the Paws series.

Take a visual tour of Dog Dish of Doom with GIFnotes!

Show business is in Kay Powell’s blood. Her parents (Jay and El) were successful Catskill performers back in the day, and when she was a kid, she had her own spot in the show—a bit called “Oh Kay” where she sang and danced. Opting out of the limelight, she headed for college to play around with organic chemistry and history classes before heading for law school. Now, she’s a theatrical agent specializing in animal actors because they’re much easier to deal with than humans. (Her company logo is a cat playing Hamlet that she privately thinks looks more like Donald Trump’s toupee has grown arms.)

Unfortunately, even though her clients are a delight, she still has to deal with their people. Tent Barclay—owner of Kay’s client Bruno, a talented mutt up for the role of “Sandy” in a new production of Annie—is the kind of person Kay would happily ignore if she could.

[Read Katherine Tomlinson's review of Dog Dish of Doom...]

Tue
Aug 15 2017 1:00pm

Review: Poisonous by Allison Brennan

Poisonous by Allison Brennan is the third book in the Max Revere series, where Max answers the plea of a heartbroken and developmentally disabled stepbrother of a recently deceased girl, investigating an apparent suicide that looks more and more like murder.

A teenage girl is dead, and after more than a year, the case has gone nowhere. When Ivy Wallace’s stepbrother Tommy reaches out to Maxine “Max” Revere, a journalist-turned-television star, his simple plea for help touches her heart. Convinced that there’s a story in the cold case, Max heads for Corte Madera, California, with her best friend and colleague, David Kane, in search of answers and fodder for the next episode of her hit show, Maximum Exposure.

Max soon realizes there’s a lot more going on than a simple case of “Did she fall, or was she pushed?” in the case of Ivy’s death. It’s obvious to her that the only person who has truly mourned her passing is Tommy, who has been banished from the family because his stepmother thinks he’s the one who killed Ivy. There are a lot of suspects who look “good” for the crime, but Max didn’t get where she is by being satisfied with the superficial. 

[Read Katherine Tomlinson's review of Poisonous...]

Tue
Aug 1 2017 1:00pm

Review: Notorious by Allison Brennan

Notorious by Allison Brennan is the first book in the Max Revere series, where the renowned TV investigative reporter with a passion for cold cases is dragged back to her hometown to confront the murder that made her who she is.

It may not be true that behind every great crime-stopper there’s a personal connection to a crime, but sometimes it seems that way. America’s Most Wanted was born from the horrible death of Adam Walsh, and the murder of her fiancé derailed Nancy Grace’s plans to become an English professor and turned her into the passionate victims’ rights advocate she is today. The relationship between the media and crime goes far beyond the editorial policy of “if it bleeds, it leads.” Crime fiction writers have traditionally relied on journalists to tell their stories, and more often than not, those reporters have a vested interest in solving the crime.

These days, when writers choose media figures as their protagonists, they are much more likely to bypass print reporters (like Edna Buchanan’s alter-ego Britt Montero) and pick people whose careers span the transition from print to pixel. And so it is with Alison Brennan’s 21st novel, Notorious. Maxine “Max” Revere hosts an extremely popular cable crime show that only airs monthly but has enough of a fan base that she can’t travel incognito, not even to the funeral of an old friend.

[Read Katherine Tomlinson's review of Notorious…]

Fri
Jul 21 2017 3:00pm

Q&A with Kaye George, Editor of the Anthology Day of the Dark

Nationally bestselling and award-winning author Kaye George (who also writes as Janet Cantrell) is the editor of Day of the Dark, a new collection of short crime-themed stories inspired by the total eclipse that will occur on August 21st. Published by Wildside Press, the book is available in digital and print forms on all platforms. 

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Tue
Jun 6 2017 12:30pm

9 Murder Mysteries Set During Wartime

Just because there’s a war going on doesn’t mean that death takes a holiday among the civilian population. Here are nine very different views of death during wartime.

Black Dragon by Kirk Mitchell

Black Dragon is reminiscent of the history-based thrillers/mysteries of Joseph Kanon (Los Alamos, The Good German). The book (published in 1988) is hard to find, but it’s worth tracking down for its story of a murder in a Japanese-American internment camp that’s solved by an American MP and a Japanese-American criminologist internee. The character of Hank Fukuda, a Nisei (first-generation American born to Japanese immigrant parents), is particularly well-drawn, and Mitchell has done a fine job in his depiction of the virulent anti-Asian hysteria of the times. Mitchell is also the author of the mystery series featuring Bureau of Indian Affairs Investigator Emmett Parker and Alice Turnipseed.

[See what other wartime mysteries to read!]

Thu
Apr 27 2017 1:00pm

Q&A with Patricia Abbott, Author of Shot in Detroit

Patricia Abbott is the author of more than 150 short stories that have appeared in print and online publications. She won the Derringer Award in 2008 for her story “My Hero.” She is the co-editor of the e-anthology Discount Noir. Collections of her stories, Monkey Justice and Other Stories and Home Invasion, were published by Snubnose Press.

In 2015, Polis Books published the novel Concrete Angel. They are also the publisher of Shot in Detroit, which has been nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original. 

Ms. Abbott was generous enough to answer some questions about her latest novel, her Edgar nomination, and what’s next for her!

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Fri
Apr 21 2017 12:00pm

Review: Flamingo Road by Sasscer Hill

Flamingo Road by Sasscer Hill is the 1st book in the Fia McKee Mystery series (available April 18, 2017).

Sasscer Hill likes horses, and not in a “My Little Pony” kind of way. A horsewoman and horse breeder, it’s in her blood. As she explains on her blog:

I started galloping about the family farm on a stick horse when I was four years old. By the time, I was seven or eight, I was sneaking rides on the Belgian plow horses. I did this because my father didn't like horses and considered ponies dangerous. So instead, I drummed my heels on the sides of a 2,000-pound draft mare, while grasping whatever string or rope I managed to tie to her halter.

Her debut mystery series featured a young female jockey named Nikki Latrelle, and the books were atmospheric tales that brought the racing world to life more authentically than anyone had since Dick Francis died. (On her blog, Sasscer pays tribute to Dick Francis as her favorite author.)

[Read Katherine Tomlinson's review of Flamingo Road...]

Mon
Apr 17 2017 3:00pm

Review: A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

A Great Reckoning by Louise PennyA Great Reckoning by New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny is the 12th mystery featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, set in the town of Three Pines. It is nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Novel.

“Every mystery is not a crime. But every crime starts with a mystery.” 

In its modern use, the word “mystery” refers to “something that is difficult or impossible to explain.” However, centuries ago it was used in the theological sense to describe a “secret thing, a mystical truth with hidden meaning.” Louise Penny’s novels have always had that ancient touch of “mystery” in them, and in this latest book featuring Armand Gamache, the story’s complex interplay of murder and morality once again mixes with themes of judgment and mercy.

Two sides of a single coin—it is both a blessing and a curse that former inspector Armand Gamache can see both sides at once. He sees this dichotomy everywhere, even reflected in the snowy landscape of Three Pines, the small Québec town Gamache calls home. Up late in the study of the comfortable house he shares with his wife Reine-Marie, Gamache realizes it’s snowing, and as the first flakes of the season fall, he thinks: 

[Read Katherine Tomlinson's review of A Great Reckoning...]

Tue
Apr 11 2017 3:00pm

Review: Terror in Taffeta by Marla Cooper

Terror in Taffeta by Marla Cooper is the 1st book in the Kelsey McKenna Destination Wedding Mystery series, nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel.

I was invited to a destination wedding a few years ago—the actual ceremony took place in a picturesque, centuries-old church in a charming French fishing village. It looked like a great time, but, sadly, I did not have the cash to fly to France and stay for a week, so I had to content myself with the online photo album. Which is a real shame because I’ve seen Four Weddings and a Funeral, and I can’t help but harbor the fantasy that there might have been a handsome single Frenchman waiting for me at the rustic restaurant where everyone gathered for the wedding banquet. (Does Jean Dujardin have a brother?) 

The cozy cover of Marla Cooper’s Terror in Taffeta—a debut novel and the first in the author’s Kelsey McKenna Destination Wedding Mystery series—clues us in to the subgenre and tone of the story, but it’s a nice surprise to find the book’s sassy narrator would not be out of place in, say, one of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels. She’s smart, a little snarky, and a bit lovelorn, and from her first thoughts as she observes the gaggle of young women dressing for the Mexican wedding of the bride and groom’s dreams—the mother of the bride was hoping for Napa—Kelsey is hilariously relatable. 

[Read Katherine Tomlinson's review of Terror in Taffeta...]

Thu
Apr 6 2017 3:00pm

Review: The Reek of Red Herrings by Catriona McPherson

The Reek of Red Herrings by Catriona McPherson is the 5th book in the Dandy Gilver Mystery series, nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel.

Dandy Gilver—forty-something wife of the phlegmatic Hugh and mother to two grown sons—has reluctantly agreed to a Christmas holiday in North Norfolk with family members keen to spend the time hunting and pursuing other activities that simply bore her to death. Moreover, going to Norfolk means Dandy will be stuck with “the wives,” whose company is so dull she tells her friend and business partner, Alec Osbourne, that they make the husbands seem as witty as Oscar Wilde. But then, a reprieve comes in the form of a letter from a certain Mr. Birchfield requesting their help.

The missive is so … peculiar … that it piques their interest.

[Read Katherine Tomlinson's review of The Reek of Red Herrings...]

Wed
Apr 5 2017 1:00pm

Review: Shot in Detroit by Patricia Abbott

Shot in Detroit by Patricia Abbott is a riveting novel of psychological suspense that reveals the darkness that lies within the human heart, nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original.

You could say Violet Hart is a troubled woman, but it would be more accurate to say that she is “messed up” in that crazy way that gets less and less interesting the older a woman gets. And Violet is getting older. 

Nearing 40 and unable to achieve escape velocity from a dying city, she sees her photography career on a downward trajectory from “on the verge of” to “never was.” And so, desperate to freshen up her portfolio, she ventures out to Detroit’s Belle Isle one early morning, when the only other people about are prostitutes and drug dealers—people Violet feels comfortable around.

She knows the abandoned waterside park will provide her some great pictures—“ruin porn” is all the rage—and she’s busy capturing those stark images when a couple of cops show up to hassle her, unwilling to believe that she could be at the location for any benign purpose. Violet doesn’t expect to be accosted, but she can deal with it, pointing out people in the park who need police attention much more than she does.

[Read Katherine Tomlinson's review of Shot in Detroit...]

Tue
Mar 7 2017 2:00pm

Review: Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolás Obregón

Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolas ObregonBlue Light Yokohama by Nicolás Obregón is a compelling, brilliantly moody, and layered novel that's sure to be one of the most talked about debuts in 2017 (available March 7, 2017).

Slogans, symbols, and suicide. Are they connected? If so, how?

“This is what Japan should be,” insists an insurance company slogan. “Creating Tomorrow Together,” boasts another. Vivus Construction offers, “The Good Life.”

But it’s not just companies that encapsulate their mission statements in catchy phrases and pithy sayings. A new religious movement is sweeping Japan, and bible quotes are on everyone’s lips. “The lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear?” When does scripture become slogan?

And what are we to make of the oft-repeated line, “The lights of Tokyo are so pretty”? Is that a reference to the soothing blue lights being installed on the subway lines in an attempt to lower the suicide rate? And what of the black sun symbol that appears in the book’s opening, when a severely troubled woman commits suicide, and then reappears at the sight of a particularly grisly murder? 

[Read Katherine Tomlinson's review of Blue Light Yokohama...]

Mon
Jan 16 2017 4:00pm

Review: The Nowhere Man by Gregg Hurwitz

The Nowhere Man by Gregg HurwitzThe Nowhere Man by Gregg Hurwitz is the 2nd book in the Evan Smoak series (available January 17, 2017).

Once known only by the designation “Orphan X,” Evan Smoak escaped the shadow world he was trained for and now uses his skills pro bono as a near-legendary figure dubbed “The Nowhere Man.” He’s part John Wick, part Nikita, part the Equalizer, and unless you’re the one who called that encrypted phone number on his business card—1-855-2-NOWHERE—you do not want to see Evan coming. 

Hector noticed movement in the shadows and stood, revolver quickly in hand. For a time, it seemed, he kept rising.

Standing just past the semicircle of pushed-together desks, Evan looked up at him. A FUCK YOU tattoo on the front of Hector’s neck indicated that nuance was not the man’s strong suit.

Hector said, “I don’t know who you are or why you’re here, but I’m gonna give you five seconds to leave before I aerate your torso.” For emphasis he kicked one of the monitors off the desk, which went to pieces at Evan’s feet, sparking impressively.

[Read Katherine Tomlinson's review of The Nowhere Man...]

Thu
Dec 22 2016 4:00pm

A Criminal Christmas List

Oh no! The Discovery Channel’s talking Joe Kenda bobblehead is out of stock and you still haven’t bought gifts for your favorite crime buff.

Fortunately for you, there’s this thing called “the Internet,” and if it existed for no reason other than facilitate last-minute shopping and distributing cute kitten videos, that would be reason enough.

[Even if it were all kitten videos...]

Fri
Nov 11 2016 3:00pm

6 Books to Read if You Loved The Stand by Stephen King

The end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) has always been a reliable premise for science fiction and horror novels. From nuclear annihilation (Nevil Shute’s On the Beach) to eco-disaster (The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard) to the zombie apocalypse (World War Z by Max Brooks), writers have been fascinated with doomsday scenarios both scientific and spiritual. 

In Stephen King’s masterwork, The Stand, the horror novelist explicitly pits good and evil against each other when an accidentally released bio-warfare weapon causes a catastrophic pandemic. 

What’s different about King’s post-apocalypse novel, though, is that it ends with optimism—a reminder that when Pandora’s Box was opened and all the evils of the world were released, there was one thing left in the box—hope.

If you love The Stand (and who doesn’t?), here are some books that share the same sense that man will not merely endure, he will prevail:

[See what's just been added to your TBR...]

Mon
Oct 3 2016 1:30pm

Review: Devil Sent the Rain by Lisa Turner

Devil Sent the Rain by Lisa Turner sees the return of hardboiled Detective Billy Able in this dark Southern mystery about the murder of a dazzling Memphis socialite—and the scandals revealed in the wake of her death.

In the “new” South, the scab of modernity is thin. If you peel it away, you might find healthy, healing flesh beneath, but you are just as likely to reveal a raw, festering wound giving off the stench of decaying Southern aristocracy and dying white privilege.

Caroline Lee, the moneyed Memphis socialite who meets her death wearing a wedding dress of lace “made by Belgian nuns 100 years ago” is one of the city’s entitled class. Her parents run a law firm; her brother oversees the family bank. The family home is staffed by black servants and appointed with antique furniture and sterling silver handed down from generation to generation. People like Caroline are not supposed to die in muddy pastures, shot at point-blank range and left to bleed out in that heirloom of a dress.

[Read Katherine Tomlinson's review of Devil Sent the Rain...]

Sat
Sep 17 2016 12:00pm

The Best Mysteries Set in New Orleans

New Orleans...it’s not all King Cakes and muffuletta sandwiches and balconies adorned with wrought-iron lace. Beneath its flamboyant exterior, the city has always had a dark heart and an aura all its own—a humid miasma composed of equal parts dried early morning puke, rotting Spanish moss, and the scent of fresh beignets.

New Orleans is jazz and jism, Tennessee Williams and Kentucky bourbon cocktails.

It is Mardi Gras and Marie Laveau.

It is sex and death.

New Orleans is the city that put the “N” in Noir; fertile ground for crime writers to plant their bloody dreams.

[Crime and New Orleans go hand in hand...]

Tue
Aug 23 2016 12:00pm

Review: Sorrow Road by Julia Keller

Sorrow Road by Julia Keller is the 5th book in the Bell Elkins series (Available today!).

James Iacobelli designed the cover for Julia Keller’s latest Bell Elkins mystery, and it’s striking. Black and white and shades of gray, with a shocking touch of red; it is a cover that draws the eye, which is what a cover is supposed to do.

But, covers are also the public “faces” of books, the picture that is worth a thousand words. Here, Iacobelli’s work immediately provokes questions: Where are we? Who is this woman? What is she doing out in the snow? While the default assumption to a fourth question—When is this story taking place?—is always present day, you can’t necessarily tell that from the image. The woman’s coat is a silhouette that hasn’t much changed in seventy-two years. There are other figures in the background but they offer us no clue.

Iacobelli combined two photos for the cover—one of a snowy winter road and one of a woman walking down a road with an umbrella—creating one seamless visual that echoes what the author has done in her narrative: weave two seemingly disparate stories into a tale that resonates through seven decades and multiple lives.

[Read Katherine Tomlinson's review of Sorrow Road...]