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From The Blog
February 19, 2018
What I Learned from Tom Ripley, Bruno Antony, and Patricia Highsmith
Mitch Silver
February 16, 2018
Shotgun Blues: Man Gets Ticketed for Driving in the HOV Lane with Mannequin as Passenger
Adam Wagner
February 13, 2018
Crime Fiction in the Age of Trump
Sam Wiebe
February 9, 2018
Ice Cream Man Attacks Rival with a Shovel for Encroaching on His Territory
Adam Wagner
February 6, 2018
Q&A with Tracee de Hahn, Author of A Well-Timed Murder
Tracee de Hahn and Crime HQ
Showing posts by: Kristin Centorcelli click to see Kristin Centorcelli's profile
Feb 16 2018 1:00pm

Review: The Bookworm by Mitch Silver

The Bookworm by Mitch Silver takes readers from a secret operation during World War II―with appearances by Noel Coward and Winston Churchill―to present day London and Moscow, where Lara Klimt, “the Bookworm,” must employ all her skills to prevent an international conspiracy.

Moscow-based Larissa “Lara” Menelova Klimt (aka “The Bookworm” to her friends) is a geohistorian. She studies how geography determines a people’s history, rather than political or cultural influences. She also just finished the manuscript for a book, The Origins of the Great Patriotic War.

Lara loves spending time in the Osobyi Arkhiv, pouring through Nazi documents and listening to the ‘40s-era Dictaphone machine recordings of dictated letters from Hitler, Himmler, and the like. She also has a shiny new teaching position at Moscow State University, and other than a divorce on the horizon, things are beginning to come together. When she’s approached after class, given a shopping bag full of six cylinders, and ordered by a mysterious man to give them a listen, she’s skeptical.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of The Bookworm...]

Feb 15 2018 12:00pm

Review: The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir

The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir is the first installment in the new Children's House series featuring the psychologist Freyja and the police officer Huldar.

Yrsa Sigurdardóttir’s newest thriller—the first in the new Children's House series—is a terrifying treat whether you’re new to her novels or already a fan. In the prologue, which takes place in 1987, three siblings are separated: the little girl, who is the youngest, goes to a different family than her two older brothers after a crime committed by their grandfather against their mother. No other details about the crime are given, however, and we’re left with a melancholy feeling going into the main story, which picks up in 2015.

When Elísa Bjarnadóttir is murdered, it rocks her small Icelandic community. The murder is bad enough, but it’s how it’s perpetrated that really shocks police: after duct taping her head, a vacuum was shoved down Elísa’s throat, pulling the breath from her body and collapsing her lungs, among other things. Her husband, a doctor, was out of town. Her two older boys were found out on the street in front of the house shouting for help after they were locked in their room, presumably by the killer, and crawled out through a mirror. The only one of the family that might have seen anything was Elísa’s seven-year-old daughter, Margrét, who was found cowering silently under the bed near where her mother was murdered.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of The Legacy...]

Feb 8 2018 1:00pm

Review: Mephisto Waltz by Frank Tallis

Mephisto Waltz by master storyteller Frank Tallis is the seventh book in the iconic Max Liebermann mystery series—a tale of murder, romance, intrigue, and espionage set in the atmospheric world of fin de siecle Vienna.

Vienna, 1904: When Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt is called to the scene of a man who’s been shot and hideously burned with acid, he’s shocked. The scene looks staged—there are three chairs sitting in a row as if there was an audience to the murder—and the piano factory where he’s been found has been abandoned for a while. When Rheinhardt brings his friend—the psychoanalyst and Freud disciple, Dr. Max Liebermann—in on the autopsy, it reveals some interesting details.

Professor Mathias picked up a large pair of scissors and started to make cuts in the dead man’s clothes. When he had completed this task he was able to undress the man by pulling away strips of material.

“Well,” Mathias said, lifting one of the dead man’s arms, “What have we here?” Mathias’s breath condensed in the cold air as his rigid forefinger traced three dark stripes that disappeared beneath the dead man’s body. “Gentlemen, some assistance, please?”

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Mephisto Waltz...]

Jan 22 2018 12:00pm

Review: In a Cottage In a Wood by Cass Green

In a Cottage In a Wood by Cass Green is a dark and twisty psychological thriller from the No. 1 ebook bestselling author of The Woman Next Door (available January 23, 2018).

30-year-old Neve Carey most definitely does NOT have her life together. She’s still reeling from her father’s recent death, and she and her boyfriend Daniel broke up a few weeks ago. She’s staying at her sister Lou’s house, along with her husband and two small children. It’s far from an ideal situation.

She is really feeling the despair of it all when she wakes up beside a man whose name she doesn’t remember in a seedy London hotel—a few days before Christmas, no less. When Neve stumbles out into the night, she encounters a beautiful woman who appears cold and afraid on the Waterloo Bridge where they have a short exchange:

Isabelle opens the clutch bag and produces a small brown envelope. ‘I want you to take this.’

Neve hesitates and eyes it suspiciously. ‘What is this?’

‘It’s a gift. For being kind to me.’

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of In a Cottage In a Wood...]

Jan 8 2018 12:00pm

Review: The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Twisted and deliciously chilling, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen's The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage—and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

Take a visual tour of The Wife Between Us with GIFnotes!

The young, vibrant woman stealing a husband isn’t a new trope, but it sure is a tired one. Good thing there’s The Wife Between Us. Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen put a new twist on a very old trope in this fun book. As for the twist itself? It actually surprised me, which is unusual for this jaded reader.

The setup seems simple: Nellie is a young and idealistic pre-K teacher preparing to marry the handsome Richard. Everything seems to be going well, but she keeps getting strange phone calls—mostly heavy breathing from a blocked number. Is it enough to ruin her post-wedding glow? Not really, but she is afraid of losing touch with her roommate and best friend Samantha once she’s married, and she hopes that won’t happen. Seems like normal concerns from a bride-to-be, right?

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of The Wife Between Us...]

Jan 4 2018 1:00pm

Review: Don’t Look for Me by Mason Cross

Don’t Look For Me by Mason Cross is a nail-biting new thriller—perfect for fans of Jack Reacher, Alex Cross, and Jason Bourne—about the desperate hunt for a woman who has a secret to kill for.

If Jack Reacher fans are looking for something to fill the void, Mason Cross’s Carter Blake just might fit the bill. Our hero is really good at finding people, but he’s taking a bit of a break in Grand Isle, Louisiana.

I had planned to stay a few weeks when I had arrived in early November, but the temperate climate had been hard to resist, so I decided to stay put until the New Year. While I was still within the technical limits of that decision, it was now early June and I had yet to make a move. The problem was, the Gulf Coast just kept getting more pleasant as the year advanced. I kept expecting to get tired of waking up to blue skies and beaches, and peace and quiet, but it never happened. I read books, I went for long runs, I ate good food in a different place every night. I did everything I could to not go looking for trouble, and for the most part, I was doing a good job.

But trouble is never far away from Carter, and soon he’ll be hit with news of a blast from his very storied past.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Don't Look for Me...]

Dec 12 2017 3:00pm

Review: Killman Creek by Rachel Caine

Every time Gwen closed her eyes, she saw him in her nightmares. Now her eyes are open, and he’s not going away. Killman Creek by Rachel Caine is the second book in the Stillhouse Lake series.

I’m a huge Rachel Caine fan, and her Weather Warden series is one of the best urban fantasy series out there. I’m not at all surprised that she can crank out killer thrillers too.

A little background: in the first book, Stillhouse Lake, Gina Royal is a happy (or so she thought) wife to Melvin and mother of son Brady and daughter Lily—until a drunk driver crashes a car into their garage, revealing a dead woman. After she was cleared of any wrongdoing (nearly everyone thought she helped her husband in his grisly work), she packed up her kids, moved to Stillhouse Lake, and became Gwen Proctor. There, she hoped to get a little peace from the trolls that continually threatened her and her family. Well, of course, she didn’t, and here we are.

Now, Gwen, along with her friend (and hopefully more) Sam Cade—who is also the brother of one of Melvin’s victims—are on the run from her ex-husband, who has escaped from prison:

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Killman Creek...]

Dec 7 2017 1:00pm

Review: Dead Man’s Blues by Ray Celestin

Dead Man’s Blues by Ray Celestin is the second book in the City Blues Quartet, which is set in Chicago in 1928 and features Pinkerton detectives, a murdered heiress, shadowy gangsters, and even Louis Armstrong.

Ray Celestin’s follow-up to 2015’s The Axeman is a doozy. Instead of New Orleans, this novel is set in Chicago in 1928, about ten years after the events of The Axeman. Michael Talbot and Ida Davis are now Pinkerton detectives navigating a city rife with vice and gangsters, and they’re pretty darn good at their jobs.

When the elegant, wealthy Mrs. Van Haren comes to their office wanting them to find out what happened to her missing daughter, Gwendolyn, they’re intrigued. It doesn’t hurt that she’s offering a fat reward for results. Technically, they’re not supposed to accept rewards, but it’s an amount that would allow them to open their own detective agency, and they’re sorely tempted.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Dead Man's Blues...]

Dec 5 2017 1:00pm

Review: Nightblind by Ragnar Jonasson

Chilling and complex, Nightblind by Ragnar Jonasson is an extraordinary thriller and the second book in the Dark Iceland series.

Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Nightblind, then make sure you're signed in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of Ragnar Jonasson's second Dark Iceland novel and a signed copy of the first in the series, Snowblind!

In Ragnar Jonasson’s second novel (following Snowblind) featuring Ari Thór Arason—a young cop in the tiny fishing village of Siglufjӧrdur in Northern Iceland—he’s living with his girlfriend, Kristín, and 10-month-old son, Stefnir. Ari Thór is happy enough, but he tends to dive into his work, neglecting his young family in the process. It doesn’t help that Kristín is restless; the attentions of a handsome doctor at work are hitting their mark and making her wonder if there may be something else out there for her.

Unfortunately for Ari Thór, things are about to get pretty crazy in his small town. His partner, Herjólfer, is at a derelict house in the dark of night when something horrible happens. After he steps out of his car to investigate, a shot rings out. When Herjólfer’s wife contacts Ari Thór, worried that he hasn’t returned home, Ari Thór—in spite of fighting a wicked case of the flu—has no choice but to go look for him. After checking the station, he figures he’s got nothing to lose by checking the only two roads leading out of town. What he finds shocks him:

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Nightblind...]

Dec 4 2017 1:00pm

Review: You Can Run by Steve Mosby

You Can Run by Steve Mosby is a page-turning psychological thriller that blurs the lines between truth and fiction (available December 5, 2017).

Being a serial killer is hard when someone crashes a car into their garage, revealing their current victim restrained and near death. When DI Will Turner and his partner, Emma, get to the scene, Amanda Cassidy has already been freed and taken to the hospital—albeit in worrisome condition—and a search of John Blythe’s home turns up additional horrors:

I snapped on a pair of gloves and approached the door. Just before I grasped the cold handle, I imagined a slight tingle of electricity in my hand. When I opened the door, a waft of old air escaped from the stairwell beyond, and I grimaced.

‘Cellar,’ I said.

The stench came next. It was the same meaty, unwashed aroma that permeated the kitchen, but much more intense than that. And on some primal level, I understood. Whatever was down there was the source of it. The rotting heart of the place.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of You Can Run...]

Nov 27 2017 3:00pm

Review: The Man in the Crooked Hat by Harry Dolan

The Man in the Crooked Hat by Harry Dolan follows a desperate ex-cop who chases one cryptic clue into a labyrinthine puzzle of murder that might lead to answers about the person who killed his wife (available November 28, 2017).

Have you ever started a book and just knew it was going to be really, really good? That’s what happened with this one. Harry Dolan instantly sets up a creepy vibe as the killer is revealed right up front—or so we’re led to believe. Dolan strongly suggests that Michael Underhill is the man with an evil plan, and the book begins with him talking quite casually to a woman by a river—a woman who we discover by chapter’s end isn’t alive.

Is this the man in the crooked hat that Jack Pellum is convinced killed his wife, Olivia? Jack is a former Detroit cop who quit over a year ago when Olivia was strangled to death. Jack’s father is determined to set him up as a PI, but Jack isn’t interested in PI work; he’s interested in finding his wife’s killer. Distributing fliers with a sketch of the behatted man in question is only one of his methods. He’s also had a bit of help from his old partner, Carl, who he rode with for five years—but that’s about to come to an end.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of The Man in the Crooked Hat...]

Nov 24 2017 3:00pm

Review: Killing Pace by Douglas Schofield

Killing Pace by Douglas Schofield is a high-octane, heart-pounding tale set in Everglades City, Florida, and Sicily, Italy, with three important questions: Where am I? ... How did I get here? ... and most importantly … Who am I?

Lisa Green has amnesia. Her “boyfriend” Roland, insists that he’s protecting her in the remote Florida Everglades cabin where she’s locked in most of the time.

He’d told her they’d been together for three years, that they’d planned to get married before everything went to hell. A little over a year ago, he said, she’d had her first spell. She lost her memory, didn’t know her own name, didn’t remember him. Then her memory came back. Then it happened again, and it lasted a little longer. “Ya’d lose your memory,” he said, “and then it’d come back, then go again. Really crazy. The docs said you was mental, wanted to put ya in the nuthouse. Couldn’t let ’em do that, so I brought ya out here.”

Lisa didn’t know what to make of it. Whenever she stared at her image in the black-streaked mirror above the sink in the cabin’s grimy bathroom, she’d get a prickly feeling that a stranger was staring back.

Someone she couldn’t quite bring into focus.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review!]

Nov 20 2017 2:00pm

Review: After the End of the World by Jonathan L. Howard

After the End of the World by Jonathan L. Howard is the second book in the Carter & Lovecraft series, which brings the H. P. Lovecraft mythos into the 21st century.

A few months after the explosive events of Carter & Lovecraft, our heroes—former cop Dan Carter and H. P. Lovecraft descendent Emily Lovecraft—find themselves in the Unfolded World. It’s like ours. Kinda. Except, the Cold War never happened because the Germans obliterated Moscow with an atomic bomb in 1941.

The bookstore that Lovecraft and Carter co-own—called Carter & Lovecraft, of course—is thriving, especially with Miskatonic University right around the corner. But Carter and Lovecraft were understandably shell-shocked in the beginning.

“How can everyone be so cool with the Nazis?” Carter had asked. “What about the Holocaust? They can’t have been given a free pass for that, can they?”

For her answer, Lovecraft passed him an atlas and told him to look up Israel in the index. He did, and found it listed, which was a relief. But then he went to the page indicated, and found himself looking at a map of the southern half of the continent of Africa. In the corner was an inset of Madagascar; the north of the island down to the nineteenth parallel was labeled “Israel.”

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of After the End of the World...]

Nov 13 2017 2:00pm

Review: Turn on the Heat by Erle Stanley Gardner

Turn on the Heat by Erle Stanley Gardner is considered one of the best Cool and Lam novels in the acclaimed series, now made available from Hard Case Crime.

Love old-school suspense yarns? Yes? Then you’ll love Erle Stanley Gardner’s (writing as A. A. Fair) California-set Turn on the Heat. This was originally supposed to be the second book in the Bertha Cool and Donald Lam series, but the publisher passed on the first, The Knife Slipped, which Hard Case Crime published last year. Gardner is the creator of Perry Mason, and he brings a talent for quick-fire dialogue and no-nonsense characters to this fun read.

Bertha Cool, head of the Cool Detective Agency—“profane, massive, belligerent, and bulldog”—is the amply built counterpart to her diminutive investigator Donald Lam. But what he lacks in stature, he more than makes up for in talent—when he’s not getting batted about by big toughs, that is. Bertha’s got a new job for Lam, and she wastes no time talking him up to her new client, Mr. Smith.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Turn on the Heat...]

Nov 8 2017 1:00pm

Review: Trespass by Anthony Quinn

Trespass by Anthony Quinn is the fourth book in the Inspector Celsius Daly series, catapulting Daly into the search for a missing boy that leads to an unsolved mystery from the era of The Troubles.

Inspector Celsius Daly’s neighbor is worried about him. He’s right off an explosive investigation that stretched all the way back to the '70s and encompassed his mother’s death. It’s taken a toll. He spends a lot of time walking the grounds of his remote farm, alone.

His hands were clenched by his sides, his tendons contracting, his eyes squinting as leaves and broken twigs blew around him. He seemed to be listening intently to the trees, which shifted in the wind with a rising chorus of injured, squeaking noises. What had so fixated his attention that he seemed oblivious to the weather and human company? She watched as his fists tightened and untightened, and his eyes swiveled back and forth, as if searching for some stimulus to release the tension in his body. For a few moments, she shared his lonely refuge, this space of cold air between churning trees. Part of her wanted to reach out and console him, even though it violated the rules of respect for a neighbor’s grief. It seemed to her that the man beside her wasn’t a detective, but a troubled only child who had yet to lead the life that had been promised him.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Trespass...]

Nov 3 2017 2:00pm

Review: Joe Ledger: Unstoppable, Edited by Jonathan Maberry & Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Joe Ledger: Unstoppable, edited by Jonathan Maberry and Bryan Thomas Schmidt, is an original collection of stories in the Joe Ledger universe.

I’m an unabashed fangirl when it comes to Jonathan Maberry, and Joe Ledger is one of my absolute favorite characters. The Joe Ledger books (Patient Zero, The Dragon Factory, The King of Plagues, etc.) take everything that’s good about spec-fic and thrillers, throw ‘em in a blender, and spit out a concoction that is like being hit by a bolt of lightning. Joe is part of the Department of Military Sciences (DMS), a shadow agency which tackles big threats—the weirder, the better. It’s heady, exciting stuff, so when I found out there was going to be an anthology of everything Joe, with contributions by some of the best names in the biz (with a story by Maberry himself, to boot), I was there. There are 22 stories in this anthology, so I’m going to touch on a few of my favorites.

“Strange Harvest” by Jon McGoran pairs his Philly detective Doyle Carrick (another fave of mine) with Joe when two of their friends go missing. Their search leads them to a company called Xenexgen that’s headed up by a very strange guy.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Joe Ledger: Unstoppable...]

Nov 1 2017 12:00pm

Review: The Extraditionist by Todd Merer

The Extraditionist by Todd Merer is the first book in the Benn Bluestone Thriller series. 

Drug lawyer Benn Bluestone is kind of a jerk. He likes the ladies a little too much, he loves money, and the criminals he defends are the worst of the worst: powerful cartel members that don’t think twice about killing anyone that gets in their way. Benn justifies this a bit by explaining that the people he defends help put the bigger cartel fish away, which while sometimes true, still isn’t much of a defense. 

He explains thusly:

We settled on a day, and I clicked off. I’d juggle and manage. You learn to in a business that’s totally unpredictable—months without a peep of new work, then two cases in two minutes. The work itself, however, was totally predictable: same old, same old, researching and developing deep-throat information Uncle Sam deemed significant—drugs by the ton and seizures in the multimillion of dollars—then horse trading it for minimal jail time my clients could do standing on their heads.

Being the keeper of such secrets entailed great responsibility—and, if one were careless, a fair amount of risk. I reduced that hazard by maintaining constant vigilance and trusting no one.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of The Extraditionist...]

Oct 24 2017 12:00pm

Review: Her Last Day by T.R. Ragan

Her Last Day by T.R. Ragan is the first book in a new series about PI Jessie Cole (available October 24, 2017).

PI Jessie Cole is having a bad day. She’s following a guy that’s been accused of stalking, but he turns on her and starts shooting! Jessie shoots back, but he has blanks in his gun, and she’s got real bullets in hers. He’s taken to the hospital in critical condition, and she’s taken into custody. 

She glanced at the clock. “I need to go, Detective. I was supposed to pick up my niece ten minutes ago.”

“Oh,” he said, angling his head just so. “You have to go? Well, that’s too bad.” He jabbed a finger in the air. “You’re a piece of work. You shot someone. And not for the first time. You’re not going anywhere.”

A shiver of anxiety crawled up her spine. “I did nothing wrong,” she said, stiffening. “I understand the laws regarding the use of deadly force. I was defending myself and others against a forcible and atrocious crime.”

“And yet after everything you went through a few years ago, you shot the man anyhow.”

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Her Last Day...]

Oct 16 2017 4:00pm

Review: The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine is a mesmerizing debut about a coolly manipulative woman and a wealthy “golden couple” from a stunning new voice in psychological suspense (available October 17, 2017).

Daphne Parrish is everything Amber Patterson isn’t: beautiful and rich with a perfect home and a perfect husband. Amber will do anything to get what Daphne has—to be Daphne—even if she must lie and scheme to do it. After all, it’s what she does best.

Amber weasels her way into Daphne’s life via the death of Daphne’s sister, Julie, as a teen from cystic fibrosis. Amber claims to have a sister who suffered and died of the same disease. Of course, she doesn’t, but it’s the perfect way to get into Daphne’s good graces.

Daphne begins to see a kindred spirit in Amber, someone that understands her loss, someone she can really talk to. Of course, all Amber sees is a meal ticket. She thinks Jackson—with his good looks and endless wealth—should be hers, but it won’t be easy. Daphne eventually invites Amber to help out with her charity, Julie’s Smile, which benefits those with CF. After humiliating one of the other ladies and sending her running, Amber eventually becomes co-chair.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of The Last Mrs. Parrish...]

Oct 13 2017 12:00pm

Review: The Templar Brotherhood by James Becker

The Templar Brotherhood by James Becker is the third book in the Lost Treasure of the Templars series—a breakneck thriller that whisks readers into the shadowy secret chambers of the Knights Templar.

Check out James Becker's guest post about the Knights of Templar's influence through history and their presence today!

In the third book of the Lost Treasure of the Templars series, Robin Jessup and David Mallory are fresh off an adventure that nearly cost them their lives in a series of Swiss caves. But it wasn’t for naught. They came back with a set of archives that could lead to the lost treasure of the Templars. 

They had managed to locate the Archive among several chests of documents hidden away for over half a millennium in a complex cave system they’d found at the end of a valley in Switzerland, caves that extended in a network below the nearby hills. In some ways that had been the easy bit, but they had also managed to convince both the Swiss authorities and a group of armed Italian thugs that the Archive had been destroyed. These men were enforcers employed by a militant arm of the Ordo Praedicatorum, the Dominican order whose members had emerged to become the pope’s personal torturers and assassins in the medieval period.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of The Templar Brotherhood...]