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Carnage Count: Ranking 2017’s Best Picture Nominees

It’s hard to believe that this is my fourth time writing this article. What started out as merely a brainstorming joke has turned into my favorite singular piece of writing I do each year. On Sunday, February 26th, the Oscar’s return, and with it comes nine nominees for Best Picture. While I’m not necessarily worthy of judging these movies on the cinematic level that the Academy does (Spoiler: I’m going to do that anyway), I am definitely worthy of judging them on how they fare as a crime film.

For those not familiar with how this works, let me break it down for you. Here at Criminal Element, we put three things above all: murder, mystery, and mayhem. So in keeping with the site’s themes, I’m ranking all Best Picture nominees on these three categories.

Each movie will be judged on its three categories on a scale from 1 to 10, which will then be added together to give a final ranking. I’ll also be squeezing in some general predictions and opinions throughout the post, so when you inevitably disagree with me, take your pitchforks to the comments and let’s have at it.

Continue reading “Carnage Count: Ranking 2017’s Best Picture Nominees”

Announcing 2017’s Edgar Award Nominees

The Mystery Writers of America have announced the 2017 Edgar Award nominees and special winners. The Edgars banquet—an annual black-tie gala celebrating crime fiction, non-fiction, and television writing—will be held on Thursday, April 27th, 2017 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. As always, it's a fantastic list of great work that deserves to be checked out! What have you read already?

Continue reading “Announcing 2017’s Edgar Award Nominees”

2017 Left Coast Crime “Lefty” Awards Nominations

The 2017 Left Coast Crime “Lefty” Awards nominations are up! 

The Lefty Awards are fan-based, chosen by registered members of the Left Coast Crime convention. Nominations for awards to be presented at each annual convention are made by people registered for that convention and also the immediately prior convention. 

The 27th annual LCC convention, Left Coast Crime 2017, “Honolulu Havoc,” will be held in Honolulu, Hawaii, with the Awards Banquet on Saturday, March 18, 2017, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort.

Check out the nominations below:

Continue reading “2017 Left Coast Crime “Lefty” Awards Nominations”

Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy

Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy is a southern coming-of-age thriller, set in the mountains of Cashiers, NC, which follows young Jacob McNeely as he struggles to decide on whether to continue helping his father and his meth business or leave town and build a new life with the girl he loves. Where All Light Tends to Go is nominated for the 2016 Edgar Award for Best First Novel.

I was a McNeely and, in this part of Appalachia, that meant something. Outlawing was just as much a matter of blood as hair color and height.

Jacob McNeely dropped out of high school at age sixteen and went to work for his father selling meth. With a mindset that would make any progressive capitalist proud, he doesn't look at it as drugs, but as sales. He's an articulate, contemplative hood, with keener insight than one would normally credit —considering the child-rearing skills from his upbringing were a far cry from that of Mike and Carol Brady. His mama and his daddy are divorced, and, in addition to daddy being a drug dealer, mama is a through-and-through junkie (normally a grown man sputtering puerile terms of parental endearment would be nauseating, but David Joy makes it work here). When she collapses to the floor, it opens a window to Jacob's lucid observations:

Her head smacked the laminate tile hard, but it didn't faze her. She popped up to her knees and scanned the room, her jaw still chewing, and I didn't say a word. I left her there on the floor like a bad joke, a bad joke that's really not funny at all, but that a man is forced to chuckle through until the awkwardness fades.

Continue readingWhere All Light Tends to Go by David Joy”

Q&A with Susanna Calkins, Author of A Death Along the River Fleet and Mary Higgins Clark Award Nominee

Susanna Calkins, author of A Death Along the River Fleet — the 4th Lucy Campion Mystery — was kind enough to answer some of Criminal Element's questions about her love for the mystery genre, writing about 17th century England, and being nominated for this year's Mary Higgin's Clark Award. 

What authors have inspired your writing?

Like most mystery authors, I was hugely inspired by Agatha Christie. Hers were the first books I ever purchased for myself—when I was 12 years old, I remember going to the bookstore to buy one every time I could muster up $2.50. I also loved Lois Duncan and Phyllis Whitney, and later on, Anne Perry, who in their own ways all influenced me greatly, particularly in terms of writing suspense and mystery.

Continue reading “Q&A with Susanna Calkins, Author of A Death Along the River Fleet and Mary Higgins Clark Award Nominee”

Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA, and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid

Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA, and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid is a sprawling history of forensic science that utilizes first-hand accounts and interviews from experts in the field, and is the perfect reference guide for anyone interested in forensics. Forensics is nominated for the 2016 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime.

One night, when she was still a journalist just beginning her writing career, Val McDermid was awakened and told to board an airplane for Ireland, where an overnight fire at the Stardust disco had left 48 young people dead and over 240 injured. The young reporter met up with colleagues in London before flying to Dublin.

“A double whisky was set in front of me,” she writes. “Even in those hard-drinking newspaper days, I wasn’t accustomed to starting my day that way. ‘Drink it,’ one of my colleagues insisted. ‘Trust me, you’re going to need it before today’s over.’ He was right.”

One of the world’s most respected mystery writers, Val McDermid was haunted by her coverage of the disaster and fascinated by the work that went into discovering how it had happened. Now, decades later, she examines it and other investigations in her newest foray back into nonfiction, Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime—an extended version of her previously published Forensics: The Anatomy of a Crime.

Continue readingForensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA, and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid”

Carnage Count: Ranking 2016’s Best Picture Nominees

And we’re back! 2016’s Academy Awards brought forth eight worthy films to compete for Best Picture, and while I’m not necessarily worthy of judging these movies on the cinematic level that the Academy does (Spoiler: I’m going to do that anyway), I am definitely worthy of judging them on how they fare as a crime film. This will be my third year in a row writing this article, and it’s always a blast. (See 2015 here. And 2014 here.)

For those not familiar with how this works, let me break it down for you. Here at Criminal Element, we put three things above all: murder, mystery, and mayhem. So in keeping with the site’s themes, I’m ranking all Best Picture nominees on these three categories.

Each movie will be judged on its three categories on a scale from 1 to 10, which will then be added together to give a final ranking. I’ll also be squeezing in some general predictions and opinions throughout the post, so when you inevitably disagree with me, take your pitchforks to the comments and tell me why you’re coming for me.

There will be some minor/obvious spoilers. You’ve been warned. Let’s get to the carnage!

Continue reading “Carnage Count: Ranking 2016’s Best Picture Nominees”

Announcing 2016’s Agatha Awards Nominees

Malice Domestic, an annual convention held in Washington DC honoring the best of the traditional/cozy mystery genre, has announced the nominees for this year's Agatha Awards.  Loosely defined as “mysteries which contain no explicit sex or excessive gore or violence,” the Agatha Award salutes the books best typified by the works of Agatha Christie.

This year, the annual banquet will be held on Saturday, April 30th, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Maryland. As always, it's a fantastic list of great work that deserves to be checked out! What have you read already?

*Follow the linked titles to exclusive excerpts!

 

Best Contemporary Novel:

Burned Bridges by Annette Dashofy
Long Upon the Land by Margaret Maron
The Child Garden by Catriona McPherson
Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny
What You See by Hank Phillipi Ryan

Continue reading “Announcing 2016’s Agatha Awards Nominees”

Killer Nashville’s 2015 Silver Falchion Finalists Announced: Vote Now!


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Killer Nashville has announced the full list of finalists for the 2015 Silver Falchion Readers Choice Awards, which we have below. Congrats to everyone nominated, and make sure you vote for your favorites here! Killer Nashville kicks off on Octobe 29th.

Best Novel: Romantic Suspense

 

Judgment – Carey Baldwin

The Lost Key – Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison

Top Secret Twenty-One – Janet Evanovich

Sweet Damage – Rebecca James

Truth Be Told – Hank Phillippi Ryan

Continue reading “Killer Nashville’s 2015 Silver Falchion Finalists Announced: Vote Now!”

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