‘The Survivors’ Doesn’t Need Murder to Succeed (but it has that, too)

There’s no shortage of mysteries and thrillers set in small towns. That was basically the bread and butter of Masterpiece: Mystery for decades (not that I’m complaining), to say nothing of the dozens of murders Jessica Fletcher solved singlehandedly in her twee little Cabot Cove. Despite the proliferation of cozy mysteries, it’s rare that theyContinue reading “‘The Survivors’ Doesn’t Need Murder to Succeed (but it has that, too)”

Hench Asks Tough Qs Between Explosions

Everyone loves a good superhero story, according to box office figures. I used to be obsessed with the lore, Marvel, DC, and those weird, discount characters in tights and capes that someone invented with the sole purpose of getting a slice of that sweet superhero pie—I’m looking at you, The Cape (though to be fair,Continue reading “Hench Asks Tough Qs Between Explosions”

‘My Heart’ Cuts Like a ‘Chainsaw’

Typically the term “unflinching” is used when talking about works of Very Serious Fiction or Nonfiction (an even more serious genre than Very Serious Fiction), of which genre fiction like horror is not typically a part. But the more I read of Stephen Graham Jones’ work, the more I can’t get past that word asContinue reading “‘My Heart’ Cuts Like a ‘Chainsaw’”

‘Velvet Was the Night’ a Sizzling Noir

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s been at it for over six years, but I’m ashamed to admit she didn’t even appear on my radar until 2019’s Gods of Jade and Shadow (a historical fantasy) appeared on NPR’s Book Concierge. She got some well-deserved attention last year from readers and reviewers big and small with the release of MexicanContinue reading “‘Velvet Was the Night’ a Sizzling Noir”

From Tropes to Teen Survivors, ‘Final Girl’ Nods to Slashers

The happy ending of many horror movies, especially slashers, is that the one last main character (usually teen, female, conventionally attractive) walks away bruised and bloodied but alive while the killer dies a horrifically fitting death, often at the hands of the survivor. This happens so frequently, this character trope has a name: the finalContinue reading “From Tropes to Teen Survivors, ‘Final Girl’ Nods to Slashers”

Restraint Helps ‘Killers’ Avoid Exploitation

There are a few key ingredients to many a good thriller: domestic intrigue, large sums of money, poison, explosions, conspiracies, a sympathetic victim at the center, and a dedicated investigator determined to get to the bottom of it all. And a good twist or two. Can’t forget the twists. David Grann’s Killers of the Flower MoonContinue reading “Restraint Helps ‘Killers’ Avoid Exploitation”

‘The Golden Age’ Glitters

I have waxed long about my pure and ardent love of graphic novels, about the interplay between picture and words creates a new depth to storytelling and how seeing multiple interpretations of the narrative on the page prompts me to be more engaged in my own reading of it. I make no apologies for suchContinue reading “‘The Golden Age’ Glitters”

‘Halfway’ Hits Home with Prison Discourse

Crime and poverty are so frequently lumped together, as are race and crime, making a sort of trifecta of bad circumstances that can really hold a person back—or worse, as we’ve seen with so many cases of police violence. But it’s worse than that, argues Reuben Jonathan Miller in his new book Halfway Home: notContinue reading “‘Halfway’ Hits Home with Prison Discourse”

Get ‘Lost’ in These Four Cities

According to the U.S. Census, over 80% of the country’s population lives in urban areas—and it’s even higher for Puerto Rico and other territories, where urban living is well over 90%. It didn’t always used to be this way, but the world is marching toward a far more urban future than our ancestors could haveContinue reading “Get ‘Lost’ in These Four Cities”

‘Iraq + 100’ Gives Unique View of Future

For longer than I’ve been alive, Iraq has been either at or adjacent to war. In fact, writes editor Hassan Blasim in the introduction to Iraq + 100, “Iraq has not tasted peace, freedom, or stability since the first British invasion of the country in 1914.” A century of war makes it hard to imagineContinue reading “‘Iraq + 100’ Gives Unique View of Future”