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From the Editor

One of the jokes about the long-running television show "Murder, She Wrote," starring mystery writer Jessica Fletcher (played by Angela Lansbury), was that so many people died there in the town of Cabot Cove, it was a wonder any citizens were left.

But viewers loved it, and it ran for 12 seasons of contained mayhem, featuring colorful characters and the indomitable sleuthing of the amateur detective. It was television's answer to the cozy mystery genre(and it inspired a series of books as well). There was nothing the viewing public liked better than to see who in the charming Maine town would end up dead. I admit I was a fan, too - who wouldn't want to visit a place as picturesque and friendly as Cabot Cove - yet remain among the living?

The reading public likes its cozies too, which have an enduring charm in this age when mysteries and thrillers can be as graphic as all get-out. But what readers love about cozies is the sense of community that they provide (that, and the relief that comes after the sleuths manage to restore order after a murder disrupts the way of life there). We've got a look at various communities and different shades of cozy this month, with new books by Carolyn Haines and Donna Andrews, and a debut from Cynthia Robinson, who introduces an eccentric community of dog lovers to the genre.

If you've ever wondered how the struggling writer gets his start, we've got two interviews that should help you understand the pluck and resourcefulness of anyone who tries to write a book. This month I talked with the authors of new debuts, including the acclaimed Still Missing, by Chevy Stevens, which is looking to be one of the top books of the summer, as well as Crashers , by Dana Haynes, about crime-scene investigators looking into an airplane crash. Both talk about getting started, what it was like to become a professional writer, and the learning curve in getting their first books published. (And the fact that for many writers, as with actors, timing is everything.)

Finally, I was thrilled to get to speak with bestselling author Richard North Patterson, whose new book, In the Name of Honor , is another of his smart thrillers that also address contemporary topics, here post-traumatic stress syndrome in an age of continuing warfare.  As a writer myself, I was delighted to hear Patterson weigh in on his craft, his responsibility to his readers and how he keeps things fresh (unsurprisingly, he works really hard at it).

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Here at the Criminal Element we want to reward our loyal readers with giveaways of some of our favorite books - the absolute best in crime fiction

This month, Minotaur is offering 5 lucky readers the chance to win a copy of Stork Raving Mad, the next hilarious entry in the award-winning, New York Times bestselling series by

Donna Andrews!


Have more fun with your crime!

Check out the cool characters and awesome games at!

Paperback Spotlight


This London-based cop series starring Detective Sergeant Brant is Ken Bruen at his edgy, lethal, and sharp-tongued best. With a major film based on BLITZ starring Jason Statham, 
a whole new audience will be exposed to this deeply moving and dazzling writer.

set in darkness

In this installment of what Entertainment Weekly calls, "A brilliant series," a homeless man throws himself off a bridge but leaves behind a suitcase full of cash, and an up-and-coming politician is found murdered. Rebus has more serious police work at hand - and a confrontation with one of Edinburgh's most notorious criminals. Someone's going to make a lot of money out of Scotland's independence - and where there's big money at stake, darkness gathers.

Replacement Child

The Replacement Child is the winner of the first annual Tony Hillerman Prize for best mystery set in the Southwest. A smart, realistic mystery with down-to-earth characters, and rich with details of New Mexico and the people who live there, The Replacement Child is the perfect novel for anyone who has fallen in love with the Southwest that Hillerman so lovingly described in his Leaphorn and Chee mysteries.

Congratulations to
Peter Temple,
winner of Australia's
Miles Franklin Award

Check out Truth, by Peter Temple...