On Murder Mysteries Being Unfair

There’s a reason I haven’t been updating as regularly as I’d like. And it’s my addiction with marathoning TV series. I just can’t help it. Anyway, the last two that I’ve been working on are Veronica Mars and The Killing. And there’s something these two excellent series have in common-unfair solutions. I’ll talk in broad terms to not spoil the killers’ identities.

Veronica Mars is the excellent comedy/drama/mystery about a plucky teenage girl in a wealthy town who works as a private investigator for her dad (the always fun Enrico Colantoni). In each episode of the first season, she solved a weekly problem, but the season as a whole had the mystery of who killed her best friend the year before. Turns out lots of people did shady things and a there were a lot of clues about who covered up what and why, but not necessarily about the actual murder itself. I figured it out with a few episodes left based on a gut hunch.

Episodes in the first two seasons of The Killing cover approximately one day  in the murder investigation of a teenage girl in Seattle. There are lots of suspects and twists and turns as the mystery was slowly unraveled, but the long awaited shocking reveal was less powerful when it was strung out in the end and it turned out there was more than one guilty party to varying degrees.

I thoroughly enjoyed both series and I’m continuing with each. Season three of The Killing seems to be about multiple bodies and one killer, which is a nice change, and season two of Veronica Mars was about a mysterious bus crash that killed some students during the second season premiere. I’m hoping both mysteries offer clues to a rewarding ending.

This was a big deal when I wrote my gay erotic murder mystery Ask Me No Questions. I did my best to plant clues that you could go back to and see how obvious it was on second reading (but hopefully not on the first). And it’s the reason I’m struggling like crazy writing the sequel. Murder mysteries are hard work to get right, and I commend Veronica Mars and The Killing on being so entertaining, but come on. Play fair with the audience who’s trying to figure it out.

This is Elliot Arthur Cross hoping I can solve the next murder mystery before the finale.


On Hatchet 3

How great is modern technology sometimes? Hatchet 3 has a limited theatrical run, or you can watch it on video on demand in the comfort of your own home. Hatchet 3 isn’t for everyone, but it’s for me.

Picking up immediately where part 2 ended, we find Mary Beth Dunstan squaring off against Victor Crowley for the third time. And there are tons of horror actors roaming the Louisiana swamps and dying gruesomely.

Cons: Little short. A few missed opportunities, such as Derek Mears fighting Crowley. The formula’s very repetitive by now (don’t want to say what I’m thinking to avoid ending spoilers).

Pros: Love the cast. Too many great faces to name them all. Zach Galligan was a treat. Apparently he’s teaching now, which is why he hasn’t done much since Waxwork and Gremlins. Must be fun to be in his class. And Caroline Williams, best known as Stretch from Texas Chainsaw 2, gives a fantastic performance. Why isn’t she a bigger scream queen already? Casting agents, take note. The deaths are gory. The laughs are pretty constant in this one.

Adam Green’s talked about doing an edit of all three films, which would only run about four hours. Besides the change in Mary Beth actresses between 1 and 2, the trilogy would probably flow really well.

In closing, if you enjoy 80s horror, gruesome slashers, and have a macabre sense of humor, then check out Hatchet 3 (after watching the first two that is). Three and a half out of five stars I guess (my ratings are completely random).

This is Elliot Arthur Cross saying happy viewing.

On One Frightful Date bookstore

Hey all, just wanted to share the page at JMS Books for my upcoming ebook One Frightful Date. This is my YA story told through a gay, blind teen’s eyes. It’s a fun story with a few twists and turns. Check it out here. This comes out June 23, and is a real fun read.

Blurb: Born blind, seventeen year old Bobby proves every day that he’s more than capable to live his life like any sighted person. Quick-witted and funny, he’s learned to live his entire life to navigate the world without ever seeing it.

Summer vacation is typically a time for teens to cut lose and forget about their responsibilities. For Bobby, vacation means it’s time to get a job to appease his parents. Even though he’s mildly interested in working, he’d rather sleep in late, fight with his bratty brother, and enjoy a carefree day than punch a time clock.

For Tyler, a high-school senior living an hour from Bobby, summer vacation is an opportunity to spend even more time playing the drums with his queer alternative band. Growing up gay, Tyler prides himself on how open and easy-going he is. Life would be perfect if he had someone special to share it with.

Faced with the prospects of work or play, Bobby chooses to listen to music with his best friend, Quan. It’s just eleven steps out of his house to the street, thirty two steps down the sidewalk, and twelve more steps to Quan’s front door. Easy.

When Quan’s girlfriend comes over, Bobby is pressured into agreeing to go on a blind date with her cousin, Tyler. He fears it will be an absolute disaster, but can’t think of a valid excuse to turn Tyler down. Wanting to get it over with, Bobby agrees to let Tyler pick him up that night.

Neither boy knows what to expect from their date. Bobby is presented with the opportunity to let his guard down and let someone in, and Tyler is given the chance to prove to himself just how easy-going he really is. But when fate intervenes, no one could imagine the horrifying night the two would struggle to survive.


This is Elliot Arthur Cross wishing you fantastic reading this June 23.

On crazy hard to use PC games

Got to vent on this one.

I heard about Crusader Kings II being an awesome game, especially with the Game of Thrones mod to play in Westeros. Sounds good. So I bought the game. Guess what? You need a Gamespot account to do that. Okay.

Guess what? Now you need a Steam account. All right.

Whoops, now you need a Paradox account. Fine..

I went through all of this, downloaded and installed the game to my laptop, and I can’t open it. Do they do this on purpose? So basically I don’t know what to do now. I wasted a couple of hours on this, and twenty bucks, and have achieved nothing. I guess I’ll have to call or e-mail someone at one of those three companies to figure out the problem.

Remember the days when you wanted to play a game, so you bought it, and then played it? Crazy, right?

This is an extremely frustrated Elliot Arthur Cross wishing you happy playing, and asking for any assistance if anyone knows how technology works.

On Newlyweds still being annoying

I don’t know why I keep watching Bravo’s Newlyweds. Each episode fills me with anger.

After bitching about not being the center of attention at his wife’s baby shower, John announces that their gifts are worth about $3,500, so they “made out pretty good,” and then renegs on his promise to make space for his baby’s play room. What redeeming quality is there?

Blair keeps screaming at Jeff about financial issues because his parents had a rough divorce (which sounds like he’s heading toward a self-fulfilling prophecy), and seriously told Jeff that he doesn’t want a joint bank account because if Jeff dies, Jeff’s parents can swoop in and take all of the money. Um, what? That’s not how bank accounts work. When you are an adult, your parents can’t just take the money out. Even if you’re a child, they’d need a court order if their names aren’t on the account. You’re not children, Blair, so don’t freak out about hypothetical possibilities concerning parents that literally cannot happen.

Tina’s trying to force Tarz into taking nude photos, except she wants feathers and wild regalia on. They try to tell her that she’s attractive without circus pageantry and she throws a fit. Guess what, Tina, your husband adores you, you’re both attractive, so put away the Sesame Street outfits. She finally agrees to go “nude” and wears a bra and a thong.

Alaska admits that his mother used to treat him like a prince. Yeah, that’s why you’re chauvinistic and need everyone to serve you. Kim only feels close to you when you’re emotional because you’re closed off. He even tells Kim that if he dies, that he’ll pretend she didn’t exist so he can deal with it. Great…

This is Elliot Arthur Cross contemplating deleting my season pass on the TiVo.

On opening to interviews

Hey gang, I’ve decided that since I have lots of followers (soon to reach triple digits), I’ve decided to network even more. If anyone wants to interview an lgbt author/Game of Thrones enthusiast/Survivor junkie/politics enthusiast/holder of a BA in Film Studies, then let me know. I’m mildly entertaining and I’d love to meet more people and share ideas. We could also possibly do some free book giveaways to your readers, as that’s a marketing approach I need to tap into more. Current ebooks are in YA, murder mystery, erotica, and horror genres.

And it feels weird to just email someone out of the blue. There are some great bloggers who interview people, but I feel odd contacting strangers to see if they care about me. So any interested parties, please email me at elliotarthurcross@gmail.com. I will respond quickly and pleasantly.

This is Elliot Arthur Cross looking forward to hearing from you.

On V/H/S 2

I loved V/H/S and could not wait for the sequel, which just came out on video on demand with a limited theatrical release next month I believe. I was disappointed. I’ll mention slight spoilers, as it’s hard to talk about short stories without getting into the thick of things, but I’ll avoid endings.

This is an anthology, meaning a collection of short stories tied together with a wraparound. Basically a private detective and his assistant/girlfriend break into a house to find a missing college student and find all these creepy video tapes that they watch.

Phase I Clinical Trials: This one had a great set-up. A wealthy single man was recently in a car accident and blinded in one eye. He gets an experimental mechanical eye that records everything it sees as part of a test trial. The problem is the eye starts to see supernatural elements. There are some wonderfully creepy shots and I love how they solve the “why is everything being filmed” problem that crops up in the found footage genre. The problem is the main character is a bit bland, things are explained a little too easily, and it just kind of ends. Unlike a lot of shorts, I would have loved this premise fleshed out into a full feature.

A Ride in the Park: A cyclist goes for a ride in the park, and is attacked by zombies. Unlike the previous story, this idea is perfect for a short film only, although I still felt it dragged on a little longer than necessary. I enjoyed seeing where it would go, but I can’t imagine much repeat value in this one.

Safe Haven: A documentary crew goes to a cult’s creepy base of operations. I loved the start of this one, but it ended up being a little too showy, which is the exact opposite of most found footage complaints. Unlike Blair Witch, where you don’t see anything, this gives us everything with little left to the imagination. It was also sub-titled, which feels a bit weird in found footage. Like who went through it and added the sub-titles? This one was very well filmed and had the most sympathetic main characters, with a couple of genuine laughs, though.

Slumber Party Alien Abduction: The title spoils this one. Real kids acting like real kids when aliens attack. Fun, and little more sci-fi than horror, but ultimately feels a little empty. The title is the entire story.

So overall, I’d rank V/H/S at 3.5 out of 5 stars, and V/H/S 2 at 2.75 out of 5. I’m still looking forward to a third entry, as the premise of short films done by different creators means it could be just as good, or better, than the first.

This is Elliot Arthur Cross wishing you happy viewing.