Category: Crime & Mystery

'Choose Your Own Adventure'

‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Interactive Experience Now Available With Alexa

As children, most of us loved ‘choose your own adventure’ stories—until our lives became one! These books were always as simple as they were complicated, encouraging readers to make choices that result in either positive or negative outcomes. Naturally, this is a lot more fun when these choices don’t result in real consequences (say, unemployment or just a bad haircut) and instead, force readers to start over from the beginning. The fun only ends when you work your way to the correct ending… and if your choices are as bad as mine, that could take any number of hours.


Choose Your Own Adventure originals

Image Via Medium


Since the original series ran between 1979 and 1998, these interactive sci-fi and murder mystery stories may not be as familiar to Gen-Z and the youngest Millennials. Still, the ‘choose your own adventure’ format resurfaces every few years with trending topics: Max Brallier released a zombie edition, Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?, back when everyone thought zombies were about to be the next vampires. (In all fairness, they’re both dead. And neither would actually be that sexy.) Humor writer Dana Schwartz, the brains behind the Guy In Your MFA parody Twitter account, also used this format for her recent memoir, Choose Your Own Disaster. And, of course, Black Mirror‘s ‘Bandersnatch‘ episode is a recent example.

Good news: ‘choose your own adventure’ is about to be everywhere—and not just in the existential sense.


'Choose Your Own Misery'

choose your own misery is a choose your own adventure series for adults, featuring the limitless horrors of dating and the office
Image Via thrift books


Amazon Alexa recently introduced a new feature through Audible: Choose Your Own Adventure. The Amazon and Audible partnership uses Audible’s voice actors and Amazon’s accessibility to walk readers through two classic adventures (The Abominable Snowman and Journey Under the Sea) from the comfort of their own homes. Together, the books come with sixty-five possible endings to distract you for hours from all the choices your real life is waiting for you to make.

To start your adventure, just tell your Alexa-enabled device, “Alexa, open Choose Your Own Adventure from Audible!”


Featured Image Via The Mary SUe



Stieg Larsson Remembered in ‘The Man Who Played With Fire’

Authors often draw inspiration from themselves or people they know for their characters, and Stieg Larsson, author of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, resembles his book’s protagonist more and more every day. Like the fictional Mikael Blomqvist, Larsson was both an author and a journalist. And, also like Blomqvist, it turns out that he was deeply troubled by an unsolvable mystery.

Up until his untimely death, Larsson had been actively researching the 1986 assassination of Swedish prime minister, Olof Palme. Journalist Jan Stocklassa discovered this research—boxes upon boxes of it—in 2014 through Larsson’s former employer, Expo magazine.


Jan Stocklassa


Stocklassa used the research to write a true crime story titled The Man Who Played With Fire: Stieg Larsson’s Lost Files and the Hunt for an Assassin. The book was originally published in Swedish in November of 2018, and, after much ado, Amazon Crossing will publish the English translation on October 1st, 2019!

Larsson’s life has been a hot topic of late; a film titled The Man Who Played With Fire (also co-produced by Stocklassa) premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and focuses on Larsson’s research into far-right, neo-Nazi groups, rather than on Palme’s assassination.


The Man Who Played With Fire



Though Larsson passed away in 2004, he remains influential in both literary and social justice circles. Stocklassa’s new book will give readers a chance to be mesmerized by the life and works of Larsson one more time.




Dan Mallory, author of 'The Woman in the Window'

“Is he even called Dan Mallory?” Publishing’s Biggest Con Man Now Outed

Dan Mallory is—in Dan Mallory’s own words—a man of discipline and compassion. Whatever else Dan Mallory may be seems to depend on who you ask. These are the facts that no one can obscure: Mallory’s novel under pseudonym A.J. Finn, The Woman in the Window, debuted at the top of the New York Times bestseller list, the first debut in twelve years to secure this prestigious spot. The novel (and, by extension, Mallory) rose to even higher heights, securing a blurb from international sensation Stephen King: “One of those rare books that really is unputdownable.” Though the novel was released in January 2018, the film adaptation has already been shot. This, we know: Mallory is a staggering success. But this is what insiders are beginning to suspect: Mallory is more than your average storyteller—he’s a liar.


Dan Mallory, author of 'The Woman in the Window'
Image Via Nathan Rabin


In person, Mallory is gregarious and appropriately self-effacing: he knows how successful he is, and, since you couldn’t possibly miss how successful he is, the least he can do is to be charmingly modest about it. According to an exposé in The New Yorker, he can do a little more than that. Journalist Ian Parker asserts that Dan Mallory has lied about death and dysfunction in a manner far beyond the possibility of misinterpretation. According to Dan Mallory, he has two PhDs—making him a “double doctor,” as he would occasionally joke. But (also according to Mallory) these successes haven’t come without tragedy: he and his mother both have terminal cancer; Mallory himself has ten more years to live. His father is dead. Oh, and his brother killed himself. Here’s the plot twist greater than any from Mallory’s stories: all three dead family members are alive.


Dan Mallory

Image Via BBC


In a story that seems ripped straight from the scripts of Netflix’s Sick Note (a show in which Rupert Grint portrays a man who lies about having cancer, alternate name “What If Ron Weasley Was The Worst Person Ever”), Mallory went as far as to fake emails from his brother. His ‘brother’ acted as a go-between when Dan was in surgery for his cancer, keeping Dan’s workplace up to date on his condition and, more importantly, is a ruse.

One email from Jake, Dan’s brother, reads:

[Dan is having] complicated surgery with several high risk factors, including the possibility of paralysis and/or the loss of function below the waist.” But Dan has been through worse and has pointed out that if he could make it through Love Actually alive, this surgery holds no terrors. [Dan will eat] an early dinner of sashimi and will then read a book about dogs until bedtime. Dan was treated terribly by people throughout his childhood and teenage years and into his twenties, which left him a very deeply lonely person, so he does not like/trust many people. Please keep him in your thoughts.

When a colleague later asked how Jake was, Mallory reported that Jake had killed himself.

Since, according to Mallory’s Oxford professors, Jake had died years before of complications with his equally fictional cerebral palsy, this sets up a perplexing timeline. Mallory had used his carefully-crafted tales of personal tragedy to earn acceptance to Oxford University. When the tactic failed to work on Princeton, Mallory sent a strongly-worded email—the strong words being, in this case, “you heartless bastards… not that I ever seriously considered gracing your godforsaken institution with my presence.” Is this one of those instinctual patterns where the egotistic and delusional lash out when they don’t get what they want? We can’t say. It appears that Mallory has always gotten what he wanted—no matter what tactics he used.

Mallory claimed in an email that Jake had been with him through a seven-hour nighttime surgery (though most surgeries of the nature he described do not take place overnight). At the same time, Jake posted pictures online of himself at an event. Jake claims that this email exchange never happened.


Dan Mallory



Mallory did not complete his doctorate at Oxford. (Of course, he did come back from the U.K. with a fake British accent. and a sudden impulse to do things like ‘take the lift’ and ‘use the loo.’)Though he did attend Oxford University, he left, due to his mother’s illness.  According to Mallory’s father, Pamela Mallory did indeed have serious cancer throughout her son’s high school years. When asked what she thought of the matter, Pamela shut down the conversation before it began: “we’re not doing that.” The other half of Mallory’s ‘double-doctorate’ was a PhD in psychology—specifically, he claimed to have studied Munchausen’s Syndrome, a condition in which a patient pretends to have a physical or mental illness though they, in truth, have invented the symptoms. Mallory, apparently, invented this degree.

Mallory frequently gained job qualifications by lying about his qualifications and falsifying employment offers in order to pressure publishing companies into hiring him. When confronted about the job offer he did not receive, Mallory complained the woman who revealed the truth was a liar, angry because he had refused her sexual advances. A colleague expresses her doubts: “Once [the job offer] fell away, then you obviously think, Is he really ill? Even to the extent of ‘Does his family exist?’ and ‘Is he even called Dan Mallory?’” The truth was that Dan Mallory was really ill—it just wasn’t with cancer.

Mallory’s formal apology, if that is the appropriate name for it, addresses only his disingenuous battle with cancer. It does not address the cups of urine he allegedly left in his boss’ office directly before leaving his position. It does not address the email, also attributed to Mallory, calling a former co-worker “one of the nastiest c*nts in publishing.” It doesn’t address the suicide of his brother or the death of his father. It does address his bipolar II disorder, an illness he positions as the precarious keystone of his overarching lie:

It is the case that on numerous occasions in the past, I have stated, implied, or allowed others to believe that I was afflicted with a physical malady instead of a psychological one: cancer, specifically. My mother battled aggressive breast cancer starting when I was a teenager; it was the formative experience of my adolescent life, synonymous with pain and panic.

I felt intensely ashamed of my psychological struggles – they were my scariest, most sensitive secret. And for 15 years, even as I worked with psychotherapists, I was utterly terrified of what people would think of me if they knew – that they’d conclude I was defective in a way that I should be able to correct, or, worse still, that they wouldn’t believe me. Dissembling seemed the easier path.

Like many afflicted with severe bipolar II disorder, I experienced crushing depressions, delusional thoughts, morbid obsessions, and memory problems. It’s been horrific, not least because, in my distress, I did or said or believed things I would never ordinarily say, or do, or believe – things of which, in many instances, I have absolutely no recollection.


"I have a feeling that inside you somewhere, there's something nobody knows about."


Esteemed psychiatrist Nigel Blackwood of King’s College London is perfectly willing to believe that Mallory has bipolar disorder. He’s just unwilling to believe that the disorder is the basis for Mallory’s deception—or that it’s a reasonable excuse. Patients may experience “periods of inflated self-esteem,” but, he emphasized, “[hypomanic episodes] cannot account for sustained arrogant and deceptive interpersonal behaviors.”

But literary agent Chis Parris-Lamb put it best: “if he is one of the lucky ones who has managed to get his disease under control and produce a best-selling novel—if he is stable and lucid enough to do that—then he is stable and lucid enough to apologize to the people he lied to and the people he hurt.”

Given that mental disorders already buckle under the weight of stigma, Mallory’s claims are unhelpful at best. At worst, they’re as damaging as his everything else—the lies, the tragedy, and the piss cups.




Karin Slaughter: Pieces of Her

New Netflix Adaptation Alert: Karin Slaughter’s ‘Pieces of Her’

An adaptation of Karin Slaughter’s latest novel, Pieces of Heris coming to Netflix! The show is currently being developed at Made Up Stories, and, though we don’t have an air date yet, we do have a couple of details to hold us over in the meantime.

The eight-episode series will center on speech therapist Laura and her daughter Andy, depicting the way their relationship turns on its head after the pair experiences a shooting at a restaurant.

Washington Post article tells us that rather than hiding or running, Laura takes down the shooter, fatally wounding him. Laura doesn’t remain an unsung hero for long, though, since a bystander records the entire altercation. The video, which shows Laura’s face, circulates and dredges up dangerous people from Laura’s past; consequently, Laura and Andy must flee to save their lives.

The series will be produced by a team of three women: Charlotte Stoudt, Lesli Linka Glatter, and Bruna Papandrea.


The Women Behind Pieces of Her



Stoudt will act as the showrunner and writer. She has written in the past for shows like Homeland and House of Cards, so Pieces of Her seems to be right up her alley.

Lesli Linka Glatter will direct the first two episodes of the series. She has directed shows ranging from gory dramas like The Walking Dead to cult comedies like Freaks and Geeks.


Made Up Stories



Bruna Papandrea, through her company Made Up Stories, aims to create content by women and about women, something that will be visible in the show as we follow these two complex women subverting traditionally masculine roles.

At least we have plenty of time to read (and reread) the book until the Netflix adaptation comes out!


Featured image via Harper collins
Kerry Washington American Son play

‘American Son’ Play Starring Kerry Washington to be Adapted by Netflix

Broadway News reports that the American Son play created by Christopher Demos-Brown will be getting a Netflix produced adaptation.


The play starring Kerry Washington and Steven Pasquale takes place in a South Florida police station, where an estranged couple tries to figure out what has happened to their missing son.


The original cast will be reprising their roles and will be directed by Kenny Leon once again in the upcoming adaptation.



American Son Kerry Washington

Image via Broadway News


American Son powerfully explores themes of family, love and identity,” Netflix representative Cindy Holland explains. “We are honored to work with Kerry Washington, Kenny Leon, Christopher Demos-Brown and the entire cast to bring this story from the Broadway stage to our members around the world.”


Production is expected to start in February after the play ends its Broadway run on January 27.




Featured Image via Variety