Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mystery Book Review: South Beach Shakedown by Don Bruns

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of South Beach Shakedown: The Diary of Gideon Pike by Don Bruns. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.South Beach Shakedown by Don Bruns

South Beach Shakedown by Don Bruns
A Mick Sever Mystery
Oceanview Publishing (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-933515-02-3 (1933515023)
ISBN-13: 978-1-933515-02-1 (9781933515021)
Publication Date: September 2006
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Someone is about to make a killing in the music industry. Why would songwriting legend Gideon Pike mysteriously disappear just when he is about to turn a 30-year career into a multi-million dollar profit?

Music columnist Mick Sever is back in Don Brun’s third suspense masterpiece. This time he’s looking for answers and his missing friend in the gritty backrooms of South Beach’s biggest nightclubs, dodging suicide speedboats and running from sniper fire. What surfaces is how the major players in the music industry are not making the headlines, they’re just pulling the strings that create them. Hit it right, and the royalties – even someone else’s – can rake in millions for the rest of your life. The key is finding Gideon before Korean mobster Jimmy Shinn does. Jimmy is ready to cash in on the one secret that will bring Gideon to his knees and strip away what’s left of his career, his fortune, and his life. Whoever gets to Gideon first will ether save him or pull the trigger.

The deadly race is on.

Review: South Beach Shakedown: The Diary of Gideon Pike is the third entry in the mystery series featuring music and entertainment reporter Mick Sever, this time set in sunny and sultry Miami.

At the request of his ex-wife, Ginny, Sever travels to Miami to search for Gideon Pike, a legend of rock and roll and an old friend of Sever's, who has suddenly disappeared after agreeing to allow Ginny to publish his diaries. Though controlling a music catalog worth hundreds of millions of dollars, Gideon is living a fairly austere lifestyle leaving Sever to wonder if this change of fortune has anything to do with a Korean businessman who seems to be intimately involved in Gideon's corporate and personal activities. When some of Gideon's associates are subsequently murdered, Sever looks into Gideon's past and discovers long buried secrets that someone is willing to kill to keep hidden.

The primary problem with South Beach Shakedown is that, with one notable exception, Bruns doesn't develop his characters in any meaningful way, and especially falls flat with the series character, Mick Sever. No matter how interesting a plot may be, if a book is populated with 1-dimensional characters, it simply isn't compelling. The exception here is the richly drawn Jimmy Shinn, Sever's nemesis in the story, though even his presence isn't enough to recommend this book.

Bruns favors a choppy style of writing, using short sentences and paragraphs, clipped dialog, and chapters rarely longer than a few pages. For a mystery set in the world of rock and roll, South Beach Shakedown never develops a rhythm of its own.

Special thanks to Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity for providing an ARC of South Beach Shakedown: The Diary of Gideon Pike for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mystery Book Contest: Win a Set of Signed Mysteries by Hailey Lind

New MysteriesNew! The True Faux Contest is now available on The Mystery Book Contest Website. Enter daily through October 31, 2006, for a chance to win one of two prize packages featuring copies of the Art Lover's Mysteries by Hailey Lind, each personally signed by the author, and a faux finishing kit!

The mysteries featured in this prize package are:

Feint of Art, the first Art Lover's mystery featuring former art-forger-gone-good Annie Kincaid, whose search for several Old Master drawings may draw her back into the underworld of forgers she swore she'd left behind.

Shooting Gallery, in which Annie has a dead sculptor and a missing Chagall to deal with, mysteries that she must solve fast, because art is long, but life can be very, very short. (Available for purchase October 3, 2006.)

Feint of Art by Hailey LindShooting Gallery by Hailey Lind

The True Faux Contest is sponsored by Hailey Lind, author of the Art Lover's mysteries, and Mysterious Reviews. Reviews of Feint of Art and Shooting Gallery are available on the Mysterious Reviews website.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Strawberry Moon by Robert Underhill

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Strawberry Moon by Robert Underhill. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Strawberry Moon by Robert Underhill

Strawberry Moon by Robert Underhill
A Hoss Davis Mystery
Arbutus Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-9766104-4-2 (0976610442)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9766104-4-1 (9780976610441)
Publication Date: May 2006
List Price: $16.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): When Dr. Barbara Wilson fails to pick up her daughter from school and then does not show up for rounds at the hospital, the Leelanau County sheriff’s department initially treats her disappearance as a carjacking. But when her strangled and scalped body is discovered near her van in the woods outside town, Sheriff Hoss Davis suspects Harry Swifthawk, a member of the Band of Ottawa and Chippewa, who has caused Hoss many problems in the past and has gone into hiding. Davis must walk a fine line in dealing with the tribal authorities, the group of suspects who begin to crop up, and the FBI, which holds jurisdiction.

Review: Strawberry Moon, what the northwestern Michigan Chippewa call the first full moon of summer, is also the title of Robert Underhill's debut mystery, an intricately plotted novel of suspense.

Following the disappearance of a local doctor, Sheriff Hoss Davis is presented with three viable suspects, each of whom seems to have means, motive, and opportunity: her husband, her psychiatrist, and a member of the Chippewa tribe. Sensing a weakness in the Sheriff's investigation, a local land developer sees the chance to do some political damage as well, adding to Davis' troubles and possible list of guilty parties. Underhill credibly interleaves all these storylines—just as one suspect seems to be the obvious culprit, the perspective changes and another takes his place.

It's all very well done up to a point. Several key plot elements remain unresolved at the end of the book, some of which are rather crucial to the resolution of the story. And the oddly ambiguous epilogue raises, probably intentionally, more still more questions.

The final chapters aside, Strawberry Moon is a captivating mystery that deserves a wider audience.

Special thanks to Arbutus Press for providing an ARC of Strawberry Moon for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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News: The Strange Case of Hercule Poirot

P. D. James investigates an enduring mystery: Just how has Agatha Christie's best-loved fictional detective survived so long? That is a mystery that might defeat the bizarre Belgian himself.

Hercule Poirot made his debut in Agatha Christie's first detective story, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which was written during World War I but did not come out until 1920, after being rejected by a number of publishers. The story foreshadows the development of Christie's art, but her hero, far from developing, remains essentially the same. He appears in over 30 novels and 50 stories, and we learn that his eyes appear green in moments of excitement, that he acquires a chauffeur, George, and an efficient secretary, Miss Lemon. He lives in Whitehaven Mansions, a starkly modern London flat which satisfies his love of symmetry and order. We are never privy to his private thoughts and we see and know him only through the eyes of other characters.

But the fact that we feel we know Poirot intimately while actually knowing very little is an advantage. He is at the center of the novel, yet we are never distracted from his purpose - the solving of the crime - nor does he compete for psychological interest with other characters.

Read the rest of this fascinating article on Telegraph.co.uk here.

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Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for August 28, 2006

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for August 28, 2006A new Mystery Godoku Puzzle has been created by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books and is available on our website.

Godoku is similar to Sudoku, but uses letters instead of numbers. To give you a headstart, we provide you a mystery clue to fill in a complete row or column (if you choose to use it!).

This week's letters and mystery clue: A E G L M O R U Y. She is the author of the Deputy Sheriff Claire Watkins mysteries (9 letters).

Previous puzzles are stored in the Mystery Godoku Archives.

Enjoy the weekly Mystery Godoku Puzzle from the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, and Thanks for visiting our website!

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

News: LA Times Launches Black Dahlia Archive Site

The Los Angeles Times in association with Universal Pictures has launched a website with original articles on the murder from the newspaper's archives to promote the upcoming release of The Black Dahlia.The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy

Titled The Black Dahlia: The Story as it was Originally Reported, the site includes a downloadable map (PDF format) of the area where the crime took place and reproductions of actual articles from the LA Times reporting on the murder and subsequent investigation.

The Black Dahlia film trailer and photos from the movie are also available to view.

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Mystery Bestsellers for August 25, 2006

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending August 25, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Not much change in the lists this week. The most significant newcomer is Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline WinspearMessenger of Truth, the 4th Maisie Dobbs mystery by Jacqueline Winspear. The night before an exhibition of his artwork opens at a famed Mayfair gallery, the controversial artist Nick Bassington-Hope falls to his death. The police rule it an accident, but Nick's twin sister, Georgina, a wartime journalist and a infamous figure in her own right, isn't convinced. When the authorities refuse to consider her theory that Nick was murdered, Georgina seeks out a fellow graduate from Girton College, Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator, for help. Nick was a veteran of World War I, and before long the case leads Maisie to the desolate beaches of Dungeness in Kent, and into the sinister underbelly of the city's art world. Maisie once again uncovers the perilous legacy of the Great War in a society struggling to recollect itself. But to solve the mystery of Nick's death, Maisie will have to keep her head as the forces behind the artist's fall come out of the shadows to silence her. Mysterious Reviews states that "... Messenger of Truth will almost certainly be remembered as one of the best mysteries of the year."

Visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books often where we provide readers and collectors of mysteries with the best and most current information about their favorite mystery authors, books, and series.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mystery Book Review: The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld

The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld
Non-series
Henry Holt (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-8050-8098-8 (0805080988)
ISBN-13: 978-0-8050-8098-8 (9780805080988)
Publication Date: September 2006
List Price: $26.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): In this ingenious, suspenseful historical thriller, Sigmund Freud is drawn into the mind of a sadistic killer who is savagely attacking Manhattan’s wealthiest heiresses.

Inspired by Sigmund Freud’s only visit to America, The Interpretation of Murder is an intricate tale of murder and the mind’s most dangerous mysteries. It unfurls on a sweltering August evening in 1909 as Freud disembarks from the steamship George Washington, accompanied by Carl Jung, his rival and protégé. Across town, in an opulent apartment high above the city, a stunning young woman is found dangling from a chandelier—whipped, mutilated, and strangled. The next day, a second beauty—a rebellious heiress who scorns both high society and her less adventurous parents—barely escapes the killer. Yet Nora Acton, suffering from hysteria, can recall nothing of her attack. Asked to help her, Dr. Stratham Younger, America’s most committed Freudian analyst, calls in his idol, the Master himself, to guide him through the challenges of analyzing this high-spirited young woman whose family past has been as complicated as his own.

The Interpretation of Murder leads readers from the salons of Gramercy Park, through secret passages, to Chinatown—even far below the currents of the East River where laborers are building the Manhattan Bridge. As Freud fends off a mysterious conspiracy to destroy him, Younger is drawn into an equally thrilling adventure that takes him deep into the subterfuges of the human mind.

Review: Sigmund Freud's pioneering work on psychoanalysis, William Shakespeare's Hamlet, the aristrocracy of New York in the early 20th century, and the construction of the Manhattan Bridge are all key elements of Jed Rubenfeld's well plotted though curiously rather languid murder mystery, The Interpretation of Murder.

Freud actually plays a minor role in The Interpretation of Murder. The investigation of the murder and attempted murder of two wealthy young women in New York City is conducted by two principal characters in the book: Dr. Stratham Younger, a Freudian adherent, and Detective Jimmy Littlemore of the police department. Younger analyzes the actions, motives, relationships, and personalities of all those involved in the crimes while Littlemore methodically and energetically hypothesizes on what might have happened and sets out to determine if it could, or did, happen. The juxtaposition of the two approaches works well in The Interpretation of Murder, lending credibility to the sometimes implausible.

The historical elements of The Interpretation of Murder both add to, and detract from, the story. It is interesting to see how Younger incorporates both the theories of Freud and the writing of Shakespeare into his investigation, but much of the academic debate regarding Freud, Carl Yung, and the Triumvirate is completely irrelevant to the mystery.

Rubenfeld oddly chose to write Younger's role in first person narrative, using third person point of view for the rest of the book. With at least two principal characters, this method doesn't work well. Rubenfeld illustrates how ill-considered this literary approach was by inexplicably writing a pivotal chapter near the end of the book that includes Younger but is written in third person. Based on this chapter alone, it is highly likely that had the entire book been written in third person, the result would have been significantly better.

The Interpretation of Murder is a cleverly devised murder mystery and Rubenfeld is clearly a talented writer. But flaws in style and editing prevent it from being a memorable novel of suspense fiction.

Special thanks to FSB Associates for providing an ARC of The Interpretation of Murder for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

News: Nominees for 2006 Quill Book Awards Released

The Quill Book Awards, which celebrates the best books of the year in nineteen popular categories, has released their list of nominees for 2006. The Quills, an initiative launched with the support of Reed Business Information and NBC Universal Television Stations, is designed to be an industry qualified "consumers choice" awards program for books, honoring the current titles readers deem most entertaining and enlightening.

In the Mystery/Suspense/Thriller category, the nominees are:

Michael Connelly: The Lincoln Lawyer (Little Brown)
Arthur Conan Doyle: The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes (Norton)
Harlan Coben: Promise Me (Dutton)
Elizabeth Peters: Tomb of the Golden Bird (Morrow)
Janet Evanovich: Twelve Sharp (St. Martin's Press)

Consumer voting is now open at www.quillsvote.com. Voting will continue through September 30th with the winners announced at the Quills awards ceremony October 10th in New York City.

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Press Release: Got Game Entertainment's Barrow Hill: Curse of the Ancient Circle Debuts

Games of Mystery
Unique first person adventure game sets archaeological mystery against the backdrop of an eerie Cornish landscape
Barrow Hill
WESTON, Conn., Aug. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The myths and mysteries of ancient Cornwall now haunt North America as Got Game Entertainment LLC today announced that Barrow Hill: Curse of the Ancient Circle has shipped to game retailers. Adventure meets archaeology against the backdrop of an eerie Cornish landscape in this unique first person adventure game for the PC which also comes bundled with bonus features on the real Cornwall, a land rich in folklore, magic, and danger.

Barrow Hill: Curse of the Ancient Circle finds you stranded on a lonely road leading to Cornwall's ancient burial ground of Barrow Hill. Following in the footsteps of fictional archaeologist Conrad Morse, you soon discover that this barrow is frighteningly more than just a mound of earth and a collection of forgotten standing stones. Via the game's point and click interface, and using real archaeological techniques, explore well trodden pathways across the land, seek clues in almost forgotten shrines, unearth ancient artifacts, and delve into Celtic legends to ultimately unravel a detailed and spellbinding mystery.

The engrossing story and Cornish setting of Barrow Hill: Curse of the Ancient Circle transport you to another place. Artistically detailed and moody game environments reflecting the mystical countryside of England's westernmost county, famous for its tales of pirates, ghosts, and sinister ancient sites, coupled with the included bonus travel features, allow you to delve deeply into the supernatural wonders of Cornwall.

Visit the Barrow Hill website for more information and where you can also download the trailer and a demo version of the game.

Games for Mystery provides information about all types of mystery-themed games including games for the PC, board games, mystery parties for adults, teens, and children, mystery vacations, and mysteries online.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

News: Cornwell Donates Sickert Art to Harvard

Patricia Cornwell, author of Portrait of a Killer in which she named British impressionist painter Walter Sickert as Jack the Ripper, has donated the collection of 82 pieces of art by Sickert that she assembled during her research for the book to Harvard University's Fogg Art Museum.

Though Cornwell was not the first person to link Sickert to the deaths of at least five women in London's East End in 1888, she believed that DNA taken from his artwork could be linked to a sample taken from a letter purported to be written by Jack the Ripper.

The art collection includes 24 paintings, 22 drawings, and 36 prints. Estimated to be worth in excess of $5 million, they are currently on loan to the museum.

Cornwell has also donated 23 prints and 2 drawings by James McNeill Whistler to the museum. Sickert studied under Whistler, who is probably best known for his portrait of "Whistler's Mother", a severely dressed woman with a bonnet on a rocking chair.

Read more on this story on The Independent here.

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Profile: Cynthia Riggs Pens Senior Sleuth Mysteries

Martha’s Vineyard is no place to commit murder - not if you hope to get away with it, writes Valerie A. Russo for The Patriot Ledger. Since 2001, seven cases have been solved by Victoria Trumbull, the 92-year-old amateur sleuth of the series written by Martha's Vineyard author Cynthia Riggs.

"My mother, Dionis Coffin Riggs, lived to be almost 99; the series is my way of keeping her alive," said Riggs, a 13th generation Islander. "She was a poet, not a sleuth, but she was a strong woman and very active ‘til the day she died. People who knew her say they recognize her in the character ‘Victoria’."

The Victoria Trumbull mysteries, titled after plants that grow on Martha's Vineyard, are Agatha Christie-style cozies. In addition to more books in this series, she is starting a new mystery series based on her house-boating experiences.

The entire article profiling this interesting and active author can be read on Patriot Ledger.com here.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Page One: Hit and Run by Nancy Barr

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Page One: Hit and Run by Nancy Barr. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Page One: Hit and Run by Nancy Barr

Page One: Hit and Run by Nancy Barr
A Robin Hamilton Mystery
ISBN-10: 1-933926-15-5 (1933926155)
ISBN-13: 978-1-933926-15-5 (9781933926155)
Publication Date: July 2006
List Price: $16.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Sassy, gutsy, reporter Robin Hamilton investigates a murder in a small-town where things are not always as they seem. No one can be trusted. As Robin covers the scoop of a hit and run for the local newspaper, a killer watches her every move.

Review: Nancy Barr introduces Robin Hamilton, a journalist who has recently returned to her home town in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, in the crisply written Page One: Hit and Run.

When a pillar of the community is killed by a hit and run outside her home, Robin begins to think it may have been more than just a tragic accident. The owner of the truck involved in the incident is quickly identified and take into custody. But his story doesn't quite fit the facts and for personal reasons, Robin feels compelled to commence her own investigation. As she conducts both on and off the record interviews with the people involved in the story, she uncovers a complex scheme of deception, fraud, and murder.

Though the plot is, at times, unnecessarily complicated, Barr handles her narrative smoothly. A journalist herself from the Upper Peninsula, she adds authentic details about how a small town newspaper operates and of the community which it serves. Her experience as a news editor shows in her writing, effectively blending concise, clear prose with descriptive details.

Page One: Hit and Run, with its engaging sleuth and appealing locale, serves as a promising start to this mystery series.

Special thanks to Arbutus Press for providing a copy of Page One: Hit and Run for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for August 21, 2006

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for August 21, 2006A new Mystery Godoku Puzzle has been created by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books and is available on our website.

Godoku is similar to Sudoku, but uses letters instead of numbers. To give you a headstart, we provide you a mystery clue to fill in a complete row or column (if you choose to use it!).

This week's letters and mystery clue: A B C K O R S T Y. The 30th Spenser mystery in the series by Robert B. Parker had this title (9 letters).

Previous puzzles are stored in the Mystery Godoku Archives.

Enjoy the weekly Mystery Godoku Puzzle from the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, and Thanks for visiting our website!

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Mystery Game: Mansfield Manor Review

Games of MysteryMystery at Mansfield Manor
Marc Saltzman of the Gannett News Service recently reviewed the new online interactive mystery game, Mystery at Mansfield Manor.

This clever whodunit can best be described as an online interactive movie with nearly three hours of live-action video, Saltzman writes.

The game stars 14 real actors -- most of whom are suspects -- and it's your job as Detective Frank Mitchell to interrogate each one to solve the murder of a wealthy oil industrialist, Colin Mansfield Sr.

Saltzman adds, while a clever concept, Mystery at Mansfield Manor does suffer from occasional overacting, not to mention cliches, such as a renowned detective who is called to the case on the eve of his retirement; a lawyer who is holding unannounced changes to the deceased's will; and the attractive, young and money-hungry "companion" with eyes for other men.

He concludes his review by stating that this murder-mystery adventure is ideal for those in search of a fun challenge, though after you've solved the mystery, there is no reason to play again, unless you want to see the multiple endings.

Read the entire review as published on CNN.com here.

Games for Mystery provides information about all types of mystery-themed games including games for the PC, board games, mystery parties for adults, teens, and children, mystery vacations, and mysteries online.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Mystery Bestsellers for August 18, 2006

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending August 18, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

A few newcomers to the lists this week. Ricochet by Sandra BrownAt the top of the Borders/Amazon.com list is Ricochet by Sandra Brown. When Detective Sergeant Duncan Hatcher is summoned to the home of Judge Cato Laird in the middle of the night to investigate a fatal shooting, he knows that discretion and kid-glove treatment are the keys to staying in the judge's good graces and keeping his job. At first glance, the case appears open-and-shut: Elise, the judge's trophy wife, interrupted a burglary in progress and killed the intruder in self-defense. But Duncan is immediately suspicious of Elise's innocent act. His gut feeling is that her account of the shooting is only partially true -- and it's the parts she's leaving out that bother him. "No one does steamy suspense like Brown, as shown by this expert mix of spicy romance and sharply crafted crime drama," states Publishers Weekly.

At the top of the Barnes&Noble.com list is Triptych by Karin Slaughter. Triptych by Karin SlaughterFrom Atlanta's wealthiest suburbs to its stark inner-city housing projects, a killer has crossed the boundaries of wealth and race. And the people who are chasing him must cross those boundaries, too. Among them is Michael Ormewood, a veteran detective whose marriage is hanging by a thread- and whose arrogance and explosive temper are threatening his career. And Angie Polaski, a beautiful vice cop who was once Michael's lover before she became his enemy. But unbeknownst to both of them, another player has entered the game: a loser ex-con who has stumbled upon the killer's trail in the most coincidental of ways- and who may be the key to breaking the case wide open. Kirkus Reviews writes that, "The volcanic heroes and villains, who act both surprisingly and logically, are a welcome sign that Slaughter's trademark franchise (the Grant County crime series) only hints at the range of her gifts."

Finally, new to both lists is Mask Market by Andrew Vachss. Mask Market by Andrew VachssThey meet in a no-name diner. A shadowy man hands Burke a CD dossier of someone he wants found. Minutes later, as Burke watches from an alley, his client is gunned down by a professional hunter-killer team. Burke slips away, unsure if he's been spotted. Later, when he examines the dossier, he discovers that the missing woman is Beryl Preston, a girl he'd rescued from a brutal pimp twenty years earlier -- when she was only thirteen -- and returned to her father. Now he has to find her again -- not only because she might be in danger, but also because he has to prove to himself that his rescue mission hadn't been financed by a predator who wanted his "property" returned. His search will force him to confront a new kind of human ugliness and, finally, to practice the survivalist triage that has marked -- and cursed -- his life since childhood. Publishers Weekly states, "Despite a familiar plot, the sharp-edged prose and cutting insights into New York's underbelly elevate this above many similar crime novels."

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Mystery Game: The Da Vinci Code Review

Games of MysteryThe Da Vinci Code
Ron Harris of the Associated Press recently reviewed the new adventure game from Take-Two Interactive, The Da Vinci Code.

The Da Vinci Code would benefit in the early stages from a time clock, or something to quicken the attempts to solve levels. And the level objectives could be better explained, Harris writes.

In between battles are sliding word puzzles and jumbled anagrams that must be solved in the Louvre and other Parisian landmarks before advancing to the next level, he adds. "The word puzzles are simple if you're taking notes, and even easier if you've read the book or even listened to the audio book."

He concludes by saying that if you're looking for a game that is faithful to the book, The Da Vinci Code is for you. If you're looking for something fresh, that Holy Grail remains elusive.

Read the entire review as published on ABCNews.com here.

Games for Mystery provides information about all types of mystery-themed games including games for the PC, board games, mystery parties for adults, teens, and children, mystery vacations, and mysteries online.

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Mystery Book Review: Sonnet of the Sphinx by Diana Killian

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Sonnet of the Sphinx by Diana Killian. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Sonnet of the Sphinx by Diana Killian

Sonnet of the Sphinx by Diana Killian
A Poetic Death Mystery with Grace Hollister
Pocket Books (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7434-6680-2 (0743466802)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7434-6680-6 (9780743466806)
Publication Date: March 2006
List Price: $6.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): For one of Innisdale's residents, a priceless sonnet means poetic license to kill ...

Grace Hollister's stay in England's picturesque Lake District has proven doubly fruitful -- the American literary scholar just sold her first book, and her romance with charming antiques dealer and ex-jewel thief Peter Fox has begun a new chapter. Sorting through a hoard of papers found in an old farmhouse, Grace and Peter discover an old letter that refers to a lost Shelley sonnet, "Sate the Sphinx." Before Grace can start tracking down this poetic treasure, though, Peter's shady past rears its head -- a particularly ugly head, belonging to a menacing Turk who's eager to see Peter dead.

But there's plenty more trouble in store. Suddenly Grace and Peter are suspects in a murder investigation, and someone has tried his level best to kill her -- not once, but twice. The hieroglyphics are on the wall: unless Grace can unravel an inscrutable riddle and unearth the villain amid a cache of likely suspects, her story might be at an end.

Review: Diana Killian continues Grace Hollister's scholarly exploits in England's Lake District in the highly entertaining Sonnet of the Sphinx, the third book in the Poetic Death mystery series.
The possibility of recovering a lost Shelley sonnet is too compelling for Grace even after she's suspected of murder, is run off the road and nearly drowns, and barely escapes from her home as it burns to the ground. Though there are a couple of murders along the way, the real mystery of Sonnet of the Sphinx remains the quest itself. Does the sonnet exist, and if so, where is it, and is it authentic? Grace's research and persistence pay off when she ultimately ascertains the answers to these questions.

The back story in Sonnet of the Sphinx is fascinating and illustrates Killian's notable ability to interleave literary fact into a novel of fiction.

The ending comes as something of a surprise though in retrospect it shouldn't have been since Killian cleverly interjects telling clues throughout.

The epilogue serves as a cliffhanger of sorts. Will there be a fourth Poetic Death mystery? If so, will it take place in Cumbria? And where is Grace's increasingly complex relationship with the mysterious Peter Fox heading? Another literary adventure with Grace Hollister would certainly help resolve these undecided issues.

Special thanks to Diana Killian for providing a copy of Sonnet of the Sphinx for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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News: Murder She Writes

Marilyn Gardner of The Christian Science Monitor writes that almost half of the mysteries published in the US are written by women. In addition to creating intriguing new fictional roles for female crime-solvers, these whodunits are drawing more women to read mysteries of all kinds.

"We've helped grow the market for crime fiction. While fiction is stagnant or falling, crime fiction remains a very buoyant sub-genre," says Sara Paretsky, bestselling author of the Kinsey Millhone mystery series.

Women writers often offer unusual perspectives. Rochelle Krich, president-elect of Sisters in Crime, writes two series with Orthodox Jewish settings.

Libby Fischer Hellmann describes another sub-genre, the chick-lit mystery, as "Prada-type girls who happen to solve mysteries when they're not working in their wonderful Manhattan jobs."

Despite progress, women who write whodunits still have a few real-life mysteries to solve. One could be called The Case of the Changing Publishing Industry. Now that American publishers have consolidated into six conglomerates, their emphasis is on blockbusters.

For all authors, perhaps the biggest challenge involves The Case of the Diminishing Readership. "There's one underlying need we have to address," Hellmann says. "That is nurturing the next generation of mystery readers. We used to say, 'All these kids are reading Harry Potter. They'll be the next generation of mystery readers.' But they're not. They stop reading as teenagers. They're lured by iPods, the Internet, MySpace, and games."

Read the entire article on CSMonitor.com here.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Death Angel by Martha Powers

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Death Angel by Martha Powers. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Death Angel by Martha Powers

Death Angel by Martha Powers
Non-series
Oceanview Publishing (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-933515-03-1 (1933515031)
ISBN-13: 978-1-933515-03-8 (9781933515038)
Publication Date: October 2006
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): The search for truth can be deadly. Kate and Richard Warner have a quiet life – a routine life – until the one afternoon that changes them forever. Within a few short hours they are thrust into the black hole of every parent’s worst nightmare. Suddenly they are at the center of attention of their community, the media, and the police . . . for all the wrong reasons. The chief of police has singled out Richard as the primary suspect in a heinous crime that took more than an innocent life. With Richard as a suspect, Kate’s life unravels into unbearable chaos, grief, and a whole new world of deception. Neighbors turn away, and only a small handful of close friends are there to help. Or are they? After a second murder and Richard’s disappearance, Kate sets out to find the killer in their midst and clear her husband’s name. She begins to piece together an eerie puzzle, finding clues in the heart of her own community.

Anguish, suspicion and death combine in the horrifying aftermath of a vicious crime that pits a mother’s love against a ruthless killer. In a stunning conclusion, Kate risks her own life to track down and kill the Death Angel.

Review: In Death Angel, Martha Powers has crafted a thriller that perfects the art of misdirection. Everyone in this small Chicago suburb has secrets, and until the killer is revealed on the final pages, his identity remains a mystery.

After Kate and Richard Wagner's daughter disappears and is later found raped and murdered, and as their lives slowly spin out of control when Richard is suspected to be involved in the crime, Kate remarks, "There's no reality to our lives anymore. The unthinkable has become commonplace." This simple statement is the constant element that unites the various storylines in this book and is the basis for much of the suspense.

Death Angel for the most part alternates between two perspectives: Kate's conviction her husband is innocent and her doubt he may be guilty, and police chief Carl Leidecker's on-going investigation of the crime. This literary approach is quite effective as it adds a measure of conflict between these two principal characters though they share a common goal: to see the girl's murderer brought to justice. Along the way the author takes a few shortcuts to advance the plot, but in the end, Death Angel is a compelling suspense novel.

The tragedy of child abduction and murder is all too real. In a preface, Martha Powers acknowledges a Chicago mother whose story was the inspiration for Death Angel.

Special thanks to Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity for providing an ARC of Death Angel for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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News: Investigation Uncovers 5 Sleuths Worth Reading

Almost 5000 mysteries were published in 2005, with over 5500 published the year before. Bill Eichenberger of The Columbus Dispatch asked, "With so many new mysteries flooding the market annually (based on statistics from bibliographical-information supplier R. R. Bowker), how can readers find the most promising new authors and their compelling crime solvers?" After a bit of investigative reporting, he found a consensus forming around five of the hottest new sleuths worth reading, listed together with their most recent books.

Vince Camden (Citizen Vince by Jess Walter; HarperCollins 2005).

Jack Taylor (The Dramatist by Ken Bruen; St. Martin's Press 2006).

John Ray Horn (Red Sky Lament by Edward Wright; Orion 2006).

Lydia Chin and Bill Smith (Winter and Night by S. J. Rozan; St. Martin's Press 2002).

Read the entire article, including information about each of these mystery characters, here.

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Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for August 14, 2006

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for August 14, 2006A new Mystery Godoku Puzzle has been created by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books and is available on our website.

Godoku is similar to Sudoku, but uses letters instead of numbers. To give you a headstart, we provide you a mystery clue to fill in a complete row or column (if you choose to use it!).

This week's letters and mystery clue: A B H I L N R T Y. This historical thriller with archaeology volunteer Alice Tanner was a bestseller for Kate Mosse in 2006 (9 letters).

Previous puzzles are stored in the Mystery Godoku Archives.

Enjoy the weekly Mystery Godoku Puzzle from the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, and Thanks for visiting our website!

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Press Release: James Patterson to Receive ITW's 2007 ThrillerMaster Award

The International Thriller Writers, Inc (ITW) is delighted to announce that the 2007 ThrillerMaster Award for outstanding contribution to the thriller genre will be presented to author James Patterson during ThrillerFest 2007, hosted by ITW.

(PRWEB) August 12, 2006 -- The International Thriller Writers, Inc (ITW) is delighted to announce that the 2007 ThrillerMaster Award for outstanding contribution to the thriller genre will be presented to author James Patterson during ThrillerFest 2007, hosted by ITW.

Author Clive Cussler, 2006 ThrillerMaster Award recipient and a spotlight guest for ThrillerFest 2007, will present the award to Patterson during a gala Thriller Awards Ceremony on July 14, 2007 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. During the ceremony ITW also will present its Thriller Awards covering five categories including The Distinguished Literature Award; Best Novel; Best First Novel; Best Paperback Original and Best Script.

Founded in October 2004, at the Bouchercon World Suspense Conference in Toronto, Canada, the International Thriller Writers organization (ITW) was created by thriller authors to celebrate the thriller, to enhance the prestige and raise the profile of thrillers, to award prizes to outstanding thriller novels and authors, and to create marketing opportunities for authors within the thriller community.

Read the entire press release here.

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News: Hammett Prize Winner Prince of Thieves to be Filmed

Reuters is reporting that the winner of the 2004 Hammett Prize, Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan, will be filmed with director Adrian Lyne attached to the project.

Hogan's brash tale of four men -- thieves, rivals, friends -- being hunted through the streets of Boston by a tenacious FBI agent, and the woman who may destroy them all, is a spectacular, stylish, heart-pounding thriller.

Lyne is the Oscar-nominated director of Fatal Attraction with Michael Douglas and Glenn Close, and most recently directed Richard Gere and Diane Lane in Unfaithful.

The Hammett Prize is awarded annually by the North American Branch of the International Association of Crime Writers for literary excellence in the field of crime-writing.

The is commited to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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Mystery Book Review: Where Truth Lies by Christiane Heggan

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Where Truth Lies by Christiane Heggan. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Where Truth Lies by Christiane Heggan

Where Truth Lies by Christiane Heggan
Non-series
Mira Books (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7783-2337-4 (0778323374)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7783-2337-2 (9780778323372)
Publication Date: September 2006
List Price: $6.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): Beneath the small-town charm is a big-time secret.

Museum curator Grace McKenzie is shocked when she receives word that her ex-fiancé, Steven Hatfield, has been murdered. In his will, Steven has left her his art gallery in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Anticipating that she would turn down the bequest, he asked that she spend a week at the gallery before making her final decision. Motivated by a sense of duty to a man she once loved, Grace agrees to go to New Hope for one week.

She isn't the only person drawn to the small town. FBI agent Matt Baxter has returned to his hometown for one reason only -- to clear his father of a bogus murder charge. While he and Grace seek answers, they discover that beneath the surface of this charming, peaceful town lies an old secret a few of its citizens would rather keep buried. And when their search takes an unexpected turn, they have only hours to find out where the truth lies -- or be buried with it.

Review: Christiane Heggan cleverly weaves several disparate plot threads together in Where Truth Lies, a very intriguing suspense novel.

When Boston-based art curator Grace MacKenzie inherits an art gallery from Steven Hatfield, her former fiancé, it comes with a stipulation—before she can refuse to accept it, she must spend a week running the gallery, located in New Hope PA.

Soon after arriving, Grace is faced with several aspects of Steven's life in New Hope that trouble her. A known womanizer, could Steven have been murdered by an outraged husband or jealous lover? Why did he have a forged painting for sale in the gallery? What was his relationship to a loner in the community? An outsider, why was he so adamant to prevent commercial development of a local farm? Grace, together with FBI agent Matt Baxter, devise an endgame that neatly answers these questions at the same time resolving the 20 year old disappearance of a young girl from the area.

Prologues are sometimes used to quickly grab the reader's interest or to provide continuity later in the book. In Where Truth Lies, the prologue achieves neither. It is not particularly provocative nor does it add any information that isn't otherwise disclosed elsewhere. If anything, it gives away too much too early, and should be avoided.

It has been reported that Christiane Heggan is retiring with the publication of Where Truth Lies. Though it is regrettable that she will no longer be writing outstanding suspense fiction, it is with pleasure to note that she ends her remarkable writing career on a high note.

Special thanks to Book Trends for providing an ARC of Where Truth Lies for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Press Release: Nancy Drew Goes Digital With Big Fish Games

Games of MysteryNumber One PC Adventure Gaming Franchise from Her Interactive to Expand Reach Online

Nancy Drew 13: Last Train to Blue Moon CanyonSEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 11, 2006--Big Fish Games, a leading developer and distributor of casual games, and Her Interactive, a creator of interactive entertainment for mystery lovers of all ages, today announced that Nancy Drew 13: Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon is available for the first time as a digital download from Big Fish Games. The Nancy Drew game series is the #1 PC adventure game franchise in units, outselling Harry Potter, Myst, and Lord of the Rings for two consecutive years and winner of 13 consecutive Parents' Choice awards.

Nancy Drew: Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon sends players on a train ride filled with adventurous thrills. Players investigate the train and its hidden secrets, as well as explore old mining towns with deep mineshafts and hidden passageways, to unravel a century-old secret. Like all Nancy Drew games, Nancy Drew: Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon contains puzzles that yield clues when solved.

Read the entire press release here.

Find information about the entire series of Nancy Drew mystery games and more at Games of Mystery.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

News: Geraldine McEwan to Appear in 4 New Miss Marple Mysteries

ITV, the biggest commercial television network in the UK, is reporting that the celebrated actress, Geraldine McEwan, will reprise the role of the shrewd and inquisitive Jane Marple in a series of four adaptations of some of Agatha Christie’s most loved stories.

The Stage adds that Tom Baker, Alan Davies, Saffron Burrows and Julian Sands are among stars lined up for the first of the films, Towards Zero. The other three films have yet to be announced.

The previous Miss Marple mysteries starring Geraldine McEwan have appeared on Mystery! on PBS in the US.

The is commited to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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News: Real Case Inspires Seattle Mystery Author

John Marshall, in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, writes that local author G. M. Ford's latest Frank Corso mystery, Blown Away, was inspired by a real case.Blown Away by G. M. Ford

The thriller's action is set in motion by an incident very similar to the one involving a Pennsylvania pizza delivery guy who robbed a bank with explosives wrapped around his neck, then, when cornered by police, pleaded that he had been forced to participate in the crime -- pleaded until the bomb around his neck went off and killed him, writes Marshall.

Ford says, "Was he a victim or a perpetrator? Had the police acted properly? What would happen if the scenario repeated itself? How does law enforcement deal with a bank robbery if the robber is a kidnap victim? The questions went on and on." The case remains unsolved to this day.

Ford adds, "As I had never written anything with a reality tie-in, I was somewhat reticent about mucking around in an unsolved case."

Read the rest of the article on SeattlePI.com here.

The is commited to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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Mystery Book Review: Targets of Affection by RG Willems

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Targets of Affection by RG Willems. We are reprinting it here for the convenience of our blog readers.Targets of Affection by RG Willems

Targets of Affection by RG Willems
A Shelby James Mystery
Cormorant Books (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-896951-98-8 (1896951988)
ISBN-13: 978-1-896951-98-0 (9781896951980)
Publication Date: June 2006
List Price: CDN$21.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Shelby James has a soft-spot for the underdog. Sick dogs, homeless cats, hurt birds, she goes to bat for them all as a veterinary nurse. So it's no surprise that Miranda Wall and her menagerie of needy animals appeal to her. But there's more to Miranda than meets the eye: a silent daughter named Jessie, and a stalking husband, among other disasters. When Shelby takes a closer look into Miranda's life, her search takes her into the sinister world of mental illness, child abuse, and domestic violence.

Review: Targets of Affection, RG Willems first mystery in a new series, introduces Shelby James, a veterinary technician working at a clinic outside of Saskatoon in northern Saskatchewan.

Shelby suspects a new client, Miranda Wall, of intentionally harming her pets in order to receive sympathetic attention in return when she brings them in for treatment. As Shelby is drawn into Miranda's world, an asthmatic daughter, recovering dog, and potentially abusive ex-husband complicate her investigation into why a woman would perform such acts.

Some mysteries defy simple classification. Targets of Affection has many elements of a cozy but also has a darker, harder edge to it. There is no overt violence, but the graphic descriptions of some of the procedures that take place in the veterinary clinic are definitely not for the squeamish.

Willems is a talented, articulate writer, though she takes well over half the book setting up the mystery in Targets of Affection. Once it becomes clear where the story is heading, the pace picks up and the ending, while not unexpected, has Shelby uncovering the necessary clues to confront Miranda about her suspicions.

There is every reason to believe that this Saskatchewan veterinary clinic will have its fair share of clients in need of Shelby's unique brand of sleuthing providing ample opportunities for Willems to write more mysteries in this series.

Special thanks to RG Willems for providing a copy of Targets of Affection for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (08/11/2006)

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending August 11, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Very little change at the top of all the lists this week. New on the Barnes&Noble.com list is the 12th mystery in the Deborah Knott series by Margaret Maron, Winter's ChildWinter's Child by Margaret Maron. When the ex-wife of Deborah's husband of one month disappears, she travels to Virginia with Dwight to aid in the investigation. Now, as a stranger in another woman's house, she sees a side of Dwight she never knew, contends with feelings she doesn't want to confront, and senses something dangerous stalking a boy and his mother. But while she and Dwight pry open the most intimate secrets of a life, the one thing Deborah is not prepared for is the ferocious darkness lurking just beneath the surface of a seemingly genteel life-or the danger that is waiting just for her. Publishers Weekly calls Winter's Child "outstanding" and adds, "Maron brilliantly connects the unconnected, hides one killer in plain sight and tucks another into a most unexpected position."

Visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books often where we provide readers and collectors of mysteries with the best and most current information about their favorite mystery authors, books, and series.

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Mystery Book Contest: Win a Set of Signed Mysteries by Diana Killian

New MysteriesNew! The Poetic Deaths Contest is now available on The Mystery Book Contest Website. Enter daily through October 16, 2006, for a chance to win a complete set of all three published Grace Hollister Poetic Death mysteries by Diana Killian, each personally signed by the author!

The mysteries featured in this prize package are:

High Rhymes and Misdemeanors, the first Grace Hollister mystery, whose adventures lead straight into the heart of a caper of the highest order, one that might lead to a spectacular literary discovery and poetic justice for all.

Verse of the Vampyre, where it seems a real vampire may be roaming the village in England's Lake District where Grace is staying.

Sonnet of the Sphinx, with Grace discovering an old letter that refers to a lost Shelley sonnet and unless she can unravel an inscrutable riddle, her story might be at an end.

High Rhymes and Misdemeanors by Diana KillianVerse of the Vampyre by Diana KillianSonnet of the Sphinx by Diana Killian

The Poetic Deaths Contest is sponsored by Diana Killian, author of the Grace Hollister Poetic Death mysteries, and Mysterious Reviews.

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Lance Wright owns and manages Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites, which had its origin as Hidden Staircase Mystery Books in 1986. As the scope of the business expanded, first into book reviews — Mysterious Reviews — and later into information for and reviews of mystery and suspense television and film, all sites were consolidated under the Omnimystery brand in 2006.

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