Monday, October 30, 2006

Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for October 30, 2006

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for October 30, 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 G H I M R S T W. This Seattle police office was featured in Lowen Clausen's First Avenue (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, October 28, 2006

News: The Prague Files on Live Games Network

Games of MysteryLive Games Network, a destination website for players to enter and experience a live mystery adventure game, will be starting its next game, The Prague Files, on 12/04/2006. Over a 14 day period, you will be sent messages via text, e-mail, and your game in-box. For each mission you will earn a score based on difficulty, time allotted to complete, and the time it takes you. The game costs $6.95 to join, and the winner receives a 7-day trip for two to Prague. See the trailer here.
LGN: The Prague FilesLGN produces and directs games that let players live a fictional adventure for a set period of time. The first game, Delta One Zero, was a live game played by 20,000 players across Australia in 2003.

Visit Games of Mystery for more online mystery games as well as mystery parties, mystery-themed vacations, and more!

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Family Business by Janet LaPierre

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

Family Business by Janet LaPierre
A Port Silva Mystery

Perseverance Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-880284-85-5 (1880284855)
ISBN-13: 978-1-880284-85-8 (9781880284858)
Publication Date: September 2006
List Price: $13.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): In October 2002, after the Port Silva City Council denies a group of citizens permission for a demonstration against an ever-more-likely war in Iraq, the organizers take their planning underground. A few days later, some one thousand silent anti-war protesters march the city streets to a coastal park, where their peaceful demonstration degenerates into a riot that crowds jail cells and the emergency ward, and leaves one local man lost in the stormy sea, another simply missing. As Chief Gutierrez struggles to protect angry citizens from one another and find the missing man, Patience and Verity Mackellar are hired to look into the background of the man who presumably drowned, and find that he’s not who he said he was.

Review: Janet LaPierre's 9th Port Silva mystery, the aptly titled Family Business, is a captivating study of family relationships and the secrets that can bind them or tear them apart.

Private investigators Patience Mackellar and her daughter Verity, looking into the past for information on Danny Soto, missing after a fall from a cliff, discover he has no history prior to 1996. Probing further, they find a link to another young man, Luke MacWhorter, who disappeared that same year. Believing Danny and Luke to be the same person, Patience is convinced that solving the mystery of Danny's disappearance is dependent on finding out what—or whom—Danny is running away from.

Family Business is set in 2002, following the Gulf War and prior to the current US involvement in Iraq. It isn't clear whether or not LaPierre intended to write Family Business as a mystery with a message, or was simply trying to be topical. But her personal political ideology is prominently on display in many ways throughout the book. Since being pro- or anti-war has no bearing whatsoever on the story in Family Business, it is often distracting when LaPierre interjects what appear to be her own views on the current situation in Iraq for no obvious literary reason, especially when the book takes place prior to present day events. Her obvious strongly held political convictions certainly don't further the plot in any meaningful way. Fortunately, in the second half of the book, the political overtones abate somewhat, allowing her and the reader to concentrate on what is otherwise a first rate mystery.

Janet LaPierre is a most accomplished author and Family Business is a pleasure to read with its expressive narrative, intricate plot, and richly drawn characters and locales. Politics aside, it is a terrific mystery.

Special thanks to Perseverance Press for providing a copy of Family Business for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Mystery Bestsellers for October 27, 2006

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending October 27, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Robert B. Parker's 34th Spenser mystery, Hundred-Dollar Baby by Robert B. ParkerHundred-Dollar Baby, is new this week. When April Kyle (first seen in 1982's Ceremony, and later in 1986 in Taming a Sea-Horse) strides into Spenser's office, the Boston PI barely hesitates before recognizing his once and future client. Now a well-established madam, April oversees an upscale call-girl operation in Boston's Back Bay. Still looking for Spenser's approval, it takes her a moment before she can ask him, again, for his assistance. Her business is a success; what's more, it's an all-female enterprise. Now that some men are trying to take it away from her, she needs Spenser. April claims to be in the dark about who it is that's trying to shake her down, but with a bit of legwork and a bit more muscle, Spenser and Hawk find ties to organized crime and local kingpin Tony Marcus, as well as a scheme to franchise the operation across the country. As Spenser again plays the gallant knight, it becomes clear that April's not as innocent as she seems. In fact, she may be her own worst enemy. Publisher's Weekly states, "This is vintage Parker, with Spenser exchanging witty dialogue with the faithful Hawk, sexy dialogue with his beloved Susan and smart-alecky dialogue with cops and villains."

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, October 26, 2006

News: Podcasts Showcase Local Authors

The Fairfax (VA) County Public Library system's web site has introduced a new series of podcast interviews with local authors. Each of the interviews in the series, officially called "Bookcast", is hosted by Sam Clay, Fairfax County's head librarian.

Donna Andrews, a mystery writer and resident of Reston VA, was recently interviewed as part of the BookCast series. "It was a lot of fun," Andrews said. "I don't really have an off button. You just have to pull the plug. So I hope they were pleased to have a guest who doesn't have a problem talking a lot."No Nest for the Wicket by Donna Andrews

Andrews' most recent book, No Nest for the Wicket, is the 7th mystery in the Meg Langslow series. When asked to explain the title during the interview, Andrews says that all her books feature birds and in her current mystery, the sport of eXtreme croquet. Her publisher likes themes (birds) and wanted a "really bad pun in the title", hence No Nest for the Wicket. A review of No Nest for the Wicket is available on the Mysterious Reviews website.

Andrews told Clay in her interview about how she trained as a private investigator and how she incorporates the training into her fiction. She praised the library system for their willingness to try out new technology, saying it can help local authors spread the word about their book.

To listen to the entire interview, visit the Fairfax County Public Library Bookcast website here, and click on the Donna Andrews interview link.

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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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

News: 5th Season Ordered for Wire in the Blood

ITV has ordered a 5th season for Wire in the Blood, telemovies based on characters created in the Tony Hill mystery series by Val McDermid. With this order, the total number of movies in the franchise is 19.The Torment of Others by Val McDermid

The most recent book in the series, The Torment of Others, was the 2006 Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.

The first three seasons of Wire in the Blood are available on DVD.

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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Monday, October 23, 2006

News: Author Turns her Dedication into a Mystery

Matthew Chew of the Tehachapi (CA) News writes that local author Eve Geisler got the inspiration for her first mystery, The Canal Murder, after walking along a canal in Indianapolis.The Canal Murder by Eve Geisler

He adds that the effort actually began long before the day she looked into the canal. The book has twists like any other mystery thriller, but this thriller has a twist unlike other books of the genre.

Her heroine, Claire Barton, is a private detective who not only has to solve a mystery, but has to deal with her own shadows. She has Type I diabetes.

"She comes to terms with her diabetes as she solves the mystery,” said Geisler.

In the mid-1990s, Geisler, who used to work in a Tehachapi pharmacy, decided to learn more about the disease. Today, she is a diabetes educator, teaching those with the condition about diet, exercise, medicines, and monitoring their bodies.

Chew notes that originally the book was serialized in Diabetes Health magazine. In 2004, Geisler felt the story needed to be released in book form to make the information available to a wider public, and self-published her mystery.

Read more about mystery author Eve Geisler on TehachapiNews.com here.

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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Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for October 23, 2006

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for October 23, 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: B C E N R T U W Y. Justin Scott’s Ben Abbott is a realtor and private investigator in this fictional New England town (7 letter city and 2 letter state code).

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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Friday, October 20, 2006

Mystery Bestsellers for October 20, 2006

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending October 20, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Debuting at the second position on both the Borders / Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com lists is a prequel of sorts from Elizabeth George, What Came Before He Shot Her by Elizabeth GeorgeWhat Came Before He Shot Her. The brutal, inexplicable death of Inspector Thomas Lynley's wife (in With No One as Witness) has left Scotland Yard searching for answers. Who is the twelve-year-old boy who pulled the trigger? What were the circumstances that led to his horrific act? That story begins on the other side of London, where the three mixed-race Campbell children are sent to live with their aunt. The oldest, fifteen-year-old Ness, is headed for trouble as fast as her high-heeled boots will take her. That leaves the middle child, Joel, to care for the youngest, Toby. But before long, Joel has his own problems with a local gang. To protect his family, he makes a pact with the devil - a move that leads straight to the front doorstep of Thomas Lynley. Library Journal calls the book a "gripping story" and Kirkus Reviews states "... this is George's best since A Great Deliverance, her 1988 debut."

Motor Mouth by Janet EvanovichMost authors would be thrilled to have their mystery appear on the New York Times Bestseller list. But what must come as something of a disappointment to Janet Evanovich is that her latest book, Motor Mouth, debuts "only" in third position. No doubt it will have staying power. Twelve Sharp, her previous mystery, remains on the list (currently 33) four months after its release in June.

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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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

News: The Adventure Company Releases Trailer for Secret Files: Tunguska

Games of MysterySecret Files: TunguskaGame Zone is reporting that The Adventure Company has released a trailer for its upcoming mystery game, Secret Files: Tunguska. The game is based on the true events of the Tunguska phenomenon that fascinated the world.

Play the role of Nina who is torn from her day-to-day routine when she discovers that her father has disappeared without a trace. As the police seem reluctant to help her, Nina sets off to look for clues relating to her father's whereabouts. She joins efforts with Max Gruber, a young colleague of her father who impulsively offers to help the attractive young lady. Together, they quickly determine that Nina's father was involved with a research expedition to Siberia in an attempt to reveal the causes of the mysterious Tunguska catastrophe of 1908 that destroyed approximately 60 million trees over 830 square miles. Nina and Max soon realize that her father's disappearance is related to the Tunguska event and the search for answers leads Nina and Max to the most remote corners of the world – Berlin, Moscow, Cuba, China, and the Antarctic. Powerful adversaries are also interested in Nina's father's secret. In the end, much more is at stake than just the disappearance of an old man.

The trailer is available for download from Game Zone here. The game, available on the Games of Mystery website, will be available for sale on October 24, 2006.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

News: US Publishers Rolls the Dice on a Mystery Debut

Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg of the Wall Street Journal writes of the efforts of one US publisher, Henry Holt and Company, to create this year's blockbuster book. Their choice: a debut mystery written by a Yale Law School professor, a historical thriller that centers around a series of murders that are committed in New York City during Sigmund Freud's only visit to the United States.

The Interpretation of Murder by Jed RubenfeldThe book: The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld. Holt acquired the rights to the book for $800,000, one of the highest advances paid to an unknown author. It further committed $500,000 for a marketing campaign, including the publication of 10,000 advanced reader copies.

Trachtenberg adds that the timing of its marketing push was to coincide with the annual booksellers convention in late May of 2006. Early signs were positive and independent stores were particularly enthusiastic. But a week after the book's publication in early September, the results weren't good. The Interpretation of Murder debuted at only 18 on the New York Times bestsellers list, and fell in subsequent weeks.

Trachtenberg continues with an analysis of what went right and, more importantly for Holt, what went wrong.

Mysterious Reviews reviewed The Interpretation of Murder just prior to its publication. We called it "cleverly devised" but "... flaws in style and editing prevent it from being a memorable novel of suspense fiction." Great books aren't often bestsellers, and bestsellers are frequently not great books. But we think one of the major problems here rests squarely with the publisher's marketing department. The Interpretation of Murder was heavily promoted as a mystery with Freud as the consulting detective, but Freud actually played a minor role in the book, and there is little to suggest that Freud acted as a "detective" in any sense of the word. Those readers who thought Freud would be portrayed as a psychoanalytical Sherlock Holmes were likely sadly disappointed.

Trachtenberg concludes his article by noting that publishing is often like the roll of the dice: there are no guarantees.

Read the read of this fascinating article on The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette here.

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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Mystery Book Contest: Win a Set of Signed Mysteries by Don Bruns

New MysteriesNew! The Rock and Roll Murders Contest is now available on The Mystery Book Contest Website. Enter daily through January 08, 2007, for a chance to win a prize package from author and musician Don Bruns.

The prize package includes the first three books in the Mick Sever mystery series (Jamaica Blue, Barbados Heat, and South Beach Shakedown) signed by the author and Don Bruns' latest music CD.

Jamaica Blue by Don BrunsBarbados Heat by Don BrunsSouth Beach Shakedown by Don Bruns

The Rock and Roll Murders Contest is sponsored by Don Bruns, Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity, and Mysterious Reviews.

Technorati Profile: mystery books blogs, , , . Omnimystery keyword(s) for these mysteries: jamaica, barbados, miami.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for October 16, 2006

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for October 16, 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 G I M N R S W Y. This author’s mysteries featured San Francisco private investigator Emma Victor (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, October 15, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Dying Light by Stuart MacBride

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Dying Light by Stuart MacBride. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Dying Light Dock by Stuart MacBride

Dying Light by Stuart MacBride
A Logan MacRae Mystery
St. Martin's Minotaur
ISBN-10: 0-312-33997-6 (0312339976)
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-33997-5 (9780312339975)
Publication Date: August 2006
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Detective Sergeant Logan MacRae has been bumped to D.I. Roberta Steel's "Screw-up Squad" after a raid he led on a warehouse rumored to be full of stolen property ended with no arrests and one officer critically injured. The backstabbing, limelight-stealing, laziest D.I. on Aberdeen's police force, Steel's team is made up of the "no-hopers," the most worthless or inexperienced members of the homicide department, and Logan will do anything to prove he doesn't belong there. Including working overtime on two baffling cases: the murder by arson of six people, and the beating to death of a prostitute down by the docks, not a high priority compared to the fire. At least not until another prostitute ends up dead.

Although both cases seem simple on the surface--turns out the fire's victims are part of a drug dealer's inner circle, and what fate is to be expected for working girls in Aberdeen's red-light district?--in Stuart MacBride's hands, what's going on in this rainy Scottish city is bound to be much more complicated than it appears.

Review: Dying Light is Stuart MacBride's second police procedural to feature Aberdeen (Scotland) Detective Sergeant Logan MacRae. Logan, assigned to a squad of misfits in the homicide department, is working on several cases, none of which seem to be connected, but each of which involves a violent crime with no obvious motive. The crimes being investigated are brutal, and the violence in the book is often depicted in graphic, sometimes horrific detail.

Dying Light is surprisingly vivid in its descriptions of Aberdeen, and the city is as much of a character in the book as are the detectives in the homicide department and the victims of the crimes under investigation. This is not the Scotland that the tourist boards are advertising to visitors. Much of the narrative takes place at night or in the rain, giving the book a noir feel.

There are long stretches where very little happens. No doubt this is typical of an actual police department investigating any serious crime. There is a lot of bureaucracy, clues to sift through, many of which lead no where, stake-outs that are mind-numbingly boring, and the ever present paperwork. Dying Light includes all this, making the book somewhat long but never dull.

A word of caution: Though it resembles English, the characters in Dying Light speak a language that is, at times, "colorful", explicit, and completely foreign to the American reader. For the most part, unknown words can be defined by the context in which they are found, but at times, a handy website of Scottish slang will be helpful to have available.

What elevates Dying Light above similar books in this genre is the author's willingness to take risks in style, tempo, and characterization. The result is a memorable mystery.

Special thanks to St. Martin's Minotaur for providing a copy of Dying Light for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Mystery Book Review: Death at Victoria Dock by Kerry Greenwood

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

Death at Victoria Dock by Kerry Greenwood
A Phryne Fisher Mystery
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-238-1 (1590582381)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-238-1 (9781590582381)
Publication Date: December 2006
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Driving home late one night, Phryne Fisher is surprised when someone shoots out her windscreen. When she alights she finds a pretty young man with an anarchist tattoo dying on the tarmac just outside the dock gates. He bleeds to death in her arms, and all over her silk shirt.

Enraged by the loss of the clothing, the damage to her car, and this senseless waste of human life, Phryne promises to find out who is responsible. But she doesn't yet know how deeply into the mire she'll have to go: bank robbery, tattoo parlors, pubs, spiritualist halls, and anarchists.

Along this path, Phryne meets Peter, a scarred but delectable wharfie who begins to unfold the mystery of who would need a machine gun in Melbourne. But when someone kidnaps her cherished companion, Dot, Phryne will stop at nothing to retrieve her.

Review: Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher mysteries are immensely popular in her native Australia, and have only recently been published in hardcover for the US market by Poisoned Pen Press. Though the ninth book available from this publisher, Death at Victoria Dock is actually the fourth mystery in the series set during the 1920s in Melbourne Australia.

The title refers to an event in the opening scene, one which spawns a cascade of events involving anarchists, communists, revolutionists, and people of other political convictions. It's all rather a blur, but as Phryne herself says at one point, she hates politics so it isn't terribly germane to the story who supports whom and for what reason. What is important to Phryne is the fact that she was shot at, a good-looking chap was killed, and she wants revenge. Suffice it to say that Phryne accomplishes what she has set out to do, finding a love interest along the way.

Apart from her activities with regard to the shooting, Phryne, as an investigator, has been hired to find a missing person, the daughter of a prominent businessman. From a plot perspective, this case is more interesting than Phryne running around with revolutionaries, and is certainly the more mysterious of the two. Though the resolution to the case is fairly obvious, the delightful personalities of Phryne's adoptive daughters are on display as well as an exceptional character in the Reverend Mother of the Convent of the Holy Spirit.

Phryne Fisher is definitely a free spirit, and as one of her daughters describes her, beautiful but terribly cynical. This multi-faceted woman is well worth knowing, and it is little wonder this series is so popular with readers.

Special thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of Death at Victoria Dock for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

Visit for other reviews of current and upcoming mystery books. The is committed 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: Christie's Most Famous Mystery Solved at Last

The solution to the darkest of all Agatha Christie mysteries may be at hand, writes Vanessa Thorpe, arts correspondent for The Observer. What lay behind her extraordinary 11-day disappearance in 1926? Several plausible theories have been proposed over the years, but biographer Andrew Norman believes he is the first to find one that satisfies every element of the case.

Twelve The Finished Portrait by Andrew NormanIn his study of the writer's life published this autumn, Norman uses medical case studies to show that Christie was in the grip of a rare but increasingly acknowledged mental condition known as a "fugue state", or a period of out-of-body amnesia induced by stress. In effect, the writer was in a kind of trance for several days, he claims.

Thorpe adds that in his book, The Finished Portrait, Norman says that Christie's adoption of a new personality - she took the name Teresa Neele - and failure to recognize herself in newspaper photographs were signs that the novelist had fallen into a psychogenic amnesia after a period of depression. "I believe she was suicidal," said Norman. "Her state of mind was very low and she writes about it later through the character of Celia in her autobiographical novel, Unfinished Portrait."

Read the read of this fascinating article on The Observer UK here.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Mystery Game: Nancy Drew, The Creature of Kapu Cave

Games of Mystery
Nancy Drew 15: The Creature of Kapu CaveThe latest Nancy Drew adventure game for the PC, Nancy Drew 15: The Creature of Kapu Cave, was released this week by Her Interactive and is available for purchase from the Nancy Drew page on the Games of Mystery website.

In her latest adventure, Nancy travels to Hawaii as a research assistant for Dr. Quigley Kim to determine why the population of native caterpillars has exploded. The Hardy Boys, on a separate covert operation, are also visiting -- and both stumble across the mystery of the Hilihili research compound and its evil vibes. Some believe it's linked to the legend of Kane 'Okala. Local legend has it that a long time ago, a man was sacrificed to the hungry volcano to appease it. Kane 'Okala, or "the rough-skinned man," later escaped from the volcano, but he was scarred for life with a rough-skinned and frightening appearance. When Nancy arrives at Camp Quigley, she sees a monster ravaging the camp, and soon discovers that Dr. Quigley is missing! Could the monster she saw be Kane 'Okala? She'll have to team up with the Hardy Boys to find out!

Nancy Drew 15: The Creature of Kapu Cave incorporates such exciting features as:
• For the first time, the ability to play as three different characters: Nancy, Joe Hardy and Frank Hardy depending on the skills and clues needed to solve the mystery;
• The use of the SUV GPS system to travel to a variety of exotic Hawaiian environments;
• An assortment of puzzles to gather clues that allow players to progress through the game;
• Snorkeling for shells and designing shell necklaces to earn ‘Big Island Bucks’;
• A second chance feature that enables players to take risks without starting over;
• Hints from Bess and George to help navigate the game;
• Two difficulty settings to allow players of all skill levels to solve the mystery.

Visit Games of Mystery for more mystery games of all kinds as well as mystery parties, mystery-themed vacations, and more!

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Mystery Bestsellers for October 13, 2006

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending October 13, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

New at the top of the lists this week is the 11th Harry Bosch mystery from Michael Connelly, Echo Park by Michael ConnellyEcho Park. Bosch reopens one of his own unsolved cases and comes face to face with a psychotic killer he has been seeking for years. When a man accused of two heinous killings is willing to come clean about several others, Bosch must now take the confession of the man he has sought--and hated--for eleven years. But when Bosch learns that he and his partner missed a clue back in 1995 that could have led them to Gesto's killer--and stopped nine murders that followed--his whole being as a cop begins to crack. Publishers Weekly states, "Smooth prose and plausible characters, even the secondary figures, elevate this several notches above the standard cop vs. serial-killer thriller."

Also new on the lists Short Straw by Stuart WoodsShort Straw. Stuart Woods reintroduces Santa Fe lawyer Ed Eagle (who first appeared in Santa Fe Rules, published in 1992) in a complex thriller that opens the morning after Ed's fortieth birthday. He finds that his wife, Barbara, has vanished, and all his money-from his business, his bank, and his brokerage accounts-has been wired to the Cayman Islands. Barbara, it appears, had drugged his birthday wine, neatly cleaned him out and then fled to Mexico. And as if that weren't bad enough, when Ed arrives at work that morning he discovers that he's been assigned a new client who looks like nothing but trouble-Joe Big Bear, a part-time mechanic charged with a triple homicide. Ed hires two slightly shady investigators to search for his wife. But when they track Barbara down in Puerto Vallarta, they discover that Joe Big Bear may also be embroiled in Barbara's plot. Ed soon finds himself caught in a scheme that is much more far reaching-and deadly-than anyone would have expected. Kirkus Reviews writes, "... Woods's most entertaining tale in years."

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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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

News: 2006 Quill Award Winners

Twelve Sharp by Janet EvanovichThe winners of the 2006 Quill Book Awards were announced Tuesday night during a star-studded gala at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. It was a who's who of authors and best-selling publishers as awards were handed out in 20 categories. The winners were chosen by the public, who cast their votes online.

Winner of the Mystery/Suspense/Thriller category, presented by S. Epatha Merkerson and Nelson DeMille was:

Twelve Sharp (St. Martin's Press) by Janet Evanovich.

Congratulations to all nominees and winners from the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books!

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Love, Lies and Liquor by M. C. Beaton

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Love, Lies and Liquor by M. C. Beaton. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Love, Lies and Liquor by M. C. Beaton

Love, Lies and Liquor by M. C. Beaton
An Agatha Raisin Mystery
St. Martin's Minotaur (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-312-34910-6 (0312349106)
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-34910-3 (978312349103)
Publication Date: September 2006
List Price: $22.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Agatha Raisin is lonely. Busy as she is with her detective agency and the meetings of the Carsely Ladies' Society, she still misses her ex-husband, James Lacey, so she welcomes his return to the cottage next door with her usual triumph of optimism over experience---especially when he invites her on holiday at a surprise location that was once very dear to him. With visions of a romantic hideaway in Italy or the Pacific dancing in her head, Agatha goes off happily with James to ... Snoth-on-Sea, in Sussex.

While James may have fond memories of boyhood holidays there, Snoth-on-Sea has seen better days, as has the once-grand Palace Hotel, now run-down and tacky and freezing cold. Nor do the other guests have much to recommend them, especially the brassy honeymoon couple, Mr. and Mrs. Jankers, who pick a fight with Agatha in the dining room. But trouble has a way of following Agatha even if romance does not: Just as she and James are preparing to flee to warmer climes, Geraldine Jankers is found dead on the beach---strangled with Agatha's scarf. So much for Agatha's holiday fantasies: Not only is it time to put her detective skills to work, but the police are not even sure that she'll be allowed to leave town.

Review: Love, Lies and Liquor is the 17th mystery in this long-running mystery series by M. C. Beaton featuring private investigator Agatha Raisin.

Agatha thinks she's off on a romantic holiday with ex-husband James, but the resort town on the south English coast to which he takes them has seen better days and the hotel at which they are staying seems to be literally falling into the sea. After one of the guests is murdered in the middle of the night, Agatha finds herself initially accused of the crime when her scarf is used as the murder weapon. Hired by the dead woman's husband to locate the killer, Agatha learns there is no shortage of suspects who would have liked to see the obnoxious woman dead.

Love, Lies and Liquor is more about Agatha lamenting the sad state of her love life than about Agatha discovering the circumstances surrounding a mysterious death. The important men in her life take her for granted, and what's worse, she seems to allow it to happen. For an investigator who should know better, she agrees to meet a total stranger for dinner, a good-looking man who happens to be dressed smartly, and even that date ends with disastrous results. To say she has problems with the opposite sex would be an understatement.

But there's still that unsolved murder, and though the police are willing to close the case, Agatha isn't. Through sheer determination, and what seems to be more than a little bit of good fortune, she manages to name the guilty party.

Beaton is among the best authors of the traditional mystery and Agatha Raisin typifies the modern English village sleuth. But Love, Lies and Liquor strays a bit too far off course here. Agatha needs to spend more time thinking about her case than considering when, where, and with whom she'll be able to wear her filmy clothes.

Special thanks to St. Martin's Minotaur for providing a copy of Love, Lies and Liquor for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Press Release: The New York Times Second Annual ''Great Read in the Park''™

A Day Long Celebration of Books and Reading

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The New York Times announced today the schedule of author events and live entertainment for the second annual Great Read in the Park, to be held Sunday, Oct.15, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in Bryant Park. Last year’s inaugural event attracted more than 33,000 people, with standing room-only panel discussions and readings. The events in Bryant Park are free and open to the public.

New Yorkers of all ages can indulge their passion for books by attending readings, discussions, panels and book signings with more than 120 nationally known authors.

Two special ticketed events that will take place at The Hudson Theatre in The Millennium Broadway Hotel include ... The Great Tea, featuring a discussion with four of the most well-known mystery writers in America: Tess Gerritsen, Walter Mosley, Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb and Jed Rubenfeld, with master of ceremonies, Sam Roberts, New York Times urban affairs correspondent.

The press release in its entirety can be read here.

The is committed 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: Nip, Tuck, Dead by Lori Avocato

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Nip, Tuck, Dead by Lori Avocato. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Nip, Tuck, Dead by Lori Avocato

Nip, Tuck, Dead by Lori Avocato
A Pauline Sokol Mystery
Avon Books (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-06-083704-7 (0060837047)
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-083704-4 (9780060837044)
Publication Date: November 2006
List Price: $6.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): Ex-nurse-turned-insurance fraud investigator Pauline Sokol's willing to risk anything to put a bad doc out of business—even her best friend Goldie's near-perfect proboscis! Her cross-dressing compadre has agreed to get his shnozz bobbed so Pauline can pose as his private nurse and gain entry into Highcliff Manor—a posh plastic surgery "spa" making an illegal killing with their repeat clientele.

But when a super-rich "frequent flier" is unexpectedly widowed—and a receptionist who knows too much is given the boot . . . off a nearby cliff!—Pauline realizes she's stuck her own nose into something really nasty. Despite the pleasant distraction of the hunky Dr. Neal—and the unexpected appearance of her sexy cohort, Jagger—Pauline can't shake the feeling she's being closely watched. And if she's not careful, she'll be the next one who goes under the knife!

Review: Pauline Sokol travels to the playground of the rich and famous, Newport, to investigate some irregular insurance claims submitted by an exclusive clinic in Nip, Tuck, Dead, the 4th mystery in this series by Lori Avocato.

Returning to her former profession as a nurse, Pauline accompanies her roommate and best friend Goldie Perlman to the clinic; Goldie has decided he's going to splurge and treat himself to a "nose job". Once there, Pauline discovers a web of fraud and deceit that only she, in her own inimitable way, can unravel.

The mysteries in this series are light, entertaining, and not meant to be taken too seriously despite one or more dead bodies popping up every so often. A generally implausible storyline is taken for granted. And that's the great appeal of these books: they're escapist, fun reading. But in Nip, Tuck, Dead, the plot is exceptionally shallow and oddly a bit disturbing. If the doctors at the clinic are suspected of submitting fraudulent insurance claims (a felony), why would Pauline allow Goldie to risk surgery there before ascertaining the truth?

Furthermore, it's more than a little suspicious that Goldie's elective, cosmetic procedure is suddenly a medically necessary one (and presumably covered by insurance) when he's diagnosed with a deviated septum. The irony of the situation seems lost on Pauline who now appears to be a party to the crime she's there to investigate.

The best part of the books in this series is the amusing way Avocato depicts Pauline's relationship with her family, her friends, her man-of-the-moment, and, of course, the mysterious Jagger. Nip, Tuck, Dead does not disappoint in this regard.

Those who have enjoyed the previous adventures of Pauline will no doubt be pleased with this one. But Nip, Tuck, Dead is not a good introduction for readers new to the series.

Special thanks to Book Trends for providing an ARC of Nip, Tuck, Dead for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

Visit for other reviews of current and upcoming mystery books. 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 Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for October 09, 2006

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for October 09, 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 E G I L N O W. She is the author of the Joanne Kilbourn murder mystery series (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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Friday, October 06, 2006

Mystery Book Contest: Win a Signed Book by Martha Powers

New MysteriesNew! The Death Angel Contest is now available on The Mystery Book Contest Website. Enter daily through December 18, 2006, for a chance to win a prize package generously provided by author Martha Powers.

Death Angel by Martha PowersThe prize package includes:

Death Angel, Powers' third thriller after Sunflower and Bleeding Heart, signed by the author, and an angel pin.

The Death Angel Contest is sponsored by Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity, Martha Powers (author of Death Angel), and Mysterious Reviews, which has a review of Death Angel on its website.

If you are an author of a mystery book, or represent a mystery book author, and would like to have your book featured on our Mystery Book Contest website, please contact us at reviews@hsmb.com.

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Mystery Bestsellers for October 06, 2006

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending October 06, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

No surprise at the bestselling mystery at the top of the lists this week! Those Metro maniacs Alexandra "Barney" Barnaby and NASCAR driver Sam Hooker are back in Motor Mouth by Janet EvanovichMotor Mouth by Janet Evanovich. Miami is still freakin' humid. The nights are even hotter. And there's a body on ice. And that's just the beginning of this adrenaline-rush of a hot-wired ride. Snooping to find evidence that one of the competitors is up to no good on the track, Hooker and Barney "borrow" a NASCAR hauler. Turns out, the hauler is carrying two race cars and a dead guy. "I hate dead guys," opines Hooker. "Especially when . . . they're in a hauler I just stole." So buckle up as Barney, Hooker, a 150-pound-bundle-of-St. Bernard-love named Beans, and the Super Cigar Ladies Felicia and Rosa shift into gear on a wild race around South Florida and Concord, North Carolina.

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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Press Release: New Anthology of Holiday Crime Stories to Benefit Toys for Tots!

By the Chimney with Care edited by Tony Burton(PRLEAP.COM) Wolfmont Publishing is proud to announce the release of By Chimney with Care, a grand and entertaining anthology of crime and mystery stories that benefits the Toys for Tots foundation. The scheduled release date is October 15, 2006.

The authors include both well-known and lesser-known but talented tale-tellers, and all of them created richly-crafted stories of crime, mystery and mayhem set in the winter holiday season of Christmas. You may not think of Christmas as a time for crime, but remember the payments on credit cards when January rolls around!

The authors are Jeffrey Marks, Debra Gray De Noux and O’Neil De Noux, Neil Plakcy, Herschel Cozine, John M. Floyd, Tony Burton and many other talented individuals. All donated their work to support this very worthwhile cause, the Toys for Tots.

The press release in its entirety can be read here.

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

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Extraordinary People by Peter May

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

Extraordinary People by Peter May
An Enzo Macleod Mystery
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-335-3 (1590583353)
ISBN-13: 978-1-58058-335-7 (9781590583357)
Publication Date: November, 2006
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): What has happened to Jacques Gaillard? The brilliant teacher who trained some of France's best and brightest at the Ecole Nationale d'Administration as future Prime Ministers and Presidents vanished ten years ago, presumably from Paris. Talk about your cold case.

The mystery inspires a bet, one that Enzo Macleod, a biologist teaching in Toulouse instead of pursuing a brilliant career in forensics back home in Scotland can ill afford to lose. The wager is that Enzo can find out what happened to Jacques Gaillard by applying new science to an old case.

Enzo comes to Paris to meet journalist Roger Raffin, the author of a book on seven celebrated unsolved murders, the assumption being that Gaillard is dead. He needs Raffin's notes. And armed with these, he begins his quest. It quickly has him touring landmarks such as the Paris catacombs and a chateau in Champagne, digging up relics and bones. Yes, Enzo finds Jacques Gaillard's head. The artifacts buried with the skull set him to interpreting the clues they provide and to following in someone's footsteps--maybe more than one someone--after the rest of Gaillard. And to reviewing some ancient and recent history. As with a quest, it's as much discovery as detection. Enzo proves to be an ace investigator, scientific and intuitive, and, for all his missteps, one who hits his goals including a painful journey toward greater self-awareness.

Review: Extraordinary People is the intriguing first book in a series of thrillers set in modern France by talented author Peter May.

May's novel is a macabre treasure hunt that, fair or not, will likely be compared in one way or another to The Da Vinci Code. There are, in fact, some striking similarities but Extraordinary People is by far the more distinguished book. The pace of the story moves along briskly as Enzo Macleod, the forensics expert on a quest of deciphering the cryptic artifacts found at the site of a 10-year old murder, traverses the countryside unearthing clues. Several rather predictable events occur that make the journey personal, but they don't detract from the adventure.

This otherwise outstanding literary effort is marred by a significant inconsistency in the plot. It is not possible to provide specific details without giving away too much of the ending, but the rationale for the existence of the artifacts is, at best, implausible. On the surface it's all rather clever, but there is a fundamental flaw in the logic. It is a little disappointing May did not develop a more convincing argument here.

The presumed premise for this series, celebrated unsolved murders, is a captivating one and hopefully May will bring back the interesting characters he introduced in Extraordinary People for subsequent mysteries.

Special thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of Extraordinary People for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

Visit for other reviews of current and upcoming mystery books. 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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The Mystery Bookshelf: New Paperback Mysteries for October 2006

Mystery Bookshelf: New Paperback MysteriesThe Mystery Bookshelf has posted a list of new paperback mysteries expected to be available in October 2006.

Some of the mystery authors whose books are coming out in paperback this month include:

A Crossworder's Delight, the 11th mystery in the Rosco Polycrates and Belle Graham mystery series by Nero Blanc;
The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart, 7th entry in the Bernie Rhodenbarr series by Lawrence Block;
The Young Widow, a new series by Cassandra Chan featuring Scotland Yard detectives Jack Gibbons and Phillip Bethancourt;
The Cat Dancers, an intense thriller by P. T. Deutermann;
A Holly Jolly Murder, the 12th Claire Malloy mystery by Joan Hess;
Shooting Gallery, Hailey Lind's second mystery featuring faux finisher Annie Kincaid;
Officer Down, the 1st mystery in a new series by Theresa Schwegel featuring Chicago police detective Samanatha "Smack" Mack;

and many more!

Titles are maintained on The Mystery Bookshelf for 6 months, and are available for browsing by author, series character, or date of publication. You may also use our search tool to find all current and archived titles.

Thank you for visiting The Mystery Bookshelf!

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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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