Wednesday, January 31, 2007

News: Download Mystery Movies and TV Shows to Your PC

New! Download mystery movies and television shows directly to your PC!

Amazon Unbox allows you to purchase or rent your favorite movies and TV shows to download and watch on your PC – all in DVD quality. There are thousands of titles and episodes available, but we think the best ones are in (no surprise!) the mystery category.

TV mysteries available include 24, CSI, Bones, NCIS, Numb3rs, Supernatural, and more. Also available are several Miss Marple TV movies.

There are also many popular mystery movies available to download (both to rent and to purchase). You can narrow your choices by selecting from the categories on the left (classics, crime, detectives, film noir, etc.)

We've also recently updated our Mysteries on DVD site with more movie titles adapted from mystery books. You can purchase any of these movies on our Mysteries on DVD aStore.

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, January 30, 2007

News: Lillian Jackson Braun Named Honorary Director of National Audio Theater

The Tryon Daily Bulletin is reporting that mystery author Lillian Jackson Braun has been named to be the first Honorary Director of National Audio Theater (NAT), based in Tryon (North Carolina). Braun, who lives in Tryon, said she was "delighted" to support the 10 year-old nonprofit organization, which produces original audio cassettes and CDs for distribution to institutions serving handicapped persons, primarily those who are sight-impaired.

Ike Wilson, President of NAT, states that the all-volunteer group has produced more than 50 recordings that are sent free-of-charge to hospitals and medical centers throughout the nation. He adds that he believes a writer of Braun’s calibre will help swell interest in the organization’s mission.

Braun is the author of the "The Cat Who ..." mystery series featuring Jim Qwilleran and his two cats, Yum Yum and Koko.

Read the entire article here.

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News: Tommy Lee Jones to Play Dave Robicheaux

Production Weekly is reporting that Tommy Lee Jones is set to star in the upcoming feature film adaptation of In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead, a Dave Robicheaux mystery by James Lee Burke. Jones will portray the Cajun detective who was previously played by Alec Baldwin in Heaven's Prisoners. Bertran Tavernier is directing, and production in Louisiana is scheduled to begin in April.

Elrod Sykes, pulled over by Robicheaux for drunk driving, and in New Iberia to star in a movie, leads Dave to the skeletal remains of a black man that had washed up in the Atchafalaya swamp. So begins a mystery that takes Dave back to an unsolved murder -- a murder that he witnessed in 1957. Haunted by the past as he confronts the gruesome present - day rape and murder of young prostitutes, Robicheaux must also contend with a new partner from the F.B.I., and the local criminal gentry. But for Dave, the answers he seeks lie somewhere in the bayou mist with the ghosts of soldiers long since forgotten.

Read the entire article 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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Monday, January 29, 2007

Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for January 29, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for January 29, 2007A 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 J M N O U. He is the author of international thrillers featuring CIA agent Jack Dunphy (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, January 28, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Scrub-a-Dub Dead by Barbara Colley

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Scrub-a-Dub Dead by Barbara Colley. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Scrub-a-Dub Dead by Barbara Colley

Scrub-a-Dub Dead by Barbara Colley
A Charlotte LaRue Mystery

Kensington Publishing (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-7582-0766-2 (0758207662)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7582-0766-1 (9780758207661)
Publication Date: December 2006
List Price: $22.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): Maid for a Day Charlotte LaRue knows that sweeping murder under the rug is anything but simple in the Big Easy–especially since no smudge or stain is safe from her scrutiny ...

Doing a favor for a friend in need has Charlotte cleaning rooms at the New Orleans Jazzy Hotel. The historic Garden District mansion is serving as a home-away-from-home for Shreveport’s chapter of the Red Scarf Sorority, a group of socially elite women in their forties.

While picking up beautiful red silk scarves from the floor of a room she's cleaning, Charlotte is startled by the sudden arrival of its ranting and raving occupant, who insists that Charlotte ignored the Do-Not-Disturb sign on the door and threatens to have her fired. Charlotte is stunned into silence, until the Red Scarf Sorority comes to the rescue. The women manage to calm Tessa Morgan, who just had a run-in with her estranged husband’s much younger mistress Lisa—and learned that they plan to marry. After some of the women jokingly suggest making Lisa permanently disappear, Charlotte takes her leave. The situation gets even messier when Charlotte runs into an old flame and learns that he is Tessa’s stepfather—and that Lisa may be blackmailing him.

The next day, Charlotte gets back to work, only to learn that Lisa has been murdered, strangled by what could have been a red scarf. The hotel is awash in suspects, and soon Tessa is being dragged away in handcuffs. It seems Lisa had more enemies than friends, and Charlotte is convinced the police are on the wrong track with Tessa. It's time to start scouring through clues before the person who rubbed out Lisa makes a clean getaway ...

Review: Scrub-a-Dub Dead, by Barbara Colley, is the sixth mystery in this series featuring Charlotte LaRue, owner and manager her own New Orleans maid service for the genteel folk of the Garden District.

Charlotte is looking forward to some well earned time off. Instead, she agrees to help out a friend who has a contract cleaning rooms at the Jazzy Hotel and is currently a bit-handed. While working at the hotel, she encounters the members of the Red Scarf Society, a group of socially prominent women from Shreveport who are visiting New Orleans. When a young woman, who just happens to be the dating the estranged husband of one of the society members, is found strangled with a red scarf, Charlotte finds herself drawn into a complex web of secrets and lies that just may involve a special person from Charlotte’s own distant past.

This well written and constructed mystery has at its core a strong character in the form of Charlotte LaRue. Charlotte is reminiscent of one’s favorite aunt, someone who’s weathered more than her fair share of life’s personal storms, yet maintains a positive outlook and whose advice, when given, is meaningful and sound.

Colley frequently allows the reader to follow Charlotte’s reasoning in analyzing the crimes, sorting out what’s possible and impossible, plausible and implausible. For a story that has a fairly complex set of relationships, this approach helps clarify (both for Charlotte and the reader) who may be innocent and who most probably is not. Many mysteries would be greatly improved if their authors followed Colley’s lead in this regard.

What is disappointing in the book is the general lack of depth and originality in the supporting characters, most of whom are completely unmemorable. It’s likely that twenty minutes after finishing the last chapter, one would be hard pressed to name any of the victims or even the perpetrator of the crimes.

Potential readers who assume, not unreasonably, from the title that this is some light, frothy cozy will be sadly disappointed. Scrub-a-Dub Dead is definitely a cut above the average book in this genre.

Special thanks to Breakthrough Promotions for providing an ARC of Scrub-a-Dub Dead for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

News: No Return from the Grave for Morse

Steven Russell, writing in the East Anglian Daily Times, reports that fans of Inspector Morse must face reality: there simply won't be any new stories or TV series featuring the grumpy Oxford detective. Not now, not ever. Colin Dexter, the author of the long-running mystery series, holds the copyright for the Morse brand and is being pro-active in preventing anyone from filming another version of his character.

“I'm never going to let anybody else play Inspector Morse", says Dexter. "I've put it in my will! In 100 years' time, if the planet is still going - which I doubt very much - it won't be like Sherlock Holmes, with people saying 'I preferred his interpretation.' For me, John Thaw was Morse; and I've said I'm never going to allow - while the decision is mine - anybody to take Morse's role.” John Thaw, who played Morse on television, died of cancer in 2002.

Read the complete article on eadt.co.uk here.

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Mystery Book Contest: Win a Signed Book by Mary E. Martin

Mystery Book ContestNew! The Final Paradox Contest is now available on The Mystery Book Contest Website. Enter daily through March 19, 2007, for a chance to win a prize package generously provided by author Mary E. Martin.

Final Paradox by Mary E. MartinThe prize package includes:

Final Paradox, signed by the author, and a copy of the cover photograph, taken by the author in Venice.

The Final Paradox Contest is sponsored by Mary E. Martin (author of Final Paradox), and Mysterious Reviews.

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 [email protected].

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Mystery Book Review: A Hard Bargain by Jane Tesh

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of A Hard Bargain by Jane Tesh. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.A Hard Bargain by Jane Tesh

A Hard Bargain by Jane Tesh
A Madeline Maclin Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-354-X (159058354X)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-343-2 (9781590583432)
Publication Date: January 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): After solving her first big murder case in the small town of Celosia, North Carolina, Madeline Maclin hopes at last to be taken seriously as a private investigator. She's opened an office in the home of her best friend Jerry Fairweather, a man haunted by his past who enjoys running harmless scams.

Jerry doesn't feel worthy of anyone's love--bad news for Madeline--although she thinks Jerry's sister Harriet knows more about the accident that killed their parents than she'll say.

Madeline is hired to find Kirby Willet, an eccentric inventor who left boxes of his belongings, including one filled with money, at Frannie Thomas’ house. Meanwhile Voltage Films director, Josh Gaskins, is in town and thinks Jerry's old house will be perfect for his horror film, "Curse of the Mantis Man," about Celosia's mythical beast. Is this monster actually real?

Celosia is also hopping with the Pageantoids, rabid fans from Madeline's days as a beauty queen, who have come to Celosia to produce more pageants. And then there's Rick Rialto, one of Jerry's shady con artist friends.

When Gaskins is murdered, Madeline uncovers several suspects and is forced to make--and investigate--some hard bargains. At least one of which is with Jerry …

Review: Former beauty queen Madeline Maclin returns in A Hard Bargain, the second mystery in this series by Jane Tesh.

One of Madeline's first cases as an independent private investigator is to locate a man whose belongings were placed in the care of a neighbor who is now eager to get rid of them. While searching through boxes belonging to the missing man for clues to his whereabouts, she finds $10,000 in cash, money no one thinks he could legitimately have earned. In parallel to her investigation, she's also trying to understand what really happened on the night her best friend's parents were killed over 20 years ago. There are a couple of other subplots that are peripheral to the story but help introduce additional characters.

Madeline is a well-drawn and appealing lead for the series and A Hard Bargain is mildly entertaining as a cozy mystery. There are, however, some fairly obvious inconsistencies in the plots of each of the main storylines that must be either overlooked or forgiven in order to enjoy the story. The missing person's case really isn't much of one (Madeline locates him with minimal effort), and it's hard to believe that the police investigating the deaths of her friend's parents decades ago didn't put forth the very same questions Madeline asks the family today. And for all practical purposes, Madeline accidentally stumbles onto the solution of the only real mystery in the book, the murder of the director of a movie that is being filmed in her community.

A Hard Bargain is probably not the best choice for that inclement afternoon, but it won't disappoint either.

Special thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of A Hard Bargain for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Mystery Bestsellers for January 26, 2007

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending January 26, 2007 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

There were no new additions to the bestseller lists at Amazon.com or Barnes&Noble.com this week. Plum Lovin' by Janet Evanovich and Cross by James Patterson hold the top positions on both lists with a reshuffling of recent bestsellers in positions 3 through 10.

Be sure to check out our new, updated Mystery Bestsellers aStore to purchase any of the bestselling mysteries featured on our website!

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, January 25, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Rumpole and the Reign of Terror by John Mortimer

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Rumpole and the Reign of Terror by John Mortimer. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Rumpole and the Reign of Terror by John Mortimer

Rumpole and the Reign of Terror by John Mortimer
A Rumpole of the Bailey Mystery

Viking (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-670-03804-0 (0670038040)
ISBN-13: 978-0-670-03804-6 (9780670038046)
Publication Date: November 2006
List Price: $23.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): While defending a mind-numbingly dull theft charge, Rumpole finds that the new terrorist laws have hamstrung his beloved courts. Meanwhile, a Pakistani doctor has been imprisoned without charge or trial under suspicion of aiding al Qaeda in its plans for a terrorist attack. With the doctor’s wife begging him to help her husband, the Great Defender is determined to bring the case before a jury.

Trouble is also brewing at home as Hilda—She Who Must Be Obeyed—sits down to write her own memoirs describing her view of Rumpole and her own love life. Rumpole’s battle on the home front threatens to derail his case but where there’s a Rumpole, there’s a way!

Review: Though John Mortimer has been publishing short stories featuring London barrister Horace Rumpole for decades, Rumpole and the Reign of Terror is only the second full-length novel dedicated to one of his cases.

Rumpole's bread-and-butter clients, the Timson family, whose constant brushes with the law keep his financial balance sheet healthy, have decided to seek other legal counsel after Rumpole agrees to defend the Pakistani husband of an extended member of the Timson clan who has been accused of terrorism. Though Rumpole bemoans his loss of income, he is outraged that Mahmood Khan is being held without being informed of the crimes for which he is charged. When Khan is ultimately released from prison but subsequently held under house arrest in his own home, Rumpole fights to get him a jury trial, one in which he is confident Khan will be found not guilty.

The clever plot of Rumpole and the Reign of Terror and the way in which it unfolds is to be savored. Rumpole is quick to act when unexpected circumstances allow him to intervene on behalf of his client, and when they serve to benefit the judicial system at large, so much the better. After Rumpole gets the trial to which Mahmood Khan is entitled, he begins to doubt his client's innocence. But he never wavers in his defense of the basic tenets of British law. Once the trial is underway, Rumpole is in his element. "It's in the public interest that I establish the facts leading up to an inevitable conclusion ...", he declares. And then, in his best courtroom manner, he compels the guilty party to admit to the conspiracy. It's all exceedingly entertaining and very well done.

The book is written in a semi-autobiographical manner from the perspective of Rumpole, and he refers to this case being a part of his personal record. Interspersed between chapters written by Rumpole are those penned by his wife, Hilda, who reflects on her married life, her friends, and, somewhat improbably, her relationship with one of Rumpole's colleagues. Hilda's memoir extracts, as they are called, are no doubt intended to complement and contrast with those of her husband, but seem oddly out of place. They're interesting in their own right, and they provide an additional dimension to the characters, but at the same time, and it's hard to specifically identify why, they just don't work in the overall context of the book.

Special thanks to Viking for providing a copy of Rumpole and the Reign of Terror for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Press Release: Novel Writing Contest Announced by Iota Publishing

(PRWeb) January 24, 2007 -- Iota Publishing, a regional publishing house based in Irvine, California, introduced its 2007 novel writing competition today. Iota seeks unpublished authors who have completed manuscripts in the thriller, mystery, suspense, or sci-fi genres. The winner will receive a $1000 prize and a publishing contract with Iota. Submissions are via the Iota website.

The regional publisher is focusing on manuscripts with a Southwest connection, either by the author's personal connection or by some element in the manuscript. To be eligible, authors must not be previously published in these genres.

Terry Cooper, Iota President, said, "Iota's mission is about finding new regional authors. This contest is another way to reach out and encourage authors to give this path to publication a try."

The three finalists' manuscripts will be read by judges Sherri L. Board, Wendy Hornsby and Neal Stevens. Board is the author of the Katlin LaMar Mystery Series, Angels of Anguish and Blind Belief. Hornsby won the Edgar Award for her short story Nine Sons and is also the author of the Maggie McGowan Mystery Series. Stevens is a literary agent and a TV and film producer in Los Angeles. His films include Gunshy and The Money Shot. All three judges live in Southern California.

Iota's debut book, a new mystery novel, Anatomy Lesson, by Edgar-Award nominee Raymond Obstfeld will be the first in a series about an Orange County district attorney with an almost supernatural memory she's kept a secret from everyone. Obstfeld teaches creative writing at Orange Coast College and is the author of over forty works of fiction and non-fiction. His non-fiction work, On the Shoulders of Giants: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance, co-written with basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, published by Simon & Schuster, is available now. A documentary based on the book, also written by Obstfeld, will be released shortly.

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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News: Barbara Seranella, Mystery Writer, Dies at 50

The Orange County Register is reporting that Barbara Seranella, an auto mechanic-turned mystery writer, died Sunday in Cleveland (OH) of end-stage liver disease while awaiting a third liver transplant. She was 50 years old.

Seranella wrote mysteries based on the adventures of Miranda "Munch" Mancini, an auto and motorcycle mechanic and amateur sleuth with a checkered past not unlike that of the author. A new book, Deadman's Switch, based on a different character, is scheduled to be published by St. Martin's Press in April, 2007.

Read the complete article by Robin Hinch on the OCRegister.com here.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Motor Mouth by Janet Evanovich

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

Motor Mouth by Janet Evanovich
An Alexandra Barnaby Mystery

HarperCollins (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-06-058403-3 (0060584033)
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-058403-0 (9780060584030)
Publication Date: October 2006
List Price: $26.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Those Metro maniacs Alexandra "Barney" Barnaby and NASCAR driver Sam Hooker are back!

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 from phenomenal #1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich.

A woman with a taste for speed and a talent for breaking the rules, Barney also knows a little too much about cheating. First there was Hooker and that salesclerk. Now she's convinced one of the competitors is up to no good on the track. Snooping to find evidence, Hooker and Barney "borrow" a NASCAR hauler. Turns out, the hauler is carrying two race cars and a dead guy. Now Barney and Hooker are facing multiple counts of grand theft auto and homicide.

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.

Everything you always wanted to know about righteous indignation, stealing an eighteen-wheeler, and sex in the fast lane.

Review: Alexandra Barnaby returns for her second adventure in Janet Evanovich's Motor Mouth, an enjoyable through completely forgettable mystery by the author of the Stephanie Plum series.

There isn't (pun intended) an idle moment in this book. The action is literally non-stop. The reason "Barney" and NASCAR driver Sam Hooker are seem to be constantly stopping for food (usually a local drive-through) is that they need all the energy they can get to keep pace with the plot.

And what a plot it is. The basic premise of this series is, why bother with a simple solution to a problem when a far more complicated, intricate, and, to be fair, thrilling one can be manufactured. When an associate of Barney's calls to say he's locked himself into a competitor's truck, she solves the problem by stealing the truck. That happens to contain an illegally modified race car. And that also happens to contain a dead body. And not just any dead body, but the owner of the competition which has just won a race under suspicious circumstances. At the center of all this is a microchip that has the potential to alter the balance of power in the world of NASCAR, nay, the world itself.

There are a lot of parallels between this series and the typical Nancy Drew mystery. The most obvious is that Barney is an R-rated, some might argue X-rated, version of the girl sleuth. Both are smart and independent. Friends and family are important and worth taking risks for. Bending the rules (or in the case of Barney, committing outright felonies) is a perfectly acceptable means to an end. And, as Barney puts it in Motor Mouth, they are "simultaneously horrified and impressed" with themselves when they narrowly escape a dangerous situation.

Motor Mouth is one of those mysteries that readers probably need to invoke the 30-page rule: if you're not hooked by this page, it's unlikely you're going to be entertained by what follows.

Special thanks to The Book Report Network for providing a copy of Motor Mouth for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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News: Hotel Dusk Room 215 for Nintendo DS Released

Games of MysteryHotel Dusk: Room 215 for Nintendo DS was released yesterday and is the latest mystery game available for this platform.

Nintendo - Hotel Dusk: Room 215Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is a hard-boiled crime story set in Los Angeles, 1979. Players take the role of Kyle Hyde, an ex-cop turned salesman trying to track down a missing friend. Clues lead to an eerie, old hotel rumored to have one very strange room -- a room where wishes are granted. Players check in and get ready for a night of surprises as they meet a cast of unusual characters and try to unravel the mystery of Hotel Dusk: Room 215.

Players hold their Nintendo DS like a book and use the touch screen to grill characters, search for clues, and solve mystifying puzzles. Simple point-and-click touch screen navigation allows for players of any skill level to play.

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 uses branching storylines to tell its tale, giving you many options for how to go about solving the mystery. Should you strong-arm a suspicious stranger in the hallway? Be friendly to the hotel maid? Pretend to be interested in the manager's rambling stories? It's all up to you, but choose wisely. One false step could get you thrown out of the hotel and forever seal the mystery of what happened on that dark Christmas eve so many years ago.

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is rated T (Teen).

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for January 22, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for January 22, 2007A 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 D H J N O R Y. The Inspector Matt Minogue mysteries are written by this author (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, January 19, 2007

News: Mystery Visitor Makes 58th Appearance at Poe's Grave

The Associated Press is reporting that for the 58th straight year, a mysterious visitor left birthday cognac and roses at Edgar Allan Poe's grave in Baltimore on Friday. The curator of the Poe House and Museum, Jeff Jerome, said 55 people braved a chilly morning to glimpse the annual ritual of the mysterious visitor known as the "Poe toaster". Jerome has seen the mysterious visitor every January 19th since 1976.

According to Wikipedia, the unexplained tradition was established in 1949 and has occurred on the author's birthday (January 19) of every year since. In the early hours of the morning on that date, a black-clad figure with a silver-tipped cane enters the Westminster Hall and Burying Ground in Baltimore, Maryland. The individual proceeds to Poe's grave, where he or she raises a cognac toast. Before departing, the Toaster leaves three red roses and a half-bottle of cognac on the grave. The roses are believed to represent Poe, his wife Virginia and his mother-in-law Maria Clemm, all three of whom are interred at the site. The significance of the cognac itself is unknown.

Poe was born in Boston and raised in Richmond (VA). He died Oct. 7, 1849 in Baltimore at the age of 40 after collapsing in a tavern.

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Press Release: Mystery Writers of America Announces 2007 Edgar Award Nominees

NEW YORK, Jan. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Mystery Writers of America is proud to announce on the 198th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, its Nominees for the 2007 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, television and film published or produced in 2006. The Edgar Awards will be presented to the winners at our 61st Gala Banquet, April 26, 2007 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.

BEST NOVEL

The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard (HarperCollins)
The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Gentleman and Players by Joanne Harris (HarperCollins - William Morrow)
The Dead Hour by Denise Mina (Hachette Book Group - Little, Brown and Company)
The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard (Random House - Ballantine Books)
The Liberation Movements by Olen Steinhauer (St. Martin's Minotaur)

BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR

The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson (Random House)
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (Crown - Shaye Areheart Books)
King of Lies by John Hart (St. Martin's Minotaur - Thomas Dunne Books)
Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith (St. Martin's Minotaur)
A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read (Warner Books - Mysterious Press)

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL

The Goodbye Kiss by Massimo Carlotto (Europa Editions)
The Open Curtain by Brian Evenson (Coffee House Press)
Snakeskin Shamisen by Naomi Hirahara (Bantam Dell Publishing - Delta Books)
The Deep Blue Alibi by Paul Levine (Bantam Dell Publishing - Bantam Books)
City of Tiny Lights by Patrick Neate (Penguin Group - Riverhead Books)

Read the entire press release here which lists the nominees for other categories including:

BEST FACT CRIME, BEST CRITICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL, BEST SHORT STORY, BEST JUVENILE, BEST YOUNG ADULT, BEST PLAY, BEST TELEVISION EPISODE TELEPLAY, BEST TELEVISION FEATURE/MINI-SERIES TELEPLAY, and BEST MOTION PICTURE SCREENPLAY.

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Mystery Bestsellers for January 19, 2007

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending January 19, 2007 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

The Suspect by John LescroartJohn Lescroart crafts another San Francisco-based legal thriller in The Suspect. When Dr. Caryn Dryden is found floating dead in her hot tub, homicide inspector Devin Juhle targets a suspect close to home: her husband, Stuart Gorman. After all, Stuart was recently asked for a divorce, and he stands to gain millions in insurance. His alibi - that he was at his cabin on Tamarack Lake that weekend - doesn't keep him out of hot water. But maybe a shrewd attorney will. Gina Roake, a partner in Dismas Hardy's firm, is eager to take on such a high-profile case, especially when the client's innocence seems so easy to prove. Yet the more time she spends with Stuart, the more complicated her feelings become: she feels strangely drawn to him at first, then has to confront the possibility of a dark history lurking in his past. Desperate to know the truth, Gina calls in Wyatt Hunt to investigate. Before the facts are in, her client is on the lam: he's already been tried in the press, and so he's certain the courtroom won't bring him any mercy either. Racing to a stunning conclusion as Gina uncovers disturbing answers, The Suspect is a chilling story of secrets, love, and lies. Kirkus Reviews states, "... some crackling courtroom scenes and a surprise ending that will catch at least half his readers unawares."

Bad Blood by Linda FairsteinAlso new this week is another legal thriller, Bad Blood, the 9th entry in the Alexandra Cooper mystery series by Linda Fairstein. The Manhattan Assistant District Attorney is deeply involved in a complicated, high-profile homicide case. Defendant Brendan Quillian, a prominent young businessman, is charged with the brutal strangulation of his beautiful young wife, Amanda. His conviction is not a certainty: Quillian was conveniently out of town on the day of the killing, and he has hired a formidable defense attorney who seems one step ahead of Cooper as the trial opens. But with the help of detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace, she is confident she can prove Quillian paid a hit man to commit the crime. Halfway through the trial, a major catastrophe alters the course of Alex's case. A cataclysmic explosion rips through New York City's Water Tunnel #3, a spectacular feat of modern engineering that will be completed years in the future. Cooper is quickly drawn into the tragedy when she discovers a strange connection linking Brendan Quillian to the tunnel workers killed in the explosion. She and Chapman descend deep into the earth to penetrate the subterranean universe of the sandhogs, as the brotherhood of tunnel workers are colorfully known. Their probe soon leads to another murder victim, whose blood may hold the key to Cooper's mesmerizingly complex case. One closely held secret reveals another, and soon Alex discovers that only by unraveling ancient rivalries among sandhog families will she be able to solve the murder of Amanda Quillian -- and save her own life as well.

Also new this week is Dust, the 21st mystery by Martha Grimes to feature Scotland Yard Superintendent Richard Jury, and the 7th entry in the Eve Duncan forensics thriller series by Iris Johansen, Stalemate.

Be sure to check out our new, updated Mystery Bestsellers aStore to purchase any of the bestselling mysteries featured on our website!

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Profile: Mystery Author Randy Wayne White Explores His Passion for Food

Colette Bancroft, staff writer for the St. Petersburg Times, writes on Florida mystery author Randy Wayne White's passion for food and his new aptly titled cookbook, Randy Wayne White's Gulf Coast Cookbook on TampaBay.com. White is the author of the bestselling mysteries featuring CIA agent turned marine biologist Marion "Doc" Ford. The next book in the series, Hunter's Moon , is scheduled to be published in March 2007.Hunter's Moon by Randy Wayne White

Bancroft notes that with his wrestler's build and close-cropped hair, White looks the part of a tough-guy thriller writer, but he seems as passionate about food as he is about writing, fishing, and baseball. And the cookbook isn't the only evidence. White is a hands-on partner in a restaurant, Doc Ford's Sanibel Rum Bar and Grille, and also runs a thriving business selling his own brand of hot sauces, made in Colombia and marketed at www.rwwhite.com. White's personal touch in the book comes in the form of dozens of photos from his fishing guide days and excerpts from his books, many of them lyrical descriptions of the Florida land- and seascape.

The fictional Doc Ford lives in an old Florida bungalow on a Calusa Indian mound on Sanibel Island. White lives one key east, in an old Florida bungalow perched on a Calusa mound on Pine Island. Bancroft notes that White's sturdy house was built in the 1920s, but it had a close call in August 2004 when Hurricane Charley barreled across the island. "The hurricane wiped out all my good work habits," White says, and it's taken him a while to reorder his life. The storm also destroyed most of his recipes.

Read the rest of Bancroft's profile of Randy Wayne White here which also includes a recipe for Shrimp Cocktail with Tequila Sauce, Georgia Wilson's North Carolina Fried Chicken, and a Sanibel Beer Buster.

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Profile: Mystery Writer Thomas Cook

Billy Watkins, on the Mississippi ClarionLedger.com website, reports that Thomas Cook, a Southerner who has become one of the top mystery/crime writers in the country, says his readers often tell him his endings catch them off guard. Cook's latest book, The Cloud of Unknowing , was published this month, and was hailed by Publishers Weekly as "a bravura performance".The Cloud of Unknowing by Thomas Cook

Watkins notes that Cook is one of those rare writers who lets his imagination take the story wherever it wants to go on that particular day - and still wind up with a non-wandering plot line. When asked about writing with an outline, Cook replied, "I have none. Another writer once said that writing without an outline is sort of like driving your car on a road you're not familiar with ... your lights illuminate a curve here, a curve there. But you don't know what's around any of them. I find that an exciting way to develop a book."

In 1997, Cook won an Edgar Award for his mystery The Chatham School Affair. He's been nominated five other times. His book Red Leaves, published in 2006, won the Barry Award as the top original paperback private investigator novel. His book Evidence of Blood was made into a movie by Showtime.

Read the rest of Watkins' profile of Thomas Cook here.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Mystery Book Review: The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez

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

The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martínez
Non-series

Penguin Books (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-14-303796-X (014303796X)
ISBN-13: 978-0-14-303796-5 (9780143037965)
Publication Date: September 2006
List Price: $13.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): On a summer’s day in Oxford, a young Argentine mathematics student finds his landlady – an elderly woman who helped decipher the Enigma Code during World War II – murdered in her house. Meanwhile, leading Oxford mathematician Arthur Seldom receives an anonymous note bearing a circle and the words, “the first of the series,” and a mystery is born.

Murders begin to pile up – an old man on life-support is found dead with needle punctures in his throat; a percussionist at Blenheim Palace dies before the audience’s very eyes – seemingly unconnected except for notes appearing in the math department, for the attention of Seldom.

Seldom guesses that the murders might relate to his latest book, an unexpected best-seller about the parallels between investigations of serial killers and certain mathematical theorems. As he and the young student are drawn further into the game, it is up to mentor and student to solve the puzzle before the killer strikes again.

Review: "I feel I can break my silence and tell the truth about events that reached the British papers in the summer of '93 with macabre and sensationalist headlines, but to which Seldom and I always referred—perhaps due to the mathematical connotation—simply as the series, or the Oxford Series." So begins The Oxford Murders, by Guillermo Martínez, an intellectual mystery that is reminiscent of a Sherlock Holmes pastiche in both character and style.

Arthur Seldom is a mathematician of some renown at Oxford University. A new student at the University, the narrator of the book whose unpronounceable name is never revealed, initially meets Seldom one day as he is visiting his landlady. When there is no answer at the door, they enter and find her dead under somewhat suspicious circumstances. Seldom later reveals that the reason for his visit was that he received a note with her address, the time of day, a circle, and the words, "The first of a series." Seldom, who has written on the subject of series and serial killers, believes that this may be the work of someone trying to challenge him, and that more murders may occur. When they do, he enlists the aid of the student to find the killer.

There are several compelling facets to The Oxford Murders. The mathematical discussions, and the historical comparisons between mathematics and magic, are fascinating and are likely to intrigue readers who may not think they have an interest in either. The murders, and their symbolic links, are also deceptively appealing. Consider, for example, this statement by Seldom on the possibility that death may have resulted from natural causes: "A natural death, of course, the logical extreme, the most perfect example of an imperceptible murder."

But there are problems as well. Character development is minimal with the emphasis placed primarily on the plot. There is an implication at the start of the book that the narrator and Seldom shared a long and endearing friendship over the years, but little of how this relationship may have developed is revealed in this story aside from the shared experience of the Oxford murders. Finally, and probably most problematic, the resolution to the mystery is contrived and depends far too much on coincidence to be totally credible. Or does it? One interpretation may be that Martínez wrote the book as a demonstration of Occam's razor, which states that when presented with two equally legitimate explanations for an event, the simpler, less complicated one is likely to be the most valid. This reasoning, while consistent with the book's premise, may be too subtle and intricate to be convincing and may, in fact, violate the very principle it's meant to illustrate.

Special thanks to FSB Associates for providing a copy of The Oxford Murders for this review. A hardcover edition of this book was published in October 2005 by Madadam Cage Publishing (1596921501).

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Press Release: PInow.com Selects Best Private Detectives of All Time

Los Angeles, CA, January 16, 2007 --(PR.COM)-- You watch them on TV, you read about them in your favorite novels and watch them on the old silver screen, but how do your favorite PIs and detectives fare against the best of the best? Read on:

10) Scooby-Doo and Those Pesky Kids (Fred “Freddie” Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, and Norville “Shaggy” Rogers).

9) Inspector Jules Maigret.

8) Hercule Poirot.

7) The Shadow.

6) Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade hails from the macho era of hard-boiled detectives.

5) Remington Steele.

4) Magnum, P.I.

3) Jessica Fletcher from Murder, She Wrote was the ultimate in nosey, loveable armchair detectives.

2) Addison and Hayes.

1) Sherlock Holmes, the fictional character that author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle grew to hate, was the first one to make a deerstalker cap and magnifying glass something besides hopelessly geeky.

Read the entire press release here (which also has a link for readers to comment on who they would include in their top 10 private investigators or all time).

(Note: We're just passing this information along; we are not associated with PInow.com nor did we have anything to do with creating this list. PInow.com is a Worldwide Directory of Private Investigators that enables law firms, corporations and the general public to find investigators anywhere in the United States and worldwide. )

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, January 15, 2007

Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for January 15, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for January 15, 2007A 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 D E F I L M N S. Faith Fairchild went undercover at this academy in Katherine Hall Page’s The Body in the Bonfire (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, January 14, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Exile by Richard North Patterson

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

Exile by Richard North Patterson
Non-series

Henry Holt and Company (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-8050-7947-5 (0805079475)
ISBN-13: 978-0-8050-7947-0 (9780805079470)
Publication Date: January 2007
List Price: $26.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): David Wolfe's life is approaching an exhilarating peak: he's a successful San Francisco lawyer, he's about to get married, and he's being primed for a run for Congress. But when the phone rings and he hears the voice of Hana Arif--the Palestinian woman with whom he had a secret affair in law school--he begins a completely unexpected journey. The next day, the prime minister of Israel is assassinated by a suicide bomber while visiting San Francisco; soon, Hana herself is accused of being the mastermind behind the murder. Now David faces an agonizing choice: Will he, a Jew, represent Hana--who may well be guilty--or will he turn away the one woman he can never forget?

The most challenging case of David's career requires that he delve deep into the lives of Hana Arif and her militant Palestinian husband, both of whom have always lived in exile. Ultimately, David's quest takes him to Israel and the West Bank, where, in a series of harrowing encounters, he learns that appearances are not at all what they seem.

Review: Richard North Patterson has crafted an international legal thriller in Exile that is at its best in the courtroom but also manages to deftly balance the ideologies and realities of the Middle East without being patronizing to either side.

David Wolfe, a successful and politically well connected attorney in San Francisco is asked to defend a woman, Hana Arif, who is accused of being behind the assassination of the visiting Prime Mininster of Israel by a survivor of the suicide bomber team. One complicating factor: Hana and David had a secret affair while in law school. Another more complicating factor: Hana is Palestinian and David is Jewish. Believing Hana to have been set up by person or persons unknown, David agrees to represent her and creates a defense that may bring to light secrets that some are willing to kill to keep hidden.

Much of the story in Exile takes place in Israel and the Occupied Territories, even if current events play out in the US. And Patterson devotes about a quarter of the book to a brief history of the conflict there in the guise of a trip David takes to the region to learn more for his defense of Hana. But, as he is told by a trusted friend, "Israel is not a place that lends itself to easy understanding. For that, you'll need a guide." Patterson, himself, tries to be that guide in providing what certainly appears to be a fair representation of the Middle East situation. He has obviously done a vast amount of research on the subject, and he is to be applauded for the impartial way in which it is presented. But is there a lesson to be learned here? As David is told upon his arrival in Israel: "[The lesson] is simple. Don't ever think you understand this place."

The courtroom scenes are riveting. It's easy for the reader to imagine themselves part of the jury, watching the dynamics of the prosecution and defense, straining to hear every word of the witnesses, trying to sort out what is fact and fiction, what is hypothetical and rhetorical. Clearly the best part of Exile, it's somewhat unfortunate these scenes are relatively brief.

In a final ironic twist, and much like the situation in the Middle East itself, Exile ends leaving much unresolved. The is no "happily ever after" conclusion here. Though the case ends, the future for its participants is unknown and the mystery of who exactly was behind the assassination of the Prime Minister remains just that.

Special thanks to FSB Associates for providing an ARC of Exile for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Mystery Bestsellers for January 12, 2007

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending January 12, 2007 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Plum Lovin by Janet EvanovichJanet Evanovich's "between the numbers" mystery featuring Stephanie Plum, Plum Lovin', debuts at the top of the Borders/Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com lists this week. Mysterious men have a way of showing up in Stephanie Plum's apartment. When the shadowy Diesel appears, he has a task for Stephanie -- and he's not taking no for an answer. Annie Hart is a "relationship expert" who is wanted for armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Stephanie needs to find her, fast. But someone wants to find Annie even more than Diesel and Stephanie. Someone with a nasty temper. And someone with "unmentionable" skills. With Stephanie in over her head, things are sure to get a little dicey and a little explosive, Jersey style!

Exile by Richard North PattersonAlso new this week is the international thriller Exile by Richard North Patterson. David Wolfe is a successful San Francisco lawyer, he's about to get married, and he's being primed for a run for Congress. But when the phone rings and he hears the voice of Hana Arif--the Palestinian woman with whom he had a secret affair in law school--he begins a completely unexpected journey. The next day, the prime minister of Israel is assassinated by a suicide bomber while visiting San Francisco; soon, Hana herself is accused of being the mastermind behind the murder. Now David faces an agonizing choice: Will he, a Jew, represent Hana--who may well be guilty--or will he turn away the one woman he can never forget?

Be sure to check out our new, updated Mystery Bestsellers aStore to purchase any of the bestselling mysteries featured on our website!

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, January 11, 2007

Mystery Book Review: The Dirt-Brown Derby by Ed Lynskey

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of The Dirt-Brown Derby by Ed Lynskey. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.The Dirt-Brown Derby by Ed Lynskey

The Dirt-Brown Derby by Ed Lynskey
A Frank Johnson Mystery

Mundania Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-8253-0510-1 (1594262322)
ISBN-13: 978-0-8253-0510-8 (9781594262326)
Publication Date: July 2006
List Price: $12.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): PI Frank Johnson is hired by Mary Taliaferro, a wealthy aristocrat owning a horse estate near Middleburg, Virginia.

Mary's teen-age daughter Emily has died in a riding tragedy. The local law enforcement says it’s an accident. Mary thinks it’s murder.

Frank is broke and the money Mary offers is too good to pass up, but his case quickly becomes more complicated when the stable manager is murdered one day after he starts his investigation.

Frank soon discovers that there is much more going on here, and he is determined to get to the truth, even if it kills him!

Review: Ed Lynskey's debut mystery, The Dirt-Brown Derby, introduces private investigator Frank Johnson, and is sure to please fans of hard-boiled detective fiction.

After being offered an obscene amount of money to take a case ("Let's set your retainer at, oh, say $50,000." "What if I say no?" "$200,000 is my final offer"), PI Frank Johnson is persuaded to look into the death of Emily Taliaferro, the daughter of Mary Taliaferro, a Virginia horse breeder who is convinced she was murdered. The cause of death: her head was crushed by a thoroughbred. Initially, Frank tends to agree with the police who rule the young woman's death a tragic accident, but when the horse's trainer is found dead the next day, he's convinced to dig deeper.

Lynskey doesn't waste any time getting to the action in The Dirt-Brown Derby. Within the first few paragraphs, Frank is confronted by local toughs who are willing and able to show him he's not welcome in their town. After putting them in their place, he then tests the limits of police tolerance. All this suggests that, from the author's perspective, actions speak louder than words, at least in terms of character development. It's quite clear from the first chapter what kind of PI Frank is: tough, uncompromising, willing to bend a few rules in the interest of the truth (and at times just to see if he can get away with it), and more than a little cynical.

What's also clear from the first chapter is that there isn't much of a mystery here. Most readers will know who killed Emily right away, and can probably make an educated guess at the motive as well. The reason to continue reading is to enjoy Lynskey's portrayal of Frank Johnson, his descriptive, noir-ish style of writing, and the colorful cast of characters he's populated the book with. What would have elevated this book into the top tier is some unexpected plot twist instead of the telegraphed conclusion provided.

Special thanks to Ed Lynskey for providing a copy of The Dirt-Brown Derby for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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News: Michael Connelly to Co-Author Equalizer Screenplay

More Hollywood news!

The Weinstein Company has hired mystery author Michael Connelly and Terrill Lee Lankford to write the screenplay for the upcoming action thriller, The Equalizer, based on the 1980's series of the same name. Paul McGuigan has been signed to direct.

According to IMDB, the film will feature a veteran covert operative who, seeking redemption for his dark deeds, quits a CIA-like agency and puts a classified advertisement in the paper that reads simply: "Got a problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer."

A release date has not been set.

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, January 10, 2007

News: ABC Picks Up Women's Murder Club Series

Various sources are reporting that ABC Television has picked up the crime drama Women's Murder Club based on the series by James Patterson. Brett Ratner will produce and also direct its first episode. The series revolves around four women who solve murder cases. The first book in the series, 1st to Die, was made into a movie in 2003. The most recent book in the series, The 5th Horseman, was released in February, 2006.

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 Review: Chameleon by Richard Hains

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

Chameleon by Richard Hains
Non-series

Beaufort Books (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-8253-0510-1 (0825305101)
ISBN-13: 978-0-8253-0510-8 (9780825305108)
Publication Date: May 2006
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Jon Phillips is head bond trader at one of Wall Street’s largest investment banks and lives the American dream in the heart of New York’s decadent banking community. But, after years of selfishness and extravagance, he plans his exit through an unprecedented and ultimately fraudulent deal in the US government bond market. A high-ranking colleague, who sits on the bank’s main board, has teamed up with a Russian financier in order to provide Jon with one of the key elements vital to the success of his ingenious scheme.

The deal goes spectacularly wrong and Jon’s world collapses. As the Russians desperately attempt to recover their lost millions, Jon is thrown into a deadly game of cat and mouse. From the seedy nightspots of downtown NYC to the plush yacht clubs of the Hamptons, pastoral aristocratic England, and Southern Australia’s endless beaches, past lovers, new menaces, and numerous apparently accidental deaths line his trail. Jon’s survival now depends on putting the past behind him and becoming a calculated predator instead of the vulnerable prey.

Review: The biography of Richard Hains included on the dust jacket states he is a financial expert and successful global investor. His first novel, Chameleon, draws extensively on this knowledge, especially in the first third of the book.

Jon Phillips, a financial wizard to whom excess is a way of life, devices a scheme that will net him millions based on rumors and false information, yet sees his profits turn to massive losses when news breaks that the Chairman of the Federal Reserve may have had a heart attack while in the company of an underage companion. Jon is immediately fired from his position, and becomes the fall guy for his company when the losses become known to their investors. When Jon's brother is murdered in a case of mistaken identity, Jon decides to take matters into his own hands and plots to personally recover all the money and exact revenge on the men who killed his brother.

Hains has tried to combine a financial thriller with a novel of international intrigue with mixed results. Readers who enjoy the nuts and bolts of stocks and bonds trading will get a thrill out of the first 100 pages or so. Hains provides enough information to keep readers interested without getting bogged down in esoteric details. But once the financial action stops, so does a lot of appeal of the book from this perspective.

The final two thirds of the book is largely an international race between Jon and those who are pursuing him and those he is pursuing. And for the most part, it's interesting, if not always credible, fiction. For example, it's hard to believe that Jon can travel the world using his own passport and remain undetected. It's even harder to believe that he can do so after he fakes his own death. Twice.

Finally, Hains has scattered lurid, explicit, and utterly pointless sex scenes throughout the book. They're written in such an emotionless manner that they're neither alluring nor appealing, and they're certainly not erotic. To his (or his editor's) credit, they are mercifully brief.

Special thanks to Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity for providing a copy of Chameleon for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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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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