Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Press Release: Case of Missing Cover Art Solved

NEW YORK, Feb. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Nancy Drew's latest mystery -- the case of the missing cover art -- has been solved! Seeking the return of original paintings used on the covers of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books first published in the 1960s, Penguin Group (USA) and the paintings' creator Rudy Nappi sued former Penguin employee Carl J. Ferrero in December. All of the paintings, as well as original drawings used to illustrate the books, have been returned.

"It was a misunderstanding," Ferrero said. "They were in a box of books given to me as a departure gift, when I left Penguin. I thought they were a gift. I'm just glad that I saved them and they are being returned to Rudy Nappi."

Nappi, the 84-year-old artist who created the paintings for all of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books published in the 1960s, said from his home in North Carolina, "I haven't seen my paintings since I created them 40 years ago. I never thought I would get them back. I am grateful to Carl for his cooperation and to Penguin for its assistance which made this possible."

Helene M. Freeman of Dorsey & Whitney LLP stated the suit against Ferrero will be withdrawn now that the paintings have been returned.

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, February 27, 2007

News: Magnum P. I. 6th Season Available on DVD

Mysteries on TVNew this week on DVD: Magnum P. I.: The Complete 6th Season, starring Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum.The Prestige on DVD Other cast members include John Hillerman as Jonathan Higgins, Roger E. Mosley as T. C. Calvin, and Larry Manetti as Rick Wright. The series ran for 8 seasons.

Magnum, a former Navy intelligence officer turned private investigator, resides on the estate of never seen Robin Masters on the north shore of Oahu (Hawaii) which was managed by Higgins. T. C. and Rick are Magnum's buddies from Vietnam who help him on his cases.

The 6th season of Magnum P. I. ran for 20 episodes during the 1985/1986 television season on CBS, and opened with a 2-part episode in which Magnum and Higgins travel to London to oversee the opening of Robin Masters' new castle. While there, Magnum investigates the suspicious death of an old friend from Vietnam. 5 discs are included with the DVD set.

Visit the Mysteries on TV website to discover more television mystery series currently available on DVD.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

News: Anna Paquin to Star as Sookie Stackhouse

The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Anna Paquin, winner of the 1993 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in The Piano, has been signed to star in True Blood, a pilot for HBO, based on the Southern Vampire mystery series created by Charlaine Harris. Paquin will play the lead character, Sookie Stackhouse.

All Together Dead by Charlaine HarrisTrue Blood is being written by Alan Ball who will also direct and produce. Ball was most recently executive producer of the television series Six Feet Under, also on HBO. Ryan Kwanten and Sam Trammell have also been cast for the show.

The next book in the Southern Vampire series featuring Sookie Stackhouse, All Together Dead, is scheduled to be published in May, 2007.

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: The Arsenic Labyrinth by Martin Edwards

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of The Arsenic Labyrinth by Martin Edwards. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.The Arsenic Labyrinthn by Martin Edwards

The Arsenic Labyrinth by Martin Edwards
A Lake District Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-328-0 (1590583280)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-328-9 (9781590583289)
Publication Date: January 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): After 10 years, Guy--a drifter with a taste for deception--has returned to Coniston in England's Lake District. A local journalist, Tony di Venuto, is campaigning to revive interest in the disappearance of Emma Bestwick, and Guy knows what happened to her.

When he tips off the newspaperman that Emma will not be coming home, DCI Hannah Scarlett, head of Cumbria's Cold Case Review Team, re-opens the old investigation. Her enquiries take her to the Museum of Myth and Legend and to the remote and eerie Arsenic Labyrinth--a series of stone tunnels used to remove arsenic from tin ore.

Meanwhile, historian Daniel Kind is immersing himself in the work of John Ruskin, whose neighbors created the Arsenic Labyrinth. A shocking discovery makes it clear to Hannah that there is not one mystery to solve, but two, and she turns to Daniel for help in untangling the secrets of the past. As Hannah and Daniel struggle to resist a growing but dangerous attraction, Guy's plan to make a quick buck runs into trouble, and he has to resort to desperate measures. Someone is determined to kill to keep their secrets safe.

Review: Martin Edward's third mystery set in the Lake District of England, The Arsenic Labyrinth, is at its best in the beautiful descriptions of the region and for creating a moody atmosphere for the characters. The plot, however, is a bit convoluted and the overlapping storylines make it at times difficult to follow.

After reading an article about the 10-year anniversary of the disappearance of Emma Bestwick, Guy Koenig, a man who knows better than to divulge too many secrets, makes an anonymous call to the reporter who wrote the story, stating simply, "Emma Bestwick won't be coming back." This phone call sets into motion a series of events that includes reopening the case by Detective Chief Inspector Hannah Scarlett, who was originally assigned to investigate the missing girl. Independently, historian Daniel Kind is researching the life of John Ruskin, the influential 19th century author, poet, and artist who spent much of his later life in the Lake District. Daniel's reasearch and Hannah's investigation intersect at a series of tunnels beneath the landscape known locally as the Arsenic Labyrinth, culminating in the resolution to the mystery of a young woman's disappearance a decade ago.

Following an intriguing opening chapter, The Arsenic Labyrinth quickly loses its momentum as Edwards sets up the various subplots through alternating points of view. The most interesting of these is that of Guy Koenig, a petty criminal and con man, who plays a pivotal role in the investigation, and, as Hannah considers him, "never had an unselfish impulse in his life". Somewhat ironically, it isn't until after his murder about halfway through that the story regains the traction of its original premise. The startling conclusion, with its disclosure of Guy's true involvement in the disappearance of Emma Bestwick 10 years ago, more than compensates for a slow start to this reflective mystery.

Special thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of The Arsenic Labyrinth for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for February 26, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for February 26, 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 E H I K M N R T. She is the author of the horse racing mystery series featuring Steve Cline (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, February 24, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Snowman by Dave Saari

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

Snowman by Dave Saari
A Matt Davidson Mystery

Lulu.com (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-4303-0563-0 (1430305630)
ISBN-13: 978-1-4303-0563-7 (9781430305637)
Publication Date: January 2007
List Price: $17.46

Synopsis (from the publisher): Matt Davidson, an underachieving golf bum and a somewhat nerdy engineer, inadvertently witnesses a shocking scene while playing golf, which launches him on an adventure that proves to be an emotional roller coaster ride. Though unsure what to do or how to do it, he drops everything to help a stunningly beautiful woman he's never even met. His clumsy efforts soon entangle him in a web of sex, fraud, and abuse that could end up costing him his life.

Review: Dave Saari crafts a story around "an improbable series of eerie coincidences" in Snowman, a murder mystery featuring golfer and sometime businessman Matt Davidson.

The series of events begins on the golf course one afternoon when, while chasing after an errant shot that has landed in the yard of a private home, Matt beholds a most beautiful woman. Not just any woman, but an angel, a goddess, an enchantress. He becomes obsessed with this woman, and in an effort to meet her, to know her, and to be with her, he embarks on a journey of improbable coincidences that will not only jeopardize his career but also his life.

Many readers will likely roll their eyes and immediately identify Matt with Dudley Moore and the mysterious woman with Bo Derek and think Snowman is simply a knock-off of the movie "10". And to be fair, the first third of the book reads like the movie, substituting the beach and the Mexican Riviera for golf courses and Minnesota. Not exactly a captivating exchange.

But then the story gets interesting, and a plot develops that is far better than the opening chapters may initially suggest. An accidental death that may not be what it seems, a complicated property development deal, and connections to a Chicago organization, all make for a rather engrossing mystery. There are some thoughtful plot twists, and Matt's bravado towards the end is a refreshing extension of his character.

Saari writes in a perfunctory, mechanical style that is somewhat incompatible with the character relating his story. Setting the story in Minnesota with its perceived (and no doubt unwarranted) lack of comfort and warmth doesn't help. And the last couple of chapters are far too trite. But as a first effort, and especially as a self-published endeavor without professional assistance, Snowman is an admirable achievement.

Special thanks to Dave Saari for providing a copy of Snowman for this review. Click here to purchase Snowman directly from the author at a special discounted price.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Mystery Bestsellers for February 23, 2007

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending February 23, 2007 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Innocent in Death by J. D. RobbJust edging out Step on a Crack (James Patterson) for the top spot at Barnes&Noble.com is the latest from J. D. Robb in the "In Death" series, Innocent in Death, the 24th mystery featuring NYPD Lieutenant Eve Dallas. The book lands in second place at Amazon.com, though by a very slim margin. The death of a history teacher, whose packed lunch was tainted with deadly ricin, shocks his colleagues. But they have some shocking secrets of their own. It's Eve's job to get a feel for all the potential suspects, and find out why someone would have done this to a man who seemed so inoffensive, so pleasant, so innocent. When another man turns up dead, the case begins to take some strange turns and hitting some frustrating dead ends. Eve knows all too well that innocence can be a facade. Keeping that in mind may help her solve this case at last.

Other new entries on the Barnes&Noble.com list include Puss 'n Cahoots by Rita Mae Brown, the 14th mystery in the Mrs. Murphy series, and Death of a Maid by M. C. Beaton, the 23rd Hamish MacBeth mystery. Mysterious Reviews will have a review of Death of a Maid on its website next week.

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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News: Sara Paretsky to Speak at Library of Congress

News from the Library of Congress: Best-Selling Mystery Writer Sara Paretsky To Speak on Feb. 27.

What do basketball, a discount superstore, two runaway teenagers and an explosion that screams of foul play have in common? They are just a sampling of the twists and turns found in the latest mystery thriller by Sara Paretsky.

She will discuss and sign her most recent book, Fire Sale, at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27, in the Montpelier Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave., S.E., Washington, D.C.

The program, which marks the 25th anniversary of the debut of Paretsky’s fictional private detective V.I. Warshawski and the 20th anniversary of the Sisters in Crime organization, is part of the Books & Beyond author series sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Free and open to the public, the program requires no reservations or tickets.

Read more on this event on the Library of Congress website here.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

News: Keanu Reeves to Star in The Night Watchman

Variety is reporting that Fox Searchlight and New Regency will co-produce The Night Watchman, a screenplay scripted by mystery author James Ellroy, and directed by David Ayer. The film will star Keanu Reeves portraying a cop who's always done what was needed to solve homicides and crack down on gang violence until he realizes that he can't play by his own dirty rules anymore, and that he may not be very effective in his job as a result. Filming is expected to begin in April.

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, February 20, 2007

Mystery Book Review: The Watchman by Robert Crais

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

The Watchman by Robert Crais
A Joe Pike Mystery

Simon & Schuster (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-7432-8163-2 (0743281632)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7432-8163-8 (9780943281638)
Publication Date: February 2007
List Price: $25.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): When the U. S. Marshals and the finest private security firm that money can buy can't protect Larkin Conner Barkley from the men who want her dead, her wealthy family hires the one man money can't buy to protect their daughter - Joe Pike. Joe owes a bad man a favor, and the favor is to protect Larkin, a spoiled, self-centered, rich girl who happens to be a federal witness in a case the feds are putting together to bust a crime cartel linking organized mobsters and West Coast industrialists. And when Pike learns that the man he'll be working for is one of his oldest and most trusted friends - his former LAPD training officer, Bud Flynn - Pike signs on and commits himself to protecting the girl's life.

But Pike and the girl immediately come under intense fire, and Pike realizes that someone is leaking information that could get them both killed. Turning to his friend Elvis Cole for help, Pike's investigation soon reveals a web of lies and deceptions, half-truths and betrayals, and the stunning revelation that even the cops are not who they seem.

Review: Robert Crais, author of the Elvis Cole mysteries, takes Cole's partner Joe Pike and presents him center stage in The Watchman, a perfect vehicle for this cryptic and inscrutable character. Cole himself plays an important, though clearly subordinate, role in the book.

Larkin Conner lives the life of a billionaire's daughter. Think Paris Hilton, but sober and with a conscience. One night while returning home, she accidentally hits a car, injuring its passengers. Before she can call for help, the driver speeds off and a man in the back seat disappears down a nearby alley. Fast forward several days and The Watchman opens with Larkin under the protection of Joe Pike and running for her life. Pike's assignment is to keep Larking alive at all costs, and trusting no one, he takes refuge in a safe house, the location of which is known only to Pike, Larkin, and Elvis Cole. As Pike and Cole try to figure out why Larkin is a target, they realize that essentially everyone claiming to want to protect her is hiding behind a facade, withholding information that will save her.

Crais vividly portrays the primary characters in The Watchman, imparting into each unique and readily identifiable features. Yet Joe Pike remains largely an enigma. Methodical, thoughtful, intelligent, analytical, determined, meticulous, all surely describe Joe Pike. Yet he defies a visual identity in the reader's mind. Ask ten people to describe Pike after reading The Watchman, and there will be ten distinct answers. That Crais can create such a well-defined character and keep him virtually anonymous is truly remarkable.

Though the plot could have been overly complicated, Crais wisely chooses to keep it relatively simple. Pike is clearly mystified by the actions of everyone involved, but he keeps coming back to the basic question before him: Why is Larkin a target? The answer this simple question not only makes his task of keeping her alive that much more achievable, but provides clarity to other inconsistencies in this case as the pieces of the puzzle fall into place.

The Watchman is an outstanding example of a mystery thriller, and will certainly be remembered as one of the year's best novels.

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

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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News: Reviewer's Choice Awards Nominees Announced

Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine has announced its nominees for the Reviewers' Choice Awards recognizing the best in women's fiction, romance, mystery, fantasy and more for 2006.

For the mystery categories, the nominees are: (a link on the book's title indicates a review was written by Mysterious Reviews)

• Amateur Sleuth

UNPLUGGED
Lois Greiman
Dell (February 2006)

STEAMED
Jessica Conant-Park and Susan Conant
Berkley Prime Crime (March 2006)

DEFINITELY DEAD
Charlaine Harris
Ace (May 2006)

ANTIQUES ROADKILL
Barbara Allan
Kensington (August 2006)

ALL MORTAL FLESH
Julia Spencer-Fleming
St. Martin's Minotaur (October 2006)

SIZE 14 IS NOT FAT EITHER
Meg Cabot
Avon Trade (December 2006)

• Contemporary Mystery

DIRTY BLONDE
Lisa Scottoline
HarperCollins (March 2006)

TWO LITTLE GIRLS IN BLUE
Mary Higgins Clark
Simon and Schuster (April 2006)

THE LAST SPYMASTER
Gayle Lynds
St. Martin's (June 2006)

SNOW BLIND
P. J. Tracy
Putnam (August 2006)

KIDNAPPED
Jan Burke
Simon and Schuster (October 2006)

KEEPER OF THE KEYS
Perri O'Shaughnessy
Delacorte (November 2006)

• First Mystery

BLOWN AWAY
Shane Gericke
Pinnacle (May 2006)

A FIELD OF DARKNESS
Cornelia Read
Mysterious Press (May 2006)

SEQUENCE
Lori Andrews
St. Martin's Minotaur (June 2006)

THE INTERPRETATION OF MURDER
Jed Rubenfeld
Henry Holt (September 2006

• Historical Mystery

MARK OF THE LION
Suzanne M. Arruda
NAL (January 2006)

NORTH BY NORTHANGER
Carrie Bebris
Forge (March 2006)

TOMB OF THE GOLDEN BIRD
Elizabeth Peters
William Morrow (April 2006)

DARK ASSASSIN
Anne Perry
Ballantine (April 2006)

• P. I. / Procedural Novel

THE FINISHING SCHOOL
Michele Martinez
Morrow (January 2006)

THE ART OF DETECTION
Laurie R. King
Bantam (June 2006)

END IN TEARS
Ruth Rendell
Crown (July 2006)

THE MEPHISTO CLUB
Tess Gerritsen
Ballantine (September 2006)

• Suspense

WRONG PLACE, WRONG TIME
Andrea Kane
Morrow (January 2006)

GONE
Lisa Gardner
Bantam (February 2006)

THE CRIMSON CODE
Rachel Lee
Mira (February 2006)

THE KILL
Allison Brennan
Ballantine (March 2006)

PRIOR BAD ACTS
Tami Hoag
Bantam (April 2006)

COPYCAT
Erica Spindler
Mira (June 2006)

KITTY GOES TO WASHINGTON
Carrie Vaughn
Aspect (July 2006)

Winners will be listed in the June 7th issue of Romantic Times BOOKreviews, just prior to the 24th Annual Booklovers Convention in Houston, Texas, April 25 to 29, 2007.

For previous winners, visit The Reviewers' Choice Award page on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books 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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Monday, February 19, 2007

News: The Prestige Available This Week on DVD

Mysteries on DVDNew this week on DVD: The Prestige, starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, and David Bowie, will be released tomorrow, February 20th. The movie is based on The Prestige by Christopher Priest, published by St. Martin's Press in 1986.The Prestige on DVD A paperback edition was released last October. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly stated, "... a complex tale that must have been extremely difficult to tell in exactly the right sequence, while still maintaining a series of shocks to the very end. Priest has brought it off with great imagination and skill."

Also available in high-definition: The Prestige: Blu-ray Disc.

Information on both the book and the movie is available from Mysteries on DVD: The Prestige.

Visit the Mysteries on DVD website to discover more movies that have been adapted from mystery books. Also visit our latest website, Mysteries on TV, to purchase television mystery series available on DVD.

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Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for February 19, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for February 19, 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 C E N O R Y Z. The Nameless Detective has two mysteries to solve in the 26th book in the series by Bill Pronzini (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, February 17, 2007

Mystery Book Review: The Commission by Michael Norman

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

The Commission by Michael Norman
A Sam Kincaid Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-358-2 (1590583582)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-358-6 (9781590583586)
Publication Date: February 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Levi Vogue, Chairman of the powerful Utah Board of Pardons and Parole, is gunned down in the driveway of his home as he returns from a late evening tryst with Sue Ann Winkler, an exotic dancer employed in a Salt Lake City strip club.

Sam Kincaid, Chief of the Special Investigations Branch (SIB) of the Utah Department of Corrections, is assigned to help Salt Lake City Police Department homicide detective Lt. Kate McConnell solve Vogue's murder.

The investigation soon leads Kincaid and McConnell into the seedy world of prostitution and strip clubs. Ultimately, the investigation focuses on Charles (Slick) Watts, a violent ex-convict with a long criminal history and a score to settle with Levi Vogue. But before Watts can be apprehended, his body is discovered at an abandoned military base in Wendover, Nevada.

When the medical examiner concludes that Watt's death was a homicide elaborately staged to look like a suicide, Kincaid and McConnell are forced to turn their attention to a complex conspiracy behind the murders.

Ultimately, the investigation leads Kincaid and McConnell inside the Utah state prison to a small group of corrupt prison employees known as the Commission. As the police close in, Commission members turn, first on each other, and then on Kincaid.

Review: Michael Norman introduces a rather unique character in the annals of police procedurals, Sam Kincaid, Chief of the Special Investigations Branch of the Utah Department of Corrections, based in Salt Lake City, in The Commission. This is not a typical job description, and it makes for a unique and largely successful approach to this genre of mystery fiction.

Following the execution-style murder of Levi Vogue, the chairman of the Utah Pardons and Paroles board, Kincaid is asked to assist in the investigation. Despite the outward appearance of being an upstanding citizen of the community, Kincaid soon discovers that Vogue had a darker side. The convoluted trail ultimately leads to a rogue group of prison employees called The Commission who administer their own brand of justice to those whom they deem deserve it.

The primary appeal of The Commission is in the character of Sam Kincaid. Norman writes in a relaxed, almost folksy first person narrative that suits the principal character well. As a police procedural, the reader is taken step-by-step through the investigative process and participates with Kincaid in the unfolding investigation. The story is competently plotted, and serves well as an introduction to a new series.

However, there are a few stylistic flaws which mar this otherwise strong debut that could have, and should have, been corrected during another round of editing. Excepting the prologue that sets up the murder of Vogue, Norman uses first person narrative for the first third of the book. Then, suddenly, there's an italicized passage that presages danger for Kincaid. It's jarring and unnecessary. Following this, and with increasing frequency, Norman scatters third person narrative sections that seem to have been inserted after the completion of the book. It's as if he thought that additional explanation was needed and tossed in a paragraph or two to help fill in some blank spots. Without exception, each of these sections could have been rewritten from Kincaid's perspective, providing a smooth, cohesive narrative throughout.

Special thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of The Commission for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 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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Mystery Bestsellers for February 16, 2007

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending February 16, 2007 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

There's something of a divergence in the lists this week, with a bit of shuffling of bestsellers at Amazon.com and the introduction of three new bestsellers at Barnes&Noble.com. Both lists have James Patterson's latest mystery, Step on a Crack, at the top of their lists.

Key Lime Pie Murder by Joanne FlukeNew mysteries this week include Key Lime Pie Murder, the 8th entry in the Hannah Swensen mystery series. It's Tri-County fair time and Lake Eden, Minnesota, and it promises to be a busy week for Hannah Swensen. Not only is she whipping up treats for the chamber of commerce booth at the fair; she's also judging the baking contest; acting as a magician's assistant for her business partner's husband; trying to coax Moishe, her previously rapacious feline, to end his hunger strike, and performing her own private carnival act by juggling the demands of her mother and sisters. Moments before the fair closes one night she realizes that she's not alone among the shuttered booths and looming carnival attractions. She goes snooping, only to discover Willa Sunquist, a student teacher and fellow bake contest judge, dead alongside an upended key lime pie. But who would want to kill Willa and why? As fair week draws to a close, Hannah cranks up the heat, hoping that the killer will get rattled and make a mistake. If that happens she intends to be there, even if it means getting on a carnival ride that could very well be her last. As with all mysteries in this series, the book includes 12 original recipes for you to try.

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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Friday, February 16, 2007

News: Introducing Mysteries on TV

If you're like us, whatever free time isn't spent reading mysteries is spent watching them. Last year we created a website, Mysteries on DVD, that featured mystery books that had been adapted as screenplays and filmed as movies. Each page of this site features information about the original book and the movie made from it. Associated with this website is an Amazon.com aStore, Buy Mysteries on DVD, where all the movies featured can be easily purchased.

aStores are a recent innovation by Amazon.com that allow the inclusion of highly targeted products for purchase within the framework of a website, or optionally, as a stand-alone online store. We've embraced aStores as a convenient way for our customers to search for, and purchase, mystery-related products.

Our newest aStore is Buy Mysteries on TV, a collection of mystery-themed television shows that are available on DVD. You might wonder why this site is even necessary since Amazon.com directly provides several search methods for identifying TV mysteries. One reason is that Amazon.com tries to be all things to all people, and in creating their categories they often overlook products that may be relevant and of interest to those searching, or include products that are at best only peripherally related. By selectively picking only those series that are most related to this category, we've provided a convenient single site for customers wanting to find television mystery series available on DVD.

Some terrific series may be easily overlooked using Amazon.com's standard search options. For example, consider the outstanding mystery series Foyle's War, set in England during World War II. The acting and writing is first rate, yet this series has received very little attention here in the US. The first three seasons are currently available on DVD.

The first season of Murder One is also particularly noteworthy. The entire season covered a single murder trial and is marked by stellar performances by Daniel Benzali, Gason Gedrick, Stanley Tucci, Patricia Clarkson, and Barbara Bosson.

We've started with 23 series in our Mysteries on TV aStore and will add more in the future. We may expand the store in the future to include a complete website with additional features.

If you're looking to purchase TV mysteries available on DVD, we hope you'll check out our store. We appreciate your business and look forward to any comments you may have to improve our selection and service.

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, February 13, 2007

Mystery Book Review: How to Marry a Ghost by Hope McIntyre

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of How to Marry a Ghost by Hope McIntyre. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.How to Marry a Ghost by Hope McIntyre

How to Marry a Ghost by Hope McIntyre
A Lee Bartholomew Mystery

Mysterious Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-89296-014-0 (0892960140)
ISBN-13: 978-0-89296-014-9 (9780892960149)
Publication Date: January 2007
List Price: $24.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): Londoner Lee Bartholomew is a loner by nature who prefers to live vicariously through other people. Content with her job as a ghostwriter, Lee is always eager to coax secrets and scandals from showbiz personalities and sports greats. And ghosting writing former rock star Shotgun Marriott's autobiography could be the plum job of her career-if he reveals what really happened one tragic night.

Leaving the comforts of home, Lee travels to New York to attend her mother's wedding to a rich American businessman. Yet she's also there for an even more important gig-an interview with Shotgun to write his story. Cruising along the beach on the tip of Long Island, Lee stumbles upon a newsbreaking story when the body of a man wearing a wedding dress washes ashore. Even more shocking is that the man is Shotgun's estranged son.

But fear soon strikes her after another killing hits much closer to home. Now the darkness around her lonely beach house seems alive with prying eyes and malevolent visitors. As for Shotgun Marriott, he's a charming, talented rogue who's also lying through his teeth. And probing too deeply into his dark world may be last thing Lee ever does …

Review: Ghostwriter Nathalie "Lee" Bartholomew travels from London to the Hamptons in her second mystery, How to Marry a Ghost by Hope McIntyre, to interview for the opportunity to write the autobiography of legendary rock star Christopher "Kip" Marriott, also known as Shotgun Marriott to the media and his fans. Her primary reason to visit to the US, however, is to attend the commitment ceremony of her Mother to Philip Abernathy, her beau of 6 months, a local billionaire whom Lee has dubbed the "Phillionaire". It is, perhaps, mere coincidence that Shotgun and the Phillionaire are neighbors.

Soon after Lee gets settled in the area two murders occur. The first is the discovery of the body of Shotgun's estranged son who has washed up on shore, wearing, somewhat inexplicably, a wedding dress. The second is of Lee's rival in the ghostwriting business, Bettina Pleshette, whose body is found in the woods near the edge of Shotgun's estate. The most likely suspect in both murders is Shotgun himself, yet Lee discovers there may be other reasons why someone would want these two people dead.

How to Marry a Ghost is a complex mystery that has a promising start but will likely lose some readers along the way. The murders take place very early in the book, yet the story meanders for long periods without any obvious effort to bring about a resolution to the crimes. The author deserves credit for creating an intricate plot with generally interesting characters and atmospheric settings, and those willing to stick with it will be rewarded in the end. But the many tangential subplots, and especially the seemingly endless, largely irrelevant, and at its best, wearisome storyline about Lee and her on-again/off-again relationship with Tommy, make the book feel far longer than it really is.

Special thanks to Hachette Book Group USA for providing an ARC of How to Marry a Ghost for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Monday, February 12, 2007

News: Mystery Festival Announces Finalists for Writers Competition

BroadwayWorld.com is reporting that the finalists of the 1st International Mystery Writers' Festival have been selected. All six will have their plays performed on stage this June in Owensboro (KY). RiverPark Center has announced that it will host auditions for the plays February 16-17, 2007. Rehearsals are scheduled for the last week of April, and performances will take place during the festival June 12-17, 2007.

"The committee was overwhelmed by the quality of submissions – both from established writers and new talent," said RiverPark President and CEO Zev Buffman, who produced 40 Broadway shows receiving 27 Tony Award nominations. "This festival will help bring the mystery back to live performances on Broadway and London, much as the Sundance Film Festival has invigorated creativity for new independent films."

There were nearly 1000 submissions to the festival's judging committee, whose founding members include Sue Grafton, Ira Levin, William Link, Stuart Kaminsky, John Jakes, Samual Liff, and James W. Hall.

The finalists include Final Curtain by Ed McBain, a funny and frightening mystery that involves intriguing characters where everyone is a suspect for a dark-and-stormy night murder. This was McBain's only stage mystery and has never been produced, said Buffman. McBain, who also wrote under his real name of Evan Hunter, died in 2005.

The five other plays to be produced are Columbo Takes the Rap by William Link, co-creator of the Murder She Wrote and Columbo television mystery series; Death by Darkness by Elizabeth Orndorff, who wrote her play specifically for this competition; Panic by Joseph Goodrich, a deceitful drama that unravels a scheme of blackmail, betrayal and murder; Widdershins by Don Nigro, in which a family of four has disappeared in Wales in 1902; and If/Then by David Foley, a fast-paced thriller with twists and turns that will keep you guessing through to the very last deceitful moment.

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 February 12, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for February 12, 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 C D E J K R W Y. Ed Gorman wrote this mystery series with this ex-cop and part-time actor (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, February 09, 2007

Mystery Bestsellers for February 09, 2007

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending February 09, 2007 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Step on a Crack by James PattersonJames Patterson introduces a new series with Step on a Crack which debuts at the top of the Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com mystery bestsellers lists this week. Detective Michael Bennett-father of ten-faces the most sinister challenge of his career: a criminal who kills without hesitation and counters everything the NYPD and FBI throw at him with impunity. As New York descends into chaos, Bennett learns that the great love of his life, his wife, is battling a terrible disease and he may have to raise their children alone. Now with the entire world watching and the tension reaching a boiling point, Bennett must quickly find a way out-or become responsible for the greatest debacle in history. Publishers Weekly states, "Short on credibility on the crime front, long on sentimentality on the home front."

High Profile by Robert B. ParkerAlso new this week is High Profile, the 8th entry in Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone mystery series. The book also features in a minor role another of Parker's series characters, PI Sunny Randall. When the body of controversial talk-show host Walton Weeks is discovered hanging from a tree on the outskirts of Paradise, police chief Jesse Stone finds himself at the center of a highly public case, forcing him to deal with small-minded local officials and national media scrutiny. When another dead body-that of a young woman-is discovered just a few days later, the pressure becomes almost unbearable. Though the crimes are perhaps the most gruesome Jesse has ever witnessed, it is the malevolence behind them that makes them all the more frightening. Forced to delve into a world of stormy relationships, Jesse soon comes to realize that knowing whom he can trust is indeed a matter of life and death.

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, February 08, 2007

Mystery Book Review: The Picasso Flop by Vince Van Patten

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of The Picasso Flop by Vince Van Patten. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.The Picasso Flop by Vince Van Patten

The Picasso Flop by Vince Van Patten
A Texas Hold 'Em Mystery

Mysterious Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-89296-070-1 (0892960701)
ISBN-13: 978-0-89296-070-5 (9780892960705)
Publication Date: February 2007
List Price: $24.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): Jimmy Spain was known as one of the luckiest guys in professional poker--until he landed in prison. Then his wealthy cellmate made him a deal he couldn't refuse: mentor his only child in the high-stakes game of Texas Hold'em and he'll set Jimmy up in a condo with 10 grand a month as spending money and pay all his expenses on the poker tour. Done deal.

Suddenly, Jimmy's back on the circuit and in charge of a cocky kid named Kat--that's right, a girl! As the unlikely pair battle their way to the World Poker Tour Championship at the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas, it seems like nothing can stop them from cashing in. Then a fellow player is found dead with a three-card "Picasso Flop" in his shirt pocket, casting suspicion on the new Hold'em wiz kid, Kat. Now, amid building pressure to win the tournament, it falls to Jimmy to prove her innocence. Will the distraction cost him his big break? Or send him back to jail? Maybe worse?

Review: Vince Van Patten, host of the World Poker Tour (WPT), teams up with author Robert J. Randisi to pen the first Texas Hold 'Em mystery, The Picasso Flop, featuring poker player Jimmy Spain. Though Jimmy Spain is fictional, the book features a number of real-life characters including Van Patten's co-host on the tour, Mike Sexton.

Jimmy Spain, off the pro-poker circuit for 10 years due to a stint in prison for manslaughter, is persuaded by a former cellmate, Harold Landrigan, to take his estranged daughter, Kat, under his wing. Her passion in life is poker, specifically, Texas Hold 'Em, and Landrigan wants to see that she has a chance to succeed. Jimmy's incentive: a condo, $10K a month, and all expenses paid to Las Vegas for the Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio. And there's a stipulation: Kat can't know that Jimmy is being paid by her father. Shortly after the tournament begins, a hot-shot internet poker player is found murdered, his neck broken. A day later his partner is thrown off a balcony into the hotel's pool. The only thing connecting the two murders is a set of cards found on their bodies: a jack, queen, and king, or in the vernacular of Texas Hold 'Em, a Picasso flop.

The Picasso Flop is a reasonably entertaining mystery that will likely appeal to anyone who plays Texas Hold 'Em or enjoys watching the players on television. There is a lot of insider information, and the book is peppered with poker phrases and slang. As might be expected in a book of this sort, there are fair number of characters to manage and the authors do a fine job of giving them individual traits, allowing the reader to readily distinguish between them. What might be over-the-top caricature in another setting seems comparatively mainstream here.

The plot is not as tightly constructed as it could be and is dependent upon a number of largely improbable, and at times highly coincidental, circumstances. And portraying the Las Vegas police and Bellagio hotel security as rather inept organizations certainly helps keep the murderer hidden in plain sight for as long as possible.

The Picasso Flop is subtitled a "Texas Hold 'Em" mystery, but will presumably return with most of the main characters as their personal storylines are left unresolved at the end of the book. The crimes presented here may be concluded, but what the future holds for Jimmy Spain and Kat Landrigan remains a mystery.

Special thanks to Hachette Book Group USA for providing an ARC of The Picasso Flop for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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News: Nancy Drew Mystery for the Nintendo DS

Games of MysteryMajesco Entertainment has announced that a new Nancy Drew game will be released for the Nintendo DS later this year. Titled Nancy Drew and The Deadly Secret of Olde World Park, it is the first touch screen-based mystery for the teen detective.

According to the company's press release, in Nancy Drew and The Deadly Secret of Olde World Park, players assume the role of the teenage super sleuth as she works to solve the mystery of the missing billionaire, Thaddeus Belmont. Players must collect clues, decipher puzzles, follow suspects, sneak into areas and much more as they use their deductive reasoning skills to progress through 15 increasingly difficult chapters. Touch Screen play is incorporated into unique conversation and unlocking mini-games, but players will also use the stylus in Nancy's Clue Journal to access maps, inventory and tasks.

For other Nintendo DS mystery games, visit Games of Mystery which provides information on more mystery games of all kinds as well as mystery parties, mystery-themed vacations, and more!

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Press Release: Robert Crais to Receive Idaho's Bloody Pen Award

Boise, ID (OPENPRESS) February 7, 2007 -- Robert Crais, best-selling author and screenwriter, is the recipient of Idaho's 2007 Bloody Pen Award. It will be presented during the Murder in the Grove mystery conference at the Boise Centre on the Grove, June 8-9, 2007. The Popular Fiction Association of Idaho, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting literature, awards the Bloody Pen to recognize excellence in writing.

Crais, author of the Elvis Cole mystery series and other novels, has received the Anthony, Macavity, and Ross McDonald Literary Awards, and has been nominated for an Edgar. His novel, Hostage, was a 2001 New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He has also received an Emmy nomination for his work as a screenwriter. Bruce Willis starred in the film adaptation of Crais’s novel, Hostage. Born in Louisiana, Crais currently resides in the Santa Monica hills with his wife. Crais will give the keynote address after the Bloody Pen Awards presentation during lunch on June 9, 2007 at the Boise Centre on the Grove.

Murder in the Grove will host a number of authors, agents, and forensics specialists who will provide workshops, panels, and manuscript evaluations for conference attendees. A full day writer's workshop, “Empowering Characters Emotions,” presented by the highly acclaimed instructor, Margie Lawson, will open the conference on June 8, 2007. The public is invited to meet Crais, Lawson, and all of the other conference participants at a book and dessert party at 7:00 p.m., June 8, at Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 1315 N. Milwaukee, Boise, Idaho.

Whether you'd like to improve your writing, learn more about the publishing world, or mingle with a variety of mystery authors, Murder in the Grove has something for you.

For more information including all fees, deadlines, registration instructions, and lodging specials, please visit www.murderinthegrove.com.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Trouble by Jesse Kellerman

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

Trouble by Jesse Kellerman
Non-series

Putnam (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-399-15403-5 (0399154035)
ISBN-13: 978-0-399-15403-4 (9780399154034)
Publication Date: January 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Young, idealistic, and overworked, Jonah is living the lonely life of a medical student in New York City when he accidentally stumbles across a murder in progress: a woman, being stabbed to death in the middle of the sidewalk. Without thinking, he rushes in to protect her-inadvertently killing her attacker in the process.

Thrust into the media spotlight, crushed by guilt, Jonah quickly learns that heroism isn't all it's cracked up to be. He receives a shower of unwanted attention-and hostility-from his superiors. The district attorney wants to "interview" him. The family of the dead man wants revenge.

Everything is further upended when the woman whose life he saved shows up at his apartment. What begins as a thank-you drink turns into a wildly passionate love affair. As their relationship deepens, however, Jonah realizes that she isn't quite the woman she appears to be. His nightmare has only begun, and the price of kindness will turn out to be higher than he could have imagined.

Review: Trouble is Jesse Kellerman's second published book, a thriller that is at best an achievement of style over substance.

Jonah Stem is a medical student in upper Manhattan who, returning home after a particularly grueling day in surgery, encounters a man holding a knife over a woman who has been repeatedly stabbed. Realizing she may die without immediate medical attention, he fends off her attacker who is accidentally stabbed with the knife and dies. Though the woman recovers, Jonah soon finds he's being sued by the dead man's family. To deal with the stress of his medical studies and the pending lawsuit, he turns to Eve Gones, the woman whose life he saved, who has suddenly and unexpectedly turned up in his life. But as he learns more about this mysterious woman, he realizes that she can only complicate his life. When he tries to end their relationship, he finds she will do anything to prevent him from doing so.

Kellerman is an accomplished writer who brings his own style to the narrative. He credibly evokes the strain and stress students of medical school face, the long hours, the lack of respect and indifference from superiors. He's created a complex character with Jonah Stem, and allows the reader to experience the various frustrations in his life: his former fiancée and her father, the endless hours of medical school, his roommate, the lawsuit, and finally, his relationship with Eve Gones. The use of sentence fragments, interfused dialog, even spacing between words on the page, all combine to create the sense of confusion and vexation that Jonah is experiencing. Stylistically, it's exceptionally well done.

Trouble, however, is anything but original. It's not even a good derivative. Kellerman has done virtually nothing to inject anything different or unique into this plot outline, which has been used as the basis for any number of books and screenplays for years. A movie in particular immediately comes to mind. One knows absolutely where this story is heading, and once a scene opens can accurately predict how it will end. Even with the denouement, where the author had a final chance to introduce a twist or something novel, he played it safe and went with the standard ending. It's disappointing that someone with so obvious a talent for composition couldn't trouble himself to come up with something original to write about.

Special thanks to Penguin Group (USA) Inc. for providing an ARC of Trouble for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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News: Tell No One Wins Luminere Award

Variety is reporting that Guillaume Canet's feature film Tell No One won the best picture at the Lumiere awards ceremony Monday night. Canet adapted the screenplay from Harlan Coben's mystery novel of the same name.

Tell No One is a thriller in which a message appears on David Beck's computer, a phrase only he and his dead wife know. Suddenly Beck is taunted with the impossible - that somewhere, somehow, his wife is alive. He has been warned to tell no one. And he doesn't. Instead, he runs from the people he trusts the most, plunging headlong into a search for the shadowy figure whose messages hold out a desperate hope. But already Beck is being hunted down. He's headed straight into the heart of a dark and deadly secret - and someone intends to stop him before he gets there.

The Lumieres are a French version of the Golden Globes and are voted on by foreign journalists posted to Paris.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

News: There's No Mystery to Writing a Book

Karen McCowan, writing in the Oregon Life section of The Register-Guard, reports on the activities that took place at the Midwinter Mystery Weekend in Cannon Beach on January 26-28, 2007. Featured authors included Eugene resident Carola Dunn (the Daisy Salrymple mysteries), former Oregon State University journalism professor Ron Lovell (the Thomas Martindale mystery series), and Deborah Donnelly of Portland (the Carnegie Kincaid mysteries).

Los Angeles writers Jack Remick and Robert Ray taught a writing workshop, adds McCowan. Titled "The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery", participants were assigned a timed writing exercise. "Always start with your killer. Go as deep into the killer as you can - he drives the story," Remick said.

Ann Rule, the keynote speaker, told aspiring writers that there's no mystery to writing a book. "You don't have to be in the right mood," she said. "You set a number of pages for yourself each day, you sit down, and you do it."

Read the entire article on the RegisterGuard.com here.

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Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for February 05, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for February 05, 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 N O P R T V. This Minneapolis police detective is featured in the “Prey” mysteries by John Sandford (last name only) (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, February 03, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Gravewriter by Mark Arsenault

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

Gravewriter by Mark Arsenault
A Billy Povich Mystery

St. Martin's Minotaur (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-312-33596-2 (0312335962)
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-33596-0 (9780312335960)
Publication Date: November 2006
List Price: $23.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Billy Povich used to be a journalist. He lost his wife because of his gambling habit, and then she died in a car crash. Now he finds himself writing obituaries and living with his elderly father and seven-year-old son, Bo.

Billy plans to kill the man who was at the wheel the night of his wife's death. But then a summons to jury duty for a murder trial delays Billy’s agenda. As the trial heats up, Billy finds that his little boy spots danger faster than he does, and a frantic and deadly chase begins with Billy as the prey.

Review: Mark Arsenault introduces a new series with Gravewriter featuring Providence (RI) obituary writer Billy Povich out to exact revenge on the man he holds responsible for the death of his ex-wife in a car accident. While planning this mission, he is side-tracked by jury duty and finds himself listening to evidence in a trial of a man he believes is on his way to being convicted of a crime he didn't commit.

Billy is a reporter at heart, and despite the circumstances in which he finds himself, his natural instinct is to investigate. As a jury member, he is warned not to read anything about the case, yet having access to his newspaper's archives proves too much of a lure. He uncovers information that he, correctly, guesses is being suppressed by the court and then curiosity takes over. Why was it suppressed, and more importantly (to him), does it have anything to do with the crime of which the defendant is accused? What follows is a twisted tale of betrayal and deceit that will have even the most jaded mystery reader turning the pages to find out what happens next.

Arsenault has devised a clever and well-paced plot, seamlessly interleaving several apparently unrelated subplots to create a story that is greater than the sum of its parts. Billy is a wonderfully complex character: he has an addiction to gambling that ruined his marriage, yet he is a thoughtful and caring father and son, three generations of men living together who share a common joy in eating breakfast at all hours of the day and night. There is a noir-ish quality to the book, especially in its descriptions of the Providence locations that serve as its setting. Finally, the conclusion to Gravewriter comes as an unexpected surprise and provides the perfect ending to this exceptional mystery.

Special thanks to Breakthrough Promotions for providing an ARC of Gravewriter for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Friday, February 02, 2007

News: Mystery Fans and Writers in Seattle for LCC

Alan Woog, writing for The Seattle Times, reports that the annual Left Coast Crime (LCC) convention hits Seattle this weekend. LCC is an annual gathering of mystery fans and writers, a regional alternative to big, international mystery conferences like Bouchercon. LCC welcomes people from all over but emphasizes the Western states. Los Angeles writer Gary Phillips, author of Ivan Monk series, is the event's toastmaster.

Starting today and continuing through Sunday, some 600 fans, writers and assorted other denizens of the mystery/crime/thriller world will converge on the to city to schmooze, snag autographed books and attend such events as an after-hours Seattle Underground tour and an auction (benefiting, among other things, the Seattle Public Library Foundation). They're also attending panels on a wide variety of grisly, educational and/or fun topics.

Read the entire article on SeattleTimes.com here.

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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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