Monday, April 30, 2007

Press Release: South Beach Shakedown Named Finalist in Benjamin Franklin Awards

Ipswich, MA (PRWEB) April 26, 2007 -- South Beach Shakedown by Don Bruns has been named one of three finalists in the mystery/suspense category of the 2007 Benjamin Franklin Awards ™ competition.South Beach Shakedown by Don Bruns

Named in honor of America's most cherished publisher/printer, the Benjamin Franklin Awards™ recognizes excellence in independent publishing. Publications, grouped by genre, are judged on editorial and design merit by top practitioners in each field. This year's awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, May 31, 2007, at the Park Central in New York at 870 Seventh Avenue at 56th Street.

Published by Oceanview Publishing, is the third release in Bruns' music murder mystery series featuring rock and roll journalist Mick Sever. Heralded by BookPage magazine as what "may be this season's quintessential suspense read," South Beach Shakedown won top honors in the mystery/suspense category of the "Best Books 2006" awards, sponsored by USA Book News, and was named a finalist in the mystery/suspense category of the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards.

is a musician, advertising executive and award-winning novelist who divides his time between Ohio and Florida. His next book, Stuff to Die For will be released by Oceanview on September 1, 2007.

For more information, read the entire press release here.

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are 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 Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for April 30, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for April 30, 2007A new has been created by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books and is available on our website.

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

This week's letters and mystery clue: B D I L N O P S T. FBI Agent Bernadette Saint Clare is introduced in this mystery by Terri Persons (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!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Secret Sins by Kate Charles

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

Secret Sins by
A Callie Anson Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-356-6 (1590583566)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-356-2 (9781590583562)
Publication Date: March 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Life may not be getting any easier for curate Callie Anson, but it is definitely getting more interesting. Her relationship with policeman Marco Lombardi grows ever warmer, even though he seems to be keeping her away from his close Italian family. Then her own brother Peter, beloved and engaging as he is, gets a bit too close for comfort when he moves in with Callie.

Professionally, things are challenging as well. Callie has become involved with the problems of a new parishioner. Morag Hamilton is worried about her granddaughter Alex--a lonely and isolated twelve-year-old with a work-obsessed father and a self-absorbed step-mother. If Morag knew how much time Alex spends on the internet, she would have even more cause for worry.

Meanwhile, Detective Inspector Neville Stewart tries to put his personal problems on hold as he deals with Rachel Norton, a pregnant young woman with a missing husband. With the birth of their first baby only a few days away, why would Trevor Norton go out jogging and not return?

Trevor's disappearance may not be what it seems. Just when Neville thinks he's solved it, someone else goes missing: young Alex Hamilton.

Review: Kate Charles' second entry in the Reverend Callie Anson series, Secret Sins, is a series of interrelated vignettes that when viewed as a whole make for an intriguing novel but which barely qualify to be characterized as a mystery.

The primary plot thread and the only one that has a logical beginning and ending is also the most interesting. Alex Hamilton is the young daughter of a successful businessman who attends an exclusive school where she doesn't fit in. She has an antagonistic relationship with her stepmother and though her treasured grandmother lives only a short distance away, Alex isn't allowed to visit with her. She has only a locket by which to remember her mother who is locked away in a hospital in Scotland. When her situation at home becomes intolerable, she leaves on a treacherous trek to find her mother. Callie Anson, the local parish curate who has befriended Alex's grandmother Morag, unwittingly participates in the investigation of Alex's disappearance when she accompanies Morag on a trip to Scotland.

The mystery of Secret Sins is in one of the secondary subplots. A father-to-be is killed one morning while jogging by person or persons unknown. The only item missing is his iPod which the police rapidly conclude the theft of which was the reason he was killed. Astute readers will just as rapidly come to a different, more probable, and in the end correct, conclusion. Callie isn't involved in this subplot which itself seems to have been added for the sole purpose of including a dead body into the book.

The various other plot threads (Callie's relationship with her family, her potential romantic relationship with policeman Marco Lombardi, her relationship with the members of her church and their families, and two or three more) all serve to round out the principal character, but do little else in and of themselves.

Secret Sins is an interesting, well written book populated by appealing, complex characters, but don't expect a whodunit, howdunit, or whydunit—it's none of these.

Special thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of Secret Sins for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 - Hidden Staircase Mystery Books - All Rights Reserved.

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News: LA Times Names Book Prize Winners for 2006

The Los Angeles Times recognized the most accomplished authors of 2006 at its 27th Annual Book Prizes ceremony last night. Established in 1980, the Book Prizes span a wide variety of literary genres, including mystery.

The winner in the mystery/thriller category: Echo Park by Michael Connelly (Little Brown).

The other authors and their books nominated in this category were Patrick Neate for City of Tiny Lights (Riverhead Books), George Pelecanos for The Night Gardener (Little, Brown), Jess Walter for The Zero (HarperCollins), and Don Winslow for The Winter of Frankie Machine (Alfred A. Knopf).

For a complete list of the categories, nominees, and winners, read the press release here. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

News: Video Preview of Upcoming Nancy Drew Game

Games of MysteryA video preview of the upcoming Nancy Drew PC game, Legend of the Crystal Skull, has been released by the publisher, Her Interactive. See the video on the GameVideos.com website here.

In Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull, currently scheduled for release in October 2007, Nancy is off to with her friend Bess for a vacation. But where Nancy goes, mystery is sure to follow, and sure enough, Nancy finds a new adventure when she meets a friend of Ned Nickerson, Henry Bolet Jr. Henry’s grandfather is recently deceased and Henry is in New Orleans to wrap up his affairs. As Nancy’s adventure unfolds, family secrets are revealed and questions abound. Bruno possessed a powerful crystal skull that was said to protect its owner against death by any natural causes. And so it's up to Nancy and Bess to figure out whether Bruno was murdered.

Available in June 2007, Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek finds Nancy undercover at the Icicle Creek Lodge in the Canadian Rockies. She is there to investigate strange accidents and a mysterious wolf which appears before each incident. When Nancy arrives, there is an explosion and a bunkhouse is destroyed. She will soon discover a dangerous plot afoot that could have international repercussions.

Please visit the Games of Mystery website to see a list of all . Our website also features information on of all kinds as well as , , and more!

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Mystery Bestsellers for April 27, 2007

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten for the week ending April 27, 2007 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Simple Genius by David BaldacciNew this week and at the top of both Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com mystery bestselling lists: Simple Genius by David Baldacci. Secret Service agents Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are back and struggling in their lives. Dogged by personal demons, Maxwell is agrees to treatment in a psychiatric institution, after barely surviving a violent barroom brawl. And King, to right their partnership, accepts an offer to investigate a murder in a scientific think tank named Babbage Town. Feeling cured, Michelle joins him on the case, and they penetrate this secret enclave of geniuses working to surpass the capabilities of the most sophisticated microprocessor in the world. Suddenly, the pair find themselves in a race against time to expose those who would tip the entire global power structure...and destroy what's left of their lives.

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

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are committed to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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News: Edgar Award Winners Announced

The Edgar Award winners were announced last night at a banquet at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. The Edgars are awarded annually by the Mystery Writers of America to authors of distinguished work in various categories of the mystery genre.

The winners included:

Best Novel: The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin;

Best First Novel: The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson;

Best Paperback Original: Snakeskin Shamisen by Naomi Hirahara;

Grand Master: Stephen King.

For a complete list of the categories, nominees, and winners, visit The Edgars website here. Congratulations to all the winners!

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are 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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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Press Release: First Crime Novel Competition Announced

NEW YORK, April 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Daniel J. Hale, Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America (MWA), and Andrew Martin, Vice President and Publisher of St. Martin's Minotaur, today announced the first annual St. Martin's Minotaur/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition.

This contest provides a previously unpublished writer an opportunity to launch his or her career with a major mystery imprint, St. Martin's Minotaur. The winner will receive a one-book, $10,000 contract.

The competition will be officially announced during MWA's April 2007 Edgar® Award festivities by Mr. Martin. Entries will be accepted immediately through December 15, 2007. The winner will be recognized at the 2008 Edgar Awards banquet, and his or her novel published in 2009.

The competition is open to any writer who has never been the author of a published novel. Details, rules and specific guidelines on eligibility, as well as entry forms, are available at the St. Martin's Minotaur website: http://www.minotaurbooks.com.

Read the entire press release here.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

News: Financial Thriller Author Paul Erdman Dies

Paul Erdman, a world-class economist and a pioneer in the development of financial thrillers, has died. He was 74.

His first book, The Billion Dollar Sure Thing, won an Edgar Award in 1974. He went on to write several more novels. His second book, The Silver Bears, published in 1974, was turned into a comic crime movie starring Michael Caine and Cybill Shepherd. The publication of his novel The Swiss Account in 1992 is often cited as influential in renewing international interest on the conduct of Swiss banks during the Nazi regime in Germany.

Mr. Erdman is survived by his wife, two daughters, and two granddaughters.

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News: Rankin to Write a Libretto for Scottish Composer

It's always fascinating to learn something new about a mystery author. The Playbill Arts website is reporting that Ian Rankin, author of the Inspector Rebus mysteries, has agreed to write a libretto for a new opera by composer Craig Armstrong.

Rankin, who is about to publish his final novel about Inspector Rebus, is reportedly not giving any hints as to what his composition will be about.

The librettos and scores must be completed by November, and the 15-minute works will be performed in Edinburgh and Glasgow in February 2008. At least one librettist and composer will be invited to extend their work into a full three-hour production.

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are 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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Monday, April 23, 2007

News: Walter Mosley Says You Can be a Writer

Andrea Hoag, special to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, writes that mystery novelist says you, too, can be a writer. He has recently published a book, This Year You Write Your Novel This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley in which he offers up no-nonsense advice that is sure to set beginning writers along the righteous path to real authorhood.

When Mosley first decided to write a sort of everyman's writing manual, he said, "My problem was this: I've seen a lot of books on writing ... and I really do like to hear examples of great writing, but I think it's the biggest mistake in the world to use great writing as the tool for the beginning writer."

Mosley adds, "The other thing is, I've read a lot of books about writing that are like 300 pages long. It was very important to me that mine be 100 pages or less.

According to Mosley, "I'm not trying to say that anyone can be a great novelist ... and you shouldn't want to write a novel just because you want to be a Tolstoy. The truth is, we all have talent. Some have more than others and some are better than others."

Read the rest of Hoag's article on SeattlePI.com here.

[Mystery Books News Editor's note: Visit for more articles, books, and general information on how to write and, optionally, self publish your mystery book.]

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Mysteries on TV: Columbo, Ironside, Kidnapped, and NCIS

Mysteries on TVIt's a very mysterious week with 4 television series coming out on DVD:

Columbo, The Movie Collection, 1989Columbo, The Mystery Movie Collection, 1989, contains five made-for-television movies that were shown in 1989 over a decade after Columbo the series ended its run. Peter Falk returned to play the Los Angeles police detective.

The movies on this 3 disk set are: Columbo Goes to the Guillotine featuring Anthony Andrews; Murder, Smoke, and Shadows with Fisher Stevens; Sex and the Married Detective starring Lindsay Crouse; Grand Deceptions featuring Robert Foxworth; and Murder, a Self Portrait with Patrick Bauchau.

Ironside, Season 1Ironside, Season 1, starred Raymond Burr as the San Francisco Chief of Detectives who survives an assassination attempt but is left paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair. Hired by the department as a special consultant, he and his team investigate crimes in association with the authorities.

Raymond Burr took on the role of Ironside just one year after Perry Mason ended its long television run.

The 1st season ran for 28 episodes during the 1967/1968 television season on NBC. The 8 disk DVD set also includes the pilot which aired in 1966.

Kidnapped, The Complete SeriesKidnapped, The Complete Series, starred Timothy Hutton and Dana Delaney as a wealthy and powerful New York couple whose teenage son has been kidnapped. The couple hire a former FBI agent turned "retrieval specialist" to work outside the law while keeping the family's secrets behind closed doors.

Kidnapped aired on NBC in September and October 2006 and was cancelled after just 5 episodes, the remaining being available at the time on the NBC.com website. All 13 episodes are included on this 3 disk DVD set and are shown in widescreen presentations.

[Mystery Books News Editor's comment: Somehow we missed this series when it came out last year, but we've already ordered our copy! It sounds like our kind of television.]

NCIS, Season 3NCIS, Season 3, starred Mark Harmon as Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. From murder and espionage to terrorism and stolen submarines, these special agents travel the globe to investigate all crimes with Navy or Marine Corps ties. The season begins following the devastating loss of one of their special agents to a terrorist at the close of season 2. Further complicating matters for Gibbs is his former lover who is the new director of NCIS.

The 3rd season ran for 24 episodes during the 2005/2006 television season on CBS. The 6 disk DVD set includes all episodes presented in wide screen format.

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

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Mystery Book Review: Napoleons Pyramids by William Dietrich

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Napoleon's Pyramids by William Dietrich. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Napoleon's Pyramids by William Dietrich

Napoleon's Pyramids by
An Ethan Gage Mystery

HarperCollins (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-06-084832-4 (0060848324)
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-084832-3 (9780060848323)
Publication Date: February 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Ethan Gage, assistant to Ben Franklin and expatriate American in post-revolutionary France, wins an ancient—and possibly cursed—medallion in a card game one night. It turns out that the medallion, covered in seemingly indecipherable symbols, may be linked to a Masonic mystery. That same night, however, Ethan is framed for a prostitute's murder and barely escapes France with his life.

Faced with either prison or death, Gage is offered a third choice: to accompany the new emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, as France sails to conquer Egypt—with Lord Nelson's fleet following close behind. Once Gage arrives, he encounters incredible surprises: one in the form of a beautiful Macedonian slave and another in the dawning knowledge that the medallion may solve one of the greatest riddles of history—who built the Great Pyramids, and why. What is revealed to Gage is more shocking than anyone could ever have imagined.

Review: William Dietrich has blended the characters of the Indiana Jones and Rick O'Connell (of the Mummy movies) into the energetic and resourceful Ethan Gage, an American living in late 18th century France, and inserted him into a magnificent adventure, Napoleon's Pyramids.

Ethan is probably best described as an intellectual neer-do-well, someone undoubtedly capable of greater things but willing to whatever is needed just to get by. An associate of Ben Franklin, he parlays his knowledge of the new science of electricity into a trip to Egypt as one of many savants in the company of France's new emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. Unable to invade England, Napoleon creates a new mission to expand the empire of France: the "liberation" (read conquest) of Egypt. An incidental objective, and the reason for his entourage of scientists and engineers, is to solve the mythical secrets of the Great Pyramid. An ancient Egyptian medallion, which Ethan won in a card game in Paris, may hold the key to unlocking the mysteries of the Pharaohs.

It's tempting to think of Napoleon's Pyramids as simply being a literary version of Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Mummy, but it is much more reminiscent of the imaginative tales of Jules Verne. As with Verne's novels, there's something about Ethan's journey that is so fantastic and so incredible that the reader is able to readily dismiss notions of the utter implausibility of some of the action and simply share in the adventure as presented. It certainly helps that Dietrich has effortlessly incorporated real historical events, mathematical conundrums, and the general wonder of the pyramids and the region into his story.

While Napoleon's Pyramids is not the perfect historical adventure story—a plethora of details often interrupt the otherwise non-stop action—it is certainly a thrill ride worth experiencing.

It should be noted that the rather abrupt ending to the book is somewhat intentional: the author has already announced that a sequel is in development based on Napoleon's invasion of the Holy Land.

Special thanks to The Book Report Network for a copy of Napoleon's Pyramids for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 - Hidden Staircase Mystery Books - All Rights Reserved.

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Profile: People Expect P D James to be Sinister

The Cambridge Evening News is reporting that celebrated author says that people expect her to be sinister. "People sometimes smile and say: 'How can a benign looking great-grandmother write such terrible things?'" she laughs.

The 87-year-old writer published her first novel, Cover Her Face, in 1962, when she introduced the poet detective Adam Dalgliesh to the world. Since then she has written 16 novels featuring Dalgliesh, as well as a series featuring her female sleuth Cordelia Gray. Both of these characters have been portrayed on film with Roy Marsden and Martin Shaw playing Dalgliesh at different times, and Helen Baxendale starring as Cordelia Gray. She has also written two non-series novels, one of which, The Children of Men, was made into a critically acclaimed movie in 2006 and was recently released on DVD.

When asked if The Lighthouse, published in 2005, was the last book to feature Dalgliesh, James replied, "It won't be his last because I am currently writing another. When you're 87 you're never quite sure how much time you have left and I suppose I thought there may not be another one. It's very lucky for him - he doesn't age, but I do."

James also comments on today's mystery authors. "Certainly there's very little in common between the modern detective story and the ones written by Agatha Christie's generation between the wars - the so-called 'golden age'. Nowadays we're much more realistic about crime; we know more about scientific investigation and things like DNA testing have changed everything. In the old days it was much more naive and simplistic."

Read the rest of the profile of P. D. James on Cambridge-News.co.uk here.

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Profile: Randy Wayne White Talks about Doc Ford

Chris Kridler, writing for Florida Today, recently profiled , the Pine Island resident who has written 14 books in the Doc Ford series. His most recent book, Hunter's MoonHunters Moon by Randy Wayne White, was published last month.

White says that his characters still surprise him. "The characters do indeed evolve," he said. "When I began the Doc Ford series, I wrote a detailed bio for the main characters." Doc Ford is a marine biologist and ex-government agent, the intellectual; Tomlinson is his spiritual buddy. "I knew from the beginning they were involved in a sort of death dance, because I think those two cerebral components in me are often at odds."

When asked about his latest book, Hunter's Moon, White says, "It's my favorite thriller of the series by far, but not all the Ford books are thrillers. Some are mysteries, and some are thrillers, and some are, I don't know what they heck they are."

Read the rest of Kridler's profile of Randy Wayne White on FloridaToday.com here.

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Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for April 23, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for April 23, 2007A new 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: E G I M N O Q U Y. This Cambridge University nurse is featured in mysteries by Jill Paton Walsh (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!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Dark Room by Andrea Kane

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

Dark Room by
Non-Series

William Morrow (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-06-074134-1 (0060741341)
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-074134-1 (9780060741341)
Publication Date: March 2007
List Price: $23.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Seventeen years ago, Morgan Winter was traumatized by the discovery of her parents' brutally murdered bodies in a Brooklyn basement on Christmas Eve. Now shocking new evidence overturns the killer's conviction and Morgan is confronted with the horrifying realization that the real killer is still out there.

Trapped in an emotional hell, she hires Pete "Monty" Montgomery, the former NYPD detective who first investigated her parents' homicides. Now a PI, Monty has a personal score to settle—a promise he made to Morgan, the helpless child long ago, that he'd find her parents' killer. With nothing more than an old case file and the original crime scene photos, Monty enlists the specialized skills of his son, Lane, a photojournalist whose job is a perfect cover for the clandestine image analysis he conducts for the CIA. Constantly thrill-seeking, Lane is used to gambling and putting his own life on the line—for country, for journalistic integrity, for the adrenaline rush. But this time, the stakes are different . . . and this time, he can't afford to lose.

The murderer is still at large and has never stopped watching Morgan from the shadows, making sure a dark secret remains buried. Now, Morgan's fierce determination to uncover the truth consumes her, plunging her into the dark and terrifying past and an increasingly dangerous present.

Lane is closing in on the truth. But in a cruel twist of fate, what he exposes may be far more shocking and devastating to Morgan than anyone could imagine.

Review: Dark Room, by Andrea Kane, tells of the horror and sadness of Morgan Winter who was only ten years old when she ran happily into the room on Christmas Eve and found her parents lying on the floor, brutally murdered. Seventeen years have now passed; Morgan and her best friend, Jill Shore, have gone into a lucrative business together. Life is good! Then one day all the memories of the cruel assault and the violence begin to resurface as she is told that the man who was arrested for and convicted of the murder of her parents was innocent.

Andrea Kane vividly brings to life each character in her book, their roles, their traits and their temperaments. Monty, the crusty private investigator and former police officer who was in charge of the crime's investigation seventeen years ago, has been hired by Morgan to delve into the past and find the real killer of her parents. There’s the flamboyant Senator Shore and his loving wife, who were Morgan’s parents closest friends, and who became legal guardians of Morgan. They brought her up as their own with their young daughter, Jill, who was Morgan’s best friend from very early childhood. We are told about the Senator’s parents and his wife’s parents and Monty’s son. We meet some of their friends and colleagues, men and women, of seventeen years ago, some who were actively involved with the investigation back then.

Not only is this a mystery, it is a unique story of the love of parents and children, of men and women and warm friendships. All of the friends and family come to the aid of Monty. Some have stories that may be useful; others can talk to people who may remember the incident. Morgan has pictures and does the Senator and his wife. Much has happened in forensic science over the seventeen years, so these old clues may have new answers. Every one is a suspect now, friends, old comrades, and even the women involved with these men.

Piece by piece, Monty starts putting the seventeen-year-old puzzle together. When he is finished, he is as astonished as the reader to discover the culprit.

Andrea Kane's Dark Room is an "I don’t want to put it down" kind of book.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty for contributing her review of Dark Room and to Book Trends for providing an ARC for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

For more visit Mysterious Reviews, a partner with the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books which 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 April 20, 2007

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten for the week ending April 20, 2007 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall SmithDebuting at the top of Amazon.com and second at Barnes&Noble.com this week: The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, the 8th entry in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series with Botswana's only female private detective, Precious Ramotswe, by . There is rarely a dull moment in her life, and in her newest round of adventures, challenges and intrigues, the same certainly holds true. But one thing above all else is keeping her occupied – her estimable husband, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni. He has been hinting for some time now that he intends to do something special for their adopted daughter, Motholeli, and it seems that the time for this good deed has come. Of course, good deed or not, his plan is bound to hit some snags. And that’s when he will undoubtedly consider himself doubly – perhaps even triply – lucky to be married to the ever-resourceful, ever-understanding Precious Ramotswe.

The Woods by Harlan CobenTopping the Barnes&Noble mystery bestseller chart this week: The Woods, a non-series thriller by . Twenty years ago, four teenagers at summer camp walked into the woods at night. Two were found murdered, and the others were never seen again. Four families had their lives changed forever. Now, two decades later, they are about to change again. When a homicide victim is found with evidence linking him to the county prosecutor, the well-buried secrets of the prosecutor's family are threatened. Is this homicide victim one of the campers who disappeared with his sister? Could his sister be alive?

Other newcomers include the spy thriller Body of Lies by David Ignatius and the 11th mystery in the Regan Reilly series, Laced by .

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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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Acts of Violets by Kate Collins

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

Acts of Violets by
A Flower Shop Mystery

Signet (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-451-22074-9 (0451220749)
ISBN-13: 978-0-451-22074-5 (9780451220745)
Publication Date: March 2007
List Price: $6.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): During the annual Pickle Fest, Abby Knight's boyfriend Marco Salvare inexplicably disappears for a day. When he returns, he's the main suspect in the death of a clown. It seems the cops have found Snuggles pushing up water-spurting daisies—and Marco was the last person seen leaving Snuggles's house. Although Marco is still a mystery to her, Abby knows he's innocent. Now she has to find a way to prove it.

Review: Acts of Violets is the disappointing fifth entry in the Flower Shop mystery series by Kate Collins. The series features florist Abby Knight who owns the Bloomers flower shop in (fictional) New Chapel, .

While attending the annual Pickle Fest, Abby is accosted by Snuggles the Clown. Nothing serious transpires, but when Abby mentions it to her boyfriend of several months, ex-cop and part-time private investigator Marco Salvare, he suddenly leaves the area. Abby is convinced that he's off to have a word with Snuggles, but then disappears for a day. Abby next hears about him when he's called in as a suspect in the death of a man, one Dennis Ryson also known as Snuggles the Clown. Marco asks Abby to help clear him name: "I need you to do what you do best. Snoop, pry, poke, eavesdrop, meddle—you know, make a nuisance of yourself." And she's off on a one-woman crusade to find the real culprit.

Ryson wasn't the most pleasant man in his neighborhood, and Abby soon narrows down the list of suspects to one of his neighbors. It's at this point in the book that one gets a sense that Collins is simply biding time with Abby, giving her things to do but not moving the story along much. Part of the problem is in the character of Marco and how Abby interacts with him. It's at times an elusive concept to be sure, but there's no chemistry between them. It goes well beyond the doubts Abby may have about their relationship; it's awkward and uncomfortable.

In the end, Collins manages to cleverly link a natural product and the flower in the title to Ryson's murder, but it all seems far too little too late. Acts of Violets is rather harmless reading and mildly entertaining but there are better choices in this genre.

Special thanks to Kate Collins for providing an ARC of Acts of Violets for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Mysteries on TV: Murder, She Wrote Season 6

Mysteries on TVNew television mystery series to be released this week on DVD:

Murder, She Wrote, the sixth season, starring Angela Lansbury as mystery writer Jessica Fletcher.The Streets of San Francisco Season 1

Whether Jessica was at home in Cabot Cove or traveling the world promoting her books or visiting old friends, murder was never far away. This season opens with Jessica in Athens, Greece, where she is reunited with a British secret agent who asks her to pose as his wife to rescue a kidnapped fellow spy. Other episodes in the season have Jessica visiting Palm Beach, Wall Street, California, and Jamaica.

The 6th season ran for 22 episodes during the 1989/1990 television season on CBS. The 5 disk DVD set also has a number of bonus features including interviews with Angela Lansbury and the cast, guest stars, and crew.

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

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Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for April 16, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for April 16, 2007A new 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: C E G H I N R T W. John Sandford wrote this mystery with freelance video team member Anna Batory (with "The", 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!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

News: Your Favorite Author May be Just a Brand Name

Kerry Lengel, writing for the The Arizone Republic, starts by asked a trick question: Who wrote Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell?

You're right, it isn't Tom Clancy, even though his name gets the biggest type on the cover of the book. All three Splinter Cell novels clear state that they were written by David Michaels.

But even then, as Lengel notes, the mystery of who wrote the books deepens. David Michaels is a pseudonym for professional ghostwriter Raymond Benson who acknowledges writing the first two books in the series. As to who wrote the third ... well, that remains unknown.

We have entered a new era in the branding of bestselling authors, Lengel writes. The poster boy for this 21st-century phenomenon is James Patterson, who had eight of the 100 most popular books of 2006, according to USA Today, and is scheduled to release six novels this year - that's one every two months. The majority of his books are written by "co-authors" who take a detailed outline and flesh it out, then turn it back to Patterson for edits.

There are many variations on the theme, from secret ghostwriters and credited co-authors to posthumous publication and next-generation torchbearers. For example, Robert Ludlum is still writing books despite the fact he died six years ago. His publisher doesn't make it obvious that he's still not writing them.

Lengel also points out there are other ways to brand an author. Having "theme" titles, for example. It's a technique that has worked for Janet Evanovich (One for the Money, Two for the Dough), another author who has made her name a bona-fide brand, although in this case without hiring lesser-known writers for the assembly line.

The fundamental question is, does it matter to you if your favorite author may not be who you think it is? For millions of readers, the answer is clearly no.

Read the entire article on the branding of popular authors on AZCentral.com here.

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are 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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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Profile: Prosecutor has a Paper Trail Worth Following

Oline H. Cogdill, mystery book columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, recently profiled , the former NYC prosecutor who is now a best-selling author. Her most recent book the Alex Cooper series, Bad BloodBad Blood by Linda Fairstein, was published in February.

"The law and literature -- those are two things I can't give up and I'm so fortunate that they feed off each other," Fairstein said during an interview in Miami.

Cogdill writes that when Fairstein joined the Manhattan District Attorney's Office in 1972, she was one of seven women on a staff of 180 lawyers. At the time, the district attorney didn't permit women to work on homicides or violent crimes, let alone prosecute them in court. Just four years later, Fairstein took over the newly formed sex crimes unit, revolutionizing the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse cases. "It's the work that kept me there," she says. "It became so richly rewarding on a professional level, on a personal level, on an emotional level to help make changes in the law."

She wrote her first four novels while still a prosecutor, and the pace was wearing her down. "When I was writing and prosecuting, prosecution came first," she said. But her novels were beginning to attract as much attention as her law career.

Fairstein's fifth novel, The Bone Vault, written after she left the D.A.'s office, became her breakout hit in 2003. Critics and readers have cited the authenticity in Fairstein's novels; the author says she pulls from real cases and events, though she has never fictionalized a real defendant or villain.

But the law still calls, Cogdill adds. She often does consulting work or gives seminars, workshops and discussions at law enforcement agencies or attorney groups around the country. Recently at the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office, she did a 90-minute informal training session on special victims and a discussion with the DNA Unit.

Read the rest of Cogdill's profile of this remarkable author on Sun-Sentinel.com here.

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are 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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Friday, April 13, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Ladykiller by Lawrence Light and Meredith Anthony

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Ladykiller by Lawrence Light and Meredith Anthony. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Ladykiller by Lawrence Light and Meredith Anthony

Ladykiller by Lawrence Light and Meredith Anthony
Non-Series

Oceanview Publishing (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-933515-05-8 (1933515058)
ISBN-13: 978-1-933515-05-2 (9781933515052)
Publication Date: April 2007
List Price: $22.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): In the city that never sleeps, evil is wide awake.

From the bright lights of Times Square to the dark alleys of New York, the Ladykiller is at work – and at prey.

Four women savagely murdered on the mean streets of New York. The Ladykiller leaves no trail, no clues.

The pressure is on for NYPD detective Dave Dillon: either he solves the crime, or he can kiss his job goodbye. When Dave joins forces with Megan Morrison, a beautiful young social worker, the search for a cold-hearted killer leads to a hot romance. But a host of forces threaten to intrude: Nita, Megan’s jealous mentor, would delight in derailing the romance between Dave and Megan, as would Jamie, a determined detective with her own not-so-hidden agenda. And Dave’s shadowy past is never far behind. The clock is ticking for Dave and Megan. Will they close in on the shocking truth behind the crimes, or will it close in on them?

In the world of the Ladykiller, passion can turn deadly in a New York minute.

Review: The papers have coined the term Ladykiller to describe a serial killer who has already struck three times, and kills a fourth woman in the opening chapter of Ladykiller, a new book by the married writing team of Lawrence Light and Meredith Anthony. The couple have created a compelling character in NYPD detective Dave Dillon and crafted an interesting, if somewhat flawed, series of crimes for him to solve.

The four murdered women apparently have nothing in common, living in different areas of the city and having different socioeconomic backgrounds. But all were killed in the same way: a 45-calibre bullet through the right eye at close range. Detective Dave Dillon of the NYPD is assigned the case, and is aggressive in pursuing leads. Just when he thinks his investigation is making progress, there's a twist: a man is killed in the same manner. Was it wrong to assume the killer was simply stalking women? Could this latest murder be a copycat crime? Or is there a common thread linking these crimes that has nothing to do with gender?

There are a couple of plot points that tend to weaken the overall story. The crimes are set in 1991 where the NYPD seemingly have limited forensic skills (at least compared with what ostensibly is the norm today). This leaves the authors with the freedom to have the killer walk away from the crime scene leaving minimal evidence to be found by the authorities. Murders of this nature would seem to leave an abundance of clues and setting the book in the present day would require a killer that was far more careful. Furthermore, it seems highly improbable that one would calmly stare at their killer, someone who was pointing a gun just a few inches from their right eye, even if they knew them. Maybe once or twice, but some 6 or 7 people are ultimately killed in this way in Ladykiller. It's simply not credible.

The authors reveal the identity of the Ladykiller early in the book which removes a huge element of suspense from the story. Typically in a book with a known killer, the plot becomes a police procedural. But not in this case: there is nothing terribly methodical about the way Dillon handles his investigation. Thus to keep the reader's interest, what follows is a series of unexpected twists and turns that are hit-and-miss; some work within the context of the plot, some don't. Fortunately, the ending works, and provides an element of surprise that will have the reader thumbing back through the pages to see how they missed anticipating this startling conclusion.

Special thanks to Maryglenn McCombs for providing an ARC of Ladykiller for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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News: John Banville Confronts Benjamin Black

Writing for Newsweek.com, John Banville conducts an interview with his alter-ego, author of Christine Falls.Fresh Disasters by Stuart Woods Not unlike the book, the interview has a noir-ish feel to it.

How did Black come to conceive of Christine Falls? “About three years ago I began to read Georges Simenon—not the Maigret books, a single one of which I’ve yet to read, but what he called his romans durs, his hard novels. I thought, if this kind of thing can be achieved in simple language and direct, lightweight narrative, then I want to try it myself.”

Aren't all your characters ciphers, especially Quirke? “So they are, ciphers all. Just like folks. You see, that’s the difference between you and me,” he says. “You devote pages to speculating on why this or that character did this or that action, without ever, of course, coming up with an answer or the shade of an answer. That’s your brand of phenomenology, if you’ll permit me one of the big words you’re always being berated for using. My way is by way of action. Your books think: mine look, look and report.”

Read the rest of this entertaining self-interview on Newsweek.com here.

[Mystery Books News Editor's note: A is available on the Mysterious Reviews website.]

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are 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 April 13, 2007

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten for the week ending April 13, 2007 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Fresh Disasters by Stuart WoodsNew this week: Fresh Disasters, the 13th mystery in the Stone Barrington series, by with the New York City attorney embarking on his most dangerous adventure yet when he takes on a job as a lawyer for a sleazy and clueless con man-and ends up getting embroiled in the underworld of the New York mafia. With the help of his ex-partner, Dino, Stone investigates crime boss "Datilla the Hun," and the rest of the mob family, encountering intrigue and danger at every turn. Will Stone finally take a stand, or will he end up at the bottom of Sheepshead Bay? Publishers Weekly states, "Woods delivers few surprises, but there are plenty of laughs as the pages speed by. Series regulars and newcomers alike will be perfectly satisfied."

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

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are committed to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Mrs. Shumak's Boarding House

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Mrs. Shumak's Boarding House by Marty Kam. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Mrs. Shumak's Boarding House by Marty Kam

Mrs. Shumak's Boarding House by Marty Kam
Non-Series

MKO Publishing (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-9786823-0-0 (0978682300)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9786823-0-9 (9780978682309)
Publication Date: December 2006
List Price: $14.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): For widow Mary Shumak and the seven boarders at her tumble-down house in Lewiston, PA, life’s about to get very difficult. Greedy casino developer Victor Masters has set his sights on the land and will stop at nothing to get it.

Now Mary must somehow come up with enough money to spare their house from the wrecking ball—with some dubious help from her scheming vagabond brother Bert, and a whole rogue’s gallery of other boarders and friends. Together, they’ll try their hands at ill-fated renovations, riverboat gambling, and even a game show, in a race against time to save the only place they’ve ever called home.

Review: “I love a mystery!” Although Mrs. Shumak’s Boarding House would in no way be considered a mystery like the works of Patterson, Baldacci or Connelly, this book written by Marty Kam has the tension, questions and excitement of a mystery. There are scheming contractors, members of a mob, a banker indebted to the mob or the contractors, and not so legal investigators. There’s even a 97 year old Italian with a gun, and he uses it.

The story is of a widow, Mary Shumak, who has inherited a very large beautiful, but very old white house and grounds. She has expected that she and her children will live their lives out there. This is their home. Living in the house, too, is her rather unstable, freeloading brother. Most of the time, when he isn’t planning something that will upset Mary, he is fun to have around. There are six boarders. This is their home, too. We meet each and every one around the breakfast, lunch or dinner table. Each one is unique in their backgrounds and ages.

The “mystery” begins when a greedy contractor wants to buy the house and land and build a large casino at the bend of the river, to be financed by the local mob organization. He will give Mary $400,000 for it, but needless to say, she refuses. The dialogue and situations that arise from the plans of the mob and the contractor keep the reader alert and interested in just how these few people will be able to keep their home.

The contractor sent an “inspector” out to estimate just what had to be done to make this old house livable, after all the roof was falling in, some wooden studs were broken and showing through the siding. It was really not a safe house to live in and according to the inspector it will cost about $50,000. But Mary will not give in. She asks the bank for a mortgage loan, which was refused because of the banker was in association with the contractor.

The mob went into action to scare the tenants and ruin the house even more. With that the children secretly came up with a plan where they could help. Mary’s brother got the roomers behind closed doors and plotted a way they could get the money. All this was kept secret from Mary until the last minute.

This is a story about a woman trying to do the right thing: for herself, her children, her brother and her roomers. Mary faces losing her home, the life she and her children have always known, her brother and her friends who depend on her.

Mrs. Shumak’s Boarding House is a great book.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty for contributing a review of Mrs. Shumak's Boarding House and to Blanco & Peace for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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News: Introducing First Clue Mysteries

Mysteries on TVIntroducing First Clue Mysteries, your source for .

First Clue Mysteries has been designed to allow parents to find mystery books at reading levels appropriate for their children. Approximately 50 mystery series are currently listed and categorized by ages: New Sleuth (ages 4 to 7), Future Sleuth (ages 7 to 10), and Sleuth in Training (ages 10 and older).

In addition, we've provided two categories, mini mysteries and minute mysteries, with books that are appropriate for childen and adults alike. Links to our partner website, Games of Mystery, provide information on mystery parties for and .

All books at First Clue Mysteries may be conveniently purchased through our affiliation with Amazon.com.

If you have a suggestion for a children's or young adult's mystery series to be added, please send an e-mail to [email protected] or post a comment to this message.

Thanks for visiting First Clue Mysteries!

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News: Penzler's Mysterious Quiz 3

The always entertaining Otto Penzler, writing in The New York Sun, has published his third Mysterious Quiz, a list of 20 questions that span the mystery genre from books to television to film and range, in our opinion, from the easy (Name the detective who solves The Mystery of Marie Roget), to the hard (In which film does the protagonist offer these words of wisdom: "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer?"), and to the somewhat obscure (Which famous author created the female private eye Theodolinda (Dol) Bonner?).

Penzler's The Crime Scene column, published every Wednesday, is a must-read for any mystery fan.

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are 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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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

News: NBC Mystery Series Cancelled After 4 Episodes

The critically acclaimed NBC comedy/mystery series Andy Barker, P. I. has been cancelled by the network after airing just four episodes. The remaining two episodes will be shown this Saturday. The series was created by Conan O'Brien and stars Andy Richter as Andy Barker, a CPA-turned-private investigator.

Mystery Books News first reported on the series just prior to the premiere. As of this news entry, all six episodes remain on the NBC.com website and can be viewed for free (with only a couple of short commercials); check them out before they disappear!

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are committed to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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News: Parker Pens First Novel for Young Adults

Lauren Beckham Falcone of the Boston Herald writes that it was no mystery why Robert B. Parker decided to write a book for young adults. “My wife and my agent both thought it was a good idea,” said Parker. “When the two women in my life suggest something, how can I resist? I do what I’m told.”

Edenville Owls by Robert B. ParkerParker's first book in this category, Edenville Owls, centers on 14 year old Bobby Murphy and is set at the beginning of his school year in 1945. World War II has just ended and the world is changing, especially Bobby's world. There's his relationship with Joanie, for one-why does being her friend feel awkward all of a sudden? And then there are his buddies, the junior varsity Edenville Owls-a group of basketball players in need of a leader. And there is something evil in the air. Who is that man he saw arguing with his pretty, new English teacher? And what was the real reason she missed school for days afterward? Bobby knows he should mind his own business, but times are confusing.

The prolific Parker, a resident of Cambridge and the author of the -based Spenser mysteries and several other mystery series, said writing about teenagers for teenagers presented new challenges. “You have to narrow your language range,” he said. “Which is something that’s completely opposite when you’re writing for adults. Also, you know, I’ve been around for 70-something years now and I know things you can’t possibly know when you are 14. So you have to figure out ways to keep that knowledge out of that, whereas in so many of my other novels, I would try to find ways to get that knowledge in.”

To read more about Parker and his new book for young adults, visit BostonHerald.com here.

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are 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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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Hades by Russell Andrews

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

Hades by
A Justin Westwood Mystery

Mysterious Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-89296-021-3 (0892960213)
ISBN-13: 978-0-89296-021-7 (9780892960217)
Publication Date: March 2007
List Price: $24.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): Police Chief Justin Westwood is content to escape his big-city past in sleepy East End Harbor in the , but the brutal murder of a Wall Street shark is about to change all that-not least because Westwood was in bed with the victim's wife at the time.

As Justin Westwood tries to clear himself of involvement in murder, a multinational financial conspiracy brings destruction in its wake. Westwood is willing to do whatever it takes to solve this crime, even if it means teaming up with an FBI agent who once broke his heart.

A trail of dead bodies draws him back home to Providence, , where he must deal with his own personal demons as well as reconnect with troubling memories of the past. Here he will discover a complex corporate scam with unimaginably murky depths, and at the heart of it an evil, scheming intelligence and a deadly temptress whose greatest joy lies in human suffering and death.

Review: The third entry in the Justin Westwood series by Russell Andrews, Hades, has the Long Island police chief scrambling to clear his name when the investigation of the brutal murder of a wealthy local businessman implicates him in a potential cover-up.

Hades opens with Westwood in bed with the widow-to-be. Though it gives her an airtight alibi, the district attorney seizes upon the situation to promote his grander political ambitions. Convinced the official authorities aren't doing enough, and using his own connections, Westwood runs a parallel investigation to uncover the truth behind the millionaire's death.

Across the Long Island Sound in Providence, Westwood has another death to contend with, this one personal. His brother-in-law has been murdered, and though somewhat estranged from his family, he enlists their help in tracking down his killer. Though there is no apparent connection between the two killings, a third murder, this time of an FBI agent, uncovers evidence of a conspiracy far wider than anyone thought.

The prologues are intriguing and the first chapter certainly puts an interesting twist on the plot to come. But then the author makes a serious error in judgment in writing what immediately follows, effectively rendering moot what is ultimately intended to be a pivotal plot point. Andrews subsequently proceeds to develop an overly complex story involving international commodity trading and Enron-esque financial management; a kinder, gentler Rhode Island mob; and a pair of ruthless Asian killers; all of which seems intended to compensate for a lack of suspense.

On the plus side, Hades is well written and competently researched. Characterization and dialog are spot on. Given how far-reaching the plot threads are, Andrews deserves considerable credit in bringing them all together in the end in a credible manner. And, in contrast to many writers who use prologues that are promptly forgotten by both the reader and the author, Andrews effectively incorporates them into the overall plot.

As an action-adventure thriller, Hades works, and works well. As a novel of suspense, it falls short.

Special thanks to Hachette Book Group for providing an ARC of Hades for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Press Release: New Weekly Web Serial Follows Humorous Mystery in New Jersey

Apr 09, 2007 -- /prbuzz/ -- This week the Wizard of Wit launched a free weekly web-serial entitled “It Happened in Plainfield.” The story is a humorous comic mystery that will be updated online each Monday with a new chapter.

The web-serial follows the adventures of Henson Ray, a gay NYC resident who moves to Plainfield, NJ after he receives an unusual offer from a mysterious benefactress. But life in the suburbs is anything but dull, as Henson soon finds himself embroiled in a real-life mystery involving a famous movie actress, peculiar neighbors and a secret society bent on his destruction.

Filled with colorful characters and witty dialogue, the serial is billed as “an amusing piece of fluff.” But as the chapters begin to unfold, readers will soon discover that the more outrageous the story gets, the more plausible it becomes.

The web serial is the brainchild of Writer and Marketing Manager Michael Latshaw, who began the project at the urging of some friends.

The website has been up less than a week and the response has been extremely positive.

“People are really responding to the characters and the humor," Latshaw confesses. "I'm getting e-mails from perfect strangers who say they're already hooked, and they can't wait for the next chapter. So I guess the story has the right mix of humor and heart..with a little mystery thrown in to spice it all up.”

To read the first four chapters, please visit www.ithappenedinplainfield.com.

Read the entire press release here.

[Mystery Books News Editor's comment: We read the first few chapters and agree that it is, as advertised, "fluff", but we also chuckled more than a few times. Give it shot and let us know what you think!]

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Mysteries on TV: The Streets of San Francisco Season 1

Mysteries on TVNew television mystery series to be released this week on DVD:

The Streets of San Francisco, the first season (volume one), starring Karl Malden as Detective Lieutenant Mike Stone and Michael Douglas as his rookie partner Inspector Steve Keller.The Streets of San Francisco Season 1

Stone was the street-smart 20-year veteran cop while Keller was a college-educated rookie who solved crimes in . The appeal of the series was how well Malden and Douglas played their respective characters and the camaraderie they had as partners.

The 1st season ran for 26 episodes during the 1972/1973 television season on ABC. This DVD set includes the first 14 episodes on 4 disks.

A British crime drama is also being released today:

Murder in Suburbia, the second season, starring Caroline Catz as Detective Inspector Kate Ashurst and Lisa Faulkner as Detective Sergeant Emma Scribbins who have a unique blend of humor and an unorthodox style in solving crimes in the London suburb of Middleford.Murder in Suburbia Season 2

The 2nd season and final season ran for 6 episodes during the spring and summer of 2005 on the ITV1 network in the UK. This DVD set includes all 6 episodes on 2 disks.

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

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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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