Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Compendium of Mystery News 071030

Today's compendium of recently published mystery news articles:

USA Today reviewed the latest , calling it a "carefully constructed mystery" and "fun for families to play either together or individually."

Entertainment Weekly is reporting that Sony Pictures has fast-tracked production of Dan Brown's Angels & Demons with Tom Hanks reprising his role as religious conspiracy investigator Robert Langdon. Expect the movie to hit theaters in December 2008.

• The Arizona Business Gazette published a profile of Barbara Peters who operates the Poisoned Pen mystery bookstores in Scottsdale.

The creators of the television series CSI and Electric Sheep have set up CSI-themed areas in Second Life, where users can log in and play murder-mystery games, including trying to solve the mystery begun in last Wednesday's episode of . Mitch Wager writes about his experience with the adventure on InformationWeek.com.

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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Mysteries on TV: Magnum PI and CSI Miami

Mysteries on TVMystery television series being released this week on DVD:

Tom Selleck is a former naval intelligence officer working as a private investigator in . The series, set in Hawaii, originally aired on CBS. The 7th and penultimate season ran from October 1986 through April 1987.

The series also starred John Hillerman as Jonathan Higgins, who ran the estate on which Magnum lived, and Roger E. Mosley and Larry Manetti as Magnum's former navy buddies TC Calvin and Rick Wright.

This DVD set of 5 disks includes all 20 episodes from the 7th season including one featuring none other than Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher ().

David Caruso stars as Lt. Horatio Caine, the lead criminologist for the -based crime scene investigation, in . The series, still in production, is a spin-off from a similar series, , set in and also airing on CBS. (The third show in the franchise, , is set in New York City.)

This DVD set of 6 disks includes all 24 episodes from the 5th season which originally aired from September 2006 through May 2007.

A set of the first five seasons of CSI: Miami is also available from our website.

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

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for October 29, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for October 29, 2007A new has been created by the editors of the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books and is now 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 E L O R V Y Z. The 6th mystery in the Bubba Mabry series by has this title (9 letters).

New! We now have our puzzles in PDF format for easier printing. Print this week's puzzle here.

Previous puzzles are stored in the Mystery Godoku Archives.

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

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Grave Apparel by Ellen Byerrum

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

Grave Apparel by Ellen Byerrum
A Crime of Fashion Mystery

Signet (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-451-221-788 (0451221788)
ISBN-13: 978-0-451-221-780 (9780451221780)
Publication Date: July 2007
List Price: $6.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): Can Lacey Smithsonian save Christmas?

It’s a Christmas in crisis at The Eye Street Observer, and guess who’s taking the blame. The op-ed page is attacking gaudy holiday sweaters! The food editor is boycotting her baking! Lacey’s two least favorite people at the newspaper are on a murderous collision course! And a vicious unsolved attack in the alley (with an oversized candy cane?) has the whole newsroom on edge. Is Lacey ruining Christmas, or is all of , ruining hers? To save Christmas, Lacey must unravel the secret of a mysterious child last seen wearing a shepherd’s robe from a Nativity scene—and face a killer who would destroy more than just a child’s Christmas.

Review: The fifth entry in the "chick-lit" Crime of Fashion series by Ellen Byerrum, Grave Apparel, is a thoroughly enjoyable mystery. The series features fashion editor Lacey Smithsonian of the Washington DC newspaper, The Eye Street Observer.

It is Christmas. There are splashes of red and green everywhere. Everyone at newspaper is looking forward to the annual party, all except Cassandra Wentworth, the editorial writer. Cassandra hates Christmas, the noise, the colors, the busy streets and stores. Most of all, she hates Felicity Pickles, the food columnist, with her home-made Christmas decorated cookies and gaudy over-decorated sweater with Santa, Rudolph, elves, the sleigh and anything else she can think of that represents the holidays. Cassandra had written a scathing, vile article for her editorial column panning everything about the holidays, especially the sweaters. The workers at the paper took to calling it "sweatergate”. The night of the party, Lacey receives a call from Cassandra’s cell phone. She almost didn’t answer it, but since it was Christmas she decided to be nice. She hears the voice of a child pleading with her to come quickly to the alley in back of the building a lady was dying. Lacey called 911 immediately, and then ran down to the alley. There she finds a child in a shepherd’s robe standing over Cassandra. The child tells Lacey that the lady was hit over the head with a huge candy cane by a Santa dude, mandatory dress code for men attending the office party. Lacey kneels down to check on Cassandra and finds she is unconscious, but was not dead. But what a surprise: Cassandra is wearing Felicity’s outrageous sweater. When she turns around to get more information, the child has disappeared. Now Lacey, who had said she definitely will not become involved with any more crimes, has indeed become involved. After a few twists of fate, Lacey believes it was the little shepherd the killer was after, not Cassandra. Now she must find the child before the killer does.

Byerrum has populated her story with a delightful cast of characters and has created a narrative with such excitement that the pages just fly by. Holiday mysteries, especially those that are intentionally written with a light touch, are among the most fun to read: the festivities of the holiday add an interesting contrast to the crimes that take place and are under investigation. For a sub-genre that often produces utterly forgettable books, Grave Apparel hits all the right notes and is a cut above the rest.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Grave Apparel and to Breakthrough Promotions for providing a copy of the book for this review.

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

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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Compendium of Mystery News 071028

Today's compendium of recently published mystery news articles:

• Winners of the 2007 Quill Awards were announced earlier this week. In the Mystery / Suspense category, was the winner for her novel, What the Dead Know. (MBN note: is one of the most comprehensive websites for finding information on various awards given in recognition of outstanding writing in detective fiction.)

• The National Library of Scotland has teamed up with the police and publisher Orion Books to organize Crime Scene Edinburgh: 20 Years of Rankin and Rebus, to coincide with the recent release of the final Rebus novel, Exit Music.

20th Century Fox has given a pilot commitment to Lies and Promises, a potential television series based on 's Myron Bolitar mysteries, to be produced by Hart Hanson, the creator of the series (based on characters created by ).

Rick Newman (on USNews.com) interviews crime novelist Elmore Leonard. (MBN note: Visit for more information on the movies made from several of Leonard's books.)

Cameron Hughes (on CHUD.com) interviews , author of the Holmes on the Range mystery series.

• The New York Post takes a look at some of the hard-boiled mysteries being published this fall (Book of the Dead by , Now & Then by , and more).

• Matthew Pearl, author of The Poe Shadow, believes he has found evidence that solves the mystery of Edgar Allan Poe's death.

• An excerpt of 's latest Kay Scarpetta mystery, Book of the Dead, is available on the ABC News 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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Friday, October 26, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Ana's Arrow by Riley Evans

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Ana's Arrow by Riley Evans. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Ana's Arrow by Riley Evans

Ana's Arrow by Riley Evans
Non-series

StoryWright Books (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-974142-2-6 (0974146226)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9741462-2-5 (9780974146225)
Publication Date: November 2007
List Price: $13.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): A young priest who has gone out for a winter night's jog is found with an arrow through the neck. Connections to the murder weapon bring attorney Tom Spaulding under suspicion. Tom's belief in his innocence is challenged as he delves into the shared dream in which his lover, Ana Frye, is revealed as the vengeful incarnation of the Goddess Diana. Was he driven by ancient powers to kill the priest? Or could he have committed a crime of passion after Ana and the priest confessed an affair? The ruthless manipulations of his enemies, the tortures and degradations inflicted upon him, become a hideous barrier to his battle for justice and redemption. Helpless in jail, desperate as he defends himself in court, he bares to you the deepest misgivings of his mind and the most tender loyalties of his heart. You must decide which of his worlds are real, which of his nightmares are true, and whether he is guilty or innocent.

Review: Riley Evans' decidedly odd legal thriller, Ana's Arrow, asks the reader to determine the fate of the narrator, western Kansas attorney Tom Spaulding: Is he guilty of murdering a priest with an arrow that belonged to his wife, or is he innocent of the crime of which he is accused?

The gimmick of Ana's Arrow, and yes it is merely a gimmick, is that at the end of the book the outcome of the trial of Tom Spaulding is not known. Readers can register their opinion online and presumably at some point in the future, the true verdict will be revealed. The real question is, will anyone care?

There are so many issues with this book it's hard to know where to begin. The concept of allowing the reader to play the role of a jury member and proffer their verdict is intriguing. But the trial doesn't start until well into the second half of the book and up to that point the narrative is ponderous to the point of being unreadable. It's likely a lot of potential jurors will drop out long before jury selection begins.

Riley Evans tries to imbue in Tom Spaulding a complex set of favorable and unfavorable characteristics in an attempt to appear impartial to potential jurors (i.e. readers). But the effort isn't successful. Tom is not a likeable character. He claims to be in love with Ana, but he's far more in lust than anything else. His concern for her is directly proportional to the physical pleasure he derives from her company. He's arrogant, egocentric, and at times condescending to his friends and colleagues. He's also vulnerable and, especially late in the book, humiliated in the presence of his peers. This combination of (perceived) strength and weakness in the end comes across as merely pathetic.

The mythological aspect to the story also has possibilities, but is handled so clumsily and inaccurately that it loses any credibility. Are Ana and her best friend Helen the embodiment of their ancient Greek counterparts, or are their actions simply psychotic episodes in the mind of Tom Spaulding?

Then there are the distinctly unfinished, or maybe just poorly edited, facets to the book. Subplots abound but are infrequently tied together, more rarely concluded, and in some cases seem so tangential to be inconsequential. Characters are introduced with some apparent significance to the plot, then disappear, are killed, or otherwise are sidelined, with no resolution to their being.

It's entirely possible that all the noted flaws in Ana's Arrow are intentional, that the book is a metaphor for an actual murder trial, one where hours of mundane, tedious details and mind-numbing background material suddenly evolve into brief moments of riveting testimony. If this is the case, the author has achieved his goal brilliantly.

Special thanks to Storywright Books for providing a copy of Ana's Arrow for this review.

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

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 October 26, 2007

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

As predicted last week, the mystery bestseller list has several new titles this week.

Book of the Dead by Patricia CornwellDebuting in the second position is the 15th mystery in the Kay Scarpetta series by , , in which the forensic consultant is confronted with a string of baffling cases. A young man from a well-known family jumps off a water tower. A woman is found ritualistically murdered in her multimillion-dollar beach home. The body of an abused young boy is discovered dumped in a desolate marsh. Meanwhile, in distant New England, problems with a prominent patient at a Harvard-affiliated psychiatric hospital begin to hint at interconnections that are as hard to imagine as they are horrible.

Now & Then by Robert B. ParkerAlso new this week is the 35th case for PI Spenser, 's . Spenser is in the middle of hornet's nest of trouble, and he's got to get out of it without getting stung. With Hawk watching his back, and gun-for-hire Vinnie Morris providing extra cover, Spenser delves into a complicated and far-reaching operation when a simple case turns into a treacherous and politically charged investigation. Publishers Weekly states, "This briskly paced cat-and-mouse game offers Spenser fans exactly what they've come to expect from the reliable Parker, no-nonsense action and plenty of romantic give-and-take between Susan and Spenser."

Two more mysteries make their way into the top 10: by Laurell K. Hamilton, the 6th entry in the fantasy series featuring Meredith Gentry; and by Iris Johansen.

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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Mysteries on TV: Hamish Macbeth, NCIS, and Veronica Mars

Mysteries on TVMystery television series being released this week on DVD:

The delightful series featuring Lochdubh police constable Hamish Macbeth and his West Highland Terrier, Wee Jock, concludes its run with . Starring Robert Carlisle and filmed on the scenic northwestern coast of Scotland, the series is based on characters created by .

Hamish Macbeth originally aired in the UK in the spring of 1997. Series 3 includes 7 episodes on 2 disks, including the only 2-part episode, Destiny.

The complete collection of all 20 episodes in a boxed set is also available from our website.

The agents with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service return in . The series, still in production, is a spin-off from a similar series, (Judge Advocate General).

Mark Harmon stars as Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, the lead investigator of an ensemble cast of specialists.

The fourth season aired on CBS during the 2006 / 2007 television season. This DVD set of 6 disks includes all 24 episodes.

was the final season of this series, originally shown on The CW network. Kristen Bell played Veronica Mars, a smart, fearless 17-year-old apprentice private investigator dedicated to solving her town's toughest mysteries. The series was set in the fictional wealthy southern California coastal community of Neptune.

The third season aired from October 2006 through May 2007. This DVD set of 6 disks includes all 20 episodes (presented in widescreen format) from the final season.

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

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for October 22, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for October 22, 2007A new has been created by the editors of the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books and is now 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: G H I K N O R T W. This is the first stand-alone thriller from , author of the Alex McKnight series (9 letters).

New! We now have our puzzles in PDF format for easier printing. Print this week's puzzle here.

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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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

News: San Diego Wildfires

Some of the weekly features that appear on our blog have been delayed this week due to the San Diego wildfires. We were one of the hundreds of thousands of families evacuated from our home early Monday morning but are one of the fortunate ones to have a home to return to.

Our thoughts are with those families who lost everything in the fires.

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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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Compendium of Mystery News 071021

Today's compendium of recently published mystery news articles:

• Roberta Alexander reviews new mysteries in her It's a Mystery monthly column on ContraCostaTimes.com.

• Are you following the Edmonton Journal Saturday Serial Thriller? Keep up to date by reading a new chapter each with, getting a profile on each week's chapter author, and more.

• The 3rd mystery in the Agatha Christie series of PC games, Evil Under the Sun, was released this week. It's available from .

• Otto Penzler laments the dearth of readers in America in his column on NYSun.com.

• Is Exit Music the final Inspector Rebus mystery? Ian Rankin talks about the character, the book, the series and more in an interview with Patricia Treble on Macleans.ca.

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, October 20, 2007

Mystery Book Review: The Reincarnationist by M. J. Rose

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

The Reincarnationist by
Non-series

Mira (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-7783-2420-6 (0778324206)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7783-2420-1 (9780778324201)
Publication Date: September 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): A bomb in Rome, a flash of bluish-white light, and photojournalist Josh Ryder's world exploded. From that instant nothing would ever be the same.

As Josh recovers, his mind is increasingly invaded with thoughts that have the emotion, the intensity, the intimacy of memories. But they are not his memories. They are ancient . . . and violent. A battery of medical and psychological tests can't explain Josh's baffling symptoms. And the memories have an urgency he can't ignore—pulling him to save a woman named Sabina . . . and the treasures she is protecting.

But who is Sabina?

Desperate for answers, Josh turns to the world-renowned Phoenix Foundation—a research facility that scientifically documents cases of past life experiences. His findings there lead him to an archaeological dig and to Professor Gabriella Chase, who has discovered an ancient tomb—a tomb with a powerful secret that threatens to merge the past with the present. Here, the dead call out to the living, and murders of the past become murders of the present.

Review: From the first page to last, The Reincarnationist by M. J. Rose is one of those compelling mysteries with such an original concept that it is hard to put down.

Today’s madness, with a fear of terrorists and the deaths and injuries caused by suicide bombers, is an interesting parallel to an ancient time with madness of a different kind, when a mandate came down that every Roman must be a Christian. Anyone who does not obey will be killed. And so the slaughter by Roman soldiers begins. One man, Josh Ryder, a photographer for the Associated Press in Rome to photograph the Pope, experiences both. While waiting for the Pope, he is badly injured by a suicide bomber. Unconscious, his mind returns to a previous life in 391 AD as a Roman named Julius with a brother, Drago, and in love with a Vestal nun, Sabina, who is pregnant in defiance of the laws of Rome. As he and his brother run to avoid the Roman soldiers, Drago is stabbed. Josh awakens knowing he must help his brother, yet he is in a present day hospital.

Over the next few months, Josh repeatedly returns to the past but is unable to control how and when it happens. He lives in fear of his own mind, constantly disturbed by the thoughts of a troubled young man in ancient Rome and of a woman he knows he loved and knows she is waiting for him.

Josh works with the Phoenix Foundation, specialists in regression therapy, to help him understand what is taking place in his life. He meets an archaeologist who's working on an ancient tomb in which Josh ultimately comes to believe is the love of his life, Sabina. But someone else thinks the tomb contains a priceless treasure worth killing for.

The Reincarnationist is at its best a captivating and intriguing story of love and mystery. The fascinating characters, descriptive narrative, and unforgettable ending make for a truly remarkable book.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of The Reincarnationist and to Authors on the Web for providing a copy of the book for this review.

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

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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Friday, October 19, 2007

Mystery Bestsellers for October 19, 2007

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

Very few changes in the list this week. by retains the top position and just some minor shuffling of titles among the top 10.

Since it's such a quiet week, we thought we'd let you know about some mysteries soon to be released that are destined to become bestsellers. All are available for pre-order.

Scheduled for release on 10/23/2007 are three new books: , the 15th mystery in the Kay Scarpetta series by ; , the 6th mystery in the fantasy thriller series featuring Meredith Gentry by Laurell K. Hamilton; and , the 37th case for private investigator Spenser by .

Scheduled for release on 11/13/2007: , the 13th thriller in the Alex Cross series by ; , the 25th mystery in the futuristic "In Death" series featuring NYPSD detective Eve Dallas by Nora Roberts (writing as J. D. Robb).

Scheduled for release on 12/04/2007: , the 20th mystery in the Kinsey Millhone series by .

Book of the Dead by Patricia CornwellA Lick of Frost by Laurell K. HamiltonNow & Then by Robert B. Parker
Double Cross by James PattersonOrigin in Death by Nora Roberts writing as J. D. RobbT is for Trespass by Sue Grafton


Also check out our new Mystery Bestseller widget along the right side of our main blog page. You're welcome to grab this widget for your site; the list of bestselling mysteries will be automatically updated every Friday.

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, October 18, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Mahu Surfer by Neil S. Plakcy

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Mahu Surfer by Neil S. Plakcy. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Mahu Surfer by Neil S. Plakcy

Mahu Surfer by
A Kimo Kanapa'aka Mystery

Alyson Publications (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-59350-007-6 (1593500076)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59350-007-8 (9781593500078)
Publication Date: August 2007
List Price: $14.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Mahu is a generally negative Hawaiian term for homosexual, and for police detective Kimo Kanapa’aka, being gay doesn’t make for an easy life. Especially when you are publicly outed. Now, semi-retired, Kimo must go undercover and stop a brutal killer. Already three surfers have been shot dead, and Kimo must infiltrate the close-knit surfing community, knowing his only way back to active duty is to catch a killer he may know all too well.

Review: Neil S. Plakcy's second mystery to feature gay Honolulu police detective Kimo Kanapa'aka, Mahu Surfer, hits all the right notes as a mystery yet misses the mark as an overall novel.

Someone has killed three surfers on the north shore of Oahu () and Kimo, a surfer himself, is sent undercover to determine who is behind the murders and why. Kimo is asked to portray an ex-cop who has left the force because he was "outed" and who has retreated to the north shore to do a bit of surfing and soul searching. He quickly determines the three deaths are related and that there is no shortage of suspects. The motive behind the murders, however, eludes him until his probing puts his own life in danger.

Plakcy has crafted a fine murder mystery that is well thought out, with clues to its solution scattered throughout the story. Kimo conducts an intelligent investigation, and regularly summarizes (for the reader) what he knows and what conclusions he has drawn to that point. Yet in the end, the identity of the killer will likely come as a surprise. That, in and of itself, is sufficient to recommend this book. In this regard, it's really quite well done.

But there are a few minor problems with the rest of the book that are troubling nonetheless. The first third of Mahu Surfer reads like an early draft of a screenplay from the Keanu Reeves surfing mystery movie Point Break. It's not all that credible. And it's hard not to picture Keanu playing the role of Kimo. (In retrospect, that may actually not be a bad thing.) Plakcy also fails to convey a sense of what it's like to surf, or even to visit, the north shore of Oahu. Anyone who has done so, or who has watched the opening credits to Hawaii Five-O, will wonder if the story actually takes place there. And finally there are the sex scenes which are not an integral part of the plot or even contribute in any meaningful way to character development, but can at best be described as gratuitous. At one point Kimo says, "I was going to have to learn to keep my personal life separate from my job. I needed to practice some restraint; I needed to keep my pants zipped for a while. Not just for my job, but for my own sanity." Plakcy should have taken Kimo's advice and applied it to his writing.

Special thanks to Breakthrough Promotions for providing a copy of Mahu Surfer for this review.

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

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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Monday, October 15, 2007

Mysteries on TV: Jonathan Creek

Mysteries on TVMystery television series being released this week on DVD:

Anyone who enjoys "impossible crimes" will be delighted that is finally available on DVD. Originally airing almost a decade ago, there hasn't been a series since that has been as inventive as this one. Alan Davies is perfectly cast as the title character who creates illusions for a professional magician. In each episode, however, he's accompanied by true crime journalist Maddy Magellan (played by Caroline Quentin) and together they (well, mostly Jonathan) determine the truth behind some very imaginative situations. Examples from the second season include a man who appears to be in two places at once, the disappearance of a painting from a locked room, a dead man who strangles a woman weeks after his death, and two more thrilling episodes. (Click on the DVD cover for more information or to purchase the first or second season of .)

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

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Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for October 15, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for October 15, 2007A new has been created by the editors of the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books and is now 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 E F I K R U T. This “nutty” baked good is featured in a Bed-and-Breakfast title by (9 letters).

New! We now have our puzzles in PDF format for easier printing. Print this week's puzzle here.

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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Compendium of Mystery News 071015

Today's compendium of recently published mystery news articles:

Andy Klein interviews Michael Caine for Los Angeles CityBeat. Caine's latest movie, Sleuth, opened this past weekend.

• Early reviews from last Friday's premiere of Women's Murder Club on ABC: "Pleasant surprise" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), "Dumbed down and cheap-looking" (Chicago Sun-Times), "An embarrassing mess" (New York Post), "It is all kinds of bad" (San Francisco Chronicle), "There's a great show in there somewhere" (Newsday), "Isn't really a terrible show" (Chicago Tribune), "Based on the James Patterson mystery series but is better-written" (Columbus Dispatch), "Flat crime show" (Boston Globe), "The show's glossily generic [but] the attractive cast clicks" (Detroit Free Press), "Smart, entertaining" (Hollywood Reporter), "The crimes don't play on this chick fest" (Washington Post), "Smart, stylish crime drama" (Los Angeles Times), and dozens more.

Simon & Schuster acquires the US rights to British author and journalist Tarquin Hall's mystery series set in New Dehli. The first book, Vish Puri: The Case of the Missing Servant, is scheduled to be published in Spring 2009.

• Boston Globe reporter Johnny Diaz profiles TV veteran investigative reporter and mystery writer , whose latest mystery, Face Time, was published this month. (MBN note: has a review of Ryan's first mystery, , and will publish a review of Face Time later this month.)

Albert Jack presents his list of the world's ten best mysteries (not mystery books) in the Times Online.

David Suchet has been signed to reprise his role as Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot in four new films for ITV1. The first, Mrs. McGinty's Dead, begins production this fall.

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, October 12, 2007

Mystery Bestsellers for October 12, 2007

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

by , a mystery featuring Virgil Flowers, a character introduced in Sandford's Davenport series, takes over the top spot on the list this week.

Blonde Faith by Walter MosleyNew this week: , the 10th mystery in the Easy Rawlins series by . Easy comes home one day to find Easter, the daughter of his friend Chrismas Black, left on his doorstep. Easy knows that this could only mean that the ex-marine Black is probably dead, or will be soon. Easter's appearance is only the beginning, as Easy is immersed in a sea of problems. The love of his life is marrying another man and his friend Mouse is wanted for the murder of a father of 12. As he's searching for a clue to Christmas Black's whereabouts, two suspicious MPs hire him to find his friend Black on behalf of the U.S. Army. Easy's investigation brings him to Faith Laneer, a blonde woman with a dark past. As Easy begins to put the pieces together, he realizes that Black's disappearance has its roots in Vietnam, and that Faith might be in a world of danger.

For those readers who think that one Stephanie Plum mystery a year isn't enough, yet another "between the numbers" book is coming out in January and is destined to be a bestseller for the prolific author. Titled Plum Lucky, it is available for pre-order.

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, October 11, 2007

Mystery Book Review: In Over My Head by Diane Marquette

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of In Over My Head by Diane Marquette. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.In Over My Head by Diane Marquette

In Over My Head by
A Chesapeake Conference Center Mystery

Cambridge Books (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-59431-468-3 (1594314683)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59431-468-1 (9781864314681)
Publication Date: July 2007
List Price: $16.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Jill McCormick works as the night security guard at an exclusive, high-level conference center on 's Chesapeake Bay. She considers her job a stepping stone to something better in her pursuit of a career in law enforcement, and recognizes that a stint at the prestigious Chesapeake Conference Center will look impressive on her resume.

But the tranquil waters turn choppy when the drowning of a prominent guest begins to look more like murder, and the evidence mounts against Jill's boss, the self-centered and unpopular general manager of the center. When the local sheriff seems content to look the other way rather than suspect his good friend the manager, Jill enlists the help of her deputy lover, Mitch Garrett, to conduct an investigation of their own, even though it may implicate both their bosses in the murder.

Review: Diane Marquette's debut novel, In Over My Head, featuring security guard Jill McCormick, might have worked better as a mystery if only it were a mystery. Inexplicably, Marquette pens a three paragraph prologue that not only reveals (for all practical purposes) who the killer is, but the motive for the murder as well. For someone interested in a whodunit, there's almost no point in reading any further.

A medical conference is taking place at the Chesapeake Conference Center organized by Dr. Roger Henderson, a cardiologist from . The morning after everyone attending the conference arrives, Dr. Henderson is found dead in the swimming pool. Jill McCormick, a security guard at the conference center, is just getting off the night shift and helps recover the body. She participates in the subsequent investigation which determines (no surprise here) the death is not accidental, and is instrumental in solving the crime by identifying the killer.

Setting aside the whodunit aspect for a moment, In Over My Head suffers from not knowing what kind of mystery it wants to be. At times it tries to be a cozy. There is the requisite cat, Gunther, which has a higher character profile than the victim or any of the suspects. Or is it a police procedural, where the discovery of clues and piecing together the evidence inexorably leads to the apprehensive of the killer? Maybe romantic suspense, where the focus is less on the crime than on the relationship between Jill and Deputy Mitch Garrett? It's all this and more, including the increasingly tired plot device of a woman professional having to work twice as hard as a man in order to get the recognition she deserves.

This disarray is all the more unfortunate because Marquette seems to be a competent writer. The narrative is relatively crisp and the dialog natural. Character development is a bit weak as is setting and locale, but in a series these can advanced over time. However, if she's going for a whodunit-style mystery, at the very least there has to be some suspense, some unknown factor that compels the reader to turn the page and find out what happens next. In Over My Head has none of that.

Special thanks to Diane Marquette for providing a copy of In Over My Head for this review.

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

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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Compendium of Mystery News 071011

Today's compendium of recently published mystery news articles:

talks about marketing and book trailers which "can be a seductive escort, leading you to the gripping story within the book's pages." See a related article on the production of a book trailer.

says "Not So Fast, Philly" in a CityPaper.net column on 's claim to Edgar Allan Poe.

• In a press release, Bella Fe Films announces the screen option of author Chris Grabenstein's Tilt a Whirl, the first novel in the John Ceepak mystery series. Tilt a Whirl was the winner of the 2006 for best first novel.

• Charles Brownman reviews five new mysteries for the Daily Camera.

Five different mysteries are reviewed by Margaret Cannon in her column for the Globe and Mail.

• The International Mystery Writers' Festival has acquired the rights to stage the US premiere of the "lost" Agatha Christie play Chimneys.

• Buried deep within the Anchorage Daily News is a short paragraph stating that mystery author Dana Stabenow has been named Artist of the Year by the Alaska state arts council.

• Reuters is reporting that Michael Eisner will produce and distribute international versions of his highly successful web-based mystery series Prom Queen.

• The latest game for the PC, The Legend of the Crystal Skull, the 17th in the series, was released this week. A playable demo is available from the Her Interactive website. (MBN note: see all at .)

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, October 10, 2007

Mystery Book Review: The Drop Edge of Yonder by Donis Casey

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of The Drop Edge of Yonder by Donis Casey. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.The Drop Edge of Yonder by Donis Casey

The Drop Edge of Yonder by
An Alafair Tucker Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-446-5 (1590584465)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-446-0 (9781590584460)
Publication Date: October 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Who killed Uncle Bill? Alafair Tucker is desperate to find out. One August evening in 1914, a bushwhacker ended a pleasant outing by blowing a hole in Bill McBride, kidnapping and ravaging Bill’s fiancee, and wounding Alafair’s daughter Mary. All Mary knows is that the crime had something to do with the Fourth of July.

Or is there more? The answer seems to be working its way through the fog of Mary’s shock and grief and floating to the surface of her consciousness. Several malicious acts suggest that Bill’s killer is still around and attempting to cover his tracks.

The law is hot on the bushwhacker’s trail. Alafair thinks there is little she can do to help the sheriff, but that will never stop her from trying. She has no qualms about driving Mary to distraction with her persistent snooping and constant hovering. Can Mary remember the crime before the murderer manages to eliminate everyone who could identify him?

Review: The third mystery in the Alafair Tucker series by Donis Casey, The Drop Edge of Yonder, concerns the shooting death of Alafair’s young brother-in-law, Billy, the attempted murder of her daughter, Mary, and disappearance of Billy’s fiancĂ©e. On a beautiful August day in 1914, four young people take a ride down the pike. All of a sudden a shot is fired. Teenager Ruth, another daughter of Alafair, hastily turns her horse around and gallops away for help. More shots are fired but no one knows where they are coming from. Mary sees her Uncle Billy fall from his horse. Then she feels a bullet graze her head just above her ear. She, too, falls from her horse and immediately passes out. When she wakes, she crawls to Billy and finds him dead. When the sheriff and her parents find Mary, she is lying on her back in the grass, saying, “This has something to do with the 4th of July.” Her head wound compromises Mary’s memory and it takes time for the thoughts locked in her brain to surface. Laura, the 4th member of the party, is found a couple of days later by her father. She has been brutally beaten from head to toe, and is virtually comatose. There are no clues or explanations as to why these young people were fired upon. So begins this excellent mystery with Alafair leading the way.

After Billy’s funeral in the family plot, Mary starts a journal so if anything comes to her mind she can write it down and not forget it. The only thing she really believes is that it had something to do with the 4th of July. Alafair doesn’t know how she can help the sheriff, but she is going to try. No one is going to hurt another member of her family if she can help it. She has a way of talking to people so that they are unaware they are being interrogated. She learns from Billy’s friends that he had a couple of arguments with friends, especially on the 4th of July but they did not believe any one would want to see him dead. Alafair decides to take a look in Mary’s journal, only to find that she is just about ready to remember, and maybe identify the killer. When Mary realizes her mother has read her journal, she asks, “Do you expect there’s a part of a person that’s connected right to the truth of things? A part that’s half way between this world and the next – that’s standing on the drop edge of yonder?”

This is such an enjoyable book that the last chapter comes far too quickly. The mystery behind the murder of Billy is indeed a puzzle until the very end. But there are also poignant stories about Alafair’s family. She and her husband have twelve children, aged 2 to 23, and she tells us a story about each one. One of her boys turns 18 and for this family that is the most special birthday. They tell what they wish for their son’s future, but most importantly, he tells them what he wants to accomplish as an adult. The author also tells of their home life and the joys (and problems) of raising twelve youngsters in a small farmhouse. The reader learns about their farm, with horses, cows, chickens, a not so nice rooster, and a cotton field that needs picking every year.

The Drop Edge of Yonder is one of those exceptional books that can be savored now and when read again will retain much of its wonder and joy. It’s one of the best mysteries of the year.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of The Drop Edge of Yonder and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

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

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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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Mysteries on TV: Murder She Wrote, Miss Marple, and CSI New York

Mysteries on TVMystery television series being released this week on DVD:

The marvelous Angela Lansbury returns as mystery author Jessica Fletcher in . In contrast to the previous season, Jessica makes an appearance in virtually all episodes this season, albeit for some just as the narrator of the exploits of others, notably jewel thief turned insurance investigator Dennis Stanton. Jerry Orbach is also featured in one episode as private investigator Harry McGraw, his last appearance in the series before his untimely death.

Murder, She Wrote aired on CBS from September 1984 through May 1996. This DVD set, from the 1990 / 1991 season, contains all 22 episodes on 5 disks.

Four mystery movies are featured on starring our personal favorite actress to play the part, Geraldine McEwan. Not everyone likes these new, updated adaptations of the Christie classics, but McEwan's outstanding portrayal of the senior sleuth and the production values more than compensate for the sometimes inane dialog.

The four movies included on this DVD set of 4 disks, which originally aired on ITV1 in the UK last winter and on PBS in the US this past summer, are: Towards Zero, At Bertram's Hotel, Nemesis, and Ordeal by Innocence.

The crimes are more brutal. The evidence is more baffling. And every killer wants to get away with murder on featuring Gary Sinise as NYPD Detective Mac Taylor.

CSI: NY is the third in this franchise after the original based in and the subsequent , both of which are still in production.

CSI: NY first aired on CBS in September 2004. This DVD set includes all 24 episodes from the 2006 / 2007 season on 6 disks.

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

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for October 08, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for October 08, 2007A new has been created by the editors of the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books and is now 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 I K N P R T W. Bonnie, Robert Spiller’s math teacher and amateur sleuth, has this last name (9 letters).

New! We now have our puzzles in PDF format for easier printing. Print this week's puzzle here.

Previous puzzles are stored in the Mystery Godoku Archives.

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

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Mystery Book Review: A Grave Breach by James Macomber

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of A Grave Breach by James Macomber. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.A Grave Breach by James Macomber

A Grave Breach by
A John Cann Thriller

Oceanview Publishing (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-933515-07-4 (1933515074)
ISBN-13: 978-1-933515-07-6 (9781933515076)
Publication Date: October 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): International lawyer John Cann would never defend a war criminal - particularly the Serb accused of horrific acts during the Bosnian War of the 1990s. But when his friend, mentor and Senior Partner Arthur Matsen needs his help, John has to make a tough decision.

Struggling with legal issues and ethical dilemmas in Europe, John's past is close behind. Never far from his mind is Janie Reston, the young college student viciously abused and left for dead by terrorists.

As John uncovers what lies deep in Matsen's past, Janie is in increasing peril. Will past, present and future intersect or will time run out?

Review: The third international legal thriller by James Macomber, A Grave Breach, is a riveting novel that is all the more remarkable as the individual components of the story are not particularly compelling. A true case of the total being far greater than the sum of its parts.

There are two parallel storylines in A Grave Breach that are only tenuously connected, though the author clearly intends for the reader to infer the similarities between them. One is a continuation from a previous novel and deals with the recovery of Janie Reston. Janie, who had suffered severe physical, emotional, and mental trauma as the result of an attack by terrorists, is being cared for at a private clinic in . A doctor there wants to use an experimental technique to learn more about what Janie remembers from the attack, and uses legal means to gain control of her care and treatment.

Though a potentially interesting subplot in and of itself, there are several problems with it. The legal discussions, though mercifully brief, involve exceedingly esoteric matters of law. There is no courtroom drama here, only backroom maneuvering between counsel and the judge. The medical case is equally obscure. Implicit memory is a recognized concept, though somewhat controversial in amnesic patients. And then there's the motivation of the doctor, which is never fully explained.

The other storyline, and the primary one, has lawyer John Cann off to Europe to defend a man, Dubran Mribic, held in custody by international authorities, at the request of the senior partner in his law firm. He finds himself inexplicitly threatened, and then, after learning the man he is to defend was involved with ethnic cleansing during the Bosnian War and subsequently disappears, he teams up with Radovan "Rade" Nikolic, a member of the Serbian anti-terrorist authority, to find him and bring him to justice.

The most hard-core geo-political aficionado must be confused by the Balkans with its myriad ethnic groups and shifting alliances and conflicts over the centuries. The situation is made worse in A Grave Breach as 60 years of recent history is compressed into a few pages. Although critical to the story, it's confusing nonetheless. The legal matters discussed are even more arcane, largely involving procedural and jurisdictional issues. Again, no courtroom theatrics here, just a group of men from various government and international agency organizations discussing at length who has the authority to do what with Dubran Mribic.

Even the thriller aspect is fairly routine, in a Bond, James Bond sort of way. And yet, almost in spite of itself, it all comes together so very well. Macomber masterfully handles all these (sometimes tedious) topics and incorporates them into a page-turning book that is hard to put down. A Grave Breach is a first-rate thriller and is highly recommended.

Special thanks to Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity for providing an ARC of A Grave Breach for this review.

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

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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Compendium of Mystery News 071007

Today's compendium of recently published mystery news articles:

• Sarah Weinman writes about recent books featuring serial killers in her monthly column on LATimes.com.

• Mary Wisniewski reports on the 20th anniversary of the founding of Sisters in Crime on SunTimes.com.

• Court TV and Gather.com have teamed up to create a contest to search for the next great crime writer. The winner will receive a publishing and distribution contract with Borders and a $5000 cash advance.

• Gaming Today is reporting on a new point-and-click adventure game under development called The Abbey, a murder mystery set at an old abbey. No release date yet.

• More gaming news: Nancy Drew: The Deadly Secret of Olde World Park, the first game in this series for the Nintendo DS, has begun shipping. It is available from the website. Visit the official game site here. (MBN note: We've been experimenting with creating Squidoo lenses, authoritative sites on subjects of interest to the author. Visit our page and let us know what you think by leaving feedback in the form at the bottom of the page.)

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, October 05, 2007

Mystery Bestsellers for October 04, 2007

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten for the week ending October 04, 2007 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

, the 14th thriller in the Stone Barrington series by Stuart Woods, displaces 's at the top of the bestselling mystery list this week. Patterson needn't worry too much, though: he still has three books in the top 15.

Dark of the Moon by John SandfordNew this week: by Virgil Flowers, a character introduced in Sandford's Davenport series, and a member of the the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, has never seen a case like this. A house way up on a ridge explodes into flames, its owner, a man named Judd, trapped inside. There is a lot of reason to hate him, Flowers discovers. Years ago, Judd had perpetrated a scam that'd driven a lot of local farmers out of business, even to suicide. There are also rumors swirling around: of some very dicey activities with other men's wives; of involvement with some nutcase religious guy; of an out-of-wedlock daughter. In fact, Flowers concludes, you'd probably have to dig around to find a person who didn't despise him. But it's not an isolated incident. Three weeks before, there'd been another murder-two, in fact-a doctor and his wife. Flowers knows it isn't a coincidence, it had to be personal. But just how personal is something even he doesn't realize, and may not find out until too late. Because the next victim ... may be himself. Publishers Weekly states that "Sandford keeps the reader guessing and the pages turning while Flowers displays the kind of cool and folksy charm that might force Davenport to share the spotlight more often."

Candy Cane Murder by Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, and Leslie Meier'Tis the season for trimming the tree, caroling, baking cookies, and curling up by the Yuletide waiting for Santa to drop down the chimney. But in , a festive collection of holiday whodunits, murder is also paying a visit. , Laura Levine, and Leslie Meier have each written a mini-mystery featuring their respective series character (Fluke's Hannah Swensen in Candy Cane Murder, Levine's Jaine Austen in The Dangers of Candy Canes, and Meier's Lucy Stone in Candy Canes of Christmas Past). Kirkus Reviews states that, "Like a box of holiday chocolates, this recipe-studded assortment gives all readers a crack at their favorites."

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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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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