Monday, June 30, 2008

Mysteries on TV: The Closer, Rebus, The Streets of San Francisco, and Walker Texas Ranger

Mysteries on TV

, your source for the most complete selection of detective, amateur sleuth, private investigator, and suspense television mystery series now available or coming soon to DVD, is profiling four series that have season DVDs being released this week. 

They'll bring you in. She'll make you talk. The "she" is Deputy Police Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, played by Kyra Sedgwick, as , an investigator with a remarkable talent for trapping criminals in their lies. The series debuted on TNT in June 2005 and remains in production today. The 4th season returns to TNT on Monday, July 14th at 9 PM ET.

The Closer Season Three DVD set of 4 discs contains all 13 episodes of the third season (including two 2-part episodes) that aired from June 2007 through September 2007 and in December 2007. Other features include unaired scenes, The Art of Interrogation featurette, and a gag reel.

Based on the series character created by crime writer Ian Rankin, stars Ken Stott as Scottish Detective Inspector John Rebus. The current series, which debuted on ITV1 in 2006, also stars Claire Price as his partner, Siobhan Clarke. (The original Rebus series starred John Hannah, producing 4 episodes that aired in 2000, 2001, and 2004.)

The Rebus Set Three DVD set of 4 discs contains all four episodes that aired during October and in December, 2007: Resurrection Men, The First Stone, The Naming of the Dead, and Knots and Crosses. Additional features include a biography of Ian Rankin.

Twenty year veteran Detective Lt. Mike Stone (played by Karl Malden) is partnered with young college educated Inspector Steve Keller (played by Michael Douglas) who has a lot to learn about being a police detective on , a popular series that aired on ABC over 5 seasons from 1972 to 1977. The series was produced by Quinn Martin Productions which was also responsible for other series including , Cannon, , and others.

The Streets of San Francisco Season Two, Volume One DVD set of 3 discs contains the first 12 episodes of the second season that aired from September through December, 1973.

Chuck Norris starred as Texas Ranger Cordell Walker in , a long-running series that aired on CBS from 1993 through 2001. Walker was characterized as one of the last old-fashioned heroes in the West, a protective friend but a relentless foe who would stop at nothing to bring a criminal to justice. Most episodes displayed some of Norris' martial arts expertise.

The Walker, Texas Ranger Season Five DVD set of 7 discs contains all 26 episodes of the fifth season that aired during the 1996 / 1997 television season.

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

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Mystery Godoku Puzzle for June 30, 2008

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for June 30, 2008A 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 G H I M N W Y.  In the pet sitter mysteries by , this is former sheriff’s deputy Dixie’s 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, June 29, 2008

Mystery Book Review: The Amnesiac by Sam Taylor

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of The Amnesiac by Sam Taylor. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The Amnesiac by Sam TaylorBuy from Amazon.com

The Amnesiac by
Non-series

Penguin (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-14-311340-2 (0143113402)
ISBN-13: 978-0-14-311340-9 (9780143113409)
Publication Date: June 2008
List Price: $14.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): When twenty-nine-year-old James Purdew returns to England from his home in Amsterdam, it is to discover what happened during three earlier years of his life that he cannot recall. What he finds, in an old house with a tragic history, is a nineteenth-century manuscript that begins to seem less and less like a work of fiction—and more like the key to his own lost past.

Review: Sam Taylor has crafted an unquestionably stylish and imaginative though somewhat unsatisfactory (maybe unsettling is a better term) novel of a man's quest to discover several missing years from his past in The Amnesiac.

After breaking his ankle rushing up the stairs of his Amsterdam apartment, James Purdew has little to do but ponder his present, his future, and his past. When his girlfriend suddenly leaves him, he decides to look into his past as a way of helping guide him in the future. Through the years he has faithfully written a journal, but three years are locked in a strongbox, the key long lost. In an attempt to reconstruct that time period, he begins to write his past in reverse chronological order, beginning with the present. Titling his effort Memoirs of an Amnesiac, he realizes while writing that in order to be faithful to the facts, he must return to his native England where he settles into an abandoned house, offering to renovate it in lieu of paying rent. All is proceeding well until he discovers a manuscript hidden in the house titled Confessions of a Killer, the text of which bears a striking similarity to his fleeting memory of his missing years. But the manuscript is dated 1893 and couldn't possibly have anything to do with his present or his past. Or could it?

Taylor unabashedly manipulates the reader through the labyrinth that is The Amnesiac. In fact, the word "labyrinth" is used repeatedly in a variety of contexts, at times to excess, as if repeating the word somehow reinforces its very state of being. At one point, James muses, "Someone should write a true-to-life detective story; an existential mystery in which the answer is not to be found, clear and logical, at the book's end, but only to be glimpsed, or half-grasped, at various moments during its narrative; to be sensed throughout, like a nagging tune that you cannot quite remember, but never defined, never seen whole; to shift its shape and position and meaning with each passing day; to be sometimes forgotten completely, other times obsessed over, but never truly understood; not to be something walked towards but endlessly around." Better words cannot be written to describe The Amnesiac; it is all this and more.

One puzzling aspect of the story is the manner in which it is told. Early on it's made clear that someone is narrating the tale of David's quest with the narrator occasionally reverting to first person. Consider this passage: "You may wonder how I can possibly know all this; how I can see all the quicksilver, gossamer visions that flicker inside James Purdew's mind, how I can feel every heart-swell and nerve-twitch in his body. But that, for the moment, must remain my little secret." Without giving too much away, it isn't much of a secret and it seems odd that Taylor takes this approach as it does eliminate much of the potential suspense that might have been generated otherwise.

Though an admirable effort in many ways, in the end (and maybe especially in the manner in which the story does end), The Amnesiac doesn't quite deliver on its premise.

Special thanks to Penguin for providing a copy of The Amnesiac for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — 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 Book Review: Shadow of Power by Steve Martini

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Shadow of Power by Steve Martini. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Shadow of Power by Steve MartiniBuy from Amazon.com

Shadow of Power by
A Paul Madriani Legal Thriller

William Morrow (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-06-123088-X (006123088X)
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-123088-2 (9780061230882)
Publication Date: May 2008
List Price: $26.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Terry Scarborough is a legal scholar and provocateur who craves headline-making celebrity, but with his latest book he may have gone too far. In it he resurrects forgotten language in the U.S. Constitution—and hints at a missing letter of Thomas Jefferson's—that threatens to divide the nation. Then Scarborough is brutally murdered and a young man with dark connections is charged. What looks like an open-and-shut case to most people, doesn't to defense attorney Paul Madriani. He believes there is much more to the case, and that the defendant is a pawn caught in the middle, being scapegoated by circumstance.

As the trial spirals toward its conclusion, Madriani and his partner Harry Hinds race to find the missing Jefferson letter—and the secrets it holds about slavery and scandal at the time of our nation's founding and the very reason Scarborough was killed. Madriani's chase takes him from the tension-filled courtroom in California to the trail of a Supreme Court justice now suddenly in hiding and lays bare the soaring political stakes for a seat on the High Court, in a country divided, and under the shadow of power.

Review: Shadow of Power, Steve Martini's ninth legal thriller featuring criminal defense attorney Paul Madriani, is so meticulously researched and well written that it is virtually impossible to discern where fiction ends and fact begins.

Madriani and his team take on the defense of Carl Arnsburg, a twenty-three year old member of the Aryan Nation, accused of the murder of noted flamboyant, and politically connected, author Terry Scarborough. Wherever Scarborough goes to promote his latest bestselling novel, Perpetual Slaves: The Branding of America’s Black Race, racial uprisings occur: buildings are burned, cars turned over, and more. He stimulates the hatred that still arises in our nation when the issue of slavery is broached. Although the members of his staff try to advise him to restrain his ardor for attention, Scarborough wants more notoriety so his next book, a sequel to Perpetual Slaves, will be an even bigger hit than this one.

Toward that end, Terry Scarborough plans to announce on national television that in his next book he will reveal finding an authentic copy of the so-called “J” letter written by Thomas Jefferson at the time the US Constitution was drafted that reveals some deep secret about slavery. Before he can do so, he is found dead. Carl Arnsburg’s prints are found on the murder weapon, the victim's blood on his pants and shoes. With a swastika and "Our Race is Our Nation" tattooed on his body, he is the perfect candidate to arrest for the murder. In addition to the forensic evidence, the prosecution has eye witnesses and confirmation from the Aryan Nation that Arnsburg did threaten to kidnap and possibly kill Scarborough. It is up to the defense to find evidence to try to somehow prove Arnsburg did not commit the crime, or at the very least, save Arnsburg from the death penalty. Madriani knows the “J” letter is the real clue to the murder, but no one knows where the letter is or even if it exists. Members of Madriani’s law firm are taken from San Diego to the Caribbean nation of Curacao and finally to Washington DC where a Justice of the Supreme Court may be involved. Because Madriani and his partner believe in Arnsburg’s innocence, it’s a race to see if they can find the answer to who really killed Terry Scarborough and why before it's too late.

There's something for everyone in this remarkable book. A tightly wound plot, a historical mystery, a combination of international, political, and legal intrigue, riveting courtroom scenes, and even a touch of humor. Shadow of Power is not only one of the best legal thrillers this year, it is one of the best novels of the year.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Shadow of Power and to HarperCollins for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — 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 080629

A compendium of recently published mystery news articles; note that we're still way behind in getting news items posted but hope to be current within a couple of weeks:

• In the New York Times, Gregory Beyer takes in interesting look at how the decrease in crime rates of the metropolitan New York City area is reflected in mystery fiction. Mystery authors , , and others contribute their thoughts as well.

• To celebrate the 20th Annual Lambda Literary Awards, AfterEllen.com asked 12 of the world's best out writers to share their insights into the genres in which they tell their stories, including crime writer . (MBN note: For a list of this year's winners, visit out page at Mystery Books Awards.)

• Speaking of mystery awards, the 12th annual Independent Publisher Book Awards were presented on May 30th. The span a broad cross-section of literary genres, including mystery fiction. This years gold medal winner for mystery was Arthur Rosenfeld for The Cutting Season.

• And though we don't cover awards for audiobooks (maybe we should?), it is certainly of interest to mystery fans that The Chopin Manuscript, the first mystery novel created solely as an audiobook (a print version is unavailable), was named "Audiobood of the Year" by the Audio Publishers Association. The Chopin Manuscript was created by 15 of the most recognized thriller writers and began when wrote the opening chapter of the work and handed it off to fellow bestselling writer, David Hewson, who wrote the second chapter. This process continued with each successive chapter being written by 13 different authors. The intense thriller-in-progress finally returned to Jeffery Deaver, who wrote the final two chapters before the work was narrated by noted actor Alfred Molina. Read the press release for more information.

Digital Spy interviews Hart Hanson, executive producer of the television series Bones which is based on characters created by , author of the Temperance Brennan mysteries. (MBN note: The first 2 seasons of are available on DVD from our partner website, .)

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Mystery Book Review: The Lost by Roberta Kray

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of The Lost by Roberta Kray. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The Lost by Roberta KrayBuy from Amazon.com

The Lost by
Non-series

Soho Constable (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-56947-506-7 (1569475067)
ISBN-13: 978-1-56947-506-5 (9781569475065)
Publication Date: May 2008
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Private eye Harry Lind doesn't believe in ghosts. Little Grace Harper went missing over twenty years ago, and missing girls can't just reappear - or can they? It takes a brutal murder to make him think again. Reporter Jess Vaughan is convinced that Grace is still alive but she's going to need some help to prove it. As she and Harry begin to unravel an age-old web of deceit and betrayal their discoveries soon put them on a collision course with one of London's most notorious gangsters. The search for the truth is about to lead them into a world where people will kill to preserve their secrets.

Review: Roberta Kray's third in a series of London gangland mysteries, The Lost, has private investigator Harry Lind in search of a "ghost", a woman he's told exists but who is believed to have died years ago as a child.

Harry Lind was once a crackerjack detective on the London Police Force. On the location of a raid when a bomb explodes, he is injured to the extent that he could no longer perform his duties in the field. Leaving the police force, he becomes a private investigator hoping to continue working in an active environment.

The boss of London's most notorious gang, Ray Stagg, had hired Harry to look into why his wife, Ellen, is visiting another gang lord in prison, serving a life's sentence for murder. Stagg is sure he knows some secret Ellen is hiding. Stagg, too, wants to find anyone with knowledge of a missing person, his brother-in-law. While chatting with a reporter, he hears a story about a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to a supposedly dead child, but doesn't think much of it until he realizes that the woman may be Ellen. Is it possible that Ellen is little Grace, a child that disappeared 20 years ago and whose badly decomposed body was subsequently discovered? Harry, together with, Jessica Vaughn, a young, determined reporter who had always believed that Grace was alive, begin their search for the truth. They are lured into the world of London's most notorious gangsters who will kill to preserve their secrets. And while Harry wants to put the criminals he has unearthed away for life, in doing so he may bring out secrets of a murder of twenty years ago, which for all may be best forgotten.

The Lost is an intriguing mystery until the end, and in some ways even after the last page has been read. There are a lot of well-drawn characters, some important and others merely on the periphery, with interlocking relationships that tend to be confusing at times. Still, the narrative pulls the reader forward as the plot threads are slowly unraveled. In the end, though, it is a story of truths and lies, misplaced love and loyalties, but most of all secrets to be to be brought to light even if the cost is heavy.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of The Lost and to Soho Press for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — 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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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Final Theory by Mark Alpert

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Final Theory by Mark Alpert. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Final Theory by Mark AlpertBuy from Amazon.com

Final Theory by
Non-series

Touchstone Books (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-4165-7287-2 (1416572872)
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-7287-9 (9781416572879)
Publication Date: June 2008
List Price: $24.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): David Swift, a professor at Columbia University, is called to the hospital to comfort his mentor, a physicist who's been brutally tortured. Before dying, the old man wheezes "Einheitliche Feldtheorie." The Theory of Everything. The Destroyer of Worlds. Could this be Einstein's proposed Unified Theory--a set of equations that combines the physics of galaxies with the laws of atoms? Einstein died without discovering it. Or did he? Within hours of hearing his mentor's last words, David is running for his life. The FBI and a ruthless mercenary are vying to get their hands on the long-hidden theory. Teaming up with his old girlfriend, a brilliant Princeton scientist, David frantically works out Einstein's final theory to reveal the staggering scope of its consequences.

Review: Mark Alpert crafts a thrilling quest in search of Einstein's final theory, the one that unites the forces of the universe into a single set of equations, in the aptly titled Final Theory, an exciting if rather routine novel that seems destined for the silver screen.

David Swift is a historian who has written the definitive guide to the physicists who studied under Albert Einstein. David, who once studied physics under one of these physicists, Hans Kleinman, is summoned to his hospital bed after he was found near dead, tortured. With his dying breath, he relates a fantastic tale that Einstein had developed the final theory, the Einheitliche Feldtheorie, but suppressed its publication. He recites a code, a sequence of numbers, to David then dies. As David tries to leave the hospital, he's taken into custody by the FBI. Escaping, he's pursued by both the FBI and an unknown hit man who's also determined to know exactly what David knows. It isn't until David meets up with a former colleague, also a physicist, that they piece together the puzzle of the final theory.

Final Theory is certainly a thrilling adventure in the same way that the Indiana Jones and Ben Gates (National Treasure) movies are since they all follow the same basic plot. Indeed, some scenes in the book seem lifted directly from one or more of these movies. Instead of looking for the Ark of the Covenant or a secret hidden treasure of gold, though, David is seeking a series of equations. But don't try to dig too deeply here or ask the "Why didn't he just do such and such?" type of questions (and there are dozens of these) lest be disappointed with the obvious answers. With this kind of novel it's best simply to sit back and enjoy the ride.

For those who insist on reading more into Final Theory, however, one of the more entertaining exercises is to make note of people (or objects) that are introduced into the story but who (or which) have little apparent connection to the plot. At some point in the future, that person (or object) will get David and his cohorts out of a life-threatening jam, which, it must be said, happens with alarming regularity. So whether it's a snake handler or a Zippo lighter or the many, many other unexpected people and things that keep popping up along the way, they all come into play eventually.

Final Theory is a fine choice for anyone looking for light, escapist entertainment that doesn't tax (in a supremely ironic way) the intellect too greatly. Otherwise, it's rather disappointing.

Special thanks to Touchstone / Simon & Schuster for providing an ARC of Final Theory for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — 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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Kindle Mysteries: New Mystery Book Titles for July 2008

New Paperback Mystery Books

News Alert: Amazon.com recently announced a new, lowered price for the , Amazon's wireless reading device. As of the date of this post, it is currently in stock and available for immediate shipment. Visit the page for more information and current pricing.

Little Tiny Bones by Aaron Elkins

A list of about 25 new mystery books scheduled for publication in July 2008 and available for the has been posted to the website.

This month's profiled Kindle title ... published his first Gideon Oliver novel in 1982, winning the for Best Novel in 1987 for the 4th in the series, Old Bones, and he's still giving us first rate mysteries featuring the Skeleton Detective. Last year, Little Tiny Bones was published in hardcover and is now available in paperback and for the Kindle. Sailing the Amazon with a group of botanists, "Skeleton Detective" Gideon Oliver is on his dream vacation. But it turns nightmarish when fierce head-hunters narrowly miss killing the group leader, then a deranged passenger kills a botanist and flees. Long-past enmities and resentments—and new ones as well—might explain things. And when a fresh skeleton turns up in the river, Gideon is sure that, in this jungle full of predators, humans may be the deadliest of all.

The 15th mystery in the Gideon Oliver series, Uneasy Relations, is being published next month in hardcover.

for the Kindle are generally priced between $3.99 and $9.99 and can be downloaded immediately.

currently has a list of over 300 recently published mystery book titles available on our website with more added every week.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Mystery Book Review: A Deadly Paradise by Grace Brophy

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of A Deadly Paradise by Grace Brophy. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

A Deadly Paradise by Grace BrophyBuy from Amazon.com

A Deadly Paradise by
A Commissario Alessandro Cenni Mystery

Soho Crime (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-56947-491-5 (1569474915)
ISBN-13: 978-1-56947-491-4 (9781569474914)
Publication Date: May 2008
List Price: $24.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): In the peaceful Umbrian village of Paradiso, the shocking murder and mutilation of an elderly German woman is barely credible. That is, until Inspector Alessandro Cenni of the State Police discovers that this retired cultural attach was not just a difficult tenant, but also a bisexual swinger with an African lover recently in residence, as well as a blackmailer. The dead woman grew up in occupied , and some of her secrets may have been acquired that long ago, during World War II. And the bucolic village is not that innocent: It was the site of a famous, scandalous murder fifty years earlier.

Cenni's boss wants a scapegoat, and the young African lesbian is the obvious target, but Cenni cannot bring himself to close a case without solving the crime and bringing the actual perpetrator to justice.

Review: Commissario Alessandro Cenni and his colleague Elena investigate the brutal murder of a 70-year-old woman living an unrestrained and unbounded life in the peaceful Umbrrian village of Paradiso in A Deadly Paradise, the second mystery in this series by Grace Brophy.

The dead woman was Jarvinia Baudler, found in the basement of a home she rented from Anita Tangasse in Paradiso. A neighbor, Lorenzo Vinnicelli, found her. During the course of their investigation, Cenni and Elena come across an unsolved murder from 1978. Two bodies, that of a mother and child, were grimly mutilated and killed in the same house where Baudler’s body was found. Was it just a coincidence that Lorenzo Vinnicelli was their neighbor at the time? They go on to discover that Baudler held secrets concerning the Italians and Germans dating back to 1945. These secrets included a conspiracy of the two governments to counterfeit billions of US dollars to weaken the United States currency. Baudler was in possession of a Swedish letter confirming this action. With that, and other indecorousness on her part, Baudler was able to blackmail wealthy people to keep their indiscretions from the eyes and ears of others. She even pitted a brother against sister to gain their wealth. Baudler would use her charm and beguiling ways on men as well as women to obtain any and all information she needed to carry on her blackmailing activities. The residents of Paradiso did not like her and for a very good reason. After interrogating just about every one in the village, and traveling to other cities both in Italy and Germany, Cenni and Elena are at a stand still. Everyone seemed to have an alibi for the time of the evil woman's murder. Or was someone giving another an alibi to secure his or her own?

A Deadly Paradise is one of those quiet mysteries that grows in depth and complexity as the pages are turned. There are, however, a couple of side stories that don't seem to quite fit into the overall plotline but are interesting nonetheless. As a character, Commissario Cenni is a laid back and charming investigator, but with deadly aplomb when need be. In the end he ties together the loose ends but after all the effort in getting there, it seems a bit weak. This is just a minor issue, though, in an otherwise generally superior effort.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of A Deadly Paradise and to Soho Crime for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — 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 Book Review: The Deal by Adam Gittlin

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of The Deal by Adam Gittlin. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The Deal by Adam GittlinBuy from Amazon.com

The Deal by
Non-series

Oceanview (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-933515-13-9 (1933515139)
ISBN-13: 978-1-933515-13-7 (9781933515137)
Publication Date: May 2008
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Everything about Jonah Gray screams success—expensive clothes, a Park Avenue penthouse, and a seven-figure income. A cutthroat, rainmaking New York City commercial real estate broker, Jonah craves opulence and power. He beds models, romps the globe on weekends, and sees the world as his for the taking. Jonah Gray has it all. Or at least, he had it all.

When Andreu Zhamovsky, a close family friend, presents Jonah with the deal of a lifetime, Jonah jumps at the chance. All Jonah has to do is act quickly, invest half a billion dollars in prime NYC office buildings, and collect a huge payoff.

But there is much more to this deal than Jonah had ever contemplated, and this golden opportunity turns out to be anything but.

Along with this deal comes one of the world's rarest and most valuable antiques planted in Jonah's briefcase, and within days of signing on, Jonah is mysteriously thrust into the epicenter of an international and personal scandal.

Forced to explore a whole new territory where he can trust no one, and where danger, death, and deception lurk at every corner, Jonah will learn some painfully hard lessons about the quest for true wealth.

Taking risks has been the hallmark of Jonah's career. But this time, the stakes are much, much higher and Jonah will put everything—and everyone—he loves at risk.

Closing this deal could mean losing it all. 

Review: Adam Gittlin takes the captivated reader through the perplexing issues and high-stakes negotiations of rich and powerful New York City real estate moguls in The Deal, the author's second thriller set in the city that never sleeps.

Many an agent has claimed that he has brokered the most impressive deal New York has ever seen. But Jonah Gray, The Deal's central character, sets out to put that debate to rest once and for all. As his father is fond of saying, "An athlete still playing is only as good as his last game. A broker is only as good as his last deal.” When he is called by Andreu Zhamovsky, his childhood friend from Russia, to initiate the beginning of what could become New York’s largest brokerage deal, he calls his team, Tommy, Jack and Perry, together to begin a transaction that has a strict deadline of three weeks – money no object. This great opportunity, though, comes with sinister baggage not immediately known to Jonah and which soon becomes a nightmare for him. At first feels that he was winning the real estate race, but now in the race for his life, he is beginning to feel he is losing it all.

The deal begins to unravel when Jonah is faced with the theft of a valuable Fabergé museum piece that is placed in his possession by an unknown person, the murder of an undercover cop who has been following him, lies and deception by his father, and the subsequent murder of his father. Jonah wonders what these events have to do with the team’s multi-million dollar real estate deal. His father also told him once that as in real estate, so it is in life, knowledge if king. With no knowledge of the chaos now surrounding his life, Jonah now feels like a joker instead. How is Jonah supposed to get his life back and salvage the deal? He needs answers and he needs them now.

The Deal is a fast paced financial thriller with a perplexing plot that is riddled with schemes and conspiracies. The author clearly knows the ins and outs of the commercial real estate business and brings them to life here in ways that seem fantastic yet plausible. A terrific book, The Deal should be on everyone's reading list this summer.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of The Deal and to Oceanview Publishing for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — 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 Book Review: Mahu Fire by Neil S. Plakcy

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

Mahu Fire by Neil S. PlakcyBuy from Amazon.com

Mahu Fire by
A Hawai'ian Mystery with Kimo Kanapa'aka

Alyson Publications (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-59350-079-3 (1593500793)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59350-079-5 (9781593500795)
Publication Date: May 2008
List Price: $14.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Six months have passed since Honolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapaka'a's return to Honolulu from his undercover assignment on the North Shore. He's becoming more comfortable with his visibility as Honolulu's only openly gay homicide detective, including mentoring a group of gay teens.

Kimo, his family and friends are attending a local charity event in support of gay marriage when a bomb disrupts the gala. Kimo is determined to find out who feels strongly enough against the issue to kill—but it's possible that his high profile will stand in his way.

With hunky fireman Mike Riccardi at his side—day and night—Kimo digs through the ashes to find that not only is heat dangerous for the heart, but that fire can burn through the hottest of motives.

Review: Honolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapa'aka investigates threats against the gay community including a bomb that injures members of his family and kills a city official in Mahu Fire, the third mystery in this series by Neil S. Plakcy.

Kimo is assigned to investigate the shooting death of an old man and a dead rooster in the same neighborhood. What makes the situation unusual is that both were killed by the same gun. Later, at a black tie dinner that included many prominent gay residents, a bomb is detonated, killing one, the Vice Mayor, and injuring many others. A string of disturbances had been plaguing the city, but the bombing was a considerable escalation in the violence. And then another person is killed at a gay marriage rally. Kimo has more than just his investigation on his hands when a teenager is mentoring disappears and his ailing father takes a turn for the worse. A wildfire on the island just adds to the complexity of what turns out to be a series of interconnected relationships that Kimo needs to sort out before someone else is hurt or killed.

In contrast to the previous book in this series which had a credible and interesting mystery, there is little to note in this regard in Mahu Fire. The first half in particular is written far more as gay fiction than mystery fiction with a gay character. Kimo spends much of his time pursuing a relationship with firefighter Mike Riccardi; the fact that he's supposed to be investigating a murder is clearly secondary. From a plot perspective, the investigation becomes slightly more important in the second half of the book but by this time the there is little suspense since it is obvious who is behind all the violence.

There would seem to be much potential in this series. still seems exotic to many people and in many ways is a perfect locale for a mystery, and an openly gay police officer is, or should be, a positive role model. But the author squanders the opportunity to use either to great effect in Mahu Fire. There is little of Hawaii in the book; the fire described at the end of the book, for example, is so generic it could have taken place in California or Florida. And, oddly and somewhat inexplicably, the author's portrayal of Kimo at times tends to reinforce many of the negative stereotypes people have of the gay community. 

It's not clear where Plakcy is taking this series. Mahu Fire as gay fiction is mildly entertaining. As a mystery, however, it is a step backward and that's unfortunate.

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

Review Copyright © 2008 — 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 June 26, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers

A list of the top 15 for the week ending June 26, 2008 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

As expected, 's 14th mystery featuring bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, Fearless Fourteen, moves into the top spot on this week's mystery bestseller list.

TailSpin by Catherine Coulter

Entering the list at number 11 this week is TailSpin, the 12th FBI suspense thriller by . In , married FBI Special Agents Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock take an early morning phone call from their supervisor, Jimmy Maitland. Maitland received a mayday from FBI Special Agent Jackson Crowne in the mountains near Parlow, Kentucky, and sends Savich and Sherlock to see what’s happened. Agent Crowne is able to bring his plane down in a narrow valley and haul the unconscious Dr. Timothy MacLean, a renowned psychiatrist, from the burning wreckage before it explodes. Their crash is witnessed by Rachael Abbott, a young woman on the run after the mysterious death of her father. When Savich and Sherlock arrive on the scene, they find Jackson and Rachael in the Parlow clinic and Dr. MacLean comatose in the local hospital, prognosis unknown. What they do know frightens them: Dr. MacLean was recently diagnosed with frontal lobe dementia, and in the months prior to the crash his behavior had become erratic and alarmingly uninhibited, his ability to maintain doctor-patient confidentiality badly compromised. With a patient list made up of Washington movers and shakers, MacLean’'s role as a keeper of secrets is jeopardized as well. Is there someone out there so desperate that they’'d kill the doctor for what he knows? It is up to Jackson, Savich, and Sherlock to find out—, no matter the cost.

On our bestseller page, we've added an icon next to every title that is available for immediate download onto the Amazon Kindle. To learn about this wireless reading device, visit the Amazon Kindle page for more information. And don't forget to check our page where you can save an additional 5% when you purchase your mystery books prior to their publication date.

The top four mystery bestsellers this week are shown below:

Fearless Fourteen by Janet EvanovichNothing to Lose by Lee ChildThe Broken Window by Jeffery DeaverThe Front by Patricia Cornwell

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, June 26, 2008

Mystery Book Review: The Brimstone Murders by Jeff Sherratt

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of The Brimstone Murders by Jeff Sherratt. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The Brimstone Murders by Jeff SherrattBuy from Amazon.com

The Brimstone Murders by
A Jimmy O'Brien Mystery

Echelon Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-59080-552-6 (1590805526)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59080-552-7 (9781590805527)
Publication Date: February 2008
List Price: $12.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): Robbie Farris stabbed his junior college professor twenty-seven times.

At his arraignment, Robbie pulls a gun and escapes. After his mother is found murdered in her shabby house trailer, Robbie's lawyer, Jimmy O'Brien, is led into the seemingly unrelated worlds of high-profile, religious evangelism and old-fashioned Mojave Desert borax mining.

Jimmy fights the clock, the cops, and the DA in his effort to find and return Robbie before he himself is charged with Section 187-murder in the first degree.

Review: Former Los Angeles police officer and now fledgling lawyer Jimmy O'Brien accepts the seemingly impossible defense of a young student who killed his professor in The Brimstone Murders, the third mystery in this series by Jeff Sherratt.

“Why?” Jimmy asks when he first meets his client, Robbie. "Because God told me to,” is the reply. Jimmy decides his only defense is mental illness and needs time to possibly set it up before Robbie is convicted of murder one. But before Jimmy can finish his plea with the judge, Robbie grabs a gun from a guard and escapes. Jimmy starts on a tempestuous journey to find Robbie and bring him back to court. During his search he meets Robbie’s alcoholic and nasty mother, the minister who was supposed to help Robbie, a number of corrupt officials, and the money men giving orders for illegal operations in the city. Jimmy faces death at more than one turn before he can begin to understand what is going on in the city, the Mojave Desert and an abandoned borax mine.

Complicating his investigation is the subsequent murder of Robbie's mother with a gun of the same caliber that he stole from the courtroom. And then there's the strange young woman he meets at a restaurant, a girl that was said to have been killed and buried ten years ago along with her parents. The FBI supposedly verified her identity through fingerprints. Jimmy is determined not stop her search until he finds Robbie, dead or alive, and to find the answer to the question of the young girl, alive, but who was supposed to be dead, and who killed Robbie's mother but is framing him.

There is much to The Brimstone Murders that is appealing for the mystery reader. The situations in which Jimmy finds himself are, collectively, quite unique but credible in the context of his investigation. Then there are the references to musicians, television shows, and movies of the 1970s that add an unexpected, and certainly entertaining, aspect to the story. Readers will no doubt look forward to Jimmy's next case in this series.

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

Review Copyright © 2008 — 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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First Clues: The Boy Sherlock Holmes Mysteries

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

We've updated our website by adding a new, award-winning mystery series.

recently won the 2007 Arthur Ellis Award for best juvenile mystery for Eye of the Crow, the first book in the that features the famous consulting detective as a youth in 1860s London. The book also was awarded the Canadian Library Association's Honour Book award for both Children's Book of the Year and Young Adult Book of the Year.

The second book in this series, Death in the Air, was recently published by Tundra Books. In his , M. Wayne Cunningham said, "... this second book in Peacock’s The Boy Sherlock Holmes Series is as entertaining and stimulating for adults and afficianados as it is for teenagers and first-time readers seeking to learn what Holmes might have been like as a street-wise thirteen-year-old ...". (MBN note: Read the entire review at .)

Shane Peacock, a Canadian author, is also the author of the Dylan Maples mysteries though these books are generally unavailable in the US.

The  are appropriate for sleuths in training aged 10 and older.

is pleased to provide information on nearly 100 mystery series for children and young adults. Each series is conveniently listed under three different age categories (New Sleuth, ages 4 to 7; Future Sleuth, aged 7 to 10; and Sleuth in Training, ages 10 and older). If you have a favorite mystery series you'd like to see added to our site, please contact us.

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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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