Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mystery Book Review: A Job to Kill For by Janice Kaplan

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of A Job to Kill For by Janice Kaplan. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

A Job to Kill For by Janice KaplanBuy from Amazon.com

A Job to Kill For by
A Lacy Fields Mystery

Touchstone (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-4165-3213-7 (1416532137)
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-3213-2 (9781416532132)
Publication Date: August 2008
List Price: $24.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): As a tireless mom of three, the doting spouse of a surgeon, and a talented interior designer to the stars, Lacy Fields can always find the perfect piece to finish a puzzle, a living room -- or an investigation.

When Lacy's beautiful young client Cassie Crawford drops dead after a sip of tea in her newly decorated L.A. penthouse, Lacy once again finds herself in the midst of murder. She's stunned when suspicion lands on her own best friend, hot Hollywood casting agent Molly Archer -- whose "friendship" with Cassie's billionaire mogul husband brings her to the attention of the LAPD.

Lacy will have to set aside seeking antiques to hunt down a dangerous killer. But this time, she's not alone. Sleuthing becomes a family affair: her son, Grant, works underground (literally) at UCLA to help her; fifteen-year-old Ashley is consoled by celebrities when her mom is hauled off by cops; Lacy's husband, Dan, provides forensics; and even little six-year-old Jimmy helps Mom find a murderer.

From a rough-and-tumble biker with a heart of gold to a relentless university fund-raiser, Lacy will follow every one of Cassie Crawford's precarious footsteps in order to clear her best friend's name. But by doing so, will she put her own family in the path of a desperate killer?

Review: Los Angeles interior designer Lacy Fields, decorator to the stars, gets a chance to use her hobby as an amateur sleuth once again in A Job to Kill For, the second mystery in this series by Janice Kaplan.

Lacy's latest job is to decorate the new penthouse of billionaire tycoon, Roger Crawford, and his latest wife Cassie. When Cassie meets with Lacy to view the final touches, Cassie checks everything, including the refrigerator where she is delighted to find a few bottles of her favorite tea. Offering Lacy a bottle that she politely declines, Cassie proceeds to take a drink and moments later is dead. The tea had been poisoned and Lacy was the last person to see Cassie alive. The police put her name atop the suspect list. But there are others who had access to the penthouse. Molly, Lacy’s best friend from college, and billionaire Roger were seen going into the penthouse the evening before the murder, though Roger claims he had not yet been given a key. Questions definitely needed to be answered, but Lacy thinks the police are asking all the wrong questions to all the wrong people. She knows that if she can cross the threshold of a flea market and zero in on an unrefined treasure, she can make use of her obvious deduction and reasoning skills in locating a killer.

A Job to Kill For is a fresh, light-hearted, at times even droll, mystery that provides great escapist entertainment. The narrative is fast-paced and the plot pleasingly complex without being convoluted. As is typical of this subgenre, special attention is paid to who is wearing which designer and how smart it all looks. But Kaplan enriches her story with Lacy's family life ("Work hard while you are working, but give 110 percent to family when you are at home.") that admittedly suffers when she adds detecting to her day job of decorating. Though her husband and children don't have a lot of face time, as it were, they are an integral and memorable asset to the story.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of A Job to Kill For and to Touchstone Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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First Clues: New Mysteries for Kids

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

We've updated our website by adding four more mystery series and profiling the latest book in the Gates Family historical adventure series.

The Sherlock Files Mysteries

Upon moving into their new London home, Xena and Xander Holmes discover they’re related to Sherlock Holmes and have inherited his unsolved casebook! The siblings set out to solve the cases their famous ancestor couldn’t using modern technology. The first mystery in this series by Tracy Barrett, The 100-Year-Old Secret, has Xena and Xavier researching the mystery of a prized painting that vanished more than a hundred years ago. Can two smart twenty-first-century kids succeed where Sherlock Holmes could not?

Kirkus Reviews called The 100-Year-Old Secret "A strong start to what will undoubtedly remain an enjoyable series." School Library Journal added, "The main characters are observant, bright, and gifted with powers of deduction. A well-paced beginning to a new series." are recommended for young sleuths aged 9 to 12.

The Max and me Mysteries

You'll enjoy meeting Jesse Miller and Max Hunter, both 12, who form a deep but unlikely friendship in the Max and Me mysteries by Patricia H. Rushford. Jesse is thin and frail and has leukemia. Max is wild and adventurous, with spiked hair that changes color from day to day depending on her mood.

Three books have been published to date. In the most recent, The Secret of Ghost Island, a series of burglaries in town has police concerned that a gang of professional thieves is involved. When the girls help a trio of recently orphaned children set up camp on Ghost Island, they accidentally stumble upon the thieves' camp and are trapped.

Combining adventure, suspense, and mystery, the are recommended for readers aged 10 and older. Patricia H. Rushford is also the author of the .

The Sunny's Adventures Mysteries

Everybody loves a good mystery, and Sunny, the intrepid heroine of a new series, is no different. The first chapter book in the series, Sunny's Adventures, takes readers through the case of the lost puppy, the disappearance of a diamond ring, a missing pie, and much more! All the while, children will get to follow the spunky, upbeat Sunny as she solves each problem that arises.

Charmingly illustrated, reading Sunny’s Adventures is a great way to engage your child’s critical thinking as he or she figures out the mystery alongside Sunny.

The are recommended for readers aged 6 to 9. See also the Sunny's Adventures website to download coloring book pages, learn more about Sunny, and get information for parents and teachers.

The Bill the Warthog Mysteries

Dean Anderson is the author of the Bill the Warthog mysteries, a series of four books (to date) that have Bill and his friend Nick Sayga solve kid's crimes while teaching the values of Christian beliefs. Kids will love trying to figure out each chapter's mystery as they enjoy the zany antics of Bill, Nick and their friends.

In the most recent book of the series, Quest for the Temple of Truth, Bill and Nick are on an exciting and mysterious adventure as they uncover the truth of Proverbs.

The are recommended for readers aged 7 to 10.

The Gates Family Mysteries

The third book in the Gates Family mystery series (based on characters in the National Treasure movies), Uncharted by Catherine Hapka, was published last week.

Adam Benjamin Gates and his twin sister, Rebecca, have heard their father's tales of his part in the Revolutionary War and his discovery of a great treasure that helped the Patriots. But they have grown tired of living in the past and long for the adventure and excitement promised in this newborn country. When they hear whispers of a voyage to be undertaken to explore the recently purchased Louisiana Territory, the siblings are determined to take part. Soon, Adam and Rebecca find themselves on a dangerous journey into uncharted lands. But the greatest danger is yet to come when they learn of a treasure hidden deep in the wilderness.

The are recommended for readers 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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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mystery Book Review: The Olive Horseshoe by Ben F. Small

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

The Olive Horseshoe by Ben F. SmallBuy from Amazon.com

The Olive Horseshoe by
Non-series

Night Shadows Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-9799167-3-9 (0979916739)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9799167-3-1 (9780979916731)
Publication Date: February 2008
List Price: $29.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Billionaire Denton Wright is kayaking in the wilderness when his father’s mutilated body washes up on the Spanish coast. Denton’s father and another man were slaughtered in a drug cartel’s signature way: The Columbian Necktie. The father-son relationship had figured large in Denton's wilderness trek. Now he burns with a passion: payback against whoever butchered the father he never really knew. It would not be easy. There was:

Beautiful but calculating Jenna Rogers in California, whose father was murdered alongside Denton's, and she had plans of her own.

Carlos La Jolla, Jenna’s companion, a hot-blooded Latin with a sculpted body and black belt training, whose eyes give away nothing except a challenge to fight.

Joe Corsano, in business with Denton's father, working some devious gambit of his own.

Denton Wright must navigate all of it as he’s drawn into an intrigue of evil on a global scale. When he learns of The Olive Horseshoe, innocent and guilty alike start to die.

Review: A billionaire seeks answers in the brutal murder of his father in The Olive Horseshoe, an uneven and at times perplexing (and not in a good way) international thriller by Ben F. Small.

Denton Wright returns from a trip to Maine to find his Manhattan home trashed. But there's worse news: during his absence, his father had been murdered in Spain, his body mutilated and bearing the mark of a drug cartel. The Spanish authorities have no suspects and seem unwilling to devote much effort to finding the people responsible. In New York the police believe Denton's break-in was simply that, nothing more. But Denton thinks the two events are related. When he receives a phone call from the daughter of the man killed alongside his father, he meets her and together they decide to do what the police on two continents aren't doing: bring those responsible for their fathers' deaths to justice, regardless of cost.

As a reader, it's interesting to imagine how the plot of The Olive Horseshoe might have unfolded had Denton not been a billionaire with the unlimited financial resources to pursue his quest but instead an average New Yorker facing a personal crisis. It would have started with the compelling opening pages in Spain and ended with the rather predictable conclusion in New York, but there would have been no need for the intervening trans-continental and trans-Atlantic trips on chartered jets, stays at 5-star resorts in Morocco and Spain, and, more importantly, the pointless deaths of several characters. That's the real problem here: the foundation upon which Denton decides to do everything he does is weak, practically non-existent, and the reader knows it.

That being said, The Olive Horseshoe moves along at a brisk pace and the secondary characters bring what little story there is alive in a way the four main characters do not. There is the occasional plot point that captures the reader's imagination but inexplicably isn't fully developed. What could have been, should have been, an intriguing and complex thriller set in exotic locales instead turns into little more than an overly long and largely disappointing travelogue.

Special thanks to Night Shadows Press for providing a trade paperback copy of The Olive Horseshoe for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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Compendium of Mystery News 080830

A compendium of recently published mystery news articles. This update includes news items from late August 2008.

• In a press release this week, the ABC Television Network announced five new series pick-ups for the 2008-2009 season including two mystery comedy/dramas. Castle is a comedic crime procedural about a famous mystery novelist, Nick Castle (played by Nathan Fillion), who is bored with his own success. When a real-world copycat murderer starts staging scenes from Nick's novels, Nick is teamed up with NYPD Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) and the challenge gets his blood pumping as he steps in to help solve the crime. Nick and Beckett's styles instantly clash and sparks begin to fly, leading both to danger and a hint of romance. The Unusuals is a unique comedic procedural set in a New York police precinct. As a cop, it helps to have a twisted sense of humor, because every moment could be your last. Just ask Det. Casey Schraeger (Amber Tamblyn), who started her day as an NYPD vice detective before unexpectedly being transferred to the homicide division. She quickly realizes that, not only does everyone in her new department have a distinct sense of humor, but also their own dirty little secrets. No scheduling information for these shows was provided. [MBN note: For a comprehensive list of mystery and suspense television series already available on DVD, visit .]

• In related television news, our neighbors to the north announced in a press release the nominees for the Gemini Awards (Canada's equivalent of the Emmy Awards here in the US) and mystery series dominated. Murdoch Mysteries (featuring a sleuth who solves crimes in 1895 Toronto) led all series with 14 nominations following closely behind by Durham County (featuring a homicide detective who moves to the suburbs only to discover his neighbor may be a serial killer) with 13 nominations. Other crime series recognized were The Border and Intelligence. The Gemini Awards will be given out in Toronto on November 28, 2008. What's interesting to us is how long, if ever, it takes these mystery series air in the US market or even become available on DVD to purchase in the US. The Canadian crime series Flashpoint aired this past summer on CBS, and about a Vancouver coroner and the undercover crime drama are available on DVD, but there are precious few other examples. We hope to see more of these fine Canadian mystery series available to viewers here in the US soon.

• Not specifically mystery-related but of interest to all readers, Amazon.com continues to expand with its announced acquisition of book social network Shelfari. An e-mail sent to all Shelfari members (of which we are one through our partner site, ) read, "Amazon has long been a supporter of Shelfari as we grew into a global community of book lovers. And now Shelfari and Amazon will work hand in hand to create innovative new ways to enjoy the books you love." Amazon was already an investor in the company. Shelfari is expected to remain an independent company for now and to use its new capital to expand and accelerate its growth. Earlier this month, Amazon.com acquired independent online bookseller AbeBooks (press release) and earlier this year it acquired audiobook retailer Audible.com (press release).

Publishers Weekly has a brief conversation with whose latest crime thriller featuring NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher, Angel's Tip, was published by HarperCollins earlier this month. Burke is the daughter of award-winning and bestselling mystery author and admits "[T]here’s been a lot of upside without much downside. I think his readers were willing to give me a shot, so, yes, that relationship helped me get started."

N-Gage released this month its (self-described) "masterpiece of mystery", Dirk Dagger and the Fallen Idol, an adventure game for mobile players that is currently available for Nokia Nseries devices. A free trial is available as is an online demo at DirkDagger.com.

• In other mystery game news, Encore, a wholly owned subsidiary of Navarre Corporation, announced in a press release that the first titles in their Mystery Adventure Games line, Dracula 3: The Path of the Dragon and Sinking Island, have shipped to retailers. Dracula 3: The Path of the Dragon takes players to Europe on a suspenseful quest to discover the reality of vampires and come face-to-face with Dracula. As Father Arno Moriani, players must travel to Transylvania to investigate a potential candidate for sainthood. Along the way players are submerged into a gripping storyline with numerous challenging and engaging puzzles to solve that leads to a final confrontation with Dracula! Sinking Island is a gripping detective story that combines suspense and intrigue. As an investigator sent to a luscious tropical island to solve the murder of a multi-billionaire hotel developer, players must sort through 10 suspects to the crime as a storm rages on the island. Players have only three days to solve the mystery before the island and the mystery disappears into the ocean. [For more mystery games available to purchase, download, or play online, visit .]

• The Times Online has an entertaining article on what makes for the perfect crime movie written by mystery author Christopher Fowler. He makes an interesting observation when discussing the variants of suspense movies: "In a crime film the criminals know that they’re guilty, but in a noir thriller they’re dumb enough to think that they’re innocent." In a companion piece is their list of the ten best crime movies. [MBN note: For a list of suspense and thriller movies adapted from mystery books and available on DVD, visit .]

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers for August 29, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers

A list of the top 15 for the week ending August 29, 2008 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

A bit of minor shuffling among the top bestselling mysteries this week, but Moscow Rules by retains the top spot. Three new titles enter the top 15.

Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs

Debuting at number 7 is Devil Bones, the 11th investigation for forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan by . In a house under renovation, a plumber uncovers a cellar no one knew about, and makes a rather grisly discovery -- a decapitated chicken, animal bones, and cauldrons containing beads, feathers, and other relics of religious ceremonies. In the center of the shrine, there is the skull of a teenage girl. Meanwhile, on a nearby lakeshore, the headless body of a teenage boy is found by a man walking his dog. Nothing is clear -- neither when the deaths occurred, nor where. Was the skull brought to the cellar or was the girl murdered there? Why is the boy's body remarkably well preserved? Led by a preacher turned politician, citizen vigilantes blame devil worshippers and Wiccans. They begin a witch hunt, intent on seeking revenge. Publishers Weekly states, "Reichs, whose work inspired the hit TV series , once again expertly blends science and complex character development."

Laughter of Dead Kings by Elizabeth Peters

Coming in at number 11 is Laughter of Dead Kings, the 6th case for art historian Vicky Bliss by . It's been 14 years since we've last heard from the amateur sleuth, and it's a welcome return, if only for one last case. Who stole one of Egypt's most priceless treasures? That is the question that haunts the authorities after a distinguished British gentleman with an upper-crust accent cons his way past a security guard and escapes into the desert carrying a world-famous, one-of-a-kind historic relic. But the Egyptian authorities and Interpol believe they know the identity of the culprit. The brazen crime bears all the earmarks of the work of one "Sir John Smythe," the suave and dangerously charming international art thief who is, in fact, John Tregarth, the longtime significant other of Vicky Bliss. But John swears he is retired -- not to mention innocent -- and he vows to clear his name by hunting down the true criminal. Vicky's faith in her man's integrity leaves her no choice but to take a hiatus from her position at a leading Munich museum and set out for the Middle East. But dark days and myriad dangers await her in this land of intriguing antiquity. Each uncovered clue seems to raise even more questions for the intrepid Vicky -- the most troubling being, Where is John going during his increasingly frequent and unexplained absences? And the stakes are elevated considerably when a ransom note arrives accompanied by a grisly memento intended to speed up negotiations -- because now it appears that murder most foul has been added to the equation.

Silks by Dick Francis and Felix Francis

Finally, just making the list in the 15th spot is Silks, the 2nd horse-racing thriller co-written by and his son, Felix Francis. Geoffrey Mason did it for the money. It is obvious that his client Julian Trent is guilty, and it’s about time rich boy Trent is taught a lesson for his violent ways. The only thing still bothering Geoff is that he is going to miss participating in the Foxhunter Steeplechase— the “Gold Cup” for amateur riders—because the trial has taken a lot longer than expected. Although still an amateur, Geoff is well known (as “Perry” Mason) among the pro riders, including Steve Mitchell and Scot Barlow—arguably the two top pros. So when Scot Barlow is murdered—with Mitchell’s pitchfork nonetheless—Geoff finds himself pulled into the case as a junior barrister. The problem is: which side is he on? Mitchell claims he has been framed, but Geoff knows there was tension between Mitchell and Barlow; in fact, Geoff stumbled across Barlow beaten and bloody not too long ago, and Barlow claimed it was Mitchell who had done the dirty work. To make matters worse, Julian Trent has somehow finagled is way out of prison and has sworn to hunt down Geoff unless he’s a “good little lawyer” and does what he’s told in the Mitchell case. Geoff is left facing adversaries from all sides, tearing him between doing what is right and what will keep him alive.

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.

The top four mystery bestsellers this week are shown below:

Moscow Rules by Daniel SilvaThe Mercedes Coffin by Faye KellermanFearless Fourteen by Janet EvanovichSmoke Screen by Sandra Brown

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, August 28, 2008

Mystery Book Review: First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

First Daughter by Eric Van LustbaderBuy from Amazon.com

First Daughter by
Non-series

Forge (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-7653-2170-X (076532170X)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7653-2170-1 (9780765321701)
Publication Date: August 2008
List Price: $25.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Sometimes the weakness we fear most can become our greatest strength ...

Jack McClure has had a troubled life. His dyslexia always made him feel like an outsider. He escaped from an abusive home as a teenager and lived by his wits on the streets of Washington D.C. It wasn’t until he realized that dyslexia gave him the ability to see the world in unique ways that he found success, using this newfound strength to become a top ATF agent.

When a terrible accident takes the life of his only daughter, Emma, and his marriage falls apart, Jack blames himself, numbing the pain by submerging himself in work. Then he receives a call from his old friend Edward Carson. Carson is just weeks from taking the reins as President of the United States when his daughter, Alli, is kidnapped. Because Emma McClure was once Alli’s best friend, Carson turns to Jack, the one man he can trust to go to any lengths to find his daughter and bring her home safely.

The search for Alli leads Jack on a road toward reconciliation ... and into the path of a dangerous and calculating man. Someone whose actions are as cold as they are brilliant. Whose power and reach are seemingly infinite.

Faith, redemption, and political intrigue play off one another as McClure uses his unique abilities to journey into the twisted mind of a stone cold genius who is constantly one step ahead of him.  Jack will soon discover that this man has affected his life and his country in more ways than he could ever imagine.

Review: Racial tensions, religious intolerance, government deception, kidnapping and murder all play important roles in First Daughter, a gripping and topical political thriller by Eric Van Lustbader.

Just weeks before the inauguration of Edward Carson, the newly elected moderate Republican President, the current President seeks to make sure his beliefs become laws of the land. For eight years he has tried to return the United States back to its roots as a Christian nation. He envisions the country's future as a “fortress America”, one able to withstand all foreign terrorists. Working against him is a group that calls itself E-Two, the Second Enlightenment, in reference to the Age of Enlightenment that spread through Europe in the eighteenth century. When President-elect Carson’s daughter, Alli, is kidnapped, for current President is secretly delighted as it gives him an opportunity to devote considerable resources to not only locating the girl and, as a cover, to bring down E-Two at the same time. Carson, however, wants his old friend, Jack McClure, a top Washington AFT agent, to lead a search for Alli, much to the dismay of the Secret Service (and the current President). When McClure's command is quickly undermined, he continues on his own to search for Alli and return her to her family.

First Daughter is one of the most intriguing and exciting novels to be written this year. In addition to the suspense generated by the search for Alli, there is the compelling backstory of McClure who rose from being a homeless teenager suffering from severe dyslexia to being one of the top agents of the US government. There is also the personal connection between McClure and Carson: they were roommates at college and McClure lost his own daughter in an automobile accident. His determination to accomplish his mission for the safe return of Alli is both admirable and thrilling.

There's undoubtedly intended to be a "greater good" message here, but the author seems to intentionally be noncommittal as to what it is, rather, and probably wisely, leaving that for the reader to decide on their own.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of First Daughter and to Planned Television Arts 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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Mystery Savings: Up to 60% off at the A&E Mystery DVDs Sale

Mystery Savings: Discounted Products and Services on Books, Movies, and more!

Mystery Savings periodically provides our readers with current promotions that offer discounts or other incentives for purchasing mystery-themed products and services products through our partner websites. Below is a list of offers recently received that we're pleased to pass on at this time.

Shop A&E Mystery

Today through September 17th, 2008, A&E is having a Mystery DVDs sale with prices that are almost criminal: up to 60% off. Choose from a wide selection of series and titles, including Midsomer Murders, Columbo, Murder She Wrote, Rosemary & Thyme, and many more. Check out these DVD set prices: The Complete Nero Wolfe, originally priced $99.95, now only $39.98. Or the Agatha Christie Crime Anthology Collection, originally priced $199.95, now only $79.98. Quantities are limited so hurry to A&E.com and shop their Mystery DVDs Sale today.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Games of Mystery: Freddi Fish (Wii) and Mystery Case Files (DS)

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed games, parties, and vacations, has updated its website with new Nintendo mystery games, one being released this week and another in early September.

Freddi Fish: Kelp Seed Mystery

The charming (and educational!) Freddi Fish mystery games for kids come to the Nintendo Wii. In their first adventure on this platform, help underwater detective Freddi Fish and her finny friend Luther solve the case of the Kelp Seed Mystery, available in stores and on our website this week. Grandma Grouper's kelp seeds are missing and, without them, all of the sea creatures will go hungry. Explore marine caves, deep canyons, and fascinating places like King Crab's Castle, and outwit two criminal sharks, in an effort to rescue the colorful reef.

Freddi Fish: Kelp Seed Mystery is rated E for Everyone.

Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir

Spot clues to find the rightful heir! It takes a keen set of "private eyes" to identify the heir in Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir, the first game in this popular series to be available on the DS. There are 12 potential heirs to investigate, 30 detailed scenes to peruse, and over 1,000 hidden objects to find. Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir is the only Mystery Case Files game to include multi-player options. In multi-player modes players can search for clues together or compete against each other in real time.

Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir is rated E for Everyone and is scheduled to be available on September 8th.. [MBN note: The first 4 Mystery Case Files mystery games may be purchased from or played online at .]

Visit for all types of mysterious fun!

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Mystery Book Review: Shaved Ice by Del Staecker

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

Shaved Ice by Del StaeckerBuy from Amazon.com

Shaved Ice by
A Ledge Trabue Mystery

Cable Publishing (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-934980-12-9 (1934980129)
ISBN-13: 978-1-934980-12-5 (9781934980125)
Publication Date: August 2008
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher):  There’s been a shooting, and my friends were involved. The words ricocheted through Ledge Trabue’s head as he read and re-read the shocking message sent from Nashville. How…and more importantly…why…had this tragedy happened? It simply made no sense.

Plucked from Florida by a DEA helicopter, Trabue and Professor Albert Bryan are whisked to a horrific crime scene near Nashville where they must begin unraveling what really happened while coping with their grief. Gradually, as they piece the puzzling bits of evidence together, they realize that the incredible evil of the Hart-Fellows empire that they exposed and destroyed two years before has somehow found new life and is now, impossibly, hiding in plain sight. 

Review: Ledge Trabue and is best friend Albert Bryan investigate the senseless murders of their friends in Shaved Ice, the second mystery in this series by Del Staecker.

Ledge and Al are surfing the pre-hurricane waves off Vero Beach Florida when they receive an urgent message saying only "Reggie shot. Win dead. Please come!" Picked up by a DEA helicopter, they are transported to Ft. Campbell, the site of the crime scene. Reggie and Win had been fishing and were unarmed. Were they the targets of the killers, and if so, why? Reggie was a retired cab driver and Win owned a sporting good shop; both were good family men. And what so interested the Drug Enforcement Agency that it sent a helicopter to Florida to pick up Ledge and Al?

Ledge and Al meet and get assistance from Homeland Security Special Agent Barry Reeves and Carole Weathers, a local TV reporter. In most investigations it usually pays to look to where the money is. Here they find the Community Foundation, set up by the powerful Fellows family, and run by the firm of Johnson, Dupree and Comstock. The investigation turns up another, unexpected name associated with the firm: Crazy White Boy Donny. Donny is a dealer in shaved ice, the newest, strongest and most lethal form of methamphetamine. His gang connections receive and distribute the illegal drug, and also eliminate anyone who tries to interfere. But there seems to be a “leader” missing. No one they have met and/or interrogated seems to have the brains or know how to amass the vast resources required to manage this operation. It appears Ledge and Al are chasing a ghost.

From its opening scenes of waves crashing along the shore, the relentless pace of Shaved Ice continues to accelerate to its pulse-pounding conclusion. The characters, narrative, and suspenseful plotline are all well executed, the result thoroughly enjoyable. If there's a downside here it's in the explicit, and largely unnecessary, details of the crime scenes. The story is strong enough that it doesn't need this added dose of realism.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Shaved Ice and to Del Staecker 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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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New Hardcover Mysteries for September 2008

New Hardcover Mystery Books

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has updated its list of with books scheduled for publication in September 2008.

As we did last month, we're listing those authors with returning series characters, new series characters, and non-series or stand-alone mysteries in separate sections. All titles are available on our page. We're also using the new "carousel" widget by Amazon.com to display a random selection of titles; refreshing this page will change the selection displayed.

Authors with mysteries having returning series characters (in parentheses) this month:

Susan Wittig Albert (Beatrix Potter), Lori Andrews (Alex Blake), Sandra Balzo (Maggy Thorsen), M. C. Beaton (Agatha Raisin), Carrie Bebris (Mr. and Mrs. Darcy), Ted Bell (Alexander Hawke), James R. Benn (Billy Boyle), Laurien Berenson (Melanie Travis), Gyles Brandreth (Oscar Wilde), Don Bruns (James Lessor and Skip Moore), Alafair Burke (Ellie Hatcher), Chelsea Cain (Archie Sheridan), JoAnna Carl (Lee McKinney, Chocoholic), Tori Carrington (Sofie Metropolis), Laura Childs (Carmela Bertrand, Scrapbooking), Ann Cleeves (Shetland Quartet), Judy Clemens (Stella Crown), Margaret Coel (Wind River), Cleo Coyle (Clare Cosi, Coffeehouse), Cody Fowler Davis (Anderson Parker), Carole Nelson Douglas (Midnight Louie), Tim Downs (Nick Polchak, Bug Man), Carola Dunn (Daisy Dalrymple), Jessica Fletcher (Jessica Fletcher), Kate Flora (Joe Burgess), Elena Forbes (Mark Tartaglia), Clyde W. Ford (Charlie Noble), Shelley Freydont (Katie McDonald), John Galligan (Ned Oglivie, Fly Fishing), John Gardner (Suzie Mountford), Tess Gerritsen (Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles), Susanna Gregory (Matthew Bartholomew), Cora Harrison (Burren), John Harvey (Resnick), Veronica Heley (Bea Abbot, Abbot Agengy), Peter Helton (Chris Honeysett), Stephen Hunter (Bob Lee Swagger), Arnaldur Indridason (Reykjavik Murder), Merry Jones (Zoe Hayes), I. Michael Koontz (John Apparite), William Kent Krueger (Cork O'Connor), Edward Marston (Robert Colbeck), Archer Mayor (Joe Gunther), Craig McDonald (Hector Lassiter), Cody Mcfadyen (Smoky Barrett), Ralph McInerny (Notre Dame), Amy Myers (Peter and Georgia Marsh), T. Lynn Ocean (Jersey Barnes), Lynda La Plante (Anna Travis), Ian Rankin (Inspector Rebus), John Sandford (Virgil Flowers), Maggie Sefton (Kate Doyle, Knitting), George D. Shuman (Sherry Moore), Alexander McCall Smith (Isabel Dalhousie, Sunday Philosophy Club), William G. Tapply (Brady Coyne), Betsy Thornton (Chloe Newcombe), Aimee Thurlo and David Thurlo (Ella Clah), Blair Underwood (Tennyson Hardwick), Stuart Woods (Stone Barrington)

Authors with mysteries introducing new series characters (in parentheses) this month:

Axel Brand (Joe Sonntag), Claude Izner (Victor Legris), Franklin H. Levy (Buzz and Ally Levin), Brian McGilloway (Benedict Devlin), Charles Salzberg (Henry Swann), Mary-Ann Tirone Smith and Jere Smith (Rocky Patel)

Authors with non-series or stand-alone mysteries this month:

Charles Atkins, Christine Barber, Linwood Barclay, Larry Beinhart, Lisa Black, Declan Burke, Clare Curzon, Joe Domenici, Alison Gaylin, C. C. Harrison, T. L. Hines, Alan Jacobson, John Lathrop, David Liss, Pierre Magnan, Guillermo Martinez, Brad Meltzer, Justin Peacock, Bill Pronzini, Andrew Pyper, Michael Slade, James Swain, Tim Waggoner, Darryl Wimberley

For more information on any of these titles, please visit the page on our website. If you're interested in new paperbacks, visit where you can discover a library of new mysteries.

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

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Death of a Cozy Writer by G. M. Malliet

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Death of a Cozy Writer by G. M. Malliet. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Death of a Cozy Writer by G. M. MallietBuy from Amazon.com

Death of a Cozy Writer by
A St. Just Mystery

Midnight Ink (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7387-1248-5 (0738712485)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7387-1248-2 (9780738712482)
Publication Date: July 2008
List Price: $13.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): From deep in the heart of his eighteenth century English manor, millionaire Sir Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk writes mystery novels and torments his four spoiled children with threats of disinheritance. Tiring of this device, the portly patriarch decides to weave a malicious twist into his well-worn plot. Gathering them all together for a family dinner, he announces his latest blow — a secret elopement with the beautiful Violet ... who was once suspected of murdering her husband.

Within hours, eldest son and appointed heir Ruthven is found cleaved to death by a medieval mace. Since Ruthven is generally hated, no one seems too surprised or upset — least of all his cold-blooded wife Lillian. When Detective Chief Inspector St. Just is brought in to investigate, he meets with a deadly calm that goes beyond the usual English reserve. And soon Sir Adrian himself is found slumped over his writing desk — an ornate knife thrust into his heart. Trapped amid leering gargoyles and concrete walls, every member of the family is a likely suspect. Using a little Cornish brusqueness and brawn, can St. Just find the killer before the next-in-line to the family fortune ends up dead?

Review: G. M. Malliet introduces Cornish Detective Chief Inspector St. Just and Detective Sergeant Fear (an interesting play on names here!) in Death of a Cozy Writer, a stylish English country house mystery.

The cozy writer is Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk, the wealthy author of a series of bestselling mysteries, who delights in tormenting his four adult children, and to a lesser extent, his ex-wife, by changing his will frequently, sometimes cutting one out, sometimes leaving everything to another. His latest scheme: announcing his intent to remarry and watching the family trip over themselves to stop the wedding. Or as his housekeeper puts it, "What Sir Adrian has planned is not a wedding, but the fireworks." When the family convenes at Adrian's country estate to "celebrate" the upcoming nuptials, they're surprised to find Adrian has added a twist to the story: he's already married. And here's another surprise: she was once accused of murdering her first husband. What no one planned on, least of all Adrian, was the brutal murder of his eldest son Ruthven, found in the wine cellar with his head bashed in. Nor was Adrian planning on being murdered himself, a knife thrust deep into his chest. With a fresh blanket of snow surrounding the house confirming no one had entered or left, DCI St. Just and DS Fear know someone in the house is a murderer.

Death of a Cozy Writer is, in many ways, a study of contrasts. The author borrows heavily from Agatha Christie, usually to great and amusing effect. Consider Adrian's amateur sleuth, Miss Rampling of Saint Edmund-Under-Stowe. That it is similar to Miss Marple of St. Mary Mead is no coincidence. Other knowing references are made throughout. For example, at one point Adrian tells St. Just of a storyline in one of his books where all the passengers on a train participate in the murder of another. St. Just says, "But, Sir Adrian ... Surely Dame Agatha thought of that first." Adrian's retort: "Of course she did. But my book was better."

The pace of the narrative is leisurely at best. It takes well over 100 pages until Ruthven is murdered, and another 50 or so until the title character meets the same fate. At times it's like watching an extended game of Clue with Agatha Christie characters as the players. Readers will get the sense that in the end, St. Just will anticlimactically declare that the killer was Colonel Mustard with the wrench in the library and be done with it.

But suddenly, and rather unexpectedly, the plot takes a decidedly interesting turn, shedding much of the superficiality of the setup to become an intriguing and intricate mystery. In the beginning, Death of a Cozy Writer will entertain readers with its characters, setting, and board game-like features, but in the end will captivate them with a compelling denouement in a familiar gathering of the suspects in the drawing room.

Special thanks to Midnight Ink for providing a copy of Death of a Cozy Writer 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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Mysteries on TV: NCIS, The Shield, and The Untouchables

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 three series that have season DVDs being released this week.

Mark Harmon stars as Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in , an NBC series that debuted on CBS in September 2003 and remains in production today. From murder and espionage to terrorism and stolen submarines this team of special agents with an eclectic group of talents and skills travel the globe to investigate all crimes with Navy or Marine Corps ties.

The NCIS Season Five DVD set of 5 discs contains all 18 episodes that aired during the 2007 / 2008 television season. The 6th season of NCIS is scheduled to premiere on September 23rd at 8 PM (ET).

first aired on FX in March 2002 and starred Michael Chiklis as Vic Mackey, the leader of an elite Strike Team who is effective at eliminating crime but operates under his own set of rules. Though set in a fictional area of Los Angeles, the team is based in part on the controversial LAPD Rampart Division's anti-gang unit.

The The Shield Season Six DVD set of 4 discs contains all 10 episodes that aired from April through June, 2007. The 7th and final season is set to premiere on September 2nd at 9 PM (ET).

One of the most violent shows on television at the time, aired on ABC for 4 seasons from 1959 through 1963. Robert Stack starred as Special Agent Eliot Ness, who also appeared in the Desilu Playhouse 1959 movie The Scarface Mob from which the series was developed, the leader of an elite Chicago crime squad in 1930 during Prohibition.

The The Untouchables Season Two, Volume Two DVD set of 4 discs contains the final 16 episodes of the second season that aired in the spring of 1961.

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

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Mystery Godoku Puzzle for August 25, 2008

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for August 25, 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 C D I K N Q S U. This was the title of the 8th mystery by to feature forensic sculptor Eve Duncan and detective Joe Quinn (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!

Games of Mystery: Mystery Games, Parties, and Vacations
Mystery-themed games, parties, and more

AreYouGame games and puzzles
Games for Kids and Adults at AreYouGame.com

Video Game Rentals Delivered
GameFly delivers the best video games

GameStop, Inc.
Mystery games for all platforms at GameStop

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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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