Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Anarchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Anarchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Anarchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill

Anarchy and Old Dogs by
A Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery

Soho Crime (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-56947-501-6 (1569475016)
ISBN-13: 978-1-56947-501-0 (9781569475010)
Publication Date: August 2008
List Price: $12.00

Review: Colin Cotterill’s Anarchy and Old Dogs, the fourth in his Dr. Siri Paiboun series, serves up another history/mystery with a distinctly Asian flavour. And with the seventy-three year old comically eccentric coroner and his wannabee CSI team wandering around Laos, Vietnam and Thailand looking for ghosts, lost children, murderers, and ideological roots and revolutionaries past and present, it’s just as appealing as each of its predecessors.

Cotterill’s books, this one included, are delightfully humorous as Dr. Siri goes about his business of solving murders, saving his own aging skin and bending and breaking the rules of the political regime under which he works. In Anarchy, he sets out to discover why a blind man, a former dentist, was run down by an army logging truck in August 1977 on a street where “two cars passing at the same time would be considered a traffic jam.” In his search he finds the man’s widow and a set of codes written in invisible ink, which he partially deciphers, at least enough to learn a revolution is brewing. Meanwhile, a government official has been electrocuted in a Russian-built electrically-warmed bathtub and he must investigate that death as well. This leads him to travel to the city of Pakse, “a city built on greed” and “the seat of the royal underpants.” For support, he takes along his best friend, Civilai Songsawat, a septuagenarian bureaucrat who has become “a cocktail Party member.” As the two search for clues to the murder, the electrocution and the possible political coup, they reminisce about the good old days of their idealism in ousting the French from their Laos homeland. And unexpectedly they are confronted with the bizarre drowning of a schoolboy who “could swim before he could walk.” There’s additional action and more adventures when Nurse Dtui and Officer Phosy, two other members of Dr. Siri’s hometown entourage pose as a married couple and set out to follow him, but end in a refugee camp where their own lives are endangered.

As in his earlier books, Cotterill uses this one to detail the history of the regional conflicts and the ravages and political upsets that resulted from them. But whether it is life on the streets or in the refugee camp or in the recollections of ‘the old dogs’ during their bouts of drunken revelry, the history in the book always remains an appropriate background for the mysteries of the deaths and the impending coup. Cotterill makes excellent use of humour as well, especially in an episode with Nurse Dtui and Officer Phosy escaping the refugee camp with the unwitting help of Brother Fred of the Church of the Christian Brotherhood. The search for the Devil’s Vagina adds some sauce as well. And almost every page has a memorable phrase or two. Coffee, for example, becomes strong enough to “cut through a hangover like a cyclone through a barn,” while a drop of rain falls “as thick and heavy as a cow pat,” and Siri mixes his cocktails as “half rice whisky and the other half rice whisky.” The solutions to the deaths, whether by truck, electrocution or drowning, are teasingly spun out, while the revelation about who is the source for the coup comes as a shocking surprise. The ensemble cast of characters is memorable too with the transvestite fortune-telling, Auntie Bpoo, gaining more than his/her fifteen minutes of fame and exiting with a prediction that by the Lao New Year the seventy-three-year-old Dr. Siri would be married and he “and his new bride would have two bouncing baby boys” – even more reason to safely predict that the next novel in the Dr. Siri Paiboun series will be another enticing five star entertainment.

Special thanks to M. Wayne Cunningham ([email protected]) for contributing his review of Anarchy and Old Dogs and to Soho Press for providing a trade paperback edition of the book for the review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — M. Wayne Cunningham — All Rights Reserved — Reprinted with Permission

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Synopsis (from the publisher): A blind retired dentist has been run down by a logging truck on the street in Vientiane just opposite the post office. His body is duly delivered to the morgue of Dr. Siri Paiboun, the official and only coroner of Laos. At the age of seventy-three, Dr. Siri is too old to be in awe of the new Communist bureaucrats for whom he now works. He identifies the corpse, helped by the letter in the man’s pocket. But first he must decipher it; it is written in code and invisible ink. The dentist’s widow explains that the enigmatic letters and numbers describe chess moves, but they are unlike any chess symbols Siri has previously encountered. With the help of his old friend, Civilai, now a senior member of the Laos politburo, and of Nurse Dtui (“Fatty”), Phosy, a police officer, and Aunt Bpoo, a transvestite fortune-teller, Dr. Siri solves the mystery of the note to the blind dentist and foils a plot to overthrow the government of Laos.

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New Hardcover Mysteries for December 2008

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

As we've done for several months now, 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 "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:

Jane Adams (Rina Martin), V. C. Andrews (Delia), Maggie Barbieri (Alison Bergeron, Murder 101), Steve Berry (Cotton Malone), Jan Brogan (Hallie Ahern), Patricia Cornwell (Kay Scarpetta), Monica Ferris (Betsy Devonshire, Needlecraft), Lee Goldberg (Mr. Monk), J. G. Goodhind (Honey Driver), Chris Grabenstein (John Ceepak), Sarah Graves (Jacobia "Jake" Tiptree, Home Repair is Homicide), Kerry Greenwood (Phryne Fisher), H. Terrell Griffin (Matt Royal), W. E. B. Griffin (Presidential Agent), Kay Hooper (Blood Trilogy), Graham Ison (Brock and Poole), J. A. Jance (Ali Reynolds), Jayne Ann Krentz (Arcane Society), Tim Maleeny (Cape Weathers), Michael McGarrity (Kevin Kerney), Laurie Moore (Cezanne Martin), Christopher Nicole (Anna Fehrbach), Perri O'Shaughnessy (Nina Reilly), Michael Pearce (Sandor Seymour), Elizabeth Peters (Amelia Peabody), Robert J. Randisi (Rat Pack), John Maddox Roberts (SPQR), Sheri Cobb South (John Pickett), Sally Spencer (Charlie Woodend), Nick Stone (Max Mingus), Peter Turnbull (Hennessey and Yellich), Andrew Vachss (Burke), John Morgan Wilson (Benjamin Justice), Sally Wright (Ben Reese).

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

P. J. Brooke (Max Romero), Simon Lewis (Inspector Jian), Betty Webb (Theodora "Teddy" Bentley).

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

Hilary Bailey, Laura Benedict, M. F. Bloxam, Jan Burke, Doranna Durgin, Susan Froetschel, James Grippando, Margaret Mayhew, Elle Newmark, Carol O'Connell, Lila Shaara, Scott Sigler, E. Duke Vincent.

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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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Asking for Murder by Roberta Isleib

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

Asking for Murder by Roberta Isleib

Asking for Murder by
An Advice Column Mystery with Dr. Rebecca Butterman

Berkley Prime Crime (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-425-22331-0 (0425223310)
ISBN-13: 978-0-425-22331-4 (9780425223314)
Publication Date: September 2008
List Price: $6.99

Review: Psychologist and advice columnist Dr. Rebecca Butterman takes over a friend's practice and the search for her attacker in Asking for Murder, the third mystery in this series by Roberta Isleib.

Rebecca thinks of herself as “shrink, columnist, and girl sleuth”, pretty much in that order. Others might add "risk-taking nut job" to that list. When Rebecca’s closest friend, Dr. Annabelle Hart, a sandbox therapy practitioner, is found brutally beaten in her own office and left there for dead, Rebecca along with the police wants quick answers. Was this a break-in robbery gone badly? Was it a disgruntled patient? No one who knew Annabelle could give any reason for anyone to strike out at her. Much to the consternation of the police, fellow doctors and her ex-husband, Rebecca takes on her facade of “girl sleuth” by beginning to look into Annabelle’s patient files to see if she can come across any clue that would help in the search of the attempted killer. She finds letters of a threatening nature from patients, signed and unsigned. A few of her fellow psychologists have shown disfavor with her unorthodox form of therapy. And then there's her family. Due to the graveness of her condition, Annabelle’s sister, Victoria, is summoned who believes their younger sister, Heather, is responsible for Annabelle’s condition. Before Heather can be located Victoria is murdered while walking to her motel room from the hospital. When Heather is located, she is in an unstable condition, either from her bi-polar condition or possibly from taking drugs. When Rebecca gets close to the answer, her life is endangered. It becomes a battle of wits for Rebecca, to lay blame on the killer and to survive.

Asking for Murder is a delightful story and exhilarating mystery. The characters are well drawn, amiable and engaging, and the author brings a little humor and cynicism into the mysterious world of psychiatry and psychology. The pace of the story is fast and the plot easy to follow (with plenty of twists along the way) -- it will be hard for the reader to put this book down once started.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Asking for Murder and to Penguin Group for providing a copy of the book for this review.

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

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Synopsis (from the publisher): When Rebecca's friend and fellow therapist Annabelle Hart is found badly beaten and left for dead, Rebecca is determined to help search for answers. But this time, no one wants her help. Not Detective Meigs, who thinks the crime was either a botched robbery or the result of a relationship gone sour. And not Annabelle's sister, who makes it clear that Rebecca isn't welcome in family matters.

The only place where her opinion matters is the therapist's couch. She's agreed to see Annabelle¹s patients, but it won't be easy. Annabelle's area of expertise is sandplay therapy, which Rebecca knows little about -- yet with a would-be killer on the loose, she can only hope the clues are buried within easy reach.

For more visit Mysterious Reviews, a partner with the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books which is committed to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers for November 28, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers

A list of the top 15 for the week ending November 28, 2008 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Of probably no surprise to anyone, 's latest Alex Cross thriller, , assumes the top position on this week's bestseller list with last week's top four mysteries shifting down a notch or two. Other than that, it was a quiet holiday week with little of note.

Next week look for the new Kay Scarpetta novel by Patricia Cornwell (simply titled Scarpetta) as well as the fourth Cotton Malone thriller by Steve Berry (The Charlemagne Pursuit), both of which are expected to debut on our list.

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:

Cross Country by James PattersonDivine Justice by David BaldacciThe Private Patient by P. D. JamesThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

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, November 27, 2008

Ian Rankin Developing Screenplay Based on Classic Scottish Thriller

Charlene Sweeney, writing for The Times, reports that crime writer Ian Rankin is developing a screenplay based on the classic Scottish thriller, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg. The 18th-century work is regarded as one of the most influential texts published in Scotland. Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie are among the classic novels that Hogg's work helped to inspire.

Rankin, author of the popular Inspector Rebus mysteries, described Hogg's book as the "classic unread Scottish novel" and hopes that adapting the film will bring it to a greater audience, and believes it has contemporary relevance. "There are interesting parallels between when the book is set and now," he said. "It takes place at a time of political unrest when Scotland is entering a union with England, and its main character is a religious zealot that kills people who do not agree with his faith."

Rankin has been working on the screenplay for a couple of months and reportedly has development money and a producer and director who are interested in the project.

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Mystery Savings: Visit BBC America's Holiday Gift Center

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 special offer recently received by us that we're pleased to pass on at this time.

Visit BBC America Shop's Holiday Gift Center for some great gift ideas! These pages include their Holiday Favorites, Best-Sellers, Collections and wonderful gift ideas for all ages, all conveniently categorized by price. There are dozens of mystery DVDs from which to choose and several interesting books, among them Agatha Christie: A Reader's Companion and The Complete Inspector Morse Book.

And now through November 30, 2008, BBC America is having a special sale. Mystery DVDs that are part of this sale include Agatha Christie's Poirot collections.

Great Holiday Gifts from BBC America Shop

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Mystery Savings: Save $3 on $30 or more at Alibris.com

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 special offer recently received by us that we're pleased to pass on at this time.

Use coupon code NOSTALGIA on checkout to save $3 on $30 or more of books, music, and movies at Alibris.com. This coupon expires at midnight, December 25, 2008. [MBN note: For even more savings, search for books that are eligible for free shippping. When Alibris is listed as a book's seller, it ships from their warehouse and is eligible for free shipping to U.S. addresses. Click on the orange Free Shipping link on the upper right side of the page to browse for books that qualify.]

Alibris 190x112

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Games of Mystery: Mystery Case Files Return to Ravenhearst, New at Big Fish Games

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed games, parties, and vacations, is pleased to announce the availability of a new mystery game from Big Fish Games released today. You can find out more about these games from our page or by clicking on the links provided below.

Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst

Emma's soul is free. But her ghost has delivered a dire warning: evil still lurks in Ravenhearst Manor. Go deep inside the cursed estate in Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst, the thrilling sequel. Experience Ravenhearst's spectral halls as never before with new immersive adventure-style gameplay and an epic original soundtrack. Feel the floorboards creak as you move from room to room solving puzzles and seeking out clues in over 150 detailed scenes.

Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst, a Big Fish Games exclusive, may be downloaded and purchased for as little as $6.99 with the Big Fish Game Club Jumbo Pack. A demonstration version may be downloaded (92.78 MB) and played for one hour for free. Also available for download: The Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst Strategy Guide.

And here's a special deal that you won't find on the Big Fish Games website: Save 50% on your purchase of Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst when you use the coupon code RAVEN50. This special deal is only available now through December 27, 2008.

All six games in the Mystery Case Files series, including the very popular Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir for the Nintendo DS, are available to purchase or download from our page.

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Other popular games on our page include several Agatha Christie and Nancy Drew games, Art of Murder: FBI Confidential, the Carol Reed mystery Remedy, Veronica Rivers: Portals to the Unknown, Mystery Chronicles: Murder Among Friends, and The Treasures of Mystery Island.

And don't forget to visit for all kinds of mysterious fun!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Death Swatch by Laura Childs

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

Death Swatch by Laura Childs

Death Swatch by
A Scrapbooking Mystery with Carmela Bertrand

Berkley Prime Crime (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-425-22478-3 (0425224783)
ISBN-13: 978-0-425-22478-6 (9780425224786)
Publication Date: September 2008
List Price: $23.95

Review: A Mardi Gras celebration turns into a murder investigation for scrapbook shop owner Carmela Bertrand in Death Swatch, the sixth mystery in this series by Laura Childs.

Carmela is attending a gala at Jekyl Hardy's vast apartment in the French Quarter when the festivities are abruptly brought to a halt when Carmela and her best friend, Ava Gruiex, walk out onto the patio and find Jekyl's new neighbor, Archie Baudier, dying, a heavy barbed wire knotted tightly around his throat. While waiting for the police to arrive, Carmela notices that Archie's otherwise immaculate shoes were flecked with gold paint and an old coin lay near the body. She pockets the coin to look at it later just as the police arrive, realizing all the while she was disturbing a crime scene. Newly independent, her divorce nearly final, and anxious to prove she doesn't need a man in her life (but isn't the police lieutenant rather attractive?), Carmella and Ava take it upon themselves to solve the puzzling murder

There are few cities in the world where such a diverse cast of characters seem more perfectly at home than in New Orleans. The city also makes a terrific setting for a murder mystery, and the author takes full advantage of her locale to great effect in Death Swatch. Characters are introduced at a somewhat leisurely pace allowing the reader to get comfortable with them within the context of the plot, and there's a historical element that adds some depth and interest to their investigation. As befits a scrapbooking mystery, there are numerous references to the craft that are seamlessly integrated into the story. (Scrapbook, stamping, and craft tips are added as an appendix in addition to favorite New Orleans recipes.) Unmasking the killer isn't all that difficult as the clues tend to be of the connect-the-dots variety, but the strong characters and setting more than compensate making Death Swatch a pleasure to read.

Special thanks to Penguin Group for providing a copy of Death Swatch for this review.

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

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Amid zydeco rhythms and popping champagne corks, scrapbook shop owner Carmela Bertrand and her friend Ava are partying in the French Quarter. It's Mardi Gras, and they never imagined this might be the scene of a murder, but as the evening progresses, float designer Archie Baudier is found dead on the balcony -- strangled with a barbed wire garrote.

The only thing wilder than this crime are the theories about who did it--from a ritualistic slaying to a mob hit to the outlandish work of a rival Mardi Gras float builder. Handsome detective Edgar Babcock isn't buying any of it. Neither is Carmela., and the odd clues are bringing out the sleuth in her: gold paint on the victim's shoes, a strange coin found next to his body, his ransacked apartment, and the peculiar fact that no one at the party really knew him. Only one thing is clear: Whoever killed Archie is following Carmela -- straight into the chaos of Mardi Gras.

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, November 25, 2008

Mystery Savings: 25 Days of Christmas at Simply Audiobooks

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 special offer recently received by us that we're pleased to pass on at this time.

Looking for a special gift for someone who spends far too much time in their car commuting? Why not consider Simply Audiobooks Holiday Gift Certificates? Their mystery book selection is outstanding with titles available for both download and to rent on CD. Categories include classic detective mystery, legal thriller, police stories, political thriller, character series, and women detectives. There's also a separate suspense category. Not a mystery fan? OK, we can accept that! Simply Audiobooks has titles in many other categories: biography, comedy, history, science fiction, travel, and many more.

And remember to visit Simply Audiobooks through December 11th for their 25 Days of Christmas! 25 days, 25 deals, only 24 hours each. Once the day is done, so is the deal!

Simply Audiobooks, Inc.

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Mystery Book Review: Night Freeze by Lee Emory

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

Night Freeze by Lee Emory

Night Freeze by
Non-series

Treble Heart Books (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-932695-76-1 (1932695761)
ISBN-13:978-1-932695-76-2 (9781932695762)
Publication Date: August 2008
List Price: $13.50

Review: Lee Emory’s thriller Night Freeze has all the elements of a classic serial killer mystery. Detective Niall Malone is called to Kansas City to investigate a disturbing series of murders that are tied together by the presence of a “US Marines” stamp on each of the victims. Despite obstacles such as a distrustful team of coworkers and some severe injuries that he has sustained en-route, Malone quickly discovers that the crimes are linked to Medical Examiner Dr. Shyla Clifford. Soon Clifford’s family and friends are disappearing at an alarming rate and turning up in several gory pieces, each death fueling and intensifying the hunt for the killer.

Emory’s writing is fast-paced, proceeding almost without pause from crime to crime. From the first page, the plot doesn’t slow for even a moment from beginning to end. While readers are certainly kept at the edge of their seats, the steady flow of action becomes a bit overpowering.

Likewise, Emory is clearly interested in the psychology of her serial killer, spending almost equal time following his thoughts and actions as her detectives. The emphasis on following the killer so closely, combined with the rate at which murders pile up, fills the book with many unnecessary, very graphic scenes of violence that sometimes seem to almost receive more attention than the work of solving the crime. These extremely disturbing scenes make the book difficult for those who don’t enjoy gore and horror, but may grip fans of this kind of graphic violence. In the end, however, readers are left wondering if Emory is more interested in writing about her killer’s crimes or the hero’s efforts to solve them.

This impression is reinforced by the lack of progress that Emory’s detectives seem to make for most of the book, and any mystery reader with a passing knowledge of crime-scene procedure will wince at the way some clues are mishandled. Readers already know the killer’s location, and may grow frustrated as detectives seem to miss obvious hints and his connections to Dr. Clifford’s past. Instead of a satisfying puzzle, solving the case mostly involves waiting for the detectives to put together what is already clear to the reader, while more and more of Clifford’s family graphically falls victim.

From the beginning, Emory spends a great deal of time developing and creating believable characters. This work pays off especially in her development of Dr. Clifford and Detective Malone, although the book’s action tends to sometimes overshadow these efforts. Understandably, Emory also has trouble creating a convincing emotional response for Dr. Clifford as her loved ones are murdered, a problem compounded by her decision to introduce a bit of romance at this unusual point. Emory also seems to have trouble establishing a firm voice for any of her characters, and despite their in-depth development they seem less "real" for this reason.

Night Freeze is action-packed and exciting, but ultimately fails to create a convincing and fully enjoyable picture. The graphic nature of many scenes will turn some readers away from this book immediately, while others may become less interested in the thriller plot as its well-drawn characters take a backseat to all the action. Lovers of classic mysteries will undoubtedly be frustrated by the lack of ingenuity from Emory’s detectives in the course of solving the case. Night Freeze ultimately fails to utilize many of the strengths in its writing, relying instead on action and violence to carry the plot.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Rebecca Henderson for contributing her review of Night Freeze and to Author Marketing Experts for providing a copy of the book for the review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Rebecca Henderson — All Rights Reserved — Reprinted with Permission

Buy from Amazon.com

If you are interested in purchasing Night Freeze from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right.

Synopsis (from the publisher): A chance for a new start ...

Police Detective Niall Malone accepts a job to head up a task force hunting down a serial killer in another state. When at last he reports on the job, after spending some time in a Phoenix hospital, he walks smack into a wall of bigoted feelings toward his outsider status.

The defilement of a proud symbol ...

The killer's main target points to Medical Examiner, Dr. Shyla Clifford. She receives gruesome, butchered pieces of the bodies to identify, usually frozen. The butcher leaves a unique marker on each body part that has everyone in law enforcement and the military deeply disturbed as chaos and the murders reign.

A doctor marked for death!

Shyla Clifford finds herself fighting to keep her family safe and maintain her new career now that she's retired from the Navy. When pieces of her loved ones keep showing up on her doorstep, among other places, she suffers the kind of fear few ever experience. A detective assigned to head up the task force appears to make little progress in the case as people continue to disappear. Shyla's desperation and anguish grows to the point her professionalism suffers and she struggles to hold fast to her very sanity. Now it's up to her to find the key to the grisly murders; the race is on to find it before everyone in her family is brutally murdered. And before she becomes the only one left to run for her life.

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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Games of Mystery: Disney Club Penguin for Nintendo DS Now Available

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed games, parties, and vacations, is pleased to announce the first release of a Disney Club Penguin title for the Nintendo DS. Many other mystery games for this hand-held platform can be found at .

Disney Club Penguin: Elite Penguin Force

Available today, Disney Club Penguin: Elite Penguin Force allows players to become agents of the Elite Penguin Force, waddling their way through secret missions, solving mysteries and connecting with the online world of Club Penguin in new ways. Players will use both familiar and all-new gadgets, accessories, disguises and vehicles as they set out on new missions to investigate puzzling events in the world of Club Penguin.

Players can even earn coins while playing on Nintendo DS and upload them wirelessly to their online penguin accounts. In addition, each game comes packaged with a redeemable code that allows players to gain special access to the top secret EPF Command Room, which is only available to DS players online at ClubPenguin.com.

View the Disney Club Penguin: Elite Penguin Force DS game trailer below:

And don't forget to visit for all types of mysterious fun!

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Save 15% on 1 Item at B&N.com

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 special offer recently received by us that we're pleased to pass on at this time.

From now through December 2nd, save 15% off one item at Barnes&Noble.com. Just enter coupon code M8H7N3F at checkout and the 15% discount will be applied to the highest-priced item in your cart. This coupon code is valid from November 25, 2008 through December 02, 2008, and is available for online purchases only. Click on the banner link below to start shopping!

15% off one item with code: M8H7N3F

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Seaweed on the Rocks by Stanley Evans

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

Seaweed on the Rocks by Stanley Evans

Seaweed on the Rocks by
A Silas Seaweed Mystery

Touchwood (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-894898-73-7 (1894898737)
ISBN-13: 978-1-894898-73-7 (9781894898737)
Publication Date: October 2008
List Price: $12.95

Review: Victoria author Stanley Evans’ series protagonist, forty-year-old Coast Salish hard-boiled street cop, Silas Seaweed, has a lot in common with others of his ilk – a taste for the sauce, an eye for the babes, a liking for rough justice, a disdain for police bureaucrats, a sympathy for the underdog and as much independence as his feral cat, PC, that he shares his one-man office with. But what sets Seaweed apart is his First Nation heritage, the off-beat characters that surround him, and his ability to call upon the traditions of his people’s distant past to solve crimes of the present. And despite Evans’ admissions that the Warrior Reserve where Seaweed lives and the Mohawt Bay Band of which Silas is a member do not exist, there is an authentic ring to each of the novels in the series that makes the settings, characters and stories significantly entertaining.

An opening story about the origin of Vancouver Island and the Salish Sea and an episode about Chief Alphonse, a baby porpoise, a tiny coffin “with ghostly red-and black heraldic crests”, and a brilliant zigzagging light that leaves the surroundings smelling “of forest mould, salt water and sulphur” set the tone for the rest of the novel. And Seaweed’s Welfare Wednesday trip to the ghost ridden Donnelly’s Marsh continues it with the finding of a young Salish woman, Marnie Paul, dying of a drug overdose as her wanted-list boyfriend exits the scene. That’s the launching for Seaweed’s non-stop chase through Victoria’s alleys, down streets and into bars tourists are told to avoid. And on his way he meets the likes of transvestite, “Claudette,” with his “botoxed lips as fat as frankfurters,” three-hundred-pound ex-boxer and now preacher, Joe McNaught, and Harvey Cheeke, the “suicidal, alcoholic artist with a BFA from the University of Washington, Seattle” and a reputation to rival Norval Morrisseau’s. He gets advice from Old Mary Cooke’s teachings and his conversations with Chief Alphonse, especially when it comes to the great ginger-coloured grizzly he occasionally encounters or the mica scale he finds from the sea serpent Sisiutl, or the dreams he needs to interpret. There are occasional sexual fantasies as well about his long-time girlfriend, Felicity Exeter, and his newly met murder suspect, Charlotte Fox, even as he tries to quell a rumour that he has AIDS. There’s nothing dreamy, though, about his encounters with his police colleagues “Nice” Manners, a closet racist, and Acting Police Chief, Detective Inspector, Bernie Tapp, his long-suffering supervisor ever willing to let Silas follow the drum beat on his own moccasin trail. Then, there’s Fred Halloran, the reporter who dogs his trail and Titus “Tight Ass” Silverman, the pawnbroker, and his assistant Tubby Gonzales who keep turning up along the way as Silas tracks the whereabouts of a shady missing hypnotherapist, Dr. Lawrence Trew, and follows Charlotte Fox’s Lexus with a GPS he secretly installed. By trail’s end, of course, Seaweed has determined what happened to Marnie, the young girl from his hometown rez, where Dr. Trew has gone, and who has killed whom.

And Stanley Evans has re-confirmed that he’s a damn good storyteller who knows how to seamlessly wrap mystery around mythology, real or imagined. And to show that he can do it again, he’s included an excerpt of his next book, Seaweed in the Soup, as an add-on.

Special thanks to M. Wayne Cunningham ([email protected]) for contributing his review of Seaweed on the Rocks.

Review Copyright © 2008 — M. Wayne Cunningham — All Rights Reserved — Reprinted with Permission

Buy from Amazon.com

If you are interested in purchasing Seaweed on the Rocks from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right.

Synopsis (from the publisher): Springtime in Victoria isn’t so sweet as Coast Salish cop Silas Seaweed finds a local street girl dying of an overdose in an abandoned house. As Silas starts his investigation, he begins to suspect that all is not what it appears to be. With a mysterious haunting by a ten-foot-tall bear, a burglary in a hypnotherapist’s office and the shady workings of small-time crooks, Silas finds himself in a criminal ring full of deception, murder and blackmail.

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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NPR's Five Best Mystery and Crime Novels of 2008

It's getting to be "best of" season, and NPR has issued its lists of the best books of 2008.

Their top five crime and mystery novels are:

Small Crimes (Dave Zeltserman), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (), The Chinaman (Friedrich Glauser), Death Vows (), The Long Embrace (Judith Freeman).

We have published a review of only one of these: . Our reviewer, M. Wayne Cunningham, said it was "Swedish noir at its best" and awarded it our highest rating.

We're fans of Richard Stevenson, having read and enjoyed many of the early Donald Strachey mysteries. And though we didn't have the opportunity to read Death Vows, we're delighted to see his name on the list. Four of Stevenson's books have been adapted as made-for-television movies; we've reviewed one () and have a second review pending for publication.

We question the inclusion of The Long Embrace on NPR's list for a couple of reasons: it was originally published in 2007 and it not only isn't a mystery or crime novel, it isn't even a novel but for the most part a biography of author Raymond Chandler.

Look for our own list of the best mysteries of 2008 in mid-December.

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MSNBC.com's 5 Reasons to Watch True Blood

Cynthia Joyce on MSNBC.com lists 5 (only 5?) reasons to love the undead in HBO's hit vampire series, True Blood.

Based on the series of Southern Vampire mysteries by , True Blood stars Anna Paquin as telepathic barmaid Sookie Stackhouse. It premiered on September 7th of this year, and was renewed for a second season after airing just two episodes.

Herewith the 5 reasons noted by the reporter:

1. The dialogue is realistic, even if the circumstances aren't.
2. Some Southern stereotypes are true.
3. Some of the best music you've already heard.
4. HBO's deep bench.
5. There are no bluebloods in the series.

The 12th and final episode of the first season aired last night. Visit the official website on HBO.com where full episodes of the series can be viewed.

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Mysteries on TV: The Big Easy and The Mod Squad, New This Week on DVD

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 two series that have season DVDs being released this week.

Nothing is simple in , the Big Easy, the setting for this sexy, action-packed crime series. In the city's steamy Latin Quarter, passions run as hot as tabasco, loyalty has the life expectancy of a rum hurricane and the dark waters of the Louisiana bayou tell no tales. Based on the 1987 movie of the same name, starred Tony Crane as Remy McSwain, a freewheeling Cajun cop not above committing a crime to solve one, and Susan Walters as beautiful but dedicated federal agent Anne Osborne, who will go the distance to uphold the law ... even as far as jumping into Remy's bed.

The Big Easy: Season Two DVD set of 3 discs contains all 13 episodes of the second and final season of the series that aired from June 1997 through October 1997 on USA Network.

Meet Pete, Linc and Julie: . This trio consisted of rich, long-haired Pete Cochran (played by Michael Cole), Lincoln "Linc" Hayes (Clarence Williams III) from the tough streets of inner city Los Angeles, and beautiful flower child Julie Barnes (Peggy Lipton), a runaway from San Francisco. They're recruited by police captain Adam Greer (Tiger Andrews) for a covert unit that will help bridge the generation gap. Each week these three cops with love beads wrestled with criminals and their own consciences. They may have been the "fuzz," but they were determined to never compromise their values.

The Mod Squad: Season Two, Volume One DVD set of 4 discs contains the 13 episodes that aired during the first half of the second season, from September through December 1969, on ABC.

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

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Mystery Godoku Puzzle for November 24, 2008

A 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!).

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for November 24, 2008

This week's letters and mystery clue:

A C I J K P R S T

This is the title of the fourth mystery in the Inspector Rebus series by Ian Rankin (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, November 23, 2008

Games of Mystery: The Mysterious City Golden Prague, New at Big Fish Games

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed games, parties, and vacations, is pleased to announce the availability of a new mystery game from Big Fish Games released today. You can find out more about these games from our page or by clicking on the links provided below.

The Mysterious City: Golden Prague

Explore the strange ruins and grand museums of Prague in this intriguing hidden object game! Your beloved professor has gone missing in the city of a hundred spires! Piece together cunning clues left behind by your missing mentor before it's too late. Dive into the challenging puzzles and mini-games and explore the sprawling cityscapes of The Mysterious City: Golden Prague!

The Mysterious City: Golden Prague may be downloaded and purchased for as little as $6.99 with the Big Fish Game Club Jumbo Pack. A demonstration version may be downloaded (40.79 MB) and played for one hour for free.

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Other popular games on our page include several Agatha Christie and Nancy Drew games, Art of Murder: FBI Confidential, the Carol Reed mystery Remedy, Veronica Rivers: Portals to the Unknown, Mystery Chronicles: Murder Among Friends, and The Treasures of Mystery Island.

And don't forget to visit for all kinds of mysterious fun!

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Mystery Book Review: Year of the Dog by Henry Chang

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

Year of the Dog by Henry Chang

Year of the Dog by
A Jack Yu Mystery

Soho Crime (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-56947-515-6 (1569475156)
ISBN-13: 978-1-56947-515-7 (9781569475156)
Publication Date: November 2008
List Price: $24.00

Review: Covering the period from late 1994 through early 1995, NYPD detective Jack Yu faces a number of challenges, personal and professional, in Year of the Dog, the second mystery in this series by Henry Chang.

This is a difficult book to classify. It is not a conventional mystery by any standard definition and even the novel's subtitle, "A Detective Jack Yu Investigation," is not altogether accurate as Jack doesn't really investigate anything for much of the book, spending only a few of the final pages trying to understand why a Chinese youth was brutally killed and looking into the circumstances surrounding an unrelated fatal gang shooting. To make matters more complicated, there really isn't a standard plot with a defined beginning and conclusion. Rather, Year of the Dog is largely a character study -- or maybe more accurately, a cultural study -- of two men who happen to share a common heritage and, for the most part, a common value system, but due to choices each has made, approach life and living from vastly different perspectives.

Several, actually quite a few, characters drift in and out of the story, some with more detailed descriptions of their lives than others, but Jack Yu and Tat Louie ("Lucky"), once blood brothers, now on opposite sides of the law, get the most attention. Both men are deeply conflicted about many aspects of their lives and though in positions of relative power (Jack a respected detective, Lucky the dailo, or head, of the Ghost Legion, a Chinese criminal gang), both feel they're losing the ability to control, or dictate, their respective destinies. The parallels between them are remarkable yet each maintains a distinctive, and quite separate, voice.

The narrative in Year of the Dog is frequently mesmerizing, the author creating a dark and cold, atmospheric environment, drawing the reader into the gritty streets of New York City. But in the end something seems missing, or possibly just incomplete. The questions asked, the situations presented, during the course of the story do not have simple, neat answers, and sometimes there isn't any resolution at all. But in many ways this mirrors everyday life and that's undeniably part of the power and appeal of the book. Year of the Dog concludes with the start of the Chinese New Year, celebrations that mark the end of the year of the dog and welcome the year of pig, as if maybe a new year can be a new beginning, a chance to make a difference during the subsequent 12 months, not only in one's own life, but in the lives of others.

Special thanks to Soho Press for providing an ARC of Year of the Dog for this review.

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

Buy from Amazon.com

If you are interested in purchasing Year of the Dog from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right.

Synopsis (from the publisher): He’s been transferred to a different precinct, but Jack Yu cannot get away from Chinatown’s criminals—his old friends—who have hooked up with the Hong Kong-based triads in an elaborate nationwide credit card fraud, nor from the Chinese victims who cry out for justice, like the teenage Chinese take-out delivery boy brutally murdered in the projects.

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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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.

Page/Post Author: Lance Wright
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