Thursday, April 30, 2009

Winners of the 2009 Edgar Allan Poe Awards Announced

Mystery Book Awards: The Edgars, The Agathas, The Anthonys, and many more.

The 2009 were awarded tonight by the Mystery Writers of America to authors of distinguished work in various categories of the genre. Thanks to @sarahw who attended the awards and tweeted the results (a partial list of which follows):

Best Novel: Blue Heaven by

Best First Novel by an American Author: The Foreigner by Francie Lin

Best Paperback Original: China Lake by

Best Motion Picture Screenplay: In Bruges by Martin McDonagh.

The Grand Masters were and .

Visit for a complete list of previous winners as well as winners of over 30 other awards recognizing excellence in mystery fiction.

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eHarlequin's Free Book Friday: Six Seconds by Rick Mofina

eHarlequin.com gives you another reason to love Fridays! Buy two or more books this Friday and they'll give you their weekly featured book absolutely free! That's right, every Friday, enjoy a featured free book with the purchase of two or more other titles! (Your free book will automatically be added to your cart.)

This Friday's free book (05/01/2009) is a thriller from Harlequin's Mira imprint.

Six Seconds by Rick Mofina

Six Seconds by
Non-series

A vengeful woman who aches for her place in paradise …

In Iraq an aid worker who lost her husband and child in a brutal attack saves the life of an American contractor. Believing he can help her avenge her family's deaths, she follows him back home to the United States.

An anguished mother desperate to find her child …

In California a soccer mom arrives to pick up her son from school, only to discover that her husband has taken their child and vanished without a trace.

A detective who needs to redeem himself …

In the Rocky Mountains an off-duty cop rescues a little girl from a raging river moments before she utters her final words in his arms. Haunted by failure, he launches an investigation that leads him to a Montana school where time is ticking down on an event that will rewrite history.

Three strangers entangled in a plot to change the world in only six seconds.

Keep up to date by subscribing to eHarlequin.com's free newsletter that contains the latest information about their series of books as well as informing you about subscriber-only special offers and new products. Click on the banner below to subscribe for free:

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First Clues Review: Silenced! by Bill Doyle

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

is delighted to introduce a new feature for our website, book reviews written by students. These students offer their unique perspective on the book in their review and provide a valuable resource to parents looking for new mystery adventures for their kids to read.

Silenced! by Bill Doyle

Silenced! by Bill Doyle
The Crime Through Time Series

Little Brown (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-316-05738-X (031605738X)
ISBN-13: 978-0-316-05738-7 (9780316057387)
Publication Date: July 2006
List Price: $5.99

Review written by Kaitlin, Age 13, Grade 8. Date of review: April 2009.

Review: Silenced! is part of the “Crime Through Time” series, written by Bill Doyle. It is written as the journal of Malcolm Moorie, the main character. This is the third book in the series, but each story is told by a different person, so the books do not need to be read in order.

Silenced! takes place in 1969, when Malcolm enters a new boarding school after being expelled from his old one for setting the frogs in biology class free. Most of Malcolm’s new classes are the same as the ones that he had at his old school, but one class, ecology taught by Mr. Conrad Rusher, is quite unusual. Mr. Rusher prefers to be called Conrad and he doesn’t teach in the classroom. Conrad thinks of the outdoors as his classroom. While in the wilderness, Conrad makes up challenges for his students and whoever solves it first wins points. At first Malcolm thinks that this is a waste of time but then he learns that the students are competing for a chance to go on the field trip to the Condor Sanctuary and he quickly changes his mind. During the year, Malcolm and his friends discover that someone is harming the animals in the wilderness. First a dead bird is found, then a dead mountain lion, and finally they find several crushed condor egg shells. They tell several others, including wildlife officials, about their horrifying discovery, but no one seems to care. Malcolm and his friends have to do what they can, even if it means risking everything, to save the wilderness. But will they succeed? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

One thing that drew me to this book was the fact that it’s written as a journal. It gives you more insight on what the main character, Malcolm, is thinking and how they feel about different things. I also liked the Malcolm is a middle school student, so I could relate to him in some cases. Another good aspect of this book is that it keeps you hanging until the very last page. Some mysteries are simple to figure out far before the end, but this book takes several surprising turns along the way. In addition to the story, there are tips that Malcolm used for surviving in the wilderness, in the margins of the pages. All together I think that this is a great book. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a suspenseful mystery that keeps you longing for more.

Buy from Amazon.com

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

is pleased to provide information on over 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.

All student book reviews are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in any manner, print or electronic, without the express written consent of the copyright owner. Reviews are published here with permission of the copyright owner.

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Games of Mystery: Samantha Swift and the Golden Touch, New at Big Fish Games

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, and mystery getaway 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 by visiting our page or by clicking on the links provided below.

Samantha Swift and the Golden Touch

On a quest to recover Alexander the Great’s timeless and mysterious Scroll of Wealth, fearless archaeologist and adventurer Samantha Swift realizes that there’s more to this mission than she first thought. Now she’s racing against the clock to keep ancient magical powers from falling into the wrong hands! Discover the truth about King Midas in this exciting hidden object game, Samantha Swift and the Golden Touch!

Also available: Samantha Swift and the Golden Touch Game Walkthrough.

See also the first game in this series, Samantha Swift and the Hidden Roses of Athena.

Samantha Swift and the Golden Touch may be downloaded and purchased for as little as $6.99 with the Big Fish Game Club Jumbo Pack. A demonstration version (149.31 MB) may be downloaded and played for free for one hour.

Watch a preview video below:

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Other popular games on our page include several and games, games in the series and in particular the latest, Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst, Adventure Chronicles: The Search for Lost Treasure, Syberia and Syberia II, The Serpent of Isis, James Patterson's Women's Murder Club: A Darker Shade of Grey, and Nick Chase: A Detective Story.

Read our new game reviews by Ms. Terri: , and .

Big Fish Games: Bestsellers

Big Fish Games: New releases

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

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mystery Book Review: Blood and Bone by William Lashner

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Blood and Bone by William Lashner. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Blood and Bone by William Lashner

by
Non-series

William Morrow (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-06-114348-0 (0061143480)
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-114348-9 (9780061143489)
Publication Date: February 2009
List Price: $24.99

Review: At age 12, Kyle Byrne attends the funeral of his father with his mother and his Uncle, Max. Given that Liam Byrne has a wife, not Kyle’s mother, they receive a less-than-friendly reception. After they get tossed out of the church, Kyle retaliates by running back in, grabbing the urn of his father’s ashes and tearing off into the graveyard. He still has some of the ashes in the glove box of his car.

Fourteen years later, Laszlo Toth, Liam’s former law partner, dies from a gunshot wound in his office. Police detectives Ramirez and Henderson don’t quite agree on what happened that night. Ramirez, a young Hispanic female success story, thinks a robbery went wrong. Henderson, a black cop considering retirement, believes the office remained a bit too neat to be the work of a drugged-up gang member on a tear.

Kyle coasts through life, playing Xbox by day and drinking and carousing with the wrong kind of women by night. He keeps thinking he’s seen the top of his father’s gray head from time to time, most recently while running between first and second at a pub baseball game. He wonders a lot how his life would have turned out if his father hadn’t died. The murder of Toth and an odd discussion about a missing file of Liam’s with one of his former clients at the funeral causes Kyle to wonder if his father really died of a heart attack. This peaks Kyle’s curiosity like nothing has since he lost his father. He begins to investigate and realizes he might be over his head, but he’s determined to find out the truth about his father. The problem is he might find out things he didn’t want to know.

Lashner, well-known for his Victor Carl series, has opted for a stand-alone novel this time out with Blood and Bone. At its heart, this novel delves into the relationships: between fathers and sons, detective partners, men and women and between friends. One of the things I liked most about this novel is the depth of reality to these characters, and thus their imperfections. Kyle has a lot of issues, but he has a lot of charm as well. Many might feel frustrated as his life seems aimless until he hits on the goal of finding the truth about his father. But he also has a vulnerability that to me brought compassion and a sense of wanting to help him. I’ve also known a few people in similar situations, and while I certainly have wanted to knock some sense in them from time to time, it didn’t stop me from caring about them. Lashner hooked me on the first page with a lost twelve-year-old Kyle on the way to his father’s funeral. It doesn’t matter that his father wasn’t around much. He still has lots of answers. And Kyle might ask others the questions if he only knew what they were.

Lashner has terrific secondary characters as well, from the squabbling Ramirez and Henderson to Kyle’s best friend Kat (or Shin, Katie Shin—in tough girl mode) to Max, Kyle’s uncle who spends way too much time drinking at the Old Pig Snout. Lashner also lets us into the head of the killer who is a puppet of someone else. The killer’s introspection and relationship with the manipulator fascinate as well.

Lashner has crafted a fast-moving plot that alternates between the two viewpoints to maintain suspense, but the reader wouldn’t lose interest anyway. In addition to writing a terrific suspense story, Lashner succeeds on an emotional level as well. He brings to life locations as well as he does characters and emotions. For anyone who enjoys a mystery that has much more than just a superficial plot, Blood and Bone is a must read.

Special thanks to Katherine Petersen for contributing her review of Blood and Bone.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Katherine Petersen — All Rights Reserved — Reprinted with Permission

Buy from Amazon.com

If you are interested in purchasing Blood and Bone from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right. Blood and Bone (Kindle edition) is also available. Learn more about the Kindle, Amazon's Wireless Reading Device.

Synopsis (from the publisher): For a son, every funeral before his father's death is a rehearsal and every funeral thereafter is a memorial.

Kyle Byrne, the illegitimate son of a prominent Philadelphia lawyer, had to sneak into his father's funeral when he was fourteen years old. Twelve years later, his father's death still casts a shadow upon his heart.

Now amiable and handsome, Kyle finds himself drifting through a life of slack. With his house in foreclosure and his part-time job lost, he spends his days playing Xbox and his nights in Philly bars, drinking way too much and sleeping with the wrong type of women. Life is, well, actually pretty damn sweet.

But when his father's former law partner is brutally murdered, the cops see Kyle as a possible suspect and start asking uncomfortable questions about his father's death. And after a strange encounter with one of his father's former clients, Kyle enters into a search for answers that leads from his father's past to the highest pinnacles of power—and forces Kyle to lay bare the deceptions and losses in his own life.

Just when it seems he's close to learning the truth about his father and the murder, Kyle is reminded of that old adage "be careful what you wish for." Because Kyle Byrne's most fervent wish is suddenly about to come true—with a vengeance.

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First Clues Review: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

is delighted to introduce a new feature for our website, book reviews written by students. These students offer their unique perspective on the book in their review and provide a valuable resource to parents looking for new mystery adventures for their kids to read.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
The Artemis Fowl Series

Miramax (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7868-1787-9 (0786817879)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7868-1787-0 (9780786817870)
Publication Date: March 2003
List Price: $5.99

Review written by Julia, Age 14, Grade 8. Date of review: April 2009.

Review: A fantasy world filled with fairies and magic is revealed by Artemis Fowl in the first book of the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer.

We find ourselves in the middle of a complex plan to restore the Fowl family’s fortune. Ever since Artemis Fowl’s father, Artemis the First, disappeared, Artemis’s mother, Angeline, has been bedridden and the Fowls have lost their billionaire status. Artemis resolves to steal gold from a fairy. When Artemis finally gets his hands on a copy of the Book, a book which has the rules of the fairies, his plan starts to come together. The setting rapidly changes to underground where the fairies leave. Here we follow the life of Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit, who is assigned to a mission above ground to capture a destructive troll. While she is performing the Ritual, a way that the fairies can restore their magic, she is captured by Artemis and his faithful manservant, Butler. The fairies are challenged for the first time by Artemis, but they are never defeated. Or are they …

The opening paragraph effectively sets the tone and introduces Artemis in a clever way:

“How does one describe Artemis Fowl? Various psychiatrists have tried and failed. The main problem is Artemis’s own intelligence. He bamboozles every test thrown at him. He has puzzled the greatest medical minds, and sent many of them gibbering to their own hospitals. There is no doubt that Artemis is a child prodigy. But why does someone of such brilliance dedicate himself to criminal activities? This is a question that can be answered by only one person. And he delights in not talking.”

The complexity of Artemis Fowl’s character is both baffling and engaging. You will never know what Artemis has planned next. The fairies are entertaining as well. The way that they plan ahead for every situation possible and the technologies that they have discovered is wonderfully brilliant and creative. It is also interesting to see that as much as the fairies dislike humans, they are quite similar to humans. For example, the prejudice that Holly faces because she is a female is very much like what human females have faced for a long time. The fairies react with each other just as humans will react in these situations, and their humor is also similar to humans. Their hatred of humans is simply another example of prejudice in the world. The battle of technologies and intelligences keeps you on the edge of your seat until the final resolution. The plot is complicated and at times hard to follow, and I would sometimes find myself having to reread passages, but it is the definitely worth it.

Artemis Fowl is an ideal introduction to the “Artemis Fowl” series, and definitively sets the scene for magnificent books to come.

Buy from Amazon.com

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

is pleased to provide information on over 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.

All student book reviews are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in any manner, print or electronic, without the express written consent of the copyright owner. Reviews are published here with permission of the copyright owner.

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Games of Mystery: Samantha Swift and the Golden Touch, New at PlayFirst Games

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, and mystery getaway vacations, is pleased to announce a new mystery game available from PlayFirst Games. You can find out more about these games from our page or by clicking on the links provided below.

Samantha Swift and the Golden Touch

Samantha's back in an all-new hidden object adventure! On a quest to recover Alexander the Great's Scroll of Wealth, archaeologist and adventurer Samantha Swift realizes that there's more to this mission than she first thought. Now she's racing against the clock to keep ancient powers from falling into the wrong hands! Discover the truth behind King Midas' Golden Touch in this exciting adventure game that's sure to keep you hunting for more!

Samantha Swift and the Golden Touch is available to purchase for $9.95 with the PlayPass program. A trial version is available to download for a 60 minutes of play (Windows PC, 157.7 MB).

See also the first game in this series, Samantha Swift and the Hidden Roses of Athena.

Other popular games on our page include the Mystery PI series of casual games, Mystery P.I.: The Vegas Heist and Mystery P.I.: The Lottery Ticket, James Patterson's Women's Murder Club: Death in Scarlet, and Private Eye.

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

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New Hardcover Mysteries for May 2009

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has updated its list of with books scheduled for publication in May 2009.

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:

(Jonas Taylor, Meg), (David Hunter), (Jack Taylor), Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Pendergast), (Jack Reacher), (Marcus Didius Falco), (Ellie Bernstein and Peter Miller), (Monte Collins), J. M. Gregson (Inspector Peach), (Claire Hanover), (Sarah Burke), (Sookie Stackhouse, Southern Vampire), (Rushmore McKenzine), Graham Ison (Hardcastle), (Knight's Templar), (Walt Longmire), (Sam Acquillo), (Jaine Austen), (Mei Wang), Christopher Nicole (Anna Fehrbach), (Ben Geller), (Bernadette Saint Clare), (Lucas Davenport), Kate Sedley (Roger the Chapman), (Thora Gudmundsdottir), (Leo Demidov), (Thea Osborne), Peter Turnbull (Hennessey and Yellich), (Helen Hawthorne, Dead-End Job), (Jill Kennedy and Max Trentham), (Beanie and Cruiser)

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

(Samantha Reid), (John Shakespeare), (Jenny Chase), (Vish Puri), Jon Land (Caitlin Strong)

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

, Robert Barnard, Larry Bond, , Shane Briant, Davis Bunn, , , , Harold Coyle, , , P. T. Deutermann, , , John Gilmore, Andrew Grant, , Gerald Hammond, , , , , Elmore Leonard, , , , Iain Pears, George Pelecanos, Piers Paul Read, , Patrick Robinson, ,

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, also updated with May 2009 releases.

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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First Clues Review: Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

is delighted to introduce a new feature for our website, book reviews written by students. These students offer their unique perspective on the book in their review and provide a valuable resource to parents looking for new mystery adventures for their kids to read.

Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz

Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz
The Alex Rider Series

Puffin (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-14-240612-0 (0142406120)
ISBN-13: 978-0-14-240612-0 (9780142406120)
Publication Date: February 2006
List Price: $7.99

Review written by Jason, Age 14, Grade 8. Date of review: April 2009.

Review: Point Blank is one of the many exciting stories in the “Alex Rider” series written by Anthony Horowitz. The book is full of Alex’s ways of solving his problems, and the problems of MI6, British Intelligence.

Alex Rider returns in his second exciting book, Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz. In this book Alex, a 14 year old schoolboy in London, goes back to his double life as an MI6 spy. In this story his mission is to simply find the relationship between two millionaires who suddenly died. It sounded easy to Alex at first, but he was meant for a more particular task. He would be sent to a school for unruly boys high in the French Alps to find his top secret information. That school was the place where these two millionaires’ sons attended, that is all the information MI6 knew. After being transformed to look like an unruly boy by MI6, Alex went to the school Point Blanc to get MI6 top secret information. Dr. Greif, the head of the school, and his assistant, Mrs. Stellenbosch, were obviously two people getting in Alex’s way of snooping around the school and getting his information. He had to live a normal life with the rest of the boys to fit in, but something strange was happening to them. They were turning … good. These were boys who were at the school for a short while and now they turned their lives completely around. Alex knew it would be a race against time to get his information and get out, or he would receive the same fate.

On a personal note, I felt that Point Blank was a good book overall. I liked the action and suspense, but there were a few minor problems. The biggest problem was that a lot of extra life in the school was put in, which wasn’t necessary to the plot, but a good aspect of this was that the author was able to make it flow together. I also liked how the author had shown the true and fake sides of the young MI6 agent, and included the traits from the first Alex Rider book.

Extra information that you may want to know about Anthony Horowitz and his other books is that he has already written 28 books, 7 of which are in the Alex Rider series. His two other main series of books are the “Power of 5” books and “The Diamond Brothers”. He has also written 3 motion pictures one of which was the first book in the Alex Rider series.

Buy from Amazon.com

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

is pleased to provide information on over 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.

All student book reviews are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in any manner, print or electronic, without the express written consent of the copyright owner. Reviews are published here with permission of the copyright owner.

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Games of Mystery: Mae Q'West and the Sign of the Stars, New at PlayFirst Games

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, and mystery getaway vacations, is pleased to announce a new mystery game available from PlayFirst Games. You can find out more about these games from our page or by clicking on the links provided below.

Mae Q'West and the Sign of the Stars

Mae Q’West is a widow and single mother of two children. She lost her husband Jack, a fisherman in the Pacific Northwest, to a boating accident of which no remains were ever found. One summer morning, Mae sends her children off to their annual camp trip and plans a relaxing week of antiquing and spa treatments. The same morning over coffee Mae reads her horoscope. The message feels oddly written for her and sends Mae on a mysterious adventure through Washington’s Puget Sound. With help from the stars, Mae soon starts to uncover the truth of Jack’s disappearance.

Mae Q'West and the Sign of the Stars is available to purchase for $9.95 with the PlayPass program. A trial version is available to download for a 60 minutes of play (Windows PC, 77.5 MB).

Other popular games on our page include the Mystery PI series of casual games, Mystery P.I.: The Vegas Heist and Mystery P.I.: The Lottery Ticket, James Patterson's Women's Murder Club: Death in Scarlet, and Private Eye.

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

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Monday, April 27, 2009

CBS Moves Harper's Island to Saturdays

Harpers Island (CBS)

CBS announced today that starting May 2nd, Harper's Island will be moving to Saturday nights at 9 PM (ET).

CBS attributes the move to strong DVR playback data, with relatively few people actually watching the show on its regular night opting instead to view it later. "This move gives us an opportunity to improve the time period on Thursday while experimenting with more original programming on Saturday, and continuing to serve an audience that is clearly engaged in the ongoing Harper's Island story, " says Kelly Kahl, Sr. VP of Prime Time at CBS.

We think the real reason may be two-fold. The plotline has been weak to date and certainly strains viewer credulity at times. (Is it really believable no one has yet found Uncle Marty on the bridge or the priest hanging outside the church?) And the sheer number of commercials interrupting the show every few minutes makes viewing in real time difficult at best.

We're intrigued with the idea behind Harper's Island but its execution (no pun intended) has been disappointing.

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Mystery Book Review: Lords of Corruption by Kyle Mills

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

Lords of Corruption by Kyle Mills

by
Non-series

Vanguard Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59315-499-2 (1593154992)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59315-499-8 (9781593154998)
Publication Date: March 2009
List Price: $25.95

Review: Kyle Mills explores the relationship between official governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), wealthy donors, organized crime, an impoverished nation on the edge of civil war, and a single naive young man in Lords of Corruption, the author's fifth non-series thriller.

Josh Hagarty is an ex-con with a graduate degree. Unfortunately, potential employers can't see past the ex-con part. Except one. NewAfrica, a NGO that provides assistance to people in need, wants Josh to manage their operation in Africa. Josh doesn't necessarily want the job, but he needs to provide for his family and their offer of employment is extremely attractive. Once Josh lands in Africa, however, he realizes the task is beyond his capabilities. Mostly, he is completely unprepared for the rampant corruption that exists. But when he tries to back out, to quit, he's met with surprising resistance. And when he tries to learn more about his own organization, he puts his life, and those of his family back home, in danger.

Almost by definition, thrillers are supposed to proceed at a rapid pace; most are described as "page-turners". But Lords of Corruption moves at such a glacial speed that it gives readers plenty of time to ponder the gaping plot holes that are at the core of this ill-conceived novel (a thriller it is not).

Probably the most glaring plot problem is why Josh Hagarty is hired in the first place. NewAfrica is a multi-million dollar fraud, raking in cash from government agencies and clueless donors and laundering it through an unnamed country in Africa. Why would its criminal operators risk this cash bonanza by spending a paltry $30,000 a year on a neophyte? It's clear NewAfrica is capable of staging all the photo ops it needs to keep donations flowing in and government agencies funding its operations. What role does Josh play here? Why is it even necessary to hire him? In fact, it isn't, so the whole premise of the book is as fraudulent as as everyone involved in NewAfrica. Some irony there. If Josh had had a legitimate purpose for being in Africa there might be the foundation for a story here.

Still the plot dictates that Josh be in Africa in the midst of all this strive and chaos and corruption, so be it. But he has this miracle satellite phone that has a battery that never runs down, and never needs charging, and even operates underground. He can call anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time. But does he ever call for help? No, that would be far too logical.

And that's really the problem with Lords of Corruption. Little makes sense. Josh never seems to have any money or anything of value, yet his Land Rover always has a full tank of gas even after driving hours over rugged terrain. Other characters don't seem to have any problem entering or exiting the country at will, yet Josh is trapped, unable to leave. And so on.

The last quarter of Lords of Corruption actually is a thriller in every sense of the word and is really quite interesting in its own way, but by the time the author deigns to get to this point all credibility in the story, and reader interest therein, has long since been abandoned.

Special thanks to FSB Associates for providing a copy of Lords of Corruption for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

Buy from Amazon.com

If you are interested in purchasing Lords of Corruption from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right. Lords of Corruption (Kindle edition) is also available. Learn more about the Kindle, Amazon's Wireless Reading Device.

Synopsis (from the publisher): When Josh Hagarty is recruited by the charitable organization NewAfrica to manage a farming project in an underdeveloped African country, he signs on, figuring that he can put his newly acquired graduate degree in engineering to good use. However, when Josh gets situated in Africa, he finds that NewAfrica may not be the philanthropic charity it purports itself to be.

As Josh delves deeper into his work, secrets begin to unravel, throwing him into a world of violence, turmoil, and political corruption. He soon learns that Gideon, the man responsible for heading the local organization, is not only a relative of the African country’s president, but also a strong-arm thug with a tendency towards aggression and dishonesty. In his hunt for both truth and justice, Josh also discovers that his predecessor may have been murdered to cover up something he had discovered about the project, something that should have remained buried. And why has Gideon uprooted the very people that Josh thought he was supposed to be helping? Is NewAfrica merely a scam?

With the help of Annika Gritdal, a beautiful Scandinavian aid worker, and journalist J.B. Flannary, Josh must fight to uncover the truth behind NewAfrica. In doing so, the trio must struggle to survive by evading those who are trying to prevent them from uncovering a dangerous secret—a secret that might just get them killed.

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First Clues Review: The Stowaway Solution by Gordon Korman

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

is delighted to introduce a new feature for our website, book reviews written by students. These students offer their unique perspective on the book in their review and provide a valuable resource to parents looking for new mystery adventures for their kids to read.

The Stowaway Solution by Gordon Korman

The Stowaway Solution by Gordon Korman
The On the Run Series

Scholastic (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-439-65139-5 (0439651395)
ISBN-13: 978-0-439-65139-4 (9780439651394)
Publication Date: October 2005
List Price: $4.99

Review written by Suman, Age 12, Grade 7. Date of review: April 2009.

Review: The Stowaway Solution is the fourth novel in Gordon Korman’s “On the Run” series. Once again, the reader is treated to 15-year-old Aiden and 11-year-old Meg’s narrow escapes and hair-raising adventures as they elude the law in order to assist their parents who have been imprisoned for alleged treason.

This novel centers on the siblings’ escaping from a police-infested L.A. in their attempt to make it to Denver where they believe they will find evidence to support their parents’ innocence. As all airports, train stations and bus stations are being closely monitored, Aiden and Meg hide in a car aboard a transport. They soon find themselves at the port where they stowaway in empty barrels which are loaded onto a freighter bound for Denver. Discovered by the crew, Aiden and Meg manage to escape on a life raft in the middle of a rampant storm. When Aiden is thrown overboard, he escapes brutal waves and frigid waters, and eventually washes ashore. He is taken to the hospital where FBI agent Emmanuel Harris is waiting to place him under arrest. Meanwhile, Meg paddles to safety aboard the raft, fakes an injury to gain access to the hospital, and frees her brother from the long arm of the law. Once again, the brother and sister team are “on the run.”

Korman continues to captivate his audience and keep them on the edge of their seats. Readers barely have time to catch their breath between enthralling action scenes. The plot is lightning-fast and it is easy to understand. Even though the siblings’ actions seem, at times, eccentric, Korman’s obviously well-researched details add credibility to these scenes. As well, thanks to Korman’s creativity, readers are able to think like the characters and feel their own pulses quicken in synchronicity with the fictional characters.

The only disappointment in this novel is the fact that no new evidence regarded to Aiden and Meg’s parents is revealed. Though the individual plot of this novel is excellent, it shows little effort to further elaborate on the grand scheme of the series other than give Aiden time to think about Agent Harris’s motives and wonder if perhaps there is a chance this arch-nemesis may be willing to help them after all. There are no exhilarating clues revealed, thus leaving this reader slightly frustrated.

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is pleased to provide information on over 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.

All student book reviews are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in any manner, print or electronic, without the express written consent of the copyright owner. Reviews are published here with permission of the copyright owner.

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A Special Note about HSMB.com

We are moving our very first registered domain, HSMB.com, to a new server this week. The target date is Thursday, April 30th. There will be a day or two before or after when it will be inaccessible as the name servers are updated and we apologize in advance for any inconvenience.

At this same time, we are retiring all e-mail addresses associated with the HSMB domain. If you have not already updated your address books to our new Omnimystery e-mail addresses, please do so.

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books (HSMB) will continue to be the gateway to our family of mystery websites and we're grateful to everyone who visits and explores all we have to offer.

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Mysteries on TV: Kavanagh QC and Mission Impossible, 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 one series that has a season DVD being released this week and one that is releasing a number of its episodes on multiple DVDs.

John Thaw starred as a superb courtroom drama series that aired over 6 seasons from 1995 to 2001 in the UK. James Kavanagh, a top member of Queen's Counsel, is fiesty and fierce, his relentless mind pursuing the truth with insatiable hunger and rapier-like skill. Often facing unexpected twists in testimony and surprising crucial moments at trial, Kavanagh maintains his reputation as a formidable opponent who will go to any lengths to see justice served.

Ten episodes are being released this week on 3 separate DVDs. Episodes from March 1998 are on the Memento Mori Set (which includes Momento Mori, Care in the Community, and Briefs Trooping Gaily); episodes from April 1998 are on the Bearing Witness Set (which includes Bearing Witness, Innocency of Life, and Dead Reckoning); and episodes from March 1999 are on the Previous Convictions Set (which includes Previous Convictions, The More Loving One, Time of Need, and End Games).

One of our favorite series, aired on CBS over 7 seasons from 1966 through 1973. The penultimate season saw the departure of Leonard Nimoy as Paris aand Lesley Ann Warren as Dana Lambert, and the addition of Lynda Day George as Lisa Casey. Having exhausted virtually all foreign enemies as plot devices, for the sixth season Jim and his team focus mainly on targets in the US but outside the reach of conventional law enforcement agencies, as they successfully bring master criminals, corrupt politicians, and syndicate bosses to justice.

The Mission: Impossible: Season Six DVD set of 6 discs contains the 22 episodes that aired from September 1971 through February 1972.

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

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Mystery Godoku Puzzle for April 27, 2009

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 April 27, 2009

This week's letters and mystery clue:

C E I O P R S V W

Gary Lovisi is the author of a hard-boiled crime series featuring this PI (9 letters).

We now have two weeks of our puzzles on one page 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, April 26, 2009

Games of Mystery: Real Crimes, The Unicorn Killer, New at Big Fish Games

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, and mystery getaway 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 by visiting our page or by clicking on the links provided below.

Real Crimes: The Unicorn Killer

Help rookie FBI Agent Jennifer Lourdes, and veteran detective Alan Michaels catch the infamous Unicorn Killer! Track down the murderer, Ira Einhorn, as you bring him to justice in this exciting hidden object game. Travel all around the globe and explore important crime scenes. Based on a true story, Real Crimes: The Unicorn Killer takes you on the long-running chase and extradition of this dangerous criminal!

Real Crimes: The Unicorn Killer may be downloaded and purchased for as little as $6.99 with the Big Fish Game Club Jumbo Pack. A demonstration version (97.43 MB) may be downloaded and played for free for one hour.

Also available: Real Crimes: The Unicorn Killer Game Walkthrough.

Watch a preview video below:

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Other popular games on our page include several and games, games in the series and in particular the latest, Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst, Adventure Chronicles: The Search for Lost Treasure, Syberia and Syberia II, The Serpent of Isis, James Patterson's Women's Murder Club: A Darker Shade of Grey, and Nick Chase: A Detective Story.

Read our new game reviews by Ms. Terri: , and .

Big Fish Games: Bestsellers

Big Fish Games: New releases

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

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Winners of the 2008 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes Announced

Mystery Book Awards: The Edgars, The Agathas, The Anthonys, and many more.

The 2008 were awarded last night in a ceremony at the Los Angeles Times building.

In the Mystery / Thriller category, the winner was Envy the Night by .

Visit LATimes.com for a complete list of winners in all nine categories.

Visit for a complete list of previous winners as well as winners of over 30 other awards recognizing excellence in mystery fiction.

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Games of Mystery: Cate West, The Velvet Keys, New at Big Fish Games

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, and mystery getaway 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 by visiting our page or by clicking on the links provided below.

Cate West: The Velvet Keys

Help the celebrated novelist, Cate West, find a dangerous murderer in this exciting hidden object game! This thrilling sequel to Cate West: The Vanishing Files, follows Cate to Damasca where she discovers a new mystery. Gather the items required to forge the enigmatic Velvet Keys and crack the case. A cinematic atmosphere, incredible graphics and addictive gameplay await you in Cate West: The Velvet Keys!

Cate West: The Velvet Keys, 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 (97.99 MB) may be downloaded and played for free for one hour.

Also available: Cate West: The Velvet Keys Strategy Guide and a Cate West: The Velvet Keys Game Walkthrough.

Watch a preview video below:

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Other popular games on our page include several and games, games in the series and in particular the latest, Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst, Adventure Chronicles: The Search for Lost Treasure, Syberia and Syberia II, The Serpent of Isis, James Patterson's Women's Murder Club: A Darker Shade of Grey, and Nick Chase: A Detective Story.

Read our new game reviews by Ms. Terri: , and .

Big Fish Games: Bestsellers

Big Fish Games: New releases

mbfgads_468x60

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

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Media Mystery News (with Thanks to In Reference to Murder)

Our friends over at In Reference to Murder posted a new Media Murder article this morning. A few of the news items are of particular interest to us and are reprinted below.

Variety is reporting that Gaumont has acquired the film rights to 's 2004 bestseller Paranoia. Another Finder thriller, , was made into a 2002 movie of the same title starring Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd.

Seaweed on the Street, the first mystery in the Silas Seaweed series by , was optioned on behalf of Full Regalia Enterprises. Silas Seaweed is a Coast Salish investigator in Victoria (BC).

Film rights to Oyster Blues, 's debut comic caper, were sold to producer Jon Judelson.

NPR published an audio interview with whose debut mystery, Humpty Dumpty Was Pushed featuring NYPD detective Black Sallie Blue Eyes, was published last month.

Minnesota Public Radio published an interview with who introduced a new series character, NYC private investigator Leonid McGill, in his latest mystery The Long Fall.

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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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