Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mystery Book Review: Death Wore White by Jim Kelly

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

Death Wore White by Jim Kelly

by
Non-series

St. Martin's Minotaur (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-312-57081-3 (0312570813)
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-57081-1 (9780312570811)
Publication Date: June 2009
List Price: $24.95

Review: Jim Kelly's first rate mystery, Death Wore White, introduces Detective Inspector Peter Shaw investigating a most perplexing, and seeingly impossible crime.

Shaw is the youngest DI on the police force. His partner is also his deceased father's ex-partner, Detective Sergeant George Valentine, who had been demoted years earlier for misconduct. It is unclear to this day whether Shaw's father was involved. During a blizzard, Shaw and Valentine are sent to investigate a dead body found drifting on a rubber raft. A half-mile away, six cars are stranded on a narrow road, help up by a fallen tree. A man in the first vehicle, a truck, is also dead, apparently murdered. But there are no footprints leading to or from the truck. And witnesses in the other vehicles claim he was alive earlier. Is it possible the two deaths are connected? Soon after Shaw and Valentine start asking questions, more potential witnesses (or are they suspects) begin to die.

If the impossible crime investigation of Death Wore White wasn't sufficient to capture the reader's imagination, the narrative shifts gears when Shaw quizzes Valentine about the case 12 years earlier that caused so much trouble for the Detective Sergeant and Shaw's father. A young boy had been killed. Proof was found to indict the killer but somehow it appeared as if Valentine, or Shaw's father, had planted the evidence though everyone involved at the time denied it. Shaw wants to know the truth. He convinces his superiors to reopen the case. But somehow, some way, this cold case is related to their current murder investigation. The question is, how?

Death Wore White is a brilliantly constructed mystery, decidedly atmospheric with a setting of icy waters, snow-covered roads, dilapidated waterfront buildings, and an approaching blizzard. The novel is a series of cliffhangers, but of the sort that intensifies the reader's emotions, not frustrates it. This is a suspenseful thriller at its best, one not to be missed.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Death Wore White and to St. Martin's Minotaur for providing a copy of the book for this review.

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

Buy from Amazon.com

If you are interested in purchasing Death Wore White from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right.

Synopsis (from the publisher): At 5.15 p.m. Harvey Ellis was trapped – stranded in a line of eight cars by a blizzard on a Norfolk coast road. At 8.15 p.m. Harvey Ellis was dead – viciously stabbed at the wheel of his truck. And his killer has achieved the impossible: striking without being seen, and without leaving a single footprint in the snow ...

For DI Peter Shaw and DS George Valentine it’s only the start of an infuriating investigation. The crime scene is melting, the murderer has vanished, the witnesses are dropping like flies. And the body count is on the rise ...

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Mystery Book Review: Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson

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

Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson

by
The 39 Clues

Scholastic (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-545-06044-3 (0545060443)
ISBN-13: 978-0-545-06044-8 (9780545060448)
Publication Date: June 2009
List Price: $12.99

Review: Witty, suspenseful, perilous—three words that merely begin to describe the newest book in The 39 Clues series. Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson is the 4th installment in The 39 Clues series. Each of these books is written by a different author, and each has succeeded in drawing in its readers. But Beyond the Grave is the best one yet. Series characters Amy and Dan have returned for a trip to Egypt.

After narrowly escaping Hideyoshi's hiding place back in Korea in The Sword Thief, the Cahill kids, Amy and Dan, and their au pair Nellie, travel to Egypt in Beyond the Grave in search for their next clue to uncovering the secret to the Cahill family. Although the heat becomes unbearable, and the hustle and bustle of Cairo is very nerve-wracking for the kids, the natural kindness of the Egyptian people soon calm their nerves—but only for the time being. Nothing could prepare them for the hardships that would occur during their trip. Amy and Dan must face broken hearts, clues from the past, and remnants of Grace Cahill, their deceased grandmother. Engrossed in one of the most fascinating civilizations of ancient time, Amy and Dan struggle physically, mentally, and emotionally in their quest.

The title for this book is very appropriate due to the great Egyptian belief of life "beyond the grave". Also the most crucial help that they receive comes from beyond the grave. This book is extraordinary for anyone in late elementary and middle school. Nellie's crazy antics will bring comedy such that reading it without laughing or smiling will be impossible. The book is also loaded with non-stop action and adventure to keep readers on the edge of their seats as they follow the children around in their quest to solve the mysteries of their family and to ultimately win the hunt. Watson's writing style thoroughly engages the reader so much so that it can almost be read in one sitting. Along with the book comes the next set of clues for the online game adventure. The game is an exciting interactive quest to solve The 39 Clues. Together with the in book clues, there are also clue packs for sets of books. These cards are then used to solve puzzles and other games with an ultimate goal to win a monetary prize.

In the end, I would give this book a 4 Star rating. The content of the book is very rich and it is exceedingly suspenseful. Though it isn't a hardcore mystery, it still would qualify as a great action adventure mystery novel. One of the draws to this series is that each book is written by a different author, which brings in the appeal of a series, but also the style of a stand-alone book. The internet game, though seemingly somewhat more difficult than the reading level of the books, is equally enticing. I will look forward to August when Book 5: The Black Circle is released.

Special thanks to Alex Nauert for contributing his review of Beyond the Grave and to Scholastic for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Alex Nauert — All Rights Reserved — Reprinted with Permission

Buy from Amazon.com

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

Synopsis (from the publisher): A clue found in Book 3 sends Amy and Dan jetting off to find out just what's behind the fierce rivalry between the Tomas and Ekaterina branches of the Cahill family. Was a Clue stolen from the Tomas branch? Where is it now? And most important, can Amy and Dan get their hands on it before their rivals do?

It's a wild race that will take Amy and Dan deep into the bowels of the earth … and right into the hands of the enemy.

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Mysteries on TV: Blue Murder, 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 a series that has a season DVD being released this week.

In the squad room, the cops on the Manchester murder investigation unit call Janine Lewis "boss". At home, the kids simply call her "mum". In both places, she manages to keep everybody in line but just barely with a firm yet affectionate hand. Award-winning actress Caroline Quentin brings astonishing dramatic depth to her role as a chief detective and single mom trying to balance the demands of career and family in . Ian Kelsey (Casualty) costars as Janine s fiercely loyal second in command and erstwhile romantic interest.

The Blue Murder: Set Four DVD set of six episodes sees Janine tackle some of her most baffling cases yet: the murders of an illegal Belarusian émigré, a suburban cheerleading coach, a rock star about to break into the big time, and more. In Blue Murder's signature style, heart-tugging domestic drama and good-natured workplace ribbing leaven each suspenseful, grimly realistic mystery.

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

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Mystery Godoku Puzzle for June 29, 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 June 29, 2009

This week's letters and mystery clue:

A B C I M N R S T

The Sherlock Holmes pastiche The Professor and the Valley of Fear was written by this author (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, June 28, 2009

Mystery Book Review: The Lord of Death by Eliot Pattison

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

The Lord of Death by Eliot Pattison

by
A Shan Tao Yun Mystery

Soho Crime (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-56947-579-2 (1569475792)
ISBN-13: 978-1-56947-579-9 (9781569475799)
Publication Date: June 2009
List Price: $24.00

Review: Shan Tao Yun tries to solve the murder of a woman who died in his arms, a woman Chinese officials claim could not have died because she was never there in the first place, in The Lord of Death, the 6th mystery in this series by Eliot Pattison.

The woman was an American, an expert climber and one who arranged tours to the Himalayas from China as opposed to from Nepal, which in turn brought in hard cash to the Chinese government overseeing, some might say occupying, the region. She had been shot in the company of a high-ranking Chinese minister, who was also killed in the same manner, when Shan comes across their car. Coincidentally, a bus carrying Tibetan monks overturns nearby. Realizing he cannot help the woman, but can aid the monks, Shan leaves the scene of the crime. He later learns his old prison commander, Colonel Tan, has been arrested for the murder of the Chinese minister but not the American woman, who officials say is off climbing somewhere. Shan is loathe to help is old enemy, but realizes Tan may be in a position to help him. Shan's only son, Ko, is in a mental hospital, about to be the subject of an "experiment" to cure him. If Shan can prove Tan did not kill the minister, Tan could arrange for the transfer of Ko into his custody. Ko wouldn't be free, but he would still be alive.

Pattison takes a fairly simple plot outline and develops the most extraordinary story around it, one that captures the reader's imagination. He's a master not only with words but with imagery. When everyone Shan meets says the American woman is alive, even those without an obvious political agenda, his frustration is apparent. "Most people were scared of ghosts because they were dead but Shan was becoming scared of this one because she would not stay dead." A former investigator for the government himself, Shan knows that Beijing will seek the truth, and act upon it, even if it doesn't become the official version of what happened. This is illustrative of some of the subtle modern politics involved in the story, which are juxtapositioned against the ancient ways and beliefs of the native Tibetans.

A subplot in The Lord of Death involving another American, a supplier of climbing equipment for foreign expeditions in Tibet, is based, according to an author's note, on a true World War II era mission by the United States to train native Tibetans in resisting the Chinese. It is expertly weaved into Shan's murder investigation and adds another layer of depth and intrigue to this outstanding mystery, one of the year's best.

Special thanks to Soho Press for providing a copy of The Lord of Death for this review.

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

Buy from Amazon.com

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

Synopsis (from the publisher): Shan Tao Yun is an exiled Chinese national and a former Beijing investigator on parole from the Tibetan gulag to which he had been consigned as punishment. He is ferrying a corpse on muleback over the slopes of Chomolungma—Everest—at the request of a local wisewoman who says the gods have appointed this task to him, when he encounters what looks like a traffic accident. A government bus filled with imprisoned illegal monks has overturned. Then Shan hears gunfire. Two women in an approaching sedan have been killed. One is the Chinese minister of tourism; the other, a blond Westerner, organizes climbing expeditions. Though she dies in his arms, Shan is later met with denials that this foreigner is dead.

Shan must find the murderer, for his recompense will be the life and sanity of his son, Ko, imprisoned in a Chinese “yeti factory” where men are routinely driven mad.

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Mystery Book Review: The Dead Husband by R. J. Brown

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

The Dead Husband by R. J. Brown

by
A Sally Collier Mystery

Big River Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-9798744-7-5 (0979874475)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9798744-7-5 (9780979874475)
Publication Date: April 2009
List Price: $14.95

Review: Charwoman Sally Collier discovers a whole new meaning to the phrase "cleaning up" when she discovers the body of her employer in The Dead Husband, the light-hearted debut mystery by R. J. Brown.

Sally owns her own company, Sal's Gals, a home cleaning service in Port Townsend, Washington. One of her clients, Renee and Mel Birnbaum, own a magnificent estate overlooking the bay. She's known the family for years and is shocked when she finds the body of Mel in the garden. Naturally considered a person of interest in the case, she's asked by her beau George Tullock, the Chief of Detectives for Jefferson County, to recall everything she can leading up to her discovery of the body.

At this point, The Dead Husband takes a look back at Sally's life, from her emigration from the UK to Chicago where she married and had two children, to her subsequent move to the west coast where she originally met the Birnbaums and, much later, her arrival in Washington where she sets up her business.

The point of this journey through time is to set up Sally as someone who pays attention to details, who "sees" things others might overlook. (It may also be setting up plotlines of future books in the series.) George knows Sally has this ability and uses her talent to point out what was different about the house from her previous visit, allowing the investigation into Mel's death to be steered in the right direction.

The Dead Husband is really all about Sally, who is so well-developed as a character that she can carry the story. In a word, she's delightful. She's the type of person one would want as a friend, a self-confident woman who knows how to balance what she wants in, and from, life and what she needs. She treats everyone with respect and care, and seems almost too good to be true. Which, of course, makes her the perfect suspect for a murder!

It will be interesting to see where the author takes the series from here, but as a first book, The Dead Husband is quite entertaining.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of The Dead Husband and to R. J. Brown for providing a copy of the book for this review.

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

Buy from Amazon.com

If you are interested in purchasing The Dead Husband from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right.

Synopsis (from the publisher): Cleaning up dead husbands is not in Sally Collier's job description so when she finds one half-buried at the bottom of his garden, her Monday morning schedule gets seriously derailed.

Sally has history with Melvin Birnbaum, the owner of the multi-million dollar home overlooking Discovery Bay on the Olympic Peninsula and after her beau, Jefferson County Chief of Detectives George Tullock warns she'll have to do a Sally Sees: remember what she saw on her arrival, her day turns into a walk down memory lane.

From a post-World War II London childhood to being a secretary and emigrating to Chicago; from years as an eager-beaver office girl to single motherhood; from heading west to the Bay Area where she met Mel, his wife Renee, their daughter, Claire and their dog, Borscht, to working in a doctor's practice in picturesque Port Townsend. Now she's a charwoman with her own company of highly qualified women, Sal's Gals, has made a good life for herself and found a good man to love.

As this feisty char's work week unfolds she's harassed by the widow Renee and her employer, the Seattle entrepreneur Alan Hatton, takes Mel's dog and the grieving daughter under her wing, shows the case detectives, Smith and Westin, a thing or two and is summoned to the reading of the deceased's will.

From her unique perspective as an immigrant and a business woman Sally isn't shy about why she loves the houses she cleans, her stories, her romance and telling how the mystery of The Dead Husband unravels.

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Mysteries on DVD Review: Narrow Margin

Mysteries on DVD: Mystery Books that have been Adapted into Screenplays and Made into Movies

We're still in the process of setting up a new website with reviews of mystery TV shows and movies which may (or may not) have a separate blog. In the meantime, we'll continue to post our television and film reviews here on and advise you of when the new site is up.

Film: Narrow Margin. Original release date: 09/21/1990; DVD release date: 03/03/2009.

Narrow Margin

Robert Caulfield (Gene Hackman), Carol Hunnicut (Anne Archer), Nelson (James B. Sikking), Michael Tarlow (J. T. Walsh), Dominick Benti (M. Emmet Walsh), Kathryn Weller (Susan Hogan), Jack Wootton (Nigel Bennett), Martin Larner (J. A. Preston), Harris Yulin (Leo Watts). Directed by Peter Hyams. Screenplay adapted from an earlier film The Narrow Margin (1952), which itself was adapted from an unpublished short story by Martin Goldsmith and Jack Leonard.

In my on-going quest to watch every film starring Gene Hackman, I unearthed Narrow Margin, made in 1990 and recently re-released on DVD. The movie also stars Anne Archer, another fine actor who rarely disappoints. Narrow Margin is a remake of a 1952 film, The Narrow Margin, which I have not seen but is widely considered to be one of the classic, if relatively minor, examples of film noir of the decade. The Narrow Margin was adapted by Martin Goldsmith and Jack Leonard from their unpublished short story of the same name and their screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award in 1953.

Narrow Margin

Gene Hackman plays Los Angeles Assistant District Attorney Robert Caulfield who learns there is a witness to a murder in which mob boss Leo Watts was present, a rare opportunity to take Watts down and put him away. The witness, Carol Hunnicut (Anne Archer), has fled the country to her brother's remote cabin in Canada. Caulfield intends to bring her back to Los Angeles to testify.

He locates Carol but they come immediately under fire from above; a helicopter has tracked Caulfield to the cabin and is shooting at them. They manage to escape in her truck to a nearby train depot where they buy tickets to Vancouver, the nearest major city. Arrival isn't until the next morning, but they think they can make it ... until Caulfield spots two men also boarding the train, identifying both as hit men. They recognize him as well, but since he's alone at the time, Carol already on board, they don't know what she looks like.

Narrow Margin

As the train heads westward overnight, it becomes a cat-and-mouse game for Caulfield, keeping Carol hidden from the two men on board the train out to kill her and coming up with a way of getting them both off the train alive.

There are no surprises in Narrow Margin, virtually every frame is utterly predictable, right down to who the good guys are and who are not. But in some ways, no, make that many ways, that's the great appeal here; it doesn't deviate from the standard thriller formula by adding unnecessary subplots or ridiculous romantic interludes or irrelevant action sequences. Rather, it focuses on engaging the viewer, drawing them in with terrific performances, a taut script, and crisp direction.

Narrow Margin

For the most part, the film is beautifully shot. Not unexpectedly, the tight confinement on board the train adds to the sense of claustrophobia experienced by both Caulfield and Carol. The external scenes contribute to this, the remoteness of the area through which the train is traveling, though vast, conveying a sense of isolation. A minor quibble: the producers cut costs with some external scenes of the train by using obvious scale models; one wonders how much they actually saved versus how poor they look in the film.

The movie ends with a short scene that, quite appropriately, features Hackman's trademark smirk.

Narrow Margin (DVD cover)
Buy Narrow Margin on DVD
Netflix, Inc.

I greatly enjoyed Narrow Margin. I especially like the fact that it remained focused on its primary storyline, was suspenseful in a Hitchcockian sort of way, and featured uniformly credible performances, in particular that of Gene Hackman, who continues to impress.

Narrow Margin runs 99 minutes and is rated R presumably for some language; the murder scenes are rather tame by today's standards and there is minimal violence.

The DVD of Narrow Margin is available to purchase as is the original 1952 film, The Narrow Margin. Both films are also available to rent from Netflix: Narrow Margin (1990) and The Narrow Margin (1952).

Reviewed on 06/28/2009 by Mr. E., television and movie critic for Mystery Books News.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Omnimystery — All Rights Reserved.

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Games of Mystery: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, New on June 30th

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, and getaway vacations including murder mystery weekends, is pleased to announce the availability of a new Harry Potter mystery game being released on multiple platforms this week.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Voldemort is tightening his grip on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was. Harry suspects that dangers may even lie within the castle, but Dumbledore is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching. Together they work to find the key to unlock Voldemort's defenses and, to this end, Dumbledore recruits his old friend and colleague, the well-connected and unsuspecting bon vivant Professor Horace Slughorn, whom he believes holds crucial information.

Meanwhile, the students are under attack from a very different adversary as teenage hormones rage across the ramparts. Harry finds himself more and more drawn to Ginny, but so is Dean Thomas. And Lavender Brown has decided that Ron is the one for her, only she hadn't counted on Romilda Vane's chocolates! And then there's Hermione, simmering with jealously but determined not to show her feelings. As romance blossoms, one student remains aloof. He is determined to make his mark, albeit a dark one. Love is in the air, but tragedy lies ahead and Hogwarts may never be the same again.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is currently scheduled for release on June 30th, 2009, on the following platforms: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Nintendo DS); Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Nintendo Wii); Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Windows PC); Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Xbox 360);Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (PlayStation 2); Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (PlayStation 3); Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Sony PSP).

View the trailer below:

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

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

First Clues, Mysteries for Kids: Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys Titles for July 2009

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

is your source for information on over 100 mystery series for children and young adults where each series is conveniently listed under four different age categories (New Sleuths, ages 4 to 6; Future Sleuths, ages 7 to 9; Sleuths in Training, ages 10 to 12, and Apprentice Sleuths, ages 13 and older), is pleased to announce Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys books that are scheduled for release during July, 2009.

Double Take (a Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew Mystery)

Double Take by Carolyn Keene
(21st)

Uh-oh, the Clue Crew has competition! When a classmate's prized possession goes missing, Nancy and her friends know that this is a perfect case for the Clue Crew -- until snobby classmate Deirdre Shannon steps in with her rival sleuthing club, the Klue Krew. Nancy, George, and Bess agree to go head-to-head with Deirdre and her friends to see who can find the missing jacket first. The winner gets to be the only detective club at River Heights Elementary. Can Nancy solve the case first and keep the Clue Crew from going under?

Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew mysteries are recommended for readers aged 7 to 9.

City Under the Basement (a Nancy Drew Graphic Novel)

City Under the Basement by various
(18th)

Nancy and her father Carson find themselves in an ancient city long buried below a luxurious estate, the sale of which has brought them to Turkey. Thieves led by a mysterious rich man named Harold Severino search frantically for a priceless artifact somewhere in the city as Nancy and her father are taken prisoner. Severino, who previously attempted to purchase the estate with suspicious motives, has been led to the archeological treasure by none other than Professor David Sever, the crooked archeologist from Nancy Drew: Writ in Stone. It’s up to Nancy to halt the plundering of this living museum and somehow make it out in one piece!

Nancy Drew, Girl Detective Graphic Novels are recommended for readers aged 10 and older.

X-Plosion by Franklin W. Dixon

X-Plosion by Franklin W. Dixon


The second book in the Galaxy X trilogy.

The Mission: It's the grand opening of Galaxy X and pro-skater and ultra-cool guy, Cody Zane is there for the big day. But Frank and Joe Hardy are hot on his trail to try and find out who wants to end his career just as it's about to explode …

The Hardy Boys, Undercover Brothers mysteries are recommended for readers aged 10 and older.

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Games of Mystery: Margrave Manor 2, The Lost Ship, 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.

Margrave Manor 2: The Lost Ship

Help Edwina Margrave find her grandfather's hidden treasure in Margrave Manor 2: The Lost Ship, an exciting hidden object adventure game and a sequel to The Secret of Margrave Manor! Edwin Margrave was a famed treasure hunter, whose ship disappeared mysteriously over a decade ago. Now, the ship has reappeared and it’s up to Edwina to figure out what happened. Learn about the legendary treasure and follow the clues to discover the secret of Margrave Manor 2: The Lost Ship!

Also available: Margrave Manor 2: The Lost Ship Game Walkthrough.

Margrave Manor 2: The Lost Ship, a Big Fish Game Club World Premiere Exclusive, may be downloaded and purchased for $6.99 with a Big Fish Game Club membership. A demonstration version (75.76 MB) may be downloaded and played for free for one hour.

Watch a preview video below:

gcads_80x80

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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Games of Mystery: Pahelika Secret Legends, 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.

Pahelika: Secret Legends

Go on an immersive adventure in Pahelika: Secret Legends. There is an ancient secret so powerful, it was buried deep beneath a maze of puzzles and pitfalls to prevent anyone from ever laying a hand on it. Then one man discovered the existence of the secret. In doing so, his life changed forever. He resolved to seek the secret. Find out if the legends are true!

Pahelika: Secret Legends is available to purchase for $9.95 with the PlayPass program. A trial version is available to download for 60 minutes of play (Windows PC, 74.5 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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Friday, June 26, 2009

January Magazine Interviews Mystery Author Clea Simon

Probable Claws by Clea Simon

January Magazine today published an author snapshot of, and interview with, Clea Simon, who writes the Theda Krakow mysteries of which the most recent, Probable Claws, the fourth in the series, was published in April by Poisoned Pen Press. Theda's cat, Musetta, frequently plays a prominent role in her books.

In the article, Simon says that despite the punny titles and the strong cat connections, the cats in her books don’t talk. In fact, she has referred to the books featuring Theda and Musetta as “kitty noir,” something she says with a smile but is only half-joking about.

Simon also talks about her new series, the first book of which, Shades of Grey, is scheduled for publication in September by Severn House. She says it is "slightly paranormal", but doesn't go on to explain what exactly that means!

We've had the pleasure of reviewing two of Simon's mysteries, Cries and Whiskers and Probable Claws, both of which can be found on Mysterious Reviews.

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Mystery Book Review: Voodoo Laws by Jim Michael Hansen

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Voodoo Laws by Jim Michael Hansen. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Voodoo Laws by Jim Michael Hansen

by
A Bryson Coventry Mystery

Dark Sky (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-9769243-7-4 (0976924374)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9769243-7-1 (9780976924371)
Publication Date: March 2009
List Price: $13.95

Review: A relatively routine homicide investigation Denver homicide detective Bryson Coventry quickly escalates into a complex web of crime that may also include elements of the black arts in Voodoo Laws, the seventh mystery in this series by Jim Michael Hansen.

The dead man is an attorney with a law firm familiar to Coventry; a year ago an employee with the firm was found dead, a screwdriver thrust through her eye. But the connection between the two is even stronger to Coventry; in the dead attorney's home he finds a doll with a needle stuck through its eye. Separately, an attack on two women, one of whom was killed, the other kidnapped, also attracts Coventry's attention. As he investigates the murder of the attorney, he discovers links to the kidnapped woman and he knows that the longer she remains missing, the lower the chances he has of finding her alive.

Voodoo Laws alternates between three points of view: Coventry's, Mackenzie Lee (a practicing attorney, who is also trying to become a full-time mystery writer), and Dalton Wrey (a marketing executive, who does contract murder on the side). Eventually it is revealed that the common thread between each of their stories is the law firm of the dead attorney. And though the author is known for his carefully constructed, intricate plots, in Voodoo Laws the storyline is overly elaborate, complicated to the point of being nearly incomprehensible. Coventry actually has very little to do, being rather obsessed with the new woman in his life; his story arc is the least interesting of the three. Some of the events that take place seem unusual, random even, but are eventually explained. But that's part of the problem here; it's not possible for the reader, or even any of the main characters, to figure out why they're happening; secondary, minor characters have to, in the end, explain what went on and why.

The characters themselves are well-developed and interesting, but all share a most annoying trait: they chuckle. All the time, and at the most inappropriate times. Every 3-4 pages someone chuckles. Not laughs, or giggles, or snickers. Chuckles. Occasionally someone grins, but almost always just before or after they chuckle. There's something quite incongruous, for example, when two killers are having a discussion about their next victim and one chuckles. And unlike "said" or "asked", which are often easily overlooked by readers, "chuckled" is a verb that is hard to ignore. Especially when it's most often used in a two word paragraph. "Coventry chuckled." "Mackenzie chuckled." "The pirate chuckled."

Though Voodoo Laws isn't Hansen's best novel in the series, it still has quite a lot going for it. There's very little extraneous narrative or dialogue to weigh it down, the characters frequently do unexpected things that keep the reader's attention and interest, and the plot, though unnecessarily complex, is still gripping and absorbing. This is a fine series and one worth checking out.

Special thanks to Jim Michael Hansen for providing a copy of Voodoo Laws for this review.

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

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

Synopsis (from the publisher): Denver homicide detective Bryson Coventry is thrust into his most haunting and eerie case yet in Jim Michael Hansen's stunning new thriller, Voodoo Laws. As Coventry frantically searches for a missing woman and finds himself pulled deeper and deeper into an edgy world of voodooism and death curses, beautiful young attorney Mackenzie Lee takes on a terrifying case--a case born of shadowy origins; a case prone to shift with the night; a case that is destined to sweep everyone who touches it into the spiraling vortex of a deadly thriller.

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Hostile Makeover, Based on the Crime of Fashion Mysteries by Ellen Byerrum, Airs This Sunday on LMN

Hostile Makeover by Ellen Byerrum

This Sunday, June 28st, at 8 PM ET/9 PM PT, Lifetime Movie Network airs Hostile Makeover, the second of two made-for-television movies based on the Crime of Fashion mysteries by Ellen Byerrum. (The first, Killer Hair, aired last weekend and can be seen in its entirety on MyLifetime.com.)

Makeovers can be real murder. Fearless Washington D.C. fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian (played by Maggie Lawson) sashays right back into trouble when her interview with reality TV makeover star turned fashion designer Amanda Manville reveals Amanda's been receiving death threats. When the uber diva, whose bratty behavior and tendency to take credit for her sister Zoe's designs have ruffled more than a few feathers, is gunned down at her own runway show, Lacey jumps in to investigate, one fashion clue at a time. But the one thing that can knock Lacey off her stilettos is the sudden appearance of her mother and sister who are convinced Lacey should move home to Colorado. Not only does Mom think DC is too dangerous, she doesn't like that the vintage-loving Lacey has recycled the man who broke her heart the first time, gorgeous cop Vic Donovan. With her best friends, Stella, a punky hairstylist, and Brooke, an upper crust Georgetown lawyer, and her mother and little sister in tow, Lacey foils the murderer and solves the fashion felonies, all while meeting the deadline for her column. Hostile Makeover is a funny, fashionable, and fabulous murder mystery set against our nation's capital. (MBN note: Hostile Makeover is the third title in the Crime of Fashion mystery series.)

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First Clues, Mysteries for Kids: New Titles for July 2009

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

, your source for information on over 100 mystery series for children and young adults where each series is conveniently listed under four different age categories (New Sleuths, ages 4 to 6; Future Sleuths, ages 7 to 9; Sleuths in Training, ages 10 to 12, and Apprentice Sleuths, ages 13 and older), is pleased to announce a selection of new mystery books (including series books) scheduled for publication during July, 2009.

Young Cam Jansen and the 100th Day of School Mystery by David A. Adler

Young Cam Jansen and the 100th Day of School Mystery
by David A. Adler


It's the 100th day of school and Cam and her classmates are celebrating. They are supposed to have pretzels, popcorn, pineapple juice, and pizza at their party--but someone has pilfered the pizza! Will Cam find the pizzas before the thief eats them? The 15th book in this series.

The Young Cam Jansen Mysteries are recommended for readers aged 4 to 6. For older readers, please also see also by David A. Adler.

Ace Lacewing, Bug Detective: Bad Bugs Are My Business by David Biedrzycki

Ace Lacewing, Bug Detective: Bad Bugs Are My Business
by David Biedrzycki


When Scratch Murphy's flea bag full of dough goes missing, Ace Lacwing is on the case. With friends Xerces and Zito at his side, Ace searches Six Legs Park for clues. From the Termite Tower of Terror to Queenie Bee's Hive Rise Honey Stand, the place is crawling with suspects. This 2nd book in the series is a hilarious, witty tribute to the classic detective story.

The Ace Lacewing, Bug Detective Series are recommended for readers aged 4 to 6.

The Man from Pomegranate Street by Caroline Lawrence

The Man from Pomegranate Street
by Caroline Lawrence


September AD 81. Returning from Ephesus to Rome, Flavia and her friends learn of the mysterious and sudden death of the Emperor Titus. Was his death natural? Or was it murder? As the four detectives investigate this mystery, they little dream how much their lives—as well as the future of Italia—will be changed as a result. At last, many of the questions Roman Mysteries fans have been burning to have answered are revealed in this 17th, and final, book of the series.

The Roman Mysteries are recommended for readers aged 13 and older.

And Then Everything Unraveled by Jennifer Sturman

And Then Everything Unraveled
by Jennifer Sturman


Delia Truesdale has no idea her life's about to change forever. She's too busy enjoying the California summer. Her internet tycoon mother, T.K. Truesdale, is out of town, and that means Delia can spend all her time at the beach, surfing. That is, until everything unravels. Her mother suddenly goes missing, and everyone thinks she's dead - excpet Delia, who knows T.K.'s way too organized to simply disappear. But Delia's still sent to New York to live with her two aunts -- a downtown bohemian and an uptown ice queen. And in case that's not bad enough, she also has to deal with a snooty new school and trying not to fall for the wrong guy. Oh, and finding her mother. As she delves deeper into the tangle of conspiracies and lies surrounding T.K.'s disappearance, Delia begins to suspect that the wrong guy may be the right guy ... and that some secrets -- especially the dangerous ones - were never meant to be unraveled. Read our review of And Then Everything Unraveled by Jennifer Sturman at Mysterious Reviews.

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Games of Mystery: CLUE Accusations and Alibis, 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.

CLUE: Accusations and Alibis

Use your powers of perception and ace detective skills to solve a riveting mystery in CLUE: Accusations and Alibis, an original new hidden object game inspired by everyone's favorite board game. Featuring fashionable updates to your favorite CLUE characters, addictive hidden object gameplay, an all-new mansion to search, and more than 400 unique cases to solve, you'll want to return to the scene of the crime again and again. Accept your invitation to murder today!

CLUE: Accusations and Alibis is available to purchase for $9.95 with the PlayPass program. A trial version is available to download for 60 minutes of play (Windows PC, 72.9 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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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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