The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books recently updated its list of October 2011 hardcover mysteries as well as shelved new October paperbacks on The Mystery Bookshelf.
In this series of monthly posts, which we call Firsts on the 1st, we're introducing readers to new series characters who will make their mysterious American debut in print during October. (Purchase options include Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble, and the iTunes iBookstore, which are indicated by icons under the cover image.)
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Title: Twelve Drummers Drumming
Author: C. C. Benison
Series Character: Father Tom Christmas
What we know about the character: Father Tom Christmas is the vicar of a small English village.
His first case: Thornford Regis has never been lovelier: larks on the wing, lilacs in bloom, and the May Fayre in full swing. But inside the empty village hall, the huge Japanese o-daiko drum that’s featured in the festivities has been viciously sliced open — and curled up inside is the bludgeoned body of Sybella Parry, the beautiful nineteen-year-old daughter of the choir director.
That she was too young to die, everyone agrees. But did Sybella’s apparent affinity for Goth and the black arts, and her rumored drug use, attract a shady element that led to her distressing demise?
Father Tom Christmas, still haunted by the tragedy that has left him a widower and his nine-year-old daughter motherless, soon realizes that this idyllic village is not the refuge he’d hoped for. He also comes to a disturbing conclusion: Sybella’s killer must be one of his parishioners. No one is above suspicion — not Sebastian John, Father Tom’s deeply reserved verger, nor Mitsuko Drewe, a local artist, nor irritable Colonel Northmore, survivor of a World War II prison camp. One by one, infidelity, theft, and intrigue are exposed. And over all, like an approaching storm, hangs the long-unsolved mystery of a sudden disappearance, one that brought Father Tom to a picture-perfect place to live — or die.
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Title: Shoe Done It
Author: Grace Carroll
Series Character: Rita Jewel (1st)
Format: Mass Market Paperback
What we know about the character: Rita Jewel sells fabulous clothes and accessories to socialites in San Francisco.
Her first case: Rita, diva extraordinaire, was born to accessorize, and working for Dolce Loren in her San Francisco boutique is the perfect job for a girl obsessed with fashion. But when a pair of jewel-encrusted shoes go missing and a regular customer is murdered, it's up to Rita to solve this crime of fashion before her boss is taken away in bracelets that aren't so fashionable.
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Title: Secret Combinations
Author: Gordon Cope
Series Character: Jack Kenyon
What we know about the character: Jack Kenyon is an expert at cyber warfare.
His first case: Jack studies hackers and secret government agencies that leverage weak spots in the Internet to cause carnage to their enemies. Assigned to uncover an industrial spy ring trying to steal Cyberworm, a US secret code, Jack is sure the murder of a double agent is linked to his investigation. But the sudden passing of his aunt Lydia in London complicates his plans. As the named executor of her estate, Jack flies to England, only to discover evidence that Lydia's death may have been connected to a terrorist plot to unleash a devastating computer virus.
As his professional life collides with his personal, Jack cant help but wonder about the odds of such a coincidence. Jack must solve Lydias murder and catch the conspirators intent on wreaking international havoc — before the truth about his family catches up with him.
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Title: London Calling
Author: James Craig
Series Character: John Carlyle
What we know about the character: John Carlyle is a police inspector in London.
His first case: In the middle of a General Election, someone is targeting former members of the ultra-exclusive Merrion Club, youthful hedonists addicted to excess transformed into pillars of the political establishment. Next in the killer's sights is charismatic, ruthless Edgar Carlton, the man poised to be the next Prime Minister. But, with power almost in his grasp, Edgar will not stand idly by while his birthright is threatened.
When Carlyle finds a body in a luxury London hotel room he begins a journey thorugh the murky world of the British ruling classes which leads all the way to the top. Operating in a world where right and wrong don't exist and the pursuit of power is everything, Carlyle has to find the killer before Carlton's people take the matter into their own hands.
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Title: Mind Over Monsters
Author: Jennifer Harlow
Series Character: The F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad (1st)
Format: Trade Paperback
What we know about the characters: The F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad — the Federal Response to Extra-Sensory and Kindred Supernaturals — is a top-secret branch of the FBI that combats ghosts, ghouls, and other monsters threatening humanity.
Their first case: Beatrice Alexander is no ordinary schoolteacher — she can move objects with her mind, an embarrassing skill she hasn’t yet mastered or embraced. After nearly killing her brother by accident, she joins the F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad.
With her teammates — among them a handsome former-detective werewolf and an annoying Don Juan vampire who’s dead-set on seducing her — Beatrice investigates her first case. Disgustingly dismembered bodies have turned up, bearing bite marks of the undead. Someone — or something — is raising a horde of hideous, bloodthirsty zombies. Armed with Bette, her trusty machete, Beatrice takes on the master of the flesh-devouring corpses, who’s guarding a horrifying secret …
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Title: Liver Let Die
Author: Liz Lipperman
Series Character: Jordan McAllister (1st)
Format: Mass Market Paperback
What we know about the character: Jordan McAllister is a food critic for a local newspaper.
Her first case: Jordan dreams of becoming a popular sports columnist but gets stuck in a podunk town writing personal ads for a small time newspaper. When she's offered a chance to fill in for a local food critic off on sick leave, she jumps at the chance rationalizing that it's one step closer to her dream. However, when a dead body is found underneath her apartment stairwell with her name and number along with it, she becomes the prime suspect, as well as the main course on the murder menu.
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Title: The Blond Leading the Blond
Author: Jayne Ormerod
Series Character: Ellery Tindsdale and Samantha Greene
What we know about the characters: Ellery Tindsdale is a not-so-gracefully-aging school teacher and Samantha Greene is her high-energy, haute-couture neighbor.
Their first case: Ellery's father never talked about his childhood, never once mentioned what happened to his family, and never ever gave any indication there existed a lakefront resort in central Ohio founded by her ancestors. Curious upon receiving notice of the death of an aunt she hadn’t known existed, Ellery travels to Braddocks Beach in hopes of learning a bit about her heritage. What she finds is she is to inherit the family house, the family jewels, the family real estate holdings, the family bank accounts, and, much to her dismay, the family role of Queen Bee. Ellery also finds herself accused Aunt Izzy’s murder.
Samantha is the lifelong friend and neighbor of Isabel Tinsdale, as well as being the self-appointed purveyor of Braddocks Beach history. The recent discovery of a surviving member of Braddocks Beach’s “royal family” sets the town abuzz with anticipation of Ellery’s arrival. But Sam soon learns that Ellery is the only person to ever flunk out of Madame Rowena’s School of Etiquette, and has much to learn about making appearances, leading charity drives, heading up committees, setting fashion trends and such. But first and foremost is the business of clearing the Tindsale name of murder.
What do a third-grade science teacher and a small-town socialite know about tracking killers? It’s what they don’t know that may hurt them.
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Title: Cover Her Body
Author: Eleanor Sullivan
Series Character: Singular Village (1st)
Format: Trade Paperback
What we know about the characters: Adelaide and Benjamin, a midwife and her cabinet-maker husband, live in the Northern Ohio "singular village" of Zoar.
Their first case: In a strict, religious society in 1830s rural Ohio, a 16-year-old girl is murdered because she's pregnant, but the only person who suspects it wasn't an accident is Adelaide, who worries that the remedy she gave the girl for a "woman's ailment" caused her death. Benjamin, fearful that they'll be banned from the prosperous community, forbids her from questioning the girl's death. But a mistake she made years ago cost the life of a mother and her unborn babe, and Adelaide vowed to never let another mother die.
Pressure mounts when Adelaide is accused of harming the girl, but the allegation only fuels her determination to find the killer, even though she begins to suspect that her husband might be involved in the girl's death. And the more she investigates, not only does she start to question her own faith and beliefs, but she finds herself attracted to an unlikely man in the community, a man who has vowed to remain celibate. Then her questions alert the outside authorities, and now this isolated community is invaded by the very society they had shunned.
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Title: Stolen Hearts
Author: Jane Tesh
Series Character: David Randall
What we know about the character: David Randall is a private investigator.
His first case: Randall used to be a lively, carefree fellow with a talent for finding things. But his perfect family life was derailed when he lost his little daughter Lindsey in a car crash.
Thrown out by his second wife and wanting to leave a dead-end detective agency to start his own, he reluctantly accepts his psychic friend Camden’s invitation to stay in his boarding house. Here he meets Kary Ingram; Ellin Belton, Camden’s intensely ambitious girlfriend; and an ever-changing assortment of Camden’s tenants, all searching for a home and family.
When his client Melanie Gentry hires him to prove her great-grandmother was murdered by her lover, John Burrows Ashford, over authorship of “Patchwork Melodies,” Randall sets out to find a connection between this and the murder of Alfred Bennet as well as the murder of a Smithsonian director preparing a new PBS documentary on early American music.
Things become complicated when Ashford’s spirit parks himself in Cam and refuses to leave until Randall proves Ashford’s innocence.
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For a list of more hardcover mysteries scheduled for publication during October, please visit our New Mysteries home page. If you're interested in new paperbacks, visit The Mystery Bookshelf, where you can discover a library of new mysteries, also updated with October 2011 releases. See also our regularly updated eBook site for new mysteries, suspense novels and thrillers, MysterEbooks.com.
Please also visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are committed to providing readers and collectors of mystery books with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.