Sunday, January 08, 2006

More Mystery Book Survey Results

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has been conducting a daily survey on its website asking visitors various questions about mystery books (and extensions thereof!). Each answer gives the visitor an entry into a monthly contest for a $25 gift card. Periodically results of the survey are posted in this blog.

Two questions were asked about what kind of mystery books you read and how you read them.

Which is your favorite mystery genre?

20%: Private Eye
35%: Traditional / Cozy
22%: Legal or Medical Thriller
08%: Police Procedural
08%: Locked Room / Impossible Crime
07%: Other

How often do you skip to the end of a mystery to find out "whodunit"?

02%: Always
12%: Once in a while
76%: Never

Thank you to all who have participated in the mystery book survey contest to date. The survey is expected to run through March 31, 2006, so there's plenty of time for you to cast your vote and get an entry into the monthly drawing for $25.

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Friday, January 06, 2006

Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (01/06/2006)

A list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending January 06, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Several new books released this past week have hit the bestseller lists including the eighth Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery, A Long Shadow by Charles Todd, and the romantic thriller Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Andrea Kane.

January looks to be a busy month for new mysteries!

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Mystery Book Review: The Manolo Matrix by Julie Kenner

Title: The Manolo Matrix
Author: Julie Kenner
Publisher: Downtown Press
Publication Date: February 2006
ISBN:0-7434-9614-0

Series Character(s): None
Entry in Series: Second

The Manolo Matrix is the second book in Julie Kenner's Play.Win.Survive trilogy. The Givency Code, released in 2005, introduced the game and The Prada Paradox, expected to be released in 2007, will (presumably) provide answers to some obvious questions about the game (such as, who is behind it).

Synopsis (from the publisher): USA Today bestselling author of The Givenchy Code Julie Kenner reloads for her second novel of high-heeled thrills as another woman gets pulled into a mysterious world of extreme gaming where she must play or die.

Aspiring actress Jennifer Crane knows all about games -- the games girls play to get a guy; the games actresses play to land a part; and the good old game of credit-card roulette. (How else is a girl supposed to afford her shoes?) But she never expected to be playing a game with life-or-death consequences. Unable to successfully score an acting gig, she has, instead, been cast in the role of reluctant bodyguard to a real-life assassin's target -- a dashing FBI agent of all people! -- and must embark with him upon a scavenger hunt across Manhattan in search of the ultimate prize: survival. Before this, Jenn's definition of fighting dirty has been elbowing her way to the front of the line at a Manolo sample sale. Now, if she wants to stay alive, she's going to have to learn a few new uses for her stilettos ... and they ain't pretty.

Fast, flirty, and full of great footwear, The Manolo Matrix is another electrifying adventure in this breakout series for fashionistas who love a perfectly appointed mystery.

Review: The individual books of the best trilogies should be able to stand on their own, but The Manolo Matrix fails in this regard. The basis of the scavenger hunt (clues from Broadway plays) seems overly contrived, and the relationship between Jennifer and Devlin is never believable. The book is billed as an action-packed mystery and romantic comedy, but it is neither of these. It seems the author was simply trying to fill in the gap between the first and third books as quickly as possible with little regard to plot or character development.

Kenner is clearly taking advantage of the incredible publicity surrounding The Da Vinci Code (the title of the first book, The Givenchy Code, being an obvious clue) in penning this trilogy. But while The Da Vinci Code would never be classified as fine literature, it was at least fun to read. The Manolo Matrix is neither.

Special thanks to Book Trends for providing the ARC of The Manolo Matrix for this review.

Read other recent mystery book reviews by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books.

Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Mystery Trivia for January 2006

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has posted new trivia questions for January 2006 on its website.

This popular entertainer has written several mysteries often characterized as "comic-whodunits" which feature both himself and his wife. Who is he?

What is the title of the first book in this series?

Answers to previous mystery trivia questions.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

New Feature: Weekly Mystery Godoku Puzzle

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has introduced a new feature on its website: a weekly Mystery Godoku Puzzle. Godoku is similar to Sudoku, but uses letters instead of numbers. To give you a headstart, we give you a mystery book-related hint to fill in a complete row or column (if you choose to use it!)

Enjoy this new feature from the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, and Thanks for visiting our website!

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Monday, January 02, 2006

The Mystery of Nancy Drew

The Globe and Mail recently ran an article on the mystery of Nancy Drew. At 75, not only does Nancy Drew continue to make money, she's also the subject of scholarly essays that assess her social impact. These essays assess the historical and social impact of Nancy, and a bevy of academic events that started in the 1990s culminated in a massive open-to-the-public conference held this year in New York City.

Nancy Drew is still going strong. Though the original series of mysteries ended in 2003, Simon & Schuster, owner of the Nancy Drew brand, is keeping Carolyn Keene (the pseudonym under which the Nancy Drew stories have been written all these years) busy.

Simon & Schuster has rolled out two new series in the last two years. Nancy Drew Girl Detective (first-person Nancy) debuted in 2004 and even made The New York Times bestseller list.

This year, the Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Super Mystery series debuted, as well as a series of Nancy Drew graphic novels. And for the purists, the American history-oriented small press Applewood has been steadily re-issuing original unmodified Nancy Drew books complete with exact reproductions of covers and text (including the casual ethnic slurs that were cut out of the books as the times changed).

Read the entire article here.

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More Mystery Book Survey Results

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has been conducting a daily survey on its website asking visitors various questions about mystery books (and extensions thereof!). Each answer gives the visitor an entry into a monthly contest for a $25 gift card. Periodically results of the survey are posted in this blog.

Two questions were asked about how many mystery books you read in a month, and where you purchase your mystery books.

Where do you purchase most of your mystery books?

35%: Amazon.com
32%: Barnes & Noble
06%: Books-a-Million
16%: Borders
11%: Independent mystery bookstore

How many mystery books do you read every month?

47%: 0 - 1
41%: 2 - 4
12%: More than 4

Thank you to all who have participated in the mystery book survey contest to date. The survey is expected to run through March 31, 2006, so there's plenty of time for you to cast your vote and get an entry into the monthly drawing for $25.

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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Drop Dead Beautiful: A Serialized Online Mystery

Releasing a piece of fiction in serial installments goes back to the days of Charles Dickens, but the internet has recharged the idea and New West has partnered with author and Aspen editor Michael Conniff to publish Drop Dead Beautiful, a serialized online mystery set in Aspen.

There are currently 14 of 33 installments online, with one installment added each week. The link provided here is for the first installment.

Enjoy the story and maybe we'll see other authors produce serialized mysteries online in the future.

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Friday, December 30, 2005

New Mystery Hardcovers for December 2005 (updated)

Four additional mystery book titles have been added to the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books list of new mystery hardcovers for December 2005. These additions represent the last books to be added for December.

The January 2006 list was created earlier this week and is expected to be updated at the end of next week with more new mysteries.

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Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (12/30/2005)

A list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending December 30, 2005 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Very little change from last week, but there are several new mysteries yet to be published that are appearing on the pre-order bestseller lists of Amazon.com and Barnes & Nobel.com including Memory in Death by J. D. Robb (Nora Roberts) and The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell by Lilian Jackson Braun. Look for these mysteries to appear on the bestseller list in January.

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Theakston’s Old Peculier Harrogate Crime Writing Festival

The Yorkshire hotel to where author Agatha Christie dramatically ‘disappeared’ in 1926 will host the Theakston’s Old Peculier Harrogate Crime Writing Festival next summer.

Agatha Christie was discovered at the spa town’s Old Swan Hotel after a nationwide hunt by the media: her disappearance was never fully explained. The hotel, considered by some to be the spiritual heart of crime writing, is undergoing a £4 million refurbishment, to be completed by the spring in time for the event. It is expected to attract enthusiasts from around the world and weekend packages are already being booked. Harrogate is an attractive floral spa resort close to the Yorkshire Dales. Sherlock Holmes’ creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was another regular visitor.

For details of the crime writing festival, visit their website.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Mysteries Set in the Midwest

The St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press / TwinCities.com website has listed 10 mysteries published in 2005 - nine by veterans and one by a newcomer - that offered heart-stopping plots set in the Midwest. Most of them brought back characters in series familiar to readers. And the coup de grace is a new anthology of stories by 13 of Minnesota's best mystery writers: The Silence of the Loons.

Veterans include Ellen Hart (her 13th Jane Lawless mystery) and John Sandford (his 16th Lucas Davenport thriller). The newcomer is Carl Brookins who introduces Minneapolis private investigator Sean NMI ("no middle initial") Sean in The Case of the Greedy Lawyers.

Read the complete list of books here.

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New Mystery Hardcover Titles for January 2006

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has prepared a list of new mystery hardcover titles scheduled for publication in January 2006. All of these books may be pre-ordered at discount prices through Amazon.com by clicking the ISBN in the book summary.

Upcoming mysteries include new series characters and returning favorites. This list is expected to be updated twice in January as new titles are released.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (12/23/2005)

A list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending December 23, 2005 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Although the top titles remain the same on all lists, there are several newcomers including Turning Angel by Greg Iles.

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Scientists Solve Another Agatha Christie Mystery

An article on the CBC website notes that scientists in Britain say they've cracked the mystery surrounding the popularity of Agatha Christie's murder novels.

Neurolinguistic researchers at three universities studied more than 80 of her novels and have concluded her phrases activate a pleasure response. The scientific team loaded Christie's books into a computer and analyzed her words, sentences and phrases. Scientists say Christie used very limited vocabulary which "means readers aren't distracted and so they concentrate more on the clues and the plots," said Dr. Pernilla Danielsson of Birmingham University. The author also used dashes repeatedly to create a faster-paced narrative.

Read the entire article here.

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