Thursday, June 01, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Final Truth by Mariah Stewart

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has published its review Final Truth by Mariah Stewart on its website. For our blog readers, it is reprinted here in its entirety.

Final Truth by Mariah StewartSynopsis (from the publisher): All that stands between Lester Ray Barnes and the state of Florida’s death chamber is a judge’s signature. He is sentenced to die for the rape and murder of a young woman, his conviction hinging on two pieces of evidence: DNA testing and an eyewitness who placed him at the scene. But when the story breaks that the DNA testimony at trial had been fabricated and that the eyewitness was coerced by a cop, all hell breaks loose. In the absence of credible evidence to sustain the conviction, the court is forced to set Lester Ray free. It’s the sort of circus the media adore–until it turns into the kind of Grimm’s fairy tale the media love even more.

Intrigued by the story of a young man railroaded by justice, true-crime writer Regan Landry is drawn into Lester Ray’s camp like a moth to a flame. For Regan, writing is a way to stay connected to her late literary-legend father, and her knack for detective work makes her a natural when it comes to uncovering new leads in even the murkiest mysteries.

Eager for the spotlight, Lester Ray willingly agrees to work with Regan on a tell-all about his experience as an innocent man on death row. But less than a week after leaving prison, he vanishes from the Sunshine State. Soon after, darkness descends on the outer banks of North Carolina as a string of women are raped and murdered in a frenzied spree. Fearing the worst, Regan, along with Special Agent Mitch Peyton and the FBI, sweeps in to confront the unspeakable: the horrifying possibility that they have helped to free a cunning monster with an insatiable appetite for death–and a ruthless determination never to be caged again.

Review: Final Truth is the 4th, final, and possibly best, book of Mariah Stewart's "Truth" series of suspense thrillers.

The premise of this book is all the more chilling because it is so plausible. Stewart has crafted a remarkable traditional whodunit-style mystery together with a topical thought-provoking study on capital punishment. Regardless of which side you may take on the subject (and Stewart is careful not to take sides), Final Truth is not likely to change your mind but it will probably make an interesting topic of conversation among good friends — ones that can agree to disagree with you.

Though Final Truth is part of a series, it stands alone on its own merits. Some characters have previously appeared in earlier books, but it is not necessary to have read these books to fully appreciate the complexity that Stewart has imparted to them. Stewart should consider bringing one or more of them back in another series, they are that interesting.

Finally, the subplot involving the mystery of Eddie Kroll neatly ties together this series that began with Cold Truth.

Final Truth should be on your summer reading list, and is highly recommended.

Special thanks to Book Trends for providing the ARC of Final Truth for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Mystery Trivia for June 2006

Mystery BestsellersThe Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has posted new mystery trivia questions for June 2006.

According to his website, this Wyoming native and author of the Joe Pickett mysteries has worked as a ranch hand, surveyor, fishing guide, and a small town newspaper reporter and editor. Who is he?

He won the Anthony and Macavity awards for which title in his mystery series?

Visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books to see the answers to these questions as well as previous mystery book trivia questions from prior months.

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books provides readers and collectors of mysteries with the best and most current information about their favorite mystery authors, books, and series.

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Profile: Louis Bayard Examines Poe's Character in West Point Mystery

The Pale Blue Eye by Louis BayardLouis Bayard, who recently published his second mystery, The Pale Blue Eye, was profiled this week by Regis Behe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Bayard's previous book, Mr. Timothy, featured an adult Tiny Tim from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The Pale Blue Eye features a young Edgar Allan Poe.

Behe writes that while other 19th century writers -- notably Mark Twain and Herman Melville -- loom larger in the contemporary literary consciousness, Poe's influence is ever-present. For The Pale Blue Eye, however, Poe's presence is initially as a secondary character, the central action of the novel involving Gus Landor, a retired New York City constable.

"[Poe] has so many layers and so many complexities," Bayard says, "and that's what makes him such a fascinating person to make a character out of. Not all writers necessarily would make good characters, but Poe has so many dark patches and grandiosities and excesses."

Behe continues that Bayard tried to mimic some of Poe's writing in the dialogue -- what he calls Poe's "garrulous, Latinate quality" -- juxtaposed against Landor's staid Anglo-Saxon voice. But the third central character in the novel is silent throughout. West Point provides a backdrop that, like Poe, is familiar to the public but is basically unknown to those who have not attended the academy.

Behe also includes a synopsis of the book: A retired constable investigates a murder of a West Point cadet, and a young Edgar Allan Poe -- who actually attended the academy -- assists in the investigation. Bayard deftly combines elements of Poe's style with his own story; especially jolting is an ending that shocks but, nevertheless, seems fitting.

Read Behe's entire profile here.

Reviews of The Pale Blue Eye have been stellar. Publishers Weekly states, "This beautifully crafted thriller stands head and shoulders above other recent efforts to fictionalize Poe." Kirkus Reviews adds, "Bayard's second offering is another literary tour de force ..."

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

News: A Summer 2006 Reading List for Golfers

Kiel Christianson of TravelGolf.com has published a summer reading list for golfers, and two mysteries are among his recommendations.

Final Fore by Roberta IsleibFinal Fore is the fifth mystery in the Cassie Burdette series by Roberta Isleib. Burdette is an LPGA tour regular who spends as much time playing reluctant detective as she does playing golf. In this thriller, murder stalks the 2004 U.S. Women's Open. This mystery is a personal favorite of Christianson's not only because it's a gripping page-turner written by a clinical psychologist who knows her psychopaths, but also because he makes a cameo appearance on page 168.

From the publisher: At the bucolic Mount Holyoke College campus, Cassie Burdette is steeling her nerves for the U.S. Women’s Open, the most prestigious—and toughest—women’s golf event in the world. She’s already rattled by the absence of Laura, her favorite caddie, and by a controversial invitation to a men’s pro tournament. But then a rival is poisoned and Cassie begins receiving strange e-mails and messages. It seems that in high-stakes golf, competition can truly be murder.

Second on their list is Open Season by Jim MoriartyOpen Season by Jim Moriarty. This murder mystery is set on the PGA Tour. The story is driven less by the string of sometimes gruesome murders than by the personal dramas of photographer Nick Oliver, his Tour-press-officer ex-wife Julie, and associated PGA types. Sometimes you might forget there's a vicious serial killer lurking, but the realistic insights into the backstage machinations of the Tour are enough to keep any serious golf fan turning the pages.

Adds the publisher: From murder in Augusta, to death in peaceful Hilton Head, to a frenzied climax at the cradle of American golf, Pinehurst, Open Season is a riveting page-turner that will keep you up all night as you follow the trail of deceit and meet a lunatic eye-to-eye, all while golf's finest players pursue its greatest titles.

Visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books often where we provide readers and collectors of mysteries with the best and most current information about their favorite mystery authors, books, and series.

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Weekly Mystery Godoku Puzzle for 05/29/2006

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for May 29, 2006A new Mystery Godoku Puzzle has been created by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books and is 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!).

This week's mystery clue: This mystery by Jean Hager was the third in the Mitch Bushyhead series. 9 letters: A D G H L N O S T.

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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Saturday, May 27, 2006

News: Publisher HarperCollins Inks Fox TV Deal

The Hollywood Reporter writes that HarperCollins Publishers has signed a deal with Fox Television Studios to develop and produce original content based on the publisher's new and backlist mystery and romance titles.

The first deal involves the development of a television series based on Lisa Scottoline's series of legal thrillers about female partners in the prestigious Rosato law firm. The first mystery in this series, Legal Tender, was published by HarperCollins in 1997.

News Corporation owns both HarperCollins and the Fox Television Studios.

Read the complete Hollywood Reporter article, as published on Reuters, here.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Profile: Donna Leon, An American in Venice

Through a Glass, Darkly by Donna LeonDonna Leon's mysteries provide a key to a city of heartbreaking beauty, writes Bob Thompson of the Washington Post. Leon has written 15 mysteries featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti, all set in Venice, where she makes her home. Her books are bestsellers in Europe, though she is less well known in the US. Her most recent mystery, Through a Glass, Darkly, was published last month.

Donna Leon's Venice is so popular in Europe, where her books are bestsellers, that specially organized tours bring fans from Austria, Germany and Switzerland to follow Commissario Brunetti's footsteps through the calles (lanes) and campos (public squares) of her adopted home, adds Thompson.

Opera, even more than writing, is Leon's passion; the baroque orchestra Il Complesso Barocco owes its existence in large part to her involvement and support. What's more, she introduced her detective series with Death at La Fenice, in which Brunetti investigates the demise of a German conductor.

Read the rest of Bob Thompson's fascinating profile, as much of Venice as it is of Donna Leon, here.

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Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (05/26/2006)

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending May 26, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

New this week ...

The Hard Way by Lee ChildAt Risk, Patricia Cornwell's latest forensic thriller, debuts at the top of the mystery bestseller lists at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. A Massachusetts state investigator is called home from Knoxville, Tennessee, by his boss, an attractive but hard-charging district attorney, who is planning to run for governor, and as a showcase she's planning to use a new crime initiative called At Risk. Its motto: "Any crime, any time." In particular, she's been looking for a way to employ cutting-edge DNA technology, and she thinks she's found the perfect subject in an unsolved twenty-year-old murder-in Tennessee. If her office solves the case, it ought to make them all look pretty good, right? When a shocking piece of violence intervenes, an act that shakes up not only both their lives but the lives of everyone around them, the implications are bad, very bad indeed.

Visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books often where we provide readers and collectors of mysteries with the best and most current information about their favorite mystery authors, books, and series.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Mystery Book Review: The Deal Master by Gerard F. Bianco

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has published its review of The Deal Master by Gerard F. Bianco on its website. For our blog readers, it is reprinted here in its entirety.

The Deal Master by Gerald F. BiancoSynopsis (from the publisher): In New York City, women with red hair are being brutally murdered. Detective William Gillette and his team are on the case, but they remain clueless until a curious stranger proposes a series of tempting deals—an exchange of sorts—that will help solve the crimes.

Gillette accepts the offer and plunges into the game. One deal after the next, he draws closer to the killer. But each deal comes with a price. Soon the detective finds himself in a dark hole—one he can’t get out of without striking the ultimate deal. Is the Deal Master Gillette’s savior—or his worst nightmare?

Review: Gerard F. Bianco's debut mystery, The Deal Master, has a compelling premise with a plot that is generally well constructed but is fundamentally flawed by dialog and prose that could have used some professional editing.

Jonathan Hamlin is a deal maker. Rather, a deal master. He is the custodian of people's hopes and dreams, what they lust for, what they desire, and what they can't live without. When a serial killer strikes New York City, Detective William Gillette, himself the son of a famous NYPD detective, is convinced that Hamlin is involved in some way. But when months go by without an arrest, Gillette is desperate to prevent another murder and strikes a deal with Hamlin to deliver the killer to him.

To Bianco's credit, all events that take place in the book, while improbable, are plausible. And the ending is especially intriguing, with the reader asking the question, "Is it possible that ..." (To add anything more would give away too much.)

The problem with The Deal Master is with the writing. This could have been a stylish, atmospheric mystery, but instead was rather pedestrian. The dialog was artificial and the prose often insipid. The use of chapter titles in mysteries is tricky: they help define the plot in juvenile books and are charming in cozies, but in serious novels they often seem out of place. In The Deal Master, they are almost comical and detract from the tone the author was trying to set.

A decidedly mixed review for The Deal Master. On the one hand, such a promising outline for a psychological thriller; on the other, a mystery that could have been and should have been better written.

Special thanks to Author Marketing Experts for providing a copy of The Deal Master for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

New Mystery Hardcover Titles for June 2006

New MysteriesA preview of new hardcover mysteries for June 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website. A few of the twenty new mystery titles listed in this first update ...

Shadow Man by Cody McfadyenCody Mcfadyen's debut mystery, Shadow Man, introduces Special Agent Smoky Barrett. In all her years at the Bureau, Smoky has never encountered anyone like him-a new and fascinating kind of monster, a twisted genius who defies profilers' attempts to understand him. And he's issued Smoky a direct challenge, coaxing her back from the brink with the only thing that could convince her to live. Publishers Weekly states, "This disturbing serial killer drama set in California marks a promising debut for McFadyen, who combines many conventions of the genre but with far more exquisite, intricate results than the norm."

The Highly Effective Detective by Rick YanceyInheriting a substantial fortune from his late mother, Teddy Ruzak quits his job as a night watchman to pursue his long-time dream of becoming a private eye in The Highly Effective Detective, the start of a new mystery series by Rick Yancey. Enlisting the help of his new secretary Felicia, a former waitress, to solve his first case, the hit-and-run of a family of geese, the case is soon complicated by an all-too-human murder. Publishers Weekly declares, "By turns touching, suspenseful and hilarious, this is sure to be one of the most well regarded-and enjoyed-mystery debuts of the year."

Twelve Sharp by Janey EvanovichAlready a bestseller even before it's published, America's favorite bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum, is back in Twelve Sharp and sure to win more fans than ever before. Trenton, New Jersey's premier troublemaker is once again struggling with her tangled love life, her chaotic family, and her gift for destroying every car she drives. Not to mention her attempts to bring in the sometimes scary bail jumpers of Trenton, and the sudden appearance of a mysterious female stalker—who turns out to have a close connection to Ranger.

Blue Screen by Robert B. ParkerSunny Randall meets Jesse Stone in Robert B. Parker's Blue Screen. Buddy Bollen is a C-list movie mogul who made his fortune producing films of questionable artistic merit. When Buddy hires Sunny Randall to protect his rising star and girlfriend, Erin Flint, Sunny knows from the start that the prickly, spoiled beauty won't make her job easy. And when Erin's sister, Misty, is found dead in the lavish home they share with sugar daddy Bollen, there doesn't seem to be a single lead worth pursuing. But then Sunny meets Jesse Stone, chief of police in Paradise, Massachusetts, under whose jurisdiction the case falls. It immediately becomes clear that Jesse and Sunny have much in common. While searching for the killer, they learn an awful lot about each other-and themselves.

And many more including the 13th Gideon Oliver mystery (Unnatural Selection) by Aaron Elkins, the 2nd Faye Quick mystery (Too Darn Hot) by Sandra Scoppettone, the 3rd Cottage Tale Mystery in the Beatrix Potter series (Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood) by Susan Wittig Albert, and others!

Visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books often where we provide readers and collectors of mysteries with the best and most current information about their favorite mystery authors, books, and series.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

New Mystery Book Contests

Mystery BestsellersTwo new giveaways have been posted on The Mystery Book Contest Website.

Cryptid by Eric PenzThe Cryptozoology Contest features a hardcover copy of Cryptid inscribed and signed by Eric Penz. Cryptid tells the riveting story of conspiracy theorists who have new evidence of a centuries-old cover-up. When a cryptozoologist, a paleontologist, and a Jefferson descendant begin connecting the dots, they threaten to do more than unveil the well-guarded scientific discovery that lies at the heart of the ancient secret; they threaten to rewrite American history. Included in the prize package are several other resources to help in your search of other mysteries of nature.

Green 61 by Cody Fowler DavisThe Green 61 Contest features a hardcover copy of Green 61 signed by the author Cody Fowler Davis. Green 61 is a real “I know it’s late, but I just don’t want to put it down” kind of a book. It’s all the more so because it was written by a successful attorney who knows the legal system inside and out, and is well acquainted with the tactics—savory and less so—of those who work in it. It’s authentic, it’s believable, and it’s absolutely engaging from the first sentence through to the last. Included in the prize package are other products that feature locations mentioned in the book.

Both contests may be entered daily, one entry per person or e-mail address.

The December in Florida Contest, featuring three prize packages including signed copies of Blondes Have More Felons by Alesia Holliday, concludes at the end of this month.

Visit The Mystery Book Contest Website daily to enter your name into our contests. And please pick up copies of these fine mysteries at your local bookstore or order directly from Amazon.com by clicking on the book titles or images.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

News: BrilliantButCancelled.com, a New Broadband Service from Bravo

In a recent press release by Bravo TV, the cable network announced it will launch BrilliantButCancelled.com, a new broadband service that celebrates the small screen's best-loved but short-lived series.

BrilliantButCancelled.com will be anchored by a critically-acclaimed line-up of some of television's most daring programs, described by Bravo as "too smart, too edgy or too hip for TV" when they hit the airwaves.

Included among the series expected to be available is "Gideon Oliver" which aired on ABC in 1989 and starred Louis Gossett Jr. as an anthropology professor at Columbia University who uses his knowledge of other cultures to solve crimes, aided by his daughter/assistant Zina. Gossett has won an Emmy, Oscar and Golden Globe. Features pre-"ER" performance by Eriq LaSalle. Based on Aaron Elkins' award-winning series of novels. Shot in exotic locales including the Caribbean, Central America, etc.

Read Bravo TV's entire press release here.

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Weekly Mystery Godoku Puzzle for 05/22/2006

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for May 22, 2006A new Mystery Godoku Puzzle has been created by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books and is 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!).

This week's mystery clue: This John Connelly thriller had Charlie Parker unraveling a brutal crime committed in the Deep South: (9 letters).

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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Saturday, May 20, 2006

News: Novelists Weaving Real Recipes into Books

When Diane Mott Davidson wrote her first mystery novel, she had to fight with her editors to include recipes. Now, 12 books later, readers identify Davidson’s novels, which feature a crime solving caterer, with tasty recipes, writes Paige Lauren Deiner on TheMonitor.com.

Recipes and writing about food give authors a chance to develop characters, plot or setting, said Carolyn Marino, senior vice-president and executive editor at HarperCollins Publishers. “There are writers who use food as a metaphor. They are able to use food the way a different writer uses a setting,” she said.

Davidson said she always tries out the recipes she puts in her books a couple of times at least. She said she asks the UPS man, the post man and anyone who stops by, “Do you like cookie A or cookie B? Did you like this cake filling?” And when Davidson started writing her books about caterer Goldy Schulz and her culinary misadventures, she worked with a caterer to learn the business. “It’s not just about the cooking. You’re running a business,” she said.

Read the entire article on novelists weaving real recipies into books on TheMonitor.com here.

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (05/19/2006)

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending May 19, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

New this week ...

The Hard Way by Lee ChildThe Hard Way: Lee Child's 10th mystery features ex-military cop Jack Reacher who sees more than most people would ... and because of that, he's thrust into an explosive situation that's about to blow up in his face. For the only way to find the truth- and save two innocent lives- is to do it the way Jack Reacher does it best: the hard way. Publishers Weekly states "... the author's atmospheric descriptions make Manhattan a leading player, with menace lurking at every intersection." And adds, "The inevitable showdown ... ranks as one of Child's most thrilling finales."

The King of Lies by John HartThe King of Lies: A debut mystery by John Hart who has written a literary thriller that is as suspenseful as it is poignant, a riveting murder mystery layered beneath the southern drawl of a humble North Carolina lawyer. Publishers Weekly calls The King of Lies "... [a] stunning debut, an exceptionally deep and complex mystery thriller, [that] compares favorably to the best of Scott Turow."

Visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books often where we provide readers and collectors of mysteries with the best and most current information about their favorite mystery authors, books, and series.

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