Friday, June 09, 2006

Game Preview: Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express

Emily Morganti of Adventure Gamers provided a preview of the second Agatha Christie mystery to be adapted as a PC game: Murder on the Orient Express. The first game in the series, And Then There Were None, was released late last year.

In her preview, she states that in classic Christie style, every passenger is a suspect, and it's up to the player to unravel the mystery. The basic interface is similar to And Then There Were None, and the pre-rendered scenes are infused with the same 1930's charm.

Morganti concludes her preview by noting that The Adventure Company, which is producing the game, has been attempting to sign David Suchet, the renowned actor who has portrayed Poirot in a number of television productions, to provide his voice for the game. However, negotiations are still on-going, so there is no definitive word on whether they will be able to secure his services.

Read here entire preview here.

Find more mystery games (PC, board, card, online, and more!) at Games of Mystery.

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News: HBO to Film Walter Mosley's Little Scarlett

Variety is reporting that Walter Mosley is adapting his Easy Rawlins mystery, Little Scarlett, for the screen. Jeffrey Wright and Mos Def have signed on to star in the HBO Films and Picturehouse production.

Easy Rawlins returns to solve a mystery in Little Scarlett, set amid the flames of the hottest summer Los Angeles has ever seen . Just after devastating riots tear through the city in 1965 - when anger is high and fear still smolders everywhere - the police turn up at Easy Rawlins's doorstep. He expects the worst, as usual. But they've come to ask for his help.

Mosley is writing the script; of the two lead roles (Rawlins, an unlicensed private eye, and Mouse, a killer who helps Rawlins crack cases), Wright and Def haven't decided who will play which character. There's no production schedule set for Little Scarlet.

Read the entire article, as published on MovieWeb.com, here.

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Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (06/09/2006)

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending June 09, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Not much change at the tops of the charts. However, there are always a couple of new mysteries on the lists including ...

Dead Watch by John SandfordFrom John Sandford, a new political thriller, Dead Watch. Early morning, Virginia, and a woman is on the run. Her husband, a former U.S. Senator, has been missing for days. Kidnapped? Murdered? She doesn't know, but she thinks she knows who's involved, and why. And that she's next. Hours later in Washington, D.C., a cell phone rings. The White House chief of staff needs Jacob Winter now. His chief investigator and an Army Intelligence veteran, Winter knows how to move quickly and decisively, but he's never faced a problem like this. The disappearances are bad, but when the blackened body shows up barbed-wired to a tree, Winter knows there is much worse to come. And soon enough, there is. Large forces are at work, determined to do whatever it takes to achieve their ends. Winter will have to use all his resources not only to prevail but also to survive. And so will the nation. Kirkus Reviews states, "Not as tightly woven as Sandford's best, but reliable thrills with some unexpected political overtones from a pro's pro."

Undead and Unpopular by MaryJanice DavidsonOn a much lighter note, vampire queen Betsy Taylor is back in Undead and Unpopular, the 5th mystery in this series by MaryJanice Davidson. Betsy already has plenty on her plate. For one thing, next week is her birthday -- the big 3-1 in human years, and one in undead years. (Yes, she bit the dust on her birthday last year.) On top of that, she still has wedding plans to finalize -- and it’s not helping that the prospective groom is avoiding anything to do with it. And then there’s her decision to stop drinking blood -- something she has yet to share with Eric Sinclair, her fiancĂ© -- who also happens to be the vampire king. So the last thing she wants to deal with is uninvited guests, even if they happen to be the powerful European vampires who have finally come to pay their respects the week before her birthday. Some of them don’t want Betsy as their queen and will do anything to get rid of her.

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, June 08, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Consigned to Death by Jane K. Cleland

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has published its review of Consigned to Death by Jane K. Cleland on its website. For our blog readers, it is reprinted here in its entirety.

Consigned to Death by Jane K. ClelandSynopsis (from the publisher): Jane Prescott's friends thought she was nuts when she left her high-paying New York auction house job and her boyfriend to live on the rugged and beautiful New Hampshire coast. Truth is, Josie wondered a little herself—never mind that her peripheral involvement in a well-publicized price-fixing scandal made the possibility of a new start incredibly enticing.

Things are looking better, though, now that she's got her own antiques auction business up and running and has made something of a success of her new life. That is, until she gets mixed up in murder, and the supremely eligible but emotionally distant local police chief seems to think she's the prime suspect.

Suddenly, Josie has a lot to lose and no desire to leave her new life—or the possibility of a little romance—behind. So she sets her mind on identifying the killer and making the best out of her unfortunate circumstances. After all, Josie is grateful for her second chance in life and knows a third is just too much to ask ... especially with a vicious killer on the loose.

Review: The hallmark of a successful author is to take a premise that's been done before, many times before, and make it seem fresh. Jane K. Cleland has done just that with her debut mystery, Consigned to Death, featuring antiques dealer Josie Prescott.

Cleland herself was once an antiques dealer, and her expertise in the field imparts an authentic quality to Consigned to Death. The descriptions of how items are appraised, valued, and even sold at auction are fascinating and are well integrated into the plot.

Authors frequently try to accomplish too much with their first novel, but Cleland strikes just the right balance here. She provides a background story for Josie, but wisely doesn't dwell on it, allowing the reader the opportunity to learn more about her in future mysteries in this series. The adages of Josie's late father provide a moral compass for her, but with at least one being invoked every chapter, one wonders how long Cleland can keep using them without getting repetitive.

Consigned to Death is an absorbing and impressive first mystery, and readers will no doubt look forward to spending more time with Josie in the future.

Special thanks to BreakThrough Promotions for providing a copy of Consigned to Death for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

Visit Mysterious Reviews for other reviews of current and upcoming mystery books.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

New Mystery Hardcover Titles for June 2006 (updated)

New MysteriesAn update of new hardcover mysteries for June 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website. An overview of some of the additional new mystery titles ...

The Casebook of Sidney Zoom by Erle Stanley GardnerWorking with the agents for the estate of Erle Stanley Gardner, Bill Pronzini will edit and Crippen & Landru will publish collections of never previously reprinted stories from pulps, slicks and digests by the great creator of Perry Mason. Available this month is The Casebook of Sidney Zoom. The Sidney Zoom short stories were published from 1930 through 1934 in Detective Fiction Weekly. Previously published is The Danger Zone and Other Stories, the 13th in the Crippen & Landru Lost Classics series and the first of the series of Erle Stanley Gardner collections.

A Garden of Vipers by Jack KerleyWhen a young reporter is found murdered, Mobile detectives Carson Ryder and Harry Nautilus wonder if there may be more to this slaying than a standard homicide in A Garden of Vipers, the third mystery in this series by Jack Kerley. Simultaneously, the detectives are drawn into the dealings of the Kincannon family, "picture-perfect" socialites and philanthropists with ties to Ryder's partner . . . and to his journalist girlfriend. When Ryder is abducted by bizarre and unknown forces, he's given up for dead by all but those closest to him. Digging fast as Ryder's time disappears, they discover a web of connections between the murdered reporter, the dealings of an elusive bearded man, and the charitable enterprises of the Kincannons. The question quickly becomes: What will the perfect family do to protect an image of perfection? Publishers Weekly states that "Kerley has a nice feel for the Gulf area, and his detectives are a couple of aces sharing competence, bravery and camaraderie."

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, June 06, 2006

News: Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference

Book Passage is pleased to announce the dates and location of the 13th Annual Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference.

The conference will be held on July 13-16, 2006, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco at 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, California 94925.

The four-day Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference has a strong tradition of great authors and teachers. It covers everything mystery writers need, from developing ideas and writing skills to finding a publisher. Students work closely with mystery writers, agents, editors, and publishers as well as investigators and crime-fighting professionals. In this conference, mystery writers learn the clues to a successful writing career.

The cost of the conference is $525. Optional consultations are available for conference participants with manuscripts in progress for an extra $95. There is an optional writing workshop taught by popular mystery writer Hallie Ephron on Thursday afternoon just prior to the conference. It's available to conference participants for a cost of $70.

For further information, visit the conference website. To enroll in the conference, please contact Tim Pearson, the conference coordinator, by phone at 1-800-999-7909, ext. 233, or by e-mail at [email protected].

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for June 05, 2006

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for June 05, 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: In Flammen was the German title for this mystery by Minette Walters (with “The”) (9 letters): B D E I N O R T X

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 04, 2006

News: For Writers, Holmes Casts Long Shadow

Nearly 120 years after Arthur Conan Doyle wrote his first Holmes story, the game is still afoot, writes Kerry Lengel of The Arizona Republic. Exhibit A: any bestseller list. Seven of the top 10 hardcover novels in this week's New York Times Bestseller List are mysteries of one sort or another.

The Art of Detection by Laurie R. King"Anyone who writes crime fiction, who writes mysteries, is dealing on some level with the presence of Sherlock Holmes. You're always aware that there is the master in the background," says bestselling author Laurie R. King, whose latest mystery in the Kate Martinelli series, The Art of Detection, builds a modern-day investigation around the discovery of a "lost" Holmes manuscript. "One of the reasons that Conan Doyle was so hugely popular was that he more or less invented the serial mystery. . . . You could have the same characters again and again confronted by new problems," she adds.

Lengel also writes that pop culture has made Sherlock Holmes instantly recognizable, but for true Conan Doyle fanatics, or Sherlockians, the original supersleuth has spawned a subculture in itself. The Baker Street Irregulars fan club has chapters from San Francisco to Tokyo and publishes the quarterly Baker Street Journal devoted to Conan Doyle scholarship. "There's a lot of inconsistencies in the stories, because he wrote rapidly to make money," says Doris Dale, founder of the Desert Beekeepers, a group of Arizona Sherlockians. "So the people are still trying to solve some of these inconsistencies and some of these mysteries, and I think that's what makes them interesting."

Read the entire article, as published on azcentral.com, here.

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Profile: James Patterson, Accidental Best-Selling Author

"James Patterson's life was an accident, a clashing of indecisiveness, a lost first love, and an idea that there were rules for ordinary folks like him. But at 59, there's nothing ordinary about the multimillionaire author." writes Brian Skoloff of the Associated Press, and as published on NorthJersey.com.

He adds, "Patterson has published 35 books, 18 of which hit No. 1 on The New York Times list of bestsellers. He's sold 100 million copies, grossing $1 billion in sales. His thrillers Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider have been made into movies starring Morgan Freeman as criminal profiler Alex Cross. More Hollywood deals are in the works."

Patterson initially took a job as a copywriter with J. Walter Thompson in the ad agency's New York office following graduation from Manhattan College in the Bronx. "My rise in advertising was another accident. I had no interest in really going up the corporate ladder at all," Patterson says. "I'd gotten my first book published. It got turned down by 30-some publishers, and then it won an Edgar as the best first mystery." The Thomas Berryman Number won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1977.

Beach Road by James PattersonThough a prolific author himself, a few years ago, Patterson began working with collaborators to produce even more work. Patterson writes the story outline. The co-author pens a first draft. After a series of back-and-forths, a new book is produced in about half the time. His most recent book, Beach Road, was co-written with Peter de Jonge.

Read the rest of this interesting profile of James Patterson here.

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Press Release: Sleuth Heats Up This Summer With DirecTV Launch

Crime, Mystery Channel Now Available to More than 15 Million DirecTV Customers.

Englewood Cliffs, N.J. - June 1, 2006 - Sleuth, NBC Universal Cable Entertainment's crime, mystery and suspense network debuts today on DirecTV and will be available to its more than 15 million customers. The announcement was made today by David Zaslav, President, NBC Universal Cable and Domestic TV and New Media Distribution and Jeff Gaspin, President, NBC Universal Cable Entertainment, Digital Content & Cross-Network Strategy.

"We couldn't be more excited about our carriage deal for Sleuth with DirecTV and we value them as a partner in launching our new services and products that help increase subscribers and drive their business," commented Zaslav. "Sleuth has generated tremendous momentum since its launch earlier this year and continues to gain interest from distributors and fans of the popular crime/mystery genre."

"The success of Sleuth proves the continued popularity and strength of the mystery/crime genre," said Gaspin. "We're pleased that DirecTV will be giving more viewers the chance to catch up on their favorite shows."

"You don't have to be a clever detective to figure out that this network will generate a huge following among our customers," said Dan Fawcett, Executive Vice President, Programming, DirecTV, Inc. "We're delighted to launch Sleuth and kick off another great summer season of programming from NBC."

The network will be available in the DirecTV Total Choice programming package on viewer channel 308.

Read the entire press release, as published by The Futon Critic, here.

Visit the Sleuth home page on the NBC Universal Cable Network website for more information and to view a schedule of upcoming shows.

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Press Release: Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine Winners for Best Books and Authors of 2005

The envelope, please! Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine unveils the winners in romance, erotica, women's fiction, mystery, fantasy and more for the best of 2005.

New York, NY (PRWEB) June 1, 2006 -- Another phenomenal year in publishing has come and gone and the industry's leading book magazine, Romantic Times BOOKreviews, has selected the winners for best books and authors for 2005. The team of over 40 reviewers covered more books last year than ever before in its 25-year history. The fan-favorite magazine launched its first issue in 1981, under the name Romantic Times, specializing in the then burgeoning romance novel industry. The name has recently been changed to Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine to reflect the many genres of women's fiction it covers, including romance, erotica, mystery, science fiction/fantasy, erotica, inspirationals, chick lit, romantic suspense and bestseller fiction.

Winners were announced at RT's 23nd Annual Booklovers Convention in Daytona Beach, Fla., May 16-22, 2006. The Romantic Times Booklovers Convention is a much anticipated annual event that brings together readers, aspiring writers, published authors, booksellers, editors, agents distributors, wholesalers and the chain store buyers under one roof to celebrate and support the book industry.

Read the entire press release here.

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has provided a summary of the Reviewers' Choice Awards in the mystery categories on its website.

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Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (06/02/2006)

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending June 02, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Two different books top the charts at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com:

The Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln ChildThe Book of the Dead is the third (and final) mystery in a series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child featuring FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast. The New York Museum of Natural History receives their pilfered gem collection back...ground down to dust. Diogenes, the psychotic killer who stole them in Dance of Death, is throwing down the gauntlet to both the city and to his brother, FBI Agent Pendergast, who is currently incarcerated in a maximum security prison. To quell the PR nightmare of the gem fiasco, the museum decides to reopen the Tomb of Senef. But when the tomb is unsealed in preparation for its gala reopening, the killings--and whispers of an ancient curse--begin again. And the catastrophic opening itself sets the stage for the final battle between the two brothers: an epic clash from which only one will emerge alive. Publishers Weekly calls The Book of the Dead "... another gripping, action-packed page-turner ...". Kirkus Reviews adds that it is "Fast, punchy and relentlessly action-packed."

Cold Moon by Jeffrey DeaverCold Moon is the seventh mystery featuring Lincoln Rhyme by Jeffrey Deaver. On a freezing December night, with a full moon hovering in the black sky over New York City, two people are brutally murdered -- the death scenes marked by eerie, matching calling cards: moon-faced clocks inves-tigators fear ticked away the victims' last moments on earth. Renowned criminologist Lincoln Rhyme immediately identifies the clock distributor and has the chilling realization that the killer -- who has dubbed himself the Watchmaker -- has more murders planned in the hours to come. Rhyme, a quadriplegic long confined to his wheelchair, immediately taps his trusted partner and longtime love, Amelia Sachs, to walk the grid and be his eyes and ears on the street. But Sachs has other commitments now, and as she struggles to balance her pursuit of the infuriatingly elusive Watchmaker with her own case, she unearths shocking revelations about the police force that threaten to undermine her career, her sense of self and her relationship with Rhyme. Publishers Weekly states, "Deaver fans won't be surprised that the investigations overlap, or that the several apparent climaxes are building to something more, but even they will be hard-pressed to peel back all the layers of the cunning plot at work beneath the surface."

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, June 01, 2006

The Mystery Bookshelf: New Paperback Mysteries for June 2006

Mystery Bookshelf: New Paperback MysteriesThe Mystery Bookshelf has posted a list of new paperback mysteries expected to be available in June 2006.

Recent bestsellers that are soon to be available in paperback include Memory in Death by J. D. Robb, Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich, 4th of July by James Patterson, The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly, and more!

Titles are maintained on The Mystery Bookshelf for 6 months, and are available for browsing by author, series character, or date of publication. You may also use our search feature to search for current and archived titles.

Thank you for visiting The Mystery Bookshelf!

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Mystery Book Giveaway for June 2006

Mystery Book GiveawayThe Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has posted a new mystery book giveaway for June 2006.

This month's prize: a signed copy of Tampa Burn by Randy Wayne White.

Enter daily at the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website. And while you're there, please visit the many features that we have to offer!

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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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

Visit Mysterious Reviews for other reviews of current and upcoming mystery books.

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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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