Monday, October 30, 2006

Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for October 30, 2006

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for October 30, 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 letters and mystery clue: A G H I M R S T W. This Seattle police office was featured in Lowen Clausen's First Avenue (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, October 28, 2006

News: The Prague Files on Live Games Network

Games of MysteryLive Games Network, a destination website for players to enter and experience a live mystery adventure game, will be starting its next game, The Prague Files, on 12/04/2006. Over a 14 day period, you will be sent messages via text, e-mail, and your game in-box. For each mission you will earn a score based on difficulty, time allotted to complete, and the time it takes you. The game costs $6.95 to join, and the winner receives a 7-day trip for two to Prague. See the trailer here.
LGN: The Prague FilesLGN produces and directs games that let players live a fictional adventure for a set period of time. The first game, Delta One Zero, was a live game played by 20,000 players across Australia in 2003.

Visit Games of Mystery for more online mystery games as well as mystery parties, mystery-themed vacations, and more!

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Family Business by Janet LaPierre

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Family Business by Janet LaPierre. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Family Business by Janet LaPierre

Family Business by Janet LaPierre
A Port Silva Mystery

Perseverance Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-880284-85-5 (1880284855)
ISBN-13: 978-1-880284-85-8 (9781880284858)
Publication Date: September 2006
List Price: $13.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): In October 2002, after the Port Silva City Council denies a group of citizens permission for a demonstration against an ever-more-likely war in Iraq, the organizers take their planning underground. A few days later, some one thousand silent anti-war protesters march the city streets to a coastal park, where their peaceful demonstration degenerates into a riot that crowds jail cells and the emergency ward, and leaves one local man lost in the stormy sea, another simply missing. As Chief Gutierrez struggles to protect angry citizens from one another and find the missing man, Patience and Verity Mackellar are hired to look into the background of the man who presumably drowned, and find that he’s not who he said he was.

Review: Janet LaPierre's 9th Port Silva mystery, the aptly titled Family Business, is a captivating study of family relationships and the secrets that can bind them or tear them apart.

Private investigators Patience Mackellar and her daughter Verity, looking into the past for information on Danny Soto, missing after a fall from a cliff, discover he has no history prior to 1996. Probing further, they find a link to another young man, Luke MacWhorter, who disappeared that same year. Believing Danny and Luke to be the same person, Patience is convinced that solving the mystery of Danny's disappearance is dependent on finding out what—or whom—Danny is running away from.

Family Business is set in 2002, following the Gulf War and prior to the current US involvement in Iraq. It isn't clear whether or not LaPierre intended to write Family Business as a mystery with a message, or was simply trying to be topical. But her personal political ideology is prominently on display in many ways throughout the book. Since being pro- or anti-war has no bearing whatsoever on the story in Family Business, it is often distracting when LaPierre interjects what appear to be her own views on the current situation in Iraq for no obvious literary reason, especially when the book takes place prior to present day events. Her obvious strongly held political convictions certainly don't further the plot in any meaningful way. Fortunately, in the second half of the book, the political overtones abate somewhat, allowing her and the reader to concentrate on what is otherwise a first rate mystery.

Janet LaPierre is a most accomplished author and Family Business is a pleasure to read with its expressive narrative, intricate plot, and richly drawn characters and locales. Politics aside, it is a terrific mystery.

Special thanks to Perseverance Press for providing a copy of Family Business for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Mystery Bestsellers for October 27, 2006

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending October 27, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Robert B. Parker's 34th Spenser mystery, Hundred-Dollar Baby by Robert B. ParkerHundred-Dollar Baby, is new this week. When April Kyle (first seen in 1982's Ceremony, and later in 1986 in Taming a Sea-Horse) strides into Spenser's office, the Boston PI barely hesitates before recognizing his once and future client. Now a well-established madam, April oversees an upscale call-girl operation in Boston's Back Bay. Still looking for Spenser's approval, it takes her a moment before she can ask him, again, for his assistance. Her business is a success; what's more, it's an all-female enterprise. Now that some men are trying to take it away from her, she needs Spenser. April claims to be in the dark about who it is that's trying to shake her down, but with a bit of legwork and a bit more muscle, Spenser and Hawk find ties to organized crime and local kingpin Tony Marcus, as well as a scheme to franchise the operation across the country. As Spenser again plays the gallant knight, it becomes clear that April's not as innocent as she seems. In fact, she may be her own worst enemy. Publisher's Weekly states, "This is vintage Parker, with Spenser exchanging witty dialogue with the faithful Hawk, sexy dialogue with his beloved Susan and smart-alecky dialogue with cops and villains."

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, October 26, 2006

News: Podcasts Showcase Local Authors

The Fairfax (VA) County Public Library system's web site has introduced a new series of podcast interviews with local authors. Each of the interviews in the series, officially called "Bookcast", is hosted by Sam Clay, Fairfax County's head librarian.

Donna Andrews, a mystery writer and resident of Reston VA, was recently interviewed as part of the BookCast series. "It was a lot of fun," Andrews said. "I don't really have an off button. You just have to pull the plug. So I hope they were pleased to have a guest who doesn't have a problem talking a lot."No Nest for the Wicket by Donna Andrews

Andrews' most recent book, No Nest for the Wicket, is the 7th mystery in the Meg Langslow series. When asked to explain the title during the interview, Andrews says that all her books feature birds and in her current mystery, the sport of eXtreme croquet. Her publisher likes themes (birds) and wanted a "really bad pun in the title", hence No Nest for the Wicket. A review of No Nest for the Wicket is available on the Mysterious Reviews website.

Andrews told Clay in her interview about how she trained as a private investigator and how she incorporates the training into her fiction. She praised the library system for their willingness to try out new technology, saying it can help local authors spread the word about their book.

To listen to the entire interview, visit the Fairfax County Public Library Bookcast website here, and click on the Donna Andrews interview link.

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, October 24, 2006

News: 5th Season Ordered for Wire in the Blood

ITV has ordered a 5th season for Wire in the Blood, telemovies based on characters created in the Tony Hill mystery series by Val McDermid. With this order, the total number of movies in the franchise is 19.The Torment of Others by Val McDermid

The most recent book in the series, The Torment of Others, was the 2006 Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.

The first three seasons of Wire in the Blood are available on DVD.

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, October 23, 2006

News: Author Turns her Dedication into a Mystery

Matthew Chew of the Tehachapi (CA) News writes that local author Eve Geisler got the inspiration for her first mystery, The Canal Murder, after walking along a canal in Indianapolis.The Canal Murder by Eve Geisler

He adds that the effort actually began long before the day she looked into the canal. The book has twists like any other mystery thriller, but this thriller has a twist unlike other books of the genre.

Her heroine, Claire Barton, is a private detective who not only has to solve a mystery, but has to deal with her own shadows. She has Type I diabetes.

"She comes to terms with her diabetes as she solves the mystery,” said Geisler.

In the mid-1990s, Geisler, who used to work in a Tehachapi pharmacy, decided to learn more about the disease. Today, she is a diabetes educator, teaching those with the condition about diet, exercise, medicines, and monitoring their bodies.

Chew notes that originally the book was serialized in Diabetes Health magazine. In 2004, Geisler felt the story needed to be released in book form to make the information available to a wider public, and self-published her mystery.

Read more about mystery author Eve Geisler on TehachapiNews.com here.

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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Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for October 23, 2006

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for October 23, 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 letters and mystery clue: B C E N R T U W Y. Justin Scott’s Ben Abbott is a realtor and private investigator in this fictional New England town (7 letter city and 2 letter state code).

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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Friday, October 20, 2006

Mystery Bestsellers for October 20, 2006

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending October 20, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Debuting at the second position on both the Borders / Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com lists is a prequel of sorts from Elizabeth George, What Came Before He Shot Her by Elizabeth GeorgeWhat Came Before He Shot Her. The brutal, inexplicable death of Inspector Thomas Lynley's wife (in With No One as Witness) has left Scotland Yard searching for answers. Who is the twelve-year-old boy who pulled the trigger? What were the circumstances that led to his horrific act? That story begins on the other side of London, where the three mixed-race Campbell children are sent to live with their aunt. The oldest, fifteen-year-old Ness, is headed for trouble as fast as her high-heeled boots will take her. That leaves the middle child, Joel, to care for the youngest, Toby. But before long, Joel has his own problems with a local gang. To protect his family, he makes a pact with the devil - a move that leads straight to the front doorstep of Thomas Lynley. Library Journal calls the book a "gripping story" and Kirkus Reviews states "... this is George's best since A Great Deliverance, her 1988 debut."

Motor Mouth by Janet EvanovichMost authors would be thrilled to have their mystery appear on the New York Times Bestseller list. But what must come as something of a disappointment to Janet Evanovich is that her latest book, Motor Mouth, debuts "only" in third position. No doubt it will have staying power. Twelve Sharp, her previous mystery, remains on the list (currently 33) four months after its release in June.

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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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

News: The Adventure Company Releases Trailer for Secret Files: Tunguska

Games of MysterySecret Files: TunguskaGame Zone is reporting that The Adventure Company has released a trailer for its upcoming mystery game, Secret Files: Tunguska. The game is based on the true events of the Tunguska phenomenon that fascinated the world.

Play the role of Nina who is torn from her day-to-day routine when she discovers that her father has disappeared without a trace. As the police seem reluctant to help her, Nina sets off to look for clues relating to her father's whereabouts. She joins efforts with Max Gruber, a young colleague of her father who impulsively offers to help the attractive young lady. Together, they quickly determine that Nina's father was involved with a research expedition to Siberia in an attempt to reveal the causes of the mysterious Tunguska catastrophe of 1908 that destroyed approximately 60 million trees over 830 square miles. Nina and Max soon realize that her father's disappearance is related to the Tunguska event and the search for answers leads Nina and Max to the most remote corners of the world – Berlin, Moscow, Cuba, China, and the Antarctic. Powerful adversaries are also interested in Nina's father's secret. In the end, much more is at stake than just the disappearance of an old man.

The trailer is available for download from Game Zone here. The game, available on the Games of Mystery website, will be available for sale on October 24, 2006.

Visit Games of Mystery for more mystery games of all kinds as well as mystery parties, mystery-themed vacations, and more!

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

News: US Publishers Rolls the Dice on a Mystery Debut

Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg of the Wall Street Journal writes of the efforts of one US publisher, Henry Holt and Company, to create this year's blockbuster book. Their choice: a debut mystery written by a Yale Law School professor, a historical thriller that centers around a series of murders that are committed in New York City during Sigmund Freud's only visit to the United States.

The Interpretation of Murder by Jed RubenfeldThe book: The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld. Holt acquired the rights to the book for $800,000, one of the highest advances paid to an unknown author. It further committed $500,000 for a marketing campaign, including the publication of 10,000 advanced reader copies.

Trachtenberg adds that the timing of its marketing push was to coincide with the annual booksellers convention in late May of 2006. Early signs were positive and independent stores were particularly enthusiastic. But a week after the book's publication in early September, the results weren't good. The Interpretation of Murder debuted at only 18 on the New York Times bestsellers list, and fell in subsequent weeks.

Trachtenberg continues with an analysis of what went right and, more importantly for Holt, what went wrong.

Mysterious Reviews reviewed The Interpretation of Murder just prior to its publication. We called it "cleverly devised" but "... flaws in style and editing prevent it from being a memorable novel of suspense fiction." Great books aren't often bestsellers, and bestsellers are frequently not great books. But we think one of the major problems here rests squarely with the publisher's marketing department. The Interpretation of Murder was heavily promoted as a mystery with Freud as the consulting detective, but Freud actually played a minor role in the book, and there is little to suggest that Freud acted as a "detective" in any sense of the word. Those readers who thought Freud would be portrayed as a psychoanalytical Sherlock Holmes were likely sadly disappointed.

Trachtenberg concludes his article by noting that publishing is often like the roll of the dice: there are no guarantees.

Read the read of this fascinating article on The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette here.

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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Mystery Book Contest: Win a Set of Signed Mysteries by Don Bruns

New MysteriesNew! The Rock and Roll Murders Contest is now available on The Mystery Book Contest Website. Enter daily through January 08, 2007, for a chance to win a prize package from author and musician Don Bruns.

The prize package includes the first three books in the Mick Sever mystery series (Jamaica Blue, Barbados Heat, and South Beach Shakedown) signed by the author and Don Bruns' latest music CD.

Jamaica Blue by Don BrunsBarbados Heat by Don BrunsSouth Beach Shakedown by Don Bruns

The Rock and Roll Murders Contest is sponsored by Don Bruns, Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity, and Mysterious Reviews.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for October 16, 2006

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for October 16, 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 letters and mystery clue: A G I M N R S W Y. This author’s mysteries featured San Francisco private investigator Emma Victor (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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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Dying Light by Stuart MacBride

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Dying Light by Stuart MacBride. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Dying Light Dock by Stuart MacBride

Dying Light by Stuart MacBride
A Logan MacRae Mystery
St. Martin's Minotaur
ISBN-10: 0-312-33997-6 (0312339976)
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-33997-5 (9780312339975)
Publication Date: August 2006
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Detective Sergeant Logan MacRae has been bumped to D.I. Roberta Steel's "Screw-up Squad" after a raid he led on a warehouse rumored to be full of stolen property ended with no arrests and one officer critically injured. The backstabbing, limelight-stealing, laziest D.I. on Aberdeen's police force, Steel's team is made up of the "no-hopers," the most worthless or inexperienced members of the homicide department, and Logan will do anything to prove he doesn't belong there. Including working overtime on two baffling cases: the murder by arson of six people, and the beating to death of a prostitute down by the docks, not a high priority compared to the fire. At least not until another prostitute ends up dead.

Although both cases seem simple on the surface--turns out the fire's victims are part of a drug dealer's inner circle, and what fate is to be expected for working girls in Aberdeen's red-light district?--in Stuart MacBride's hands, what's going on in this rainy Scottish city is bound to be much more complicated than it appears.

Review: Dying Light is Stuart MacBride's second police procedural to feature Aberdeen (Scotland) Detective Sergeant Logan MacRae. Logan, assigned to a squad of misfits in the homicide department, is working on several cases, none of which seem to be connected, but each of which involves a violent crime with no obvious motive. The crimes being investigated are brutal, and the violence in the book is often depicted in graphic, sometimes horrific detail.

Dying Light is surprisingly vivid in its descriptions of Aberdeen, and the city is as much of a character in the book as are the detectives in the homicide department and the victims of the crimes under investigation. This is not the Scotland that the tourist boards are advertising to visitors. Much of the narrative takes place at night or in the rain, giving the book a noir feel.

There are long stretches where very little happens. No doubt this is typical of an actual police department investigating any serious crime. There is a lot of bureaucracy, clues to sift through, many of which lead no where, stake-outs that are mind-numbingly boring, and the ever present paperwork. Dying Light includes all this, making the book somewhat long but never dull.

A word of caution: Though it resembles English, the characters in Dying Light speak a language that is, at times, "colorful", explicit, and completely foreign to the American reader. For the most part, unknown words can be defined by the context in which they are found, but at times, a handy website of Scottish slang will be helpful to have available.

What elevates Dying Light above similar books in this genre is the author's willingness to take risks in style, tempo, and characterization. The result is a memorable mystery.

Special thanks to St. Martin's Minotaur for providing a copy of Dying Light for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Mystery Book Review: Death at Victoria Dock by Kerry Greenwood

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Death at Victoria Dock by Kerry Greenwood. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Death at Victoria Dock by Kerry Greenwood

Death at Victoria Dock by Kerry Greenwood
A Phryne Fisher Mystery
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-238-1 (1590582381)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-238-1 (9781590582381)
Publication Date: December 2006
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Driving home late one night, Phryne Fisher is surprised when someone shoots out her windscreen. When she alights she finds a pretty young man with an anarchist tattoo dying on the tarmac just outside the dock gates. He bleeds to death in her arms, and all over her silk shirt.

Enraged by the loss of the clothing, the damage to her car, and this senseless waste of human life, Phryne promises to find out who is responsible. But she doesn't yet know how deeply into the mire she'll have to go: bank robbery, tattoo parlors, pubs, spiritualist halls, and anarchists.

Along this path, Phryne meets Peter, a scarred but delectable wharfie who begins to unfold the mystery of who would need a machine gun in Melbourne. But when someone kidnaps her cherished companion, Dot, Phryne will stop at nothing to retrieve her.

Review: Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher mysteries are immensely popular in her native Australia, and have only recently been published in hardcover for the US market by Poisoned Pen Press. Though the ninth book available from this publisher, Death at Victoria Dock is actually the fourth mystery in the series set during the 1920s in Melbourne Australia.

The title refers to an event in the opening scene, one which spawns a cascade of events involving anarchists, communists, revolutionists, and people of other political convictions. It's all rather a blur, but as Phryne herself says at one point, she hates politics so it isn't terribly germane to the story who supports whom and for what reason. What is important to Phryne is the fact that she was shot at, a good-looking chap was killed, and she wants revenge. Suffice it to say that Phryne accomplishes what she has set out to do, finding a love interest along the way.

Apart from her activities with regard to the shooting, Phryne, as an investigator, has been hired to find a missing person, the daughter of a prominent businessman. From a plot perspective, this case is more interesting than Phryne running around with revolutionaries, and is certainly the more mysterious of the two. Though the resolution to the case is fairly obvious, the delightful personalities of Phryne's adoptive daughters are on display as well as an exceptional character in the Reverend Mother of the Convent of the Holy Spirit.

Phryne Fisher is definitely a free spirit, and as one of her daughters describes her, beautiful but terribly cynical. This multi-faceted woman is well worth knowing, and it is little wonder this series is so popular with readers.

Special thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of Death at Victoria Dock for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

Visit for other reviews of current and upcoming mystery books. The is committed to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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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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