Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mystery Book Review: How to Marry a Ghost by Hope McIntyre

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of How to Marry a Ghost by Hope McIntyre. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.How to Marry a Ghost by Hope McIntyre

How to Marry a Ghost by Hope McIntyre
A Lee Bartholomew Mystery

Mysterious Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-89296-014-0 (0892960140)
ISBN-13: 978-0-89296-014-9 (9780892960149)
Publication Date: January 2007
List Price: $24.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): Londoner Lee Bartholomew is a loner by nature who prefers to live vicariously through other people. Content with her job as a ghostwriter, Lee is always eager to coax secrets and scandals from showbiz personalities and sports greats. And ghosting writing former rock star Shotgun Marriott's autobiography could be the plum job of her career-if he reveals what really happened one tragic night.

Leaving the comforts of home, Lee travels to New York to attend her mother's wedding to a rich American businessman. Yet she's also there for an even more important gig-an interview with Shotgun to write his story. Cruising along the beach on the tip of Long Island, Lee stumbles upon a newsbreaking story when the body of a man wearing a wedding dress washes ashore. Even more shocking is that the man is Shotgun's estranged son.

But fear soon strikes her after another killing hits much closer to home. Now the darkness around her lonely beach house seems alive with prying eyes and malevolent visitors. As for Shotgun Marriott, he's a charming, talented rogue who's also lying through his teeth. And probing too deeply into his dark world may be last thing Lee ever does …

Review: Ghostwriter Nathalie "Lee" Bartholomew travels from London to the Hamptons in her second mystery, How to Marry a Ghost by Hope McIntyre, to interview for the opportunity to write the autobiography of legendary rock star Christopher "Kip" Marriott, also known as Shotgun Marriott to the media and his fans. Her primary reason to visit to the US, however, is to attend the commitment ceremony of her Mother to Philip Abernathy, her beau of 6 months, a local billionaire whom Lee has dubbed the "Phillionaire". It is, perhaps, mere coincidence that Shotgun and the Phillionaire are neighbors.

Soon after Lee gets settled in the area two murders occur. The first is the discovery of the body of Shotgun's estranged son who has washed up on shore, wearing, somewhat inexplicably, a wedding dress. The second is of Lee's rival in the ghostwriting business, Bettina Pleshette, whose body is found in the woods near the edge of Shotgun's estate. The most likely suspect in both murders is Shotgun himself, yet Lee discovers there may be other reasons why someone would want these two people dead.

How to Marry a Ghost is a complex mystery that has a promising start but will likely lose some readers along the way. The murders take place very early in the book, yet the story meanders for long periods without any obvious effort to bring about a resolution to the crimes. The author deserves credit for creating an intricate plot with generally interesting characters and atmospheric settings, and those willing to stick with it will be rewarded in the end. But the many tangential subplots, and especially the seemingly endless, largely irrelevant, and at its best, wearisome storyline about Lee and her on-again/off-again relationship with Tommy, make the book feel far longer than it really is.

Special thanks to Hachette Book Group USA for providing an ARC of How to Marry a Ghost for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Monday, February 12, 2007

News: Mystery Festival Announces Finalists for Writers Competition

BroadwayWorld.com is reporting that the finalists of the 1st International Mystery Writers' Festival have been selected. All six will have their plays performed on stage this June in Owensboro (KY). RiverPark Center has announced that it will host auditions for the plays February 16-17, 2007. Rehearsals are scheduled for the last week of April, and performances will take place during the festival June 12-17, 2007.

"The committee was overwhelmed by the quality of submissions – both from established writers and new talent," said RiverPark President and CEO Zev Buffman, who produced 40 Broadway shows receiving 27 Tony Award nominations. "This festival will help bring the mystery back to live performances on Broadway and London, much as the Sundance Film Festival has invigorated creativity for new independent films."

There were nearly 1000 submissions to the festival's judging committee, whose founding members include Sue Grafton, Ira Levin, William Link, Stuart Kaminsky, John Jakes, Samual Liff, and James W. Hall.

The finalists include Final Curtain by Ed McBain, a funny and frightening mystery that involves intriguing characters where everyone is a suspect for a dark-and-stormy night murder. This was McBain's only stage mystery and has never been produced, said Buffman. McBain, who also wrote under his real name of Evan Hunter, died in 2005.

The five other plays to be produced are Columbo Takes the Rap by William Link, co-creator of the Murder She Wrote and Columbo television mystery series; Death by Darkness by Elizabeth Orndorff, who wrote her play specifically for this competition; Panic by Joseph Goodrich, a deceitful drama that unravels a scheme of blackmail, betrayal and murder; Widdershins by Don Nigro, in which a family of four has disappeared in Wales in 1902; and If/Then by David Foley, a fast-paced thriller with twists and turns that will keep you guessing through to the very last deceitful moment.

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 February 12, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for February 12, 2007A 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 C D E J K R W Y. Ed Gorman wrote this mystery series with this ex-cop and part-time actor (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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Friday, February 09, 2007

Mystery Bestsellers for February 09, 2007

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending February 09, 2007 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Step on a Crack by James PattersonJames Patterson introduces a new series with Step on a Crack which debuts at the top of the Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com mystery bestsellers lists this week. Detective Michael Bennett-father of ten-faces the most sinister challenge of his career: a criminal who kills without hesitation and counters everything the NYPD and FBI throw at him with impunity. As New York descends into chaos, Bennett learns that the great love of his life, his wife, is battling a terrible disease and he may have to raise their children alone. Now with the entire world watching and the tension reaching a boiling point, Bennett must quickly find a way out-or become responsible for the greatest debacle in history. Publishers Weekly states, "Short on credibility on the crime front, long on sentimentality on the home front."

High Profile by Robert B. ParkerAlso new this week is High Profile, the 8th entry in Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone mystery series. The book also features in a minor role another of Parker's series characters, PI Sunny Randall. When the body of controversial talk-show host Walton Weeks is discovered hanging from a tree on the outskirts of Paradise, police chief Jesse Stone finds himself at the center of a highly public case, forcing him to deal with small-minded local officials and national media scrutiny. When another dead body-that of a young woman-is discovered just a few days later, the pressure becomes almost unbearable. Though the crimes are perhaps the most gruesome Jesse has ever witnessed, it is the malevolence behind them that makes them all the more frightening. Forced to delve into a world of stormy relationships, Jesse soon comes to realize that knowing whom he can trust is indeed a matter of life and death.

Be sure to check out our new, updated Mystery Bestsellers aStore to purchase any of the bestselling mysteries featured on our website!

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mystery Book Review: The Picasso Flop by Vince Van Patten

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of The Picasso Flop by Vince Van Patten. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.The Picasso Flop by Vince Van Patten

The Picasso Flop by Vince Van Patten
A Texas Hold 'Em Mystery

Mysterious Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-89296-070-1 (0892960701)
ISBN-13: 978-0-89296-070-5 (9780892960705)
Publication Date: February 2007
List Price: $24.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): Jimmy Spain was known as one of the luckiest guys in professional poker--until he landed in prison. Then his wealthy cellmate made him a deal he couldn't refuse: mentor his only child in the high-stakes game of Texas Hold'em and he'll set Jimmy up in a condo with 10 grand a month as spending money and pay all his expenses on the poker tour. Done deal.

Suddenly, Jimmy's back on the circuit and in charge of a cocky kid named Kat--that's right, a girl! As the unlikely pair battle their way to the World Poker Tour Championship at the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas, it seems like nothing can stop them from cashing in. Then a fellow player is found dead with a three-card "Picasso Flop" in his shirt pocket, casting suspicion on the new Hold'em wiz kid, Kat. Now, amid building pressure to win the tournament, it falls to Jimmy to prove her innocence. Will the distraction cost him his big break? Or send him back to jail? Maybe worse?

Review: Vince Van Patten, host of the World Poker Tour (WPT), teams up with author Robert J. Randisi to pen the first Texas Hold 'Em mystery, The Picasso Flop, featuring poker player Jimmy Spain. Though Jimmy Spain is fictional, the book features a number of real-life characters including Van Patten's co-host on the tour, Mike Sexton.

Jimmy Spain, off the pro-poker circuit for 10 years due to a stint in prison for manslaughter, is persuaded by a former cellmate, Harold Landrigan, to take his estranged daughter, Kat, under his wing. Her passion in life is poker, specifically, Texas Hold 'Em, and Landrigan wants to see that she has a chance to succeed. Jimmy's incentive: a condo, $10K a month, and all expenses paid to Las Vegas for the Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio. And there's a stipulation: Kat can't know that Jimmy is being paid by her father. Shortly after the tournament begins, a hot-shot internet poker player is found murdered, his neck broken. A day later his partner is thrown off a balcony into the hotel's pool. The only thing connecting the two murders is a set of cards found on their bodies: a jack, queen, and king, or in the vernacular of Texas Hold 'Em, a Picasso flop.

The Picasso Flop is a reasonably entertaining mystery that will likely appeal to anyone who plays Texas Hold 'Em or enjoys watching the players on television. There is a lot of insider information, and the book is peppered with poker phrases and slang. As might be expected in a book of this sort, there are fair number of characters to manage and the authors do a fine job of giving them individual traits, allowing the reader to readily distinguish between them. What might be over-the-top caricature in another setting seems comparatively mainstream here.

The plot is not as tightly constructed as it could be and is dependent upon a number of largely improbable, and at times highly coincidental, circumstances. And portraying the Las Vegas police and Bellagio hotel security as rather inept organizations certainly helps keep the murderer hidden in plain sight for as long as possible.

The Picasso Flop is subtitled a "Texas Hold 'Em" mystery, but will presumably return with most of the main characters as their personal storylines are left unresolved at the end of the book. The crimes presented here may be concluded, but what the future holds for Jimmy Spain and Kat Landrigan remains a mystery.

Special thanks to Hachette Book Group USA for providing an ARC of The Picasso Flop for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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News: Nancy Drew Mystery for the Nintendo DS

Games of MysteryMajesco Entertainment has announced that a new Nancy Drew game will be released for the Nintendo DS later this year. Titled Nancy Drew and The Deadly Secret of Olde World Park, it is the first touch screen-based mystery for the teen detective.

According to the company's press release, in Nancy Drew and The Deadly Secret of Olde World Park, players assume the role of the teenage super sleuth as she works to solve the mystery of the missing billionaire, Thaddeus Belmont. Players must collect clues, decipher puzzles, follow suspects, sneak into areas and much more as they use their deductive reasoning skills to progress through 15 increasingly difficult chapters. Touch Screen play is incorporated into unique conversation and unlocking mini-games, but players will also use the stylus in Nancy's Clue Journal to access maps, inventory and tasks.

For other Nintendo DS mystery games, visit Games of Mystery which provides information on more mystery games of all kinds as well as mystery parties, mystery-themed vacations, and more!

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Press Release: Robert Crais to Receive Idaho's Bloody Pen Award

Boise, ID (OPENPRESS) February 7, 2007 -- Robert Crais, best-selling author and screenwriter, is the recipient of Idaho's 2007 Bloody Pen Award. It will be presented during the Murder in the Grove mystery conference at the Boise Centre on the Grove, June 8-9, 2007. The Popular Fiction Association of Idaho, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting literature, awards the Bloody Pen to recognize excellence in writing.

Crais, author of the Elvis Cole mystery series and other novels, has received the Anthony, Macavity, and Ross McDonald Literary Awards, and has been nominated for an Edgar. His novel, Hostage, was a 2001 New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He has also received an Emmy nomination for his work as a screenwriter. Bruce Willis starred in the film adaptation of Crais’s novel, Hostage. Born in Louisiana, Crais currently resides in the Santa Monica hills with his wife. Crais will give the keynote address after the Bloody Pen Awards presentation during lunch on June 9, 2007 at the Boise Centre on the Grove.

Murder in the Grove will host a number of authors, agents, and forensics specialists who will provide workshops, panels, and manuscript evaluations for conference attendees. A full day writer's workshop, “Empowering Characters Emotions,” presented by the highly acclaimed instructor, Margie Lawson, will open the conference on June 8, 2007. The public is invited to meet Crais, Lawson, and all of the other conference participants at a book and dessert party at 7:00 p.m., June 8, at Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 1315 N. Milwaukee, Boise, Idaho.

Whether you'd like to improve your writing, learn more about the publishing world, or mingle with a variety of mystery authors, Murder in the Grove has something for you.

For more information including all fees, deadlines, registration instructions, and lodging specials, please visit www.murderinthegrove.com.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Trouble by Jesse Kellerman

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

Trouble by Jesse Kellerman
Non-series

Putnam (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-399-15403-5 (0399154035)
ISBN-13: 978-0-399-15403-4 (9780399154034)
Publication Date: January 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Young, idealistic, and overworked, Jonah is living the lonely life of a medical student in New York City when he accidentally stumbles across a murder in progress: a woman, being stabbed to death in the middle of the sidewalk. Without thinking, he rushes in to protect her-inadvertently killing her attacker in the process.

Thrust into the media spotlight, crushed by guilt, Jonah quickly learns that heroism isn't all it's cracked up to be. He receives a shower of unwanted attention-and hostility-from his superiors. The district attorney wants to "interview" him. The family of the dead man wants revenge.

Everything is further upended when the woman whose life he saved shows up at his apartment. What begins as a thank-you drink turns into a wildly passionate love affair. As their relationship deepens, however, Jonah realizes that she isn't quite the woman she appears to be. His nightmare has only begun, and the price of kindness will turn out to be higher than he could have imagined.

Review: Trouble is Jesse Kellerman's second published book, a thriller that is at best an achievement of style over substance.

Jonah Stem is a medical student in upper Manhattan who, returning home after a particularly grueling day in surgery, encounters a man holding a knife over a woman who has been repeatedly stabbed. Realizing she may die without immediate medical attention, he fends off her attacker who is accidentally stabbed with the knife and dies. Though the woman recovers, Jonah soon finds he's being sued by the dead man's family. To deal with the stress of his medical studies and the pending lawsuit, he turns to Eve Gones, the woman whose life he saved, who has suddenly and unexpectedly turned up in his life. But as he learns more about this mysterious woman, he realizes that she can only complicate his life. When he tries to end their relationship, he finds she will do anything to prevent him from doing so.

Kellerman is an accomplished writer who brings his own style to the narrative. He credibly evokes the strain and stress students of medical school face, the long hours, the lack of respect and indifference from superiors. He's created a complex character with Jonah Stem, and allows the reader to experience the various frustrations in his life: his former fiancée and her father, the endless hours of medical school, his roommate, the lawsuit, and finally, his relationship with Eve Gones. The use of sentence fragments, interfused dialog, even spacing between words on the page, all combine to create the sense of confusion and vexation that Jonah is experiencing. Stylistically, it's exceptionally well done.

Trouble, however, is anything but original. It's not even a good derivative. Kellerman has done virtually nothing to inject anything different or unique into this plot outline, which has been used as the basis for any number of books and screenplays for years. A movie in particular immediately comes to mind. One knows absolutely where this story is heading, and once a scene opens can accurately predict how it will end. Even with the denouement, where the author had a final chance to introduce a twist or something novel, he played it safe and went with the standard ending. It's disappointing that someone with so obvious a talent for composition couldn't trouble himself to come up with something original to write about.

Special thanks to Penguin Group (USA) Inc. for providing an ARC of Trouble for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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News: Tell No One Wins Luminere Award

Variety is reporting that Guillaume Canet's feature film Tell No One won the best picture at the Lumiere awards ceremony Monday night. Canet adapted the screenplay from Harlan Coben's mystery novel of the same name.

Tell No One is a thriller in which a message appears on David Beck's computer, a phrase only he and his dead wife know. Suddenly Beck is taunted with the impossible - that somewhere, somehow, his wife is alive. He has been warned to tell no one. And he doesn't. Instead, he runs from the people he trusts the most, plunging headlong into a search for the shadowy figure whose messages hold out a desperate hope. But already Beck is being hunted down. He's headed straight into the heart of a dark and deadly secret - and someone intends to stop him before he gets there.

The Lumieres are a French version of the Golden Globes and are voted on by foreign journalists posted to Paris.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

News: There's No Mystery to Writing a Book

Karen McCowan, writing in the Oregon Life section of The Register-Guard, reports on the activities that took place at the Midwinter Mystery Weekend in Cannon Beach on January 26-28, 2007. Featured authors included Eugene resident Carola Dunn (the Daisy Salrymple mysteries), former Oregon State University journalism professor Ron Lovell (the Thomas Martindale mystery series), and Deborah Donnelly of Portland (the Carnegie Kincaid mysteries).

Los Angeles writers Jack Remick and Robert Ray taught a writing workshop, adds McCowan. Titled "The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery", participants were assigned a timed writing exercise. "Always start with your killer. Go as deep into the killer as you can - he drives the story," Remick said.

Ann Rule, the keynote speaker, told aspiring writers that there's no mystery to writing a book. "You don't have to be in the right mood," she said. "You set a number of pages for yourself each day, you sit down, and you do it."

Read the entire article on the RegisterGuard.com here.

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Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for February 05, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for February 05, 2007A 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 D E N O P R T V. This Minneapolis police detective is featured in the “Prey” mysteries by John Sandford (last name only) (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, February 03, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Gravewriter by Mark Arsenault

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

Gravewriter by Mark Arsenault
A Billy Povich Mystery

St. Martin's Minotaur (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-312-33596-2 (0312335962)
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-33596-0 (9780312335960)
Publication Date: November 2006
List Price: $23.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Billy Povich used to be a journalist. He lost his wife because of his gambling habit, and then she died in a car crash. Now he finds himself writing obituaries and living with his elderly father and seven-year-old son, Bo.

Billy plans to kill the man who was at the wheel the night of his wife's death. But then a summons to jury duty for a murder trial delays Billy’s agenda. As the trial heats up, Billy finds that his little boy spots danger faster than he does, and a frantic and deadly chase begins with Billy as the prey.

Review: Mark Arsenault introduces a new series with Gravewriter featuring Providence (RI) obituary writer Billy Povich out to exact revenge on the man he holds responsible for the death of his ex-wife in a car accident. While planning this mission, he is side-tracked by jury duty and finds himself listening to evidence in a trial of a man he believes is on his way to being convicted of a crime he didn't commit.

Billy is a reporter at heart, and despite the circumstances in which he finds himself, his natural instinct is to investigate. As a jury member, he is warned not to read anything about the case, yet having access to his newspaper's archives proves too much of a lure. He uncovers information that he, correctly, guesses is being suppressed by the court and then curiosity takes over. Why was it suppressed, and more importantly (to him), does it have anything to do with the crime of which the defendant is accused? What follows is a twisted tale of betrayal and deceit that will have even the most jaded mystery reader turning the pages to find out what happens next.

Arsenault has devised a clever and well-paced plot, seamlessly interleaving several apparently unrelated subplots to create a story that is greater than the sum of its parts. Billy is a wonderfully complex character: he has an addiction to gambling that ruined his marriage, yet he is a thoughtful and caring father and son, three generations of men living together who share a common joy in eating breakfast at all hours of the day and night. There is a noir-ish quality to the book, especially in its descriptions of the Providence locations that serve as its setting. Finally, the conclusion to Gravewriter comes as an unexpected surprise and provides the perfect ending to this exceptional mystery.

Special thanks to Breakthrough Promotions for providing an ARC of Gravewriter for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Friday, February 02, 2007

News: Mystery Fans and Writers in Seattle for LCC

Alan Woog, writing for The Seattle Times, reports that the annual Left Coast Crime (LCC) convention hits Seattle this weekend. LCC is an annual gathering of mystery fans and writers, a regional alternative to big, international mystery conferences like Bouchercon. LCC welcomes people from all over but emphasizes the Western states. Los Angeles writer Gary Phillips, author of Ivan Monk series, is the event's toastmaster.

Starting today and continuing through Sunday, some 600 fans, writers and assorted other denizens of the mystery/crime/thriller world will converge on the to city to schmooze, snag autographed books and attend such events as an after-hours Seattle Underground tour and an auction (benefiting, among other things, the Seattle Public Library Foundation). They're also attending panels on a wide variety of grisly, educational and/or fun topics.

Read the entire article on SeattleTimes.com here.

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Mystery Bestsellers for February 02, 2007

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending February 02, 2007 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Plum Lovin' by Janet Evanovich retains the top stop on the mystery bestsellers lists this week.

The Alexandria Link by Steve BerryNew on the lists is The Alexandria Link by Steve Berry, with a plot that sounds all-too-familiar. A cradle of ideas-historical, philosophical, literary, scientific, and religious-the Library of Alexandria was unparalleled in the world. But fifteen hundred years ago, it vanished into the mists of myth and legend-its vast bounty of wisdom coveted ever since by scholars, fortune hunters, and those who believe its untold secrets hold the key to ultimate power. Now a cartel of wealthy international moguls, bent on altering the course of history, is desperate to breach the library's hallowed halls-and only Cotton Malone, an elite operative from the US State Department, possesses the information they need to succeed. At stake is an explosive ancient document with the potential not only to change the destiny of the Middle East but to shake the world's three major religions to their very foundations.

Be sure to check out our new, updated Mystery Bestsellers aStore to purchase any of the bestselling mysteries featured on our website!

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Triple Cross by Kit Ehrman

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

Triple Cross by Kit Ehrman
A Steve Cline Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-307-2 (1590583027)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-302-9 (9781590583029)
Publication Date: January 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Although 23-year-old barn manager Steve Cline doesn't expect to stray far from the horse world, he has enrolled in a private investigations course and is working on the final project. But when his father, racehorse trainer Chris Kessler, invites him to Louisville on a two-week, all-expense-paid vacation that will culminate with the running of the Kentucky Derby, how can he refuse? Except, it isn't really a vaction. Kessler has a Derby runner and needs a reliable fill-in when one of his employees is injured.

With only two horses to care for, the workload is light, and Steve decides to get that class project out of the way--a simple records search. But the very act of initiating the project triggers a chance encounter that plunges Steve into the world of the ultra rich. A world where greed and revenge and ambition drive some men to commit unspeakable acts amid the pageantry and glamour of thoroughbred racing.

In quick order, Steve finds himself the prime suspect in a murder investigation and the target of brutal thugs. From the relative security of the backside to the Derby festivities that transform downtown Louisville into Party Central to the opulence of a Lexington horse farm, Steve deals with his own personal demons and strained relationships as he attempts to stop a murderer before a power play culminates in shattered dreams and a bloody triple cross.

Review: Horseman and amateur sleuth Steve Cline travels to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby in Kit Ehrman's fourth entry in this series, Triple Cross.

Steve has been asked by his father, trainer of a Kentucky Derby entrant, to help out in the preparations for the race. He arrives in Louisville a week prior to the first Saturday in May, splitting his time working on the track backside and fulfilling an assignment for a private investigator course he's taking: finding out as much as possible about a random individual. The person he chooses, a woman working as a marketing assistant on the frontside, inexplicably disappears after he meets her and is later found murdered. Since Steve was investigating her background, he seems a natural suspect for the police. But when Steve later escapes some close calls himself, he realizes she may have been involved in something far more dangerous than he ever imagined.

The first half of Triple Cross, which proceeds at what might best be considered a leisurely pace, is largely background material for the plot which itself is fairly complicated. The title, no doubt a play on racing's Triple Crown, intimates that a "triple cross" will be revealed at some point necessitating a complex set of relationships to be set up early in the book. Horse racing itself has numerous participants: owners, trainers, jockeys, and other assorted horse men and women. The owners typically have other business interests as well, offering any number of plot possibilities. Ehrman initially does a fine job of managing all this information in Triple Cross, but seems to falter when attempting to introduce misdirection, red herrings if you will, into the story. It's a bit confusing at times, and the plot gets sidetracked for a while but eventually regains its focus. And, as with a typical horse race, in the end it all comes down to the stretch run. In this regard, Triple Cross is a winner.

Special thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of Triple Cross for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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About Omnimystery News

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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.

Page/Post Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Omnimystery News

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