Saturday, March 10, 2007

Press Release: Northwest Mystery Contest Has Far Reaching Effect

Boise, ID (OPENPRESS) March 10, 2007 -- Only in its third year, the Murder in the Grove Mystery Contest is already making waves. The 2006 winner, M. M. Palmer of Tacoma, Washington, signed with agent, Jo Grossman of Grossman & Holmes Literary Agency in Massachusetts. Grossman, who held pitch sessions with writers during Murder in the Grove 2006, read Palmer’s winning entry, L of a Way to Go, as part of the contest’s prize.

All writers who enter the contest receive detailed feedback on their manuscripts from judges trained by the sponsor of the contest, the Popular Fiction Association of Idaho, Inc. The 2007 winning entry will receive a $50.00 cash prize as well as a critique by Katharine Sands of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency in New York City. Sands will present a workshop on pitching and meet with aspiring writers at Murder in the Grove. There’s still time for unpublished mystery, thriller, or suspense writers to meet the March 31, 2007 deadline for the contest. The entry fee is $25.00. Details are available at www.murderinthegrove.com or by sending an SASE to PO Box 4762, Boise, Idaho 83711.

The 2007 winner will be announced during the awards luncheon ceremony at Murder in the Grove, an annual conference for mystery writers and readers, which takes place June 8-9, 2007 at Boise Centre on the Grove. At the same awards luncheon, Robert Crais, bestselling and award winning author, will receive the Bloody Pen Award and present the Keynote Address.

Read the rest of the press release here.

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Mystery Book Review: Flesh and Bone by Jefferson Bass

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

Flesh and Bone by Jefferson Bass
A Body Farm Mystery

William Morrow (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-06-075983-6 (0060759836)
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-075983-4 (9780060759834)
Publication Date: January 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Dr. Bill Brockton, the founder of the world-famous Body Farm at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is hard at work on a troubling new case. A young man's battered body has been found in nearby Chattanooga, and it's up to the talented Dr. Brockton to assemble the pieces of the forensic puzzle. Brockton is brought into the case by the rising star of the state's medical examiners, Jess Carter.

Just as they're on the verge of breaking the case open, events take a terrifying turn. Brockton has re-created the Chattanooga death scene at the Body Farm, but a killer tampers with it in a shocking way: placing another corpse at the setting, confusing authorities and putting Brockton's career and life in jeopardy. Soon Brockton himself is accused of the horrific new crime, and the once-beloved professor becomes an outcast. As the net around him tightens, Brockton must use all of his forensic skills to prove his own innocence . . . before he ends up behind bars with some of the very killers he's helped to convict.

Review: Dr. Bill Brockton takes on the role of the victim in Flesh and Bone, the second mystery in the Body Farm series by Jefferson Bass (co-authors Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson).

While working on a case with Chattanooga medical examiner Jess Carter, Brockton suddenly finds himself accused of a gruesome murder. His truck was videotaped entering the Body Farm just prior to when and where the victim was found, and forensic evidence conclusively links Brockton with the victim. Hiring his sometime legal adversary but arguably the most successful defense attorney in town as his lawyer, Brockton manages to stay out of jail. Suspended by the university, unable to work on any cases, and convinced that the authorities aren't looking for the real killer, he sets out to prove his innocence with the assistance of a friend in the police department.

Flesh and Bone is an entertaining mystery, even considering the descriptions of dead and decaying bodies that are included every chapter or so. Consider this, reasonably typical, passage: "The head had been simmering for three days down in the Annex before I took it out of the kettle for good. The hot water, bleach, Biz, Downy, and Adolph's Meat Tenderizer had doen their work well: the remaining bits of tissue scrubbed off easily with a toothbrush; the bone had lightened to a deep ivory; and the aroma steaming off of it was like fresh laundry." Of course, he goes on to qualify the definition of "fresh". Since the Body Farm is a real place, and Dr. Bill Brockton is based on a real person (one of the co-authors), there are a lot of authentic details included in this book. Brockton dismisses the fictional Hollywood version of his profession ("... CSI, a show I'd watched only one incredulous time ..."), but ironically seems accepting of the fictional literary version.

Behind all the science, however, is a fairly weak and at times incredible plot. Flesh and Bone opens with two parallel, and ultimately related but not necessarily linked, investigations: the murder of a man found tied to a tree and dressed in women's clothing, and a child pornography case being worked on by Brockton's friend, Art Bohanan of the Knoxville Police Department. Add to this a third investigation when Brockton is arrested for murder. Brockton's prowess in the laboratory and on the Body Farm to discover the truth apparently doesn't extend to solving his own personal dilemma. He stumbles through the story, tripping over obvious clues, and even after unwittingly inviting the killer into his home, Brockton still doesn't get it ... until a gun is pointed at his head.

Forensic mysteries are popular, both on television and in bookstores, and despite a less than satisfactory storyline, it's likely readers will enjoy Flesh and Bone.

Special thanks to HarperCollins for providing a copy of Flesh and Bone for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Mystery Bestsellers for March 09, 2007

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

Christine Falls by Benjamin BlackVery little change near the top of both the Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com hardcover mystery bestseller lists this week. The Watchman by Robert Crais tops both lists.

The notable newcover is Christine Falls by Benjamin Black (John Banville). Set in Dublin and Boston in the 1950s, the first novel in the Quirke series brings all the vividness and psychological insight of Booker Prize winner John Banville's fiction to a thrilling, atmospheric crime story. Publishers Weekly states that Black "... keeps divulging surprises to the last page so that the reader is simultaneously shocked and satisfied." Kirkus Reviews calls Christine Falls "A good story, and gorgeous writing.".

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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News: Mystery Author Richard Prather Dies

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Richard Prather, author of a series of mysteries featuring former Marine turned private investigator Shell Scott, has died. He was 85.

Prather, who also wrote novels using the pen names of David Knight and Douglas Ring, won a lifetime achievement award from the Private Eye Writers of America in 1986.

Shell Scott was introduced in 1950 in the mystery The Case of the Vanishing Beauty. Over 30 books followed with the most recent one, Shellshock, published in 1987.

Prather, whose wife of more than 60 years died in 2004, is survived by several cousins.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Profile: The Surfing Sleuth

Burl Burlingame of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin recently profiled and interviewed Chip Hughes, author of the Kai Cooke surfing detective series of mystery books. His most recent book, Wipeout!, published in January 2007 by Island Heritage, was the 2nd mystery in this series after Murder on Moloka'i.

According to his website, Kai Cooke is a licensed private investigator in the state of Hawai‘i. Kai’s sand-toned business card displays a hanging ten surfer and says “Confidential Investigations – All Islands.”

Wipeout by Chip HughesSome highlights from the interview:

Q: Why use surfing as a way to set up a mystery?

A: Surfing is Hawaii's gift to the world. It made sense, then, that a mystery series attempting to capture the local flavor of Hawaii would has a surfer-PI. I thought first of having him be a sailor, but it just didn't click.

Q: How do you build a book?

A: I start with plot ideas hastily written out, then a detailed outline and character profiles, like blueprints for a building. I always know how the book will end before I begin. In some ways you write a mystery backward, starting with the solution and then developing the problem.

Q: Will Kai eventually go off riding into the sunset, or Sunset Beach?

A: Yes, I see Kai, the consummate loner who is always unlucky in love, eventually getting weary of his failed relationships. One day he's going to want to settle down. But when that happens it will bring the end of the series.

Read the entire profile and interview on StarBulletin.com here.

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Mystery Book Review: Death of a Maid by M. C. Beaton

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Death of a Maid by M. C. Beaton. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Death of a Maid by M. C. Beaton

Death of a Maid by M. C. Beaton
A Hamish Macbeth Mystery

Mysterious Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-89296-010-8 (0892960108)
ISBN-13: 978-0-89296-010-1 (9780892960101)
Publication Date: February 2007
List Price: $23.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): Armed with a bucket and mop, Mrs. Gillespie brings misery into the quiet life of Hamish Macbeth when he wins her maid services in a church raffle. He fears she's more likely to snoop than clean, since rumor has it that she damages more items than she dusts.

Yet Macbeth has more upsetting issues to ponder—his former girlfriend, reporter Elspeth Grant, is back in the village for a holiday with her new boyfriend. Then he gets notice that a TV crew plans a documentary on him. Its airing is sure to get him a promotion and transfer to the city—and Hamish Macbeth would rather be boiled in oil than leave the serenity of Lochdubh.

Though lately Macbeth's seeing the squabbling of seagulls and feeling an ill wind coming. Sure enough, Mrs. Gillespie is soon found dead under suspicious circumstances. And as he investigates the case, Elspeth's presence torments the red-haired bobby and drives him to foolish antics. But what should really preoccupy Macbeth are the town's hidden secrets—ones that will force a killer to lash out in deadly, irrevocable acts …

Review: Hamish Macbeth stumbles upon the body of a local house cleaner in Death of a Maid, an amusing entry in this long-running series by M. C. Beaton.

There's much to be said for a typical English, or in this case Scottish, village mystery. They're comfortable, rather predictable, and if done well, are quite enjoyable. Here, Constable Macbeth of the Scottish Highlands village of Lochdubh investigates the murder of Mrs. Gillespie, a maid whose reputation for gossip far exceeds that of her cleaning abilities. Since most everyone is hiding a secret of some sort, the number of suspects is just about equal to the population of the village.

Macbeth quickly confirms this fact soon after he begins interviewing Mrs. Gillespie's clients. When he meets the dead woman's daughter, he asks, "Do you know of anyone who would wish your mother harm?" Her matter-of-fact reply, "Just about everyone." There's something refreshing in the simplicity of the story and how Macbeth goes about the business of eliminating suspects and building a case against the killer.

Where the story goes astray is in a secondary plot involving attempts on Macbeth's life. No doubt intended by Beaton to be a red herring of sorts to the main plot, it never rings true. Worse, after capturing the culprit who killed Mrs. Gillespie and presumably bringing about an end to the mystery of the Death of a Maid, the book goes on for another 50 or so pages to wrap up the subplot. The author redeems herself, however, in the epilogue with a clever resolution to an unsolved aspect of the case.

Special thanks to Hachette Book Group for providing an ARC of Death of a Maid for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Monday, March 05, 2007

News: Mystery TV Series New on DVD This Week

Mysteries on TVNew television mystery series to be released this week on DVD:

Moonlighting: Season Five, starring Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis.Moonlighting: The 5th and Final Season The series ran for 5 seasons.

When the accountant for former fashion model Maddie Hayes (Shepherd) skips town with her money, she finds that one of her remaining assets is the Blue Moon Detective Agency, managed by David Addison (Willis). Rather than sell the company, she decides on a career change and enters the business of private investigations.

The 5th and final season of Moonlighting ran for 13 episodes during the 1988/1989 television season on ABC. 3 discs are included with the DVD set. Extra features include the original screen tests for Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis.

Hawaii Five-O: Season One, starring Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett, head of an elite state police unit.Hawaii Five-O: Season 1 The series ran for 12 seasons.

The series was filmed entirely in Hawaii, and was one of the most popular television dramas of the 1970s, with crisply written episodes and stylish production values. The criminals featured weren't always caught at the end of each episode, and several had recurring roles throughout the series. Master spy Wo Fat, McGarrett's nemesis, was featured through the final season.

The 1st season of Hawaii Five-O ran for 22 episodes (including two 2-part episodes) during the 1968/1969 television season on CBS. 7 discs are included with the DVD set. The opening episode, Cocoon, was originally shown as a pilot movie.

Visit the Mysteries on TV website to discover more television mystery series currently available on DVD.

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Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for March 05, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for March 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 B E J L N S T Y. She is the author of the Collectible mysteries featuring pottery dealer Clara Appleby (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, March 04, 2007

News: Florida Book Awards Winners Announced

The winners of the First Annual Florida Book Awards Competition have been announced, and mysteries did very well.

In the general fiction category, Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen took silver (2nd place).

Mysteries swept the popular fiction category. The top prize, gold, went to Escape Clause by James O. Born. Silver was awarded to The Perfect Assassin by Ward Larsen, with bronze medals given to Murder at Wakulla Springs by M. D. Abrams, Dark Light by Randy Wayne White, and The Book of Fate by Brad Meltzer.

The winners will be recognized in Tallahassee on March 23rd. For more information, visit the Florida Book Awards website.

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Profile: For Brown, It's No Mystery Why Cats Rule

Kerry Lengel of the Arizona Republic recently profiled and interviewed Rita Mae Brown. Brown is the bestselling author of the Mrs. Murphy mystery series and the "Sister" Jane Arnold Foxhunting mystery series as well as several other books of fiction. Her most recent book, Puss 'n Cahoots, was the 15th mystery in the Mrs. Murphy series, and is co-authored (like all other books in the series) by Sneaky Pie, her cat.

Puss n Cahoots by Rita Mae BrownA few highlights from the interview:Q: How old is she? [Sneaky Pie, that is!]

A: Well, we're on Sneaky 2 now. Sneaky 1 lived to 18, and her daughter is carrying on the business. Luckily, I get all my animals to live a long time. But I must say, it is interesting and fun to be overshadowed by a cat. She gets her own fan mail. She gets pictures from other cats. She has a whole life of her own.

Q: How are cats different from people in how they view the world, and in how they solve mysteries?

A: Their senses are much better. They aren't hagridden by ideology. The human animal lives in a state of constant self-delusion. We have these screens of religion and political ideologies, and they don't, so they're much more able to respond to a crisis effectively. We don't want to see the world the way it is, and sometimes when it breaks through we quickly reach for a drink. [Mystery Books News Editor's note: I have to admit I had to look up the word "hagridden". Not part of my everyday vocabulary! It means "worried or tormented, as by a witch". Hmm ...]

Read the entire profile and interview on AZCentral.com here.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Mystery Book Review: By the Time You Read This by Giles Blunt

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of By the Time You Read This by Giles Blunt. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.By the Time You Read This by Giles Blunt

By the Time You Read This by Giles Blunt
A John Cardinal and Lise Delorme Mystery

Henry Holt (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-8050-8061-9 (0805080619)
ISBN-13: 978-0-8050-8061-2 (9780805080612)
Publication Date: February 2007
List Price: $19.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): For years, John Cardinal's wife, Catherine, has battled severe depression. People are saddened when she finally takes her own life, but they are not really surprised. Cardinal, of course, is devastated. Despite the suicide note in Catherine's own handwriting and the coroner's finding that there is no evidence of foul play, Cardinal cannot bring himself to believe that Catherine has really killed herself.

When hateful notes about his wife's death begin to arrive in the mail, he begins to suspect murder - perhaps revenge from one of the many criminals he has put away over the years. But because the police have not opened a case, he is forced to investigate on his own. Even his longtime colleague Lise Delorme can't help him - she's wrapped up in a nasty case of her own.

Cardinal enlists the help of Catherine's psychiatrist to help him figure out who is behind the notes. And as he investigates further, he uncovers an alarming rash of suicides in Algonquin Bay - far more than would seem natural for such a small city. Is it possible that they are, in fact, murders?

Review: John Cardinal and Lise Delorme, detectives working for the (fictional) Algonquin Bay police department, pursue separate investigations in By the Time You Read This, the fourth mystery in this series by Giles Blunt.

Cardinal's case is personal. His wife, Catherine, who has been treated for depression for years, is found dead one night at the base of an apartment building, apparently the result of a suicide. He refuses to believe she could have taken her own life, and though the department never opens a case of suspicious death, Cardinal undertakes a private investigation using police resources to determine the truth. Meanwhile, Delorme has been assigned a case of child pornography involving a young girl spanning several years. Evidence suggests Algonquin Bay as being the source of the pictures, but little more is known. Cardinal and Delorme eventually team up to track down the pornographer and in the process uncover the reality behind Catherine's suicide.

By the Time You Read This is an exceptionally well-written, deftly plotted novel, but should not be read as a mystery per se. It is, in many ways, a police procedural in which the reader is aware of facts not yet known to the investigators. Though the psychological and physical crimes are horrific, Blunt manages to derive much of the suspense in the story from how Cardinal and Delorme will piece together the puzzle. That their cases are linked is never in doubt (to the reader); how they are connected remains a mystery until the exciting conclusion.

Blunt's character development is so well done that it's difficult not to empathize with Cardinal's loss, feel his emptiness at home, experience the void in his life. And it's equally difficult not to share Delorme's disgust with her pornography case, her rage at the loss of a child's innocence, her determination to find the man responsible. That the reader is drawn so completely into the story and its characters is just one measure of how splendidly it is written.

By the Time You Read This is a superior novel of suspense and is highly recommended.

Special thanks to Henry Holt for providing an ARC of By the Time You Read This for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Mystery Books: New Hardcover Titles for March 2007

New Mysteries for March 2007New hardcover mystery titles scheduled to be published in March 2007 are now available on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website. Below are a few titles selected by us to highlight here. Prices are current as of the date of this post, but are subject to change.

Hades by Russell Andrews $16.49, the 3rd Justin Westwood thriller.

In Dublin's Fair City by Rhys Bowen $16.29, the 6th mystery in the Molly Murphy series.

Dragonwell Dead by Laura Childs $16.29, the 8th entry in the Tea Shop mystery series with recipes and tea time tips.

Simmer Down by Jessica Conant-Park $15.61, the 2nd mystery in the Gourmet Girl series.

Key Lime Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke $14.96, the 9th entry in the Hannah Swensen mystery series with recipes.

Deadly Retreat by Christine Green $22.00, the 10th mystery in the Kate Kinsella series.

On the Wrong Track by Steve Hockensmith $16.29, the 2nd entry in the Holmes on the Range mystery series.

A Crazy Little Thing Called Death by Nancy Martin $14.93, the 6th mystery in the Blackbird Sisters series.

Hog Wild by Cathy Pickens $16.29, the 3rd mystery for South Carolina lawyer Avery Andrews.

The Bad Quarto by Jill Paton Walsh $16.29, the 4th mystery in the Imogen Quy series set at Cambridge University.

Hunter's Moon by Randy Wayne White $16.47, the 14th mystery featuring Doc Ford.

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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News: LA Times Book Prize Finalists for Mystery Announced

The Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, to be given out at an Awards Ceremony held April 28-29, 2007, on the campus of UCLA, has announced the finalists for outstanding books published in 2006 in nine categories, including mystery/thriller.

For mystery/thriller, the nominees are:

Michael Connelly, Echo Park (Little, Brown)
Patrick Neate, City of Tiny Lights (Riverhead Books)
George Pelecanos, The Night Gardener (Little, Brown)
Jess Walter, The Zero (HarperCollins)
Don Winslow, The Winter of Frankie Machine (Alfred A. Knopf)

For previous winners, visit our Mystery Awards page.

Information about the awards ceremony and the Book Prize awards program is available at http://www.latimes.com/bookprizes.

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News: Second L. A. Confidential Sequel to be Filmed?

File under Hollywood rumors ...

TMZ is reporting that a second sequel to L. A. Confidential may be in the works.

L. A. Confidential was based on the third book in the James Ellroy "L. A. Quartet" series of mysteries. A movie based on the fourth book, White Jazz, has already been announced with George Clooney starring.

This second sequel, L. A. Confidential II (for lack of a better name), would not be based on any Ellroy book, but would simply pick up where the original movie left off.

No deals have been made, but discussions are reportedly on-going.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Mystery Bestsellers for March 02, 2007

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

The Watchman by Robert CraisNew this week: The Watchman by Robert Crais debuts in the top spot at Amazon.com and in third place at Barnes&Noble.com. The Watchman is subtitled as a Joe Pike mystery, but readers of Crais' Elvis Cole series will immediately recognize the enigmatic character as Cole's partner. In The Watchman, Joe owes a man a favor, and the favor is to protect Larkin, a spoiled, self-centered, rich girl who happens to be a federal witness in a case the feds are putting together to bust a crime cartel linking organized mobsters and West Coast industrialists. And when Pike learns that the man he'll be working for is one of his oldest and most trusted friends - his former LAPD training officer, Bud Flynn - Pike signs on and commits himself to protecting the girl's life. But Pike and the girl immediately come under intense fire, and Pike realizes that someone is leaking information that could get them both killed. Turning to his friend Elvis Cole for help, Pike's investigation soon reveals a web of lies and deceptions, half-truths and betrayals, and the stunning revelation that even the cops are not who they seem. Publishers Weekly states, "The breathless pace and rich styling are sure to appeal to readers of hard-boiled fiction in general." Mysterious Reviews adds, "[An] outstanding example of a mystery thriller, and will certainly be remembered as one of the year's best novels." (Read the complete review at Review: The Watchman by Robert Crais.)

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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