Wednesday, April 04, 2007

News: Clues to Writing a Mystery

, in a new column in The Providence Journal, writes about writing. Mystery writing to be specific. Writing is not alchemy, he says; it’s more like carpentry. He’ll try to demystify the process by speaking regularly to the best writers in the mystery field to get their tips on storytelling, creating compelling characters, spinning a narrative, and breaking into the business of mystery fiction.

It all starts with an idea, and Arsenault consults with one of the best and most prolific in the business: . Tapply says he starts with a subject, for example, blackmail. His first task: identify the villain and the victim. Who blackmails whom? Tapply will brainstorm, playing the game: What if? “What if this is 20 years later and it’s her son who found out about it?” he says. “I play out this whole scenario until I have all the details of what happened.”

Tapply calls this the "first story", what happens before the detective gets involved. He then writes a detailed summary that contains clues. “There comes a point for me when a kind of critical mass arrives and I find it’s time to start writing the novel," Tapply says. "Then it’s still a process of discovery because lots of things I thought would happen don’t, and things I never imagined do. But that underlying story remains the same. Sometimes I end up with a different villain. But that process of figuring out what happened — once I got it, I feel confident I can write the story. I have a road map and I don’t feel I’m going to get stuck in the middle.”

Read the rest of the article on ProJo.com here. And we look forward to the next entry in what promises to be a very enlightening newspaper column.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Press Release: Two New Nancy Drew PC Games for 2007

Games of MysteryBELLEVUE, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The world-famous teen super sleuth, Nancy Drew, is back to unravel mysteries in two new PC game adventures this year as Her Interactive today announced Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek and Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull. Her Interactive, a pioneer in the female gaming experience, has sold over four million Nancy Drew games to date, making it the number one PC adventure game series in total units sold in the U.S.

“A newly contemporized Nancy Drew and the values she represents – smarts, confidence, independence – are once again relevant with today’s girls and is enjoying a resurgence in popularity,” said Megan Gaiser, president and CEO of Her Interactive. “With a new Nancy Drew film due this summer creating greater awareness, this year promises a great opportunity to expand our leadership position in the girl software category through a variety of strategic partnerships, digital distribution and the expansion of our product line to include a DVD game.”

Available in June, Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek finds Nancy undercover at the Icicle Creek Lodge in the Canadian Rockies. She is there to investigate strange accidents and a mysterious wolf which appears before each incident. When Nancy arrives, there is an explosion and a bunkhouse is destroyed. She will soon discover a dangerous plot afoot that could have international repercussions.

In October, Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull has the teen detective and her best friend Bess flying to for spring break. Nancy plans to visit Henry Bolet Jr., a friend of Ned Nickerson. Henry’s grandfather is recently deceased and Henry is in New Orleans to wrap up his affairs. As Nancy’s adventure unfolds, family secrets are revealed and questions abound.

Rated “E” for Everyone, both titles will be available for purchase at retailers nationwide, as well as from the Her Interactive website for a suggested retail price of $19.99. More information about Her Interactive and the company’s entire line of exciting Nancy Drew games can be found online at www.HerInteractive.com.

Please visit the Games of Mystery website to see a list of all . Our website also features information on of all kinds as well as , , and more!

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Mysteries on TV: Law & Order Season 5

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

Law & Order, the complete fifth season, starring Sam Waterston as Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy and Jerry Orbach as Detective Lennie Briscoe.Law & Order Season 5 This season also marked the departure of Chris Noth as Detective Mike Logan.

Law & Order began its 17th season in the fall of 2006 making it the longest running crime series and the second longest running drama series in the history of broadcast television. (Gunsmoke ran for 20 years.)

Each episode follows a crime, usually adapted from current headlines, from two separate vantage points. The first half of the show concentrates on the investigation of the crime by the police, the second half follows the prosecution of the crime in court.

The 5th season ran for 23 episodes during the 1994/1995 television season on NBC. 5 discs are included with the DVD set.

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

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Mystery Book Review: Murder... Suicide... Whatever... by Gwen Freeman

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

Murder... Suicide... Whatever... by Gwen Freeman
A Fifi Cutter Mystery

Capital Crime Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-9776276-1-6 (0977627616)
ISBN-13: 978-9776276-1-5 (9780977627615)
Publication Date: March 2007
List Price: $14.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): When Bosco, my freeloading brother--make that half brother--showed up on my front porch, I should have followed my first instinct and slammed the door. But he said Uncle Ted had been murdered and there might be money in it for us. Truthfully? I didn't even know we had an Uncle Ted.

"Uncle" Ted Herrernan, insurance borker to the stars (porn stars, that is) meets his end in a locked office on the fifteen th floor of a Century City high rise. Plenty of people have lots of good reasons to do away with the cheating, stealing, lying sleazeball. It's up to Fifi Cutter, an unemployed, biracial twenty-something, and her brother Bosco, to find out what happened ... and why. Pretending to be private investigators who are pretending to be grief counselors, they stumble over bodies, misconstrue motives, and completely screw up--until it's almost too late.

Review: Gwen Freeman introduces chronically underemployed Fifi Cutter in Murder... Suicide... Whatever..., a half-hearted attempt at a chick-lit mystery that fails miserably.

Fifi Cutter, a freelance insurance claims investigator who works whenever she can get an assignment, is desperate for money to pay the taxes on the house she inherited from her father. Before he died, her mother took everything else leaving the house an empty shell. It's important to her to keep the house, so when Fifi's half-brother Bosco arrives unexpectedly, she agrees to let him stay despite her reservations. He has a plan to raise some cash by investigating the suspicious death (murder? suicide?) of Ted Heffernan, a friend of the family and "uncle" to Bosco, and senior executive of an insurance brokerage. Ted's partner in the company is convinced it was murder, but he has a vested interest in the outcome: a corporate insurance policy on Ted the proceeds of which would pay off the judgment against the firm as a result of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a receptionist. Fifi and Bosco are hired to look into Ted's death and as they continue their investigation, more mayhem and murders follow. It's all a bit of a mess in the end.

Locked room mysteries can be intriguing, and Freeman has created a credible variation that works within the context of the plot. The problems in Murder... Suicide... Whatever... are with her characters, narrative, and execution. The author struggles to extract humor out of extended broken families, race relations, and corporate malfeasance, and misses the mark entirely on all three. Freeman tries to portray Fifi as a brash, brassy independent woman, but instead she comes off as selfish, condescending, and more often than not, just plain mean.

In mysteries of this genre, there's often a fine line between the reasonable and the ridiculous. Unfortunately, Murder... Suicide... Whatever... falls into the latter category.

Special thanks to Breakthrough Promotions for providing an ARC of Murder... Suicide... Whatever... for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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News: Queen of Suspense Publishes Children's Mystery

With more than 85 millions copies of her books in print, Mary Higgins Clark, known in the publishing world as the Queen of Suspense, is venturing into new literary territory: she's published a children's mystery.

Ghost Ship by Mary Higgins ClarkGhost Ship is the story of two boys separated by centuries of sailing history. One afternoon after a night of terrible thunderstorms, Thomas, who is visiting his grandmother on Cape Cod, finds a weathered, old-fashioned belt buckle. When he picks it up, a boy his own age, Silas Rich, who was a cabin boy on a ship called the Monomoy that sailed almost 250 years ago, appears. Suddenly the world of sailing ships is very near as Silas tells his tale.

"I am so pleased to have written my first children's book and to have my dear friend Wendell Minor illustrate it," Clark says. "I thought it would be a daunting project, but with six grandchildren and eleven step-grandchildren, I've been telling stories to children for a long time."

Clark, a resident of Cape Cod for over 30 years, drew upon her knowledge of the area in writing the book. "I've always loved the background and myths and legends. It was easy to create a story, putting together some of the things that happened in the Cape," she says.

Clark and Minor are working on a second children's picture book, this time about George Washington.

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are 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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Monday, April 02, 2007

Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for April 02, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for April 02, 2007A new 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 E I L M N O S. She is the author of the cat mysteries featuring journalist Theda Krakow (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!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Profile: A Literary United Nations in New Jersey

Virginia Rohan, writing for the North Jersey Media Group, recently interviewed , whose latest book, The Woods, is already a bestseller and it hasn't even been released. The New Jersey native's book hits the bookstores in mid-April.

The Woods by Harlan CobenIf the literary world had its own little United Nations, Rohan notes, the headquarters could be the wood-paneled library of Coben's home. There, on the floor between the bookshelves and the pool table, his international bestsellers peacefully coexist in one big heap.

"We're up to 37 languages now," the 6-foot-4 novelist says of the ever-growing number of translations of his thrillers.

She adds that the self-deprecating Coben claims to have "the attention span of a gnat," which he says helps in his writing. "If I'm bored, I'm thinking the reader's bored. I'm constantly trying to make sure that I'm engaging the reader at every level," says the author, who is known for his twists, turns and surprises.

Coben, 45, who was born in Newark and raised in Livingston, came to mystery writing relatively late, he says. His first book, which kicked off a mystery series about a sports agent named Myron Bolitar, came out in 1995. Coben worked as a writer in the travel industry until he was successful enough as a published author to quit.

Coben is already at work on his next novel, to be published in mid-April 2008. "I should be a lot farther along than I am," he says. "I'm only on about page 15 or 20, but I have the idea down."

Read the entire profile on NorthJersey.com here.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Christine Falls by Benjamin Black

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

Christine Falls by Benjamin Black
A Quirke Mystery

Henry Holt (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-8050-8052-6 (0805081526)
ISBN-13: 978-0-8050-8052-7 (9780805081527)
Publication Date: March 2007
List Price: $25.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): It's not the dead that seem strange to Quirke. It's the living. One night, after a few drinks at an office party, Quirke shuffles down into the morgue where he works and finds his brother-in-law, Malachy, altering a file he has no business even reading. Odd enough in itself to find Malachy there, but the next morning, when the haze has lifted, it looks an awful lot like his brother-in-law, the esteemed doctor, was in fact tampering with a corpse--and concealing the cause of death.

It turns out the body belonged to a young woman named Christine Falls. And as Quirke reluctantly presses on toward the true facts behind her death, he comes up against some insidious--and very well-guarded--secrets of Dublin's high Catholic society, among them members of his own family.

Review: Booker Prize winner John Banville, writing under the pseudonym Benjamin Black, delivers in his first mystery, Christine Falls, a stylish, atmospheric thriller that is both beautifully written and solidly plotted.

The central character is a Dublin pathologist, known only as Quirke, who is good at his job but but seems to barely tolerate it. He lives alone and drinks far too much. One night he finds his life-long friend, now a physician working at the same hospital as Quirke but who is rarely in the morgue, altering the autopsy report of a dead woman, Christine Falls. Curious as to why he would do this, Quirke embarks on a journey to discover the circumstances of Christine's death, and finds an organization that is "planting souls", sending orphaned Irish babies to America to be raised.

The book has a mysterious, decidedly noir feel to it, evoking images of darkness and black-washed colors in the reader's mind. There's a persistent sense of intrigue in the story: who was Christine Falls, why are people trying to get Quirke to back off looking into her death, and how are Quirke's friends and family involved? Just as Quirke seems close to answering these questions, they drift further away, again out of reach.

Christine Falls loses some of its momentum whenever Quirke is not in the picture. The related side story that takes place in concurrent with Quirke's investigation in Dublin is important to the plot, but seems to be written in a more simplistic, less artistic manner. It's possible Black intentionally took this approach in writing, drawing a distinction between the two environments, but it seems a bit incohesive nonetheless.

All the clues to the mystery of Christine Falls are presented in due course, and the drawn out resolution is not unexpected. Still, this elegantly crafted book with its haunting story is deeply satisfying.

Special thanks to FSB Associates for providing a copy of Christine Falls for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Mystery Bestsellers for March 30, 2007

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten for the week ending March 30, 2007 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Obsession by Jonathan KellermanNew this week: Obsession, the 21st Alex Delaware mystery by Jonathan Kellerman, debuts at the top of both the Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com mystery hardcover bestseller lists.

Tanya Bigelow was a solemn little girl when Dr. Alex Delaware successfully treated her obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Now, at nineteen, she still seems older than her years -- but her problems go beyond hyper-maturity. Patty Bigelow, Tanya's aunt and adoptive mother, has made a deathbed confession of murder and urged the young woman to seek Delaware's help. Armed with only the vaguest details, the psychologist and LAPD detective Milo Sturgis follow a trail twisting from L.A.'s sleaziest low-rent districts to its overblown mansions, retracing Patty and Tanya's nomadic and increasingly puzzling life to the doorsteps of a sullen heroin addict; a randy real-estate broker; and a brilliant, enigmatic physics student. Suddenly a very real murder tears open a terrifying tunnel into the past, where secrets -- and bodies -- are buried.

The Alibi Man by Tami HoagAlso new on the lists this week: The Alibi Man by Tami Hoag. Elena Estes, a former undercover cop turned private investigator, exists on the fringes of her old life of wealth and privilege, training horses for a living. But a shocking event is about to draw her back into the painful vortex she's fought so hard to leave behind. First she finds the body-a young woman used, murdered, and dumped in a canal. Not just a victim, but a friend. As Elena delves into her dead friend's secret life, she discovers ties not only to the Russian mob but also to a group of powerful and wealthy Palm Beach bad boys known for giving each other alibis to cover a multitude of sins. A group that includes a man Elena once knew very well-her former fiancé, Bennett Walker, a man she knows has already escaped justice at least once in his life.

A couple of other newcomers: Hunter's Moon by Randy Wayne White, the 14th mystery in the Doc Ford series, and The Alpine Scandal by Mary Daheim, the 19th mystery in the Mary Daheim series.

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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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Mystery Bookshelf: New Paperback Titles for April 2007

The Mystery Bookshelf: New Paperback Mysteries to Read and Enjoy
The Mystery Bookshelf has updated its list of paperback mysteries available for purchase to include 32 new books for April 2007.

New titles include Bleeding Hearts, the 14th mystery in the China Bayles series by Susan Wittig Albert, Pretty Girl Gone, the 3rd mystery featuring former St. Paul policeman Rushmore "Mac" McKenzie by David Housewright, A Mold for Murder, the 3rd mystery in this series with soapmaker Benjamin Perkins by Tim Myers, and The Lost Van Gogh by A. J. Zerries, a new series introducing Clay Ryder of the NYPD Major Case Squad.

Paperback mysteries on The Mystery Bookshelf published within the past 6 months can be conveniently be browsed by author, series character, or date of publication.

Browse by AuthorBrowse by Series CharacterBrowse by Publication Date


Browse by AuthorBrowse by Series CharacterBrowse by Publication Date



Older mysteries are stored in the archives, which may be searched using The Mystery Bookshelf Search function.

Thanks for visiting The Mystery Bookshelf, your source for to read and enjoy!

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mystery Book Review: The Dollmaker by Amanda Stevens

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

The Dollmaker by Amanda Stevens
Non-Series

MIRA Books (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7783-2428-1 (0778324281)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7783-2428-7 (9780778324287)
Publication Date: March 2007
List Price: $6.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): In Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, a terrible secret is about to be uncovered by a woman whose daughter vanished seven years ago without a trace ...

And now a new clue has surfaced ... a doll that is the spitting image of Claire Doucett's missing child, right down to the tiny birthmark on the girl's left arm. A chance sighting of the eerily lifelike doll in a French Quarter collectibles shop leaves Claire shaken to her core ... and more determined than ever to find out what happened to her beloved Ruby.

When the doll is snatched and the store's owner turns up dead, Claire knows the only person she can turn to is ex-husband Dave Creasy, a former cop who has spent the past seven years imprisoned by his own guilt and despair. He let Claire down once when she needed him the most. Can she make him believe the doll really exists? She'll have to if they're to survive an encounter with a brutal psychopath—the dollmaker—who stole their future to feed an obsession that will never die.

Review: From the genteel shops lining the French Quarter of New Orleans to the forbidden bayous in the surrounding parishes, The Dollmaker by Amanda Stevens is a terrifying thriller that works equally well as an investigative detective story.

A parents' worst nightmare: their child disappears, apparently the result of a kidnapping. The first 48 hours are critical: if the child isn't located within that time frame, the chances of their returning safely are remote. For Claire Doucett, it's been 7 years since her daughter Ruby was taken from her, yet she still believes she may be alive. Then, suddenly, Claire spies a most life-like doll in a store window, a doll that eerily resembles her daughter. Even the doll's dress matches what Ruby was wearing when she disappeared. In her haste to visit the store, Claire is involved in an accident that puts her in the hospital. But then the doll vanishes, the store owner found murdered. Convinced the doll is related in some way to Ruby's kidnapping, Claire turns to her ex-husband, a disgraced NOPD cop who was involved in the destruction of evidence in the case of a murdered stripper about the same time their daughter was taken.

The first half of The Dollmaker is absolutely electrifying, drawing the reader into Claire's torment as a mother who's lost her daughter but holds out hope that she may be recovered. The idea that someone has taken a little girl for the purposes of making a doll is unthinkable, yet Stevens' crisp writing makes it all too believable.

Then the plot shifts its focus to Claire's ex-husband, Dave. It's here that the detective story begins, and though the transition is rather abrupt, there is no loss of continuity. Dave is equally anguished by events surrounding his daughter's kidnapping and is unexpectedly presented with an opportunity to redeem himself for past indiscretions.

While the kidnapper's identity is not a surprise (his character's background is chronicled every few chapters), and the ending is a bit too theatrical, Stevens cleverly brings everything together in a satisfying conclusion to this riveting mystery.

Special thanks to Amanda Stevens for providing a copy of The Dollmaker for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Press Release: Writing Contest Makes Every Entrant a Winner

The Writing Show First-Chapter-of-a-Novel Contest offers all entrants a professional 750-word critique.

Thousand Oaks, CA (PRWeb) March 26, 2007 -- Want to get published but don't know how your novel measures up? Enter The Writing Show First Chapter Contest and get 750 words of feedback from publishing industry pros. Each critique will detail the chapter's positive attributes and suggest how the work can be improved. All contestants will also receive a week's free access to Literary Market Place Online, a searchable database of the North American book publishing industry.

First prize for this best first chapter of an unpublished novel competition is $500, the two-volume print version of Literary Market Place, and an interview on the popular podcast The Writing Show. Two second prizes comprise $100 each.

The early deadline is May 15, 2007 with a $35 entry fee; the late deadline is June 15, 2007 with a $45 entry fee. Winners will be announced on November 15, 2007.

Judges, who will provide the critiques, include publishers, editors, reviewers, authors, and other industry professionals. The winning entries will be selected by a celebrity panel that includes best-selling crime fiction author , who writes the Joe Pickett novels set in the U.S. mountain west.

Entries will be judged on the following criteria:

1. Story. Is it a compelling read with a great hook? Are we engaged?
2. Style. Is the writing smooth and tight, without awkward constructions, extraneous verbiage, and redundancies?
3. Dialog. Is the dialog natural and does it move the story along?
4. Character. Are the characters interesting? Do we care about them?
5. Mechanics. Are grammar, spelling, and punctuation correct?

Rules, instructions for entering, and more detail can be found on The Writing Show Web site at http://writingshow.com/?p=239. Writers can listen to a special podcast about the contest at http://www.writingshow.com/podcasts/Contest_2007.mp3.

The contest is sponsored by The Writing Show and Literary Market Place.

Read the entire press release here.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for March 26, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for March 26, 2007A new 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 I L N R T U. Bound for the Riviera, Hercule Poirot finds mystery aboard this elegant transport (with “The”, 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!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Profile: Lisa Scottoline, Framed by Experience

Victor Greto, writing for The News Journal (Wilmington DE), recently profiled native , whose latest book, Daddy's Girl, hit the bestseller lists earlier this month. She has written 14 suspense novels in as many years beginning in 1993, with each of her page-turning works averaging 100,000 words.

Daddy's Girl by Lisa ScottolineGreto writes that on Scottoline's 43 acre farm outside Malvern (PA), it's business as usual. "I finished the next book two days ago," Scottoline says during an early March afternoon. That book, which may be called Old Flame, will come out next year. She also has begun writing a weekly column called "Chick Wit" for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Although she never seriously considered writing for a living, after devouring the works of John Grisham and Scott Turow, Scottoline thought, "These men were doing it, and I'm an actual lawyer. We're more than Della Street. I can do this, too."

It took her five years of rejection and five maxed-out credit cards. Her first book, Everywhere that Mary Went, was published in paperback by HarperCollins in 1993. She says of the characters in her books, "My women are women first, then lawyers. They're fun and sexy, fully-realized women." She smiles, almost shyly. "Men love it."

Read the entire profile on DelawareOnline.com here.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Final Paradox by Mary E. Martin

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

Final Paradox by Mary E. Martin
An Osgoode Trilogy Mystery

iUniverse (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-595-40760-9 (0595407609)
ISBN-13: 978-0-595-40760-6 (9780595407606)
Publication Date: November 2006
List Price: $17.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Harry Jenkins, an honest lawyer, seeks truth and love in a world darkened by fraud and deceit. Years back, Elixicorp, a company developing a drug to forestall memory loss, defrauded millions from Toronto’s elite. But since then, no one has been able to find the money. This long buried treasure has poisoned the lives of all who seek it.

His elderly client, Norma Dinnick, teeters between lucidity and madness in her dark world of paradoxical claims. When she instructs Harry to sue the other claimants for the Elixicorp shares, one of the litigants is fatally shot in open court at Osgoode Hall. The murder weapon is an ornate, silver pistol, which is both a means of betrayal and a gift of love. Peter Saunderson, an old acquaintance of Harry’s from law school, surfaces to frame his own wife and lover with the courtroom murder and to implicate Harry in the scheme.

Harry and his father have been estranged for years. Stanley is found unconscious at the foot of his cellar steps, a gun in his hand. Waking from his coma, he asks Harry’s forgiveness for a long-buried wrong. This ugly .38 calibre gun becomes the means whereby love and forgiveness is found.

Beset with questions, Harry turns to the beautiful Natasha who guides him to the answers and an understanding of the final paradox.

Review: Mary E. Martin weaves an intricate tale of intrigue and betrayal in Final Paradox, the second entry of the Osgoode Trilogy.

One doesn't so much read Final Paradox as be drawn into it. There are only six or so principal characters, the central, but in many ways least interesting, being Toronto attorney Harry Jenkins. The interlocking relationships between them are only revealed as necessary to further the plot. Martin is effective in keeping extraneous information to a minimum, focusing instead on how a missing stock certificate has influenced and continues to affect the lives of these people.

The certificate, and its whereabouts, is central to the story. At some point in the past, a group of con men made off with millions of dollars of money intended to fund a new drug company, Elixicorp. And then the money, and the shares in the company, disappeared. The man entrusted with both, Arthur Dinnick, died soon after the swindle and his widow, Norma, now elderly and in both poor physical and mental health, seems unable or unwilling to help locate the missing fortune.

The story moves along briskly, with Norma filling in historical details while reminiscing about, or probably more accuractely, retreating to, the past. The most serious plot hole is the "why now?" question. Why, after all these years, is retrieving the shares so important? Why didn't Dinnick's associates take action soon after his death, when presumably they would have been easier to locate? A credible answer can be inferred by the reader, but is never actually presented as fact by the author. And that the book ends without resolving some other plot points doesn't come as a disappointment, for the enjoyment here is in the journey.

Special thanks to Author Marketing Experts for providing a copy of Final Paradox for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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