Monday, June 11, 2007

Mysteries on TV: Diagnosis Murder, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew

Mysteries on TVMystery television series being released this week on DVD:

Diagnosis: Murder Season 2Diagnosis: Murder, Season 2 starred Dick Van Dyke as Dr. Mark Sloan, dedicated doctor and amateur sleuth. Barry Van Dyke (the star's son) plays Steve Sloan (the doctor's son), a Los Angeles police detective. Dick Van Dyke's character originally appeared in a 1991 episode of Jake and the Fat Man when Dr. Sloan was accused of murdering a hospital administrator.

The series ran for 8 seasons on CBS from October 1993 through May 2001.

This DVD set includes the 22 episodes from the 2nd season on 6 disks.

The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries Season 2The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries, Season 2 starred Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy as Frank and Joe Hardy and Pamela Sue Anderson as Nancy Drew. Initially written as separate shows shown on alternate weeks, by middle of this second season they had been combined into a single series. In protest for losing her show, Pamela Sue Martin left the series and was replaced by Janet Louise Johnson for the last few episodes of this season.

The series ran for 3 seasons on ABC from January 1977 through January 1979.

This DVD set includes 19 episodes (including 3 2-part episodes) from the 2nd season on 5 disks.

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

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Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for June 11, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for June 11, 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 C H K P R T U. This week's mystery clue: This New York City Assistant District Attorney is featured in mysteries by (9 letters).

New! We now have our puzzles in PDF format for easier printing. Print this week's puzzle here.

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, June 10, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Justice of the Damned by Priscilla Royal

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Justice for the Damned by Priscilla Royal. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Justice for the Damned by Priscilla Royal

Justice for the Damned by
A Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-330-2 (1590583302)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-330-2 (9781590583302)
Publication Date: June 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): It is May of 1272, and Prioress Eleanor, recovering from a near-fatal winter fever, returns to Amesbury Priory to visit her aunt in time for the Feast of Saint Melor. Although Eleanor hopes to regain her strength in the midst of pleasant childhood memories, Death reveals a most troublesome fondness for her company, thwarting her desire for peace.

Review: Justice for the Damned is the fourth medieval mystery by Priscilla Royal to feature Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal which takes place in England in the spring of 1272.

Following a long winter's illness, Eleanor returns to her home where she can recuperate under the love and care of her aunt, Sister Beatrice, Novice Mistress of Amesbury Priory. She is traveling with Brother Thomas who has been instructed by his Prior to prevent the rumored theft of a very valuable manuscript, a Psalter from the library of the priory. Soon after arriving, Eleanor is asked to investigate another rumor, that of a ghost haunting Amesbury. While Eleanor and Thomas pursue their individual assignments, murder intrudes, and the two are drawn together to solve a mystery involving a very real killer.

In addition to Eleanor and Thomas, Justice of the Damned is populated with a large cast of characters that participate in interesting, intertwining subplots. The author takes the time to develop these characters with their stories of God and the Devil, Heaven and Hell, love and hate, lust and evil, sin and purity, and ghosts and demons. Furthermore, her narrative includes a vivid depiction of medieval life in Amesbury. Though the 13th century language contributes to the authenticity of the book, it also tends to make the book more difficult to read. The result, however, is a fascinating, if at times hard to follow, historical adventure.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Justice of the Damned and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

For more visit Mysterious Reviews, a partner with the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books which is committed to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Cactus Heart by Jon Talton

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

Cactus Heart by
A David Mapstone Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-352-3 (1590583523)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-352-4 (9781590593524)
Publication Date: May 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): This “prequel” to the David Mapstone mysteries takes place in 1999, when everything dot-com was making money, the Y2K bug was the greatest danger facing the world, and the good times seemed as if they would never end.

It was a time before David and Lindsey were together, before Mike Peralta was sherriff, and before David had rid himself of the sexy and mysterious Gretchen.

In , it’s the sweet season and Christmas and the new millennium are only weeks away. But history professor David Mapstone, just hired by the Sheriff’s Office, still finds trouble, chasing a robber into an abandoned warehouse and discovering a gruesome crime from six decades ago.

Mapstone begins an investigation into a Depression-era kidnapping that transfixed Arizona and the nation: the disappearance of a cattle baron’s grandsons, their bodies never found. And although the kidnapper was caught and executed, Mapstone uncovers evidence that justice was far from done. But this is no history lesson. The cattle baron’s heirs now run a Fortune 500 company and wield far more clout than a former-professor-turned-deputy. When one of the heirs turns up dead, Mapstone knows his life may even be at risk.

Review: Jon Talton returns to the last months of 1999 as the setting for the fifth mystery in the David Mapstone series, Cactus Heart.

Mapstone has an interesting profession: a historian, working on a commission basis, for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department. He also has the rank of Deputy Sheriff with all the privileges and responsibilities that come with the title. When the bodies of two children are discovered sealed behind the wall of an abandoned warehouse in downtown Phoenix, Mapstone is drawn into a crime from 1941 in which the twin grandsons of a prominent Arizona businessman were kidnapped, their bodies never found ... until now. Though the kidnapper had been caught, tried, and executed, Mapstone orders some tests on the skeletal remains, the results of which lead him to believe the case is far from closed.

Cold case crimes are fascinating in many ways, and the one presented in Cactus Heart is at times riveting. Mapstone uses modern technology, from computerized databases to DNA testing, and combines it with handwritten police and medical records from decades earlier to piece together how those two boys came to be entombed in the warehouse. He also deftly negotiates overlapping jurisdictions in investigating the crime and skillfully handles the politically sensitive task of taking on a still powerful Arizona family.

Talton manages to integrate Mapstone's personal life, his strengths and weaknesses, his doubts and fears, into Cactus Heart without detracting from the overall story. (The title actually refers to Mapstone himself, not some aspect of the crime.) This not only creates a strong, complex protagonist that contrasts well with other characters but also enhances key elements of the plot.

The plot itself gets a little convoluted on occasion and there are a few too many convenient coincidences that allow Mapstone to wrap things up neatly in the end, but these minor faults don't lessen the appeal of this very good mystery.

Special thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of Cactus Heart for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

For more visit Mysterious Reviews, a partner with the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books which is committed to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Press Release: The 2007 Arthur Ellis Award Winners Announced

TORONTO, June 7 /CNW/ - At a ceremony on Thursday evening the Crime Writers of Canada handed out the 2007 Arthur Ellis Awards, Canada's premier award for excellence in the crime genre for work published in 2006. This year marks the 24th anniversary of the prestigious awards, named after the nom de travail of Canada's official hangman. The winners:

• Best Novel: Barbara Fradkin - Honour Among Men
• Best Non-Fiction: Brian O'Dea - High: Confessions of a Pot Smuggler
• Best Juvenile: Sean Cullen - Hamish X and the Cheese Pirates
• Best First Novel: Anne Emery - Sign of the Cross
• Best Short Story: Dennis Richard Murphy - "Fuzzy Wuzzy" in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (August 2006)

Read the entire press release here.

Please visit our new website, , where we list the winning authors and titles of many major mystery awards including the past winners of the .

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Mystery Bestsellers for June 08, 2007

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten for the week ending June 08, 2007 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Sleeping Doll by Jeffery DeaverTwo previous bestselling authors have new books in the top 10 this week. Topping the list at Barnes&Noble.com: by , featuring California Bureau of Investigation investigator Kathryn Dance. When a criminal mastermind Daniel "Son of Manson" Pell escapes custody, leaving behind a trail of dead and injured, Dance finds herself in charge of her first-ever manhunt. But far from simply fleeing, Pell turns on his pursuers -- and other innocents -- for reasons Dance and her colleagues can't discern. As the idyllic Monterey Peninsula is paralyzed by the elusive killer, Dance turns to the past to find the truth about what Daniel Pell is really up to. Publishers Weekly says, "Deaver digs into his bottomless bag of unexpected twists and turns, keeping readers wide-eyed with surprise."

Spare Change by Robert B. ParkerAlso new this week: , the 6th mystery featuring private investigator Sunny Randall by Robert B. Parker. When a serial murderer dubbed "The Spare Change Killer" by the Boston press surfaces after three decades in hiding, the police immediately seek out the cop, now retired, who headed the original task force: Phil Randall, Sunny's father. As a sharp-eyed investigator and a doting parent, Phil calls on his daughter to help catch the criminal who eluded him so many years before. Publishers Weekly states, "Parker hits most of the right notes, and there's still ingenuity to his cat-and-mouse."

We've upgraded our website to allow you to easily purchase any bestselling mystery book featured on our site over the past 8 months. Let us know what you think!

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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Thursday, June 07, 2007

News: Vote for the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year

The long list for the third Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award, the only literary prize of its kind to be voted for by the general public, is now available online. The list features an eclectic mix of new writers and established authors with crime novels across the genre, from historical, to police procedural, to psychological.

Vote for your favorite Old Peculier Crime Novel here.

While we're on the subject, mystery author has written an exclusive story called He Taught Me Everything I Know for the Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival and has set clues and information to see if you can solve the crime and work out whodunit. (Visit the whodunit competition website here.) There will be clues appearing on the Festival, Theakston's and Waterstone's websites over the next six weeks, and contestants can then e-mail their suspect to the event organizers and have the chance to win a number of exclusive prizes.

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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Mystery Book Review: Lipstick and Lies by Margit Liesche

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Lipstick and Lies by Margit Liesche. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Lipstick and Lies by Margit Liesche

Lipstick and Lies by
A Pucci Lewis Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-320-5 (1590583205)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-320-3 (9781590583203)
Publication Date: April 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Women Airforce Service Pilot and undercover agent, Pucci Lewis, did not want to go to jail. But how else could she unmask Grace Buchanan-Dineen, an imprisoned countess-counteragent suspected of triple dealing and possibly putting our country's future at risk?

Dineen, a real-life figure, led a German spy ring that operated in during WWII. Confronted by the FBI, she agreed to act as a counteragent helping to nail the other ring members. Jailed along with her cohorts--"for her own protection"--her rancor ran deep.

Enter Pucci, landing in a B-24 bomber at the Willow Run aircraft factory. Late for a meeting, she takes a shortcut and stumbles upon a corpse. Agent Dante appears and reveals the dead man to be a German spy. A fellow Willow Run employee, Otto Renner, has been under surveillance and the FBI suspects a link between Renner and the imprisoned countess. Dante convinces Pucci to become a sister inmate to see what she can learn.

Pucci's undercover work quickly ratchets up. In addition to her jail assignment, she infiltrates a posh women's club where Dineen, billed as a "charm consultant," once lectured. Her mission: Are Dineen's former club contacts, the chic Barclay-Bly sisters and the club's beautician, Mrs. Otto Renner, moles?

A romance brewing between Pucci and Dante is sidelined by professional demands when they partner up on a surreptitious break in. As the story unfolds, they not only expose the espionage ring but also confront an even greater threat to home land security.

Review: Margit Liesche's debut mystery, Lipstick and Lies, is a fictional story of the many women who during World War II exhibited loyalty and a willingness to do anything to help the war effort on the home front. She dares to introduce the reader to actual people who were a part of the chaos that threatened America in 1942. Although her story depicts to some degree the many facets where women became critical to the defense of America, she focuses primarily on the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and the Morale Operations (MO).

Margit Liesche takes the reader through the highs and lows of Detroit in 1942. The action begins with the MO working in conjunction with the FBI. Nearby was the Ford Motor Plant where the design and manufacture of new and complex parts for planes, tanks and trucks were crucial to the war effort overseas. There were spies and traitors in the Ford Plant, and also in the FBI. The task of unmasking these people fell to Pucci Lewis, who had just been transferred from WASP to MO. FBI Agent Dante guides Pucci through her new assignment: she must go to jail to question and hopefully to get answers from a countess/counterspy. It is subsequently necessary for her to join an exclusive women’s club and become friends with whomever the FBI deems suspicious. It is her obligation again to ask questions and trust she will get answers.

Lipstick and Lies is a truly provocative story. Those who lived during that period will experience memories among the words of the story. Those who did not live during that time will find the story intriguing, suspenseful, and exciting. It was a time when women volunteered to do the jobs of men on the home front so that the men could fulfill their eagerness to go overseas where the action was. Pucci was happy being a WASP. She loved to fly all the Air Force’s planes, from the smallest to the largest, across country. Duty called her, however, to the MO division with the FBI. During her stint she expresses deep emotions of loneliness, fear, pain, and anxiety. From the women Pucci meet at the jail and the club, and the men she connected with both at the FBI and the Ford Plant, she is pretty confident who is loyal to America and who is true to the Axis Powers. Without substantial proof, is Pucci right? Only a showdown will tell.

The ending of the book is great! It is also a mystery—one that Margit Liesche encourages the reader to give some serious thought and to solve for themselves.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Lipstick and Lies and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

For more visit Mysterious Reviews, a partner with the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books which is committed to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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News: 2007 CWA Dagger Awards Shortlist Announced

The Crime Writers Association today announced the six book shortlist for the Duncan Lawrie Dagger, the biggest crime writing prize in the world. The winner of the £20,000 prize will be announced at the 2007 Dagger Awards ceremony, taking place at the Four Seasons Hotel in London's Park Lane on Thursday July 05, 2007.

In alphabetical order by author's last name, the shortlist is as follows:

Fields of Grief by (HarperCollins).
Pegasus Descending by (Orion).
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (Weidenfeld & Nicolson).
Brother Grimm by Craig Russell (Hutchinson).
Sovereign by C. J. Sansom (Macmillan).
The Broken Shore by Peter Temple (Quercus).

The CWA also announced today the six book shortlist for the New Blood Dagger, formerly the CWA John Creasey Memorial Dagger, which is awarded in memory of CWA founder John Creasey, for first books by previously unpublished writers.

In alphabetical order by author's last name, the shortlist is as follows:

Objects of Desire by C. J. Emerson.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (Weidenfeld & Nicolson).
The Wrong Kind of Blood by Declan Hughes (John Murray).
Borderlands by Brian McGilloway.
Last Days of Newgate by Andrew Pepper (Weidenfeld & Nicolson).
Dead of Summer by Camilla Way (HarperCollins).

For more information on the Dagger Awards, visit the CWA website here.

Please visit our new website, , where we list the winning authors and titles of many major mystery awards including the past winners of the .

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Profile: Cosmo Editor Kate White's Dark Side

Joe Meyers, writing for the Connecticut Post, recently interviewed , the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, a high-powered Manhattan job that many people might kill for. Though White doesn't have the sort of personality that inspires those figurative killers who love to cut powerful New York women down to size, she does have a dark side that she has been exploring in a series of very popular mystery novels set in her own world of Manhattan magazines and entertainment featuring crime reporter Bailey Weggins. The 5th mystery of the series, , was published this month.

The Bailey Weggins books grew out of White's lifelong love of mysteries, Meyers writes, going all the way back to childhood hours spent with the Nancy Drew series. When her own children reached that teenage stage of spending most of their weekend mornings sleeping, the editor found herself called upon for fewer "mom" hours on her days off and she began to devote that time to mystery writing.

"I do love the 'cozy' style of a good puzzle and a long list of suspects. Clues that can add up, but also red herrings to keep readers guessing," White said. She then admits that for a series that offers Christie-like puzzles with up-to-the-minute Manhattan style and media world dish, "But I try to add suspense and relationships and romance to the mix, too, so it is a bit of a crossover."

"I don't have a heck of a lot of time to write, so it helps that I know Bailey so well now. I know what kind of wise-ass remark she would make and what she wouldn't say, too," White said.

Read the rest of Meyer's interview with Kate White on ConnPost.com here.

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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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Protector by Laurel Dewey

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

Protector by
A Jane Perry Mystery

ATN Group Publishing (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-884820-85-9 (1884820859)
ISBN-13: 978-1-884820-85-4 (9781884820854)
Publication Date: February 2007
List Price: $19.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): homicide detective Jane Perry, a hard-drinking, street savvy investigator, possesses an almost psychic instinct for solving the most jarring homicides. But now, that intuitive insight has taken on an eerie twist. Ever since the murder of a family Jane and her partner were protecting, she has been plagued with disconnected images that predict events yet to happen.

One of Jane’s disturbing visions leads to nine-year-old Emily Lawrence, a child thought to have witnessed the brutal stabbing death of her parents but unable to remember anything about that horrific moment. The two characters fatefully come together, unaware that they share a mystical connection.

Review: Laurel Dewey's debut mystery novel, Protector, is an exciting, intriguing, and sometimes frightening thriller.

Chris Crawley and Jane Perry, partners in the Denver Police Department, are hardened, leathery, obscene talking detectives who have worked together for years. Off duty Jane drinks entirely too much whiskey and is a chain smoker. Their current case is an unsolved murder of a protected informant facing trial, plus his wife and ten-year-old daughter. The clues for discovering who the culprits are in this case just do not fit together. Before they can even begin to nail down a suspect, another seemingly innocent husband and wife are killed. Their nine and one half-year-old daughter, Emily, hid in an upstairs closet under blankets surviving the attack. Dewey steers the reader through the trauma and heartbreak of Emily’s experience. Even before Jane and Emily know each other they appear to have a psychic connection. Jane, who at the age of ten began having an extremely unhappy and troublesome childhood, can understand Emily’s dilemma. Emily is then placed in Jane’s protective custody. It is a fascinating story to see how Jane and Emily realize there is a connection and how they act upon it.

Though the mystery in Protector is about the investigation of the gruesome murders of five people who appear to be innocent victims and the intense search for the criminals responsible, the heart of the novel concerns Jane and Emily. The young girl is a witness to one of the crimes, but this tableau is locked deep in her subconscious. Jane is ordered by her superiors to take Emily to a safe-house away from Denver where she is to care for her, watch her, and above all try to help her remember what happened the night her parents were killed.

Jane, a single woman, is hardly the motherly type. Her home looks like a disaster hit it. Empty beer bottles, whiskey bottles, overloaded ashtrays, empty pizza boxes, and more fill every open space. She can’t cook so orders in pizza, buys frozen entrees to microwave, and burns toast. In contrast, Emily grew up with a mother who would put Martha Stewart to shame. This contrast is just one of the situations in which Jane and Emily have to face when they move to a safe house in a small town in Colorado. They have to change their names so Jane becomes Anne, mother to Emily now Patty. Jane trusts no one in this small city, not even the sheriff, but Emily embraces folks as old friends. What happens in the weeks following their arrival was sometime humorous, sometimes childish, and sometimes downright scary. Somewhere along the way, Jane’s and Emily’s minds miraculously began to connect. They were able to understand each other without words or signs. Because of the connection, Emily was able to recall the night her parents were killed and she could finally identify the killer. In an awesome scene at the town’s water tower, Jane truly became Emily’s protector.

Dewey has included other important and worthwhile characters in the story, but in the end it is the relationship between Jane and Emily that makes Protector a great novel and a fabulous mystery.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Protector and to Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

For more visit Mysterious Reviews, a partner with the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books which is committed to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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News: 2007 Quill Awards Nominations Announced

At BookExpo America this past weekend, five nominees in each of 18 categories were announced for the 2007 Quill Awards. The Quill Awards are the only book awards to pair a populist sensibility with Hollywood-style glitz. They are the first literary prizes to reflect the tastes of all the groups that matter most in publishing--- readers, booksellers and librarians.

In the Mystery/Suspense category, the nominees are:

The Collaborator of Bethlehem by Matt Beynon Rees (Soho Press).
What the Dead Know by (William Morrow).
Body of Lies by David Ignatius (W. W. Norton).
The Overlook by (Little, Brown and Co.).
A Welcome Grave by Michael Koryta (St. Martin's Minotaur).

The 2007 Quill Awards will be presented on October 22, 2007, during a gala ceremony at Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York City.

For more information, visit the Quill Awards website here.

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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Press Release: Authors to Share Their Secrets at CraftFest 2007

New York, NY (PRWEB) June 3, 2007 -- New York area aspiring and experienced fiction writers have the opportunity to live a dream. Those who have toiled for years in high school and college level creative writing courses will be able to leapfrog to the head of the class on July 12th when some of the greatest best selling authors alive all gather for the International Thriller Writers convention at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan to teach their techniques.

While many two week or month long courses that cost hundreds of dollars offer a local author or two to talk about the craft and industry, CraftFest offers a whole shelf for only $250:

David Morrell, legendary author of the Rambo series tells the secrets of how to uncover the subject matter and voice that's uniquely your own.

James Rollins has sold thrillers in twenty-one countries and is a mainstay on the NYTimes Top 10. He'll reveal how to hook readers on your first page and keep them turning for more.

Medical thriller bestseller will show you how to develop your idea into a fully fledged plot and teach you how to research the idea to the readers' heart-stopping point.

Hone your novel to a razor's edge with Lisa Gardner, as she teaches you how to recognize "telling" versus "showing" in your plot. Dr. D. P. Lyle, author and medical consultant for television shows such as and will reveal how to create realistic psychology in your villain. Later, , will discuss creating a series character, while espionage writer Gayle Lynds shows you how to create nail-biting suspense. Every step of a bestseller is detailed as David Hewson, Jon Land, David Hagberg, and more take the stage to guide you through the writing process.

CraftFest, the International Thriller Writers Thriller School, will take place on Thursday, July 12, 2007. It begins at 10:00 a.m., and ends at 4:50 p.m. You'll have lunch with your favorite thriller writers, plus well-known agents and editors from 12:00 - 1:50 and those who stick around after class will get bonus "Buzz Your Book" tips from bestseller from 5:00 to 5:50.

Read the entire press release here.

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, June 04, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Hot Rocks by Lev Raphael

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

Hot Rocks by
A Nick Hoffman Mystery

Perseverance Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-880284-83-9 (1880284839)
ISBN-13: 978-1-880284-83-4 (9781880284834)
Publication Date: April 2007
List Price: $14.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Fitness = Death, when Nick Hoffman heads back to the gym after his Caribbean vacation, finding himself caught in a Desperate Housewives-type mystery.

Just back from their Caribbean vacation, professor Nick Hoffman and his partner, Stefan Borowski, need to get back in shape. Michigan Muscle is a luxurious health club near the State University of Michigan. With the latest equipment and top-notch personal trainers, it‘s a palatial complex for fitness. But every palace has its intrigue, and when Nick finds a dead trainer in the steam room, he‘s drawn into a web of passion and privilege unlike anything he‘s experienced before. The prime suspect because he discovered the body, Nick has to work out this mystery to its bitter end.

Review: Hot Rocks is the 7th mystery by Lev Raphael in the Nick Hoffman series set in a major metropolis in .

The opening chapter of Hot Rocks sets the stage for a interesting locked room-type murder mystery: Nick Hoffman, relaxing in the steam room at a popular health club, tries to engage the room's only other occupant, Vlado, a trainer at the club, in conversation. When he realizes that Vlado reminds him of the young poet depicted in the painting The Death of Chatterton, he begins to suspect that Vlado may be dead. And indeed he is, murdered by a blunt object struck to the head. With all the people coming and going at the club, how could someone have killed Vlado without being seen?

Unfortunately, the who, how, and why aspects of the murder are largely set aside until the very end. Both how the crime was committed and how Nick puts the pieces together to solve it are very clever indeed. But what transpires between the beginning and the end borders on the tedious.

Part of the problem is in the description of Nick's friend Juno Dromgoole. She's intended to be a larger-than-life character with exaggerated features. But she dominates whatever scene she is in to the point of distraction. And her presence is pervasive, overpowering that of Nick Hoffman. Less, much less, of Juno would truly equate to a more, far more, readable and enjoyable book.

A more subtle problem lays in Raphael's constant use of literary and artistic references. Comparing Vlado to Chatterton in the first chapter is inspired; even if the reader had never seen the painting, they could imagine what might be depicted and construct a mental picture of the dead trainer in the steam room. But scarcely a page goes by without some simile being presented. Some of these work well; consider this eloquent passage: "I couldn't figure out what was underneath her languor, but it felt insidious, maybe even corrupt. Though not as strange, she reminded me of Carmen Sternwood in The Big Sleep." But most references are either just contextually odd ("I don't see how you ended up studying Wharton. Your period is really the Picaresque, and Juno is right out of Fielding.") or nonsensical ("My new [chairman] had recently risen to the top through politicking as arcane as some of the references in The Da Vinci Code.").

Some might find Raphael's writing in this manner witty, but it's mostly arduous and tiresome.

Finally, Raphael tends to use unusual names for his characters, so a Who's Who at the beginning is a very helpful addition for keeping track of them.

Hot Rocks is a near miss: a terrific mystery overwhelmed by verbiage.

Special thanks to Perseverance Press for providing a copy of Hot Rocks for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

For more visit Mysterious Reviews, a partner with the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books which is committed to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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Mysteries on TV: CHiPs, The Fall Guy, Mission Impossible

Mysteries on TVTelevision series being released this week on DVD:

CHiPs Season 1CHiPs, Season 1 starred Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada (pictured on the DVD cover) as California Highway Patrol motorcycle cops (CHiPs) Officer Jon Baker and Officer Frank "Ponch" Poncherello.

The series ran for 6 seasons on NBC from September 1977 through May 1983.

This DVD set includes the 22 episodes from the 1st season on 6 disks. Additional features include an introduction and trivia with Erik Estrada on select episodes and a retrospective featurette.

The Fall Guy Season 1The Fall Guy, Season 1 starred Lee Majors as bounty hunter and stunt man Colt Seavers. Special effects were often included as a part of his effort to capture criminals.

The series ran for 5 seasons on ABC from November 1981 through May 1986.

This DVD set includes 23 episodes from the 1st season on 6 disks. The featurette Remembering the Fall Guy: An American Classic is included on the first disk.

Mission: Impossible Season 2Mission: Impossible, Season 2 introduced Peter Graves as the new leader of the IMF, Jim Phelps. Returning team members included Cinnamon Carter (Barbara Bain), Rollin Hand (Martin Landau), Barney Collier (Greg Morris), and Willie Armitage (Peter Lupus).

The original series ran for 7 seasons on CBS from September 1966 through March 1973. An updated version of the series aired on ABC during the 1988/1989 television season.

This DVD set includes 23 episodes (including 2 2-part episodes) from the 2nd season on 7 disks.

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

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