Monday, July 09, 2007

Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for July 09, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for July 09, 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 D E G N O R S U. _____ Games is the title of the 17th Inspector Woodend mystery 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!

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Compendium of Mystery News 070708

Today's compendium of recently published mystery news articles:

• Newsweek has an excerpt from Elmore Leonard's Up in Honey's Room as well as a list of his five most important books.

• Kit Ehrman's Triple Cross is a finalist in the fiction category for the Best Books of Indiana. (MBN note: a review is available at Mysterious Reviews.)

• Jabari Asim of the Washington Post reviews Stephen L. Carter's second mystery set in the world of upper-class black Americans in New England White.

• The Globe and Mail's Margaret Cannon reviews several new mysteries in her latest column, including Stalin's Ghost by Martin Cruz Smith.

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are committed to providing readers and collectors of mystery books with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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Mystery Book Review: Cut to the Bone by Shane Gericke

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

Cut to the Bone by
A Emily Thompson Mystery

Pinnacle (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7860-1814-3 (0786018143)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7860-1814-7 (9780786018147)
Publication Date: June 2007
List Price: $6.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): No judge. No jury. No mercy.

The victims bear a madman's grisly marks. Each one is cut with chilling precision and then savagely mutilated ...

Martin Benedetti, detective commander for the suburb of Naperville, Illinois, sheriff's office, is no stranger to ruthless killers. Two years ago Marty and local police detective Emily Thompson solved a particularly brutal case of serial murder. But this time it's different. This time, the carnage that has been wrought is only the horrific prelude to another more shocking act of evil—an act that will strike at the heart of everything Marty cherishes most.

Review: Shane Gericke's second Emily Thompson mystery, Cut to the Bone, again features a serial killer who is targeting the western Chicago suburb of Naperville.

Emily and her professional and romantic partner Marty Benedetti are having a spa day when the receptionist is quickly and efficiently murdered, the killer escaping virtually unnoticed. After Emily enters the details of the crime into a national database, including the fact that the victim's nose was inexplicably broken and two barely burned wooden matches were found at the crime scene, she is contacted by other agencies around the country that have had similar crimes in their jurisdictions. They surmise that a serial killer is at work around the country, but don't know how the victims are connected. Meanwhile, Illinois prepares to execute the killer of a pregnant woman and her unborn child in a newly constructed facility built around the electric chair used several decaded earlier by the state. Emily concludes the serial killer and the pending execution are somehow related and as a result finds herself a target.

As with Gericke's previous mystery in this series, he is at his best in profiling and documenting the actions of the serial killer. The identity of the killer isn't revealed until the final pages and comes as something of a surprise; Gericke convincingly proffers several red herring candidates during the course of the book, any of which would seem to have motive and opportunity. From this perspective, Cut to the Bone works well as a suspense thriller.

But there are numerous problems with the book that are hard to overlook. Emily Thompson plays at best a minor role here. She's present at the spa murder and is presumably the lead detective in the case but spends most of her time wondering about her relationship with Marty Benedetti. The spa murder is 8th or 9th on the serial killer's list, so it is inexplicable that the connection with the broken noses and two burnt matches wasn't discovered earlier. On the same subject, there is never a credible explanation why the victim's noses were broken in the first place, and the relationship between the matches and the electric chair is truly far-fetched. The inclusion of a conversation between Supreme Court Justices Potter Stewart and William Rehnquist that takes place in 1972 where they discuss a pending case on the death penalty before the court, and share a chuckle over executions in Texas, is particularly odd. And probably most puzzling, in the end how did the serial killer expect to achieve his stated objective?

There are too many problems with Cut to the Bone to recommend it, but those looking for a quick read with an intriguing serial killer will likely enjoy it.

Special thanks to Breakthrough Promotions for providing an ARC of Cut to the Bone 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, July 07, 2007

First Clues: More Mysteries for Children and Young Adults

The First Clue Mysteries website was updated this weekend with seven additional series for the junior sleuths in your family.

The characters featured in the by Gertrude Chandler Warner are also in a series written for beginning readers. The feature Benny Alden (the youngest of the Boxcar children) and his dog Watch and will delight readers aged 4 to 6 with simple stories and colorful illustrations. There are currently 15 books in the series. (Note: Gertrude Chandler Warner died in 1979 but her publisher continues to produce mysteries for children in her name.)

The Character mysteries feature twins Charlie and Hailey and are written by Elizabeth L. Hamilton. These entertaining stories also illustrate character building traits that will resonate with the reader. Of the three books available, the first teaches the basic meaning of character. The second calls for courage of conviction. In the third the twins learn responsibility. This series is recommended for pre-teens.

Like the Benny and Watch mysteries, the Fletcher mysteries by Elizabeth Levy feature a character from another series though are written for a younger audience. Fletcher is a dog that belongs to Gwen and Jill (from the Something Queer mystery series, also by the same author). He and his flea Jasper help solve crimes in their neighborhood. The five books in this series are recommended for readers aged 6 to 9.

The Johnny Dixon mysteries combine suspense, science fiction, and fantasy. The first eight books in the series were written by John Bellairs, the author of several novels and two other series for young adults, who died in 1991. The ninth book, The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie, was completed by Brad Strickland who also has written the three most recently published mysteries in the series. These books are recommended for readers aged 9 to 12.

Written by Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry, the Red Rock mysteries feature 13-year-old twins Bryce and Ashley Timberline. Whether at home, in school or out chasing down evidence, both Bryce and Ashley bring their excitement and enthusiasm for seeking out justice and defending the needy to every task they undertake. Their investigative cases take on a fuller dimension as they learn to live out their faith in every area of life. The 15 books in this series are written for readers aged 8 to 12.

A series for young readers, the Sly the Sleuth mysteries by Donna Jo Napoli and her son Robert Furrow feature Sylvia "Sly" and her cat Taxi. They operate the Sleuth for Hire agency and use their wits and reasoning to solve problems for their friends and neighbors. Each of the three books in the series contains three mystery stores in the form of early reader chapter books. The Sly the Sleuth mysteries are recommended for new readers aged 4 to 6.

The first book in the Zeke Armstrong mysteries by Daniel Hale and his teenage nephew Matthew Labrot, Red Card, was the 2002 winner of the for Best Children's/Young Adult Mystery. Zeke Armstrong is a 13-year-old sports fanatic and amateur sleuth. There are currently two books in this series which is recommended for readers 10 and older.

is pleased to provide information on over 50 mystery series for children and young adults. Each series is conveniently listed under three different age categories (New Sleuth, ages 4 to 7; Future Sleuth, aged 7 to 10; and Sleuth in Training, ages 10 and older). If you have a favorite mystery series you'd like to see added to our site, please contact us.

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Compendium of Mystery News 070707

Today's compendium of recently published mystery news articles:

• Adventure Gamers reviews the latest Nancy Drew PC mystery game, The White Wolf of Icicle Creek, saying "its strong storyline and cast of characters are enough to create a solid addition to the series." (MBN Note: Visit to find all PC games in the .)

• Robert K. Elder writes in the Chicago Tribune about a group of mystery authors who have formed The Outfit, an online literary salon for crime fiction readers and writers.

Filmstew.com reports on the ten years it took actor Blair Underwood to write Casanegra, his debut mystery introducing gigolo-turned-actor Tennyson Hardwick.

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are committed to providing readers and collectors of mystery books with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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News: 2007 CWA Dagger Award Winners Announced

The Crime Writers' Association (CWA) has announced the winners of the 2007 Daggers, among the most pretigious awards recognizing excellence in mystery writing. The awards ceremony was held on July 5th at the Four Seasons Hotel on Park Lane in London.

The top prize, the Duncan Lawrie Dagger for best crime novel of the year, was awarded to Peter Temple for The Broken Shore. He also received £20,000.

Other prizes include:

Duncan Lawrie International Dagger for best crime novel translated into English: Wash this Blood Clean from My Hand by Fred Vargas.

The CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for best adventure/thriller in the style of James Bond: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.

The CWA New Blood Dagger for first books by previously unpublished authors: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.

The CWA Dagger in the Library which recognizes the author of crime fiction whose work is currently giving the greatest enjoyment to readers: Stuart MacBride.

Congratulations from Mystery Book News to all the winners!

Please visit the website where lists of winners from 19 different organizations that recognize excellence in mysteries, including the , are presented.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Fear of Landing by David Waltner-Toews

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Fear of Landing by David Waltner-Toews. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Fear of Landing by David Waltner-Toews

Fear of Landing by
A Abner Dueck Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-349-3 (1590583493)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-349-4 (9781590583494)
Publication Date: June 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): On the islands of Java and Bali in the early 1980s, Western governments are pouring millions of dollars into development schemes even as Indonesian strongman President Suharto violently stifles dissent.

For Canadian veterinarian Abner Dueck, the "spice islands" are an exotic locale for the seemingly mundane work of examining dead cows and working with old friends. Dueck's life changes abruptly when some of the cows die under mysterious circumstances, and he meets a mysterious young Chinese woman; soon after, two of his friends-one Canadian and one Indonesian-are murdered.

Mennonite Dueck, marshalls the energy to battle Indonesian politics and the attempts of local businessmen, military rulers, and international "advisors" to manipulate development projects to their own ends.

And to unravel the mysterious deaths of both cattle and people, Dueck must first understand the long shadow that the 1966 massacres cast on Indonesian life, as well as the complexities of their music, and the demands and intrigues of love and conspiracy, death and mystery, and of course, cultural heritage and personal identity.

Review: Fear of Landing, by David Waltner-Toews, introduces Abner Dueck, a 35-year-old Canadian large-animal veterinarian, who volunteers to go to Indonesia as a disease investigator for farm animals. What he finds on the beautiful “Spice Islands” are American cows mysteriously dropping dead at odd times and seemingly for no reason. There is a total breakdown of the Indonesian politics, he is told, since the 1966 massacres. The country's rulers, or lack thereof, play an important part in the cattle mystery, plus in the death of two of his friends, one Canadian and one Indonesian.

Abner, unlike the multitudes of the people in Indonesia, lives in splendor. He has a car, and his own home with living room, kitchen, bedroom and bath. He makes friends very quickly and trusts everyone. When he does an autopsy on a recently deceased cow, his life becomes endangered. He is not permitted to do that again for fear he would know what and possibly who are killing the cows. He must challenge the attempts of the local merchants to manipulate the diseased cows for their own benefits. He meets and falls in love with a mysterious Chinese girl. The Chinese are not welcome in Indonesia because they are perceived to have too much money and power. When his friend from Canada is killed, he rushes to a fellow veterinarian for help and advice, only to find that he too has been killed also. He goes to the police who say nothing except that his visa has expired and he must be out of the country in five days. In those five days, Abner searches and finds the answers he needs.

Fear of Landing is a book with might and magnetism. The narrative up to and including the solution to the deaths of both the men and the cows is dynamic. Abner Dueck is a wonderful, complex character and, with the combination of exotic locales where he can practice his profession, this promises to be a very intriguing mystery series.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Fear of Landing 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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Mystery Bestsellers for July 06, 2007

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten for the week ending July 06, 2007 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website. Beginning this week we're combining data from multiple sources to produce a single mystery bestseller list that we believe better represents the entire market.

The Quickie by James PattersonNew on the list this week: James Patterson's latest stand-alone thriller, . When NYPD cop Lauren Stillwell discovers her husband leaving a hotel with another woman, she decides to beat him at his own game. But her revenge goes dangerously awry, and she finds her world spiraling into a hell that becomes more terrifying by the hour.

Also new is by Thomas Perry. Six years ago, Jack Till helped Wendy Harper disappear. But now her ex-boyfriend and former business partner, Eric Fuller, is being framed for her presumed murder in an effort to smoke her out, and Till must find her before tango-dancing assassins Paul and Sylvie Turner do. Silence by Thomas Perry states, "Certainly one of the best mysteries to be published this summer, Silence will keep the reader enthralled to the very end."

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, July 05, 2007

Compendium of Mystery News 070705

Today's compendium of recently published mystery news articles:

• Janet Evanovich speaks with Sheryl Ubelacker during a recent stop in Toronto on writing and promoting her books.

• Fox Searchlight announced that principal photography has begun on The Night Watchman from a screenplay based on an original script by James Ellroy.

• Timothy Rutten of the LA Times reviews The Night Ferry by Australian mystery writer Michael Robotham, calling it a superior thriller.

Reuters interviews Scott Turow who says imagination, not experience, is key to writing.

• John Preston of the Telegraph reviews the Aurelio Zen mystery End Games by Michael Dibin who died this past March at age 60.

• Claudia La Rocco of The New York Times reviews the third mystery in the Sonchai Jitpleecheep series, Bangkok Haunts by John Burdett.

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are committed to providing readers and collectors of mystery books with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Mystery Book Review: The Blue Cheer by Ed Lynskey

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

The Blue Cheer by
A Frank Johnson Mystery

Point Blank Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-8095-5667-7 (0809556677)
ISBN-13: 978-0-8095-5667-0 (9870809556670)
Publication Date: February 2007
List Price: $12.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): P. I. Frank Johnson has moved to Scarab, West Virginia, drawn by the promise of lazy days and the lure of its tranquil mountains.

What he finds instead is a Stinger rocket exploding over his back yard. His ensuing investigation uncovers a cult called the Blue Cheer, a racist group with ugly terrorist plans. As events heat up, blood starts to spill, and for Frank it all gets real personal real quick. With the help of his bounty hunter pal, he sets out to bring the Blue Cheer to justice -- any way he can!

Review: Ed Lynskey changes the venue for Frank Johnson in his second mystery, The Blue Cheer, placing the private investigator in West Virginia to solve a senseless murder.

The wife of an old friend, confined to a wheelchair, is brutally tortured and murdered. Why would anyone harm someone who was so harmless? Frank and the victim's husband, Old Man Maddox, set out to avenge her death, and quickly suspect that a cult group living in the West Virginia mountains may be responsible. Called the Blue Cheer, the organization advocates the separation of races but also promotes atheism. Old Man is black, his dead wife white; could her murder have been a message that the Blue Cheer doesn't tolerate mixed marriages in its neighborhood? Or could it mean something more sinister?

For what is arguably a hard-boiled mystery novel, The Blue Cheer is deft in drawing the reader into the story using a subtle, nuanced approach to plotting and in narrative. After Old Man is gunned down, it's clear that the case is more complex than Frank originally thought and rather than go it alone he brings in another old friend, bounty hunter extraordinaire (by his own admission) Gerald Peyton, to continue the investigation. Frank and Gerald work at the fringes of the law to bring down the Blue Cheer and ensure that Old Man and his wife's murders don't go unpunished.

The only inconsistency in this fine mystery is the subplot involving Frank's imprisoned (and later escaped) cousin Rodney Bellweather. It's not obvious that including Frank's role in tracking down Rodney adds any value to the book nor is its resolution, independent and unrelated to that of the main plot, very satisfactory.

The Blue Cheer is a P. I. novel at its best and deserves to be recognized as such.

Special thanks to Point Blank Press for providing an ARC of The Blue Cheer 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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Monday, July 02, 2007

News: Macavity Award Nominations for 2007

Nominations for the 2007 have been posed on the Mystery Readers International (MRI) website. The Macavity Award is named for the "mystery cat" of T. S. Eliot (Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats). Each year the members of MRI vote for their favorite mysteries in several categories.

The nominees for Best Mystery Novel and Best First Novel are:

Best Mystery Novel:

by [John Banville] (Henry Holt/Picador)
by Jason Goodwin (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
by Denise Mina (Bantam)
by Nancy Pickard (Ballantine)
by Peter Robinson (McClelland & Stewart)
by Julia Spencer-Fleming (St. Martin's Minotaur)

Best First Novel:

by (St. Martin's Minotaur)
by Troy Cook (Capital Crime Press)
by John Hart (St. Martin's Minotaur)
by Cornelia Read (Mysterious Press)
by Nick Stone (Michael Joseph Ltd/Penguin)

For a list of nominees in all categories, visit the MRI website.

The 2007 award winners will be announced September 27th during the opening ceremonies of Bouchercon, the World Mystery convention, in Anchorage, Alaska.

Please visit the website where lists of winners from 19 different organizations that recognize excellence in mysteries, including the , are presented.

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Mystery Book Review: Silence by Thomas Perry

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

Silence by
Non-Series

Harcourt (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-15-101289-X (015101289X)
ISBN-13: 978-0-15-101289-3 (9780151012893)
Publication Date: July 2007
List Price: $25.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): Six years ago, Jack Till helped Wendy Harper disappear. But now her ex-boyfriend and former business partner, Eric Fuller, is being framed for her presumed murder in an effort to smoke her out, and Till must find her before tango-dancing assassins Paul and Sylvie Turner do.

The Turners are merely hired to do a job, though, and prefer to remain anonymous. When they find that a middleman has let the true employer know their identities, finishing the job is no longer enough. Their fee just went up. And now they must double-cross the man who wants Wendy dead before he can double-cross them—if their jealousy and cold-blooded calculations don’t result in a fatal lovers’ quarrel first.

Review: In Thomas Perry’s new thriller, Silence, Wendy Harper and her ex-boyfriend/best friend, Eric Fuller are the owners of an upscale restaurant in Los Angeles where Wendy is the manager and Eric is the prize-winning chef. On her way home from the restaurant one night she is accosted at her front door, beaten with a baseball bat to her legs and body and fists to her face. Her attackers leave her for dead. She survives, however, and when she recovers she hires private investigator Jack Till to help her run away. Jack, who had retired recently from the police force, suggested that she contact the police, but she is so afraid that another attempt on her life, or maybe someone she loved, would be made again.

Finally Jack agrees. He tells her all she must do and must not do to be successful. She must change her identity and go to a place where no one would think she would possibly go. She could tell no one, not even him, what her plans are. She leaves and was not heard from again …until Eric is framed for her murder.

Even though there is no body and scant evidence, Eric is arrested. Jack sets out on his journey to find Wendy so Eric could be cleared. But what Jack did not know was that the men who wanted her dead six years ago still want her dead. These men hire married Tango-loving assassins Sylvie and Paul Turner to finish the job for them. Meanwhile, Jack enlists the help of his police buddies, and uses every tactic and method he knows to try to find her before the assassins do. Sylvie and Paul track down Jack and follow him wherever he goes, killing anyone and everyone who gets in their way.

Although Silence is a fairly long book, Perry keeps the plot moving along at a very fast pace. The reader's interest is piqued on nearly every page when new characters are introduced, some of which are vital to the story, and others who are merely incidental. Though the story follows both Jack's and the Turner's pursuit of Wendy, it is the latter that is somewhat more interesting, with Perry tempering the suspense with bits of tongue-in-cheek humor.

Certainly one of the best mysteries to be published this summer, Silence will keep the reader enthralled to the very end.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Silence and to Harcourt 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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Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for July 02, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for July 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 B E N O P R S T. He is the author of The Water Thief, a historical mystery featuring Aelius Spartianus (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, July 01, 2007

Compendium of Mystery News 070701

Today's compendium of recently published mystery news articles:

• CinemaBlend.com reports that James McTeigue, the director of V for Vendetta, is attached to a screen version of Bangkok 8, the first mystery in the Sonchai Jetpleecheep series by John Burdett.

• The New York Times writes about web-based thrillers and mysteries in Online Cliffhangers: You Choose the Cliff.

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: Point and Shoot by G. D. Baum

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Point and Shoot by G. D. Baum. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Point and Shoot by G. D. Baum

Point and Shoot by G. D. Baum
A Lock Tourmaline Mystery

BookSurge (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-4196-1981-0 (1419619810)
ISBN-13: 978-1-4196-1981-6 (9781419619816)
Publication Date: September 2006
List Price: $14.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Hired as a bodyguard to protect the daughter of a Korean drug lord during a meeting with the drug lord’s arch rival, private investigator Lock Tourmaline finds himself betrayed when the drug lord is assassinated. The hit may or may not have been instigated by either the latter’s offspring, rival gang members or corrupt officers of the Police Department.

One of those officers is dating Lock’s ex-wife. Lock struggles to extricate her from a dangerous entanglement with both her corrupt lover and an addiction to cocaine. In the midst of all this, the woman he now loves is slowly succumbing to terminal cancer, and her fifteen-year-old daughter is sinking more deeply into suicidal depression. Moreover, everyone seems to want a piece of Lock, from Heung’s men, who are stalking him, to the cops who seem poised to either help or betray him.

Review: G. D. Baum's debut novel, Point and Shoot, introduces ex-cop, private investigator, and martial arts expert Lothar "Lock" Tourmaline in an action-packed, though somewhat aimless, mystery of a high-level Korean mob meeting gone wrong.

In an attempt to solidify their power and political influence in northern New Jersey, two powerful Korean mob families agree to meet to discuss joining ranks. Neither side trusts the other, and insists that bodyguards of their own choosing be present. Lock and his ex-cop partner Henry Cho are hired to specifically protect Susan, daughter of the patriarch of the Heung family, all of whom are meeting with their primary rival, Cousin Bodacious. Midway through their discussions, Lock and Cho are dispatched to deal with a police presence outside during which time Susan's father is assasinated. Did the killers take advantage of Lock's absense to strike, or were the police a clever diversion intended to get Lock out of the way?

There are a lot of action sequences in Point and Shoot, all of which are meticulously written and feature carefully choreographed martial arts moves with details on the execution of the move and what is expected to be accomplished as a result. And characters are defined more by their martial arts abilities than anything else; the "Grandfather" character is god-like and seems to have supernatural powers. But there isn't much of a plot to link everything together. It's as if Baum made a list of martial arts moves and characters that could perform them, and then came up with a series of vignettes in which he could incorporate both. There are several stories here of which only one could be termed a mystery: who killed Mr. Heung. But while most of the various storylines have some sort of resolution, including the "and, oh, by the way, it's a book about a man who loves a woman who's dying of cancer", the mystery does not. Who did kill Mr. Heung?

As a mystery, Point and Shoot is a disappointment made more so since Baum could have easily written a proper conclusion without being unreasonably ambiguous. As a martial arts action, adventure fantasy, it works well: no plot required. As a love story, the jury is still out.

Special thanks to Author Marketing Expert for providing a copy of Point and Shoot 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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