Friday, August 10, 2007

Compendium of Mystery News 070810

Today's compendium of recently published mystery news articles:

• FirstBook.org conducted a survey to which over 100,000 people answered the question, What got you hooked on reading? The number one response: the Nancy Drew series of mysteries.

• Speaking of Nancy Drew, Her Interactive has issued a press release announcing the launch of the company’s first TV DVD game, Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor.

The Hollywood Reporter reports that Camryn Manheim, Leslie Hope and Kathy Baker have joined the cast of the CBS made-for-television movie Jesse Stone: Thin Ice, the fifth installment in the successful Tom Selleck franchise from Sony Pictures Television. The movies are based on the mystery series character created by Robert B. Parker.

Otto Penzler's column this week in the New York Sun is an entertaining series of "Did you know ..." questions. A sample: Did you know that in Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man, which was the inspiration for a series of movies starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, the "thin man" refers to the murder victim?

Variety is reporting that HBO has officially picked up the series True Blood based on the Southern Vampire series of mysteries by .

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.

Return to Mystery Books News ...

Mystery Bestsellers for August 10, 2007

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten for the week ending August 10, 2007 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

No change in the top five bestsellers this week: , , , , and retain their positions from last week.

The Burnt House by Faye KellermanOne of the two new mysteries on this list this week debuts in the 6th position: , the 16th mystery in the Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus series by Faye Kellerman. At 8:15 in the morning, a small commuter plane carrying forty-seven passengers crashes into an apartment building in Granada Hills, California. Shock waves ripple through Los Angeles, as LAPD Lieutenant Peter Decker works overtime to calm rampant fears of a 9/11-type terror attack. But a grisly mystery lives inside the plane's charred and twisted wreckage: the unidentified bodies of four extra travelers. And there is no sign of an airline employee who was supposedly on the catastrophic flight. Decker launches an investigation that carries him down a path of tragic history, dangerous secrets, and deadly lies—and leads him to the corpse of a three-decades-missing murder victim. And as the jagged pieces slowly fall into place, a frightening picture begins to form: a mind-searing portrait of unimaginable evil that will challenge Decker's and Rina's own beliefs about guilt and innocence and justice.

The Careful Use of Compliments by Alexander McCall SmithThe other new book on the list is , the 4th entry in the Isabel Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith. In addition to being the nosiest and most sympathetic philosopher you are likely to meet, Isabel is now a mother. Charlies, her newborn son, presents her with a myriad wonders of a new life, and doting father Jamie presents her with an intriguing proposal: marriage. In the midst of all this, she receives a disturbing letter announcing that she has been ousted as editor of the Review of Applied Ethics. None of these things, however, in any way diminishes Isabel's curiosity. And when she attends an art auction, she finds an irresistible puzzle: two paintings attributed to a now-deceased artist appear on the market at the same time, and both of them exhibit some unusual characteristics. Are these paintings forgeries? This proves to be sufficient fodder for Isabel's inquisitiveness. So she begins an investigation ... and soon finds herself diverging from her philosophical musings about fatherhood onto a path that leads her into the mysteries of the art world and the soul of an artist.

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.

Return to Mystery Books News ...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Dead Connection by Alafair Burke

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

Dead Connection by
An Ellie Hatcher Mystery

Henry Holt (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-8050-7785-5 (0805077855)
ISBN-13: 978-0-8050-7785-8 (9780805077858)
Publication Date: July 2007
List Price: $19.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): When two young women are murdered on the streets of New York, exactly one year apart, Detective Ellie Hatcher is called up for a special assignment on the homicide task force. The killer has left behind a clue connecting the two cases to First Date, a popular online dating service, and Flann McIlroy, an eccentric, publicity-seeking homicide detective, is convinced that only Ellie can help him pursue his terrifying theory: someone is using the lure of the Internet and the promise of love to launch a killing spree against the women of New York City.

To catch the killer, Ellie must enter a high-tech world of stolen identities where no one is who they appear to be. And for her, the investigation quickly becomes personal: she fits the profile of the victims, and she knows firsthand what pursuing a sociopath can do to a cop—back home in Wichita, Kansas, her father lost his life trying to catch a notorious serial murderer.

When the First Date killer begins to mimic the monster who destroyed her father, Ellie knows the game has become personal for him, too. Both hunter and prey, she must find the killer before he claims his next victim—who could very well be her.

Review: Alafair Burke introduces NYPD rookie detective Ellie Hatcher on the trail of an internet serial killer in Dead Connection.

To her surprise and delight, Ellie has been recruited to the Homicide Division by Detective Flann McIlroy to work with him on two murders that share some striking similarities. The slaying of Carolyn Hunter took place just one year to the day before the killing of Amy Davis. Both young women were in their thirties, beautiful, and well-educated with a brilliant future ahead of them. Both victims were shot twice in the back of their head. And both were members of an online dating service, FirstDate.com. There was a note left on Amy’s body by the killer admitting to the murders and promising many more to come. Like his victims, he, too, used the Internet, logged on to FirstDate.com, provided fake names and bogus e-mail identities, and used stolen credit cards to pay for the service. He enticed the women he found attractive with an altered photo of himself, lies about himself, and promises of love. Ellie puts herself in this dark, forbidding world of crime on the Internet knowing it is her duty to unearth the killer before he finds and kills her.

This fast-paced thriller is exciting from start to finish. Burke has created a credible character in Ellie Hatcher, the small town daughter of a slain cop whose ambition took her to New York where she worked diligently to prove her mettle and is ultimately put on a high-profile case. The sophisticated plot in Dead Connection and Ellie's role in the investigation (which eerily begins to resemble the case that resulted in the death of her father) together provide a promising introduction to this new series.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Dead Connection and to FSB Associates 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.

Return to ...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Hard Row by Margaret Maron

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

Hard Row by
A Deborah Knott Mystery

Grand Central (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-446-58243-3 (0446582433)
ISBN-13: 978-0-446-58243-8 (9780446582438)
Publication Date: August 2007
List Price: $24.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): As Judge Deborah Knott presides over a case involving a barroom brawl, it becomes clear that deep resentments over race, class, and illegal immigration are simmering just below the surface in the countryside. Soon after, a farmer known for his harsh treatment of migrant workers is found brutally murdered. The search for the killer leads Deborah and her new husband, Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant, into the desperate realm of undocumented farm laborers who are exploited for cheap labor. In the meantime, Deborah and Dwight must continue adjusting to married life and having Dwight's eight-year-old-son, Cal, live with them full-time. As the case expands to multiple murders, Deborah and Dwight discover dark truths that threaten to permanently alter the serenity of their rural surroundings and new life together.

Review: Margaret Maron's 13th Deborah Knott mystery, Hard Row, is a potpourri of well-written and well-crafted stories that blend together into a singularly satisfying crime novel.

Deborah and her new husband, Sheriff Deputy Dwight Bryant, have taken in Dwight’s young son, Cal, who, because of the untimely death of his mother, has come to live with them full time. In and of itself, this tale of a new family is a wonderfully told story. But then reality (as it were) intrudes when a dismembered body is found. There is no shortage of suspects and complicating matters are the large number of undocumented workers in the area. Deborah and Dwight each pursue their respective jobs, in the courtroom and at the police station. There are also several subplots: a rich landowner who is in the throes of a very hostile divorce, a family who finds out their daughter is dating a Mexican lad, and an elderly gentleman who disappears from a local nursing home. It’s a true measure of Maron's talent how a few complete and really excellent storylines can come together and be a part of the resolution to the mystery behind the murder, withholding the identity of the killer until the surprising conclusion.

Life on the farm, life in the city, and life at home are all part of Hard Row. There's even a bit of humor as the author delves into the lives of Deborah's eleven (11!) older brothers and the families.

Hard Row is an exceptional mystery, an amazing book of family, friends, laughter, crime, and punishment. And it all fits together like a comfortable, well worn, and much appreciated pair of suede gloves.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Hard Row and to Grand Central Publishing 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.

Return to ...

Compendium of Mystery News 070807

Today's compendium of recently published mystery news articles:

• Richard Lipez reviews several new mysteries set in foreign lands for the WashingtonPost.com.

• LA Times staff writer Scott Timberg reports on the mysterious life of author Douglas Anne Munson, a hard-boiled Los Angeles writer who once seemed like one of the city's bright new lights, but whose career, like a lot of noir novels, just gets murkier and more confusing the closer you look.

• Kate Lavin, writing for ContraCostaTimes.com, talks to mystery author Diana Abu-Jaber who credits her move to , at least in part, for inspiring her latest novel, .

Margaret Cannon offers her opinion on recently published mysteries in her regular column for The Globe and Mail.

• Brenda Moore, writing for MontereyHerald.com, interviews author Bill Bryan, whose debut novel was recently reviewed by .

• Books editor Chauncey Mabe profiles author Daniel Silva on Sun-Sentinel.com.

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.

Return to Mystery Books News ...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mysteries on TV: The Dresden Files

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

stars Paul Blackthorne as private investigator Harry Dresden, the only wizard that advertises in the yellow pages. The series is based on the bestselling mystery books written by .

The Dresden Files was originally developed for a theatrical release, but was reworked as a weekly series. It debuted on the Sci-Fi channel just 7 months ago in January, 2007. More information can be found on The Dresden Files website on SciFi.com.

This DVD set includes all 11 episodes from the 1st season on 3 disks.

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

Return to ...

Monday, August 06, 2007

Mystery Book Review: You Should Have Died on Monday by Frankie Y. Bailey

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of You Should Have Died on Monday by Frankie Y. Bailey. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.You Should Have Died on Monday by Frankie Y. Bailey

You Should Have Died on Monday by
A Lizzie Stuart Mystery

Overmountain Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-57072-319-2 (1570723192)
ISBN-13: 978-1-57072-319-3 (9781570723193)
Publication Date: April 2007
List Price: $9.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): African American university professor and crime historian Lizzie Stuart comes face-to-face with her long lost mother, Becca. Following threads from her earlier cases, Lizzie uses her keen investigative abilities to research her own family's past and uncovers a web of murder and mayhem centered around her mother. As the pursuit of Becca runs from the gangster-led of the 1960s to modern, pre-Katrina , Lizzie rattles the wrong people, jeopardizng her interracial relationship with homicide detective John Quinn while putting her own life in danger. Ultimately, Lizzie learns that some things are better left buried in the past.

Review: Professor Lizzie Stuart of the Institute for the Study of Southern Crime and Culture is determined to locate her long missing mother Becca in You Should Have Died on Monday, the fourth mystery in this series by Frankie Y. Bailey.

It was the winter of 1969 and Chicago was a frightful place to be. The mob was still very much in evidence, the Black Panthers were becoming more powerful, and the Puerto Rican Young Lords were making themselves known. Though there were racial tensions all over the city, there were clubs specializing in the "blues” where anyone and everyone came to hear the music. On one unusually cold night men in a speeding car opened fire on Reuben James, his lady love Becca, and another man, TJ. Reuben pushed Becca to safety and TJ survived, but Reuben was killed instantly. No one was ever convicted of this criminal act. Sometime later mob boss Nick Mancini was killed in his office, stabbed with a pair of pruning shears. One man, Robert Montgomery, who was also in love with Becca and believing she had committed the crime, confessed and was sent to prison for 35 years. Under an assumed name, Becca quietly disappeared. Now, 39 years later Lizzie Stuart, the daughter Becca abandoned just 5 days after her birth, wants to find out about her heritage and embarks on a search for her mother.

In Chicago, Lizzie discovers her mother was involved with the Black Panthers and did, in fact, have an affair with Nick Mancini before fleeing to where she married, subsequently moving to New Orleans where she opened a restaurant. Lizzie finally meets up with her mother at the same time as the dead crime boss's son who's out for revenge. Not at all what Lizzie was hoping to find.

The title, You Should Have Died on Monday, comes from an old southern blues song and fits perfectly with this story of rejected love, jealousy, and murder. Though not a mystery per se, this compelling tale of one woman's journey to uncover her past is a pleasure to read.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of You Should Have Died on Monday and to Breakthrough Promotions 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.

Return to ...

Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for August 06, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for August 06, 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: C E H I M R S T Y. This science is in the title of the first Dr. David Hunter mystery by Simon Beckett. (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!

Return to ...

Mystery Book Review: Punishment and Sacrifice by John Reid

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

Punishment and Sacrifice by John Reid
Non-series

Lulu.com (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-4303-1440-0 (1430314400)
ISBN-13: 978-1-7303-1440-0 (9781730314400)
Publication Date: May 2007
List Price: $25.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): The children we abuse today could become the monsters of tomorrow. This is the story of child abuse and the nightmare it can create both in the present and the future. It parallels and distorts what is madness and what is sanity until the line becomes blurred beyond recognition. Dr. Jack Barker: respected psychologist, loving father, responsible neighbor, serial killer? Under his mask of sanity he is driven to commit his monstrous acts in a game of cat and mouse and justifies it all by the wrongs that are done to him in the present and were perpetrated on him in his childhood. Mike Swanson: broken recovering alcoholic police detective who has seen too many atrocities human beings can do to each other. Will he be able to stop the monster in this case or be consumed by his own demons from his past. When these two worlds collide in a cataclysmic explosion, the battle will not only be over who will survive but how to live with the nightmarish truth that ties each together in the bondage of the past.

Review: John Reid's debut novel, Punishment and Sacrifice, a lurid tale of good versus evil, is such a muddled mess that by the end of the book its core message is all but lost.

There are only two characters that get any real attention or development in the book: Jack Barker, a psychologist specializing in family practice who has a sideline of killing children that, under what is purported to be flawed judicial system, have not sufficiently paid for their crimes and then, for good measure, killing their parents as well; and Mike Swanson, a detective who is a recovering alcoholic and assigned to desk duty but gets involved investigating the crimes committed by Jack Barker. There is no suspense generated by the flat narrative, the crimes are told in such a dispassionate manner that they hardly seem shocking, and the revelation that Barker and Swanson are brothers is foreshadowed in the first few chapters.

Child abuse is an abhorrent crime and clearly Reid is trying to relate a story illustrating the potential long-term consequences of abusing a child. But the link between cause and effect is never cogently made, and when Barker takes on an apprentice in Billy Winfield, a boy he blackmails into working with him, the book descends into the absurd. "Doctor Jack Barker had, in a sense (sic) created a monster in Billy Winfield and soon the monster would destroy its creator for it's (sic) own survival and future."

In addition to its subject matter, many readers are likely to be put off by how poorly written the book is. "Their" is used as the contraction for "they are", "your" for "you are", and, as evidenced in the above quoted passage, "it's" for "its" (and vice versa). Punctuation is haphazard, quotation marks are used incorrectly, and long strings of commas seem intended to substitute for ellipses. The occasional error can and should be overlooked, but there is scarcely a page in Punishment and Sacrifice without some obvious syntactic problem. It's hard to take an author seriously when they don't take their craft seriously.

Special thanks to John Reid for providing a copy of Punishment and Sacrifice 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.

Return to ...

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Compendium of Mystery News 070804

Today's compendium of recently published mystery news articles:

Adventure Gamers reviews the new PC game Dead Reefs where you play as detective Amadey Finvinerro, a stoic Johnny Depp look-alike with a walking stick. (MBN Note: For information on more , visit .)

David Thomas goes undercover at the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival for The Telegraph.

Variety is reporting that Universal Pictures has acquired the rights to a seven-book series of thrillers by Daniel Silva, the most recent of which, , is a current .

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.

Return to Mystery Books News ...

Friday, August 03, 2007

Mystery Bestsellers for August 03, 2007

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten for the week ending August 03, 2007 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Beyond Reach by Karin SlaughterOnly one new mystery title appears on the bestseller list this week: , the 6th mystery in the Grant County (Georgia) series by Karin Slaughter. Sara Linton—resident medical examiner/pediatrician in Grant County—has plenty of hardship to deal with, including defending herself in a heartbreaking malpractice suit. So when her husband, Police chief Jeffery Tolliver, learns that his friend and coworker detective Lena Adams has been arrested for murder and needs Sara’s help, she is not sure she can handle the pressure of it all. But soon Sara an Jeffery are sitting through evidence, peeling back the layers of a mystery that grows darker by the day—until an intricate web of betrayal and vengeance begins to unravel. And suddenly the lives of Sara, Lena, and Jeffery are hanging by the slenderest of threads. Publishers Weekly gives Beyond Reach a starred review, calling it "bone-chilling" and adds, "Expertly shifting back and forth in both time and point of view, Slaughter builds the suspense to a perfect crescendo, connecting every loose plot strand in a devastating and unforgettable climax."

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.

Return to Mystery Books News ...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Mystery Book Review: The Ever-Running Man by Marcia Muller

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of The Ever-Running Man by Marcia Muller. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.The Ever-Running Man by Marcia Muller

The Ever-Running Man by
A Sharon McCone Mystery

Warner Books (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-446-58242-5 (0446582425)
ISBN-13: 978-0-446-58242-1 (9780446582421)
Publication Date: July 2007
List Price: $24.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): Sharon McCone is hired by her husband's security firm to track down "the ever-running man," a shadowy figure who has been leaving explosive devices at their various offices. She doesn't have to search for long. When McCone narrowly escapes an explosion at the security firm's offices, she catches a glimpse of his retreating figure. The ever-running man is dangerously close--and anyone connected to the firm seems to be within his deadly range. To complicate matters, McCone is forced to question her intensely private husband, Hy, about his involvement in some of the firm's dark secrets. The history of corruption may jeopardize their marriage, but uncovering the secrets of the firm may be the only way she can save her husband's life, and her own.

Review: Mixing her personal and professional lives leads to complications for private investigator Sharon McCone in The Ever-Running Man, the 25th mystery in this long-running series by Marcia Muller.

The Ever-Running Man is comprised of two storylines, neither of which seems fully developed, that have been cobbled together to create one of the more disappointing entries in this series. The first of these, a tale of mistaken identity, is basically used as a red herring to the second, a tale of a vendetta.

McCone's husband, Hy Ripensky, is a partner in an ultra-secretive security firm with two other men with whom he had worked years earlier transporting goods throughout the Middle East and southeast Asia. The firm's offices have been the target of bombing attempts, and McCone has been hired to look into the matter. When one of the partners is killed, the authorities initially believe there is a connection to the bombings, but McCone thinks otherwise. Her staff discovers someone else with the same name as the dead partner and a connection between them, and she sets out to prove that the murder was independent of the bombings. The major problem with this scenario is that it is purported to be a case of stolen identity, yet no evidence is presented to indicate how the man whose name was "stolen" was ever harmed in any way or suffered any material or personal loss. As written, the murder victim adopted another man's name in the past and they led completely separate lives. Half of the book is devoted to this investigation which seems intended primarily to serve as filler for, or a diversion to, the mystery of the man who has been seen running from the scene of several of the bombings.

The bombings investigation is to some extent more interesting, though no more credible. Here, McCone suspects something in her husband's past may be motivating the bomber. The author, who has created such a wonderfully complex and richly drawn character in Sharon McCone, one that has grown and evolved during the series, convincingly relates the personal turmoil McCone faces during her investigation. But there are all sorts of plot points that just don't seem to fit. For a company obsessed with security, it's never made clear how the culprit managed to locate the firm's safe house (where McCone just happened to be staying) to place a bomb. For someone with a vendetta against the partners, using explosive devices seems particularly impersonal, rather impractical, and somewhat arbitrary. Why not target the partners directly? The use of bombs seems to be a convenient literary approach for adding sensational elements to mask an otherwise weak plot.

Fans of the series will want to read The Ever-Running Man for the ongoing development of series lead Sharon McCone who is truly among the best characters created in mystery fiction. Those readers looking for an intriguing investigation that showcases McCone's skills are better off picking up one of the earlier books.

Special thanks to Grand Central Publishing for providing an ARC of The Ever-Running Man 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.

Return to ...

Compendium of Mystery News 070802

Today's compendium of recently published mystery news articles:

• Jem Bloomfeld writes a very insightful article about the whodunit for the California Literary Review. (An excerpt: "Completely insane killers and meaningless crime have no place in the classic whodunit: murder needs to be explained, usually by reference to simple human desires such as money, love and revenge. The reason cannot be too good, however, or the reader might sympathize with the killer, tipping the moral balancing act which these novels perform. Murders ... must be the result of understandable, but reprehensible, action."

• On the NYSun.com, Otto Penzler reviews the television mystery series Foyle's War which he calls "perhaps the best pure detective program since the early years of Columbo." (MBN Note: We agree, and are currently watching episodes from the 4th and most recent season. Mysteries on TV has the first four seasons of Foyle's War available for purchase on DVD.)

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.

Return to Mystery Books News ...

Mystery Book Review: Blood and Circuses by Kerry Greenwood

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

Blood and Circuses by
A Phryne Fisher Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-235-7 (1590582357)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-235-0 (9781580582350)
Publication Date: July 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Phryne Fisher is bored. Life appears to be too easy, too perfect. Her household is ordered, her love life is pleasant, the weather is fine. And then a man from her past arrives at the door. It is Alan Lee from the carnival. Alan and his friends want her to investigate strange happenings at Farrell's Circus, where animals have been poisoned and ropes sabotaged. Mr. Christopher has been found with his throat cut in Mrs. Witherspoon's irreproachable boarding house and Miss Parkes, an ex-performer, is charged with his murder.

Phryne must go undercover deeper than ever to solve the circus' malaise. She must abandon her name, her title, her protection, her comfort-even her clothes. She must fall off a horse twice a day until she can stay on. She must sleep in a girl's tent and dine on mutton stew. And she must find some allies.

Meanwhile, in , the young and fresh-faced policeman Tommy Harris has to solve his own mysteries with the help of the foul-spoken harridan Lizard Elsie, or Miss Parkes will certainly hang. Can Phyrne uncover the truth without losing her life?

Review: Kerry Greenwood's delightful private detective from the 1920s, Phryne Fisher, sets out to solve a crime at the circus in Blood and Circuses, the 6th mystery in this series.

One lazy Sunday afternoon, Phryne is visited by some old friends, all of whom are performers with the Farrell Circus and Carnival. They explain to her that someone is raising havoc at the circus. The commotion goes from a small fire to assaults on the owner and performers and finally, to murder. In order for Phryne to help her friends, she must leave her home, disguise herself, change her name, learn the vernacular of the circus, and figure out what type of performer she can be. She’ll need tattered and torn clothes and costumes, a real sacrifice for the ever fashionable Phryne. But she agrees to the challenge and sets off for the Farrell Circus that very night using the name of Fern. Under the direction of another rider, Fern (Phryne) quickly learns to do acrobatic tricks on a bareback horse. The rules of the circus were strict, but Phryne, as is her wont, seems to break each and every one. She talks and listens to anyone who would talk to her, and those who wouldn’t she quietly eavesdrops on their conversations. She finds out there are no secrets in the circus; everyone seems to know something about somebody else. Mr. Farrell had sold half interest in the circus to a Mr. Jones, and that was when the malaise began. Phyrne finds out the code word for the trouble is "exit", but she doesn't know what is means, or who is involved. Thinking that she's getting too close, Mr. Jones has her bound and gagged and thrown into the hungry lion’s cage hoping she would be killed.

Blood and Circuses is one of the better, and certainly one of the more thrilling, mysteries in this series. There's the colorful backdrop of the circus and carnival and an array of many performers, from clowns to gypsies to dwarves, and, of course, exotic animals to liven things up. And in the end, though she doesn't actually solve the case, Phryne does get her man!

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Blood and Circuses 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.

Return to ...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Mystery Book Review: A Nail Through the Heart by Timothy Hallinan

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

A Nail Through the Heart by Timothy Hallinan
A Poke Rafferty Mystery

Wm. Morrow (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-06-125580-7 (0061255807)
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-125580-9 (9780061255809)
Publication Date: June 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Travel writer Poke Rafferty is good at looking for trouble—so good he makes his living writing offbeat travel guides for the young and terminally bored. His Looking for Trouble series is for travelers obsessed with the unusual: how to beat official foreign-exchange rates; how to spot fake amber or counterfeit money; how much to bribe a cop; how to identify a transvestite before it's too late; and how to know, within an hour of arriving in a strange city, where to find the best bars, the best clubs, the best food, the best clothes, and the dodgiest entertainment at the best prices.

Then Rafferty falls in love with Rose, an ex–Patpong Road bar girl, and he badly wants to be a part of her new life. Both Rose and Bangkok itself have stolen his heart. To complete his new family, Rafferty is in the process of adopting a wary eight-year-old street orphan when trouble comes looking for him.

First he takes in another orphan, a troubled and terrifying street urchin nicknamed Superman. Then he agrees to find a distraught woman's missing uncle, a task that seems simple enough given the uncle's predilections for just the kind of shadowy places Rafferty knows well. Finally, in a moment of weakness, he accepts an old woman's generous payment in exchange for locating a blackmailing thief. Soon, these three seemingly disparate events begin to overlap, pulling Rafferty deeper into dark, unfamiliar terrain, and he begins to realize that some people guard unspeakable secrets that don't always show on their faces—and that all this time he's been gliding across the surface of a culture he doesn't understand.

Review: Timothy Hallinan introduces travel writer and sometime investigator Poke Rafferty, a man living on the edge but looking for stability in his life in Bangkok, in A Nail Through the Heart.

Rafferty is hired by the niece of an Australian man who has disappeared from his home in Bangkok. The man's live-in housekeeper, who has also disappeared, used to work for a wealthy woman who is feared by the police and public alike. While visiting the woman during the course of his investigation, she changes the subject and suddenly offers him a large sum of money to find a man who recently stole something from her. Rafferty needs the cash: he's in the process of adopting a little girl and the money will go a long ways towards paying for her schooling. But then Rafferty learns that these two missing person investigations are related, and he's drawn into a world of evil that not only threatens his life, but that of the family he loves.

Hallinan deftly handles the horrifying aspects of his story, torture by the Khmer Rough in the late 1970s and modern-day child pornography, by relating how Rafferty feels and reacts while minimizing explicit details. At times, A Nail Through the Heart is exceedingly difficult to read, not for the lack of well-written prose, but for its subject matter. The intertwining investigations are sufficiently complicated to keep the reader's attention without being overly complex. There are a few points that don't ring quite true, (why, for example, did the old woman keep something that could expose her past in a safe buried in her lawn when she could have destroyed the contents years earlier, or if she wouldn't destroy it, why not keep it in a more secure location in her house?), but they don't interfere with the overall story. The conclusion of the book is surprisingly pragmatic and somewhat open-ended.

A Nail Through the Heart is a terrific opening chapter to this new series, one that has the potential to captivate readers for a long time to come.

Special thanks to FSB Associates for providing a copy of A Nail Through the 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.

Return to ...

 

Omnimystery Blog Archive

Total Pageviews (last 30 days)

About Omnimystery News

My photo

Lance Wright owns and manages Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites, which had its origin as Hidden Staircase Mystery Books in 1986. As the scope of the business expanded, first into book reviews — Mysterious Reviews — and later into information for and reviews of mystery and suspense television and film, all sites were consolidated under the Omnimystery brand in 2006.

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

Omnimystery News
Original Content Copyright © 2016 — Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites — All Rights Reserved
Guest Post Content (if present) Copyright © 2016 — Contributing Author — All Rights Reserved