Thursday, April 17, 2008

First Clues: More Mini-Mysteries for Kids

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

We've updated our website by adding a few more mini-mystery series.

Lawrence Treat has written five books in the Crime and Puzzlement series. Each book contains 24 illustrated puzzles that will challenge your amateur sleuth!

Though all the books follow the same format (a story with a picture, both of which contain clues to the solution of the mystery), the fourth title features the author's precocious cousin Phoebe, while the fifth title is set entirely on Martha's Vineyard, an island off the Massachusetts coast, and features Sam, chief of the All-Island Regional Police Department.

The  are appropriate for kids aged 9 and older.

There are currently two books in the series by Ludy Leimbach.

While appropriate for casual reading, these mini-mystery books were written to assist teachers in teaching deductive reasoning to their students. The books come with complete instructions for the teacher and answers to the puzzles. All mysteries are presented on attractive reproducible worksheets that include entertaining dialogue and clues needed to solve the mystery.

The Detective Club mini-mysteries are appropriate for young sleuths aged 7 to 10.

In addition to the already available on the website, we've added by Mary Carr.

Each book in the One-Hour Mysteries series contains five motivating mysteries that your young armchair detective can solve using clues and logical reasoning. As with the Detective Club mini-mysteries, these books also come with teacher instructions and blackline masters that may be photocopied for educational use.

The first two books in the series contain standard solve-them-yourself mysteries. The third book is positioned as a course for private investigators and is appropriately titled The Private Eye School. All books are intended for readers aged 8 to 11.

Hy Conrad is the author of an eclectic collection of whodunit mini-mysteries that we've grouped under the category .

Included in this collection are historical whodunits that take place around the world and at various times, from ancient Rome to 1940s Hollywood, aptly named kids whodunits featuring brainy pre-teen Jonah Bixby, two books (crime mysteries and crime puzzles) that feature Sherman Oliver Holmes, the great-great-grandson of the famous consulting detective himself, and the official puzzles of the MENSA society.

All of these whodunit mini-mysteries are fun to solve and age-appropriate for readers 9 and older.

is pleased to provide information on nearly 100 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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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Roux Morgue by Claire M. Johnson

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Roux Morgue by Claire M. Johnson. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Roux Morgue by Claire M. JohnsonBuy from Amazon.com

Roux Morgue by
A Mary Ryan Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-487-2 (1590584872)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-487-3 (9781590584873)
Publication Date: April 2008
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): pastry chef Mary Ryan is back at her old alma mater. Initially ecstatic to be teaching, Mary finds herself trying to straddle both worlds, caught between her original mentors and her contemporaries.

To make matters worse, Homicide Detective O’Connor has enrolled as a student, claiming to be on disability from the San Francisco Police Department.

In the middle of this turf war, Mary is confronted by the dean Robert Benson. Mary must either force Coolie Martin to leave the school or lose her job. Why would Coolie’s father, a member of the Board of Directors, allow this to happen? But when faculty and staff begin dying, Mary thinks that Coolie’s forced exit might only be part of a larger, more sinister plot.

Acting on a hint from O’Connor, Mary contacts the only person who can help her: nemesis Thom Woods. Will Mary and Thom uncover the truth before another chef bakes his last pie?

Review: Claire M. Johnson's second Mary Ryan mystery, Roux Morgue, has the San Francisco pastry chef joining the faculty of the Ecole d'Epicure (School of Cooking) and finding herself in the midst of all sorts of mischief and mayhem.

A battle royale is raging at the school between the "old" chefs who believe traditional European cooking should be taught, and the "new" chefs who want to embrace of more inventive, modern, and healthy methods of food preparation. If that weren't enough, the dean of the school gives Mary an ultimatum regarding the status of a student, one with which Mary not only doesn't understand, she doesn't agree. And what is homicide detective O'Connor doing enrolled at the school? When a student dies after eating shellfish (an item conspicuously missing from the menu), it's assumed to be a tragic accident. But when another death follows, suspicions are aroused. Is all this conflict connected in some way, and if so, how?

Roux Morgue is not a culinary mystery in the generic sense of the genre's definition. The mystery happens to be set at a school of cooking, and Mary is a pastry chef by profession, but there is very little in the way of culinary arts going on here. Mary isn't the most pleasant of characters, a sort of vulgar Nancy Drew. She seems to bounce from one mystery to another (and there are several more not covered here) and it's never quite clear how her involvement furthers the investigation of any of them. There are attempts to inject humor into the story, to lighten up the sometimes dour mood, but they generally fall flat.

Roux Morgue is all the more disappointing since the elements (ingredients, if you will) for a good mystery are all present. It's just that they never come together.

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

Review Copyright © 2008 — 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, April 14, 2008

Mystery Books News Welcomes Elizabeth Zelvin

Elizabeth Zelvin in partnership with the is pleased to welcome Elizabeth Zelvin on her virtual book tour.

Elizabeth Zelvin’s Death Will Get You Sober is the debut mystery of a New York City psychotherapist who has directed alcohol treatment programs, including one on the Bowery. She currently does online therapy via chat and email with clients around the world at LZCyberShrink.com. Liz has published two books of poetry, a book on gender and addictions, and a short story, “Death Will Clean Your Closet,” featuring Bruce Kohler, the protagonist of Death Will Get You Sober. Further books in the series are in the works as Bruce continues his journey of recovery in New York City and beyond. Liz is an active member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and can be found in cyberspace on DorothyL and Crimespace as well as at her author website, ElizabethZelvin.com.

People ask me how I came to write about the Bowery, Liz says. Only the opening of the book takes place there. It’s like any other health care setting today: they don’t let you stay long. This is an amateur-sleuth mystery with a gritty beginning.

Death With Get You Sober by Elizabeth ZelvinDeath Will Get You Sober starts with Bruce waking up in detox on the Bowery on Christmas Day. The Bowery in lower Manhattan, along with Seattle’s Skid Row and its namesakes in Los Angeles and other cities, has long been synonymous with down-and-out chronic alcoholism. The area was famous for its bars and flophouses as well as the “Bowery bums” who came from all over the country to drink cheap Ripple or Thunderbird and sleep it off in the gutter.

I first went there in 1983 as a very green alcoholism counseling intern. My professor urged me to pass up the other choice, an expensive private clinic, and go down to the Bowery. “You’ll love it,” he said, and he was right. I caught the very end of the era before the homeless spread out all over the city. There were only a few bars and two or three genuine flophouses left. But walking down the Bowery from Astor Place, you entered another world when you crossed Fifth Street.

The program was housed in the notorious men’s shelter on Third Street, still a scary place at that time. To reach the elevator, you had to breast your way through crowds of not too sweet-smelling men who stood around in a fog of cigarette smoke. The elevator had no buzzer. To get to the program on the fourth floor, you had to pound on the scarred elevator door with your fist, and eventually Wisdom the elevator man would bring it creaking down to get you. (His name was Winston, but no one called him that.) You took your life in your hands if you used the stairs.

My first day as an intern, the last of the cops who’d formed the first “rescue team” in 1967 to bring “Bowery bums” to detox instead of just throwing them in jail took me out with him. It was Check Day, when all the guys on any kind of public assistance or veteran’s benefits got their monthly check. So nobody was lying in the gutter. The cop said we’d find them in the bars. It was 10:30 in the morning. I remember the sun slanting down across the bar, the dust, the bartender polishing a glass, and the row of heads that turned toward us in unison. They all knew the cop. They knew why we were there. The bartender sounded like an elevator man in Bloomingdale’s. He said, “Fourth floor! Fourth floor! Who wants to go?” They knew exactly what he meant. They’d all spent many nights in the shelter. Some of them had been in detox 60 times.

One elderly gentleman slid off his stool and announced, “I’ll go!” He was small and grizzled, and I remember his baggy black and white checked pants. Chatty in the police car as we drove the short distance back to Third Street, he told me he’d once been a social worker himself. Not likely, the cop told me.

I kind of telescoped the gentrification of the Bowery in Death Will Get You Sober. I wanted to convey the flavor of the old days. But I couldn’t ignore changes that had become radical by the time my book was published in 2008. The Bowery, like other recycled New York neighborhoods, has become trendy. Celebrities recently turned out for the well publicized opening of a museum of contemporary art. Chi-chi restaurants abound. Even by the time I went back in 1993 as program director of an outpatient alcohol program, the shelter had been cleaned up and turned into the heart of a model agency for social services to the homeless. I once walked up the formerly dangerous stairs in a Santa Claus hat and a red feather boa to help sing Christmas carols in the detox. By the time I left in 1999, fern bars started moving in. A block east, blue recycling garbage cans stood neatly in front of the Hell’s Angels clubhouse. Their stretch of Third Street curb was painted yellow. The city had put up a sign: “Parking reserved for Hell’s Angels motorcycles only.”

We're thrilled Elizabeth Zelvin took the time to visit with us today and look forward to having her return again soon.

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Mystery Book Review: Death Will Get You Sober by Elizabeth Zelvin

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Death Will Get You Sober by Elizabeth Zelvin. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Death Will Get You Sober by Elizabeth ZelvinBuy from Amazon.com

Death Will Get You Sober by
A Bruce Kohler Mystery

St. Martin's Minotaur (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-312-37589-1 (0312375891)
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-37589-8 (9780312375898)
Publication Date: April 2008
List Price: $23.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): On Christmas Day, Bruce Kohler wakes up in detox on the Bowery in New York City. He knows it’s time to change his life, but how can he stay sober without dying of boredom?

When homeless alcoholics start to die unexpectedly, Bruce is surprised to find he cares enough to want to find out why. Most of them had been down and out for many years, but Bruce’s friend Guff was different: a cynical aristocrat with a trust fund and some secrets.

Two old friends give Bruce a second chance and agree to help him with his investigation: his best friend, Jimmy, a computer genius and history buff who’s been in AA for years, and Jimmy’s girlfriend Barbara, a counselor who sometimes crosses the line between helping and codependency.

Barbara works a night shift at the detox and confronts a counselor who might still be dealing drugs. Bruce gets a job temping for Guff’s arrogant nephew. Between the three of them, suspects start piling up. The trail leads back to the detox. Or does it? 

Review: Elizabeth Zelvin's first full-length mystery Death Will Get You Sober features amateur sleuth Bruce Kohler, an alcoholic struggling to stay sober, a character first introduced by the author in the short story Death Will Clean Your Closet.

Bruce wakes up in detox on Christmas Day, not surprised he's there but not thrilled about it either. His roommate is Godfrey Brandon Kettleworth III, Guff for short. Guff's not the stereotypical down-and-outer resident of the ward; he has a trust fund and family connections. When Guff suddenly dies one night, Bruce is suspicious. Another alcoholic had died just a day earlier, not in a similar fashion, but still, it was too coincidental. Bruce begins an informal investigation into Guff's background and finds no shortage of people who might want him dead. Maybe his death was just a coincidence. But then another alcoholic dies, diverting Bruce's attention back to the detox ward. If Bruce can stay sober, he might just figure out what's going on.

Death Will Get You Sober is one of those appealing mysteries that starts strong then just sort of meanders along never really regaining the strength of its opening chapters. To be sure, the book has much going for it. The characters and setting are original and deftly drawn, and the wryly written narrative is entertaining. The author takes great care in portraying the environment in which these characters exist as an essential element of the story without editorial or moral judgment as to why they are there. In contrast to this, the plot seems almost clumsy with too many suspects (and consequently too many red herrings) and a convoluted pathway to its somewhat predictable conclusion.

Now that Death Will Get You Sober has properly established the characters and setting for what promises to be a most entertaining mystery series, it is hoped that future books will provide a more compelling story in which they can participate.

Special thanks to St. Martin's Minotaur for providing an ARC of Death Will Get You Sober for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — 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 Puzzle for April 14, 2008

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for April 14, 2008A new has been created by the editors of the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books and is now 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 I L O P R S T V. ’s mysteries are set in this fictional northern California town (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, April 13, 2008

Mystery Book Review: The Unraveling of Violeta Bell by C. R. Corwin

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of The Unraveling of Violeta Bell by C. R. Corwin. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The Unraveling of Violeta Bell by C. R. CorwinBuy from Amazon.com

The Unraveling of Violeta Bell by
A Maddy Sprowls Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-501-1 (1590585011)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-501-6 (9781590585016)
Publication Date: April 2008
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Newspaper librarian Maddy Sprowls never gives story ideas to the editors at The Hannawa Herald-Union. She prefers to stay in the “morgue” and do her job, and hopes the editors stay in the newsroom and do theirs. Then one Saturday she sees four elderly women get out of a taxicab at a garage sale. Those women must hire that cabby every week, she figures, to drive them from garage sale to garage sale while they search for treasure. And wouldn’t that make a great feature story for the paper? Monday morning she runs straight to the newsroom with her idea. Shortly after the story runs, one of the four women is murdered - retired antique dealer Violeta Bell.

Maddy wants no part of the investigation. But before she knows it she’s on another of her infamous snoopathons. And, good gravy, enjoying every minute of it. Was Violeta Bell murdered by one of the other garage sale ladies? Former striptease artist Kay Hausenfelter perhaps? Or real estate agent Gloria McPhee? Or eccentric philanthropist Ariel Wilburger-Gowdy? Or was it Eddie French, the scruffy cabby with a police record as long as his arm? And what about Violeta’s claim that she was the rightful queen of Romania? Any truth to that?

Review: C. R. Corwin's third mystery featuring Maddy "the Morgue Mama" Sprowls, The Unraveling of Violeta Bell, finds the newspaper librarian investigating the murder of an antiques dealer.

Every Saturday at 8 AM sharp, a cab picks up a group of four elderly women who takes them on the rounds of garage sales in the area. These "Queens of Never Dull" pose an interesting human interest story, or so believes Maddy, who suggests such a story to her editors. The women eagerly agree to an interview, and what a diverse group they are. One is a wealthy widow who was once a strip-tease artist, another is a real estate agent, a third is married to the owner of a pest control company, and the last, Violeta Bell, the self-appointed leader of the group, is the retired owner of Bellflower Antiques. But Violeta actually believes she is a Queen, a member of the royal family of Romania. Just days after a story of the group is published, Violeta is found murdered, shot three times at close range. What threat did this old woman pose that someone found it necessary to kill her?

The Unraveling of Violeta Bell is an engaging, delightful mystery. Maddy, at the tender age of 69, still thinks she is, and acts like, a teenager: stubborn, opinionated, and sassy. When the ladies' cab driver is arrested, Maddy's editor-in-chief asks her to investigate. He has a circuitous family relationship with the driver but believes him to be innocent. Maddy quickly learns that Violeta led something of an active double life, the Queens of Never Dull were certainly not dull themselves, and Violeta's antiques were far more modern than she claimed. Though suspects abound, Maddy finally narrows down the list and creates a shrewd trap to identify the culprit.

Witty, clever, humorous, and genuinely entertaining, The Unraveling of Violeta Bell is a real treat for mystery lovers. It is highly recommended.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of The Unraveling of Violeta Bell and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — 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, April 12, 2008

Compendium of Mystery News 080412

A compendium of recently published mystery news articles:

• The International Mystery Writers' Festival has announced the schedule for the plays that will be fully staged and performed during the festival June 12-22, 2008. As previously announced, the "lost" Agatha Christie play Chimneys will be performed. The other plays are The Final Toast, a Sherlock Holmes adventure by Stuart Kaminsky, The Last Appointment by Donald C. Drake, Flemming by Sam Bobrick, and Cell by Judy Klass. The audiences for the festival will help select the winner. As a measure of how highly regarded the submissions are for this event, all three Best Play nominations for the 2008 were featured at last year's festival.

• As reported by Publishers Weekly, author Bill Loehfelm was announced as the winner of the first Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for his mystery Fresh Kills. The book, to be published by Putnam later this summer, is available for pre-order from Amazon.com.

• The New York Times reviews several new mysteries in its Sunday Book Review column somewhat inexplicably titled "But Is It Art?".

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers for April 11, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers

A list of the top 15 for the week ending April 11, 2008 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

No changes among the top 4 bestselling mystery books this week, with 's latest Alex Delaware thriller, Compulsion, retaining the top position.

Winter Study by Nevada Barr

Just missing the cutoff last week and debuting in 7th position this week is Winter Study, the 14th mystery in the Anna Pigeon series by , this time with the National Park Ranger visiting Isle Royale in Lake Superior. Anna's there to learn about managing and understanding wolves, as her home base of Rocky Mountain National Park might soon have their own pack of the magnificent, much-maligned animals. She’'s housed in the island’s bunkhouse with the famed wolf study team, along with two scientists from Homeland Security, who are assessing the study with an eye to opening the park each winter, effectively bringing an end to the fifty-year study, so that it can be manned to secure the scrap of border with Canada. Soon after Anna’s arrival, the wolf packs under observation begin to act in peculiar ways. Giant wolf prints are found, and Anna spies the form of a great wolf from a surveillance plane. The discovery of wolf scat containing alien DNA leads the team to believe that perhaps a wolf/dog hybrid has been introduced to the island. When a female member of the team is savaged, Anna is convinced she is being stalked, and what was once a beautiful, idyllic refuge becomes a place of unnatural occurrences and danger beyond the ordinary. Alone on an island without electricity or running water, with temperatures hovering around zero both day and night, Anna fights not only for the wolves, but for also her own survival.

On our bestseller page, we've added an icon next to every title that is available for immediate download onto the Amazon Kindle. To learn about this wireless reading device, visit the Amazon Kindle page for more information. And don't forget to check our page where you can save an additional 5% when you purchase your mystery books prior to their publication date.

The top four mystery bestsellers this week are shown below:

Compulsion by Jonathan KellermanA Prisoner of Birth by Jeffrey ArcherBuckingham Palace Gardens by Anne Perry

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, April 10, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Shakedown by Joel Goldman

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

Shakedown by Joel GoldmanBuy from Amazon.com

Shakedown by
A Jack Davis Mystery

Pinnacle Books (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7860-1610-8 (0786016108)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7860-1610-5 (0786016108)
Publication Date: April 2008
List Price: $6.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): The lives of three people collide over mass murder at a Kansas City residence that Special Agent Jack Davis has carefully staked out for weeks. Kate Scranton, whose job is spotting lies for high-priced courtroom lawyers, is convinced that mild-mannered Latrell Kelly knows something about the crime. But Latrell is hiding far more than Kate can guess. And with Jack half-blinded by an imploding personal life, and someone on his own side leaking crucial information, they’re headed straight for the ultimate danger zone—where truth lies at the heart of betrayal.

Review: Joel Goldman introduces FBI Special Agent Jack Davis in Shakedown, a man whose world is coming apart and there is nothing he can do about it.

The murder of a drug lord on the Kansas side of Kansas City is followed by several other killings. The local police are claiming responsibility for the investigation. Jack Davis, of the Kansas City (Missouri) FBI office, however, is authorized to take over the investigation but promises to keep the police chief, a friend of his, in the loop. But just as Jack gets involved, he is overcome with an unpredictable convulsive movement, a shakiness, that lasts only two or three seconds, but could be potentially fatal if it happened while handling a weapon. He's forced to take a medical leave, giving up his badge and gun. The police chief, however, continues to allow Jack to ride along and knowing he may never again be an active agent with the FBI, he still seeks to learn the truth behind the murders.

Jack Davis is a very appealing character, made more so by his unusual medical condition and how he strives not only to overcome it, but work within the constraints it imposes upon him. The plot is first-rate as well, an intricate investigation that involves a complex web of characters including some of Jack's own family. There's also the conflict between jurisdictions and the gritty realism of drug trafficking that add a level of stress and suspense to the story. In total, it's all very well done.

From the clever and ironic title and the unrelenting pace of the plot to its riveting conclusion, Shakedown is a terrific thriller.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Shakedown and to Breakthrough Promotions for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — 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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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Chasing Cans by Laura Crum

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

Chasing Cans by Laura CrumBuy from Amazon.com

Chasing Cans by
A Gail McCarthy Mystery

Perseverance Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-880284-94-4 (1880284944)
ISBN-13: 978-1-880284-94-0 (9781880284940)
Publication Date: March 2008
List Price: $14.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Chasing cans is rodeo slang for barrel racing, a competition that can bring its winners fame and big bucks. To Gail McCarthy, a horse vet turned stay-at-home mom, chasing cans also stands for the ambitious pursuit of empty career goals at the expense of personal and family tranquility. While Gail is wrestling with this question in her own life, she witnesses a mystifying riding accident that kills a neighbor, a barrel-racing trainer. Whether it’s her veterinarian’s integrity or just stubborn curiosity, Gail’s unofficial investigation into strange happenings at the ranch could make her the object of a chase that might cost her own life.

Review: Chasing Cans is the tenth mystery in this series by Laura Crum to feature horse veterinarian Gail McCarthy who investigates the accidental death of a neighbor that might have been anything but.

Gail is a new mother; her son, Mac, is just a year old and is the joy of her life. Though she misses spending time with her horses, she's knows they're nearby in a pasture leased from an old friend. But when she learns that a new neighbor, Lindee Stone, has leased the pasture and demands Gail remove her horses, she's angry. Storming out to confront Lindee at her stables, she arrives just in time to see Lindee, a professional trainer of rodeo horses, fall from her mount. To Gail's horror, the horse topples over as well, falling on Lindee, killing her. Though almost certainly a tragic accident, Gail isn't so sure. Lindee was one of the best in the business and a fall like she witnessed seemed improbable. Gail's suspicions are aroused further when another trainer is badly injured the next day, thrown from the horse she was riding and subsequently kicked in the head. As Gail probes into Lindee's background, she discovers no shortage of people who might want to see her dead. But there's no evidence that she was murdered.

The books in this series have been as much character studies as mysteries, and Chasing Cans is no different. Gail waxes poetic on motherhood in general, and on being a mother to her son in particular, sometimes to excess. But these musings serve a purpose. She's reluctant to get involved in Lindee's death fearing it might interfere with taking care of Mac, yet the appeal to solve the puzzle is simply too alluring. If the accident was caused intentionally, how was it done? And was the intent to scare Lindee or to kill her?

The setting for Chasing Cans covers a few acres at most, yet the author conveys a sense of grandness of the region. Some of the best moments in the book are when Gail spends time exploring the area, communing with nature. Still, it is a mystery and Gail works through how the accident may have been caused but never reasons out the who and why until confronted by the culprit. In this regard, it's a bit disappointing that it wasn't more of a challenge for her. And though the book opens with a prologue that is oddly philosophical (chasing cans being a metaphor for life), it ends with a poignant epilogue that is a fitting conclusion to the story.

Special thanks to Perseverance Press for providing a copy of Chasing Cans for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — 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, April 07, 2008

Mysteries on TV: The Last Detective and Matlock

Mysteries on TV

, your source for the most complete selection of detective, amateur sleuth, private investigator, and suspense television mystery series now available or coming soon to DVD, has two series that have season DVDs being released this week.

Peter Davison stars as Detective Constable "Dangerous" Davies in , an ITV crime drama that first aired in 2003. The series, based on the Dangerous Davies novels by Leslie Thomas, also stars Emma Amos as his wife Julie and Sean Hughes as his quirky, free-loading buddy Mod. Each episode rewards the viewer with the gentle humor and captivating intrigue that fans have come to expect from North London's most doggedly unglamorous detective.

The Last Detective Series Four DVD set of 2 discs contains the 5 episodes that aired in May 2007.

finally comes to DVD! Andy Griffith starred as Atlanta defense attorney Ben Matlock in this long-running series that aired on two networks (NBC for 6 seasons, ABC for 3 seasons). The early seasons also starred Linda Purl as Matlock's daughter (also an attorney) and Kene Holliday as a private investigator. Matlock charged a $100,000 retainer to represent a client, but he usually delivered results in the form of a not guilty verdict. The series was created by Dean Hargrove who was also associated with the Perry Mason series of made-for-television movies.

The Matlock Season 1 DVD set of 7 discs contains all 23 episodes from the first season of the series that aired on NBC from September 1986 through May 1987 as well as the pilot for the series that aired in March 1986.

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

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Mystery Godoku Puzzle for April 07, 2008

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for April 07, 2008A new has been created by the editors of the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books and is now 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 D E H O P R T Y. He wrote the early books of the Hugh Corbett series using this name (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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