Monday, May 19, 2008

Compendium of Mystery News 080519

A compendium of recently published mystery news articles; note that due to our travel schedule, we're a bit behind in getting these new items posted:

• The Mystery Writers of America announced the winners of the 2008 Edgar Awards, including Down River by John Hart as Best Novel, In the Woods by Tana French as Best First Novel, and Queenpin by Megan Abbott as Best Paperback Original.

• In other mystery awards news, the Crime Writers of Canada have announced the finalists for the 2008 Arthus Ellis Awards. The winners will be announced at the Arthur Ellis Awards dinner in Toronto on June 5th. (MBN note: for a list of previous winners of the Arthus Ellis Award, visit the website.)

• Otto Penzler weighs in on awards season in his column on NYSun.com.

Playbill is reporting that the International Mystery Writers' Festival has announced casting for two of its flagship productions — the "lost" Agatha Christie play, Chimneys and the new Sherlock Holmes play The Final Toast by Stuart Kaminsky. The festival will take place June 12-22 at the RiverPark Center in Owensboro, KY. Visit www.newmysteries.org to order tickets and for additional information.

• Legacy Interactive released The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes, the first computer game officially licensed by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The game, which features 16 unique cases of forgery, espionage, theft, murder, and more, can be purchased and downloaded from SherlockGame.com. (MBN note: more information is available in the press release.)


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Mystery Godoku Puzzle for May 19, 2008

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for May 19, 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 D E H I K N R T. Richard Laymon wrote this 1994 suspense thriller featuring librarian Jane Kerry and the Master of Games (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, May 18, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Another Thing to Fall by Laura Lippman

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

Another Thing to Fall by Laura LippmanBuy from Amazon.com

Another Thing to Fall by
A Tess Monaghan Mystery

William Morrow (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-06-112887-2 (0061128872)
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-112887-5 (9780061128875)
Publication Date: March 2008
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): The California dream weavers have invaded Charm City with their cameras, their stars, and their controversy. . . .

When private investigator Tess Monaghan literally runs into the crew of the fledgling TV series Mann of Steel while sculling, she expects sharp words and evil looks, not an assignment. But the company has been plagued by a series of disturbing incidents since its arrival on location in Baltimore: bad press, union threats, and small, costly on-set "accidents" that have wreaked havoc with its shooting schedule. As a result, Mann's creator, Flip Tumulty, the son of a Hollywood legend, is worried for the safety of his young female lead, Selene Waites, and asks Tess to serve as her bodyguard/babysitter. Tumulty's concern may be well founded. Not long ago a Baltimore man was discovered dead in his own home, surrounded by photos of the beautiful, difficult superstar-in-the-making.

In the past, Tess has had enough trouble guarding her own body. Keeping a spoiled movie princess under wraps may be more than she can handle—even with the help of Tess's icily unflappable friend Whitney—since Selene is not as naive as everyone seems to think, and far more devious than she initially appears to be. This is not Tess's world. And these are not her kind of people, with their vanities, their self-serving agendas and invented personas, and their remarkably skewed visions of reality—from the series' aging, shallow, former pretty-boy leading man to its resentful, always-on-the-make cowriter to the officious young assistant who may be too hungry for her own good.

But the fish-out-of-water P.I. is abruptly pulled back in by an occurrence she's all too familiar with—murder. Suddenly the wall of secrets around Mann of Steel is in danger of toppling, leaving shattered dreams, careers, and lives scattered among the ruins—a catastrophe that threatens the people Tess cares about . . . and the city she loves.

Review: Baltimore private investigator Tess Monaghan is hired to look after the temperamental star of a television show being filmed locally in Another Thing to Fall, the tenth mystery in this series by Laura Lippman.

When Tess is initially offered the job of guarding Selene Waites, the young (and definitely under drinking age) star of Mann of Steel, she hesitates. It's not an assignment she's particularly interested in. But it pays well and gives her the opportunity to negotiate a position on the film crew for her boyfriend's sometime ward, Lloyd, something she probably wants more than her fee. Though there have been a series of incidents on the set, they seem more annoying than threatening to Tess. Until one of the production staff is murdered at which point Tess shifts into investigative mode. What motive could one have for wanting the production shut down, someone who would be willing to kill to get it done?

If just one word could be used to describe Laura Lippman's books in this series, it would be "entertaining". Another Thing to Fall is no exception. Tess is a terrific character and the author incorporates the city of Baltimore so well into these books that it becomes as central to story as any other character.

The weakness here is the plot itself though ironically it doesn't significantly detract from the enjoyment of the book. Much of the time, Tess seems to be along for the ride, having not much to do and even less to test her investigative skills. The other prinicipal characters are arguably more interesting to read about, but, then again, the professional and personal lives of people in the television and movie industry provide a nearly endless stream of ideas for novels. To her credit, Lippman capitalizes on this here with some success. And it's worth mentioning the delightful Mrs. Blossom who provides some of the seriously funny moments in the book. The denouement to the mystery, however, is not unexpected and somewhat anticlimatic.

Another Thing to Fall is certainly entertaining and well worth reading, but equally certainly not among the best of the series.

Special thanks to HarperCollins for providing a copy of Another Thing to Fall 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, May 17, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Seven for a Secret by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Seven for a Secret by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Seven for a Secret by Mary Reed and Eric MayerBuy from Amazon.com

Seven for a Secret by
A John the Eunuch Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-489-9 (1590584899)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-489-7 (9781590584897)
Publication Date: April 2008
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Who killed the mosaic girl? As Lord Chamberlain, John spends his days counseling Emperor Justinian while passing the small hours of night in conversation with the solemn-eyed little girl depicted in a mosaic on his study wall. He never expected to meet her in a public square or afterwards find her red-dyed corpse in a subterranean cistern. Had the mysterious woman truly been the model for the mosaic years before as she claimed? Who was she? Why had she sought John out? Who wanted her dead -- and why?

The answers seem to lie among the denizens of the smoky streets of that quarter of Constantinople known as the Copper Market, where artisans, beggars, prostitutes, pillar saints, and exiled aristocrats struggle to survive within sight of the Great Palace and yet worlds distant. John encounters a faded actress, a patriotic sausage maker, a sundial maker who fears the sun, a religious visionary, a man who lives in a treasure trove, and a beggar who owes his life to a cartload of melons. Before long he suspects he is attempting to unravel not just a murder but a plot against the empire. Or is John really on a personal quest, to find the reality behind the confidante he thought existed only in his own imagination? Is there such a thing as truth in a place where people live on memories, dreams, and illusions? Even if there is, can John push aside the shadows and find the truth in time?

Review: John, Lord Chamberlain to Emperor Justinian, investigates the murder of a women in 6th century Constantinople in Seven for a Secret, the seventh mystery in this historical series by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer.

In a typical day, John retires to his office following his consultations with the emperor. There he reflects on current events, often looking out on a mosaic wall that contains the likeness of a young woman who seems to be looking at him, asking him to confide in her. One evening while strolling through the streets near the Great Palace, a woman confronts him, introducing herself as Zoe, the model for the mosaic, and asking that he meet her the next evening. Not sure why, he agrees, and then at the appointed time and place he discovers her murdered, strangled, her face painted red. As he searches for her killer through the market, he's followed. Who was this woman? Why was she murdered? He senses he's being drawn into a situation that may be greater in scope than he initially imagined, and that his life may be in danger.

The books in this series are inspired by actual events attributed to Procopius, secretary and advisor to General Belisarius, during the reign of Emperor Justinian I (c. 505-565). This lends an air of authenticity to the story that enhances its appeal as a historical mystery, though the authors clearly draw parallels between the 6th century and today. The city and its citizens are well drawn and provide a good backdrop to John's investigation. The plot itself unfolds at a measured pace allowing the reader to be as puzzled as John as to what may be happening around him. With a few twists in the story and the various plot threads neatly wrapped up in the end, Seven for a Secret should satisfy not only fans of historical mysteries but also those seeking an interesting story in an unusual setting.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Seven for a Secret and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers for May 16, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers

A list of the top 15 for the week ending May 16, 2008 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website. Note: A bestseller list for the week ending May 09, 2008 was not published.

's The Whole Truth assumes the top position this week with several new titles entering the top 15.

Phantom Prey by John Sandford

Debuting at number 4 this week is Phantom Prey, the 18th mystery in the Lucas Davenport series by . A widow comes home to her large house in a wealthy, exclusive suburb to find blood everywhere, no body—and her college-aged daughter missing. She's always known that her daughter ran with a bad bunch. What did she call them—Goths? Freaks is more like it, running around with all that makeup and black clothing, listening to that awful music, so attracted to death. And now this. But the police can't find the girl, alive or dead, and when a second Goth is found slashed to death in Minneapolis, the widow truly panics. There's someone she knows, a surgeon named Weather Davenport, whose husband is a big deal with the police, and she implores Weather to get him directly involved. Lucas begins to investigate only reluctantly—but then when a third Goth is slashed in what is now looking like a 'Jack the Ripper' series of killings, he starts working it hard. The clues don't seem to add up, though. And then there's the young Goth who keeps appearing and disappearing: Who is she? Where does she come from and, more important, where does she vanish to? And why does Lucas keep getting the sneaking suspicion that there is something else going onhere . . . something very, very bad indeed? Publishers Weekly calls Phantom Prey "solid" and adds, "Sandford delivers the kind of riveting action that keeps thriller fans turning the pages."

Careless in Red by Elizabeth George

Coming in at number 5 this week is Careless in Red, the 14th mystery in the Inspector Thomas Lynley series by . After the senseless murder of his wife, Detective Superintendent Thomas Lynley retreated to Cornwall, where he has spent six solitary weeks hiking the bleak and rugged coastline. But no matter how far he walks, no matter how exhausting his days, the painful memories of Helen's death do not diminish. On the forty-third day of his walk, at the base of a cliff, Lynley discovers the body of a young man who appears to have fallen to his death. The closest town, better known for its tourists and its surfing than its intrigue, seems an unlikely place for murder. However, it soon becomes apparent that a clever killer is indeed at work, and this time Lynley is not a detective but a witness and possibly a suspect. The head of the vastly understaffed local police department needs Lynley's help, though, especially when it comes to the mysterious, secretive woman whose cottage lies not far from where the body was discovered. But can Lynley let go of the past long enough to solve a most devious and carefully planned crime? Publishers Weekly states that Careless in Red is a "stellar new suspense novel".

From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris

Finally, in 9th position is From Dead to Worse, the 8th mystery in the Southern Vampire series by featuring telepathic barmaid Sookie Stackhouse. After the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina and the manmade explosion at the vampire summit, everyone—human and otherwise—is stressed, including Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse, who is trying to cope with the fact that her boyfriend Quinn has gone missing. It's clear that things are changing—whether the weres and vamps of her corner of Louisiana like it or not. And Sookie—Friend to the Pack and blood-bonded to Eric Northman, leader of the local vampire community—is caught up in the changes. In the ensuing battles, Sookie faces danger, death, and once more, betrayal by someone she loves. And when the fur has finished flying and the cold blood finished flowing, her world will be forever altered. Library Journal states that "Sookie's fans will love this addition to the series."

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:

The Whole Truth by David BaldacciThe Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall SmithHold Tight by Harlan Coben Phantom Prey by John Sandford

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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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for May 12, 2008

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for May 05, 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 D G I L N O S Y. wrote this short story for the collection Dick Tracy: The Secret Files (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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Monday, May 05, 2008

Mysteries on TV: Crossing Jordan

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 one series that has a season DVD being released this week.

Jill Hennessy starred as Dr. Jordan Cavanaugh, a medical examiner in , a ensemble series that aired on NBC for six seasons. For the first two seasons, Ken Howard played Jordan's father, retired police detective Max Cavanaugh, who helped his daughter solve cases by role-playing the events leading up to the crime.

The Crossing Jordan Season One DVD set of 5 discs contains all 23 episodes of the first season including the pilot that aired from September 2001 to May 2002.

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

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Mystery Godoku Puzzle for May 05, 2008

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for May 05, 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 E F H L N O T W. Published in 1985, this was the penultimate mystery in a popular series by Gregory McDonald (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, May 04, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Chili Con Corpses by J. B. Stanley

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Chili Con Corpses by J. B. Stanley. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Chili Con Corpses by J. B. StanleyBuy from Amazon.com

Chili Con Corpses by
A Supper Club Mystery with James Henry

Midnight Ink (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7387-1259-0 (0738712590)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7387-1259-8 (9780738712598)
Publication Date: January 2008
List Price: $13.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Things are chugging merrily along for librarian James Henry. He has a closet filled with new clothes, a trimmer waistline, and a closer bond with his father. His only real problem is that his girlfriend Lucy's interest in him seems to have inexplicably cooled. When schoolteacher Lindy suggests the club members join a Mexican cooking class, James jumps at the idea. Over cervezas and black bean dip, the supper club members warm to their new adventure. The class heats up even more when a reporter and her friends, twin sisters with supermodel physiques, enroll. But when people start turning up dead, and the evidence points toward Lindy, things become hotter than a jalapeo. James, who was looking to add a little more spice to his life, gets much more than he bargained for.

Review: Anyone with an appetite for comfort food and a cozy read will feel right at home with Chili con Corpses, the third volume in J. B. Stanley’s popular Supper Club Mystery series that features librarian James Henry, (“Professor” to some), and his four Shenandoah Valley Qunicy’s Gap friends, known to themselves as “the Flab Five.” Between snacking, dieting, exercising at the YMCA, attending Saturday night Mexican cooking classes and getting on with their daily lives and sometimes feisty loves, the culinary team discovers what’s cooking with a murder most foul.

When school teacher Lindy Perez loudly announces to her friends that she’ll kill a vivacious blonde twin if the twin makes a move on the apple of her eye, Principal Chavez, it’s a recipe for disaster. Especially when the twin is found strangled on a field trip to the ghostly Luray Caverns. It’s an outing that Lindy has arranged for her art students, a couple of chaperones, including Mr. Sneed, a grandparent of student Adam Sneed, and, of course, the stand-in chaperones, the ever-reliable supper club’s “Flab Five.” The action heats up when the police arrive, interview the students and witnesses who found the body, and discover that Mr. Sneed has disappeared and learn soon after that he’s no relation to Adam or any of Adam’s kin. Furthermore, the murdered twin, a veterinarian by trade, was substituting for her sister, the newly hired teacher at Blue Ridge High. As the plot does a slow simmer, Murphy Alistair, The Shenandoah Star Ledger editor-star reporter, gets into the act with some investigative reporting, infiltrates the Saturday evening cooking classes, and whips up some emotions when the romance between Lucy and James sours and she eases into the breach, saucily offering herself as le plat du jour to spice up James’ hormonal appetites. Murphy has known one of the twins, and about their inherited millions, for years, and she recently met the other one. She wants the murderer sliced and diced, and she’s got everyone agreeing to help her. Broiling with anger they set out to winnow the wheat from the chaff among the clues, and to sift through the past lives of three prime suspects, two veterinarians and a stockbroker, one of whom they’re out to roast with a cleverly contrived ruse. In the end, they burn the killer, getting him to confess to what a rotten apple he is before he gets his just desserts at the hands of an accomplice who, in turn, ends up in the beefy paws of Sergeant McClellan and the local constabulary.

Adding to the standard fare found in most cozies, Stanley includes food references and sodium serving amounts in her chapter titles and salt shaker illustrations, tasty snacking tidbits on almost every page, and three full-blown mouth-watering recipes for Milla’s Mexican Chicken Enchiladas, Milla’s Mexican Wedding Cookies, and Milla’s Chili con Queso. There’s also a sample chapter of Stiffs & Swine, book four in the Supper Club series, included as an appetizer in the appendix. As for other ingredients before the plot boils over and the lid comes off in Chili con Corpses, there’s a tastefully done bedroom scene with James and Murphy, some heated but never bitter exchanges between James and Lucy, more sugar than spice in a relationship between the cooking class chef, Milla Fields, and James’ widower dad, Jackson, some nibbles at a budding romance between a library assistant and a cub reporter, and some tantalizing side bars about a lottery ticket found in the returns book bin at the library, colourful descriptions of fantastic meals and parties at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, the digestive antics of a cat called “The Dalai Lama,” and dollops of comfort zone scenes between the Flab Five and their add-on friends at sites like the Dim Sum Kitchen, the Custard Cottage, Johnny Appleseed’s Restaurant and Milla’s Fix ‘n Freeze cooking school. A palatable concoction to satisfy the appetites of even the most discerning.

Special thanks to M. Wayne Cunningham ([email protected]) for contributing his review of Chili Con Corpses and to Midnight Ink for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — M. Wayne Cunningham — All Rights Reserved — Reprinted with Permission

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

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers for May 02, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers

A list of the top 15 for the week ending May 02, 2008 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

More reshuffling of the bestselling mysteries this week though The Miracle at Speedy Motors by retains the number one position.

Santa Fe Dead

New this week: Just missing the top 15 last week but coming in at number 8 this week is Santa Fe Dead, the third mystery in the Ed Eagle series by . When last encountered (in Short Straw), Ed had been the target of a murder-for-hire plot orchestrated by his wife, Barbara, the ultimate black widow. But when Barbara escapes from police custody, Ed knows that not only will his life be in danger but also the life of his new girlfriend, and, of course, of any rich man unlucky enough to be lured into Barbara's web. To add to his troubles, Ed has taken on a new client, Don Wells, who may or may not have murdered his own wife and son. From the posh resorts of southern California to the New Mexico desert and the seedy hotels of Tijuana, Ed Eagle will follow every lead—and hope that he doesn't wind up Santa Fe dead..

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:

The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall SmithHold Tight by Harlan CobenWinter Study by Nevada Barr The Whole Truth by David Baldacci

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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