Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Press Release: Laura Lippman and Marcus Sakey win the Strand Magazine’s Critics Award

New York, NY, July 14, 2008 -- The winners of the 2007 Strand Magazine Critics Award are for best novel (What the Dead Know) and Marcus Sakey for best first mystery novel (The Blade Itself). The winners were announced at an invitation only cocktail party in Manhattan, by bestselling author .

Both of the winners and several of the nominees were in attendance at the Midtown Executive Club. Lippman and Sakey were gracious winners thanking the panel of book reviewers, congratulating their fellow nominees and acknowledging they were up against stiff competition.

Best Novel Nominees (winner in bold)
• Down River by John Hart (Thomas Dunne Books/Minotaur)
• The Shotgun Rule by Charlie Huston (Ballantine Books)
• The Strangler by William Landay (Delacorte Press)
• The Watchman by Robert Crais (Simon and Schuster)
What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman (William Morrow)

Best First Novel Nominees (winner in bold)
The Blade Itself by Marcus Sakey (St. Martin's Minotaur)
• In the Woods by Tana French (Viking)
• The Mark by Jason Pinter (Mira Books)
• Missing Witness by Gordon Campbell (William Morrow)
• When One Man Dies by Dave White (Crown Publishing)

Lippman, a former journalist for The Baltimore Sun, is no stranger to winning many of the top crime fiction prizes: she has won the Edgar, The Anthony, The Shamus, and The Barry Awards. Her latest novel Another Thing to Fall was released this March by William Morrow.

In just two years, Marcus Sakey has blazed a trail as a new and talented mystery author with his two well written crime novels The Blade Itself and At The City’s Edge. A former St. Martin’s author, he has recently signed a deal with Dutton who will publish his next book Good People in August.

"This was such a great group of nominees, it must have been difficult to choose the winner," said Frank Simon, Associate Publisher of The Strand. "Laura and Marcus were worthy winners, in the past few years Laura has produced a fantastic body of work and Marcus is a new talent who I have no doubt in the future will be nominated for the best mystery novel award."

Next year, the panel of judges will led by Otto Penzler and will feature critics from The Washington Post, the LA Times, the Associated Press, NPR, Time Magazine, Publishers Weekly and The New York Sun. For more information, please contact Christine Jones at (248) 569-3702 or [email protected].

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for July 14, 2008

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for July 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 E F L M N O R W. This romantic suspense thriller by Donna Anders was published in 1995 (with “The”, 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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Computer and video games at Amazon.com

GameStop, Inc.
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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Trumpets Sound No More by Jon Redfern

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Trumpets Sound No More by Jon Redfern. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Trumpets Sound No More by Jon RedfernBuy from Amazon.com

Trumpets Sound No More by
Non-series

Rendezvous Crime (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-894917-40-5 (1894917405)
ISBN-13: 978-1-894917-40-7 (9781894917407)
Publication Date: October 2007
List Price: $19.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): In 1840, the theatre world in London is shocked by the brutal killing of one of its youngest and most successful entrepreneurs, Mr. Samuel Cake, found bludgeoned in his bachelor house with few leads. Inspector Owen Endersby is called upon to apprehend the culprit before Christmas Eve, just six days away. The case soon involves street vendors, downstairs servants, moneylenders and the greatest performers of the London stage. Without the help of fingerprinting, blood analysis, or any other technique of the modern-day detective, Inspector Endersby must root out the villain any way he can—by disguise, break-and-enter, bribery, mail tampering and physical force. London in 1840 is a brutal city. As the investigation moves into the darker realms of human behavior, Endersby faces instances of child abuse, child labor, madness and sexual deviancy.

Review: In 2002, Toronto author and college instructor, Jon Redfern, won the prestigious Crime Writer’s of Canada Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel for his debut effort, The Boy Must Die. As an encore he has won the CWC Arthur Ellis award for Best Novel for 2008 for his meticulously-researched Victorian age murder mystery, Trumpets Sound No More, starring Detective Inspector Owen Endersby, a member of the newly-formed London Metropolitan Detective Police Force. Endersby, as Redfern's readers will soon discover, has all of the charisma, skills and sleuthing smarts to become a long time center stage performer should Redfern decide to keep him around.

Besides his intuitions and intelligence, Endersby has other characteristics for a successful police force career. In the Victorian England of the shabby streets, dingy taverns and dark alleyways he frequents, he knows how to ferret out the characters most likely to have bashed theatre manager Samuel Cakes head to a pulp with his own cane. He knows how to find them by using guile and disguises, by tricking them into giving up information and, if necessary, to use an occasional cuff to the ear to jog a recalcitrant recollection. He knows his way around London too, including the theatre district and particularly backstage and downstairs at the Old Drury, the grande dame of London’s theatres in the 1840s. Despite being given a case of arson to resolve as well as a one week deadline, December 18 to 25, for solving Cake’s murder, and having to deal with his overbearing Superintendent, fifty-year-old Endersby knows how to get the job done without any of today’s forensic assists – just patience, critical analysis, a liking “to ponder the scene,” his “passions for truth and justice,” a willingness to walk miles to find a clue or harangue a suspect, and all the while suffering “the grime of his livelihood on his clothes.” And as he searches the theatre district and beyond for a murderer and an arsonist, he finds killers can travel in packs, lunatics can fan more than just fires, actors can play multiple parts, on and off stage, and with or without alcohol and drugs, theatre managers can be as motivated by power and sex as by money, and a stage-struck fourteen-year-old homeless waif and her dreams can both go up in flames while Queen Victoria and her Christmas pageant entourage watch in horror.

Tough on the crimes and criminals of his time and constantly tussling with his Superintendent, Endersby has a softer side too. He’s obviously devoted to his forty-year-old wife Harriet, fancies the candied chestnuts she prepares for him, pieces together elaborate wooden puzzles of French design, and he suffers from gout in his left foot, the intensity of which measures the success or failure of his fact-finding – all attributes for the memorable detective Redfern has created. The settings for the Old Drury and the contemporary theatre offerings are memorable too, and the dialogue and language of the compelling story are ideally suited to the age. And while the trumpets in this novel may sound no more, it would be a shame if they also signalled a swan song for Detective Inspector Owen Endersby.

Special thanks to M. Wayne Cunningham ([email protected]) for contributing his review of Trumpets Sound No More.

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, July 11, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers for July 11, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers

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

For the second week in a row there is no change in the top 3 with 's 14th mystery featuring bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, Fearless Fourteen retaining the top spot on this week's mystery bestseller list.

Swan Peak by James Lee Burke

Debuting at number 10 this week is Swan Peak, the 17th mystery by featuring Louisiana lawman Dave Robicheaux who is far from his New Iberia roots, attempting to relax in the untouched wilderness of rural Montana. He, his wife, and his buddy Clete Purcell have retreated to stay at an old friend's ranch, hoping to spend their days fishing and enjoying their distance from the harsh, gritty landscape of Louisiana post-Katrina. But the serenity is soon shattered when two college students are found brutally murdered in the hills behind where the Robicheauxs and Purcell are staying. They quickly find themselves involved in a twisted and dangerous mystery involving a wealthy, vicious oil tycoon, his deformed brother and beautiful wife, a sexually deviant minister, an escaped con and former country music star, and a vigilante Texas gunbull out for blood. At the center of the storm is Clete, who cannot shake the feeling that he is being haunted by the ghosts from his past -- namely Sally Dio, the mob boss he'd sabotaged and killed years before. 

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:

Fearless Fourteen by Janet EvanovichNothing to Lose by Lee ChildThe Broken Window by Jeffery DeaverChasing Darkness by Robert Crais

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, July 09, 2008

News: Mystery Author Janwillem van de Wetering Dies

Sarah Reidy, Director of Publicity for Soho Press, has informed us that Janwillem van de Wetering, one of Holland's most acclaimed crime writers and author of the Amsterdam Cops series, died on July 4, 2008, following a struggle with cancer. He was 77.

Van de Wetering was born in Rotterdam in 1931. After living in Amsterdam, Cornwall, Capetown, Bogota, Lima, and Brisbane, he finally settled on the coast of Maine with his wife in 1975. He is the author of numerous works in Dutch and English, including the Amsterdam Cops mystery series, a children series featuring the porcupine Hugh Pine, non-fiction books, and dozens of short stories. His work often incorporated his experiences as a one-time Zen Buddhist monk and the time he served with the Amsterdam Reserve Constabulary. van de Wetering was awarded the French Grand Prix de Littérature Policière in 1984.

Soho Press published fourteen books by van de Wetering, featuring adjutant Henrik Grijpstra and Sergeant Rinus de Gier. Critical acclaim was unanimously enthusiastic in publications such as the New York Times, Time, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, L.A. Times, Boston Globe, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Soho Press will be reissuing all of van de Wetering's Soho Crime novels in paperback, beginning in the fall of 2008.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Garcia's Heart by Liam Durcan

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Garcia's Heart by Liam Durcan. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Garcia's Heart by Liam DurcanBuy from Amazon.com

Garcia's Heart by
Non-series

St. Martin's Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-312-36708-2 (0312367082)
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-36708-4 (9780312367084)
Publication Date: November 2007
List Price: $23.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Neurologist Patrick Lazerenko travels to The Hague to witness the war crimes trial of his beloved mentor, Hernan García, a Honduran doctor accused of involvement in torture. Driven by his own youthful memories of the man and his family, Lazerenko is determined to get to the truth behind the shocking accusations, even as the prosecution and a relentless journalist suspect Patrick of hiding information. The defense has its own ideas for Patrick, hoping to use his latest research to help vindicate García. As Patrick struggles with his conscience, and the pressures from the neuroeconomics company he abandoned in , he must also contend with seeing García’s daughter, his former lover, and the surprising influence a shady advocacy group seems to have over her, and with the fact García himself is refusing to speak, to anyone.

Review: In his day job Montreal resident Liam Durcan is an Assistant Professor at McGill University and a neurologist at the Montreal Neurological Hospital. In his debut novel Garcia’s Heart he has transformed his knowledge of his world of medicine and his observations of humanity at large into a compelling story that has won him the Arthur Ellis 2008 Best First Novel award.

Durcan’s novel is set against an extremely large canvas, a trial for crimes against humanity for the so-called Angel of Lepaterique at the War Crimes Tribunal building in Churchillplein in Den Haag, Netherlands. The Angel - a sobriquet from a book title about him - is a former Honduran cardiologist, Hernan Garcia de la Cruz, the mentor of Dr. Patrick Lazerenko, formerly of Montreal and now a Bostonian, and he stands accused of medical torture, murder and crimes against humanity. Doubly motivated by curiosity and loyalty to the Garcia family, the members of which he has not seen for several years, Lazerenko has come to the trial at the defence attorney’s request as a potential witness. Lazerenko could testify as the Garcia siblings Maria, his ex-lover, Nina, her younger sister, and Roberto, his continuing antagonist, hope, and the father’s lawyer cajoles, as an expert witness in the application of neuroscientific principles to explain the elder Garcia’s apparently out-of-character behaviour. It is a daunting task and one for which Lazerenko who has turned from medicine to marketing, has little stomach for, and even less assurance of success, especially since a suspiciously deteriorating Garcia has steadfastly refused to speak to anyone or to testify on his own behalf. And while the crimes against Garcia are unveiled in almost slow motion revelations through shocking eye-witness testimonies and detailed references to passages of a best-selling journalist’s book about the alleged perpetrator, Lazerenko must confront his own demons, real, imaginary, long forgotten or recently remembered.

Durcan’s book is saturated with the drizzle of the Den Haag November weather, the bleakness of the trial and its crush of evidence against the accused, and the futility of Lazerenko’s attempts to re-establish his recollected relationships between himself and the Garcias for “he did need the Garcias now, as much as he had needed them then.” Former lover Celia and he are “little more than strangers now,” and she has a two-year-old son in tow but no husband in sight. Nina the youngest of the three siblings now oversees the family’s expanded food store after the death of her mother, incarceration of her father, disinterest of her sister and ineptitude of her brother. And Roberto, ever the one to use his fists instead of his brain has sucker-punched Lazerenko, leaving him bruised, unconscious and briefly hospitalized in the infirmary of the Tribunal building where he is cared for by a doctor “under his white coat of industriousness.” Between healing and recalling the way they all once were when the licenceless Garcia clandestinely offered medical services in the rear of the Montreal corner grocery store, Le Depanneur Mondial, that he ran after fleeing the Honduras, Lazerenko weighs his emotional turmoil against his need to manage via increasingly annoying emails the problems of his Neuronaut biotech company with its “cognitive approach to marketing.” With surgical precision and intense psychological insight Durcan expertly probes and bares the hearts, minds and intents of his characters as Lazerenko tries to make sense of his life and Garcia struggles to deal with his. It is a fascinating operation with heart-rending conclusions for all concerned.

Special thanks to M. Wayne Cunningham ([email protected]) for contributing his review of Garcia's Heart.

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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Monday, July 07, 2008

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for July 07, 2008

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for July 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: G H I K N O R T W. This was the title of Nelson George’s 2003 noir thriller of a male gigolo accused of murder (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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Computer and video games at Amazon.com

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers for July 04, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers

A list of the top 15 for the week ending July 04, 2008 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

No change in the top 3 with 's 14th mystery featuring bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, Fearless Fourteen retaining the top spot on this week's mystery bestseller list.

Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais

Three new titles enter the top 15. Debuting at number 10 this week is Chasing Darkness, the 12th mystery by featuring Los Angeles private investigator Elvis Cole. It's fire season, and the hills of Los Angeles are burning. When police and fire department personnel rush door to door in a frenzied evacuation effort, they discover the week-old corpse of an apparent suicide. But the gunshot victim is less gruesome than what they find in his lap: a photo album of seven brutally murdered young women -- one per year, for seven years. And when the suicide victim is identified as a former suspect in one of the murders, the news turns Elvis Cole's world upside down. Three years earlier Lionel Byrd was brought to trial for the murder of a female prostitute named Yvonne Bennett. A taped confession coerced by the police inspired a prominent defense attorney to take Byrd's case, and Elvis Cole was hired to investigate. It was Cole's eleventh-hour discovery of an exculpatory videotape that allowed Lionel Byrd to walk free. Elvis was hailed as a hero. But the discovery of the death album in Byrd's lap now brands Elvis as an unwitting accomplice to murder. Captured in photographs that could only have been taken by the murderer, Yvonne Bennett was the fifth of the seven victims -- two more young women were murdered after Lionel Byrd walked free. So Elvis can't help but wonder -- did he, Elvis Cole, cost two more young women their lives? Shut out of the investigation by a special LAPD task force determined to close the case, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike desperately fight to uncover the truth about Lionel Byrd and his nightmare album of death -- a truth hidden by lies, politics, and corruption in a world where nothing is what it seems to be. Publisher's Weekly says of Chasing Darkness, "This one is all about plot; the story opens with a bang and never slows."

Death Angel by Linda Howard

Linda Howard's latest romantic suspense thriller, Death Angel, enters the list at number 11. A striking beauty with a taste for diamonds and dangerous men, Drea Rousseau is more than content to be arm candy for Rafael Salinas, a notorious crime lord who deals with betrayal through quick and treacherous means: a bullet to the back of the head, a blade across the neck, an incendiary device beneath a car. Eager to break with Rafael, Drea makes a fateful decision and a desperate move, stealing a mountain of cash from the malicious killer. After all, an escape needs to be financed. Though Drea runs, Salinas knows she can’t hide–and he dispatches a cold-blooded assassin in hot pursuit, resulting in a tragic turn of events. Or does it? Left for dead, Drea miraculously returns to the realm of the living a changed woman. She’s no longer shallow and selfish, no longer steals or cheats or sells herself short. Both humbled and thrilled with this unexpected second chance, Drea embraces her new life. But in order to feel safe and sound–and stop nervously looking over her shoulder–she will need to take down those who marked her for death. Joining forces with the FBI, supplying vital inside information that only she can provide, Drea finds herself working with the most dangerous man she’s ever known. Yet the closer they get to danger, the more intense their feelings for each other become, and the more Drea realizes that the cost of her new life may be her life itself–as well as her heart.

Where Memories Lie by Deborah Crombie

Moving up the list to number 12 this week is Where Memories Lie, the mystery in the Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James series by .  Erika Rosenthal has always been secretive with her friend and neighbor, Detective Inspector Gemma James, about her past, except for one telling detail: She and her long-dead husband, David, came to London as refugees from Nazi Germany. But now the elderly woman needs Gemma's help. A unique piece of jewelry stolen from her years ago has mysteriously turned up at a prestigious London auction house. Erika believes the theft may be tied to her husband's death, which had always been assumed a suicide. Gemma has a tough challenge. She must navigate the shadowy and secretive world of London's monied society to discover the jewelry's connection to David's murderer. However, the cold case needs to be put back on the books and possibly into the hands of her partner, Duncan Kincaid. When a second, present-day murder kicks the investigation into high gear, Gemma becomes more determined to exact justice for Erika—in a case that will have lasting repercussions. 

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:

Fearless Fourteen by Janet EvanovichNothing to Lose by Lee ChildThe Broken Window by Jeffery DeaverTailSpin by Catherine Coulter

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

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Monday, June 30, 2008

Mysteries on TV: The Closer, Rebus, The Streets of San Francisco, and Walker Texas Ranger

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, is profiling four series that have season DVDs being released this week. 

They'll bring you in. She'll make you talk. The "she" is Deputy Police Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, played by Kyra Sedgwick, as , an investigator with a remarkable talent for trapping criminals in their lies. The series debuted on TNT in June 2005 and remains in production today. The 4th season returns to TNT on Monday, July 14th at 9 PM ET.

The Closer Season Three DVD set of 4 discs contains all 13 episodes of the third season (including two 2-part episodes) that aired from June 2007 through September 2007 and in December 2007. Other features include unaired scenes, The Art of Interrogation featurette, and a gag reel.

Based on the series character created by crime writer Ian Rankin, stars Ken Stott as Scottish Detective Inspector John Rebus. The current series, which debuted on ITV1 in 2006, also stars Claire Price as his partner, Siobhan Clarke. (The original Rebus series starred John Hannah, producing 4 episodes that aired in 2000, 2001, and 2004.)

The Rebus Set Three DVD set of 4 discs contains all four episodes that aired during October and in December, 2007: Resurrection Men, The First Stone, The Naming of the Dead, and Knots and Crosses. Additional features include a biography of Ian Rankin.

Twenty year veteran Detective Lt. Mike Stone (played by Karl Malden) is partnered with young college educated Inspector Steve Keller (played by Michael Douglas) who has a lot to learn about being a police detective on , a popular series that aired on ABC over 5 seasons from 1972 to 1977. The series was produced by Quinn Martin Productions which was also responsible for other series including , Cannon, , and others.

The Streets of San Francisco Season Two, Volume One DVD set of 3 discs contains the first 12 episodes of the second season that aired from September through December, 1973.

Chuck Norris starred as Texas Ranger Cordell Walker in , a long-running series that aired on CBS from 1993 through 2001. Walker was characterized as one of the last old-fashioned heroes in the West, a protective friend but a relentless foe who would stop at nothing to bring a criminal to justice. Most episodes displayed some of Norris' martial arts expertise.

The Walker, Texas Ranger Season Five DVD set of 7 discs contains all 26 episodes of the fifth season that aired during the 1996 / 1997 television season.

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

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Mystery Godoku Puzzle for June 30, 2008

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for June 30, 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 E G H I M N W Y.  In the pet sitter mysteries by , this is former sheriff’s deputy Dixie’s last 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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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mystery Book Review: The Amnesiac by Sam Taylor

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of The Amnesiac by Sam Taylor. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The Amnesiac by Sam TaylorBuy from Amazon.com

The Amnesiac by
Non-series

Penguin (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-14-311340-2 (0143113402)
ISBN-13: 978-0-14-311340-9 (9780143113409)
Publication Date: June 2008
List Price: $14.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): When twenty-nine-year-old James Purdew returns to England from his home in Amsterdam, it is to discover what happened during three earlier years of his life that he cannot recall. What he finds, in an old house with a tragic history, is a nineteenth-century manuscript that begins to seem less and less like a work of fiction—and more like the key to his own lost past.

Review: Sam Taylor has crafted an unquestionably stylish and imaginative though somewhat unsatisfactory (maybe unsettling is a better term) novel of a man's quest to discover several missing years from his past in The Amnesiac.

After breaking his ankle rushing up the stairs of his Amsterdam apartment, James Purdew has little to do but ponder his present, his future, and his past. When his girlfriend suddenly leaves him, he decides to look into his past as a way of helping guide him in the future. Through the years he has faithfully written a journal, but three years are locked in a strongbox, the key long lost. In an attempt to reconstruct that time period, he begins to write his past in reverse chronological order, beginning with the present. Titling his effort Memoirs of an Amnesiac, he realizes while writing that in order to be faithful to the facts, he must return to his native England where he settles into an abandoned house, offering to renovate it in lieu of paying rent. All is proceeding well until he discovers a manuscript hidden in the house titled Confessions of a Killer, the text of which bears a striking similarity to his fleeting memory of his missing years. But the manuscript is dated 1893 and couldn't possibly have anything to do with his present or his past. Or could it?

Taylor unabashedly manipulates the reader through the labyrinth that is The Amnesiac. In fact, the word "labyrinth" is used repeatedly in a variety of contexts, at times to excess, as if repeating the word somehow reinforces its very state of being. At one point, James muses, "Someone should write a true-to-life detective story; an existential mystery in which the answer is not to be found, clear and logical, at the book's end, but only to be glimpsed, or half-grasped, at various moments during its narrative; to be sensed throughout, like a nagging tune that you cannot quite remember, but never defined, never seen whole; to shift its shape and position and meaning with each passing day; to be sometimes forgotten completely, other times obsessed over, but never truly understood; not to be something walked towards but endlessly around." Better words cannot be written to describe The Amnesiac; it is all this and more.

One puzzling aspect of the story is the manner in which it is told. Early on it's made clear that someone is narrating the tale of David's quest with the narrator occasionally reverting to first person. Consider this passage: "You may wonder how I can possibly know all this; how I can see all the quicksilver, gossamer visions that flicker inside James Purdew's mind, how I can feel every heart-swell and nerve-twitch in his body. But that, for the moment, must remain my little secret." Without giving too much away, it isn't much of a secret and it seems odd that Taylor takes this approach as it does eliminate much of the potential suspense that might have been generated otherwise.

Though an admirable effort in many ways, in the end (and maybe especially in the manner in which the story does end), The Amnesiac doesn't quite deliver on its premise.

Special thanks to Penguin for providing a copy of The Amnesiac 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 Book Review: Shadow of Power by Steve Martini

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Shadow of Power by Steve Martini. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Shadow of Power by Steve MartiniBuy from Amazon.com

Shadow of Power by
A Paul Madriani Legal Thriller

William Morrow (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-06-123088-X (006123088X)
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-123088-2 (9780061230882)
Publication Date: May 2008
List Price: $26.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Terry Scarborough is a legal scholar and provocateur who craves headline-making celebrity, but with his latest book he may have gone too far. In it he resurrects forgotten language in the U.S. Constitution—and hints at a missing letter of Thomas Jefferson's—that threatens to divide the nation. Then Scarborough is brutally murdered and a young man with dark connections is charged. What looks like an open-and-shut case to most people, doesn't to defense attorney Paul Madriani. He believes there is much more to the case, and that the defendant is a pawn caught in the middle, being scapegoated by circumstance.

As the trial spirals toward its conclusion, Madriani and his partner Harry Hinds race to find the missing Jefferson letter—and the secrets it holds about slavery and scandal at the time of our nation's founding and the very reason Scarborough was killed. Madriani's chase takes him from the tension-filled courtroom in California to the trail of a Supreme Court justice now suddenly in hiding and lays bare the soaring political stakes for a seat on the High Court, in a country divided, and under the shadow of power.

Review: Shadow of Power, Steve Martini's ninth legal thriller featuring criminal defense attorney Paul Madriani, is so meticulously researched and well written that it is virtually impossible to discern where fiction ends and fact begins.

Madriani and his team take on the defense of Carl Arnsburg, a twenty-three year old member of the Aryan Nation, accused of the murder of noted flamboyant, and politically connected, author Terry Scarborough. Wherever Scarborough goes to promote his latest bestselling novel, Perpetual Slaves: The Branding of America’s Black Race, racial uprisings occur: buildings are burned, cars turned over, and more. He stimulates the hatred that still arises in our nation when the issue of slavery is broached. Although the members of his staff try to advise him to restrain his ardor for attention, Scarborough wants more notoriety so his next book, a sequel to Perpetual Slaves, will be an even bigger hit than this one.

Toward that end, Terry Scarborough plans to announce on national television that in his next book he will reveal finding an authentic copy of the so-called “J” letter written by Thomas Jefferson at the time the US Constitution was drafted that reveals some deep secret about slavery. Before he can do so, he is found dead. Carl Arnsburg’s prints are found on the murder weapon, the victim's blood on his pants and shoes. With a swastika and "Our Race is Our Nation" tattooed on his body, he is the perfect candidate to arrest for the murder. In addition to the forensic evidence, the prosecution has eye witnesses and confirmation from the Aryan Nation that Arnsburg did threaten to kidnap and possibly kill Scarborough. It is up to the defense to find evidence to try to somehow prove Arnsburg did not commit the crime, or at the very least, save Arnsburg from the death penalty. Madriani knows the “J” letter is the real clue to the murder, but no one knows where the letter is or even if it exists. Members of Madriani’s law firm are taken from San Diego to the Caribbean nation of Curacao and finally to Washington DC where a Justice of the Supreme Court may be involved. Because Madriani and his partner believe in Arnsburg’s innocence, it’s a race to see if they can find the answer to who really killed Terry Scarborough and why before it's too late.

There's something for everyone in this remarkable book. A tightly wound plot, a historical mystery, a combination of international, political, and legal intrigue, riveting courtroom scenes, and even a touch of humor. Shadow of Power is not only one of the best legal thrillers this year, it is one of the best novels of the year.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Shadow of Power and to HarperCollins for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

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

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Compendium of Mystery News 080629

A compendium of recently published mystery news articles; note that we're still way behind in getting news items posted but hope to be current within a couple of weeks:

• In the New York Times, Gregory Beyer takes in interesting look at how the decrease in crime rates of the metropolitan New York City area is reflected in mystery fiction. Mystery authors , , and others contribute their thoughts as well.

• To celebrate the 20th Annual Lambda Literary Awards, AfterEllen.com asked 12 of the world's best out writers to share their insights into the genres in which they tell their stories, including crime writer . (MBN note: For a list of this year's winners, visit out page at Mystery Books Awards.)

• Speaking of mystery awards, the 12th annual Independent Publisher Book Awards were presented on May 30th. The span a broad cross-section of literary genres, including mystery fiction. This years gold medal winner for mystery was Arthur Rosenfeld for The Cutting Season.

• And though we don't cover awards for audiobooks (maybe we should?), it is certainly of interest to mystery fans that The Chopin Manuscript, the first mystery novel created solely as an audiobook (a print version is unavailable), was named "Audiobood of the Year" by the Audio Publishers Association. The Chopin Manuscript was created by 15 of the most recognized thriller writers and began when wrote the opening chapter of the work and handed it off to fellow bestselling writer, David Hewson, who wrote the second chapter. This process continued with each successive chapter being written by 13 different authors. The intense thriller-in-progress finally returned to Jeffery Deaver, who wrote the final two chapters before the work was narrated by noted actor Alfred Molina. Read the press release for more information.

Digital Spy interviews Hart Hanson, executive producer of the television series Bones which is based on characters created by , author of the Temperance Brennan mysteries. (MBN note: The first 2 seasons of are available on DVD from our partner website, .)

GameStop, Inc.
Mystery games for all platforms at GameStop

CruiseDirect - Find the Perfect Cruise!
Sail to a mystery destination with CruiseDirect.com

Netflix, Inc.
Mystery movies and no late fees with Netflix

Find books at Biblio.com
Find used and out-of-print books at Biblio.com

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