Friday, August 08, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers for August 08, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers

A list of the top 15 for the week ending August 08, 2008 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

After 6 weeks at number one, 's 14th mystery featuring bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, Fearless Fourteen moves into second position with Moscow Rules by assuming the top spot.

The Turnaround by George P. Pelecanos

New this week and debuting at number 7 is The Turnaround by George P. Pelecanos. On a hot summer afternoon in 1972, three teenagers drove into an unfamiliar neighborhood and six lives were altered forever. Thirty five years later, one survivor of that day reaches out to another, opening a door that could lead to salvation. But another survivor is now out of prison, looking for reparation in any form he can find it. The Turnaround is a journey from the rock-and-soul streets of the '70s to the changing neighborhoods of today, from the diners and auto garages of the city to the inside of Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital, where wounded men and women have returned to the world in a time of war. A novel of fathers and sons, wives and husbands, loss, victory and violent redemption. Publishers Weekly calls The Turnaround "another gem of urban noir" and adds, "The result is a beautifully written and thought-provoking novel of crime, friendship, aging and redemption."

Fractured by Karin Slaughter

New this week and debuting at number 7 is Fractured, the second thriller by to feature Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent Will Trent. With its gracious homes and tree-lined streets, Ansley Park is one of Atlanta’s most desirable neighborhoods. But in one gleaming mansion, in a teenager’s lavish bedroom, a girl has been savagely murdered. And in the hallway, her horrified mother stands amid shattered glass, having killed her daughter’s attacker with her bare hands. Trent is here only to do a political favor; the murder site belongs to the Atlanta police. But he soon sees something that the cops are missing, something in the trail of blood, in a matrix of forensic evidence, and in the eyes of the shell-shocked mother. Within minutes, Trent is taking over the case—and adding another one to it. He is sure that another teenage girl is missing, and that a killer is on the loose. Armed with only fleeting clues, teamed with a female cop who has her own personal reasons for hating him, Trent has enemies all around him—and a gnawing feeling that this case, which started in the best of homes, is cutting quick and deep through the ruins of perfect lives broken wide-open, where human demons emerge with a vengeance. Publishers Weekly says Fractured is "heart-pounding" and that "fans [will be] clamoring for the next installment."

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.

The top four mystery bestsellers this week are shown below:

Moscow Rules by Daniel Silva Fearless Fourteen by Janet EvanovichSwan Peak by James Lee BurkeChasing 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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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Games of Mystery: More New PlayFirst Games plus Save 20%

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed games, parties, and vacations, has updated its website with some of the latest mystery games available to download and play from PlayFirst Games.

Mystery Stories: Island of Hope

A holiday at last! Top New York journalist Michelle Deanfield wants to have a really nice break on an out-of-the-way island in the Caribbean. However, the director of the local museum suddenly disappears as does a precious Maya casket from the museum in Mystery Stories: Island of Hope. The natives believe in a curse from old spirits, but Michelle begins looking into the matter and comes up against a network of lies, intrigues and secrets. Slip into the role of Michelle Deanfield and solve the secret of the ancient Caribbean dream island! 2 game modes: adventure mode and free play mode, with 8 bonus games. Added to the PlayFirst game catalog last week, it is available to download for a 60 minute trial (Windows PC, 97.1 MB)..

The Mystery of the Crystal Portal

Journalist Nicole Rankwist has always been close to her archaeologist father. When he goes missing, Nicole is determined to find him, especially after his discovery of something that could "change the course of humanity." Join Nicole as she searches the globe on an eye-popping quest to find her father and discover the truth behind The Mystery of the Crystal Portal. Added to the PlayFirst game catalog in late July, it is available to download for a 60 minute trial (Windows PC, 78.3 MB).

Civil War Hidden Mysteries

Join General Walker, loyal follower of Abe Lincoln, for a historical adventure in Civil War Hidden Mysteries. Search original battlefields for clues and letters left by members of a secret society. These individuals hid millions of dollars in gold, cash, and coin. Scour 20 hidden object levels while advancing through time from the Battle of Fort Sumter in 1861 to Lee's surrender at Appotomattox in 1865. Cross rivers and grassy knolls to unearth hidden mysteries of the Civil War. Added to the PlayFirst game catalog during the past week, it is available to download for a 60 minute trial (Windows PC, 65.5 MB).

Other popular games on our page include both Mystery PI games, Mystery P.I.: The Vegas Heist and Mystery P.I.: The Lottery Ticket, James Patterson's Women's Murder Club: Death in Scarlet, and Private Eye.

Save 20% on any game at PlayFirst Games! Use the coupon code AUGUSTAFFILIATES when placing your order and save 20% on your game purchase. The coupon code expires 09/01/2008.

Visit  for all types of mysterious fun!

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Blackman's Coffin by Mark de Castrique

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

Blackman's Coffin by Mark de CastriqueBuy from Amazon.com

Blackman's Coffin by
A Sam Blackman Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-517-8 (1590585178)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-517-7 (9781590585177)
Publication Date: June 2008
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Sam Blackman is an angry man. A Chief Warrant Officer in the Criminal Investigation Detachment of the U.S. military, he lost a leg in Iraq. His outspoken criticism of his medical treatment resulted in his transfer to the Veteran’s Hospital in Asheville, NC. Then an ex-marine and fellow amputee named Tikima Robertson walks into his hospital room.

Tikima hints that she has an opportunity for Sam to use his investigative skills--if he can stop feeling sorry for himself. But before she can return, Tikima is murdered, her body found floating in the river.

Tikima’s sister, Nakayla, brings Sam a journal she finds in Tikima’s apartment. The volume dates to 1919 and contains the entries of a twelve-year-old boy who accompanies his father, a white funeral director, as they help a black man, Elijah Robertson, transport his deceased relative to a small family plot in Georgia. Nearly ninety years ago, Elijah’s body was found in the French Broad River, a crime foreshadowing his great-great granddaughter Tikima’s death.

Sam and Nakayla must delve into Asheville’s rich history--the legacy of the Vanderbilts at the Biltmore estate and of author Thomas Wolfe--to uncover the murderous truth. 

Review: Mark de Castrique, author of the so-called "Buryin' Barry" mysteries, takes a risk starting a new series featuring Iraqi war veteran Sam Blackman with a plot that easily could have featured his other series character, family undertaker Barry Clayton, inevitably inviting comparison between the two. Yet the risk pays of handsomely; the outstanding Blackman's Coffin will certainly be remembered as one of the best mysteries of the year.

Sam Blackman lost part of his leg in Iraq. Fitted with a prosthetic, he's alternately bitter that his future activities may be limited and hopeful he'll be able to successfully adapt. While recuperating in the hospital, he's visited by another veteran who's also lost a limb, in this case an arm. Tikima Robertson has a no-nonsense attitude that Sam admires. Upon leaving, she says she'll see him in a few weeks. Those weeks pass and Sam's disappointed that Tikima never returned. But for good reason: she's been murdered. Sam meets Tikima's sister Nakayla and together, with a mysterious journal found in the dead woman's apartment, they set out to find out not only who killed Tikima, but why.

The author takes another risk in the first chapter of Blackman's Coffin by creating a uniquely memorable character then promptly killing her off. Yet she maintains a constant presence, and even a powerful influence, throughout the book. In his eulogy for Tikima, Sam says, "But I had to come [to the funeral service], not because I knew Tikima for ten years or even ten months, but because I knew her for only ten minutes. That was long enough for her to make an impression upon me. An impression that for those ten minutes my health and attitude were the most important things in her life. She challenged me." She'll do the same for the reader.

The murder investigation is related to an old journal purportedly written nearly 100 years ago by a young boy who, coincidentally, had lost his leg in a hunting accident. In a number of astonishingly clever plot twists, Sam and Nakayla learn how the past meets the present and that they're really investigating two murders: that of Tikima and her (and Nakayla's) great-great-grandfather. It's not too much of a stretch to guess how the murders are related and fortunately Sam, too, quickly makes the connection. It isn't long before they're setting a trap to nab the killer.

Blackman's Coffin is a terrific mystery embedded in a well-crafted tale with a fascinating historical background, and is populated with richly drawn, interesting characters that readers will want to see again in future stories.

Special thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of Blackman's Coffin 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: The Price of Silence by Camilla Trinchieri

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

The Price of Silence by Camilla TrinchieriBuy from Amazon.com

The Price of Silence by
Non-series

Soho Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-56947-458-3 (1569474583)
ISBN-13: 978-1-56947-458-7 (9781569474587)
Publication Date: June 2007
List Price: $22.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): Having taken a young Chinese woman under her wing, teacher Emma Perotti finds herself on trial for the girl's murder.

Almost five years earlier, An-ling Huang walked into Emma's ESL classroom and into her family's life. Emma was drawn to the vulnerability she perceived in An-ling. An-ling, for her part, seemed to long for a surrogate mother and eagerly attached herself to Emma. Emma's husband, Tom, resented An-ling's intrusion and his wife's affection for her. Their son, Josh, developed his own relationship with her. Dredging up painful memories and buried grief, An-ling's presence threatened to tear the family apart.

Then An-ling is found dead, suffocated. As Emma's trial progresses, An-ling is revealed not to have been who she claimed, and we learn that the family members all have their own dark secrets. 

Review: Camilla Trinchieri's electrifying stand-alone thriller, The Price of Silence, is a tense psychological study involving lies, secrets, and ultimately murder.

Emma Perotti is teacher of English as a second language to foreign students and new citizens. She is happily married to her husband Tom and they have a 16-year-old sold Josh. When a young Asian artist named An-link comes to Emma’s class, Emma immediately senses a need in An-ling for something more than lessons in English and soon realizes that An-ling wants and needs a mother’s love, understanding and support which she feels she can give her. But Tom is resentful of their relationship and orders Emma to stop seeing An-ling. Josh, on the other hand, thinks An-ling is the most beautiful creature he has even seen and would like to see her more often. When An-Ling is found dead in her loft, evidence points to Emma who was there the day she died. She is arrested and accused of her murder. But, it is later revealed, Tom and Josh had also visited An-Ling on the day of her death.

The Price of Silence has a moving backstory that plays an important role in how the current events are playing out. Told in flashback, Emma and Tom's first child, a girl named Amy, was killed when she was just 2 years old in a tragic accident when a car driven by Emma rolled over her. Emma and Tom sold their home and moved away, burying not only Amy but every memory they ever had of her. When Josh was born, he was never told of Amy. After An-Ling came into their lives, Josh sees a dramatic change in both his parents but is confused as to why they're acting this way.

During the course of Emma's trial, itself often riveting reading, the author successfully keeps the suspense level high by intermixing what Emma, Tom, and Josh are thinking and feeling, including some of their innermost secrets. Frequently heart-breaking but always insightful, The Price of Silence is an incredible journey of one family that cannot escape the tragedy of their past.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of The Price of Silence and to Soho Press for providing the trade paperback edition 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 Savings: Free Shipping at AbeBooks and 40% Off DVDs at B&N

Mystery Savings: Discounted Products and Services on Books, Movies, and more!

Mystery Savings periodically provides our readers with current promotions that offer discounts or other incentives for purchasing mystery-themed products and services products through our partner websites. Below is a list of offers recently received that we're pleased to pass on at this time.

A feature not many customers know about at AbeBooks is the option to search by booksellers that offer standard free shipping on selected new, used, and out-of-print books. There's no minimum purchase to take advantage of this feature. Visit the AbeBooks Free Shipping search page for more information or to look for mysteries by your favorite authors!

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Save 40% on your favorite movies at the Barnes & Noble DVD Sale. This online sale features thousands of great titles including blockbuster action movies, comedies, dramas, animated features, classics, and (our favorite category) suspense and thrillers. This sale ends August 24, 2008.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Mysteries on TV: Foyle's War

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

ends its stellar six seasons with three episodes that aired earlier this year in the UK and last month on Masterpiece Mystery! here in the US. The series starred Michael Kitchen as Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Foyle, a police office in the coastal town of Hastings. Set during World War II, each episode featured some aspect of the war that was typically tied to a local crime. With meticulous period detail, the productions were a visual treat to watch. It is with great disappointment that this series is coming to an end, but the DVDs can (and will) be watched again and again.

The series was created and written by Anthony Horowitz who was also responsible for the series, adapted several Agatha Christie stories for the mysteries, and wrote the majority of the early episodes of . He is also the author of several series of adventure and suspense books for young adults including and the .

The Foyle's War Set Five DVD set of 3 discs contains the three episodes that comprise the final season: Plan of Attack, Broken Souls, and All Clear. For more information on the series, including episode summaries, visit .

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

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Mystery Godoku Puzzle for August 04, 2008

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for August 04, 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 C E H K O S V W. A famous scientist is murdered in a small college town in this 11th novel by Dorothy Salisbury Davis (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!

Games of Mystery: Mystery Games, Parties, and Vacations
Mystery-themed games, parties, and more

AreYouGame games and puzzles
Games for Kids and Adults at AreYouGame.com

Video Game Rentals Delivered
GameFly delivers the best video games

GameStop, Inc.
Mystery games for all platforms at GameStop

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Compendium of Mystery News 080803

A compendium of recently published mystery news articles. Note that we're still way behind in getting news items posted but plan on preparing four updates before getting current. This update includes news items from early- through mid-July 2008.

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl opened in early July. The movie character is based on the doll of the same name, a 10-year-old girl living in Cincinnati during the Great Depression and determined to become a newspaper reporter. Played by Abigail Breslin, Kit's first big screen case involves a crime spree sweeping through her neighborhood with all signs pointing to a local "hobo jungle" as the cause. Believing the group to be innocent, Kit and her friends track down the real culprit. Rated G, the movie has generally received highly positive reviews. (MBN note: There are 10 that in addition to a series of featuring the girls. All are available from )

• For anyone not familiar with the Body Farm (a real place outside the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville), Newsweek republished an article from October 2000 on its online site. The Body Farm inspired to write a book about the place (titled, appropriately, The Body Farm) and later the Body Farm's founder William Bass III teamed up with Jon Jefferson to write, under the pen name of , a series of mysteries based on the site.

• The Telegraph reports that the new Miss Marple, Julia McKenzie, was seen on the set of Murder Is Easy, an ITV1 production taking place in Blewbury, Oxfordshire. McKenzie took over from Geraldine McEwan who announced her retirement from the role earlier this year. McKenzie has said of her latest role: "I'm very excited but also slightly daunted by the enormous responsibility that comes with taking on such an iconic role. Just about everybody in the world knows about Miss Marple and has an opinion of what she should be like. So I'm under no illusions about the size of the task ahead. And I suppose I'll have to remind myself how to knit." (MBN note: The article has a nice picture of McKenzie dressed as Miss Marple.)

• The Rocky Mountain News has an interview with whose latest international thriller, Moscow Rules, is near the top of the . Silva makes an interesting observation during the interview by saying, "I think we can cross a line sometimes by talking about work. Sometimes it's best to let it speak for itself. Sometimes if we talk about it too much some of the mystery might get lost and it might detract from that special place that we take a reader." (MBN note: Read our review of on .)

Publishers Weekly provided an overview of the third annual ThrillerFest organized by the International Thriller Writers organization. The four-day event, held in early July, drew authors and fans from all over the country. ThrillerFest concluded with an awards banquet at which The Ghost by was named Best Novel, Heart-Shaped Box by won Best First Novel, and Tom Piccirilli picked up the Best Paperback Original for The Midnight Road. (MBN note: See previous winners of the at our website.)

• Across the Atlantic, the Yorkshire Post has a summary of the events that took place at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. The Crime Novel of the Year was awarded to Stef Penney for The Tenderness of Wolves. The article also has a number of links to exclusive panel recordings that can be listened to or downloaded to your PC.

• The BBC reported that The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, an analysis of an 1860 murder case that tested the mettle of one of Scotland Yard's first detectives and inspired writers including Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins and Arthur Conan Doyle, has been awarded the 10th Annual Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. The author,, picked up the £30,000 that accompanied the prize. "Kate Summerscale has brilliantly merged scrupulous archival research with vivid storytelling that reads with the pace of a Victorian thriller," one of the judges said.

The New York Times amusingly noted that the vampires are coming, but only after months of warnings. HBO's new vampire series, True Blood, based on a series of mysteries by , is scheduled to debut next month and is shaping up to be the most extensive marketing campaign that the network has ever undertaken.

Adventure Gamers reported that a second Agatha Christie game is being developed for the Nintendo Wii. Evil Under the Sun is expected to be available this October and follows the success of the first title released earlier this year on the Wii, And Then There Were None. Adventure Gamers also noted that another investigative series is Nintendo bound, Sam & Max: Season One. See the trailer on the TellTaleGames.com website.

• In remembrance of crime writer at the age of 77, NPR is reposting an interview with the author that was originally broadcast on January 13, 1997.

A&E
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Mystery Book Review: King of the Holly Hop by Les Roberts

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of King of the Holly Hop by Les Roberts. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

King of the Holly Hop by Les RobertsBuy from Amazon.com

King of the Holly Hop by
A Milan Jacovich Mystery

Gray and Co. (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59851-038-X (159851038X)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59851-038-6 (9781598510386)
Publication Date: June 2008
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Going to your high school reunion is never fun. But this time, it's murder.

When Cleveland private eye Milan Jacovich reluctantly attends the fortieth reunion of his St. Clair High School graduating class, he gets a rude surprise. One of his classmates is found shot dead and another quickly becomes the main suspect.

Investigating his former schoolmates is an uncomfortable task for Milan, as he soon discovers the dark secrets of people he only thought he knew.

The deceased Dr. Phil Kohn, it turns out, was a cad who managed to make more than a few enemies during his abbreviated life. But did a forty-year-old grudge really lead to his death? Or was it something more recent—a jealous spouse, a shady business partner?

Milan's hunt for the real killer leads him through the oddly intertwined worlds of Cleveland's medical community, organized crime, polite suburban society, and hard-core drug dealers.

Review: After an absence of almost six years, Cleveland private investigator Milan Jacovich returns to look into the murder of an old classmate in King of the Holly Hop, the fourteenth mystery in this series by Les Roberts.

Milan attending his 40th high school reunion probably wouldn't have been his first choice as a fun evening. But he's there and making the best of it. It promises to get more interesting, however, when Tommy Wiggins, a multiple award-winning writer and probably the most famous of his former classmates, says to Milan, "Machiavelli said you must never wound a prince. Make sure you kill him." The "prince" turns out to be Dr. Phil Kohn with his too-good-for-the-rest-of-you attitude. When Tommy and Phil have a public falling out in the middle of the reunion festivities, and Phil is later found dead in his car, Tommy is the prime suspect. Milan doesn't think Tommy did it as there were way too many other people who hated Phil and wouldn't have hesitated to put a bullet in his head.

In a way, it's unfortunate that Roberts chooses to introduce all the characters, including their background information, in the first chapter of King of the Holly Hop. Veteran mystery readers will no doubt immediately identify not only who is going to be killed but also who is doing the killing. By the end of the second chapter they'll be proved right about the murder victim, and, red herrings aside, by the end of the book they'll be proved right about the murderer. With the whodunit aspect not a factor here, is there a reason to read this book? Absolutely.

Roberts has a real talent for character development giving Milan an interesting cast to work with and play off of. That Milan is aging, sort of gracefully, sort of not, is all the more appealing. He must rely more on his wits and intellect than on mere physical prowess, not that he was ever short on the former, and build bridges instead of burning them. But if one phrase could be used to sum of Milan's investigative process, it might be this, aptly stated by the murderer when confronted by Milan: "To put it simply—you get in my way."

King of the Holly Hop is a real treat, whether this is the reader's first introduction to the Cleveland PI or one merely catching up with an old friend. The first thirteen books in the series, long out of print, have recently been reissued.

Special thanks to Gray and Co. for providing a copy of King of the Holly Hop 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: Silent Thunder by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Silent Thunder by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Silent Thunder by Iris Johansen and Roy JohansenBuy from Amazon.com

Silent Thunder by and
Non-series

St. Martin's Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-312-36799-6 (0312367996)
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-36799-2 (9780312367992)
Publication Date: July 2008
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Brilliant marine architect Hannah Bryson has been given the job of a lifetime. A U.S. maritime museum has just acquired the decommissioned Soviet submarine Silent Thunder for public exhibition. It’s Hannah’s job to make sure that every single inch of the legendary nuclear attack sub is safe for the thousands of visitors anticipated. Enlisting the aid of her brother, Connor, they examine the enormous vessel and delve into its long---and lethal---history.

In the course of their investigation, Connor discovers a mysterious message behind one of the ship’s panels. But before he can figure out what it means, there’s a deadly assault on Silent Thunder. Though the U.S. government tries to warn Hannah away, she’ll stop at nothing to find the ruthless mastermind behind her brother’s death. Even if it means joining forces with a mysterious man who may be even more dangerous than the enemy she has sworn to bring down. As Hannah finds herself in the crossfire of an epic standoff, her only hope for survival is to unravel the sub’s explosive secret. But someone’s willing to kill to make sure Silent Thunder stays silent.

Review: Silent Thunder, the first collaboration between Iris Johansen and her son Roy Johansen, both accomplished authors in their own right, is a spine-tingling thriller that will be hard to put down once started.

Hannah Bryson, an extremely talented marine architect has been commissioned by a U. S. Maritime Museum to thoroughly examine a decommissioned Soviet submarine. Every nook and cranny of the "Silent Thunder”, at one time a nuclear attack sub, must be inspected and cleared completely of any material that might jeopardize the safety of the many visitors expected to board it for viewing. While searching, Hannah and her team (including her brother, Connor) discover metal plates with cryptic, coded messages hidden and bolted behind one of the ship’s control panels. She notifies her State Department liaison who negotiated with the Russians for the purchase of the boat for the Maritime Museum. He tells her to evacuate her team from the sub immediately. Before she can, there is the sound of gunfire coming from the area of the hidden panels. She runs back to find her brother dead. What are the meanings of the cryptic markings on the plates? Why are they important now? And who would kill to get them? Hannah realizes there was many sets of eyes following her every move as she stubbornly sets out to find out the secret behind the plates, but more importantly, who killed her brother.

Silent Thunder is a multi-layered thriller that keeps the action coming from all angles. It turns out that every covert organization from Russia to the United States seemed to know about the existence of the hidden plates that Hannah and Connor found but they did not know exactly how to find them, or if they did find them, how to decode them. After Connor is killed, Hannah is offered help by the State Department (among many other organizations) to help find her brother’s killer. She feels she can trust no one until she meets a man, a Russian no less, who seems to be more honest with her than the others. But is he? Only when she discovered her brother’s killer would she relent enough to find out if this man was really helping her in her pursuit, or if was he there simply to secure the plates and uncover their meaning.

From the intricate plot to the puzzle of the plates, and from the still simmering Cold War rivalries to the developing relationship between Hannah and her Russian associate, Silent Thunder is not only an exhilarating suspense novel from start to finish, it is a prime example of a "page-turner".

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Silent Thunder and to Meryl L. Moss Media Relations 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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Saturday, August 02, 2008

First Clues: Six More Mystery Series for Kids to Enjoy

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

We've updated our website by adding a six mystery series that have had books in the series recently published.

The Cabin Creek Mysteries

Scheduled for publication next month but already available is the fourth mystery in the Cabin Creek series, The Haunting of Hillside School. These books, written by Kristiana Gregory, feature two brothers, Jeff and David, who, together with their cousin Claire, solve mysteries in and around their home, a cabin along the shore of a lake.

The three previous books in the series are The Secret of Robber's Cave, The Clue at the Bottom of the Lake, and The Legend of Skull Cliff. The fifth title, scheduled for publication next year, is The Blizzard on Blue Mountain.

Characterized by action, intrigue, and cliff-hangers, the are intended for readers aged 8 to 11.

Who Stole Uncle Sam? by Martha Freeman

Two eleven-year-old sleuths crack a case about the disappearance of a baseball coach in the humorous and offbeat middle-grade mystery, Who Stole Uncle Sam?, the third title in Martha Freeman's popular series featuring Alex and Yasmeen. This book is scheduled for publication later this month.

Collectively called the Chickadee Court mysteries, the first two books also have holiday-themed titles. Alex and Yasmeen were introduced in Who is Stealing the Twelve Days of Christmas? Their second adventure was Who Stole Halloween?

The will delight young sleuths aged 9 to 12.

The Get a Clue Mysteries

Join young detectives Josh, David, and Lilly (and David’s pet cockatoo, Robinson) as they investigate mysterious happenings in the Get a Clue series of picture mysteries.

Originally published in Germany by Julian Press where they remain incredibly popular, the first two titles were recently published in the US: The Treasure of Blackbird Rock and Operation Golden Scepter. Two additional titles, Operation Yellow Dragon and The Curse of the Crossbow Archer, are scheduled for publication in early September.

The will intrigue the young detectives in your family aged 8 to 10.

Max & Maddy and the Chocolate Money Mystery by Alexander McCall Smith

, author of the bestselling novels in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency mystery series with Precious Ramotswe and The Sunday Philosophy Club mysteries with amateur sleuth Isabel Dalhousie, has begun a new series of mysteries for the very youngest readers in your family.

Max and Maddy Twist have a flair for solving crimes taking over the detective agency that was once run by their parents. The first two titles have been recently published: Max & Maddy and the Chocolate Money Mystery and Max & Maddy and the Bursting Balloons Mystery.

The early chapter books in the are written for new readers aged 4 to 7.

The Starbuck Twins Mysteries by Kathryn Lasky

Kathryn Lasky wrote the three books in the Starbuck Twins series in the early 1990s but they have recently been re-released. The Starbuck family is anything but ordinary. There are two sets of Starbuck twins: preteens Liberty and July, and their little sisters Charly and Molly. But even more extraordinary is the fact that all four children have the ability to teleflash—they can talk to each other without saying a word! It's a power that comes in handy whenever these adventurous kids are on the trail of a villian.

There are three books in this series: Double Trouble Squared, Shadows in the Water, and A Voice in the Wind.

The are appropriate for readers aged 9 to 12.

The Tom Marlowe Mysteries by Chris Priestley

The Tom Marlowe mysteries were also written several years ago but are getting a fresh look upon being re-released. Fifteen-year-old Tom lives in the murky city of early 18th century London where he helps his father run a print shop. Written by Chris Priestley, the books are alternatively subtitled tales of murder and revenge, deception, and mystery, and are all these and more.

There are three books in this series: Death and the Arrow, The White Rider, and Redwulf's Curse.

The are appropriate for readers aged 12 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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Mystery Book Review: Say Goodbye by E. J. Rand

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Say Goodbye by E. J. Rand. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Say Goodbye by E. J. RandBuy from Amazon.com

Say Goodbye by
A Gary Kemmerman Mystery

Deadly Ink Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-9787442-1-7 (0978744217)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9787442-1-2 (9780978744212)
Publication Date: January 2008
List Price: $12.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): At a neighbor's request, Gary Kemmerman reluctantly agrees to investigate her husband's death. Enter Becca, the only witness to the fatal car crash. Add in a killer humming a Disney tune and an unexpected attraction between Gary and Becca. Having lost his wife to cancer the year before, will Gary risk loving and perhaps losing again? Will he be able to say goodbye?

Review: E. J. Rand introduces retired (or maybe not) crisis consultant Gary Kemmerman in Say Goodbye, an overly complex romantic mystery that isn't likely to satisfy fans of either genre.

When a neighbor's automobile accident appears to be anything but accidental, Kemmerman is asked by the dead man's wife to investigate. She claims he told her his life was in danger, that he was in a "don't shoot the messenger" situation at work, a company involved in international finance. And now he's dead. There was a witness to the accident who supports the view that he was murdered, but the police don't seem to take her account that seriously. Soon Kemmerman is pulled into a complex investigation involving more than just his neighbor's death and one that jeopardizes the lives of everyone involved.

Say Goodbye is very slow going at first. Part of the problem is that there is little foundation for what happens in the first few chapters. In addition, relationships between the characters, at least initially, are hard to ascertain. And there are a lot of characters. Subtitled "a reluctant sleuth mystery" yet Kemmerman seems anything but a reluctant sleuth. He seems in charge of everything except, perhaps, his personal life. That's where the romantic element comes in. The witness to the accident, Natalie Strassberg (who prefers to be called "Becca"), was driving behind the victim when his car went off the bridge. Kemmerman, a recent widower, is immediately attracted to her and pursues her with almost the same determination as he does solving the case. It's all a bit forced and in an odd way somewhat distasteful.

The case itself is hardly suspenseful as the perpetrators of the various crimes (there's murder, arson, embezzlement, blackmail, fraud, and probably a half dozen other felonies or misdemeanors committed here) are known to the reader. An improbable and furiously paced sequence of events brings everyone together in the end. Ironically, in the last few chapters the narrative seems to have more depth and is more thought out and better written, but by this time it's too late to capture the imagination or interest of most readers.

According to the author's website, Rand has plotted out the next few titles in the series after Say Goodbye. There's potential here for future books but the plots need to be much simpler with fewer crimes and characters.

Special thanks to Breakthrough Promotions for providing a copy of Say Goodbye 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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