Sunday, December 21, 2008

Best Mysteries of 2008 from the Sun Florida Sun-Sentinel

Oline H. Cogdill, mystery columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, yesterday published her list of the 16 best mysteries of 2008. Ranking hers in order, she chose The Finder by Colin Harrison ("a perceptive thriller about New York life") to be the best of the best, followed by Envy the Night by Michael Kortya ("an action-packed story") and Exit Music by Ian Rankin ("[t]he perfect send-off for Scottish cop John Rebus").

In a companion article on the SunSentinel.com Off The Page blog, she provides some background information on her selections. Her answer to a self-directed question about why some exceptional mysteries make the year's best list and some don't: "Sometimes, you just know." That's a terrific answer, and we may just have to make use of it ourselves when we're asked that very same question!

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Games of Mystery: Adventure Chronicles The Search for Lost Treasure, New at Big Fish Games

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, and mystery getaway vacations, is pleased to announce the availability of a new mystery game from Big Fish Games released today. You can find out more about these games from our page or by clicking on the links provided below.

Adventure Chronicles: The Search for Lost Treasure

A few months have passed since Susan's ordeal in the museum, and she's been in no hurry to greet danger again. But when a prized notebook arrives at her office from an anonymous source, both her interest, and her suspicions are raised. The information contained within is too valuable to ignore. Soon she's off traveling the world, solving puzzles and tracking down mysterious clues in search of the most renown treasures of history and legend. Danger awaits while you explore world-spanning sites for hidden treasures and are faced with puzzles, wicked and intuitive.

Adventure Chronicles: The Search for Lost Treasure, a Big Fish Games exclusive, may be downloaded and purchased for as little as $6.99 with the Big Fish Game Club Jumbo Pack. A demonstration version may be downloaded (93.52 MB) and played for one hour for free.

50% Off All Games at Big Fish Games

Big Fish Games is offering a special deal now through the end of the year. All games are 50% off! To realize your savings, click the Buy button for any game you want. Sign in or create a new account. Select the $19.99 price option. Then type in coupon code HOLIDAY2008 into the box. All purchases must be completed by January 01, 2009.

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Other popular games on our page include several and games, games in the series and in particular the latest, Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst, Art of Murder: FBI Confidential, the Carol Reed mystery Remedy, Veronica Rivers: Portals to the Unknown, Mystery Chronicles: Murder Among Friends, and The Treasures of Mystery Island.

And don't forget to visit for all kinds of mysterious fun!

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

BBC Orders Pilot of New Crime Drama, Sherlock

The BBC issued a press release yesterday announcing Sherlock, a new crime drama for BBC One. A contemporary update of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle classics, the series will star Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson. Rupert Graves plays Inspector Lestrade.

The 60-minute pilot episode is expected to begin shooting next month in Wales.

We confess we're not altogether thrilled by this description of the series provided by BBC: "Sherlock is a thrilling, funny, fast-paced take on the crime drama genre set in present day London." And it gets better (or worse, depending on your point of view). Piers Wenger, head of drama at BBC Wales, says, "Our Sherlock is a dynamic superhero in a modern world, an arrogant, genius sleuth driven by a desire to prove himself cleverer than the perpetrator and the police, everyone in fact."

If the pilot does well, BBC will presumably order a full series.

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Games of Mystery: New Year's Eve Murder Mystery Party Ideas

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed games, parties, and vacations, has some suggestions for your next holiday party. With New Year's Eve less than two weeks away, it's not too late to plan that special murder mystery to ring in the new year. We have three suggestions here, but visit our site for many more.

A Holiday Murder, a Mystery Party for Adults

T’was the eve of the holidays, good times was the quest.
And all were excited ‘til the murder of a guest!
The victim was discovered in a blood-soaked bed.
With a note in the hand and a wound in the head!

is set in the era of the 70s and 80s. The coolest party of the holidays includes trivia, dancing and of course, a murder! Everyone is a suspect of this vicious crime. Come join the fun!

A Holiday Murder is a simple to play murder mystery for 8-14 people. It’s a great way to move a party, have lots of fun and entertain your guests! For 6 to 14 guests, 21 and older. Rated M.

Murder Before Midnight, a Mystery Party for Adults

Also for adults is . Mark Roundim's new year parties are famous. There is something there for everyone. Great food, plenty of drink, entertainment, and a host of interesting people from all walks of life. Tonight however there is also something for the police when Mark Roundim is discovered in his dressing room -- dead.

A great choice for new year parties, Murder Before Midnight is a simple to use murder mystery appropriate for first timers. With scripted dialogue to enhance the rounds, this murder mystery combines a new year celebration with a murder. And what a cast! If you like dressing up, then this one will definately appeal to both the men and the women attending! For 6 to 12 guests plus one optional inspector, 18 and older. Rated M.

The Murder Game, a Mystery Party for Everyone

For the whole family, there's The Murder Game. This is a classic whodunit of who, where, and why for you and your friends to enjoy set in a mysterious grand home during the Roaring 20s.

Eight people have received an unexpected invitation to the ancestral home of the Nonomus family - the gangster, the flapper, the silent film star, the stockbroker, the jazz musician, the speak-easy manager, the secretary and the journalist. Everyone wakes up to discover that their host, Ann Nonomus was murdered during the night. Marooned by a snowstorm, all eight suspects are trapped and have only a few hours to discover which of their number is a murderer.

As each round of the game is played everyone (if they ask the right questions) can detect the where (there are 8 rooms), the who (eight suspects) and the why (eight different motives) of this most intriguing murder. This standard party theme can be played at any time of the year but is especially fun on New Year's Eve. For 6 to 8 guests, 15 and older. Rated E.

For more ideas on , , and , visit where you'll also find all types of mysterious fun!

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Games of Mystery: Mystery Legends Sleepy Hollow, New at Big Fish Games

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, and mystery getaway vacations, is pleased to announce the availability of a new mystery game from Big Fish Games released today. You can find out more about these games from our page or by clicking on the links provided below.

Mystery Legends: Sleepy Hollow

All small towns have their secrets and stories, but none such as Sleepy Hollow, whose legends are most grim and gory. By day a quaint village full of sunshine and banter, by night a place haunted by hoof beats and spectral laughter. Explore Sleepy Hollow as never before, searching for clues into the ancient legend. But beware! Each night the Horseman rides as he takes another victim. With eerie, absorbing locations, chilling clues and mini-games, you must unravel the mystery before it's too late …

Mystery Legends: Sleepy Hollow, a Big Fish Games exclusive, may be downloaded and purchased for as little as $6.99 with the Big Fish Game Club Jumbo Pack. A demonstration version may be downloaded (76.72 MB) and played for one hour for free.

50% Off All Games at Big Fish Games

Big Fish Games is offering a special deal now through the end of the year. All games are 50% off! To realize your savings, click the Buy button for any game you want. Sign in or create a new account. Select the $19.99 price option. Then type in coupon code HOLIDAY2008 into the box. All purchases must be completed by January 01, 2009.

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Other popular games on our page include several and games, games in the series and in particular the latest, Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst, Art of Murder: FBI Confidential, the Carol Reed mystery Remedy, Veronica Rivers: Portals to the Unknown, Mystery Chronicles: Murder Among Friends, and The Treasures of Mystery Island.

And don't forget to visit for all kinds of mysterious fun!

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Investigate the World of Edgar Allan Poe

U.S. News & World Report is publishing 50 Ways to Improve Your Life in 2009 and one of those is to investigate the world of Edgar Allan Poe. Reporter Diane Cole writes that his work haunts us forevermore; "[h]e invented the detective story, penned sinister tales of the macabre, and wrote sublimely mournful verse that echoes endlessly in memory.

2009 marks the 200th anniversary of Poe's birth and celebrations are planned around the world, including Baltimore where the author died at age 40 under circumstances that even today remain a mystery.

According to Cole, studying Poe's works will help see his influence on our culture. Many scholars, for example, believe Poe's character C. Auguste Dupin had a profound influence on the development of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. Countless movies are based in whole, or in part, on Poe's writings. The Mystery Writers of America named their annual award for excellence in the field of mystery fiction, the Edgar, in honor of the author. And early next month, In the Shadow of the Master, edited by Michael Connelly, is being published, a collection of 16 of Poe's best tales accompanied by 20 essays from renowned mystery authors on how Poe changed their life and work.

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Self-Publishing a Book, 25 Things You Need to Know

Self-Publish Mysteries

, your source for information on writing and self-publishing your mystery book, has updated its website with more resources for new and established mystery authors including recent news articles and an updated selection of books. We also provide links to vendors of products that may be of interest to our visitors.

opens his Fully Equipped column on CNET Reviews (12/17/2008) with the following statement: "I know, I know. This is a column about cutting-edge electronics. So, apologies to gadget-heads as I take a brief sojourn into the land of self-publishing, which has become a lot more high-tech than a lot of people realize."

Carnoy is the author of a new mystery / thriller titled Knife Music, a book he self-published earlier this year. "Against the advice of my agent," he says, "I began perusing the big self-publishing companies' Web sites and evaluating what they had to offer. Then I started poking around blogs and message boards to get customer testimonials. What I found was a veritable minefield with roads that forked in every direction and very few clear answers."

His CNET Review article discusses in detail his experience in getting his book published and lists 25 things you need to know about self-publishing a book. But more than just providing a list, he gives examples and cites references to support his list.

We won't list all 25 here, but just the top 10 (and we don't think they're listed in any particular order in the article):

1. Self-publishing is easy.
2. Quality has improved.
3. Some of the more successful self-published books are about self-publishing.
4. Good self-published books are few and far between.
5. The odds are against you.
6. Creating a "professional" book is really hard.
7. Have a clear goal for your book.
8. Even if it's great, there's a good chance your book won't sell.
9. Niche books do best.
10. Buy your own ISBN -- and create your own publishing house.

And 15 more. For anyone considering self-publishing, this is a must read article. (And in the for what it's worth category, number 20 is Self-published books don't get reviewed. That isn't necessarily strictly true; has a policy of considering all mysteries for review, regardless of who published them.)

Please visit the Self Publish Mysteries where you'll find a comprehensive list of articles, books, news, resources, and websites for mystery authors who are interested in writing and self-publishing their mystery books.

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Mystery Savings: 50% Off All Games at Big Fish Games

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 through our partner websites. Below is a special offer recently received by us that we're pleased to pass on at this time.

50% Off All Games at Big Fish Games

Big Fish Games is offering a special deal now through the end of the year. All games are 50% off!

To realize your savings, click the Buy button for any game you want. Sign in or create a new account. Select the $19.99 price option. Then type in coupon code HOLIDAY2008 into the box. All purchases must be completed by January 01, 2009.

You can find a complete list of available mystery-themed games on our page.

If you're interested in longer-term savings, all Big Fish Games may be downloaded and purchased for as little as $6.99 with the Big Fish Game Club Jumbo Pack.

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Games of Mystery: Dracula Origin, New at Big Fish Games

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, and mystery getaway vacations, is pleased to announce the availability of a new mystery game from Big Fish Games released today. You can find out more about these games from our page or by clicking on the links provided below.

Dracula Origin

Play as the vampire slayer Professor Van Helsing, hot on the trail of the diabolical Count in Dracula Origin, a thrilling adventure game! The ruthless Dracula is searching for an ancient, eldritch ritual to return damned souls to the earth. As the eminent Professor Van Helsing it's up to you to stop him before his evil machinations are realized! Populated with terrifying 3D characters and presenting challenging puzzles, sharpen your stakes and dive into the terrifying depths of Dracula Origin today!

Dracula Origin, a Big Fish Games exclusive, may be downloaded and purchased for as little as $6.99 with the Big Fish Game Club Jumbo Pack. Due to the large size of this adventure game, a demonstration version is not available.

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Other popular games on our page include several and games, games in the series and in particular the latest, Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst, Art of Murder: FBI Confidential, the Carol Reed mystery Remedy, Veronica Rivers: Portals to the Unknown, Mystery Chronicles: Murder Among Friends, and The Treasures of Mystery Island.

And don't forget to visit for all kinds of mysterious fun!

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Mystery Bestsellers for December 19, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers

A list of the top 15 for the week ending December 19, 2008 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

No change among the top mystery bestsellers this past week with Scarpetta by retaining the top spot followed by 's latest Alex Cross thriller, , The Private Patient (Adam Dalgliesch) by , and in fourth position The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by .

We expect the next couple of weeks to be quiet with the next entry on the list to be the new between-the-numbers Stephanie Plum mystery, Plum Spooky by , scheduled for publication on January 6th.

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:

Scarpetta by Patricia CornwellCross Country by James PattersonThe Private Patient by P. D. JamesThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

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, December 18, 2008

Series Coming to Masterpiece Mystery! in Summer 2009

We're not exactly sure when PBS updated its website with an announcement of the series expected to air next summer on Masterpiece: Mystery!, but there it is. We knew of three of the series mentioned, but the fourth was a pleasant surprise.

Agatha Christie's Miss Marple returns with a new lead for the series, Julia McKenzie. We first reported on and later with an update on . The first mystery featuring McKenzie as Miss Marple is A Pocketful of Rye. The others are Murder Is Easy, Why Didn't They Ask Evans?, and They Do It With Mirrors. No air dates have been set. Collections of Miss Marple mysteries on DVD are available from .

David Suchet returns as Hercule Poirot in the long running series also based a series of mysteries by Agatha Christie. In September we reported that and had agreed to an additional four, though at the time we were unaware of the titles. We now believe the episodes currently airing on ITV will be the ones to air next summer on PBS: Mrs. McGinty's Dead, Cat Among the Pigeons, Third Girl, and Appointment with Death. Collections of Poirot mysteries on DVD are available from .

Also returning is the second series of Inspector Lewis with four new episodes. Inspector Lewis is a spin-off from the long-running Inspector Morse mysteries, and aired its second series earlier this year on ITV. The first series, including the pilot episode, is available on DVD from .

Finally, and this is new news to us, Wallander is coming to Masterpiece: Mystery! Wallander stars Kenneth Branagh as detective Kurt Wallander and is based on the mystery series by Swedish author Henning Mankell. Branagh, a longtime fan of the novels, is a co-producing partner of the adaptations being filmed in rarely seen locations in southern Sweden. The BBC issued a press release about the series in January, 2008, which we obviously missed at the time.

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Mystery Savings: Free Shipping Upgrade from A&E

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 special offer recently received by us that we're pleased to pass on at this time.

From now through December 19, 2008, A&E is offering a free shipping upgrade: get 2-day shipping for the price of ground. No coupon code is required. Also available through December 19th, take an additional 20% off orders of $100 or more. A&E has DVD sets of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple and Poirot, Cold Case Files, CSI Miami, The Avengers, and more, many on sale for the holidays. Click on the banner link below to start shopping and enjoy free 2-day shipping for the price of ground from A&E.

A&E TV Free Shipping Upgrade

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First Clues, Mysteries for Kids: The Forensic Mystery Series

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

, your source for information on over 100 mystery series for children and young adults where 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), is pleased to feature another series of mysteries on our website.

The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson

The feature 17-year-old Cameryn Mahoney, daughter a Colorado County coroner. No stranger to death, she's always been fascinated by the science of it and in the first book of the series, The Christopher Killer, she finally gets some hands-on experience working as her father's assistant. But she's in for more than she bargained for when someone she knew turns up in the morgue, the latest victim of a serial killer known as the Christopher Killer.

Two more books in the series are available, Angel of Death and Circle of Blood, the latter published in hardcover earlier this year and available in paperback in early January, 2009. According to the author's blog, she's finishing up the fourth book in the series, The Dying Breath, scheduled for publication in the fall of 2009.

Alane Ferguson won an in 1990 for her young adult mystery Show Me the Evidence. She is also the co-author of the featuring brother and sister Jack and Ashley Landon who investigate mysteries set in national parks through the US.

The Forensic Mysteries are recommended for young sleuths aged 13 and older.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mystery Games in the News: Her Interactive and Big Fish Games

A couple of mystery game-related news items.

In a press release, Her Interactive, publisher of the popular Nancy Drew series of mystery games, announced their strongest year to date. "This year has been extremely gratifying for us as we have established a long-term foundation for growth by diversifying our content and platform mix, as well as significantly expanding distribution abroad," said Megan Gaiser, president and CEO of Her Interactive.

Two PC games were released this year, Nancy Drew 18: The Phantom of Venice and Nancy Drew 19: The Haunting of Castle Malloy, both of which placed in the list of top 10 bestselling games during their first month of release.

Her Interactive's diversification this year included making the series available on the Nintendo Wii with the release of Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek and developing the first game specifically for the casual game market, Nancy Drew Dossier: Lights, Camera, Curses!

In a game world dominated by World of Warcraft and Call of Duty, we're gratified to hear of the success of the Nancy Drew mystery games and look forward to many more to come. For a complete list of all Nancy Drew games available to purchase or to download, visit our website at .

In other news (of a sort), CNET profiled five sites that lead to online gaming addiction. OK, we're not thrilled with the headline, but one of the sites mentioned, Big Fish Games is our favorite site for casual mystery games (including the aforementioned Nancy Drew Dossier: Lights, Camera, Curses!, available exclusively from Big Fish Games).

As noted in the article, "Big Fish Games lets visitors play hundreds of titles from dozens of developers across a wide array of genres ...[but] isn't the kind of site you'll visit for just a few minutes before getting back to work. Instead, it offers more sophisticated titles, which require more time investment." We've conveniently listed dozens of mystery-themed games available from Big Fish Games on our website at . There are also several free games available to play online listed at .

Finally, as we like to say when mentioning the subject, visit for all kinds of mysterious fun!

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Mystery Book Review: Siren of the Waters by Michael Genelin

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

Siren of the Waters by Michael Genelin

Siren of the Waters by
A Commander Jana Matinova Mystery

Soho Crime (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-56947-484-2 (1569474842)
ISBN-13: 978-1-56947-484-6 (9781569474846)
Publication Date: July 2008
List Price: $24.00

Review: We first meet Jana Matinova, the protagonist in Siren of the Waters -- the first book in Michael Genelin’s new series -- as she examines the site of a car crash that killed seven. Her investigation takes her all over Europe, twisting and turning like a coiled snake, and Genelin gives us just enough clues to keep the pages turning. Matinova has great depth to her character, and we get to know her better through interwoven flashes into her past. A few of these slow the plot down a bit, but they’re valuable in our understanding of who she is and how she ticks. She has suffered a great deal at the hands of the prior regime that destroyed her family but even that hasn’t totally damaged her inner core of determination and a need for justice. She tries her best to separate her personal feelings from her work, but possesses too much humanity for her to always succeed.

Genelin has created well-rounded background characters as well. I particularly like the relationship between Matinova and her boss, Trokan. Their banter speaks to a long and caring relationship, and he helped her as much as she could while she suffered the state’s scrutiny into the lives of her husband, herself and their child.

It’s clear that Genelin knows Europe well. His vivid descriptions of the locations in the story make one feel as if one is there with Matinova and her fellow investigators. He’s also done his research on how different police forces work. While Slovakia calls itself capitalist, the country hasn’t fully shed its communist tendencies as we see in the careful way Matinova treads while doing her work. Overall, this is a wonderful story, and I look forward to the next Matinova book.

Special thanks to Katherine Petersen for contributing her review of Siren of the Waters.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Katherine Petersen — All Rights Reserved — Reprinted with Permission

Buy from Amazon.com

If you are interested in purchasing Siren of the Waters from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right.

Synopsis (from the publisher): Jana Matinova entered the Czechoslovak police force as a young woman, married an actor, and became a mother. The regime destroyed her husband, their love for one another, and her daughter's respect for her. But she has never stopped being a seeker of justice.

Now, as a commander in the Slovak police force, she liaises with colleagues across Europe as they track the mastermind of an international criminal operation involved in, among other crimes, human trafficking. Her investigation takes her from Ukraine to Strasbourg, from Vienna to Nice, in a hunt for a ruthless killer and the beautiful young Russian woman he is determined either to capture or destroy.

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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