Friday, March 04, 2011

Fatal Error by J. A. Jance (Mystery Book Review)

Fatal Error by J. A. Jance
More information about the book

Fatal Error by J. A. Jance. An Ali Reynolds Mystery. Touchstone Hardcover, February 2011.

Though this mystery's promising premise is set up early, there isn't much suspense involved, with the action not really ramping up until well into the second half of the book. Ali Reynolds, the series character, is largely absent from much of the investigation, a somewhat disappointing factor as well.

Read the full text of our review at Mysterious Reviews: Fatal Error by J. A. Jance.

Purchase Options: Print Edition | Kindle Edition | Barnes&Noble NookBook | Kobo eBook

Read the first chapter(s) of Fatal Error below. Use the Aa settings button to adjust text size, line spacing, and word density.

Protector by Laurel Dewey is Today's Featured Free Kindle Mystery

MystereBooks: Mystery, Suspense, and Thriller eBooks

MystereBooks is pleased to feature a mystery title that is currently available in Kindle eBook format for free from We don't know how long it will be offered at this special price (typically only until a certain number of downloads have been completed), so download it today!

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Protector by Laurel Dewey
More Information About Protector by Laurel Dewey

Protector by Laurel Dewey
A Jane Perry Mystery (1st in series)
The Story Plane (Kindle eBook)
Download Link

About Protector (from the publisher): Denver homicide detective Jane Perry, a hard-drinking, street savvy investigator, possesses an almost psychic instinct for solving the most jarring homicides. But now, that intuitive insight has taken on an eerie twist. Ever since the murder of a family Jane and her partner were protecting, she has been plagued with disconnected images that predict events yet to happen.

One of Jane’s disturbing visions leads to nine-year-old Emily Lawrence, a child thought to have witnessed the brutal stabbing death of her parents but unable to remember anything about that horrific moment. The two characters fatefully come together, unaware that they share a mystical connection.

Mysterious Reviews: Mysteries Reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery BooksRead our Review of Protector by Laurel Dewey at Mysterious Reviews.

Read the first chapter(s) of Protector below. Use the Aa button to adjust the display settings (font size, line spacing, word density).

Mystery Bestsellers for March 04, 2011

Mystery Bestsellers

A list of the top 15 mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending March 4th, 2011 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

No change in the top three bestselling mystery books with The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson again (and still) at the top. No new titles either; one, which debuted just off the list, moves up this week.

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Night Vision by Randy Wayne White
More information about the book

Doc Ford is on a collision course with death in Night Vision, the 18th mystery in this series by Randy Wayne White.

Much is going on in the trailer park known as Little Guadalajara, inhabited principally by illegal laborers. The park manager is the hired gun of a financial syndicate that wants to develop the property, and he's prepared to do whatever it takes-but he can't figure out what to do about the teenage girl, the one the laborers believe has some sort of gift.

When she witnesses him killing a man, though, and runs, there's nothing left to figure: He's got to find her fast and shut her up good. Her only hope for survival: a marine biologist (and sometimes more) named Doc Ford, who along with his friend Tomlinson, must undertake a search through an underground, invisible nation ... and just hope he reaches her first.

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The top four mystery bestsellers this week are shown below:

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg LarssonA Discovery of Witches by Deborah HarknessTick Tock by James PattersonTreachery in Death by J. D. Robb

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

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Kevin Spacey to Star in Television Series Project Adapted from House of Cards by Michael Dobbs

House of Cards by Michael Dobbs

Kevin Spacey is set to executive produce and star in a drama series project adapted from Michael Dobb's 1989 political thriller House of Cards, according to an article in The Hollywood Reporter. David Fincher (The Social Network) will direct the pilot, written by Beau Willimon.

House of Cards, the first in a trilogy of books by Dobbs to feature conservative British politician Francis Urquhart, was previously adapted for a 4-part BBC mini-series in 1990. The novel follows Urquhart as he schemes to become leader of his party, and ultimately Prime Minister.

The project has yet to be sold to a network.

The Adjustment Bureau Opens in Theaters Friday, March 4th

The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

The Adjustment Bureau, adapted from a short story by Philip K. Dick, opens in theaters tomorrow, Friday March 4th.

The film stars Matt Damon as David Norris, an ambitious politician who meets beautiful contemporary ballet dancer Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), a woman like none he's ever known. But just as he realizes he's falling for her, mysterious men conspire to keep the two apart. David learns he is up against the agents of Fate itself -- the men of The Adjustment Bureau -- who will do everything in their considerable power to prevent David and Elise from being together. In the face of overwhelming odds, he must either let her go and accept a predetermined path ... or risk everything to defy Fate and be with her.

We've previously posted the film's trailer and a behind-the-scenes featurette; watch the commercial that aired during the Super Bowl below.

Mark Harmon to Play Lucas Davenport in Adaptation of Certain Prey by John Sandford

Certain Prey by John Sandford

USA Network has acquired the rights to the "Prey" series of mysteries by John Sandford, and will produce a made-for-television film based on the 10th book in the series, Certain Prey.

Mark Harmon will star as Minneapolis police detective Lucas Davenport. Though Deadline|Hollywood reports that this is just a single adaptation, the network could extend it in a manner similar to what CBS has done with Robert B. Parker's "Jesse Stone" mysteries, which star Tom Selleck. There is certainly no shortage of material from Sandford; the 21st book in the series, Buried Prey. will be published this May.

Production is expected to begin later this spring on a adapted screenplay by Chris Gerolmo.

OMN Welcomes Ian Vasquez, Author of the Noir Thriller Mr. Hooligan

Omnimystery News: Authors on Tour

Omnimystery News is pleased to welcome Ian Vasquez, author of the noir thriller Mr. Hooligan (Minotaur Books, December 2010 Hardcover, 978-0-312-37811-0).

Today Ian writes about writing his most recent novel, and whether it matters where a book is set.

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Mr. Hooligan by Ian Vasquez
Photo provided courtesy of Ian Vasquez

If I had to put my head on the block as to what two questions are asked most about a new book it would be: What’s it about? And: Where is it set?

Fundamental concerns and understandable questions, sure, but paradoxically, in regard to narratives, they miss the point. So when I’m asked these questions about something I’ve written, I squirm. I know my answers won’t satisfy me; I know that, to my ear, they’ll sound incomplete. What makes it even more curious is that many writers must tackle these very questions before they begin writing. Yet when faced with the queries from others, we hesitate.

We realize our answers offer an idea of the book but don’t bring us any closer to understanding it. That’s because a book is not its plot or its setting, but how it is about that plot and setting.

And herein lies the paradox, because without that particular plot and that particular setting, it wouldn’t be the same book.

Much of the praise I’ve received focuses on the setting, and so has much of the resistance, albeit implied. Here’s something I often get: “So is it set in Belize again?”

This is followed by: “Hmmm …”

Then: “Have you thought about writing a book set in the States?”

Now, when someone says that, what I hear is: “Why don’t you write a book set in a place I am familiar with?” And I can’t dismiss that concern. As readers we want our lives and our worlds to be affirmed, and familiar fictional worlds can provide that affirmation. A well-read person I know loves Stephen King as much for the thrill of the stories as for the settings, especially the descriptions of the Maine woods and the snowy landscapes.

But what about the reader who longs for a journey, a visit to a new place and culture, an adventure among new faces? Travel writing is popular for a reason; it takes you on vicarious journeys – without the risk. New scenes and cultures pique the curiosity of real-world travelers, but hovering behind the novelty is a recognition, which, depending on the traveler’s mind-set, can spoil or illuminate a trip: the recognition that people are fundamentally the same wherever you go. They, like us, are driven by urges, passions, dreams, they all suffer and hope and plan and connive and plot and work. It is how they live in their particular worlds that make them interesting; just as how a novel’s characters act in their fictional worlds makes them interesting. Reading fiction that takes you into unfamiliar settings can be a glimpse into how people are shaped by their environment, by their political realities and their cultures. Why would we as readers, most of whom are inherently curious, not want to avail ourselves of this?

I read an interview with Cormac McCarthy in which he said that he doesn’t like fiction about exotic places. Yet pick up any one of his novels and you’ll notice that the world he presents – that border territory – when rendered in his inimitable prose style is as exotic as they come. His eye and his mood detect qualities in a landscape that so interests him, he can’t help but tell stories of its people, and I’m sure the language he chooses is the language he thinks is best suited to convey that world in all its variations.

Some writers have no choice but to write books with a strong sense of place. We are shaped, despite the American myth of the rugged individualist, by the places we inhabit. Sometimes our vision bends itself to our surroundings. A New York City teenage boy will have some essential difference in speech and behavior when compared to a teenager from Columbus, Ohio, who will be strikingly different than the one from Haines City, Florida, who will have little in common with a teen from Kingston, Jamaica. Yet, if these boys were put in a room together, you can bet they’d discover common pursuits, insecurities or dreams shared by most Western boys of a certain age this side of the equator.

So does it matter where a book is set? Yes and no.

Mr. Hooligan is set in Belize because it’s a place I know. I know its narrow, potholey roads, its dust and sea air, the rhythm of its patois and the unspoken threat in its backstreets. I know its characters, their constant striving for more, for better, their frustrations – “If only this little Third World country could be…”

A friend of mine, a Belize City business man, said he both loves and hates the city, the hassle of dealing with customs and with workmen on “tomorrow time” and rushing to cross the bridge every day before it swings so as to save himself a longer drive to the other side of the city, to meet someone who will probably keep them waiting anyway. This friend was moved to tears when reading Istanbul. The author, Orhan Pamuk, manages in one long paragraph to evoke the feel of his city, its huzun, and my friend said he felt Pamuk was perfectly capturing the mood of Belize City, with its beggars and broken store signs, its traffic and the play of light on the streets.

Belize is geographically and developmentally far from Istanbul, but I know what my friend means. I write about Belize because it has shaped my way of sensing the world, but it’s not exclusive to someone from Belize. There’s an essential humanity that books try to convey in their characters, and while the settings may differ, their common humanity should be recognizable. Characters, no matter where they’re from, are people we’ve met, or people we know, or fear, or love.

I write about people.

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Ian Vasquez, a copy editor at the St. Petersburg Times, received his MFA while working on a psychiatric ward and counseling at-risk high school students. Raised in Belize, he now lives near Tampa, Florida with his wife and two children. Visit his website at

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Mr. Hooligan by Ian Vasquez
Print EditionKindle EditionNookBookKobo eBook

About Mr. Hooligan: Riley James was small-time, just a kid running messages and money for the Monsanto Brothers, the real players in Belize City. Then one slip in judgment left two men dead. The Monsantos handled the situation for their young protégé — but accepting this favor put Riley inescapably in their debt.

Now, years later, he’s a pro picking up drug drops under the Coast Guard’s nose and guiding boats through the reefs, which was something he wanted as a kid but not anymore. He wants out once and for all, and to cancel his debt, he makes a deal with the Monsantos to do one last run. It’s Riley’s last chance to scrape back to even, to nothing, to a place where he hasn’t been since he was just a kid.

Mr. Hooligan is available in Hardcover and popular eBook formats (see icons below book cover above).

Read the first chapter of Mr. Hooligan below; use the Aa settings button to adjust font size, line spacing, and word density.

NBC to Run Season (and Series) Finale of The Cape Online Only

The Cape (NBC)

Fans of the The Cape will have to go online to see how the season (and series -- it's not likely to be renewed) ends. NBC has elected not to air the season finale, which was supposed to run this past Monday, and has instead posted this note on the series website: "Flash: The creators of The Cape are prepping an exclusive episode just for online fans! Keep watching this site in the days ahead to see a full-length special episode." The date of this episode has yet to be scheduled.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Warner Bros. to Acquire Prequel and Sequel Rights to Blade Runner

Blade Runner (1982)

This is one of those press releases that announces that something may happen, indeed seems likely to happen, but hasn't yet. But it's interesting, so we're passing on the information.

A Warner Bros.-financed production company, Alcon Entertainment, is in final discussions to acquire the film and television rights to any prequels or sequels to the 1982 film Blade Runner. (Read the entire press release on Deadline|New York.)

Warner Bros. produced the original film, adapted from the Philip K. Dick short story "Do Android's Dream of Electric Sheep?", which stars Harrison Ford and was directed by Ridley Scott.

Alcon's rights are all-inclusive but specifically exclude remaking the film itself, though storylines could include characters and/or settings introduced in the film.

"We recognize the responsibility we have to do justice to the memory of the original with any prequel or sequel we produce," said Alcon co-founders Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove. "We have long-term goals for the franchise, and are exploring multi-platform concepts, not just limiting ourselves to one medium only."

Lunch Lady and the Bake Sale Bandit by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Mystery Book Review)

Lunch Lady and the Bake Sale Bandit by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
More information about the book

Lunch Lady and the Bake Sale Bandit by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. A Lunch Lady Comic Mystery. Knopf Trade Paperback, December 2010.

This fifth entry in the Lunch Lady series of mystery comics for kids should appeal to both girls and boys -- everyone can relate to the school lunch lady, right? -- with its simply rendered but entertaining graphics and engaging whodunit storyline.

Read the full text of our review at Mysterious Reviews: Lunch Lady and the Bake Sale Bandit by Jarrett J. Krosoczka.

Purchase Options: Print Edition

Inside AMC's The Killing: The Characters

The Killing (AMC, 2011)

We found a new video on the AMC website for its upcoming murder mystery series, The Killing, that provides a more in-depth look at the characters.

Based on the Danish television series Forbrydelsen (which aired its first season in 2007 and is currently in production on its third), The Killing weaves together three distinct stories around a single murder in Seattle, including the detectives assigned to the case and their suspects, the victim’s grieving family, and the local politicians connected to the case.

The two-hour premiere is scheduled for Sunday, April 3rd, on AMC. Thirteen episodes have been ordered. Watch the "Inside The Killing" video below.

Bellfield Hall by Anna Dean, A Miss Dido Kent Mystery (1st in series)

The Mystery Bookshelf: Discover a Library of New Mysteries

The Mystery Bookshelf, where you can discover a library of new mysteries, is pleased to feature a new mystery series title we recently received from the publisher.

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Bellfield Hall by Anna Dean
A Miss Dido Kent Mystery (1st in series)
Minotaur Books (Trade Paperback)
Publication Date: February 2011
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-68030-5

Bellfield Hall by Anna Dean
More Information About Bellfield Hall by Anna Dean

About Bellfield Hall (from the publisher): 1805. An engagement party is taking place for Mr Richard Montague, son of wealthy landowner Sir Edgar Montague, and his fiancée Catherine. During a dance with his beloved, a strange thing happens: a man appears at Richard's shoulder and appears to communicate something to him without saying a word. Instantly breaking off the engagement, he rushes off to speak to his father, never to be seen again. Distraught with worry, Catherine sends for her spinster aunt, Miss Dido Kent, who has a penchant for solving mysteries. Catherine pleads with her to find her fiancé and to discover the truth behind his disappearance. It's going to take a lot of logical thinking to untangle the complex threads of this multi-layered mystery, and Miss Dido Kent is just the woman to do it.

A note about the title: The UK edition of this book is titled A Moment in Silence, with the murder taking place at Belsfield Hall, not Bellfield Hall. Both the UK and US hardcover editions are subtitled, "The Observations of Miss Dido Kent", but the US trade paperback edition is subtitled, "The Deductions of Miss Dido Kent".

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About the author: Anna Dean set about crafting stories at the age of five under the impression that everyone was taught to write in order to pen books. By the time she discovered her mistake, the habit was too deeply ingrained to give up. She resides in the Lake District of England. Visit her website at

Read the first chapter(s) of Bellfield Hall below. Use the Aa settings button to adjust text size, line spacing, and word density.

OMN Welcomes Linda O. Johnston, Author of the New Pet Rescue Mystery Series

Omnimystery News: Authors on Tour

Omnimystery News is pleased to welcome Linda O. Johnston, whose new mystery series featuring animal shelter owner Lauren Vancouver opens with Beaglemania (Berkley Prime Crime, March 2011 Mass Market Paperback, 978-0-425-24021-2).

Today Linda writes about spinning off a series.

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Beaglemania by Linda O. Johnston
Photo provided courtesy of
Linda O. Johnston

I have been writing for quite a while, in different genres — everything from paranormal romance and romantic suspense to mysteries. I love it all, but I'm especially thrilled to introduce my new Pet Rescue Mystery series which debuts in March with Beaglemania.

The Pet Rescue Mystery series is a spinoff from my Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mystery series, both from Berkley Prime Crime. My new protagonist is Lauren Vancouver, the director of HotRescues, a no-kill animal shelter. She was introduced in Howl Deadly, the eighth Kendra mystery, and also appeared in Feline Fatale, the ninth.

Now she has some stories of her own, starting with Beaglemania. Saving animals is her passion, and she'll be involved with some rather difficult situations such as being there when the puppies and their parents are saved from a puppy mill. The second Pet Rescue Mystery, The More the Terrier, starts off with Lauren learning that her mentor in pet rescue has turned into an animal hoarder, and Lauren has to help deal with that, too.

Because these are cozy mysteries, they of course contain murders that must be solved — and Lauren has to get involved with that as well. In the Pet Rescue Mysteries, "no-kill" means pets, not people! And who gets killed in Beaglemania? Someone involved with that terrible puppy mill, of course.

If you sense a theme here in my mysteries — pets — you're right. In fact, I love writing about many kinds of animals. I even write about animals in my paranormal romance mini-series for Harlequin Nocturne, which features Alpha Force, a covert military unit of shapeshifters.

That's another thing that is fun about the stories I write. They're fiction, so I can do what I want in them — at least to a point. They have to remain logical as well as enjoyable to readers.

One fairly fictional thing I can do is to make sure that HotRescues is adequately funded without a lot of stress on Lauren's part.

Plus, no matter what else happens in these stories, the animals will come out of it all just fine. Too bad that isn't always true in real life, but since I've started researching Lauren's stories I've met with pet rescuers of many kinds who would love to make it so. I visited shelters, both public and private. I've talked to people. Met animals.

I have to admit that pet rescue has drawn me in personally, too. I've begun volunteering at a private shelter, Pet Orphans of Southern California. I'm a dog adoption counselor there, which means I screen potential adopters and introduce them to dogs they might fall in love with. It's such a thrill for me when I see that the people and pets I've introduced are now a family!

I'm also the Los Angeles Pet Rescue Examiner, for the website.

And I'm definitely the proud author of the Pet Rescue Mysteries!

I'm not sure what Lauren would think of me. She's very dedicated and logical and in some ways single-minded about how animals should be treated. In my writing, I put animals into situations where they could be harmed, and she might not like that. On the other hand, I allow her to resolve those situations in ways that work well for those endangered animals, and Lauren would undoubtedly applaud that.

In any event, I definitely appreciate Lauren and all she does — both saving animals and solving murders. I hope you enjoy her, too.

Please come visit me at and at on Wednesdays. Friend me on Facebook. I'd love to hear what you think of pet rescue — and Beaglemania!

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Beaglemania by Linda O. Johnston
Print EditionKindle EditionNookBook

About Beaglemania: Lauren Vancouver is the head of HotRescues, a no-kill animal shelter north of Los Angeles, but it's often human nature that puts her in the path of danger. Just like when she helps rescue four adorable beagle puppies that were dumped down a drainpipe at a nasty puppy mill. One of the mill's employees has a history of dog abuse -- and a bone to pick with Lauren. And when he's found dead at HotRescues after threatening her, Lauren will have to sniff out the real killer to keep herself out of a cage ...

Beaglemania is available in Mass Market Paperback and popular eBook formats (see icons below book cover).

Release Date for One for the Money Moved Up to June 3rd

One for the Money (2011)

The release date for One for the Money, the film adaptation of the 1994 Janet Evanovich novel, has been moved from early July to June 3rd, according to the film's distributor, Lionsgate.

One for the Money introduces Stephanie Plum (played by Katherine Heigl in the film). At 30, she finds herself newly-divorced, recently laid-off, and living with her hamster in Trenton. Broke and desperate, she lands a job working for her sleazy cousin Vinnie and his bail bond business. In need of fast cash she latches on to his biggest case -- Joe Morelli, a local vice cop wanted for murder, who just happens to be the guy that broke her heart in high school. If Stephanie can nab Morelli in a week, she'll make a cool ten grand. All she has to do is become an expert bounty hunter overnight -- and keep herself from getting killed before she gets her man.

The series continues strong, with 16 "numbered" books and 4 "between the numbers" titles. The 17th "numbered" mystery, Smokin' Seventeen, is published this June.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Bad Bird by Chris Knopf (Mystery Book Review)

Bad Bird by Chris Knopf
More information about the book

Bad Bird by Chris Knopf. A Jackie Swaitkowski Mystery. Minotaur Books Hardcover, February 2011.

This exceptional novel features richly developed characters and an intricately devised murder plot, yet also introduces a personal subplot -- normally an unwelcome intrusion in a mystery -- that is cleverly interwoven and integrated into the primary storyline, contributing both substance and depth.

Read the full text of our review at Mysterious Reviews: Bad Bird by Chris Knopf.

Purchase Options: Print Edition | Kindle Edition | Barnes&Noble NookBook | Kobo eBook

Read the first chapter(s) of Bad Bird below. Use the Aa settings button to adjust text size, line spacing, and word density.


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