Saturday, December 31, 2005

Drop Dead Beautiful: A Serialized Online Mystery

Releasing a piece of fiction in serial installments goes back to the days of Charles Dickens, but the internet has recharged the idea and New West has partnered with author and Aspen editor Michael Conniff to publish Drop Dead Beautiful, a serialized online mystery set in Aspen.

There are currently 14 of 33 installments online, with one installment added each week. The link provided here is for the first installment.

Enjoy the story and maybe we'll see other authors produce serialized mysteries online in the future.

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Friday, December 30, 2005

New Mystery Hardcovers for December 2005 (updated)

Four additional mystery book titles have been added to the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books list of new mystery hardcovers for December 2005. These additions represent the last books to be added for December.

The January 2006 list was created earlier this week and is expected to be updated at the end of next week with more new mysteries.

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Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (12/30/2005)

A list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending December 30, 2005 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Very little change from last week, but there are several new mysteries yet to be published that are appearing on the pre-order bestseller lists of and Barnes & including Memory in Death by J. D. Robb (Nora Roberts) and The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell by Lilian Jackson Braun. Look for these mysteries to appear on the bestseller list in January.

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Theakston’s Old Peculier Harrogate Crime Writing Festival

The Yorkshire hotel to where author Agatha Christie dramatically ‘disappeared’ in 1926 will host the Theakston’s Old Peculier Harrogate Crime Writing Festival next summer.

Agatha Christie was discovered at the spa town’s Old Swan Hotel after a nationwide hunt by the media: her disappearance was never fully explained. The hotel, considered by some to be the spiritual heart of crime writing, is undergoing a £4 million refurbishment, to be completed by the spring in time for the event. It is expected to attract enthusiasts from around the world and weekend packages are already being booked. Harrogate is an attractive floral spa resort close to the Yorkshire Dales. Sherlock Holmes’ creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was another regular visitor.

For details of the crime writing festival, visit their website.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Mysteries Set in the Midwest

The St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press / website has listed 10 mysteries published in 2005 - nine by veterans and one by a newcomer - that offered heart-stopping plots set in the Midwest. Most of them brought back characters in series familiar to readers. And the coup de grace is a new anthology of stories by 13 of Minnesota's best mystery writers: The Silence of the Loons.

Veterans include Ellen Hart (her 13th Jane Lawless mystery) and John Sandford (his 16th Lucas Davenport thriller). The newcomer is Carl Brookins who introduces Minneapolis private investigator Sean NMI ("no middle initial") Sean in The Case of the Greedy Lawyers.

Read the complete list of books here.

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New Mystery Hardcover Titles for January 2006

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has prepared a list of new mystery hardcover titles scheduled for publication in January 2006. All of these books may be pre-ordered at discount prices through by clicking the ISBN in the book summary.

Upcoming mysteries include new series characters and returning favorites. This list is expected to be updated twice in January as new titles are released.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (12/23/2005)

A list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending December 23, 2005 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Although the top titles remain the same on all lists, there are several newcomers including Turning Angel by Greg Iles.

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Scientists Solve Another Agatha Christie Mystery

An article on the CBC website notes that scientists in Britain say they've cracked the mystery surrounding the popularity of Agatha Christie's murder novels.

Neurolinguistic researchers at three universities studied more than 80 of her novels and have concluded her phrases activate a pleasure response. The scientific team loaded Christie's books into a computer and analyzed her words, sentences and phrases. Scientists say Christie used very limited vocabulary which "means readers aren't distracted and so they concentrate more on the clues and the plots," said Dr. Pernilla Danielsson of Birmingham University. The author also used dashes repeatedly to create a faster-paced narrative.

Read the entire article here.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (12/16/2005)

A list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending December 16, 2005 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Not much change from last week; just a bit of shuffling of the order of some titles.

Due to the holidays, the mystery bestseller list may not be published next Friday or may be delayed until the following Monday. But it will definitely return for the last Friday of 2005!

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Mystery Book Review: The Delilah Complex by M. J. Rose

Title: The Delilah Complex
Author: M. J. Rose
Publisher: Mira (Paperback Original)
Publication Date: January 2006
ISBN: 0-7783-2215-7

Series Character(s): Dr. Morgan Snow
Entry in Series: Second

The Delilah Complex is the second mystery (after The Halo Effect) to feature sex therapist Dr. Morgan Snow, a specialist at The Butterfield Institute in New York City.

About the book: The Scarlet Society is a secret club of twelve powerful and sexually adventurous women. But when a photograph of the body of one of the men they’ve recruited to dominate – strapped to a gurney, the number 1 inked on the sole of his foot – is sent to the New York Times, they are shocked and frightened. Unable to deal with the tragedy, the women turn to Dr. Morgan Snow. But what starts out as grief counseling quickly becomes a serial murder investigation when a second and then a third photograph of men in identical situations and sequential numbers on their feet are delivered, with any one of the twelve women a potential suspect.

This is an unusually effective mystery. Though there is very little action in the book, the pace of the story is brisk. The characters are all believable and their interrelationships true to both the story and each other. Though the author is generous with clues throughout the book, the somewhat lurid ending will no doubt come as a surprise to some readers.

Dr. Morgan Snow is a very interesting character. Her education and experience has taught her to help others come to terms with their problems, yet she, herself, is full of conflicts: she has the normal issues of being the divorced parent of an adolescent who may be on better terms with her father than her mother; she is unsure of the personal relationship she has with the detective handling the case; she is torn between treating her mentor at the institute as both a mother-figure and a colleague; and her professional ethics dictate a course of action that may be at odds with solving the mystery. This is a character that has the potential of continuing to grow and be of interest to readers for many mysteries to come.

Special thanks to Book Trends for providing the ARC of The Delilah Complex for this review.

Read other recent mystery book reviews by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books.

Copyright © 2005 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Best Mysteries of 2005 (South Florida Sun/Sentinel)

It's that time of the year when various organizations put out their "best" and "worst" lists. The South Florida Sun/Sentinel (via the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service) has come up with their list of the best mystery books for 2005.

(1-tie) The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
(1-tie) Bloodlines by Jan Burke
(3) Fleshmarket Alley by Ian Rankin
(4) Strange Affair by Peter Robinson
(5) The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais
(6) Forests of the Night by James W. Hall
(7) Drama City by George Pelecanos
(8) The Closers by Michael Connelly
(9) To the Power of Three by Laura Lippman
(10) Half Broken Things by Morag Joss
(11) Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
(12) The Death Collectors by Jack Kerley
(13) Blood of Angels by Reed Arvin
(14) The Innocent by Harlan Coben
(15) Company Man by Joseph Finder
(16) Drive by James Sallis

Best debut mysteries:

Immoral by Brian Freeman
Tilt A Whirl by Chris Grabenstein
Eight of Swords by David Skibbins
Most Wanted by Michele Martinez

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New Website: The Mystery Bookshelf

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books introduces The Mystery Bookshelf, a new website with interesting and informative links to products and services related to mysteries and detective fiction. These links have been selected to provide a resource for readers and collectors of mystery books in addition to the information regularly updated on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

More information about The Mystery Bookshelf will be provided in this blog as new products and services are added.

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Ruth Rendell Tackles Celebrity in Latest Mystery

Ruth Rendell, doyen of British mystery writers, says modestly that she began her literary career with some "very bad" unpublished novels. Then, "for fun," she wrote a mystery centered on Detective Chief Inspector Reg Wexford, a liberal, literary small-town detective. She never looked back.

At 75, Rendell is fearsomely prolific, the author of more than 60 books over a 40-year career. They appear at the rate of at least one a year — 20 mysteries featuring Chief Inspector Wexford; chilling, elegantly plotted psychological mysteries; and the thick multigenerational thrillers published under the pen name Barbara Vine.

Rendell's mysteries are less whodunits than whydunits, and her latest, 13 Steps Down, is no exception. The mystery follows an unremarkable exercise-machine repairman named Mix Cellini as he becomes — partly through temperament and partly by accident — a murderer. Mix is a bundle of very recognizable modern obsessions — fascinated by a real-life serial killer who lived in his London neighborhood half a century ago, infatuated with a supermodel who lives nearby and hooked on the idea of becoming a celebrity.

Read the rest of this article by AP reporter Jill Lawless here.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (12/09/2005)

A list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending December 09, 2005 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

New this week is a summary of that appear on the New York Times Bestseller List.

More blogs about mystery books.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

New Mystery Hardcover Titles for December 2005

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has updated its list of new mystery hardcover titles for December 2005 with 6 additional mysteries. This is the second of three planned updates for the month. New hardcover titles scheduled for publication in January 2006 will be available later this month.

Mystery books make great holiday gifts! Buy several and make this a mysterious holiday season for your friends and family!

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Tours Track Tony Hillerman Mystery Sites

The Arizona Republic recently ran an article on the Hillerman Country Tours that takes visitors on a tour of sites featured or described in Tony Hillerman mysteries. Hillerman is the author of the Jimmy Chee and Joe Leaphorn mystery series set on the reservations of northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico.

The tours cover more than 1,100 miles and extend over four days, taking participants from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon; the Hopi, Navajo and Zuni reservations; Canyon de Chelly; Chaco Canyon; trading posts and various villages and towns. Most of them are strategic locations in Hillerman's books.

For fans of the Hillerman series, or just the southwest US in general, this tour sounds like a wonderful way to see the area and experience the beautiful environment described in the books.

Read the complete article here which includes a detailed itinerary of the tour.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

More Mystery Book Survey Results

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has been conducting a daily survey on its website asking visitors various questions about mystery books (and extensions thereof!). Each answer gives the visitor an entry into a monthly contest for a $25 gift card. Periodically results of the survey are posted in this blog.

Three questions were asked about Agatha Christie characters, and the actors who have portrayed them on screen.

1. Which is your favorite Agatha Christie character?

51% Miss Marple
40% Hercule Poirot
09% Tommy and Tuppence Beresford

2. Who has best portrayed Hercule Poirot in the movies and/or on television?

34% Albert Finney
20% David Suchet
46% Peter Ustinov

3. Who has best portrayed Miss Marple in the movies and/or on television?

33% Helen Hayes
10% Joan Hickson
46% Angela Lansbury
05% Geraldine McEwan
06% Margaret Rutherford

Thank you to all who have participated in the mystery book survey contest to date. The survey is expected to run through March 31, 2006, so there's plenty of time for you to cast your vote and get an entry into the monthly drawing for $25.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Interview with Sue Grafton, author of S is for Silence

Sue Grafton's latest Kinsey Millhone mystery, S is for Silence, is scheduled to be released tomorrow, December 06, 2005. Grafton, a native of Louisville KY, was recently interviewed by the Lexington Herald-Leader.

"The smartest thing I ever did was invent someone to support me," she says of Kinsey. Smiling, she adds with equal measures conspiracy and amazement, "Say someone reads S, and that's their first and they like it. You know what they do? They go back and buy A is for Alibi," she told the reporter. Then B is for Burglar ...

Grafton takes her work very seriously. She says she is glad to write two to four pages a day when she's rolling. "Any writer who says they write eight hours a day is either a liar or on drugs, and if it's the latter, I want some," she adds.

Read the rest of this entertaining article here.

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books will provide a link to purchase S is for Silence on its website, or through this blog.

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Profile of Mystery Author Eleanor Taylor Bland

Eleanor Taylor Bland, a native of the Chicago suburb of Waukegan and author of the Marti MacAlister mystery series, was profiled recently by the Chicago Sun-Times.

The article describes Bland's 13th MacAlister mystery, A Dark and Deadly Deception, which is scheduled for publication by St. Martin's Minotaur in early December. In this book, a woman's body is found in the swollen Des Plaines River. She is identified as a bit actress in town shooting scenes for a film. Marti and her partner, Vic, must smoke out what tied the Californian to the Waukegan area and how that led to her murder. Meanwhile, the detectives also are trying to clear a case that dates back to the 1940s after finding the bones of a murdered man in a historic building. The story addresses the past and those struggling to reconcile themselves to it, including characters like Delilah, an octogenarian African-American who regrets having pressured her daughter, Tamar, to settle for a man and a life she didn't want.

Bland, who is in her 60s, published her first mystery in 1992. "I tried to write the all-American, or all-African-American, story for a while before I got hooked on mysteries," says the author.
She initially sent two manuscripts to St. Martin's Press that landed on the desk of an editor who liked the characters and the prose style, but not the story. The editor "went to her [boss] and said 'I like this author but not what she's doing. What do I do?' And the [boss] said, 'Encourage her. When I got those books back, basically what she said -- and I've still got the letter, a page and a half, single spaced -- was, 'Whatever you write, I'll read it.' So I never went to any other publishing company."

Read the rest of this interesting profile of Eleanor Taylor Bland here.

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e-book Publisher Releases Detective Novel

Press release (12/04/05): The usual menacing characters and unexpected plot twists found in detective novels meet their match against an unusual protagonist, in a new e-publication from DigitalPulp Publishing (

Crimson Ice is the story of Frankie Lupino, a single mother who suddenly finds herself juggling childcare and crime solving against the harsh winter background of the Pocono Mountains. When her sister disappears, Frankie embarks on a life changing adventure full of sinister characters, and surprising turns of events. In her search, she forges a professional and romantic bond with Sarvonsky, a cynical New York undercover cop turned detective.

Read the rest of the press release here.

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (12/02/2005)

A list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending December 02, 2005 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Not only does James Patterson continue to top all three lists, but his books are listed multiple times in the top ten lists. On the Barnes & Noble site, his titles sell as four of the top ten .

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Fast-paced Detective Story Brings to Life Unforgettable Characters

Press Release (11/30/05): An avid lover of mystery novels since his youth, E. E. Williams has captured the true essence of the gumshoe detective in his first novel, Tears in the Rain published by BookSurge.

Set against the backdrop of luscious Miami sunsets, Williams introduces the reader to Noah Greene, a man who has run away from everything in his life, including his wife and son. Greene is a man who dreams of being a detective like his screen idols, Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade, but in reality, can barely get by as a bicycle mechanic in Miami. His dream is suddenly realized one day when a young woman hires him to prove her brother is dead so that she can inherit $400,000.

Read the rest of the press release here.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Free Signed Mystery Book Contest

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books is continuing to offer a monthly free mystery book contest on their website. For December, the prize is a signed copy of Mean High Tide by James W. Hall. Congratulations to Robert B. as the winner of the November contest; he will receive a signed copy of To The Nines by Janet Evanovich.

Visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books to enter. While there, please take a moment to see all the features that the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has to offer: new titles, bestsellers, reviews, trivia, and more! And don't forgot to enter the daily mystery survey contest!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

New Mystery Hardcovers for November 2005 (updated)

Seven additional mystery book titles have been added to the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books November 2005 New Hardcover list. These additions represent the last books to be added for November. The December 2005 list is expected to be updated next week.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Stanford University "Rediscovers" Sherlock Holmes

Stanford University is "rediscovering" Sherlock Holmes with a special reprint of some of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's tales just as they were originally printed and illustrated in The Strand Magazine. This project is a continuation of Stanford University's "rediscovery" of other important works, including those of Charles Dickens that were published over the past three years.

Over 12 weeks from January through April 2006, Stanford University will be republishing, free of charge, two early Holmes stories, “A Scandal in Bohemia” and “The Speckled Band”; the nine-part novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles; and the famous “last” encounter between Holmes and Moriarty, “The Final Problem.”

Read more of the details here and to subscribe to receive the reprints.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Recent Press Releases for Mystery Books

Below is a list recent press releases covering the subject of mystery books compiled by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books:

11/27/05: Marty Mitchell Aims to Satisfy Innovative Suspense Thriller Cravings with Print-on-Demand Availability of The Sensation Inside at

Marty Mitchell inspires and ignites the suspense thriller genre with the publication of The Sensation Inside in conjunction with Lulu (, the world’s fastest-growing provider of print-on-demand books. The Sensation Inside is a new type of suspense thriller that combines the mood of such modern television shows as The X Files and the intricate mysteries of writer Agatha Christie. (Read the rest of the press release here.)

11/23/05: America's Favorite Ice Skating Sleuth, Bex Levy Returns to Catch Cold-Blooded Murderer in Axel of Evil

"Murdered!" screamed the headlines. Igor Marchenko, a skating Champion and world-renowned coach who first made news twenty-five years earlier for his defection to America during the height of the US-USSR Cold War, lay dead in a Moscow skating rink. Now Bex Levy, researcher for the 24/7 sports network, has been ordered by her boss to help solve the crime on live television. She’s gotten lucky twice before…can she do it again in front of the entire world?” So begins Axel of Evil, the third novel in the Figure Skating Mystery series from writer Alina Adams, which is scheduled for a January 2006 release from Berkley. Adams has created the first and only mystery series of its kind, set in the world of competitive figure skating, and it holds particular appeal leading up to the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy this February. (Read the rest of the press release here.)

11/18/05: Utah Author and LDS Publisher Announce Mystery Writing Contest

Jeffrey S. Savage, bestselling author of Cutting Edge, Into the Fire, and House of Secrets, joins Covenant Communications, the leader in LDS fiction, in announcing the Shandra Covington Mystery writing contest. (Read the rest of the press release here.)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Interview with Rosemary Herbert, co-editor of A New Omnibus of Crime

This past September, A New Omnibus of Crime was published by Oxford University Press. Tony Hillerman, noted mystery author, and Rosemary Herbert, writer, editor, and critic, co-edited the book which was patterned after the original 1920 version edited by Dorothy L. Sayers.

This new collection picks up where the original left off bringing together monumental, important, and entertaining works of mystery short fiction from the inter-war years of the twentieth century to the first years of the twenty-first century. Rosemary Herbert and Tony Hillerman introduce each story and place each selection in the context of the author and the genre's literary history. A New Omnibus of Crime is full of a whole range of engaging, page-turning, and spine tingling selections from the past eight decades and brings together some of the greatest crime and mystery short fiction ever collected.

Rosemary Herbert was interviewed recently about the book in her home state of Maine. She said it took about 18 months to come up with the list of stories to include. When asked what makes a good mystery book or short story, she said: "Readers still turn to mystery writing for strong plot, and increasingly, for complex characterization." Read the interview in its entirety here.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Mystery Book Review: High Heels and Homicide by Kasey Michaels

Title: High Heels and Homicide
Author: Kasey Michaels
Publisher: Kensington Books (Paperback Original)
Publication Date: December 2005
ISBN: 0-7582-0880-4
Series Character(s): Maggie Kelly and Alexandre Blake, Viscount Saint Just
Entry in Series: Fourth

The latest book in the Maggie Kelly series, High Heels and Homicide, is a delightfully funny mystery set largely in an atmospheric 17th century English manor house during a dark and stormy night.

The unusual twist in this series is that mystery author Maggie Kelly has created a fictional Regency-era character for her books, the aristocrat-detective Alexandre Blake, Viscount Saint Just, who has mysteriously come to life with all the characteristics that Kelly imbued in him but without any knowledge or experience of modern life. This premise makes for many comical situations, and Michaels takes full advantage of them in her mysteries.

Maggie and Saint Just leave New York for England where a production of one of Maggie's mysteries is being filmed. The weather is miserable, and the constant rain has flooded the grounds around the manor house where the cast and crew are housed, cutting them off from the outside world. Not long after Maggie argues with the screenwriter who is adapting her book for the film, he's found hanging outside her bedroom window. Another body is soon found, and there are suspects aplenty. The secondary characters in this series play an important role in this book, and are every bit as interesting as Maggie and Saint Just.

Michaels captures the essence of the movie industry very well with all its personalities, egos, and insecurities. The action moves along at a brisk pace, and the dialog is frequently funny and entertaining. The fact that the author spends more time on “romance” than “mystery” in this romantic mystery is quibbling.

Don't judge this book by its cover … or its title for that matter. The original title for this mystery, Maggie Gets Some Direction, is not only more appropriate for the book and the series, but adds an ironic element to the storyline and the interplay of the principal characters.

Special thanks to Book Trends for providing the ARC of High Heels and Homicide for this review.

Read other recent mystery book reviews by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books.

Copyright © 2005 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

Brendan DuBois Wins Al Blanchard Crime Fiction Award

Earlier this month, Brendan DuBois received the Al Blanchard Crime Fiction Award for Best Short Crime Fiction Story at the fourth annual New England Crime Bake, a mystery convention organized by the New England Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. The winning short story, "The Road's End," originally appeared in the Windchill crime anthology, published by Level Best Books.

The award was created by the New England Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America to honor the late Al Blanchard, a mystery novelist and short-story author who was serving as president of the group's annual Crime Bake convention when he died suddenly last year. Blanchard’s widow, Enid Blanchard, was one of the judges of the short-story contest, and she presented the award to DuBois during this year’s convention.

Brendan DuBois is the author of the Lewis Cole mystery series (Dead Sand, Black Tide, Shattered Shell, Killer Waves, and Primary Storm). Lewis Cole, a magazine writer and former Department of Defense research analyst, investigates mysterious happenings in and around the New Hampshire seacoast.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (11/25/2005)

A list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending November 25, 2005 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Mary, Mary by James Patterson continues to top all three lists. Look for S is for Silence by Sue Grafton to be a top seller when it is published the first week of December.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Mystery Survey: Favorite Culinary Series

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has been conducting a daily online survey contest, asking a variety of questions about mystery books. Each answer qualifies as an entry into a drawing with a monthly prize of a $25 gift card.

The results of the survey will be posted periodically in this blog. In honor of Thanksgiving, here are the survey results to date for favorite culinary mystery series:

17%: Goldy Bear (Diane Mott Davidson)
38%: Gourmet Detective (Peter King)
05%: Magdalena Yoder (Tamar Myers)
25%: Eugenia Potter (Virginia Rich / Nancy Pickard)
05%: Heaven Lee (Jane Lou Temple)
10%: Other

The mystery survey contest will run until the end of March 2006, so there's still plenty of time to enter. Visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books daily for your chance to win a $25 gift card!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Mystery Books

Just in time for Thanksgiving, here is a list of mysteries that prominently feature Thanksgiving in their storylines:

Bordon, Kate: Death of a Turkey (A Cobb's Landing mystery)
Daheim, Mary: Fowl Prey (A Bed-and-Breakfast mystery)
Dams, Jeanne: Sins Out of School (A Dorothy Martin mystery)
Haddam, Jane: A Feast of Murder (A Gregor Demarkian mystery)
Harris, Lee: The Thanksgiving Day Murder (A Christine Bennett mystery)
Livingston, Georgette: The Telltale Turkey Caper (A Jennifer Gray veterinarian mystery)
Meier, Leslie: Turkey Day Murder (A Lucy Stone mystery)
Shaber, Sarah R.: Snipe Hunt (A Professor Simon Shaw mystery)

Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving Holiday weekend and remember to visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books for all your holiday mysteries.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Enter to Win an Original Painting by Author and Artist Jonathan Santlofer

History and fiction collide with deadly consequences in the third Kate McKinnon novel — a story of bitter revenge, where the past invades the present and a decades-old secret proves fatal.

The Killing Art (William Morrow and Co., ISBN: 0-060-54107-5) is Jonathan Santlofer's most gripping and chilling story yet. The author, who is also an acclaimed artist, has created works of art just for the book that tantalize and challenge readers by using well-known symbols in innovative ways, allowing them to decode the clues along with Kate.

A masterwork of both suspense fiction and art, The Killing Art will impress both thriller readers and art fans as the plot twists and turns toward a shocking climax.

Enter to win an original painting by author and artist Jonathan Santlofer!

Visit the HarperCollins website and take the quiz just for fun and continue to see how well you guessed. Complete the entry form for your chance to win. All answers can be found in The Killing Art by Jonathan Santlofer.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Archer Mayor Credits Mystery Fan with Story Idea

An article in the Rutland (VT) Herald reports that mystery author Archer Mayor credits a fan of his books with helping him fill in the details of the last half of his most recent mystery, St. Albans Fire.

Accord to Mayor, the latest Joe Gunther mystery may not have been completed if it wasn't for a big fan who stopped by the author's home looking to get a book signed. That big fan also happened to be the head of the Arson Task Force in Newark (NJ). And suddenly the theme, the crime and the second half of the latest tale about Vermont police officers slipped into place. "It was serendipity," Mayor said at his home in Newfane (VT) on Friday during a break in book signings. "The cloud was lifted and the book fell into place. It probably would have been a completely different story otherwise."

Read the rest of the article here.

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has several first edition Archer Mayor mysteries available, together with a link to to purchase his latest, St. Albans Fire.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sara Rosett: New Mystery Author

It's always a treat to read of an author about to publish their first mystery book. Sara Rosett, of Macon GA, is the author of the upcoming Moving is Murder and writes in her blog about a recent visit to an elementary school to discuss writing; the visit was also reported in the local paper, the Macon Telegraph.

Rosett told the children it has taken six years to get her mystery book published: "... two years to write the book, two more years to find an agent, and two more years to find a publisher," she said. But she never gave up!

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books will be looking for Rosett's mystery in the near future, and will be happy to feature it on our website.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (11/18/2005)

A list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending November 18, 2005 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Mystery Book Survey Contest

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has started a mystery book survey contest. Each day, a random question about mystery books will be presented together with an entry form to the contest. Once a statistically sufficient number of responses has been received, results will be posted in this blog. As a Thank You! for completing the survey, the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books is sponsoring a contest; the prize is a $25 gift card awarded monthly to one winner among all eligible entries. (Complete rules are presented on the survey contest entry page.)

Visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books daily to answer the survey and be entered into the contest!

Monday, November 14, 2005

New Mystery Hardcovers for December 2005

A list of new mystery hardcover titles to be published in December 2005 has been created on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website. This list will be updated over the next few weeks as more mystery book titles are announced.

Sunday, November 13, 2005 Acquired by Abebooks has been acquired by Abebooks, based in Victoria BC., a price comparison shopping service dedicated to books based out of Berkeley CA, will remain an independently operated and managed entity. Abebooks connects buyers with sellers via its five websites and is dedicated solely to books. It does not compete with its booksellers by also owning and selling books. The purchase of continues Abebooks' growth through organic development and acquisition.

See the press release of the acquisition on Abebooks' website.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (11/11/2005)

A list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending November 11, 2005 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Mini-Mysteries (Minute Mysteries)

Mini-mysteries or minute mysteries are short mystery stories that can be read in as little as two minutes and end with a question challenging the reader to solve the mystery; the solution is given separately. Most mini-mysteries involve crimes, though mini-mysteries written for children may involve a puzzling situation instead. Mini-mysteries typically include all the essential elements of the traditional whodunit such as suspects, clues, alibis, etc.

Many schools use mini-mysteries as an effective resource in the classroom. Students become intrigued by the elements that comprise detective fiction and learn to use critical thinking, deductive reasoning, and logic to analyze the clues given and propose a reasonable solution based on the facts presented in the story.

Mini-mysteries appeal to readers of all ages and abilities for the simple reason that everyone enjoys a puzzle and there's satisfaction in following the clues and coming up with the solution.

Although there are several websites that offer mini-mysteries to read online, the best way to enjoy these stories is in print form where they can be shared together with your family. Though mini-mysteries are popular, they can be difficult to locate in your local bookstore. offers many mini-mysteries that can be purchased online and delivered to your doorstep.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hyperion to Publish "Lost" Fictional Mystery Manuscript

Variety is reporting that Hyperion, the publishing unit of Disney (which owns ABC), will publish a fictional manuscript based on a script idea from the series "Lost". Producers of the show intend to introduce a new storyline centering on the discovery of this manuscript as the work of a fictitious author who perished in the "Lost" plane crash. According to production sources, the novel will be called "Bad Twin" and is a private-eye mystery about a wealthy heir's search for his evil sibling. Hyperion has hired a "well-known" mystery writer to author the book.

Read the original Variety article here, and a related article from the Honolulu StarBulletin here.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Featured Mystery: Cover Your Assets by Patricia Smiley

Mysterious Press is scheduled to release this week the second mystery to feature L. A. business consultant Tucker Sinclair, Cover Your Assets by Patricia Smiley. If you enjoyed the first entry in this series, False Profits, you're in for a treat with Cover Your Assets.

After discovering the lethal side of climbing the corporate ladder, Tucker leaves her fast-track career at Aames & Associates and opens her own management consulting firm. But four's a crowd at the beach cottage she shares with her actress mother, Pookie, Pookie's twenty-pounds-and-counting Westie terrier, and Pookie's new aging hippie boyfriend, Bruce.

With life as normal as it's ever going to get, Tucker's totally blindsided when a cop appears on her doorstep one sunny, spring morning. His news is even more shocking: Evan Brice has just been found stabbed to death. An aspiring poet-turned-agent-to-wannabe-stars, Brice was once the love of Tucker's life. Until he dumped her and married her best friend-now the prime suspect in his murder. With the media dogging her every step and celebrity hounds out for blood, it's up to Tucker to find out who wanted Brice dead.

Between the feng shui-ing of her home, a persistent homicide detective on her tail, and the trials of landing a date for her ex-husband's wedding, Tucker uncovers a Hollywood A-list of enemies and lovers…and a secret life that leads her into the dark underbelly of the drug and porn industries. Speeding in her silver Boxster from the scene of the crime into the sordid detritus of one man's past, she will have to make sure she's got her back covered-or a determined murderer will cancel her account for good.

Cover Your Assets is featured as a new mystery hardcover title for November 2005 on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Monday, November 07, 2005

New Mystery Hardcovers for November 2005 (updated)

A list of new mystery hardcover titles to be published in November 2005 has been updated on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website. In particular, check out Air Dance Iguana (the fifth Alex Rutledge Key West mystery) by Tom Corcoran and Cover Your Assets (the second Tucker Sinclair mystery) by Patricia Smiley.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Author Profile: William G. Tapply

William G. Tapply is the author of the Boston-based Brady Coyne mystery series. The 21st of these, Nervous Water, was recently published by St. Martin's Press. He is also the author of numerous books about fly fishing and the outdoors. Tapply’s handbook, The Elements of Mystery Fiction: Writing a Modern Whodunit, is used in writing classes and workshops across the country. He is a Contributing Editor for Field & Stream, a columnist for American Angler, and has written hundreds of articles, stories and essays on many subjects for dozens of other publications.

William G. Tapply is married to Vicki Stiefel, herself an author of crime fiction, and together run The Writers Studio at Chickadee Farm. They live in Hancock, NH.

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books carries many hardcover first editions of William G. Tapply's books. Visit to find all of our featured author's works.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Sarah Graves Nail Biter Repair Tips Sweepstakes

Sarah Graves, author of the wonderful Home Repair is Homicide mystery series, is sponsoring a sweepstakes on her website. She's giving you the chance to submit your own helpful fix-its in the Nail Biter Repair Tips Sweepstakes. To enter, submit your contact information on her website together with a two-sentence repair tip that anyone can use around the home. The top entries will be judged by Sarah Graves herself and ten lucky winners will receive an autographed copy of Nail Biter. Hurry! Entries must be submitted by November 11, 2005.

Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (11/04/2005)

A list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending November 04, 2005 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Featured Mystery: Delete All Suspects by Donna Andrews

The fourth entry in Agatha Award winner Donna Andrews' Turing Hopper mystery series, Delete All Suspects, has been published by Berkley Prime Crime. Turing Hopper is a most unusual lead character in a mystery, being an almost-sentient computer.

After a hit-and-run leaves a young techie named Eddie in the hospital, Turing tries to help her PI friend Tim find out who did it. While Turing tries to break into Eddie's computers, her human friends do the legwork. It seems Eddie lets his seedy friends use his computers-and some are running highly unsavory websites. Others are using spam to con people out of their credit card numbers. Then the feds show up, looking for an online vigilante who's also using Eddie's computers. Now Turing and her friends are caught in the middle. They can't let the vigilante continue-but they also can't tell the FBI everything without revealing Turing's identity to the world.

Delete All Suspects is featured as one of the new mystery titles for November 2005 on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Self-Publishing FAQ: an article by Moira Allen

Moira Allen is the editor of ( and the author of more than 300 published articles. Her books on writing include Starting Your Career as a a Freelance Writer and The Writer's Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals. She has graciously agreed to allow the republication of some of her articles on related websites.

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has added her comprehensive article on self-publishing (Self-Publishing FAQ) to its growing list of articles and books on writing and self-publishing, emphasizing those that feature writing or self-publishing mystery and/or detective fiction. Please visit the HSMB self-publishing home page for more information.

Monday, October 31, 2005

New Monthly Mystery Book Contest

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has introduced a new monthly mystery book contest where you can enter to win a free mystery book signed by the author. This month's mystery book is To the Nines by Janet Evanovich. One entry per person or e-mail address, please.

Visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books to enter this contest as well as check out the other features on the website: mystery book reviews, mystery trivia, new hardcover mystery titles, mystery bestsellers, mystery author and publisher links, and more!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

St. Martin's Press Mystery Book Contest Winners

The winners of the annual St. Martin's Press first mystery contest for Best Traditional Mystery and Best Private Eye Novel have been added to the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website. The mystery book awards list also currently includes winners of the Edgar, the Agatha, the Anthony, the Shamus, the Macavity, and the Hammett.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (10/28/2005)

A list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending October 28, 2005 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Featured Mystery: Sacred Cows by Karen E. Olsen

To honor Sara Freed, the former editor-in-chief of Mysterious Press who died last year, the Time Warner Book Group has established the Sara Ann Freed Memorial Award for a first mystery novel. Sacred Cows, an Annie Seymour mystery by Karen E. Olsen, was the first winner of this award.

After a late night on the town, New Haven police reporter Annie Seymour is yanked from her bed by an early morning phone call from her editor. Soon she's shivering on a wet, dark city street, staring down at the once beautiful, now broken, body of a Yale University coed.
Paid to observe and get just the facts before writing up her stories for the New Haven Herald, Annie finds herself drawn to the story of an Ivy League sophomore whose secret moonlighting led to her violent murder. But after Annie links the girl's death to a network of vice and fraud buried deep in the city's shadows, the cynical reporter is shocked to discover her own mother is involved.

With help from a sexy private investigator, Annie investigates but stumbles upon one obstacle after another. Her cop lover stonewalls her, her editor pulls her off the assignment to cover a surreal parade of fiberglass cows grazing throughout the city, and an overeager cub reporter nips at her heels to get the scoop for himself.

Caught in the center of a treacherous scheme, Annie must take the biggest gamble of her career-outwit a dangerous con man to uncover the truth that could win her that elusive Pulitzer…or a mention in the next day's obituary.

Sacred Cows is featured as one of the new mystery titles for September 2005 on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Mystery Book Contests

Several publishers of mystery books offer contests or sweepstakes that you can enter to win. For example, Time Warner offers its "Deadly Web" monthly contest while Bantam Dell frequently includes sweepstakes for mystery books in its monthly newsletter.

There are also websites that feature contests and sweepstakes related to writing in general and often mysteries in particular. BookLoons, Writers Digest, and Writerspace each sponsor a variety of contests.

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books provides links to each of these mystery book contest sites. Links are updated monthly. If you would like a website added to this list, please e-mail the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books with the details.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Author Profile: Elizabeth Peters

Elizabeth Peters is the author of the popular Amelia Peabody mysteries (as well as the Jacqueline Kirby mysteries, and the Vicky Bliss mysteries). Her website provides a wealth of information about Amelia as well as informative maps and timelines related to her books.

Elizabeth Peters (whose real name is Barbara Mertz) was born and brought up in Illinois and earned her Ph. D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago's famed Oriental Institute. She was named Grand Master at the inaugural Anthony Awards in 1986 and Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America at the Edgar Awards in 1998. She lives in a historic farmhouse in western Maryland. She also writes non-series fiction under the pen name of Barbara Michaels.

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books carries many hardcover first editions of Elizabeth Peters' books. Visit to find all of our featured author's works.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Mystery Trivia Questions

Here are this month's mystery trivia questions from the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books:

Annie Darling is proprietor of a mystery bookshop in a series by Carolyn Hart. What is the name of this bookshop?

This bookshop is located on fictional Broward’s Rock, a barrier island off the coast of South Carolina. Broward’s Rock is believed to be patterned after what real island?

See the answers to these questions as well as previous month's mystery trivia questions and answers at the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Featured Mystery: Jamaica Me Dead by Bob Morris

Today's featured mystery from the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books is Jamaica Me Dead, published by St. Martin's Press.

It's the first game of the football season at Florida Field and Monk DeVane, one of Zack Chasteen's former Dolphins teammates, invites Zack and his girlfriend to a halftime party in one of the stadium's exclusive skyboxes. But they arrive to chaos--there's a bomb under the chair of Darcy Whitehall, Monk DeVane's boss and the rakish Jamaican owner of Libido, a chain of anything-goes Caribbean resorts.

The device under Whitehall's chair turns out to be a dud, but someone is putting the squeeze on Darcy Whitehall, and Monk DeVane enlists Zack to come to Jamaica to help protect his employer. But when Zack arrives at the airport in Montego Bay, Monk goes to retrieve his van and is blown to pieces--this time the bomb was no dud. For Zack, this trip has become more than a job. Now it's personal.

Visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books for other new mystery titles published in October 2005.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Mystery Book Awards - Lists of Winners

A list of mystery book award winners is available on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

These awards include:

The Edgar Award, presented by the Mystery Writers of America;
The Agatha Award, presented by Malice Domestic Ltd.;
The Anthony Award, presented at the annual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention;
The Macavity Award, presented by Mystery Readers International;
The Shamus Award, presented by the Private Eye Writers of America; and
The Hammett Prize, presented by the North American Branch of the International Association of Crime Writers.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (10/21/2005)

A list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending October 21, 2005 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Mystery Book Review: The Next Ex by Linda L. Richards

Linda L. Richard's second Madeline Carter mystery is scheduled for release in December 2005. An advance reading copy was reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books recently; its review is republished below:

Title: The Next Ex
Author: Linda L. Richards
Publisher: Mira Books (Paperback Original)
Publication Date: December 2005
ISBN: 0-7783-2240-0
Series Character(s): Madeline Carter
Entry in Series: Second

On a chilly winter afternoon, start a fire in the fireplace, open a bottle of wine, curl up in an easy chair, and be prepared to thoroughly enjoy Linda L. Richards’ second Madeline Carter mystery, The Next Ex.

Former stockbroker and current day-trader Madeline Carter is offered the opportunity to teach the latest wife of powerful Hollywood producer Maxi Livingston the ins and outs of the stock market as quid pro quo for some upgrades to her living quarters. Madeline unexpectedly finds Keesia, the current Mrs. Livingston, to be as smart as she is beautiful, and the two soon become fast friends. When Madeline finds Keesia murdered at her own A-list party, one in which several of the previous Mrs. Livingston’s were also in attendance, she begins to wonder if there was some thing more to Keesia’s interest in the stock market. As Madeline sets out to investigate Keesia’s murder, it isn’t long before several of Maxi Livingston’s ex-wives are found dead, though how the murders are related is a mystery. And for reasons she doesn’t understand, Madeline finds herself the target of a ruthless killer.

The plot here is generally along the lines of a typical Nancy Drew mystery, right down to the Nancy (read Madeline)-in-peril chapter towards the end. Since the characterizations and dialog are so well written, this doesn’t detract from the overall satisfaction of the book, especially for readers who enjoyed Nancy Drew as children (or even now as adults!). But it does make the storyline somewhat predictable. If there’s a weak aspect to the book, it is Madeline’s relationship with Gus which seems a bit superfluous and distracting to the story; maybe the author was trying to add depth or conflict to Madeline’s persona by unnecessarily adding a love interest.

Madeline Carter is a very appealing and interesting character and The Next Ex a delightful mystery. It will be interesting to see where Linda L. Richards takes Madeline on her next adventure.

Special thanks to Book Trends for providing the ARC of The Next Ex for this review.

Copyright © 2005 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Articles and Books on Writing Mysteries

Several short articles on writing books in general and writing mysteries in particular have been collected on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books web site. A selection of books available from are also listed with links for their purchase.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

New Mystery Hardcovers for November 2005

A selection of new mystery hardcover titles for November 2005 is now available on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books web site (

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