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.

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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!

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