Friday, July 31, 2009

Mystery Author William G. Tapply Dies

William G. Tapply (1940 - 2009)

The Boston Globe and Boston Herald are reporting that mystery writer William G. Tapply died yestesday at his home in New Hampshire after a battle with leukemia. He was 69.

Tapply published his first mystery featuring Boston attorney Brady Coyne, Death at Charity's Point, in 1984. Coyne would go on to appear in 24 novels, the most recent, Hell Bent, published last year. An avid outdoorsman, Tapply began a new mystery series several years ago with Stoney Calhoun, a bait-and-tackle shop owner in a small town in Maine. The third book in this series, Gray Ghost, publishes next month. He was also good friends with Philip R. Craig, a fellow New England mystery writer with whom they co-wrote three mysteries. Craig died in 2007.

Tapply is survived by his wife, Vicki Stiefel, five children, his mother and his sister.

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Mystery Book Review: Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey

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

Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey

A Darko Dawson Mystery

Random House (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-4000-6759-6 (1400067596)
ISBN-13: 978-1-4000-6759-6 (9781400067596)
Publication Date: July 2009
List Price: $24.00

Review: Kwei Quartey's compelling debut mystery, Wife of the Gods, introduces Ghanian Detective Inspector Darko Dawson investigating the murder of a medical student in a village some distance from his home (and jurisdiction) in the country's capital of Accra.

The crime is unusual and the government authorities have requested help from the capital, whose forensic knowledge far exceeds that of the local police force. The victim has no obvious injuries and is found posed as if sleeping in the woods. Dawson, however, has mixed feelings about accepting the assignment and returning to the village of Ketanu. He has been there only once, over 25 years ago, to visit his aunt and uncle. On a later visit, when just his mother went, she disappeared on returning home. Whether she is alive or dead, no one knows. Still, the case interests him and he's certain that the young man, who has been arrested for the crime, is innocent. He's equally certain that another popular sentiment in the village is also not true, that a purported witch living nearby struck her down using herbal magic.

Wife of the Gods is written with a quiet elegance, often lyrical in its narrative. Sound actually plays an important part of the story, Dawson having a particular affinity for distinguishing subtle variations in speech patterns. Consider this passage from early in the book:

Darko felt the silken quality and the musical lilt of Auntie's voice. He had always had a peculiarly heightened sensitivity to speech. Not only did he hear it but he often perceived it, as though physically touching it. He had on occasion told [his brother] Cairo or Mama that he could feel "bumps" in a person's voice, or that it was prickly or wet. They were mystified by this, but Darko could not explain it any better than he could describe the process of sight or smell.

The mystery itself is rather intricate, made so in part by the customs and beliefs of the villagers. The author incorporates these cultural references into the story in a seamless, natural manner; they are a part of Dawson's investigation without necessarily being the cause of it. Furthermore, their very being is not a hinderance and Dawson's knowledge of them may help him find the solution to the young woman's murder.

There are a number of familiar elements to the story including the wise mentor to Dawson. At one point he says to Darko, "You remember what I told you about solving mysteries?", to which Dawson replies, "That it's a matter of making a few of the connections and the rest will fall in place." And that is really what Wife of the Gods is all about.

An outstanding effort overall to be sure, but there are a couple of minor points that may resonate with readers. Darko Dawson is given to occasional, violent outbursts which seem at odds to the intellectual character that he seems most comfortable being. These scenes don't really add much depth or interest to his character, and seem discordant in a somewhat disturbing way. And the investigation seems to conveniently ignore a person's cell phone, and not the throwaway kind, that is the preferred way of communicating within the country -- not surprising given the lack of infrastructure for wired service. Yet no one thinks to check cell phone records to determine where people (read suspects) might have been at any given time. Finally, the title, which rates a special author note, is not terribly relevant to the crime or its solution, and serves more as an introduction to a tangential subplot. These comments, however, are at most quibbles for this truly remarkable mystery that unfolds in a most unusual setting.

Special thanks to Random House for providing an ARC of Wife of the Gods for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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If you are interested in purchasing Wife of the Gods from, please click the button to the right. Wife of the Gods (Kindle edition) is also available. Learn more about the Kindle, Amazon's Wireless Reading Device.

Synopsis (from the publisher): In a shady grove outside the small town of Ketanu, a young woman—a promising med student—has been found dead under suspicious circumstances. Eager to close the case, the local police have arrested a poor, enamored teenage boy and charged him with murder. Needless to say, they are less than thrilled when an outside force arrives from the big city to lead an inquiry into the baffling case.

Detective Inspector Darko Dawson, fluent in Ketanu’s indigenous language, is the right man for the job, but he hates the idea of leaving his loving wife and young son, a plucky kid with a defective heart. Pressured by his cantankerous boss, Dawson agrees to travel to Ketanu, sort through the evidence, and tie up the loose ends as quickly and as efficiently as possible. But for Dawson, this sleepy corner of Ghana is rife with emotional land mines: an estranged relationship with the family he left behind twenty-five years earlier and the painful memory of his own mother’s sudden, inexplicable disappearance. Dawson is armed with remarkable insight and a healthy dose of skepticism, but these gifts, sometimes overshadowed by his mercurial temper, may not be enough to solve this haunting mystery. In Ketanu, he finds that his cosmopolitan sensibilities clash with age-old customs, including a disturbing practice in which teenage girls are offered by their families to fetish priests as trokosi, or Wives of the Gods.

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Mystery Book Review: Chosen to Die by Lisa Jackson

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Chosen to Die by Lisa Jackson. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Chosen to Die by Lisa Jackson

A Regan Pescoli and Selena Alvarez Mystery

Zebra (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-4201-0277-X (142010277X)
ISBN-13: 978-1-4201-0277-2 (9781420102772)
Publication Date: July 2009
List Price: $7.99

Review: Montana detectives Regan Pescoli and Selena Alvarez search for a serial killer during the worst winter blizzard Pinewood County has experienced in years in Chosen To Die, the second thriller in this series by Lisa Jackson.

A web has been skillfully woven by a serial killer in the old silver mining town of Grizzly Falls. The killer chooses a woman as his target using their initials as a guide. The woman is always alone in her car. Most of the time he shoots out a tire causing the woman to drive off the road. He then drives by, stops, and offers his assistance. Unfortunately, the car has broken down in an area when there is no cell phone access. He takes her to his nearby home until someone can be notified to come and repair or tow the automobile. When he decides his captive should die, he takes her nude body to the forest in the Bitterroot Mountains, gags her, ties her to the tree, attaches a note with the woman’s initials above her head, and leaves her there. For Regan and Selena the case has more questions than answers. How does he know a woman with just the initials he needs will be on that particular stretch of the road at that particular time? What do the initials stand for? Is this some kind of a clue? When Regan herself comes up missing, Selena fears that she has become one of his victims, especially when her car is later found off the road, down in a gulley, and a hole blown in her tire.

But their case is about to get even more complicated. A wealthy man arrives unexpectedly to his winter home in the area and this same killer murders him with a single shotgun shot to the chest. How can the Sheriff’s Department reconcile the womens’ murders with this new case – other than the bullet that killed the man came from the same shotgun that blew out the women’s tires.

Chosen To Die is a thrilling mystery, the isolated setting adding to the suspense generated by the plot. The reason for the killer taking Regan also contributes to the puzzle: his previous victims had been trusting, relatively helpless women. Why choose Regan, a detective who would almost certainly fight back with everything she had? The only serious flaw in the book is with its length; Regan and Selena are compelling, well drawn characters that are interesting to follow. But there are other characters and side stories that add little to the plot and ultimately detract from the suspense of the detectives' investigation. It would seem these could easily have been edited out, allowing for better continuity and tighter pacing.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Chosen to Die and to Joan Schulhafer Publishing and Media Consulting for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): He'll Choose Them … Detective Regan Pescoli has worked the “Star Crossed Killer” case for months, never imagining she’d be captured by the madman she’s been hunting. Regan knows exactly what he’s capable of—the way he leaves his victims to freeze to death, terrified and alone. And avoiding the same fate will take every drop of her courage and cunning.

Abduct Them … Regan Pescoli is unlike any woman Nate Santana has met before. But now she’s missing, and Nate knows something is dangerously wrong. The only person who can help him find his lover is Detective Selena Alvarez, Regan’s partner. As Selena digs deeper into the Star-Crossed Killer case and the body count rises, the truth about Regan’s disappearance becomes chillingly clear.

And Kill Them … In the desolate Montana woods, evil is lurking. And with time running out, the only way to save Regan will be to get inside a killer’s twisted mind and unravel a shocking message that is being revealed, one body at a time …

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Her Interactive Announces Nancy Drew in Warnings at Waverly Academy, its 21st Adventure Game

Nancy Drew Adventure Games

Her Interactive yesterday announced the title of the 21st game in the popular Nancy Drew Adventure series of mystery games for the PC: Nancy Drew: Warnings at Waverly Academy.

In the game, players take on the role of Nancy Drew as she heads undercover at a prestigious all-girls boarding school to discover the culprit behind threatening notes and dangerous accidents that seem to be targeted towards the academy’s valedictorian candidates.

To fit in at the school, players will immerse themselves in the boarding school culture by exploring the campus, helping other girls with projects and navigating the social scene. To build the case, players will surreptitiously snoop through dorm rooms and snap cell phone pictures of evidence they come across. A handy, adjustable skill feature lets players choose to play as a Junior or Senior Detective depending on their mystery-solving abilities.

Nancy Drew: Warnings at Waverly Academy will be available this October.

All previous games in the series are available on our website Games of Mystery: Nancy Drew. And don't miss the new Nancy Drew Dossier series of casual games as well games for the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii. Strategy guides for many of the games are also available.

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Mystery Bestsellers for July 31, 2009

Mystery Bestsellers

A list of the top 15 for the week ending July 31, 2009 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Quite a bit of shuffiling on the list this week, though Finger Lickin' Fifteen by remains at the top for the fourth consecutive week.

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

New at number 9 is The Girl Who Played With Fire, the second thriller in the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson. Mikael Blomkvist, crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government. But he has no idea just how explosive the story will be until, on the eve of publication, the two investigating reporters are murdered. And even more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander—the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker who came to his aid in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and who now becomes the focus and fierce heart of The Girl Who Played with Fire. As Blomkvist, alone in his belief in Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation of the slayings, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous hunt in which she is the prey, and which compels her to revisit her dark past in an effort to settle with it once and for all.

Fire and Ice by J. A. Jance

Published two weeks ago and missing the top 15 last week but moving up to number 11 this week is Fire and Ice, the second mystery by J. A. Jance to feature two of her long-running series characters: J. P. Beaumont and Joanna Brady. Seattle investigator J. P. Beaumont is working a series of murders in which six young women have been wrapped in tarps, doused with gasoline, and set on fire. Their charred remains have been scattered around various dump sites, creating a grisly pattern of death across western Washington. At the same time, thousands of miles away in the Arizona desert, Cochise County sheriff Joanna Brady is looking into a homicide in which the elderly caretaker of an ATV park was run over and left to die. All the man has left behind is his dog, who is the improbable witness to some kind of turf warfare—or possibly something more sinister. Then a breakthrough in Beaumont's case leads him directly to the Southwest and into Brady's jurisdiction. When the two met on a joint investigation years earlier, sparks flew. Under different circumstances, both of them admit, even more could have happened. But here, as the threads of their two seemingly separate cases wind together, Beaumont and Brady must put aside echoes of their shared past as they are once again drawn into an orbit of deception. Except this time it's not just their own lives that are in danger but those of the people closest to them as well.

On our bestseller page, we've added an icon next to every title that is available for immediate download onto the Amazon Kindle. To learn about this wireless reading device, visit the Amazon Kindle page for more information.

The top four mystery bestsellers this week are shown below:

Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet EvanovichSwimsuit by James PattersonThe Defector by Daniel SilvaDead and Gone by Charlaine Harris

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

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Crippen and Landru Announce Two New Mystery Short Story Collections

Crippen & Landru, Publishers

Crippen & Landru are specialty publishers of mystery short story collections. We are enthusiastic fans of their books, and have been a customer for many years.

We're pleased to provide information on two new collections from the publisher. Links in this post are for the trade paperback editions; hardcover editions, or limited edition signed copies, may be available directly from Crippen and Landru.

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The Casebook of Gregory Hood by Anthony Boucher and Denis Green, edited by Joe R. Christopher

The Casebook of Gregory Hood by Anthony Boucher and Denis Green, edited by Joe R. Christopher

In 1946, Anthony Boucher (1911-1968) and Denis Green (1905-1954) created one of the finest detective dramas ever to be broadcast during radio’s Golden Age. The Casebook of Gregory Hood features a wealthy San Francisco importer and man-about-town who is drawn into mysterious cases as an amateur sleuth. Each of the cases, whether involving a beeswax candle, or a red capsule, or a sad clown, or en elusive violin, is meticulously plotted so that the listener can, if he or she is clever enough, deduce the solution.

For many years, The Casebook of Gregory Hood was only a fond memory of radio and detection fans, but now Crippen & Landru is proud to present 14 complete (and never-before published) scripts, along with an informative introduction by the editor, Joe R. Christopher.

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A Pocketful of Noses: Stories of One Ganelon or Another by James Powell

A Pocketful of Noses: Stories of One Ganelon or Another by James Powell

Join four generations of Ambrose Ganelon as they protect the colorful European principality of San Sebastiano from the intrigues of Ludwig Wong and his infamous descendants. Ambrose Ganelon I, working in the mid-19th century and using classic armchair-detective skills, must use his powers of perception to puzzle out such mysteries as the “Flower Diet,” whose acolytes claim to gain sustenance only through the aroma of flowers. The second Ganelon, preferring scientific reasoning, finds himself embroiled in the international intrigue of Europe at the dawn of World War I especially when he must discover who murdered a Serbian national, and why he was holding seven artificial noses. The hardboiled third generation of Ganelons, Ambrose Ganelon III, is at the center of mystery when he discovers he’s the target of a murder plot. And the near penniless Ambrose Ganelon IV still manages to find intrigue and mystery, even though his predecessors have all but eliminated crime from his homeland.

Combining wit with solid mysteries, A Pocket Full of Noses will keep you guessing. Included are 12 stories, as well as an introduction by author James Powell, and a checklist of the author’s mystery fiction.

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Children's Mystery Book Review: The Blue Stealer by Darrel and Sally Odgers

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of The Blue Stealer by Darrel and Sally Odgers. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The Blue Stealer by Darrel and Sally Odgers

by Darrel and Sally Odgers
A Jack Russell: Dog Detective Mystery

Kane/Miller (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-935279-09-2 (1935279092)
ISBN-13: 978-1-935279-09-9 (9781935279099)
Publication Date: June 2009
List Price: $4.99

Review: Are you searching for a book with dogs and mysteries? Then Jack Russell: Dog Detective in The Blue Stealer by Darrel and Sally Odgers is for you! It is the 9th book in the Jack Russell series. Jack, the main character, is the dog detective who solves the mysterious identity of the Blue Stealer. Sarge is not a dog, but is Jack’s owner, and he helps out in the story. The Blue Stealer is a new dog in town when a pug rag and a boot mysteriously disappear. Also, spoons and jewelry are stolen. Jack’s dog friends come to him to ask Jack to save everything and find the Blue Stealer and its owner before they drive off to steal from another town.

For the most part, The Blue Stealer is a good story. The funny dog names and made up dog words like “pawfect” make the book a lot of fun to read. Also, having the dog as the detective is not something you see every day. I would have liked the book to be more descriptive so that the reader can be more involved in the story. Plus, the mystery was very easy to solve. The reader pretty much knows by the picture on the cover and the title who is stealing everything. It is neat, however, how the dog and owner are able to go from town to town stealing things and nobody is able to stop them until they reach Doggeroo and Jack is there to catch them! I would recommend the "Jack Russell: Dog Detective" series for beginning chapter book readers.

Special thanks to Andrea (age 10) for contributing her review of The Blue Stealer and to Kane/Miller for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Andrea Nauert — All Rights Reserved — Reprinted with Permission

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If you are interested in purchasing The Blue Stealer from, please click the button to the right.

Synopsis (from the publisher): Sarge and Caterina are preparing for a party. Auntie Tidge is welcoming a newcomer to Doggeroo. Meanwhile, Jack is teaching young Preacher the basics of detection. What better place to start than the case of the Blue Stealer!

When someone steals humans’ special things, Sarge is on the case. But when Foxie’s old boot and Shuffle’s pug cloth are stolen, that’s a job for Jack Russell! Can he find the canine criminal and help Sarge catch the human robber too?

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Ron Howard to Direct Adaptation of Robert Ludlum's The Parsifal Mosaic

Private (The Web Series) by Kate Brian

Variety is reporting that Universal Pictures has attached Ron Howard to direct an adaptation of Robert Ludlum's 1982 espionage thriller The Parsifal Mosaic. David Self (Road to Perdition) will adapt the novel.

Book synopsis: Michael Havelock's world died on a moonlit beach on the Costa Brava. He watched as his partner and lover, Jenna Karats, double agent, was efficiently gunned down by his own agency. There was nothing left for him but to quit the game, get out. Until, in one frantic moment on a crowded railroad platform in Rome, Havelock saw his Jenna alive. From then on, he was marked for death by both U.S. and Russian assassins, racing around the globe after his beautiful betrayer, trapped in a massive mosaic of treachery created by a top-level mole with the world in his fist -- Parsifal.

Universal has two other Ludlum projects underway. A fourth "Bourne" film is in development as is an adaptation of the author's 2001 thriller The Sigma Protocol.

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NBC Looks to Revive The Rockford Files

The Rockford Files

Variety is reporting that NBC is looking to revive the classic PI series The Rockford Files. The series ran for 6 seasons on NBC, from 1974 through 1980, and starred James Garner as Jim Rockford, an ex-con private investigator who made his home in a trailer parked in Malibu. A series of 8 made-for-television movies based on the series aired from 1994 through 1999. Garner won an Emmy for his performance in 1977, and the series won the following year for Outstanding Drama.

David Shore (House, Family Law) has been tapped for the remake. "It's one of the shows that made me want to become a writer," Shore said. "I had no interest in adapting any old stuff, but this was the one exception."

All 6 seasons of The Rockford Files are available on DVD from Mysteries on TV.

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New Film Series of Matt Helm Spy Thrillers under Development

Matt Helm Series by Donald Hamilton

Variety is reporting that Steven Spielberg is looking to develop a film (and possibly a franchise) based on the Matt Helm series of spy thrillers by Donald Hamilton. Hamilton wrote 27 novels featuring the character over a 33 year period, from 1960 through 1993, which were set in the early days of the Cold War. The new film is expected to be set in present day.

Four films based on the character were made in the 1960s with Dean Martin starring as Matt Helm, though these movies are considered parodies by many ... and of James Bond rather than Matt Helm. A 1975 television series was also developed, Matt Helm, with Tony Franciosa as the titular character, though this time as a retired spy who operates as a private investigator.

Dreamworks Studios, co-founded by Spielberg, optioned all the Matt Helm novels in 2002 but did little with them, leaving the rights to Paramount when the two companies split their partnership. (Dreamworks now has a long-term distribution deal with Disney.) According to Variety, Spielberg's ultimate participation, especially in terms of directing, "involves a series of complex issues that touch on the relationship between Paramount and Dreamworks."

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Games of Mystery: Diamon Jones and the Eye of the Dragon, New at Big Fish Games

Games of Mystery

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

Diamon Jones and the Eye of the Dragon
Download →Diamon Jones and the Eye of the Dragon

The charismatic hero, Diamon Jones, is back and ready for another adventure! Diamon is off to China on a quest to find the ancient Eye of the Dragon. Travel through the Celestial Empire and solve different puzzles and mysteries to get this mystic trophy in this exciting adventure game. Diamon Jones: Eye of the Dragon takes you through dangerous dungeons, exotic locales, and a fascinating country.

Also available: Diamon Jones and the Eye of the Dragon Strategy Guide and a Diamon Jones and the Eye of the Dragon Game Walkthrough.

The first game in the series, Diamon Jones and the Amulet of the World was set in Egypt.

Diamon Jones and the Eye of the Dragon may be downloaded and purchased for $6.99 with a Big Fish Game Club membership. Due to its large size, a demonstration version is not available.

Watch a preview video below:


Other popular games on our page include several and games, games in the series and in particular the latest, Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst, Adventure Chronicles: The Search for Lost Treasure, Enlightenus, Cate West: The Vanishing Files, Return to Mysterious Island 2: Mina's Fate, and Nick Chase: A Detective Story.

Read our new game reviews by Ms. Terri: , , , and .

Big Fish Games: Bestsellers

Big Fish Games: New releases


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

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Myst: The Motion Picture Moves Forward with Option Rights to Novel

Myst, the Movie

In a press release issued yesterday, Mysteria Film Group (MFG) announced it has acquired an option to the novel Myst: The Book of Ti'ana for development into a film. MFS is already shopping a script; it began an adaptation without the rights but felt it was necessary to demonstrate to the owners that they had a solid vision for the film.

The novel is one of three that form a backstory to the groundbreaking and enigmatic Myst, the first adventure game to be released on CD-ROM in 1993. It has since been relaunched on other platforms, most recently Myst DS for the Nintendo DS and the Myst for the Apple iPhone.

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Follow Mystery Author Richard Castle of the ABC Series Castle on Twitter

Castle (ABC TV)

If you're a fan of the ABC series Castle, you might want to check out what the mystery author is up to this summer by reading his tweets. His daughter, Alexis, set up a Twitter account for him a couple of days ago.

His Twitter ID is WriteRCastle. Clever, huh?

Castle returns for a second season on Monday, September 21st at 10 PM (ET/PT). The first season of Castle will be out on DVD the following day. Learn more about the series at

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mystery Book Review: The Museum of Mary Child by Cassandra Golds

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of The Museum of Mary Child by Cassandra Golds. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The Museum of Mary Child by Cassandra Golds

by Cassandra Golds

Kane/Miller (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-935279-13-0 (1935279130)
ISBN-13: 978-1-935279-13-6 (9781935279136)
Publication Date: June 2009
List Price: $16.99

Review: In a prison far away and long ago lives a young man who as hope vanishes nearly completely, is visited by birds who instruct him to tell stories. The same birds visit a young girl whose hope has disappeared completely as she lies in a mental institution. However she does not listen to the birds, and at once they know they cannot help her. And so begins Cassandra Golds’ The Museum of Mary Child. At the center of the story is a young girl, Heloise, of a nondescript age who lives with her godmother in a house completely lacking in any sort of love or compassion. Her godmother runs a museum on their property – a horrific museum that leaves its visitors shocked and appalled – The Museum of Mary Child. Heloise knows only this life – a life of solitude, fear, loneliness, and emptiness. She is forbidden to ask questions or speak with other children or even to enter the museum. Her reading is monitored so much so that her Bible is glued together so that she does not read parts her godmother deems unnecessary. But for the most part, Heloise accepts her station in life – simply because she doesn’t know any better. However, more than anything else, Heloise wants a doll; for although Heloise knows nothing about “love”, a doll can be loved and can love unconditionally. Much to her surprise, Heloise notices a floorboard that is not quite like the others, and hidden beneath the floor is a doll. Everything in Heloise’s life changes at that very moment. The Museum of Mary Child is a story of stories. The lives of the prisoner, the ward in the mental institution, and Heloise are intertwined tighter and tighter as the novel progresses. With the help of the birds, Heloise realizes that “everything is in prison” and that only she can bring down the “bars” that confine them all.

Both intriguing and disturbing, The Museum of Mary Child captures its readers and thrusts them into a world that is both known and unknown to us all. The rather complex story is intertwined beautifully around a central theme – the power of love. Although at times, particularly early on in the novel, the plot seems to drag, curiosity propels the reader ahead in a need to uncover the mystery behind Heloise and her connection to the museum and the unfortunate souls.

The character development in this novel is simply outstanding. Heloise is a multi-layered character. As the story begins, the reader is merely aware of the outer layer – the girl that is oppressed and forced to avoid anything that could be construed as A Waste of Time. However, as Heloise learns to love in spite of her godmother and escapes the ties that bind her, we are introduced to a deeper layer as she begins to make sense of her previous life. Heloise runs away with her doll to a new home and feels true love for the first time. “It was as if the blood in her veins had turned into something shining and magical.” Once Heloise learns that everything is in prison and that she is the only one who can bring freedom, we meet a more mature and wise Heloise, one that is willing to risk her new freedom and newfound family to free others. Finally, at the intense climax, Heloise is stripped of her layers and we are finally able to understand the real Heloise.

Along with Heloise, the reader is required to recognize the bars that imprison all of us. Golds incorporates remarkable symbolism throughout the novel that forces deep reflection while reading. At once, the reader suddenly realizes that this book isn’t just about Heloise, but rather it’s about the reader. We all are part of a story, and we all are bound by bars of some kind. Ultimately we all can begin to tear down those bars with something as simple, but yet as complex as love. The Museum of Mary Child is undoubtedly a book that can be read over and over again uncovering new meanings with each reading.

Special thanks to Margo Nauert for contributing her review of The Museum of Mary Child and to Kane/Miller for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Margo Nauert — All Rights Reserved — Reprinted with Permission

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If you are interested in purchasing The Museum of Mary Child from, please click the button to the right.

Synopsis (from the publisher): Heloise lives with her strict and forbidding godmother in an isolated cottage. Next door is a sinister museum dedicated to the memory of Mary Child, where visitors enter with a smile and depart with fear in their eyes. One day, Heloise finds a doll under her bedroom floorboards. Against her godmother’s wishes, she keeps it. And that’s when the delicate truce between Heloise and her godmother begins to unravel …

Heloise runs away. She journeys far, but knows that one day she must return to uncover the secret at the heart of her being.

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First Clues Review: The Angel of Death by Alane Ferguson

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

is delighted to introduce a new feature for our website, book reviews written by students. These students offer their unique perspective on the book in their review and provide a valuable resource to parents looking for new mystery adventures for their kids to read.

The Angel of Death by Alane Ferguson

The Angel of Death by Alane Ferguson
The Forensic Mysteries

Puffin (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-14-241087-X (014241087X)
ISBN-13: 978-0-14-241087-5 (9780142410875)
Publication Date: February 2008
List Price: $6.99

Review written by Tim, Age 13, Grade 8. Date of review: July 2009.

Review: Do you like CSI, NCIS, Numbers or Law and Order? Then The Angel of Death by Alane Ferguson is the book for you. This book is a medical mystery about a young girl Cameryn whose dad is a coroner. She likes to go with him on calls because she wants to become a forensic scientist. The Angel of Death is the second book in a series of three to date.

Cameryn, a high school senior, goes to school with Kyle, who is also a senior. One day Kyle goes looking for his teacher and scout master Mr. Oakes, who is late for a camping trip. He goes to Mr. Oakes’ house and finds him dead. The weird thing about all this is that Mr. Oakes’ eyes are missing. Kyle who didn’t really know Cameryn before now must help her try to find the person behind Mr. Oakes’ baffling death. Cameryn is allowed to watch the autopsy performed on Mr. Oakes by her father and Dr. Moore. They conclude that her teacher had been on fire mysteriously from the inside, and that’s what killed him. But the weird part is that there is no evidence of the killer. Will they be able to find the killer? In addition Cameryn and Kyle start to date. Kyle is also helping Cameryn find the killer and telling them about Mr. Oakes’ personal life. Is Kyle who he says he is? Will Cameryn be able to deal with all that is going on, or will she break down?

What I really like about this story is that Cameryn is a normal kid with a life that is explained in detail. Some books you read you never know what the character is really like. One more thing I love about this book is that Cameryn has this mom she never got to know. Now her long lost mom is coming to see her and explain to her what happened and why she left. However, her dad has no idea that her mom is coming to visit Cameryn. In this book the characters are real, you think you are in the book with them, and you can feel for them. Alane Ferguson did a great job putting the characters together. The only thing that I didn’t like about the book was the way Mr. Oakes died. I think that a killer would have a hard time coming up with something like that. I feel this book could have been more believable with a different way of killing.

Out of 10 points I will give this book an 8.5. I think that the characters had great thought put into them when they were being made. I enjoyed how Cameryn gets so connected to the character Kyle. What I didn’t like was the way Mr. Oakes died, and that the plot spun around Cameryn. I think the plot was a little too focused on her, and all of her emotions, instead of the death of Mr. Oakes.

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is pleased to provide information on over 100 mystery series for children and young adults. Each series is conveniently listed under four different age categories: New Sleuths (ages 4 to 6), Future Sleuths (ages 7 to 10), Sleuths in Training (ages 10 to 12), and Apprentice Sleuths (ages 13 and older). If you have a favorite mystery series you'd like to see added to our site, please contact us.

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Sony to Adapt Michael Dobbs' Thriller The Lords' Day

The Lords' Day by Michael Dobbs

The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Sony is adapting the Michael Dobbs 2007 thriller The Lords' Day as the first in a "franchise character-based film" series. Robert Mark Karman (Taken) will write the screenplay.

Book synopsis: Once a year, the Queen, the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the judges, the bishops, leaders spiritual and temporal, assemble in the House of Lords for the State Opening of Parliament. On this day, the Lords' Day, the gathering is still more impressive, for sitting beside his mother is the heir to the throne and up in the galleries are the sons of both the US President and the British Prime Minister. But they are all about to be taken hostage. The siege will lead some to selfless sacrifice, others to lose the respect of those they love most dearly.

The Lords' Day is the first in a series of thrillers by the author featuring Harry Jones, an ex-SAS Member of Parliament. The second, The Edge of Madness, was published last year. Both books are available as UK imports in the US.

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First Clues, Mysteries for Kids: A New Nancy Drew Title for August 2009

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

is your source for information on over 100 mystery series for children and young adults where each series is conveniently listed under four different age categories (New Sleuths, ages 4 to 6; Future Sleuths, ages 7 to 9; Sleuths in Training, ages 10 to 12, and Apprentice Sleuths, ages 13 and older), is pleased to announce a Nancy Drew book that is scheduled for release during August, 2009. The next The Hardy Boys books will be out in September.

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Model Menace by Carolyn Keene

Model Menace by Carolyn Keene

The second title in the Model Mystery Trilogy.

I thought I had cracked the case when I found out who was trying to sabotage Sydney's wedding out of jealousy. It's easy to be envious of a gorgeous model betrothed to the hottest reality star on television. But even after I uncovered the villain, things did not go as smoothly as I had hoped. Could Sydney be sabotaging her own wedding due to cold feet? I know that seems ridiculous, but it also seems ridiculous that someone would want to hurt the kind Sydney in any way. And it seems unlikely that my suspect could have acted alone to ruin the shower. Is it possible that the crook is working with someone else to bring Sydney and her fiancé, Vic, down? I'll need to act fast to catch whoever is up to no good.

Nancy Drew, Girl Detective books are recommended for readers aged 10 and older.

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New Mystery Book Giveaway! Dying for Mercy by Mary Jane Clark

Mystery Book Contests

is thrilled to announce a new mystery book prize package giveaway! Mary Jane Clark's third Sunrise Suspense mystery with the KEY News morning team, Dying for Mercy, is now available and the author is generously providing 2 copies to our readers.

Dying for Mercy by Mary Jane Clark

When death shatters the serenity of the exclusive moneyed enclave of Tuxedo Park, New York, Eliza Blake, cohost of the country's premier morning television show KEY to America, is on the scene. While attending a lavish gala at her friends' newly renovated estate, Pentimento, Eliza's host is found dead—a grotesque suicide that is the first act in a macabre and intricately conceived plan to expose the sins of the past involving some of the town's most revered citizens.

Determined to find out the truth, Eliza and her KEY News colleagues—producer Annabelle Murphy, cameraman B.J. D'Elia, and psychiatrist Margo Gonzalez—discover that Pentimento holds the key. Nestled in the park's sprawling architectural masterpieces, picturesque gardeners' cottages, and lush, rolling landscape, the glorious mansion is actually a giant "puzzle house," filled with ingenious clues hidden in its fireplaces, fountains, and frescoes that lead them from one suspicious locale to another—and, one by one, to the victims of a fiendish killer.

As Pentimento gives up its secrets, it becomes clear that no amount of wealth or privilege will keep the residents of Tuxedo Park safe. But just when Eliza unearths one final surprise, she comes face-to-face with a murderer who believes that some puzzles should never be solved.

Enter daily! Provide your name and e-mail address on the Dying for Mercy giveaway entry form and correctly answer the contest question for a chance to win 1 of 2 copies of Dying for Mercy courtesy of author Mary Jane Clark. Estimated prize package value: $25.

Remember to visit regularly to check for new mystery book prize package giveaways.

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MBN Welcomes Rita Herron, Author of The Demonborn Trilogy

Mystery Books News is delighted to welcome award-winning author Rita Herron as a guest blogger today. Rita currently writes paranormal romantic suspense novels for Grand Central Publishing and category romantic suspense novels for Harlequin Intrigue. Her new series, The Demonborn, blends her love of dark, steamy romantic suspense with her other love ... the paranormal. Set in the contemporary world, she explores the age-old battle of good versus evil, and the battle as it rages within each person. And of course, the ultimate question: Can love conquer all?

Rita Herron (Author)
Photo courtesy Rita Herron

Today Rita writes about how she combines elements of mystery, suspense, romance, and the paranormal into her novels. (And if you leave a comment or sign up for Rita's newsletter, you'll be entered to win a free copy of her books; see details below!)

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As a child, I devoured the Trixie Belden mystery series; as a teenager, Nancy Drew. As an adult, Mary Higgins Clark and Tami Hoag. With mystery/suspense as my reading pleasure, it felt natural for me to write mystery/suspense novels. Of course, I also love a hot steamy romance, so blending the two genres was even more exciting.

But I also cut my teeth on shows like The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, and Alfred Hitchcock, and as my writing evolved, those elements slowly crept in.

Crossing genres is challenging, but what could be more fun for a writer or reader to find all those interesting elements in one story?

Following the basic rules of good storytelling is important for any genre. Writing romance means including great emotion, sexual tension, and personal conflict, as well as building the love story. Writing mystery/suspense means keeping the reader guessing, on the edge of his seat and throwing in red herrings. Writing both means there are two plot lines – the romance plot and the suspense plot and entwining them together.

Writing paranormal adds yet another layer of interest with supernatural elements, world building, and even more creative plot lines and characters.

Tips To Increase Sexual Tension

 • Set up the internal conflict in the beginning: why is the heroine the worst person for the hero? Why is he the worst person for her? How do their goals collide?

 • Establish the atmosphere

 • Begin with a change in the relationship

 • Force Intimacy

 • Put them in danger (danger of losing their lives, danger of losing themselves, their independence, danger of losing love or the chance for love

 • Increase romantic stakes – as the characters grow and work together, they fall in love which makes it more difficult for them to end the relationship

 • Interrupt sexual consummation with a threat or danger (foreplay builds anticipation)

Writing the Page Turner

 • Introduce sympathetic characters with strengths and weaknesses – each character, including the villain, should have his/her own goals, conflicts/motivation

 • Open with a threat: drop your characters into conflict from page one

 • Establish your atmosphere – use your setting and weather to set the mood, paint a spooky, more sinister element, to create danger, and add more obstacles

 • Use your external plot to throw your characters together and trigger their internal conflict (fears, weaknesses, needs)

 • End each scene and chapter with a hook (a romantic hook, question, new clue, new suspect, a twist, danger)

 • Raise the stakes: increase tension by escalating the danger

 • Foreshadow ultimate danger and trouble between the characters

 • Withhold information – use secrets, lies and backstory to create tension

 • Add complications – lead the reader astray with red herrings

 • Provide a deadline

 • Narrow his or her options

 • Give us the big showdown!

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Dark Hunger (The Demonborn Trilogy) by Rita Herron

Rita's second book in the Demonborn paranormal romantic suspense thriller trilogy, Dark Hunger, will be published next month. The first, Insatiable Desire, is available now; the third, Forbidden Passion, will be out next April.

Leave a comment or question for Rita today and be entered in a contest for a copy of Insatiable Desire. But don't stop there! There's a second contest for today's readers. Visit Rita at her website and sign up for her newsletter to be entered in a contest to a copy of both books in The Demonborn Series: Insatiable Desire and Dark Hunger. And, by signing up for Rita's newsletter, you will also be automatically entered in Rita's regular monthly contests. You can also find extras on the Demonborn series at And visit Rita on Facebook,, and

Watch the trailer for the Demonborn trilogy and Dark Hunger below:

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

FX Networks Orders 13 Episode Series of Lawman, Based on a Character Created by Elmore Leonard

When the Women Come Out to Dance: Stories by Elmore Leonard

The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that FX Networks has ordered 13 episodes of Lawman, a series based on a character, US Marshal Raylan Givens, created by Elmore Leonard. Givens most recently appeared in the short story "Fire in the Hole", which was included in the 2002 anthology When the Women Come Out to Dance. The character also appeared in earlier stories "Pronto" (1993) and "Riding the Rap" (1995).

The series is written by Graham Yost (Speed, Hard Rain) and stars Timothy Olyphant as Marshal Givens, a 19th century-style lawman enforcing his own brand of justice in today's world. Production will start this fall in Southern California with a spring 2010 premiere.

"Graham began with a memorable character from one of America’s foremost crime novelists, Elmore Leonard, and we scored the hat-trick signing Tim Olyphant, who is absolutely pitch-perfect in the role of Raylan Givens," said John Landgraf, president and general manager of FX Networks.

Olyphant most recently appeared as Wes Krulik in the second season of the FX Networks production Damages.

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New Hardcover Mysteries for August 2009

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has updated its list of with books scheduled for publication in August 2009.

Below we're listing those authors with returning series characters, new series characters, and non-series or stand-alone mysteries in separate sections. All titles are available on our page. We're also using the "carousel" widget by to display a random selection of titles; refreshing this page will change the selection displayed.

• Authors with mysteries having returning series characters (in parentheses) this month:

Jane A. Adams (Rina Martin), (KEY News), (Myron Bolitar), (Dr. Siri Paiboun), (Matt Arnold), (Lucie Montgomery, Wine Country), (Sam Blackman), Eric Jerome Dickey (Gideon), (Donald Youngblood), (Midnight Louie), (Darcy Lott), (DCI Channon), (Rakkim Epps, Assassin Trilogy), (Inspector Konrad Sejer), (Alexei "Volk" Volkovoy), David L. Golemon (Event Group), (Honey Driver), (Jack Haldean), (Poke Rafferty), (Francis Oughterard), W. E. B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV (Badge of Honor), (Patrick Bowers), (J. P. Beaumont and Joanna Brady), H. R. F. Keating (Inspector Ghote), (Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus), (Lincoln Perry), (Deborah Knott), (Henry Christie), (Alex Cross), Ian Rankin and Werther Dell'Edera (Graphic Novel), (Jonathan Ransom), (Temperance Brennan), (Andy Carpenter), (Prioress Eleanor), (Sherry Moore), (Urbino McIntyre), (Sylvia Thorn and Willie Grisseljon), (Frank Pavlicek), (Hannah Ives), (Nigel Barnes), (Alan Gregory)

• Authors with mysteries introducing new series characters (in parentheses) this month:

(Ernest Hemingway), (Eleanor Swift), (Daniel Jacobus), (Nick Heller), (Bo Forrester), (Stella Hardesty)

• Authors with non-series or stand-alone mysteries this month:

, , , Roberto Bolaño and Chris Andrews, , , Sandra Brown, Alys Clare, Robin Cook, Glen Ebisch, Duncan Falconer, , , Stephen Frey, , Victor Gischler, Terry Goodkind, , , , , Thomas Pynchon, , , , , Fay Sampson, , Teri Woods

For more information on any of these titles, please visit the page on our website. If you're interested in new paperbacks, visit where you can discover a library of new mysteries, also updated with August 2009 releases.

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

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