Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Mystery Bookshelf: Flesh House by Stuart MacBride, a Logan McRae Mystery

The Mystery Bookshelf: Discover a Library of New Mysteries

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

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Flesh House by Stuart MacBride
A Logan McRae Mystery (4th in series)
St. Martin's Minotaur (Trade Paperback)
Publication Date: September 2009
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-58407-8

Flesh House by Stuart MacBride
More Information About Flesh House by Stuart MacBride

About Flesh House (from the publisher): Killers have terrorized Aberdeen in the past—Detective Sergeant Logan McRae has the scars to prove it—but when body parts show up in a cargo container at the harbor they kick off Scotland’s largest manhunt in twenty years. Last time, when they tracked down Kenneth Wiseman, a brutal killer who butchered his victims, he was later acquitted on a technicality. Now he’s gone missing, people are dying, and the police are certain he’s at work again. As the violence escalates, McRae is forced to work with the senior officers assigned to the original case who have returned to finish what they started. With decades of secrets and lies coming to light, the only thing that’s certain is that the city will never be the same.

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About Stuart MacBride: His novels have won the Crime Writers’ Association’s Dagger in the Library and the Barry Award for Best First Novel and put him on the shortlist for the International Thriller Writers’ Award for Best First Novel and twice for Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. He lives in Aberdeen, Scotland, with his wife. Visit his Web site at

Mysterious Reviews: Mysteries Reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery BooksMysteries by Stuart MacBride reviewed by Mysterious Reviews: Dying Light (2006).

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Mystery Book Review: Civil Twilight by Susan Dunlap

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

Civil Twilight by Susan Dunlap

A Darcy Lott Mystery

Counterpoint (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-58243-452-2 (1582434522)
ISBN-13: 978-1-58243-452-0 (9781582434520)
Publication Date: August 2009
List Price: $25.00

Review: Stuntwoman Darcy Lott is drawn into a decades-old murder when she meets a woman who is found, just hours later, dead in Civil Twilight, the third mystery in this series by Susan Dunlap.

Darcy is reluctant to meet with Karen Johnson, a client of her brother, the lawyer, but agrees and takes an immediate liking to her. They make plans to meet for dinner, but Karen unexpectedly steals a police car -- belonging to Darcy's other brother, the cop -- which is later found in the parking garage of a building under construction. The police find Karen's body on the adjacent highway, an apparent suicide. Darcy knows Karen didn't kill herself -- the body was too far away from the building if Karen had jumped -- but neither of her brothers is particularly cooperative in helping explain her relationship to them. She proceeds to investigate on her own, following a single lead to a remote community in northern California and then on to Alaska, to learn more about the mysterious Karen Johnson and why someone would want to kill her.

Civil Twilight is one of those mysteries that, despite a lot of action in the first chapter or two, starts slowly, methodically laying a foundation for what ultimately becomes a first-rate story. There would seem to be little reason for Darcy to pursue her investigation other than her desire to know what really happened ... and why her brothers weren't being forthcoming about it. But it works here. Darcy's profession as a stuntwoman also serves her character well: she's known as a risk-taker, albeit a smart one, by her friends and colleagues. Still, at one point a detective on the case says to her, "Karen Johnson did something that got her murdered. I don't know what. But her killer's out there somewhere. Be careful. Seriously careful." There are a considerable number of twists and misdirections that keep the plot interesting, without unnecessarily complicating it, no small feat on the part of the author.

The book includes many references to Zen that put a unique spin on the story being told. Primary among them is the koan that is at the heart of the story: You are atop a hundred-foot pole. How do you proceed? By letting go, Darcy reasons, "not releasing your grasp and falling in terror, but rather stepping out of the past, out of who you are, into the next moment, whatever that moment brings."

The title comes from the term "civil twilight", the time of day between clear afternoon and the first shadow of dusk, the last time one sees clearly before artificial light is needed. It's an appropriate title for a mystery that involves a case that, when viewed from a different perspective, takes on a whole new meaning.

Special thanks to Counterpoint Press for providing a copy of Civil Twilight for this review.

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

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

Synopsis (from the publisher): San Francisco stunt double Darcy Lott specializes in creating the illusion of serious danger. But when her lawyer brother calls and asks her to wine and dine a mysterious client, the danger is no illusion.

Darcy takes an instant liking to the client, Karen Johnson, but there are too many unanswered questions. Karen claims to be getting a divorce, but Darcy?s brother Gary doesn?t handle divorces. And when he insists that their older brother John, a cop, must not know of their meeting, Darcy?s red flags are raised. Who is this woman? And why does she need a high-powered lawyer?

Soon, a murder shocks the city and John is the primary suspect. With John and Gary both in hiding and the police anxious to pin the death on John, Darcy finds herself with no one she can trust. Desperate for an end to the madness, she delves deep into Karen?s past, only to uncover a scheme even more shocking than murder itself.

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Mystery Party Suggestions for Halloween!

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, and mystery getaway vacations, has several recommendations for your next party or get-together.

Halloween is just a month away, but it's not too late to plan a spooky party to celebrate! Here are some popular suggestions (but our Mystery Party pages have many, many more).

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Horrible Happenings in the Haunted House

For kids, there are . A fancy dress party is being held by Horrorwood Studios to celebrate the success of their latest film 'Hal O'Ween and the Deadly Shrunken Head'. Owner of Horrorwood Studios, Hal O'Ween, has invited many of the actors, actresses and employees involved in the making of the film. Join them for an evening of fright and horror, some of it intentional, some of it not.

This Halloween-themed mystery game for 8 to 12 children is set at a present day horror fancy dress party and is rated E. Follow this link, , for more information about this party, or this link, List of Characters in Horrible Happenings in the Haunted House, for character information. Under a slightly different title is the adult version of this game: .

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The Mystery of the Vanishing Vampire

Also for kids is . To celebrate the opening of the scary new theme park, Vampireland in Transylvania, the guests have been chosen by Jack Ular, the owner of Castle Alucard and Vampireland, to take a frightening challenge. Their challenge, if they choose to accept, is to spend a night in one of the rooms in the haunted West Wing of Castle Alucard in Vampireland.

If they successfully complete the challenge, and survive the night, they will each win a prize and will be awarded a Vampireland Medal of Bravery.

This spooky mystery game for 10 to 14 players aged 8 to 12 is set in present day Transylvania. Follow this link, , for more information about this party, or this link, List of Characters in The Mystery of the Vanishing Vampire, for character information. Under a slightly different title, three other versions of this game are available: , Death of a Vampire (adult version) and Death of a Vampire (large group version).

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A Devilish Masquerade

For older children and teens there's . By now the whole town has heard that Monty Argent, teen-aged son and heir of ridiculously wealthy Pierce Argent, is inviting kids who are, or pretend to be, his friends to an over-the-top Halloween costume party at the Argent's fabulous estate. This will certainly be the social highlight of the spooky season for all of the town's residents aged anywhere from 13 to 19: invitations are essentially tickets to popularity. As the party is under way, the scary special effects become truly terrifying, however, when their wealthy host is suddenly swallowed up, literally, by the giant devil-head set up as the "Mouth of Hell"! Was this a simple accident, a prank gone wrong, or perhaps attempted murder?

This non-murder mystery game for at least 5 teens, ages 12 to 19, is rated T. A great choice as a Halloween Party for teens, it can be expanded to include an unlimited number of characters. A brief appearance by an adult hostess is built into the game to help set the scene. Follow this link, , for more information about this party, or this link, List of Characters in A Devilish Masquerade, for character information.

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Death of a Wizard

Here's a fun party for adults: . The night is 31st October and the cream of the world of witches and wizards are gathering at the studios of WIZ TV in Magic World for the Merlins, the fifty first annual awards of the Academy of Magic.

The ceremony will be presented as usual by Wizard Oscar Winner, the founder and owner of WIZ TV and the creator of the Merlins. Oscar will be joined on stage by his lovely wife, Witch Enva Lope, who will co-present the glittering awards.

So put on your best evening robes and see who's walking down the red carpet for a night they will never forget. What shocks await the magical audience?

A murder mystery game for 8 to 14 players set in the magical world of witches and wizards. Join Wizard Oscar Winner and Witch Enva Lope at the fifty first Academy of Magic Awards and see who wins one of the coveted Merlins. This party is ideal for a Halloween, and is rated M. Follow this link, , for more information about this party, or this link, List of Characters in Death of a Wizard, for character information.

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Halloween Decor

Visit for a wide selection of parties for kids, teens, and adults. You'll find all sorts of themed parties available to suit every occasion throughout the year.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mystery Book Review: Air Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Air Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Air Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan

A Charlotte McNally Mystery

Mira Books (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7783-2719-1 (0778327191)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7783-2719-6 (9780778327196)
Publication Date: September 2009
List Price: $7.99

Review: Boston television investigative reporter Charlotte "Charlie" McNally takes on the trade in designer fashions, bags, and accessories in Air Time, the third mystery in this series by Hank Phillippi Ryan.

Faux fashion is big business in the US. There's nothing inherently illegal about it unless the manufacturer is using a trademarked logo or name of someone else on the finished product. That's illegal. Charlie is doing a story on the industry, but misses her flight to Boston from Baltimore, where she's been attending a national journalism convention. While waiting for the next flight, she helps a young woman with her luggage, noting its prominent designer label. Charlie also sees the woman is carrying a designer purse. The woman sees Charlie admiring her bag, and gives her a card, inviting her to a "purse party" where "Designer Doubles" are featured. Charlie realizes that she has an opportunity to get an inside scoop, going undercover at the party pretending to be someone in need of the latest fashion but wants one at a bargain price. Someone discovers who she really is, however, and she begins to receive threats by phone and e-mail. Then the apartment adjacent to the "Designer Doubles" location is set on fire, and the host disappears. Charlie's simple piece on designer fraud has now expanded to conspiracy, kidnapping, arson, extortion, grand larceny, as well as counterfeiting. How did she find herself in such a complicated journalistic situation?

In addition to the entertaining and well developed primary storyline, Air Time continues to explore Charlie's personal relationship with Josh and his young daughter. Though she's a career woman through and through, Josh wants a commitment, and she'd like to come up with a solution that will allow her to balance both. But what really makes the book enjoyable is Charlie herself: she's attractive, witty, caring, loving, and very good at what she does. Insert this appealing character into a fast-paced topical story and the result is a book that is hard to put down until Charlie files her story with Channel 3 News.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Air Time and to Nancy Berland Public Relations for providing a copy of the book for this review.

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

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

Synopsis (from the publisher): When savvy TV reporter Charlotte McNally enters the glamorous world of high fashion, she soon discovers that when the purses are fake—the danger is real. And no one can be trusted!

Now Charlotte can't tell the real from the fake as she goes undercover to bring the couture counterfeiters to justice—and in her struggle to answer an all-important, life-changing question from a certain handsome professor …

The one thing Charlotte knows for sure is that the wrong choice could be the last decision she ever makes!

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The Mystery Bookshelf: The Messengers of Death by Pierre Magnan, a Commissaire Laviolette Mystery

The Mystery Bookshelf: Discover a Library of New Mysteries

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

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The Messengers of Death by Pierre Magnan
Commissaire Laviolette (2nd in series)
St. Martin's Minotaur (Trade Paperback)
Publication Date: September 2009
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-38757-0

The Messengers of Death by Pierre Magnan
More Information About The Messengers of Death by Pierre Magnan

About The Messengers of Death (from the publisher): Local handyman Emile discovers an envelope addressed to a Mlle Veronique in a disused mailbox. Being a former postman, he dutifully purchases a stamp and mails the letter. But when the body of this same Mlle Veronique is soon found murdered, Commissaire Laviolette is coaxed out of retirement to solve one of the most bizarre crimes imaginable.

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About Pierre Magnan: An award-winning French crime writer, several of Magnan's works have been made into films, including the 2006 adaptation of The Messengers of Death with Victor Lanoux in the role of Commissaire Laviolette.

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Leonardo DiCaprio Signs On to Play Travis McGee

The Deep Blue Good-by by John D. MacDonald

Variety is reporting that Leonardo DiCaprio is on board for an adaptation of John D. MacDonald's first Travis McGee mystery, The Deep Blue Good-By, and will play the Ft. Lauderdale (FL) "salvage consultant". The book was originally published in 1964. (Variety misspells the book's title, so it isn't clear whether the movie will retain the book's original title or assume a new one.)

Book synopsis: Cathy Kerr is innocence turned helpless desperation—all because of the smiling freckle-faced stranger named Junior Allen who has stolen a fortune in gems that her father had smuggled into the country. Cathy has nowhere to turn—except to another stranger, that man named Travis McGee—who is a walking pillar of cold rage as he follows the depraved wreckage of Junior Allen's trail.

Two other Travis McGee novels have been filmed: Darker Than Amber, a 1970 film with Rod Taylor, and The Empty Copper Sea with Sam Elliott in 1983. Several other MacDonald books have also been adapted, probably the most famous of which is The Executioners, which was filmed (twice) as Cape Fear.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

George Clooney to Star in The American, a Thriller based on A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth

A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth

Last May we reported that Martin Booth's 1991 thriller A Very Private Gentleman was to be filmed. Today, is reporting that, according to a Focus Features press release, filming begins this week in Italy with George Clooney in the starring role, and with the movie now being titled of The American. Anton Corbijn will direct.

Official synopsis: Alone among assassins, Jack (George Clooney) is a master craftsman. When a job in Sweden ends more harshly than expected for this American abroad, he vows to his contact Larry (Bruce Altman) that his next assignment will be his last. Jack reports to the Italian countryside, where he holes up in a small town and relishes being away from death for a spell. The assignment, as specified by a Belgian woman, Mathilde (Thekla Reuten), is in the offing as a weapon is constructed. Surprising himself, Jack seeks out the friendship of local priest Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli) and pursues romance with local woman Clara (Violante Placido). But by stepping out of the shadows, Jack may be tempting fate.

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Mystery Book Review: Never Sleep with a Suspect on Gabriola Island by Sandy Frances Duncan and George Szanto

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Never Sleep with a Suspect on Gabriola Island by Sandy Frances Duncan and George Szanto. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Never Sleep with a Suspect on Gabriola Island by Sandy Frances Duncan and George Szanto

by and
An Islands Investigations International Mystery

TouchWood Editions (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-894898-89-3 (1894898893)
ISBN-13: 978-1-894898-89-8 (9781894898898)
Publication Date: March 2009
List Price: $14.95

Review: Long known as a haven for writers and artists of all stripes, British Columbia’s Gulf Islands are now the setting for the debut adventure for the newly-formed detective agency of Islands Investigations International. It’s a two-person operation of odd couple 44- year-old Noel Franklin, a former Vancouver Sun investigative crime reporter who is grieving the death of his male lover, Brendan, and 36-year-old, thrice divorced insurance investigator Kyra Rachel. Noel lives on Cameron Island “an upscale condo development” on the shore of the city of Nanaimo while Kyra commutes from home base in Bellingham, Washington where she works for Puget Sound Life Insurance. As life-long friends they’ve kept in touch and when the aggressive Kyra visits Noel to see how he’s coping with Brendan’s untimely death she finds he’s got more than he can handle with the bereavement, a string of harassing late-night telephone calls, slashed automobile tires, and an invitation to investigate the mysterious death of groundskeeper, Roy Dempster, at the Gabriola Island Eaglenest Art Gallery. Never one to shy away from a problem or a mystery, Kyra eggs Noel on to accept the invitation to look into Dempster’s death and to bring her along as his assistant. For the intrepid twosome, the investigation becomes a wild and bumpy ride down their memory lanes and an exciting adventure that readers will find entertaining, well-written and a solid foundation for future episodes in the Islands Investigations International series.

Authors Duncan and Szanto keep the pace of their lively story moving right along with action highlights counter-pointed by sensitively told back-story episodes of Noel’s and Kyra’s lives and loves and their original meeting at their Bowen Island summer homes when she was ten years old and he was eighteen. There are infobits of historical information, as well, such as references to Nanaimo’s famous annual bathtub race and its bakery products known as Nanaimo bars. And because much of the story revolves around art and artists, there is an ample amount of well-integrated information about painters and paintings, real and fraudulent for various art movements. Facts and figures about the secret cultivation of poppy plants and a rare species of chrysanthemums are cleverly integrated too, and what would a BC mystery story be without episodes of a hidden pot grow? For added interest and suspense, there is an element of money-laundering in casinos and gambling resorts run by an international crime cartel headed by a renegade who “kills people who get in his way.” Since Noel is gay, readers get to meet his friends, colleagues and enemies, and to gain insight into his world, and since Kyra has a healthy sexual appetite, her activities are on display as well and, in fact, bring her to the brink of disaster when, despite her own whispered counsel and Noel’s advice, she voluntarily sleeps with one of the suspects on Gabriola Island. The ensemble cast of characters, heroes and villains, is an excellent one, including the elderly gossip columnist for The Gabriola Gab and another woman only six years and four months away from qualifying as a ”born again virgin.” Even the ferrys and watertaxis that transport Noel and Kyra from island to island add to the structure of the story and its ways-of-life scenes of the Gulf Island communities.

Memorable characters and a suspense-filled story with a surprising ending make for an entertaining read.

Special thanks to M. Wayne Cunningham ( for contributing his review of Never Sleep with a Suspect on Gabriola Island.

Review Copyright © 2009 — M. Wayne Cunningham — All Rights Reserved — Reprinted with Permission

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If you are interested in purchasing Never Sleep with a Suspect on Gabriola Island from, please click the button to the right.

Synopsis (from the publisher): Rose Gill Marchand, a paraplegic, brilliant botanist and co-owner, with her husband, of Eaglenest Gallery on Gabriola Island, finds the body of Roy Dempster, their gardener, sprawled dead on the gallery grounds. An RCMP investigation ensues, without immediate success. Upset by a suggestive gossipy article about the murder in the local paper, Rose's husband, Artemus, calls on Noel Franklin, an ex-investigative reporter living in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, and asks him to find evidence that will eliminate the spreading rumours. Noel agrees to start looking into it and asks his long-time friend Kyra Rachel an insurance investigator from Bellingham, Washington, to assist him.

As Noel and Kyra's inquiry proceeds, they discover that islands like Gabriola hide secrets far more mysterious than murder, far more dangerous than gossip, as each investigator falls prey to the depravity of those they need to trust.

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Games of Mystery: The Hardy Boys in The Hidden Theft, New for Nintendo Wii

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, and getaway vacations including murder mystery weekends, is pleased to announce the availability of a new mystery game for the Nintendo Wii. More mystery games for this platform are available on our recently updated webpage.

The Hardy Boys: The Hidden Theft

Based on the classic Hardy Boys literary series, The Hardy Boys: The Hidden Theft for Nintendo Wii is an all-new single player, point and click adventure sure to entice and delight both new and longtime mystery fans alike. Set as always in the Hardy's hometown of Bayport, players play as both Frank and Joe Hardy as a routine crime investigation morphs into something far more sinister. The game contains exciting features such as a deep inventory of in-game items split between the two playable characters, the voice and likeness of Hollywood teen stars Jesse McCartney and Cody Linley as Frank and Joe Hardy, mystery-solving mini-games and in-game cell phone functionality allowing the player get advice on the case from crime-solving pal Nancy Drew.

In The Hardy Boys: The Hidden Theft, the vault of the Spencer Mansion is robbed, and the Bayport Police call on the Hardy Boys to help tie up the loose ends, but they soon find themselves in the middle of a major criminal investigation that takes them on an adventure all over Bayport, and even into New York City. But the pieces don’t add up, and Frank and Joe are soon embroiled in a drama of sinister proportions. Is the recent theft linked to something from the past? Can Frank and Joe find and decipher the clues in time to prevent another crime from happening?

The Hardy Boys: The Hidden Theft is scheduled to be available September 30th for the Nintendo Wii, and is ESRB rated E10+ for Everyone, 10 and older. It is available to pre-order. Watch the trailer for the PC version below:

Don't forget to visit for all types of mysterious fun!

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Mysteries on TV: Cagney & Lacey, CSI NY, Foyle's War, Life on Mars, and Midsomer Murders, New This Week on DVD

Mysteries on TV

, your source for the most complete selection of detective, amateur sleuth, private investigator, and suspense television mystery series now available or coming soon to DVD, is profiling two series that have complete set DVDs and three series that have season DVDs or movies being released this week.

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Five years after the series ended, a made-for-television movie that aired November 1994 reunited . In the movie, starring Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly as the titular characters, Beth Lacey has quit the police force but having little success finding work, and Christine Cagney is now married to a District Attorney. The movie remained true to the series, offering quality drama that concentrated on the personal lives and the interaction between two complex women dealing with a tough and dangerous job.

And it was a hit with viewers. Three films followed, two in 1995, one in 1996, and this collection is affectionately known as "The Menopause Years".

The Cagney & Lacey: The Menopause Years DVD set of 4 discs contain these four movies: The Return, Together Again, The View Through the Glass Ceiling, and True Convictions.

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The evidence never lies to Detective Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) and his brilliant team -- Stella (Melina Kanakeredes), Danny (Carmine Giovinazzo), Sheldon (Hill Harper), Lindsay (Anna Belknap), and Flack (Eddie Cahill) -- in .

In this fifth season, the crime scene investigation team get their game on when they must hunt down a murderer on a commerical airline flight; they seek the cause when a woman dies in the middle of a street parade; a serial killer is loose in Manhattan; and the team must connect the pieces -- literally -- when an eyeball falls from the sky.

The CSI: NY: Season Five DVD set of 7 discs contain the 25 episodes that aired on CBS from during the 2008/2009 television season.

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In what may be our favorite crime drama series, is available this week as a complete set titled "From Dunkirk to VE Day".

Foyle's War aired on a somewhat irregular basis from October 2002 through April 2008. Each episode, which is dated chronologically as the series progresses from may 1940 to May 1945, involves the investigation of a local crime that often has some connection to the war. The appeal of the series is in its terrific cast, clever scripts, and high production values. The series was developed and written by Anthony Horowitz.

A three-part spin-off called Foyle's Peace has reportedly been shot, but no air dates have been announced.

The Foyle's War: From Dunkirk to VE-Day DVD set collects all 5 sets of the series, which is comprised of 19 episodes.

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After a hit-and-run accident in modern-day New York City mysteriously transports police detective Sam Tyler (Jason O'Mara) back to 1973, Sam finds himself in the cultural hotbed of New York City in the tumultuous times of the Vietnam War, Watergate, women's lib and the civil and gay rights movements -- without a cell phone, computer, PDA or MP3 player in , a US version of the popular UK series.

Stuck in 1973 and working out of the rough and tumble 125th Precinct in Manhattan, Sam has to contend with the urban wilderness of New York, complete with a hard-living bully of a boss (Harvey Keitel) and colleagues who never met a rule they wouldn't break to catch a bad guy. The good cop/bad cop culture of the ‘70s put this 21st century hero on high alert, but before he can change the world, he has to learn to survive in it.

The series never caught on with US audiences and was cancelled during its first season.

The Life on Mars (US): The Complete Series DVD set of 4 discs contain the 17 episodes that aired on ABC from October 2008 through April 2009.

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Murder, mystery and mayhem return to the cozy villages of Midsomer County as Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) and his earnest protégé Detective Constable Ben Jones (Jason Hughes) unravel four confounding feature-length cases in . This long-running series is based on characters created by mystery author Caroline Graham.

The Midsomer Murders: Set Thirteen DVD set of 4 discs contain the following episodes: "Dance with the Dead" in which a lovesick young man’s murder touches off a search for his girlfriend and partner in ballroom dancing classes; "The Animal Within" in which an unannounced visit by a niece to her wealthy uncle's estate surprises everyone as she was thought to have died in a place crash 3 years earlier; "King's Crystal" in which the owners of an artisan glassworks harbor relationships of positively Shakespearean complexity; and "The Axeman Cometh" in which a band's revival holds promise -- until someone sounds a discordant note by killing off the musicians, one by one.

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Visit the Mysteries on TV website to discover more currently available on DVD.

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Mystery Godoku Puzzle for September 28, 2009

A new has been created by the editors of the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books and is now available on our website.

Godoku is similar to Sudoku, but uses letters instead of numbers. To give you a headstart, we provide you a mystery clue to fill in a complete row or column (if you choose to use it!).

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for September 28, 2009

This week's letters and mystery clue:


Her short story "The Mechanique Affair" appeared in the anthology Death Dance. (9 letters).

We now have two weeks of our puzzles on one page in PDF format for easier printing. Print this week's puzzle here.

Previous puzzles are stored in the Mystery Godoku Archives.

Enjoy the weekly Mystery Godoku Puzzle from the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, and Thanks for visiting our website!


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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mysteries on DVD Review: Gone Baby Gone

Mysteries on DVD: Mystery Books that have been Adapted into Screenplays and Made into Movies

We're still in the process of setting up a new website with reviews of mystery TV shows and movies which may (or may not) have a separate blog. In the meantime, we'll continue to post our television and film reviews here on and advise you of when the new site is up.

Film: Gone Baby Gone. Original release date: 10/19/2007; DVD release date: 02/12/2008.

Gone Baby Gone

Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck), Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan), Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman), Remy Bressant (Ed Harris), Nick Poole (John Ashton), Helene McCready (Amy Ryan), Lionel McCready (Titus Welliver), Bea McCready (Amy Madigan). Directed by Ben Affleck. Screenplay adapted from the novel Gone Baby Gone by Dennis Lehane.

I can't say why it took me so long to watch Gone Baby Gone, it being available on DVD for over 18 months now. Maybe part of the reason is that I still haven't seen Mystic River and for some reason I thought I should have seen it first. Not that the movies are dependent upon each other; about the only thing they have in common is they were both adapted from novels by Dennis Lehane. I still haven't seen Mystic River (but will eventually) but I did rent a copy of Gone Baby Gone.

Gone Baby Gone

The film stars Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan as Boston private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, who are not only partners in their business but also partners in bed. It is based on the 4th book in the series, which won the 1999 for Best Novel.

A little girl, Amanda McCready, is missing. The police are reluctant to call it a kidnapping as that would bring in the FBI and they're confident they can handle it on their own. The missing girl's aunt, though, disagrees and hires Kenzie and Gennaro to ask questions the police are presumably not asking, and talk to people who may not talk to the police. They agree to take the case, though somewhat reluctantly. Kenzie doesn't think they can do any more than the police, and Gennaro doesn't want to be involved in a case that may result in finding the body of Amanda.

Gone Baby Gone

In charge of the task force investigating the girl's disappearance is Jack Doyle, played by Morgan Freeman. The two detectives on the street are Remy Bressant (Ed Harris) and Nick Poole (John Ashton). Doyle doesn't want Kenzie and Gennaro getting in the way, but doesn't prevent them from getting involved. They quickly come up with a lead for Bressant and Poole, which ultimately leads to a meeting with the people who have taken Amanda. But something goes terribly wrong, and Amanda is lost, presumably drowned in a nearby lake (though her body is never recovered).

It would seem the investigation is over, but the movie is only half over leaving plenty of time for introspection on what went wrong and why.

Gone Baby Gone

While there are many aspects to Gone Baby Gone that are well done, what prevents me from recommending this film rests squarely on the shoulders of Casey Affleck. His acting is flat and uninspired, and worse, he is unintelligible for much of the film. I'm not sure if that's his normal way of speaking or if he was directed to speak that way, but some 80% of his dialog cannot be understood. It isn't his accent; he simply mumbles monotonically, slurring his words together. But since he's in virtually every scene of the movie, it's hard to ignore him. The other actors are better and give performances typical of what's expected from them. A bit of a disappointment, though, is Morgan Freeman, not for his acting but the fact that he's on screen for just a few minutes in total. And in the three short scenes where Freeman's character and Affleck's are together, the contrast between them couldn't be greater. Affleck is way out of his league here.

Gone Baby Gone (DVD cover)
Buy Gone Baby Gone on DVD
Netflix, Inc.

The film is generally well made, atmospheric without being gloomy. For a suspense thriller, there's just the right amount of tension. The direction isn't as crisp as it could have been -- several scenes go on for a bit too long -- and there are a few continuity issues that are probably the result of sloppy editing. The plot has some interesting and not unexpected twists, and will no doubt generate some viewer debate on legal versus moral issues, but that's not inappropriate. What is inappropriate, though, is Affleck's character taking both sides of the argument, playing the "do as I say not as I do" role. It makes the justification for his actions completely suspect, and any sympathy I might have had for his character or his situation vanished as a consequence.

Gone Baby Gone isn't a great movie, but it could have been much better one had Ben simply told his brother to enunciate.

Gone Baby Gone runs 114 minutes and is rated R for coarse language.

The DVD of Gone Baby Gone is available to purchase. Also available: Gone Baby Gone (Blu-ray). The film is available to rent from Netflix: Gone Baby Gone.

Watch a trailer for Gone Baby Gone below:

Reviewed on 09/27/2009 by Mr. E., television and movie critic for Mystery Books News.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Omnimystery — All Rights Reserved.

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First Clues, Mysteries for Kids: a Nancy Drew Title for October, 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 October, 2009. No Hardy Boys books are due out this month.

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Model Suspect by Carolyn Keene

Model Suspect by Carolyn Keene

The third and final title in the Model Mystery Trilogy.

I'm beginning to think Sydney and Vic's marriage was doomed from the start. First Sydney's best friend, Candy, tried to sabotage the wedding. Then Vic's onscreen beau brought a knife to the ceremony -- and it wasn't just for cutting the cake. Luckily, we caught her before any damage was done. But is she the real culprit? Or does someone else have it in for these two newlyweds?

Strange things kept happening on the happiest day of Sydney and Vic's lives -- and now trouble has followed them on their honeymoon! Some things just don't add up, and I need to get to the bottom of it before Sydney -- or Vic -- is seriously hurt.

Previous titles in this trilogy: Model Crime and Model Menace.

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

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Games of Mystery: MySims Agents, New for Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, and getaway vacations including murder mystery weekends, is pleased to announce the availability of a new mystery game for the Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Wii. More mystery games for this platforms are available on our recently updated and webpages.

MySims Agents

Love mysteries, twisting plots and sinister villains? Love puzzles, adventure and high tech gadgets? Now players can enjoy the thrill of solving mysteries, while re-joining their MySims friends. In MySims Agents players are the heroic agents who must stop a sinister plot that threatens the fate of an entire city.

On the Nintendo Wii, the MySims Agents player is hired to foil the sinister plans of Morcubus, lord of the criminal underworld. By recruiting different MySims, each with their own special characteristics, players can build up their very own crime-busting dream team. From tracking footprints and using forensics to picking locks, hacking into computers, following leads and collecting clues, players must rely on their wits, skills and trusty gadgets to piece together the clues to solve the mystery. Jump aboard the jet to reach an ancient temple, a spooky mansion or an icy mountaintop chalet in search of clues that lead players closer to the sinister Morcubus. Return from the adventure with cool treasures that players can use to construct and customize their headquarters and make it their own.

MySims Agents on the Nintendo DS is an action/adventure game in which players take the roll of an agent assigned by the agency to help a mayor stop a notorious thief from stealing an ancient treasure. You must search for clues, solve devious puzzles and match wits with the mysterious thief in order to protect the treasure. Your investigations will have you talking to your favorite mysims and searching for clues in underground caverns. Only the brightest and best agent will be able to put the pieces together to solve the case and stop his wicked plot.

MySims Agents is scheduled to be available September 29th for the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii, and is ESRB rated E for Everyone. It is available to pre-order. Watch the trailer below:

Don't forget to visit for all types of mysterious fun!

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Mystery Book Review: The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of The White Queen by Philippa Gregory. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

A 15th Century Plantagenet Novel of Suspense

Touchstone (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-4165-6368-7 (1416563687)
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-6368-6 (9781416563686)
Publication Date: August 2009
List Price: $25.99

Review: Philippa Gregory creates a thrilling historical adventure tale that includes a still unsolved mystery of two missing princes in The White Queen, the first in the War of the Cousins (or War of the Roses) series.

The White Queen covers a 21-year period in the life of Elizabeth Woodville. Married at a young age to Sir John Grey, she was soon a widow after Grey was killed fighting for the Lancastrian Cause. The battle was against the Yorkist Cause, for which young Edward IV had just been crowned King. This civil war is recorded as the War of the Cousins, but is also popularly referred to as the War of the Roses since a red rose represented the Lancasters and a white rose the Yorks. Elizabeth marries Edward in secret, but their union does nothing to unite the country. As Elizabeth is now the wife of the King, who represents York, she becomes known as the White Queen.

During this turbulent period, Elizabeth and Edward IV have 10 children, including two sons, the eldest of which, Edward V, assumes the throne at only 12 years of age on his father's death. He is quickly overthrown by his uncle, Richard III, who declares Edward IV's marriage to Elizabeth invalid, their children illegitimate. Edward V and his young brother Richard disappear behind the forbidding walls of the Tower of London, never to be seen or heard from again.

Henry Tudor of Lancaster eventually overthrows Richard III, but the War of the Roses isn't over. Each has been promised marriage to the eldest daughter of Elizabeth and Edward IV, ensuring that Elizabeth will be Queen Mother to the throne.

The White Queen can be read from many perspectives, all of them rewarding in their own way. The history seems to be meticulously researched, the narrative replete with details that add depth, interest, and authenticity to the story. It is also a love story, often told with a great deal of poignancy. Finally, there is the fate of the two young princes who were taken away from their mother, and whose disappearance to this day remains shrouded in mystery. The author crafts an intriguing and plausible story to explain what may have happened, but of course, the truth may never be known. The White Queen is an exceptional novel and is highly recommended.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of The White Queen and to Wiredset for providing a copy of the book for this review.

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

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

Synopsis (from the publisher): Brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize, the throne of England, in this dazzling account of the wars of the Plantagenets. They are the claimants and kings who ruled England before the Tudors, and now Philippa Gregory brings them to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women, starting with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.

The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown. From her uniquely qualified perspective, Philippa Gregory explores this most famous unsolved mystery of English history, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills.

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