Thursday, March 31, 2011

Source Code Opens in Theaters This Friday

Source Code (2011)

The futuristic thriller Source Code opens in theaters this Friday, April 1st.

The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as decorated soldier Captain Colter Stevens, who wakes up in the body of an unknown man, and discovers he's part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train. In an assignment unlike any he's ever known, he learns he's part of a government experiment called the "Source Code," a program that enables him to cross over into another man's identity in the last 8 minutes of his life. With a second, much larger target threatening to kill millions in downtown Chicago, Colter re-lives the incident over and over again, gathering clues each time, until he can solve the mystery of who is behind the bombs and prevent the next attack.

Watch the trailer for the film below.

CHAOS Premieres Friday, April 1st, on CBS

CHAOS (CBS, 2011)

Tomorrow, Friday April 1st, the comedy/drama spy series CHAOS premieres on CBS.

Freddy Rodriguez stars as Rick Martinez, who is assigned as a mole within a covert team within the Clandestine Administration and Oversight Services (CHAOS) agency, which tackles high risk foreign intelligence missions using manipulation, deception and wit to succeed, combatting threats to national security amidst bureaucratic gridlock, rampant incompetence and political infighting.

Watch a preview of the pilot episode below.

Lucifer's Tears by James Thompson (Mystery Book Review)

Lucifer's Tears by James Thompson
More information about the book

Lucifer's Tears by James Thompson. An Inspector Kari Vaara Mystery. Putnam Hardcover, March 2011.

A superb mystery, this is a complex novel that interweaves multiple storylines. It is so cleanly and crisply written, however, that the narrative readily flows, making this a very difficult book to put down. The protracted journey into Finland's recent wartime past, though relevant to the plot, may be its only (slight) negative element.

Read the full text of our review at Mysterious Reviews: Lucifer's Tears by James Thompson.

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

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

OMN Welcomes Mystery Writer Eric Keith

Omnimystery News: Authors on Tour

Omnimystery News is pleased to welcome Eric Keith, whose debut locked room murder mystery is Nine Man's Murder (Ransom Note Press, March 2011 Trade Paperback, 978-0-9773787-7-7).

Today, Eric writes about puzzles and mysteries.

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Nine Man's Murder by Eric Keith
Photo provided courtesy of Eric Keith

Before turning to writing mysteries, I designed puzzles for a company that sold original logical games and puzzles. My experience prepared me for the process of writing mysteries: not merely in the general sense that "mysteries are puzzles," because if that were the case, creating puzzles would have prepared me for the institute of marriage. (Maybe the problem was that I created logical puzzles.) But more specifically, the experience of designing logical puzzles helped me to understand the relationship between author and reader that would play such a prominent role in the type of mysteries I was to end up writing.

A puzzle maker has a strangely symbiotic relationship with a puzzle solver. It is difficult to describe the unique interaction that takes place between the two. Although some may find the term distasteful, in a very real sense the designer of a logical puzzle "manipulates" the solver — though manipulates him in a positive manner, a manner that is in some ways similar to and in some ways opposite of the way in which a mystery author "manipulates" a reader. It is the unique yet contradictory job of the logical puzzle maker to "control" the solver — to predetermine the exact series of mental processes that will transpire as the solver solves the puzzle — while at the same time providing that solver with a sense of absolute free will. The solver thinks, "Boy, was I brilliant" (as indeed he or she was), while the puzzle creator thinks, "Every step of reasoning that you used, I determined that you would use long before you ever even saw the puzzle."

Is the solver merely the puppet of the puzzle maker, responding simply to strings pulled by the puzzle maker long before the puzzle was encountered? Or is the solver really being clever? Who's right?

Both are. Because a puzzle (especially a logical puzzle) is a paradoxical creature, the interaction of two minds. A puzzle maker can build into a puzzle a potential sequence of logical steps, but until there is a solver, those steps exist only potentially: He needs a solver for those steps to ever be anything but scribbles on a page. Likewise, a solver can only find logical steps, which had to have been placed there by the puzzle maker.

A puzzle thus does not exist until there is a puzzle maker and a puzzle solver. A puzzle is both: It is the interaction of the two.

This was an important point for me to learn, because the type of mysteries I write — and Nine Man's Murder is an example of this type — are classic whodunits. This type of mystery was most popular during the "Golden Age" of the 1920's and 1930's. Perhaps more than anything else, these mysteries were puzzles. The reader was invited to match wits with the detective (and the author) in trying to solve the puzzle. This type of mystery was highly participatory. It was not just a book, but a contest. The reader was involved.

In later years, the emphasis on the "puzzle" was displaced by a focus on other aspects: story, setting, realism, character psychology. While this emphasis admittedly did much to add flesh to the bones of the mystery novel, it was done at the expense of the "contest." My goal was to glean the fruits of modern advances, while trying to restore the Golden Age contest to the modern mystery.

Nine Man's Murder is a classical whodunit in the Golden Age tradition. My experience as a puzzle maker prepared me to write such a novel by teaching me, not only how to make puzzles, but more importantly, about the unique interaction — the "contract," if you will — between puzzle maker and solver, author and reader.

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If you feel brave enough to match wits with a master criminal, visit Eric Keith at, where you will find a logic puzzle to test your sleuthing abilities. Can you identify the would-be killer before he or she strikes again?

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Nine Man's Murder by Eric Keith
Print EditionKindle EditionNookBook

Nine Man's Murder chronicles the fates of nine graduates of the Anderson Detective Agency, a training school for detectives, who attend what they believe is a class reunion at Moon's End, the remote mountaintop resort of their mentor, Damien Anderson. But when they find their host's dead body in the closet, they realize that (a) this is no class reunion, and (b) they'll probably be serving themselves dinner.

When a blown-up bridge traps the guests on the mountaintop, they discover that what they thought was a "reunion" is in fact a deadly game of "Nine Man's Murder." One by one the guests will be murdered, and survival depends on their ability to identify and stop the murderer — who, they soon realize, is one of them. Can they outwit the killer and survive, or will the murderer win this game?

Nine Man's Murder is available in Trade Paperback and popular eBook formats (see icons below book cover above).

You can read the first chapter of Nine Man's Murder below; use the Aa settings button to adjust font size, line spacing, and word density.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

FX Renews Justified and Archer for Third Seasons

FX Networks

It was widely expected, but today FX Networks made it official: both Justified and Archer have been renewed for a third season.

Timothy Olyphant stars as US Marshal Raylan Givens in Justified, based on a character created by crime novelist Elmore Leonard, who brings his own brand of justice to bear on local criminals in his hometown in Eastern Kentucky.

And Archer, featuring the voice of H. Jon Benjamin as the titular character, is an animated comic spy series set at the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS), an agency run by his mother (voice of Jessica Walter).

Both series have seen substantial increases in their ratings during their second seasons on FX.

Jennifer Garner to Play Miss Jane Marple for Disney

Agatha Christie

Last night we learned that Disney had acquired the film rights to Agatha Christie's amateur sleuth Jane Marple, with the intention of updating the setting to a contemporary timeframe.

Now we're reading that Miss Marple will be played by Jennifer Garner, clearly a significant departure from reader (and viewer) expectations.

It will be interesting to see how this project progresses.

(Source: Deadline|New York)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Disney Acquires Film Rights to Miss Marple Character

Agatha Christie

Disney has acquired the film rights to Agatha Christie's character Miss Marple, and envisions creating a comtemporary setting for the amateur sleuth. Mark Frost (Hill Street Blues, Twin Peaks) will write the screenplay, which is expected to be an original story, not one adapted from one of the many Christie novels.

Several actresses have played Jane Marple over the years, starting with Margaret Rutherford, who portrayed her in the 1961 film Murder She Said. The most recent made-for-television adaptations star Julia McKenzie.

(Source: The Hollywood Reporter)

Mystery and Suspense Films, New This Week on DVD (110329)

Mystery, Suspense, and Thriller Films on DVD and/or Blu-ray Disc

Checking through our list of films currently scheduled for release this week on DVD and/or Blu-ray disc, shown below are those that fall into the mystery, suspense, and thriller categories.

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Black Swan
Purchase/Rental Options
Available on DVDAvailable on Blu-ray DiscAvailable on iTunesAvailable on Netflix

Black Swan (2010)

Black Swan follows the story of Nina (Academy Award winner Natalie Portman), a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance. When artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre for the opening production of their new season, "Swan Lake," he narrows his choices to Nina and a new dancer, Lily (Mila Kunis). "Swan Lake" requires a dancer who can play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the Black Swan, who represents guile and sensuality. Nina fits the White Swan role perfectly but Lily is the personification of the Black Swan. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina becomes dangerously more in touch with her dark side -- a recklessness that threatens to destroy her. (R; 108 minutes)

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All Good Things
Purchase/Rental Options
Available on DVDAvailable on Blu-ray DiscAvailable on iTunesAvailable on Netflix

All Good Things (2010)

Inspired by the most notorious missing person’s case in New York history, All Good Things is a love story and murder mystery set against the backdrop of a New York real estate dynasty in the 1980s.

Robert Durst, scion of the wealthy Durst family, is suspected but never tried for killing his wife Kathie, who disappeared in 1982 and was never found.

The film stars Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst and Frank Langella as the powerful patriarch, and captures the emotion and complexion of this real-life unsolved mystery. (R; 101 minutes)

Body of Proof Premieres Tuesday, March 29th, on ABC

Body of Proof (ABC)

ABC's long-delayed crime drama Body of Proof airs its premiere episode tomorrow, Tuesday March 29th, at 10 PM (ET/PT).

Body of Proof follows the life and career of Medical Examiner Megan Hunt (Dana Delany), once a high-flying neurosurgeon, who now works in Philadelphia's Medical Examiner's Office after a car accident abruptly ended her neurosurgery career. As a Medical Examiner Megan applies her vast medical knowledge, keen instincts and variously charming and scalpel-like personality to the task of solving the medical mysteries of the dead and bringing the people responsible for their deaths to justice.

In the opening episode, Dr. Megan Hunt teams up with her partner, medical investigator and former cop Peter Dunlop (Nicholas Bishop), when a female jogger is found floating in the Schuylkill River. Megan's investigation takes her out in the field where she meets old-school cop Detective Bud Morris (John Carroll Lynch), who is exasperated by Megan's tenacity and bull-headedness. But his partner, Detective Samantha Baker (Sonja Sohn), possesses a quiet respect for Megan's input, even if Morris doesn't. Meanwhile, as she's is trying to solve the female jogger's death, Megan has to solve a personal puzzle of her own -- what is the perfect present for her daughter's 12th birthday?

Watch a short preview to the series below.

Telemystery: In Plain Sight and Vega$, New This Week on DVD

Telemystery, the most complete selection of detective, amateur sleuth, private investigator, and suspense television mystery series now available or coming soon to DVD

Telemystery, your source for one of the most comprehensive selections of detective, amateur sleuth, private investigator, and suspense television mystery series, mini-series and made-for-television movies, now available on or coming soon to DVD or Blu-ray disc, is profiling two series being released this week.

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In Plain Sight: Season Three, a Mystery TV Series
Information on In Plain Sight: Season Three

Mary McCormack and Frederick Weller return in the third season of In Plain Sight, a crime drama about relocating and protecting career criminals … and some innocent folks too.

U.S. Marshal Mary Shannon (McCormack) spends her days (and often her nights) working for WITSEC, the highly secretive Federal Witness Security Program. Whether she’s counseling a former hit man about how to date someone who's not a prostitute or guarding a co-conspirator in a massive mortgage fraud, scheme Mary knows that her quirky-but-trusted partner, the aptly-named Marshall (Weller), will always watch her back.

The In Plain Sight: Season Three DVD set of 3 discs contain the 13 episodes that originally aired on the USA Network from March through June 2010.

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Vega$: Season Two (V2), a Mystery TV Series
Information on Vega$: Season Two (V2)

Robert Urich stars as private investigator Dan Tanna in Vega$.

Driving around Las Vegas in his vintage Thunderbird while solving private cases, he is also on retainer to a wealthy casino owner Phil Roth (Tony Curtis) to keep crime out of his hotels. He is helped by his smart and sexy assistant Beatric (Phyllis Davis) and his enthusiastic, yet inept, legman Binzer (Bart Braverman). The series also stars Greg Morris as LVPD Lt. David Nelson.

The Vega$: Season Two (Volume 2) DVD set of 3 discs contain the final 11 episodes of the second season that aired from January through June 1980 on ABC.

Also available this week: Vega$: The Complete Second Season (which combines the separately released Season 2 Volumes 1 and 2).

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Visit the Telemystery website to discover more television mystery series currently available on and coming soon to DVD and Blu-ray disc.

Production Begins on Three New DCI Banks Crime Novel Adaptations

Playing with Fire by Peter Robinson
More information about the book

ITV has announced that production has begun on three made-for-television adaptations of Inspector Alan Banks mysteries by crime novelist Peter Robinson. Stephen Tompkinson and Andrea Lowe star as the DCI and his partner DS Annie Cabbott. The three books being adapted are Playing with Fire, Friend of the Devil, and Cold is the Grave. The latter book was the winner of the 2001 Ellis Award for Best Novel.

These new episodes were commissioned by the network after the success of the DCI Banks: Aftermath, an adaptation of a mystery of the same title that aired last October on ITV to strong ratings.

There are currently 19 books in the Inspector Banks series.

(Source: Press Release)

You can read the first chapter(s) of Playing with Fire below. Use the Aa settings button to adjust text size, line spacing, and word density.

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for March 28, 2011

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!).

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Mystery Godoku Puzzle for March 28, 2011

This week's letters and mystery clue:


This is the title of the second book in the Patrick St. James mystery series by John Simpson (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!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Winners of the 2011 Left Coast Crime Awards Announced

Mystery Book Awards

The winners of the 2011 Left Coast Crime Awards were announced yesterday. The awards recognize the best mystery in several categories.

The winners are:

◊ Lefty Award (for best humorous mystery): The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein by J. Michael Orenduff Review of The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein by J. Michael Orenduff (Oak Tree Press)

◊ Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award: The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear Review of The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear (HarperCollins)

◊ Hillerman Sky Award (for best Southwest mystery): The Spider's Web by Margaret Coel (Berkley)

◊ Watson Award (for best mystery with a sidekick): Junkyard Dogs by Craig Johnson Review of Junkyard Dogs by Craig Johnson (Viking)

Mysterious Reviews indicates a review by Mysterious Reviews.

(Hat tip to Mystery Fanfare, who attended Left Coast Crime in Santa Fe, for posting the results.)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

First Clues, Mysteries for Kids: New Titles for April 2011

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids is pleased to announce a selection of new mystery, suspense and thriller books (including series books) scheduled for publication during April 2011, listed in approximate order of reading level, from books for younger readers to books for teens.

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A Monster of a Mystery by Franklin W. Dixon

A Monster of a Mystery More Information about the book
Franklin W. Dixon
The Hardy Boys Secret Files (5th in series)

When the actor who plays popular comic character Morpho the Morph Monster comes to town for a fan day -- along with his famous Morpho Mask and Morph Spork -- everyone, including Frank and Joe, is excited to meet the man behind the mask. But at the event, Morpho's Spork goes missing! And until the Spork is returned, the entire event will be put on hold! It's up to Frank and Joe to crack the case -- and return the Spork to its rightful owner!

The Hardy Boys Secret Files (5th in series) are recommended for readers aged 7 to 9.

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The Disappearance of Drover by John R. Erickson

The Disappearance of Drover More Information about the book
John R. Erickson
Hank the Cowdog (57th in series)

Hank and Drover are excited when a quick nap in the back of Slim's pickup turns into a trip to town. But the excitement turns to drama when they find themselves at the livestock show -- and Drover decides to take off to visit his mother. Can Hank track down his faithful sidekick before Slim heads back to the ranch? Or is he off on a wild goose chase?

Hank the Cowdog (57th in series) are recommended for readers aged 7 to 9.

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Vespers Rising by Rick Riordan, Peter Lerangis, Gordon Korman, and Jude Watson

Vespers Rising More Information about the book
Rick Riordan, Peter Lerangis, Gordon Korman, and Jude Watson
The 39 Clues: Book 11

The Cahills thought they were the most powerful family the world had ever known. They thought they were the only ones who knew about Gideon Cahill and his Clues. The Cahills were wrong.

Powerful enemies — the Vespers — have been waiting in the shadows. Now it’s their time to rise and the world will never be the same.

The 39 Clues: Book 11 are recommended for readers aged 10 to 12.

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Cold Case by Julia Platt Leonard

Cold Case More Information about the book
Julia Platt Leonard

When 13-year-old Oz Keillor finds a dead body in his family restaurant, he is soon caught up in a mystery where the stakes are high. His older brother is the prime suspect, and Oz quickly finds out that the murder may be tied to the death of their father years earlier, who was accused of selling nuclear secrets to rouge governments.

With the fate of his family in balance, it's up to Oz to try and crack the case, with the help of his best friend, Rusty. It's a quest that has more twists and turns than the dusty roads of New Mexico -- with the answer being closer to home than Oz ever could have imagined.

Non-series are recommended for readers aged 10 to 12.

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Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh by R. L. LaFevers

Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh More Information about the book
R. L. LaFevers
A Theodosia Throckmorton Mystery (4th in series)

Theodosia sets off to Egypt to return the Emerald Tablet—embedded with the knowledge of some of the ancient world’s most guarded secrets. Accompanied by her cat, Isis (smuggled along in a basket), Theo plans to return the artifact, then explore the mysteries surrounding her own birth and oh, yes— help her mother dig up treasures on her archeological expedition.

But nothing ever works out as planned, especially when a precious treasure appears suddenly, and then just as suddenly disappears ...

When the Serpents of Chaos get involved, Theo finds she’s digging up a lot more than she expected!

A Theodosia Throckmorton Mystery (4th in series) are recommended for readers aged 10 to 12.

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The Maltese Mummy by Trina Robbins

The Maltese Mummy More Information about the book
Trina Robbins
A Chicagoland Detective Agency Graphic Novel (2nd in series)

A friend has vanished, a mummy's amulet is missing, and there's a weirdo out there looking for human brains and hearts. The Chicagoland Detective Agency -- run by Megan, Raf, and his talking dog Bradley -- have more than enough cases on their hands (and paws). But where to start? Megan's too busy for private-detecting. Her haikus won her tickets to meet the drop-dead gorgeous rock star Sun D'Arc. Raf is sure that Sun is too good not to be really bad. He must be involved in one of their cases. And what about Sun's suspiciously familiar manager? Or the pushy new girl at school? Can Bradley, dog genius, pull his team together and sniff out what suspect goes with which case?

A Chicagoland Detective Agency Graphic Novel (2nd in series) are recommended for readers aged 10 to 12.

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Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch More Information about the book
Nnedi Okorafor

Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she's albino. She's a terrific athlete, but can't go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits. And then she discovers something amazing-she is a "free agent," with latent magical power. Soon she's part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?

Non-series are recommended for readers aged 10 to 12.

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First Clues: Mysteries for Kids is your source for information on over 200 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).

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