Friday, February 24, 2006

Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (02/24/2006)

A list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending February 24, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Two significant newcomers to the lists this week: The Old Wine Shades, a Richard Jury mystery, by Martha Grimes; and The Two Minute Rule, the latest thriller by Robert Crais.

The Old Wine Shades, the name of a London pub where Richard Jury finds himself listening to an improbable yet intriguing tale of the baffling disappearance of a mother, her autistic son and their dog—and the more baffling reappearance of the pet nine months later, is also the title of the 20th book in this mystery series. Publishers Weekly states, "The author's gift at melding suspense, logical twists and wry humor makes this one of the stronger entries in this deservedly popular series."

Reviews for The Two Minute Rule have been uniformly positive:

Denver Post: "Crais uses the novelist's complete bag of tricks to tell a story that's darker, denser, deeper and more satisfying than anything he's written before."

Los Angeles Times: "[A] full-bodied novel that explores such topics as honor and friendship and justice and love, that brings its protagonists to a new point of self-awareness and, not incidentally, that provides the kind of puzzle plot that sends mystery fans into paroxysms of joy."

The Washington Post: "[S]hrewdly plotted and sharply written, with not an ounce of fat on it. . . . a rare treat."

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

New Star Ratings for Mystery Book Reviews

Mysterious Reviews, the mystery book review site of the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has added "star" ratings to its reviews. All future reviews will be assigned a rating, and ratings will be added to all past reviews as they are reformatted and added to the site. The "star" ratings are to make it easier for visitors to find the best (and, yes, the worst) mysteries reviewed by us.

In contrast to some other review sites that award 5 stars to a mystery just because it was published with little regard to content, the reviewers at Mysterious Reviews look for several critical factors that make a mystery special, and then give out its highest rating only to those books that are best in class.

Reviews and ratings are always subjective, and you'll not always agree with us, but we hope that you will find our reviews insightful and that they help guide you to the best mysteries being published.

Online Game Review: Murder Mystery Oozes Eerie Atmosphere

Anne Reeks, writing for the Houston Chronicle, recently reviewed a mystery-themed game for Windows, Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None.

According to Reeks, "The game is a whodunit heaven of clues, conundrums, secrets and suspects. Moody piano music, superb voice-acting, gorgeous graphics and expansive 3-D environments positively ooze atmosphere."

In describing the game, she adds, "It's set on an island off the English coast in August 1939, when Europe was on the brink of World War II. The cast, plot and dialogue are largely true to the book, Christie's all-time best-seller. A paperback version comes with the game. However, some changes have been made. The most significant is an 11th character, Patrick Narracott, brother of the boatman in the book. He is the player's proxy and neatly slips into the mix, stranded with the others when his boat is sabotaged and furnished with a credible excuse for investigating."

Read her whole review, including her personal experience in setting up and playing the game, here.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

12-Year-Old Author in Growing Group of Young Entrepreneurs

For those of us who love mystery books, we should applaud the efforts of Sydney Kramer. The 12-year-old student and author already has two short paperback mystery books to her credit, and a third book is on the front burner.

Sydney, author of the Cookie Dalmation Mysteries, is one of a growing number of young entrepreneurs starting and running businesses with varying degrees of success. Although figures are elusive, Young Money magazine executive director Todd Romer estimates that tens of thousands of youngsters have joined the business ownership ranks in recent years. Sydney sells her books online at, for $12 each, or 2 for $20.

Read the rest of this fascinating profile from the Kansas City Star here.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Weekly Mystery Godoku Puzzle for 02/20/2006

A new Mystery Godoku Puzzle has been created by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books and is 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!). This week's mystery clue: This James Patterson book was the fourth in the Woman’s Murder Club series. 9 letters: 4 F H J L O T U Y.

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, February 19, 2006

New Mystery Hardcover Titles for March 2006

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has prepared a list of new hardcover mystery books for March 2006. This is the first of three anticipated updates to this list.

Many interesting titles to choose from!

  • Witch Cradle, the third John McIntire mystery by Kathleen Hills;
  • Three mysteries with recipes: Cherry Cheesecake Murder by Joanne Fluke, Steamed by Susan Conant and Jessica Conant-Park, and Death Du Jour by Lou Jane Temple;
  • The latest Death on Demand mystery, Dead Days of Summer, by Carolyn G. Hart;
  • Another entry in the Emma Lord mystery series by Mary Daheim, The Alpine Recluse;
and many, many more.

Visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books often to keep current on your favorite mystery authors and series.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Online Review for Nothing But Trouble

Christine Wald-Hopkins recently reviewed for the Tuscon Weekly Michael McGarrity's 10th mystery featuring Santa Fe Police Chief Kevin Kerney, Nothing But Trouble.

Synopsis of the book from the publisher: After years away on the pro rodeo circuit, Johnny Jordan struts into Santa Fe to ask his boyhood friend, Santa Fe Police Chief Kevin Kerney, to serve as a technical advisor on a contemporary Western movie to be filmed along the Mexican border. Kerney agrees and plans a working vacation on location in a remote area of the state known as the Bootheel with his wife, Lt. Colonel Sara Brannon, and their three year old son, Patrick. But a dead man on a road near an isolated border crossing, a federal undercover investigation into immigrant smuggling, the search for a fugitive from military justice hiding somewhere in Europe, and Johnny Jordan's troublesome behavior ensure that nothing goes as planned.

As separate investigations embroil Kerney and Sara in circumstances that will forever changes their lives, Kerney must care for Patrick while Sara plays a dangerous game of Pentagon politics. Packed with family secrets, international intrigue, and memorable characters, this is McGarrity's most ambitious and involving novel to date, traveling an accelerating arc from Santa Fe to the desert grasslands and mountains of the Bootheel, the most secret levels of the Pentagon, a resort town on the coast of Ireland, and back to an adrenaline-charged climax on a desolate landing strip a few miles north of the Mexican border.

Wald-Hopkins states in her review, "McGarrity has achieved a comfortable balance between Kerney's and Sara's work, and created enough outside activity to make the book feel like real life." She adds, "Nothing but Trouble feels nothing if not authentic. Setting, police procedure, filmmaking, even little current-event comments read as genuine."

Read her entire review here.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Press Release: New Mystery Novel is Not a Garden Variety Detective Story

Sacramento, CA (PRWEB) February 14, 2006 -- In his new novel, The Houseboat Murders, author Paul Wagner morphs a police procedural story into a broader slice-of-life tale involving a guilt-burdened father, his teenaged son, and a killer who masquerades as a high school student to avoid capture.

The reader is eyewitness to the triple homicide which launches the story. As the investigation of the crime proceeds, the father-son duo and a drug ring which includes a crooked cop are drawn into the case. Three more murders are committed.

Many seek the killer. None suspect someone posing as a high school student.

The setting of the story is present-day California, including Los Angeles and more particularly Sacramento and its fast-growing suburb of Elk Grove. Heading the official investigation of the murders is a captain in the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department, Sam Hornbuckle. Unbeknownst to the captain, one of the deputies working the case is on the payroll of a Los Angeles drug czar, who also wants the killer found. Hornbuckle pulls Jack McBride, an alcoholic ex-deputy, into the investigation. McBride’s 17-year old son, Troy, attends the school where the killer is pretending to be a student.

Author Wagner weaves the killer’s interaction with teenagers at school and the misdirected investigations by law enforcement and drug dealers into an irresistible story--disturbingly plausible and sprinkled with humor.

About Paul Wagner: Paul Wagner lives and writes in Sacramento, California. His other mystery novels are: All Rise: The Criminal Trial of 4 Teens, The A-Club Mystery, and Just One Mo.

Father of four and grandfather of eight, Wagner encourages young writers by publishing their stories and essays in a monthly magazine on the internet: For more on the author and his work, go to

The Houseboat Murders (ISBN 0-595-38340-8) is published by iUniverse, Inc. Available on order at major booksellers.

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Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (02/17/2006)

A list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending February 17, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

James Patterson's fifth entry in the Woman's Club Murder series, The 5th Horseman, debuts at the top of the and Barnes&Noble mystery bestsellers list.

From the publisher's description: Accompanied by the newest member of the Women's Murder Club, Yuki Castellano, Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer probes deeper into a series of incidents at a hospital where, as patients are about to be released with a clean bill of health, their conditions take a devastating turn for the worse. Could these cases just be appalling coincidences? Or is a maniac playing God with people's lives? When someone close to the Women's Murder Club begins to exhibit the same frightening symptoms, Lindsay fears no one is safe.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Online Review for The Princess of Burundi

Timothy Peters recently reviewed The Princess of Burundi by Kjell Eriksson (translated by Ebba Segerberg) for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Eriksson's second novel (and first to be published in America) offers a much more privileged and detailed perspective on the myriad factors behind a crime and its widespread effects on the community and families involved. Peters adds, "This is a terrific mystery, and it transcends the too-often pejorative label of genre fiction." He concludes, "As with most mysteries, we're rooting for the detective to set things right, but Eriksson's fine book is a reminder that even the best possible outcome -- catching the guilty -- can never fully repair the damage wrought."

Read his entire review here.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Newspaper Editor Pens Mystery Novel

Karen E. Olson, a wife, mother, and newspaper editor, was the recipient of an award for a debut mystery novel from Mysterious Press, an imprint of Warner Books, which has published the book and will put out her second one in September. Olson covered the police beat when she had to, but didn't love it like the spunky protagonist in her first mystery novel, Sacred Cows. Her character, Annie Seymour, is a smart, bawdy, single police reporter at a newspaper in New Haven, a workaholic who's not afraid to say what's what.

The News-Times of Danbury CT recently ran a profile of Karen Olsen. Olson chose the newsroom for her setting because of her familiarity with one. She's worked for newspapers since 1984, with her last 13 years at the New Haven Register.S he made Annie a more boisterous reporter than newsroom protagonists who precede her. And she picked New Haven as the city since it's the first time it's been chosen for a mystery series, she said.

Read the rest of this interesting profile here.

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Nero Wolfe Author, Goldsborough, Wins Readers' Choice Award

Nero Wolfe award winning author, Robert Goldsborough, wins an award for "Best Historical Mystery" for his first mystery, Three Strikes You're Dead, since writing the Nero Wolfe books.

This award follows close on the heels of the first academic placement for Three Strikes You're Dead. The first book in the Steve "Snap" Malek mystery series has been selected for inclusion in the "History of Chicago" class curriculum at the Loyola Academy in Wilmette (IL), a well respected Jesuit College Preparatory High School.

Three Strikes You're Dead takes fans back to 1938 Chicago, to a time when politics were king and baseball ruled. Dizzy Dean sat in the driver's seat of the Cubs' World Series ride, while scandal rocked the tight political community of the Windy City.

Read the entire press release here.

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Weekly Mystery Godoku Puzzle for 02/13/2006

A new Mystery Godoku Puzzle has been created by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books and is 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!). This week's mystery clue: Rhys Bowen writes the popular Evan Evans mystery series. What is Evans’ profession? (9 letters: A B C E L N O S T).

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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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Online Review for Arthur & George

Arthur & George, the latest novel by Julian Barnes, appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List this past week. Arthur is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, physician, sportsman, gentleman par excellence and the inventor of Sherlock Holmes; George is George Edalji, also a real, if less well-known person, whose path crossed not quite fatefully with the famous author's.

Rob Thomas recently reviewed the book for The Capital Times (Madison WI).

Thomas writes, " ... readers looking for a no-frills mystery might be surprised by the book's considerable literary ambitions." He concludes his review with, "Just as we're resigned to think that the resolution of the mystery will mean the end of the novel, Barnes ties his narrative strands together with a truly breathtaking final scene ... It is an unexpectedly moving coda to a brilliant book, one that suggests that life's real mysteries are ephemeral ones that lie far beyond the reach of even the world's greatest detective."

Read the review in its entirety here.

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Author Sets Mystery In Her Home Town

Rebecca Forster, Long Beach (CA) native, visiting a friend who lives in the International Towers, was taken in by the view of the beach and ocean from the condo’s balcony. But her thoughts weren’t on just the scenery. She mused, "What if someone took a nose dive off this building?” Sounds like the premise for a mystery!

The third installment in her “Witness” series, featuring attorney Josie Baylor-Bates, Privileged Witness, revolves around the death of a wealthy woman, the wife of a Senate hopeful. His sister is accused of pushing his wife from the penthouse balcony of International Towers. Josie, who just happens to be his ex-lover, must defend her. recently ran an article profiling Rebecca Forster. Read the entire article here.

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