Tuesday, February 28, 2006

New Monthly Mystery Book Contest for March 2006

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has posted the March Mystery Book Contest on its website. Enter daily for your chance to win a signed hardcover copy of Peach Cobbler Murder, a Hannah Swensen Mystery with Recipes, by Joanne Fluke. Entries will be accepted through the end of March.

Check the mysterious winners page for winners of all contests sponsored by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books. Thanks to all for participating!

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New Mystery Hardcovers for February 2006 (updated)

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has updated the list of new hardcover mystery books for February 2006. This is the final update for this list.

Just two additions to the new mystery list: A Necessary Evil, a Maggie O’Dell mystery, by Alex Kava and The Ethical Assassin by David Liss. David Liss' first book, A Conspiracy of Paper, won multiple awards in 2001 including an Edgar and a Macavity.

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

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Monday, February 27, 2006

Robert Crais Strikes Oil by Mining Elvis Cole

Oline H. Cogdill of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel recently ran a profile on writer Robert Crais, author of the Elvis Cole mystery series.

She writes that Crais abandoned the idea of being a police office or oil refinery worker, the professions of other members of his family, and took off for Hollywood where he hoped to be a screenwriter. And just when that career was taking off he left to write novels.

Cogdill states that Crais is the epitome of the self-educated writer. "My real education came from libraries and books. As far back as I can remember, I have been drawn to reading and movies. I have always been captivated by other worlds, the way fiction can transport you into another place, the way that fiction can elevate you or inspire you," says Crais.

This weekend, Crais will the guest of honor at Sleuthfest, the annual mystery writers conference sponsored by the Florida chapter of the Mystery Writers of America.

Read more about Crais' career and the evolution of the Elvis Cole mystery series here. Visit the website of Robert Crais where you can read and hear excerpts from his latest book, Two Minute Rule.

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Weekly Mystery Godoku Puzzle for 02/27/2006

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: The dame was for hire in a mystery by Sandra Scoppettone published in 2005. 9 letters: A C E F I K Q 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 26, 2006

Press Release: Simon & Schuster Launches New Mystery Aimed at Latino Teen Readers

Simon Pulse, the teen division of New York publisher Simon & Schuster, has released Desert Blood 10pm/9c, the first novel in a potential series of mysteries aimed at young Latino readers.

(I-Newswire) - New York, NY, Feb. 27, 2006 – Desert Blood 10pm/9c introduces teen sleuth Gus Gonz├ílez, a fourteen-year-old with an unusual problem. Raised in foster care, Gus’s fortune unexpectedly changes for the better when he is adopted by one of television’s hottest young stars, actor Nicholas Hernandez. With their relationship in the media spotlight, Gus and Nick find themselves the target of outrageous tabloid stories and dangerous stalkers. When Gus narrowly escapes a knife-wielding intruder and people close to him begin to disappear, it’s up to him and his best friend Lalo to figure out who is behind the attacks—and why.

Drawing on his real-life relationships with several popular Hollywood stars, including Latino actors Eva Longoria and Nicholas Gonzalez, author Ronald Cree has written a fast-paced mystery sure to appeal to the most reluctant of readers. “I wanted to write a page-turner with a Latino male protagonist,” Cree explains. “The Latino population in this country is exploding, and the time seemed right to create an Hispanic hero—a brave, adventurous kid, like Harry Potter. Gus Gonz├ílez is it.”

Desert Blood 10pm/9c is in stores February 28.

Author: Ronald Cree
Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Audience: Ages 12+
ISBN: 1-4169-1156-1
Telephone: 510-208-4123
Email: rcree@ronaldcree.com

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Press Release: “Thanks for Killing Kenny” Published by the University of Florida Bookstore

InstaBook Publisher and the University of Florida Bookstore announced today in Gainesville, Florida the publication of Thanks for Killing Kenny, the first of the Amelia St. John murder mystery series by K. Couturier.

Gainesville, FL (PRWEB) February 18, 2006 -- A romp through the Old South that will tickle your funny bone while scaring you half to death. This is the first book in an eight book series based in the fictional town of Buttesville, Florida. The heroine of the book tackles the supernatural, family, friends and Southern tradition.

Amelia St. John has always appeared somewhat odd to her hometown of Buttesville, Florida. She is a Paranormal Investigator with a PhD in Paranormal Physics. When Sheriff Kenny Quinn turns up dead in Miller’s Mansion during one of her investigations, Amelia is the first one “Thanked” for killing him. Amelia isn’t too concerned about Kenny’s death; no one really liked Kenny anyhow, but when dead bodies start to show up all over Miller’s Mansion she must act or be axed. Amelia is the only one in town with a lick of sense, so it falls on her small shoulders to solve these murders before they strike again.

Amelia returns after 20 years to Buttesville to claim her ancestral home, Southern Vines. She has to renovate the historic house before it falls in on her head. Her ex-husband stealing all her money and her Grandmother’s ghost living at Southern Vines further complicates her life. A hometown that is still planning the next Civil War scrimmage add color to a cast of kooky Southern characters you are sure to fall in love with.

Sherry Mims from The Daily Commercial says, “Thanks for Killing Kenny is a fun romp through rural Florida-with a Supernatural twist. K. Couturier is a natural storyteller. She nails the details of backwoods Florida, complete with colorful characters, Southern pride, clannishness and lots and lots of small-town gossip.

Don’t miss this exciting family saga that will thrill you, make you laugh and make you cry all at the same time. Thanks for Killing Kenny has it all.

The title is available to be ordered online from InstaBook Publisher (http://www.instabookpublisher.com/store/).

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Friday, February 24, 2006

"Body Farm" Founder Tries Hand at Mystery Fiction

Elizabeth A. Davis, of the Associated Press, recently ran a profile on Dr. Bill Bass, an expert in forensic anthropology. Bass founded the University of Tennessee's Anthropological Research Facility, nicknamed the "Body Farm". He is now relying on his expertise in his first mystery novel, Carved in Bone, published last month under the pen name Jefferson Bass.

Davis writes that Bass' study of human decomposition hit mainstream America when Patricia Cornwell wrote about it in her 1994 mystery, The Body Farm. The real Body Farm, across the river from the Tennessee campus, is a place where 110 bodies lie in varying states of decomposition. It's the only such experimental station in the world and is used to teach crime scene investigators from around the country and from the FBI.

The original AP article has been reprinted by several sources, such as The Baxter Bulletin, in which the rest of Davis' profile of Dr. Bill Bass can be read, here.

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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 http://www.cookiedalmatian.com/, 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: http://www.aboutteens.org/. For more on the author and his work, go to http://members.aol.com/phwagner.

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

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