Sunday, April 30, 2006

New Monthly Mystery Book Contest for May 2006

Mystery Book Contest
The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has posted the May Mystery Book Contest on its website. Enter daily for your chance to win a signed hardcover copy of No Second Chance by Harlan Coben. Entries will be accepted through the end of May.

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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Friday, April 28, 2006

News: MWA 2006 Edgar Award Winners

The Mystery Writers of America held its annual banquet last night at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York and announced the winners of the 2006 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, television and film published or produced in 2005.

Best Novel: Citizen Vince by Jess Walter (Regan Books)

Best First Novel By An American Author: Officer Down by Theresa Schwegel (St. Martin's Minotaur)

Best Paperback Original: Girl in the Glass by Jeffrey Ford (Dark Alley)

Best Critical/Biographical: Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak (Harcourt)

Best Fact Crime: Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece by Edward Dolnick (HarperCollins)

Best Short Story: "The Catch" - Greatest Hits by James W. Hall (Carroll & Graf)

Best Young Adult: Last Shot by John Feinstein (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

Best Juvenile: The Boys of San Joaquin by D. James Smith (Simon & Schuster Children's Books)

Best Play: Matter of Intent by Gary Earl Ross (Theater Loft)

Best Television Episode Teleplay: Sea of Souls - "Amulet" Teleplay by Ed Whitmore

Best Motion Picture Screen Play: Syriana - Screenplay by Stephen Gaghan, based on the book by Robert Baer (Warner Brothers)

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books offers its congratulations to all nominees and winners!

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Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (04/28/2006)

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending April 28, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Topping the charts at both and Barnes&
Promise Me by Harlan Coben
Promise Me by Harlan Coben, the 8th mystery to feature sports and entertainment agent Myron Bolitar after a 6 year absense. Publishers Weekly states, "Coben fans will find much to enjoy in this well-crafted suspense novel, which has a startling final twist."

Also, for the first time in many months, the top five books on the New York Time Bestseller List are all mysteries.

Visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books often where we provide readers and collectors of mysteries with the best and most current information about their favorite mystery authors, books, and series.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

News: Random House Announces New Imprint: Mortalis

Random House has announced it is launching a new imprint, Mortalis, that will reissue classic and out-of-print mystery titles together with paperback originals. Set to start in spring of 2007, Mortalis will be republishing such classic mystery writers as Martin Cruz Smith, P. D. James, Agatha Christie and Wilkie Collins. Three original paperback titles will also be published: Boris Akunin's Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog, David Corbett's Blood of Paradise, and Alex Carr's An Accidental American.

Jane von Mehren, Random House trade paperbacks vice-president and publisher, said the new imprint is intended to bring authors who have appeared largely in mass market into trade paperback. The idea, she said, is to find authors who might benefit in a different format.

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Press Release: Bay Area Author Creates Art Forger Alter-Ego in Feint of Art, Her Debut Mystery

Visit the world of art fakes, forgers, and felons with the new Annie Kincaid Art Mystery series. San Francisco Bay Area faux finisher has released her debut novel, Feint of Art, in which an ex-forger tries to go straight in the City by the Bay.

Oakland (HELIOGRAPHICA NEWS) 4/18/06 -- (HELIOGRAPHICA NEWS) -- Oakland artist Julie Goodson-Lawes began painting forgeries as a young girl. "In the old days, painters trained themselves by copying famous artists. I skipped art school in favor of learning by mimicry as well." Her abilities as a copyist led naturally to a career as a decorative painter and muralist. "If you want a Monet covering the bathroom walls or your daughter's portrait in the style of John Singer Sargent, I'm the artist to call."

After more than a decade as a professional painter-for-hire Goodson-Lawes used her insider knowledge of painting techniques and her interest in art forgery to write a novel on the subject. She paired up with her sister Carolyn, a historian, to pen the Annie Kincaid Mystery Series under the pseudonym Hailey Lind. The first in the series, Feint of Art, is now available in stores everywhere.

Feint of Art is a humorous take on the very real world of art forgery and theft. "The stories are based on actual events and characters " this is a fascinating realm of underground talent, runaway greed, and worldwide smuggling." Interpol estimates that art crime is the third most lucrative international crime, right after drugs and arms smuggling.

Goodson-Lawes brings her insider knowledge of art forgery techniques to the books. Feint of Art's main character, Annie Kincaid, learned art forgery at the knee of her grandfather Georges, a famous and unrepentant forger. Because Annie knows how to copy art, she also understands how to recognize forgeries and uses this ability to track down stolen paintings and drawings. "Forgers need a great deal of talent to copy the "signature" of a particular artist. They also need to understand the history of art so that they don't make easily identifiable gaffes like using pigments that weren't produced until after their painting was supposedly created. Then there are other basic forgery skills that are easy for an artist to master, such as how to make paper look old and how to force cracks into varnish. There are actual "how-to" handbooks on the subject."

Throughout the book Annie's grandfather offers insights into the world of art forgery, while artistic techniques and the histories of several famous paintings are discussed. The book also includes Annie's basic recipe for faux finishing walls and furniture.

For further information visit Feint of Art, first in the new Annie Kincaid Art Mystery Series Available in paperback, $6.99; 328pp. Signet Mystery (January 3, 2006) ISBN 0-451-21699-7.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Profile: Fame & Fortune - Author Carol Higgins Clark

Jay MacDonald of (not your typical website for mystery author profiles!) recently interviewed Carol Higgins Clark, author of the Los Angeles private eye Regan Reilly mystery series and daughter of bestselling suspense writer Mary Higgins Clark.

MacDonald writes that growing up in New Jersey, Carol had her sights set on an acting career. When her mother was having trouble finding time to launch a literary career and work full time to support her five children, Carol volunteered to retype her manuscripts which quickly became runaway bestsellers. When an editor suggested that Carol try her hand at her mother's trade, she did so, giving it her own humorous spin.

Mother and daughter have teamed up on three best-selling holiday suspense novels, Deck the Halls, He Sees You When You're Sleeping and The Christmas Thief. In Carol's latest Regan Reilly adventure, Hitched (the title of all her mysteries are a single word ending in "-ed"), she marries her heroine to steady boyfriend Jack "No Relation" Reilly, ushering in a new chapter to her popular series.

Read his entire in-depth interview here.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Weekly Mystery Godoku Puzzle for 04/24/2006

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for April 24, 2006A 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 Dashiell Hammett episodic mystery, released in 1929, was made into a miniseries in 1978 (with “The”). 9 letters: A C D E I N R S U.

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, April 23, 2006

Online Reviews for The Virgin of Small Plains

Two reviews for Nancy Pickard's stand-alone suspense book The Virgin of Small Plains have recently appeared online.

The Virgin of Small Plains
Synopsis (from the publisher): Small Plains, Kansas, January 23, 1987: In the midst of a deadly blizzard, eighteen-year-old Rex Shellenberger scours his father’s pasture, looking for helpless newborn calves. Then he makes a shocking discovery: the naked, frozen body of a teenage girl, her skin as white as the snow around her. Even dead, she is the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen. It is a moment that will forever change his life and the lives of everyone around him. The mysterious dead girl–the “Virgin of Small Plains”–inspires local reverence. In the two decades following her death, strange miracles visit those who faithfully tend to her grave; some even believe that her spirit can cure deadly illnesses. Slowly, word of the legend spreads.

But what really happened in that snow-covered field? Why did young Mitch Newquist disappear the day after the Virgin’s body was found, leaving behind his distraught girlfriend, Abby Reynolds? Why do the town’s three most powerful men–Dr. Quentin Reynolds, former sheriff Nathan Shellenberger, and Judge, Tom Newquist–all seem to be hiding the details of that night?

Seventeen years later, when Mitch suddenly returns to Small Plains, simmering tensions come to a head, ghosts that had long slumbered whisper anew, and the secrets that some wish would stay buried rise again from the grave of the Virgin. Abby–never having resolved her feelings for Mitch–is now determined to uncover exactly what happened so many years ago to tear their lives apart.

Three families and three friends, their worlds inexorably altered in the course of one night, must confront the ever-unfolding consequences in award-winning author Nancy Pickard’s remarkable novel of suspense. Wonderfully written and utterly absorbing, The Virgin of Small Plains is about the loss of faith, trust, and innocence . . . and the possibility of redemption.

From Ron Bernas of the Detroit Free Press: "Pickard keeps the surprises coming and the tension high all the way to the end. Several explanations of the night seem plausible, so anything seems possible, to Pickard's credit." He concludes, The Virgin of Small Plains "stands out from the pack." Read the entire review here.

From Dorman T. Shindler, special to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "With its perfectly sketched scenes (the ice storm that opens the novel, a moving scene of teenage love, another of a character defying Thomas Wolfe's missive about going home), sharply drawn characters and finely painted plot, The Virgin of Small Plains is a truly suspenseful novel." Read the entire review here.

Read a recent profile of Nancy Pickard here.

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Profile: Mystery Writer Finds a Beloved Character: Kansas

Dorman T. Shindler, special to Kansas City Star (and reprinted online at, recently profiled mystery writer Nancy Pickard.

Shindler writes that four years ago Nancy Pickard was still hesitantly talking about writing her long-planned “Kansas novel.” Now she’s fielding offers from Hollywood and selling foreign reprint rights to publishers in dozens of countries. All because of her new, mainstream suspense novel, The Virgin of Small Plains.

Why didn’t she write about her home state before? Pickard replies, “It took me a long time to admit that I really love Kansas. I think I had sort of that feeling that (her character) Mitch had: It sort of galls to admit it. Plus we get so much bad P.R.!” Pickard adds with a laugh. And yet, along with the well-drawn characters Pickard manages to make the Sunflower State a supporting character.

Nancy Pickard is the author of the award-winning Jenny Cain mystery series as well as the Marie Lightfoot trilogy.

Read the rest of the profile of Nancy Pickard here. Also, read a summary of recent online reviews of The Virgin of Small Plains here.

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Games of Mystery Website Adds Links to Online Games

Games of MysteryGames of Mystery, a website designed to provide visitors with information about all types of mystery-themed games including games for the PC, board games, and mystery parties for adults, teens, and children, has added links to online and downloadable games.

The popular Inspector Parker and Mystery Case Files: Huntsville games are currently available. The new Mystery Case Files: Prime Suspects game will be added soon (see press release on this game). Other online games will be added over the next few weeks.

Visit Games of Mystery often to see what's new in mystery games!

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Press Release: Big Fish Studios Releases Mystery Case Files: Prime Suspects

SEATTLE, April 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Big Fish Studios, the game development division of Big Fish Games, today launched Mystery Case Files: Prime Suspects, a thrilling game that puts game players in the role of a Master Detective. This title is the second in the Mystery Case Files series, a highly-anticipated sequel to Big Fish Studios' most successful game to date, Mystery Case Files: Huntsville, which broke all previous sales records, bringing in more than $2.4 million in the first four months.

"After we finished Huntsville, we hired more artists and diligently started working on the sequel," said Patrick Wylie, Vice President of Big Fish Studios. "The players have been e-mailing us on a daily basis, trying to see when Prime Suspects was going to launch. Their wait will be worth it."

"We finally got to put everything in Prime Suspects that we wanted to put into Huntsville," said Adrian Woods, the game's designer. "It's great to see players enjoying the added gameplay twists, as well as the collection of outlandish suspects. We're looking forward to challenging the audience with additional Mystery Case Files episodes in the near future."

Mystery Case Files is quickly establishing itself as a powerful brand and franchise from Big Fish Games. Mystery Case Files: Huntsville has been enjoyed by more than 8 million consumers, boasts more than 15 million crimes solved, and has remained the top download on almost all game portals that have released it, including AOL Games, Yahoo! Games, MSN Games, Pogo, Big Fish Games, Game Fiesta, Arcade Town, and Shockwave.

At 7am on April 6, Big Fish Games made Mystery Case Files: Prime Suspects available on their Web site and reported record sales throughout the day, hitting a peak of 3.3 games per minute. If these pre-release numbers are any indication, Mystery Case Files: Prime Suspects looks set to take the casual gaming industry by storm.

"Mystery Case Files: Huntsville has been one of our most successful games released," said Brandon Ross, Senior Content Producer at Yahoo! Games. "Judging from the new plot points and stunning screen shots we've seen, Prime Suspects appears to be another candidate for popularity on Yahoo! Games."

"The next installment looks to be bigger and better than its acclaimed predecessor," said Marc Saltzman, Casual Game Reviewer with online magazine Gamezebo. "Whether or not you've played Mystery Case Files: Huntsville, be on the lookout for Mystery Case Files: Prime Suspects, as it looks to be a fun, challenging, and fresh game to help unleash your inner detective."

Mystery Case Files: Prime Suspects transports game fanatics to Capital City, USA, a large metropolis where the Queen's Hope Diamond, on loan from Her Majesty the Queen, was just stolen from the Piazza Gallery Museum. Your job, as Master Detective, is to investigate all of the usual suspects and whittle them down to the five Prime Suspects. Perform thorough investigations, find the culprit, and recover the stolen gem.

There are plenty of suspects to eliminate and clues to search for within the game's 22 ever-changing levels -- a strong lure for players who seek long-term replayability. Adventure-style game mechanics enhance the gameplay by having players search for items which unlock subsequent levels. Thousands of constantly transforming clues are cleverly hidden throughout the beautiful illustrations in each of the 29 unique locations, creating a new experience each time you play. The stunning graphics are further enhanced by the original music, infused with immersive-environment audio and sound effects.

Big Fish Games Studios is dedicated to creating a diverse array of innovative, high-quality games that spur imagination and captivate players. By providing immersive gameplay in an accessible environment, Mystery Case Files: Prime Suspects is poised to exceed the previous successes of titles from Big Fish Games Studios, including the best-selling community game Mahjong Towers Eternity, the beautiful Fairies and the innovative Magic Vines.

About Big Fish Games

Big Fish Games, Inc., a developer, publisher, and distributor of casual, family-friendly games, has one of the biggest and highest quality game catalogs on the Internet with over 300 titles, a global network reach of over 25 million monthly unique users, and distribution partners such as Nickelodeon and Through the efforts of a network of more than 300 game development partners, Big Fish Games offers consumers "A New Game Every Day" and makes acquiring and playing internet delivered downloadable and online games a safe, easy and reliable experience.

Big Fish Games has emerged as one of the world's largest and fastest-growing casual game destinations as measured by unique monthly users via comScore Media Metrix 2005 traffic reports. With help from leading game sites like Big Fish Games, Yahoo, Microsoft's MSN Games, Electronic Arts' Pogo, and AOL Games, the online games industry has grown from obscurity to a thriving, rapidly-growing market. Online games revenue reached $700 million in 2004 according to reports from IDC, a global market intelligence and advisory firm, and is projected to grow to $2.2 billion by 2008.

Big Fish Games, "Where the World Goes to Play." Visit Big Fish Games at


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Friday, April 21, 2006

New Mystery Hardcover Titles for May 2006

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

Too many mysteries, too little time ...

The Art of Detection by Laurie R. King, in which San Francisco homicide detective Kate Martinelli crosses paths with Sherlock Holmes–in a spellbinding dual mystery. Fifth book in this series.

The Hard Way by Lee Child. On the trail of a vicious kidnapper, Jack Reacher is learning the chilling secrets of his employer's past ... and of a horrific drama in the heart of a nasty little war. Tenth mystery in this series.

Bad Twin by Gary Troup. The "Lost" mystery, a suspenseful novel that touches on many powerful themes, including the consequence of vengeance, the power of redemption, and where to turn when all seems lost.

Through a Glass, Darkly by Donna Leon, the 15th mystery in the outstanding Commissario Guido Brunetti series, set in Venice. Read a review of this book by Mysterious Reviews.

The Bookwoman's Last Fling by John Dunning. Sixth mystery in the Cliff Janeway series, this one rich with the lore of both books and horses.

... and many, many more!

Mass market paperback mysteries for May 2006 will be posted next week on the new Mystery Bookshelf.

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

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Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (04/21/2006)

A list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending April 21, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Notable this week on the lists:

Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith, the latest installment in the bestselling No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. Library Journal states, "... the seventh novel in this series is just as entertaining as the previous six." And Kirkus Reviews adds, "The denouement, which brings Mma Ramotswe face to face with evil, is the perfect climax to a tale as refreshing as a month in the country-the country of Botswana."

Visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books often where we provide readers and collectors of mysteries with the best and most current information about their favorite mystery authors, books, and series.

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

New Website: The Mystery Bookshelf

A new website has been launched that provides a convenient list of recently published mass market mystery paperbacks.

The Mystery Bookshelf may be browsed by author, series character, or date of publication. A detailed description of each book including a depiction of the book cover and synopsis can be viewed by clicking on the mystery book title. Mystery titles on this website are updated frequently, and remain available for browsing for at least six months. (Older mysteries are moved to the archives.)

Notes are appended after the synopsis of the mystery book. These notes typically include what entry the book is in the mystery series, any awards the book may have won, if a hardcover edition is available, or interesting facts about the author.

Links are provided to purchase the books from

The Mystery Bookshelf is commited to providing readers of popular mysteries with the best and most current information about their favorite mystery authors, books, and series. Please visit often!

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Profile: Down East Mystery Blends Home Repair, Homicide

Nancy Grape of Freeport (ME), freelance writer for Maine Today, recently wrote a profile of the author of the "Home Repair is Homicide" mystery series, Sarah Graves.

According to Grape, a mystery by Graves "... comes with an authentic Maine setting." The "Home Repair is Homicide"mysteries are typically set in Eastport, Maine.

"In 1823, Eastport's harbor was so busy, people said you could walk across the bay on the decks of ships waiting to come in," Graves writes. "Now a single scallop-dragger motored on it toward the Canadian shore."

In Graves' most recent mystery, Nail Biter, hyper-energetic Jake Tiptree and her best friend Ellie White have bought a run-down cottage in Quoddy Village that they plan to fix up and sell. Those plans give way, however, when requests to rent the cottage prove too enticing. And Jake and Ellie find themselves hosts to a group dallying with witchcraft.

Grape concludes her profile with, "Graves has crafted a mystery that blends home-based craftsmanship with the puzzle of a well-flavored mystery. She has also breathed life into characters who are Maine strong, not just in muscle but in integrity. Her heroine, a former money manager on Wall Street, is bright, perceptive and courageous. And she gets the job done, whether it means using her hands or her head."

Read the entire profile of Sarah Graves here.

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