Thursday, May 18, 2006

Editorial Reply: Susan Wittig Albert - Books Truly Can't Be Judged by Covers

Last week we posted a summary of an editorial by Linda Brazill of the Madison (WI) Capitol Times where she took a critical look at gardening mysteries. One of the mysteries she took exception with was Bleeding Hearts by Susan Wittig Albert. Ms. Albert wrote a letter to the editor, which was published on The Capitol Times (on madision.com), and is summarized here:

Dear Editor: In Linda Brazill's recent review of my book, Bleeding Hearts, she complains that the book's cover depicts one species of a plant while the text refers to another, "a mistake that only a non-gardener would make," she says.

Ms. Brazill needs to know that fiction writers are rarely consulted about their cover art. It is downright unfair (as well as uninformed) to attempt to judge the author's gardening experience from the artist's cover design. In fact, I've gardened extensively for over 20 years.

There are lots of things about plants that I don't know, and I'm just as capable of making an error as the next person. But I do know enough about the publishing business to be wary of judging a book by its cover.

Susan Wittig Albert
Burnet County, Texas

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Profile: Antiques Lover Mystery Author Deborah Morgan

Will people kill for antiques? Whitmore Lake (MI) crime writer Deborah Morgan certainly thinks so, writes the Ann Arbor News.

The Majolica Murders by Deborah MorganMorgan has just published her fifth antiques lover mystery, The Majolica Murders, in which Seattle-based ex-FBI agent and antiques picker Jeff Talbot investigates the murder of a local antiques dealer.

Majolica is a type of colorful, glazed earthenware that originated on the Spanish island of Mallorca. Morgan chose it for the series after watching TV. "I'd seen the turtle reservoir and bowl on Martha Stewart and fell in love with that particular set. Just seeing something like that can trigger an entire mystery for me,'' Morgan says.

The Majolica Murders may be the last of the antiques lover's mystery, adds Morgan, who is still deciding what to do with the series. However, whatever happens, you'll still be able to spot her at the Ann Arbor Antiques Market on a weekend.

Deborah Morgan is married to mystery author Loren D. Estleman who writes, among other series, the long-running and well-received Amos Walker mysteries.

Read the rest of profile of Deborah Morgan, as published on Mlive.com, here.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Press Release: Hard Case Crime's "Say It With Bullets" Optioned By Caribou Films

Say It With Bullets by Richard J. PowellNew York, NY; Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) May 15, 2006 -– Hard Case Crime announced today that Caribou Films has optioned the movie rights to Richard Powell’s classic comic crime novel Say It With Bullets and has attached veteran filmmaker Blaine Novak as screenwriter and producer. Films written by Mr. Novak include They All Laughed, directed by Peter Bogdanovich and starring Audrey Hepburn, and Strangers Kiss, starring Peter Coyote. Mr. Novak also wrote and directed Good to Go, starring Art Garfunkel, as well as Blue Champagne, produced by Jack Nicholson.

Originally published in 1953 and reissued for the first time in half a century by Hard Case Crime earlier this year, Say It With Bullets tells the story of Bill Wayne, an army officer who tries to shut down a smuggling operation and winds up shot in the back and left for dead by one of his fellow soldiers. When he recovers, Bill sets off to find out which of his former army buddies was behind the shooting, using a bus tour of the west as camouflage. But when the beautiful tour guide stumbles onto Bill’s scheme and a mysterious figure starts picking off the suspects at each stop along the way, events spiral out of control.

"Say It With Bullets combines the best elements of great comedy and great suspense storytelling,” said Blaine Novak. “It’s got an irresistible plot, characters you just love, fantastic dialogue, and a breathtaking climax at Yosemite National Park that’s just begging to be put on film. This is one hell of a book and I’m very excited to work on bringing it to the screen.”

For more information about Hard Case Crime or Say It With Bullets, visit www.HardCaseCrime.com.

Read the entire press release here.

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Press Release: 22nd Annual Chicago Tribune Printers Row Book Fair Announces Featured Authors

CHICAGO, May 15 /PRNewswire/ -- From toddler-wielding parents to antique book collectors to fiction aficionados, the Chicago Tribune Printers Row Book Fair has something to please book lovers of all kinds. The Fair -- the largest free outdoor literary event in the Midwest -- is expected to draw nearly 90,000 visitors to the two-day showcase, set in Chicago's historic Printers Row neighborhood June 3-4.

As always, the Fair tackles timely topics, including immigration, the death penalty and the environment; features panels of au courant bloggers-turned-authors and graphic novelists; and welcomes more than 100 literary luminaries. Among the authors scheduled to appear are:

Michael Connelly: The bestselling mystery author switches to nonfiction for a collection of articles written during his tenure as a crime reporter in "Crime Beat." Readers will learn how real life influences fiction.

The Chicago Tribune Printers Row Book Fair is presented in association with the Chicago Public Library. Sponsors of this year's fair include Target, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Jewel-Osco, C-SPAN and Columbia College Chicago.

The Chicago Tribune operates the Printers Row Book Fair as part of the company's ongoing commitment to the written word and its support of literacy and literary endeavors. For more information about the Fair and a complete list of programs and exhibitors, go to http://www.printersrowbookfair.org.

Read the entire press release which lists all featured authors here.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

News: Elmore Leonard Gets Lifetime Nod

Elmore Leonard, the doyen of crime thriller writers, received a lifetime achievement award Wednesday, May 10th, from the UK Crime Writers Association, writes the Hollywood Reporter.

Leonard, who has seen many of his novels such as Get Shorty, Rum Punch, and 3:10 to Yuma turned into movies, received the 21st Diamond Dagger during a packed reception at London's Savoy Hotel.

The Michigan-based Leonard, who has previously been named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, released his latest book, The Complete Western Stories, this month.

Read the entire article, as published by Reuters UK, here.

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New Mystery Hardcover Titles for May 2006 (updated)

New MysteriesAn updated list of new hardcover mysteries for May 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website. Twelve additional titles have been added including ...

In Plain Sight by C. J. BoxThe sixth outing for Wyoming game and fish warden Joe Pickett in C. J. Box's latest mystery, In Plain Sight. Kirkus Reviews states that Box "... continues to write the sharpest suspensers west of the Pecos. " Publishers Weekly adds that the author "... expertly evokes Wyoming's landscape, wildlife, people and politics."

Cold Mooon by Jeffrey DeaverThe seventh Lincoln Rhyme mystery, Cold Moon by Jeffrey Deaver, pits the quadriplegic NYPD detective against a brilliant criminal mastermind called the Watchmaker. Kirkus Reviews asks the question, "Which of the leads, revelations, twists and confessions can be trusted, and which have been planted for purposes best known to the Watchmaker? Deaver, an old pro at pulling rugs out from under readers, adds a piquant complication this time ..."

Bishop's Reach by Kathryn R. WallKathryn R. Wall's sixth Bay Tanner mystery, Bishop's Reach, finds the Hilton Head Island (SC) inquiry agent up to her lovely green eyeballs in clients with hidden agendas. Adds Publishers Weekly, "Oozing Southern charm, this whodunit flows like hot molasses to a deliciously clever conclusion."

Bishop's Reach by Kathryn R. WallAnd though it is folly to judge a book by its cover, sometimes a dust jacket evokes powerful yet subtle images of mystery. Such is the case with The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl. Baltimore lawyer Quentin Clark explores the puzzling circumstances of Edgar Allan Poe’s demise and discovers that the writer’s last days are riddled with unanswered questions.

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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Weekly Mystery Godoku Puzzle for 05/15/2006

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for May 15, 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: Holly Winter became a dog trainer to the Mob in this mystery by Susan Conant (with “The”). 9 letters: A D E F G H O R 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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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Editorial: Garden Whodunits Need to Get Details Right

Linda Brazill of the Madison (WI) Capitol Times recently took a critical look at gardening mysteries, and concluded that several came up a bit short, horticulturally speaking.

"Gardens seem like the perfect setting for mysteries.", she writes. "There are any number of poisonous plants, like foxglove and monkshood, that make ideal murder weapons to say nothing of deadly cocktails conjured up to kill weeds. There are mazes to hide in, borders to bury the body in, and an endless supply of historical allusions and poetic inspiration."

She adds that three recent horticultural whodunits all have something to recommend them but none of them quite made a compelling argument for setting their stories in gardens.

Of the three books mentioned, Brazill notes that in Susan Wittig Albert's most recent mystery, Bleeding Hearts with China Bayles, she gets all the garden and herb information correct. In addition, "The very last pages [of the book] contain the lovely lemony recipes that China's catering crew made during the course of the story."

Anthony Eglin's second English Garden mystery, The Lost Gardens, is more problematic. She notes that, "On a visit to the famed English garden Hidcote Manor to show the American homeowner what a grand estate garden looks like, our sleuth points out cherry trees, cannas, oriental poppies and skunk cabbage all apparently blooming at the same time. I don't believe that even the Brits could manage that gardening sleight of hand."

Finally, Brazill looked at Carol Goodman's The Ghost Orchid. She found that the sense of the garden and the detail and description of it overwhelmed the characters. Goodman's earlier mysteries were complex but not confusing, a critical distinction and one that mars The Ghost Orchid. In short, "A glorious mix if a bit of a mess."

Read the entire article, as published on Madison.com, here.

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Profile: Domenic Stansberry, North Beach Noir

The Big Boom by Domenic StansberryWith the publication this month of the second entry in the classical noir North Beach mystery series by Marin County resident Domenic Stansberry, The Big Boom, San Francisco Chronicle writer Carolyn Jones ran a brief profile of this local mystery author.

Stansberry was born in Washington, D.C., but lived in North Beach for many years before moving to Corte Madera. The Big Boom is his sixth published novel. Last year, his book The Confession won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best paperback original mystery novel.

The Big Boom takes place in North Beach during the dot-com heyday, when illusions of never-ending wealth melded with the illusions of San Francisco's most literary neighborhood. Private investigator Dante Mancuso gets a call from the Italian American parents of his childhood sweetheart, a dot-com publicist who's gone missing. Shortly thereafter, a woman's corpse washes up from the bay, and the mystery begins.

Read the entire profile by Carolyn Jones of Domenic Stansberry here.

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (05/12/2006)

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending May 12, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

(The original text of this posting was inadvertantly deleted; the links, however, have been restored.)

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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Press Release: A Mystery You Can Only Find in the Public Library

Announcing the release of Glass Chameleon, seventh mystery in the Deets Shanahan Mystery Series. This release discusses the significance of library edition publishing within the context of the mainstream publishing industry.

San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) May 11, 2006 — They are rarely reviewed in the mainstream newspapers and seldom found on the bookshelves of Borders or Barnes & Noble. Though available through such online bookstores as Amazon.com, they are books specifically published for libraries.

This is the case for Ronald Tierney’s Deets Shanahan mystery series, the seventh of which — Glass Chameleon — will be released in the U.S. in July. Severn House, a U.K. publisher noted for high-quality, hardback library editions of mysteries, thrillers and other books, picked up the series ten years after the original publisher dropped it.

“This was during the time when many mid-list writers disappeared,” Tierney said about his series that featured a septuagenarian Indianapolis private eye. “I’m glad he’s back. Of course I hope for wider distribution. Nonetheless it’s reassuring that he’s in the libraries. But what this says to mystery lovers who might want to go beyond the mainstream mysteries is ‘Check out your local library. They have books you won’t find anywhere else.’”

Tierney’s new book takes place in his native Indianapolis and pre-Katrina New Orleans.

“I think Glass Chameleon is the most provocative of the Shanahan books,” Tierney continued. “As we’re growing up, we are often advised not to discuss sex, politics and religion in polite company. That’s pretty much what the book is about. It’s not polite. It’s still funny, I hope, but it doesn’t shy away from current controversial issues in the process of finding a murderer.”

Booklist said this about the new book: “A plot chock-a-block with unexpected twists, a succinct writing style…unusual characters, and deadpan humor add up to a top-notch read in Tierney’s still-stellar series.”

To find out more about Severn House and its authors, visit www.severnhouse.com. For more information about Tierney’s Shanahan series, visit www.ronaldtierney.com. Tierney, an Indianapolis native, currently lives in San Francisco where he is working on several fiction projects.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

News: Tom Selleck Hoping to Star as Jesse Stone for a Long Time

Cynthia Littleton of the Hollywood Reporter writes that Tom Selleck is hoping to continue with the Jesse Stone telefilms as a recurring franchise for CBS. The most recent installment, Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise, was broadcast last week on CBS and earned the best reviews of the three movies so far. It also ranked as CBS' second-most-watched movie of the season with nearly 15 million viewers.

Selleck is quick to give CBS credit for allowing him to make the kind of movies he wants to make with the Stone franchise.

"I don't think you need an explosion in the first 10 minutes," Selleck said. "You don't need to do ripped-from-the-headlines stuff. If the audience likes the character enough, they'll go with you when he goes into a dark room at home alone, pours a scotch and sits down to think a while."

The Jesse Stone mysteries on CBS are based on the novels by best-selling mystery author Robert B. Parker.

Read the entire Hollywood Reporter article, as published on Philly.com, here.

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New Feature: Weekly Updates of Online Mystery Reviews

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has added a new feature for our visitors.

In addition to mysteries that we review, every Wednesday we'll post links to other online reviews of recently published mystery books. A brief summary of the review is also provided. (Book titles will be linked to Amazon.com where reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, among others, are also posted.)

We recognize the value of the diversity of opinions reviewers have for mysteries, and look forward to your visits to Mysterious Reviews to keep current on your favorite mystery books, authors, and series characters.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Mystery Book Review: The Abortionist's Daughter by Elisabeth Hyde

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has published its review of The Abortionist's Daughter by Elisabeth Hyde on its website. For our blog readers, it is reprinted here in its entirety.

The Abortionist's Daughter by Elisabeth HydeSynopsis (from the publisher): Two weeks before Christmas, Diana Duprey, an outspoken abortion doctor, is found floating in her pool, a bruise the size of a golf ball visible through her dark curls. A national figure, Diana inspired passion and ignited tempers, never more so than on the day of her death.

Her husband, Frank, an attorney in the D.A.’s office for more than twenty years, had fought bitterly with her on the day of her murder. Yet to reveal the nature of their fight would cost him not only his career but something greater still—a relationship he will go to any lengths to protect. Diana’s daughter, Megan, a college freshman, had also quarreled with Diana that day, and her role in her mother’s murder will prove more significant than she ever could have anticipated. The Reverend Stephen O’Connell, founder of the town’s pro-life coalition, obviously had issues with Diana, but his anger extended beyond the political to the personal—namely, Dr. Duprey’s involvement with his own troubled teenager. Meanwhile, the detective on the case grapples to make sense of it all. His investigation implicates many in this town and reveals a series of gross miscalculations, each one challenging what we know, or think we know, about community, fidelity, justice, and love.

Review: "... some people had the power to dig themselves into the very deepest part of your brain and stay there until you paid them the attention they demanded."

This passage, from Elisabeth Hyde's stellar mystery The Abortionist's Daughter, a complex character study of people brought together by the murder of Diana Duprey, an abortion provider for a small town outside Denver, can be applied to most of the people in the book and is one of the reasons this is such an intriguing story. As the police investigate the murder, the relationships Diana had with her family and associates are carefully disclosed in a way that adds credibility to the plot and depth to the characters. The conclusion, though not unexpected, is nonetheless startling and dramatically revealed.

The title is something of a misnomer, and unfortunately tends to be erroneously suggestive. Though the daughter plays a prominent role in the book, the title implies the story is about her. It isn't. Furthermore, the use of the word "abortion" in any form is provocative. Some prospective readers may shy away thinking that the story is about abortion. It isn't. When a detective on the case calls the victim an "abortionist", her daughter quickly corrects him: she was an "abortion provider". It was her profession, but Hyde wisely doesn't take sides on the issue primarily because it is largely a plot device, to set up a professional and personal relationship between Diana and the founder of the town's pro-life coalition. It's unclear why either the author or the publisher chose this title as it unnecessarily detracts from an otherwise outstanding work of mystery fiction.

Special thanks to Random House for providing the ARC of The Abortionist's Daughter for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

Visit Mysterious Reviews for other reviews of current and older mystery books.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

News: Mystery Novelist Herbert Burkholz, 73

Herbert Burkholz, 73, a mystery novelist who briefly was a speechwriter at the Food and Drug Administration in the 1990s, died of lung cancer April 30 at Washington County Hospital in Hagerstown (MD), reports the Washington Post.

Burkholz wrote several mysteries, including a series with a group of mind-reading CIA agents known as "the Sensitives". He also collaborated with Clifford Irving on a number of spy thrillers.

Read the Washington Post's profile of Herbert Burkholz here.

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