Friday, June 30, 2006

Mystery Book Giveaway for July 2006

Mystery Book GiveawayThe Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has posted a new mystery book giveaway for July 2006.

This month's prize: a signed copy of Naked in Death by J. D. Robb.

Enter daily at the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website. And while you're there, please visit the many features that we have to offer!

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books provides readers and collectors of mysteries with the best and most current information about their favorite mystery authors, books, and series.

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Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (06/30/2006)

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending June 30, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Danse Macabre by Laurell K. HamiltonDanse Macabre, the 14th Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter mystery by Laurell K. Hamilton, edges out Janet Evanovich's 12 Sharp at the top of Barnes & Noble's mystery hardcover bestsellers this week. These days, Anita Blake is less interested in vampire politics than in an ancient, ordinary dread she shares with women down the ages: she may be pregnant. And, if she is, whether the father is a vampire, a werewolf, or someone else entirely, she knows perfectly well that being a Federal Marshal known for raising the dead and being a vampire executioner, is no way to bring up a baby. Publishers Weekly states, "When the vampire ballet takes the stage toward the end, several new plot elements emerge. The very lack of a finale suggests that there's no end in sight for this fabulously imagined series."

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, June 29, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Waking Lazarus by T. L. Hines

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has published its review of Waking Lazarus by T. L. Hines on its website. For our blog readers, it is reprinted here in its entirety.

Waking Lazarus by T. L. HinesSynopsis (from the publisher): Jude Allman became famous as the man who died and came back to life three times. Now he’s a recluse, hiding from the world in the deep forests of Montana.

But when children around him begin disappearing, his days of hiding are over. Only Jude has the key to stopping the abductions--hidden inside the mysteries of his own deaths. Now he must face the questions that have haunted him. What if his deaths aren’t just accidents? What if there’s a reason behind it all? What if he’s been brought back just for this moment?

Review: Waking Lazarus is T. L. Hines' debut thriller about Jude Allman, a man who must come to terms with his unique abilities while the local community is endangered by a serial kidnapper.

Hines has a real talent for dialog, setting, and pace. He has crafted a superb mystery deftly incorporating spiritual and paranormal elements into the story. The characters are well defined, and their interpersonal relationships believable. These are important elements that lend credibilty to the story as some of the Jude's abilities may seem somewhat implausible.

It's often difficult to understand what drives someone to commit a crime against a child. In Waking Lazarus, children are disappearing and, presumably, being murdered. Hines neatly, and a bit unfairly, sidesteps this issue by stating, in precise terms, that the perpetrator is not human. This is not meant to be taken literally, but in the context that anyone who does harm to a child cannot be human in the eyes of the community. Yet, Hines provides the kidnapper / killer with a split personality (the Hunter and the Normal) effectively supplying a medical and, perhaps, legal excuse for the crimes. It would have been far more terrifying had the villain simply been depicted as an average, albeit evil, individual.

There are many literary reasons to pick up a copy of this book. Foremost among them, Hines is a gifted writer and Waking Lazarus is a fine example of inspirational mystery fiction.

Special thanks to Breakthrough Promotions for providing the ARC of Waking Lazarus for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

Visit for other reviews of current and upcoming mystery books. The is commited to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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Press Release: Virtual Tales Announces Additional Serialized Novels for Publication

[ClickPress, Tue Jun 27 2006] Virtual Tales, an e-publisher of serialized novels and novellas spanning a variety of fiction genres and styles, announced the latest additions to its collection of genre-based serialized novels, which will soon be available for readers to enjoy.

The new stories to be added to the Virtual Tales line-up include The Burning, a murder mystery by Australian author Jackie Tritt. Bushfire sweeps through the peaceful Australian town of Pelican East, leaving death and destruction in its wake. But why is veteran officer Alan Foster so uneasy about one of the wildfire deaths?

Virtual Tales is a privately held partnership founded in December 2005 to deliver serialized fiction via e-mail to its subscribers through its website, www.VirtualTales.com. It offers serialized novels in both general and genre fiction for prices starting at 39¢ per issue. The stories are delivered through email twice a week as PDF (Adobe Acrobat) files suitable for reading on a PC, Mac, PDA, e-reader or other devices with e-mail capabilities. All stories are available for a free trial subscription, so readers everywhere are encouraged to visit the website and sample the offerings at no cost or obligation.

Read the entire press release here.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Murder by the Glass by Michele Scott

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written its review of Murder by the Glass by Michele Scott. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Murder by the Glass by Michele ScottSynopsis (from the publisher): Life is sweet for Nikki Sands. She's toasting her new job at the Malveaux Estate in Napa Valley and balancing a love triangle with a neighboring winemaker and her boss, vineyard owner Derek Malveaux — the catch of the country. And tonight, Nikki will be on the arm of Napa's golden boy at a Sonoma mansion for the wedding of the decade ...

Nikki's friend Isabel agreed to cater the wedding — before she learned that the groom was her cheating lover. After the ceremony, Isabel asks Nikki to bring the obnoxious bride another glass of wine. But Nikki finds the new wife sprawled on the floor — murdered. Since the dearly departed made enemies easily, there's a bushel of suspects — many of them close to Nikki. Now, it's up to her to get to the bottom of what may have been a killer bottle of wine.

Review: Murder by the Glass, by Michele Scott, is the entertaining second book in the wine lover's mystery series featuring Napa Valley sleuth Nikki Sands.

Nikki criss-crosses Sonoma County and even ventures into San Francisco on her search for who killed the bride at an ostentatious wedding catered by her best friend. Interviews with suspects are invariably carried out with a bottle of wine nearby making for some very chatty conversations. It's all wonderfully spirited and sparkling and in the end Scott adds a nice twist to this common murder mystery plot.

The book includes recipes of meals featured in the story together with wine pairings. While including recipes is a common feature of culinary mysteries, what distinguishes Scott's approach is not only the pairing of a wine with a recipe but writing a short vignette that suggests why the meal and wine are appropriate to the situation in the book. It's very clever, frequently amusing, and informative.

Scott supplies colorful descriptions for her wine selections. Here's an example from early in the book: "[The Ravenswood Merlot Sangiacomo] is a delicious blend of summer fruits and earth flavors. It has a full, ripe flavor quality, making it a nice balance with dark plum, cherries, blackberries, tobacco, and spice." Uncork a bottle, and enjoy it with Murder by the Glass.

Special thanks to Michele Scott for providing a copy of Murder by the Glass for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

Visit for other reviews of current and upcoming mystery books. The is commited to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

News: Shamus Award Nominations for 2006

The Private Eye Writers of America has announced its nominees for the 2006 Shamus Awards for mysteries published in 2005. Winners will be announced at Bouchercon on September 29, 2006.

The nominees for Best Hardcover, Best Paperback Original, and Best First Novel are ...

Best Hardcover (series PI in parentheses)

Oblivion by Peter Abrahams (Nick Petrov), William Morrow
The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (Mickey Haller), Little Brown
The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais (Elvis Cole), Doubleday
In A Teapot by Terence Faherty (Scott Elliott), Crum Creek Press
The Man with the Iron-On Badge by Lee Goldberg (Harvey Mapes), Five Star
Cinnamon Kiss by Walter Mosley (Easy Rawlins), Little Brown

Best Paperback Original (series PI in parentheses)

Falling Down by David Cole (Laura Winslow), Avon
The James Deans by Reed Farrell Coleman (Moe Prager), Plume
Deadlocked by Joel Goldman (Lou Mason), Pinnacle
Cordite Wine by Richard Helms (Eamon Gold), Back Alley Books
A Killing Rain by P. J. Parrish (Louis Kincaid), Pinnacle

Best First Novel (series PI in parentheses)

Blood Ties by Lori G. Armstrong (Julie Collins), Medallion
Still River by Harry Hunsicker (Lee Henry Oswald), St. Martin's Minotaur
The Devil’s Right Hand by J. D. Rhoades (Jack Keller), St. Martin's Minotaur
Forcing Amaryllis by Louise Ure (Calla Gentry), Mysterious Press

Visit the First Offenders Blog for additional nominees.

Previous winners of the Shamus Award are listed on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

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 06/26/2006

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for June 26, 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: The fifth crime thriller by Charlie Stella, published this month, has this title (9 letters): A D E H K N O S W

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, June 25, 2006

News: Macavity Award Nominations for 2006

Mystery Readers International has announced its nominees for the 2006 Macavity Awards for mysteries published in 2005. Winners will be announced at Bouchercon during the opening ceremonies on September 28, 2006.

The nominees for Best Novel and Best First Novel are ...

Best Novel:

One Shot by Lee Child (Delacorte Press)
The James Deans by Reed Farrel Coleman (Plume)
The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)
Vanish by Tess Gerritsen (Ballantine Books)
Strange Affair by Peter Robinson (William Morrow)
The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow (Knopf)
Solomon vs. Lord by Paul Levine (Bantam)

Best First Novel:

Immoral by Brian Freeman (St. Martin's Press)
All Shook Up by Mike Harrison (ECW Press)
Baby Game by Randall Hicks (Wordslinger Press)
The Firemaker by Peter May (St. Martin's Press)

Previous winners of the Macavity Award are listed on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

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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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Profile: Harlan Coben Sleeps Well by Keeping You Up Nights

While his readers stay up nights glued to the pages of his latest adrenalin-charged thriller, Promise Me, Harlan Coben sleeps like a baby knowing that his mastery of the hook-and-twist suspense tale provides financial security for his wife and four children, writes Jay MacDonald of Bankrate.com.

He continues that Promise Me by Harlan Cobenin 1995 Coben published Deal Breaker, the first in his mystery series featuring Myron Bolitar, Boston Celtics basketball-star-turned-sports-agent who solves crimes with the help of a blue-blooded sociopath sidekick, Win Lockwood III, and ex-female wrestler gals Friday Esperanza and Big Cindi. Critical praise and sales grew apace as Coben became the first author to win the trifecta of mystery accolades: the Anthony (for Deal Breaker), Edgar (Fade Away) and Shamus (Drop Shot) awards.

Coben's novels peel the veneer from northern New Jersey suburbia to reveal dark truths about the human condition in millennial America, adds MacDonald. But that's all fodder for his fiction. In reality, Coben and his pediatrician wife Dr. Anne Armstrong-Coben have been happily married for two decades, and their 140-year-old Ridgewood, N.J., Victorian is alive with the comings and goings of four young children (the oldest is 12) and two dogs.

Read the entire profile of, and MacDonald's interview with, Harlan Coben on BankRate.com here.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (06/23/2006)

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending June 23, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

12 Sharp by Janet EvanovichNo surprise this week: with an initial printing of 1.25 million copies, the much anticipated 12th book in the Stephanie Plum mystery series, 12 Sharp by Janet Evanovich, debuts at the top of the lists at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. America's favorite bounty hunter is once again struggling with her tangled love life, her chaotic family, and her gift for destroying every car she drives. Not to mention her attempts to bring in the sometimes scary bail jumpers of Trenton, and the sudden appearance of a female stalker—who turns out to have a close connection to the mysterious Ranger. Kirkus Reviews states, "Evanovich wisely soft-pedals the mystery, which has never been her strong suit, and finds exactly the right tone of danger-laden farce for Stephanie's duel with the false Ranger, spicing it with a million one-liners, aspiring bond enforcers and hapless criminals on the run."

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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Profile: An Interview with Laurell K. Hamilton

St. Louis Post-Dispatch book editor Jane Henderson recently interviewed bestselling writer Laurell K. Hamilton, author of the Anita Blake, Vampire Slayer mysteries. The latest in the series, Danse Macabre, is due out in bookstores later this month.

Danse Macabre by Laurell K. HamiltonHenderson writes that the work of Hamilton, one of the nation’s first ladies of horror, is so well-known that it lends itself to parody on the Internet and some criticism over how the series has changed. But Hamilton follows her instincts. And so far, so good: Hamilton has 10 new or reissued publications this year; Berkley Publishing alone is printing more than 1 million copies of her books.

In her interview, Henderson asked, "How do you characterize your Anita Blake books?" Hamilton: "It’s structured like a hard-boiled mystery series, but at this point it’s dark fantasy-horror-romance-mystery all in one. Some books are more one genre or the other. It’s a mixed genre, and it’s meant to be. I like reading mixed-genre, and I like writing mixed-genre."

Henderson: "Are you still compared with Anne Rice?" Hamilton: "I have been compared to her quite a lot. If you’re writing anything with vampires in it, it’s inevitable. My vampires and her vampires are very different. Everyone knows vampires exist in my world. That seems to be the contribution I made. In my books, if you call the police and say there is a vampire in your house, they believe you. Ms. Rice is more traditional: Nobody (in her world) knows they exist."

Read the rest of interview of Laurell K. Hamilton on STLToday.com here.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Mystery Book Review: The Loch by Steve Alten

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has published its review of The Loch by Steve Alten on its website. For our blog readers, it is reprinted here in its entirety.

The Loch by Steve AltenSynopsis (from the publisher): Loch Ness holds secrets, ancient and deadly. Does a monster inhabit its depths, or is it just myth? Why, after thousands of reported sightings and dozens of expeditions, is there still no hard evidence? Marine biologist Zachary Wallace knows, but the shock of his near-drowning as a child on Loch Ness has buried all memories of the incident. Now, a near-death experience suffered while on expedition in the Sargasso Sea has caused these long-forgotten memories to re-surface. Haunted by vivid night terrors, stricken by a sudden fear of the water, Zach finds he can no longer function as a scientist. Unable to cope, his career all but over, he stumbles down a path of self-destruction...until he receives contact from his estranged father...a man he has not seen since his parents' divorced and he left Scotland as a boy.

Angus Wallace, a wily Highlander who never worked an honest day in his life, is on trial for murdering his business partner. Only Zachary can prove his innocence - if he is innocent, but to do so means confronting the nightmare that nearly killed him seventeen years earlier.

Review: One of the best aspects of Steve Alten's latest thriller, The Loch, is that he takes a rather preposterous premise and makes it believable.

The blending of factual and fictional material as crafted by Alten for the book is both fascinating and credible. That he is able to seamlessly incorporate all this into an admittedly convoluted plot is all the more astounding. There are several mysteries intertwined here: historical, psychological, physical, and personal. And they are all brought neatly together in a satisfying manner in the final chapters of the book.

Though it is highly unlikely that Alten is planning a series based on Zach Wallace, the central character of The Loch, he should consider it. Zach is an engaging character and there are no doubt many more mysteries of the sea on which he could use his sleuthing abilities.

Special thanks to Blanco & Peace for providing a copy of The Loch for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

Visit for other reviews of current and upcoming mystery books. The is commited to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

News: Time Magazine Names 5 Mystery Writers Worth Investigating

Time Magazine has named five mystery authors that you may have missed and that they believe are worth seeking out this summer.

Jess Walter, Citizen Vince (Vince Camden). "In his third novel, which won this year's Edgar Allan Poe prize for Best Mystery, Walter has created what may be the most charming small-time hood since Elmore Leonard's Stick."

Peter Blauner, Slipping into Darkness (Francis X. Loughlin). "Blauner, winner of the 1992 Edgar for Best First Novel, has written a taut psychological thriller with a pair of conflicted but compelling antagonists and a surprise ending you'll never see coming."

Peter Spiegelman, Death's Little Helpers (John March). "Spiegelman worked in financial services and software for more than 20 years before taking up fiction. He knows how thin the air is in New York City's office towers and what breathing too much of it does to your soul."

Jeffrey Ford, The Girl in the Glass (Non-series). "Ford, who teaches literature at a New Jersey community college, studied Mexican repatriation and the eugenics movement to research this Depression-era period piece."

Bill Fitzhugh, Highway 61 Resurfaced (Rick Shannon). "Fitzhugh's dialogue is as cool as a pitcher of iced tea, and his characters are just over the top, like a Carl Hiaasen cast plucked from the Everglades and planted, as Dylan would put it, out on Highway 61."

Read the entire story on Time.com here.

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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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

News: Mystery "Lost" Author Uncovered

Daily Variety is reporting that the author ofLost by Gary Troup Bad Twin, the mystery penned by "Lost" Oceanic flight 815 passenger Gary Troup, was none other than Laurence Shames. Shames has written a number of comic thrillers set in the Florida Keys and was the ghostwriter behind the bestselling Mafia title "Boss of Bosses."

Bad Twin was published by a division of Disney, Hyperion Books, in a cross-promotional campaign meant to play off viewers interest in ABC series "Lost." ABC is also owned by Disney.

"Lost" screenwriters had written Gary Troup in as a character on the show, as a passenger presumed dead in the plane crash but who left a manuscript behind. Despite limited references to the book on the show, Bad Twin became a bestseller as fans purchased the book to search for clues to the show's mysteries.

Read the entire story by Daily Variety here.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Game Review: CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder

Games of MysteryChristina Gmiterko of Adventure Gamers last week reviewed the most recent PC game in the CSI series, CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder. The game was released in March of this year, and is available for Windows 98 and higher.

Pros: Longer and more interesting cases; improved graphics; good voice acting; customized difficulty settings.

Cons: Restricted movement; a few technical glitches; removal of unlockable extras limits replay value.

Bottom-line: This is a solid sequel in the franchise and while it doesn't really break any new ground, it does make some minor but important improvements that make it the best game in the series.

Read here entire review here.

Find information about CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder and other mystery games (PC, board, card, online, and more!) at Games of Mystery.

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