Tuesday, July 18, 2006

New Mystery Hardcover Titles for August 2006

New MysteriesA preview of new hardcover mysteries for August 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website. An overview for some of the 24 new mystery titles listed in this first update ...

Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline WinspearMaisie Dobbs investigates the mysterious death of a controversial artist—and World War I veteran—in Messenger of Truth, the fourth entry in the bestselling series by Jacqueline Winspear. Maisie once again uncovers the perilous legacy of the Great War in a society struggling to recollect itself. But to solve the mystery of the artist's death, Maisie will have to keep her head as the forces behind the artist's fall come out of the shadows to silence her. Publishers Weekly states in their review that, "Some might wish that the whodunit side of the story was more developed, but fans of quality period fiction will be well satisfied."

No Nest for the Wicket by Donna AndrewsExtreme croquet is the current rage in Caerphilly in No Nest for the Wicket, by Donna Andrews, the seventh mystery to feature Meg Langslow. The game hasn't reached the stage of actual homicide--at least not until Meg knocks her ball down a small cliff and encounters the body of a dead woman. Her head has been bashed in, illustrating, perhaps, one of the many uses of a croquet mallet. Meg finds herself further drawn in when it's discovered that the woman was seeking to expose the bad dealings of a certain local society lady's ancestors. Kirkus Reviews states that "... Andrews is a reliable source for those who like their murder with plenty of mayhem."

A Merry Band of Murderers, Claudia Bishop and Don Bruns, editorsA Merry Band of Murderers, edited by Claudia Bishop and Don Bruns, is more than a compilation of short mystery stories from some of the genre’s finest writers. It is also an exploration of music. There are thirteen music-centered stories from authors Mary Anna Evans, Jim Fusilli, Bill Moody, Rupert Holmes, Rhys Bowen, John Lescroart, Nathan Walpole, Peter Robinson, Jeffery Deaver, Tom Corcoran, Val McDermid, and, of course, the editors themselves. Each story is accompanied by a short introduction, song lyrics, and an interview with the writer. The book is packaged with a music CD with recordings by the authors. A one-of-a-kind collection. Mysterious Reviews states that, "A Merry Band of Murderers is an admirable anthology of short stories by a skilled company of mystery authors."

The Merlot Murders by Ellen CrosbySet in the historic heart of Virginia's horse and hunt country, The Merlot Murders, is filled with fascinating detail about the science and alchemy of wine making. Ellen Crosby's debut mystery introduces Lucie Montgomery who learns that her father has been killed in a hunting accident on the family's five-hundred-acre Virginia vineyard just as the fall harvest is about to begin. Shortly after her arrival, her godfather also suddenly dies. Unsure whom she can trust, Lucie must uncover the truth about the deaths of her father and godfather -- and oversee a successful harvest to save the vineyard she loves. Publishers Weekly calls The Merlot Murders "complex and intricate" and adds it is "a terrific kickoff to what promises to be a highly satisfying new 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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Monday, July 17, 2006

News: Mystery Writer Mickey Spillane Dies

The Associated Press is reporting that Mickey Spillane, the macho mystery writer who wowed millions of readers with the shoot-’em-up sex and violence of gumshoe Mike Hammer, died Monday. Married three times, Spillane was the father of four children. He was 88.

After starting out in comic books, Spillane wrote his first Mike Hammer novel, I, the Jury, in 1946. Twelve more followed, with sales topping 100 million. Besides the Hammer novels, Spillane wrote a dozen other books, including some award-winning volumes for young people.

He was a quintessential Cold War writer, an unconditional believer in good and evil. He was also a rare political conservative in the book world. Communists were villains in his work and liberals took some hits as well. He was not above using crude racial and sexual stereotypes.

While the Hammer books were set in New York, Spillane was a longtime resident of Murrells Inlet, a coastal community near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Read this entire article as published on MSNBC.com here.

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Mystery Book Review: The Mourning Ring by Holly Jordan

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of The Mourning Ring by Holly Jordon. We are publishing a copy of our review here for the convenience of our blog readers.The Mourning Ring by Holly Jordan

The Mourning Ring by Holly Jordan
A Rachel Hollins Mystery (1st in a possible series)
Grace Abraham Publishing (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-9741090-8-8 (0974109088)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9741090-8-8 (9780974109084)
Publication Date: August, 2006
List Price: $10.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Rachel Hollins buys a ring from a flea market and gets more than she bargains for. Turns out the ring is a 19th century mourning ring which once belonged to Claire Marcette, a woman murdered in 1920. When Rachel attempts to return the ring to one of Claire's family members, she gets involved in a modern-day murder rooted in the past.

Review: The Mourning Ring, Holly Jordan's second novel and potentially the first of a series featuring the likable Rachel Hollins, has an interesting premise and could have been a fascinating multi-generational historical mystery but rapidly loses its way by creating an expanding network of familial relationships that in the end overwhelm the mystery itself.

Following the purchase of an unusual ring at a flea market, Rachel finds herself amidst a myriad of puzzles. In trying to unravel the history of, and secrets behind, the mourning ring, she inadvertantly sets into motion a series of events that eventually lead to murder.

The resolution to the mystery of the ring and of the murder (or murders, if one includes the death of Claire in 1920 as described in the prologue) is largely unsatisfactory as Jordan has chosen to supply an unnecessarily complicated ending rather than a crisp, clear, and more logical outcome.

Special thanks to Grace Abraham Publishing for providing a copy of The Mourning Ring for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Weekly Mystery Godoku Puzzle for 07/17/2006

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for July 17, 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 was the title of the third mystery by Jonathon King featuring Everglades detective Max Freeman (9 letters): A D E H M 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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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Profile: Nancy Barr, Sleuthing in a Small Town

Escanaba, a small city in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, is featured in the debut novel by Daily Mining Gazette (DMG) columnist and editor Nancy Barr, a resident of the Hancock area who called Delta County home for more than 20 years. Page One: Hit and Run is the first in a new mystery series featuring Robin Hamilton published by Arbutus Press.

Jane Nordberg, staff writer at the DMG, recently profiled her co-worker at the paper. Nordberg writes that following Barr’s experiences as a police beat reporter at Escanaba’s Daily Press, Page One: Hit and Run makes the most of what the author knows best — the newsroom and small town politics.Page One: Hit and Run by Nancy Barr

“Escanaba is a unique town in that it’s not really a tourist destination,” Barr said. “It hasn’t preserved a lot of its history in the way that Houghton or Hancock has, but some of the buildings and parks are beautiful, and the people are worth writing about.”

Nordberg adds that a first draft of Barr’s follow-up novel, tentatively titled Page One: Vanished, is already completed, where Hamilton will encounter more trouble in several Upper Peninsula counties.

Read the entire profile of new mystery author Nancy Barr on MiningGazette.com here.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Under Pressure by Kathy Brandt

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

Under Pressure by Kathy Brandt
A Hannah Sampson Mystery (4th in series)
Signet (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-451-21878-7 (0451218787)
ISBN-13: 978-0-451-21878-0 (9780451218780)
Publication Date: June, 2006
List Price: $6.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): An underwater investigation job in the British Virgin Islands? Of course I’d take it. But I soon discovered my new duties wouldn’t include a lot of time in the sun. It seems that no matter where your job lands you, as a homicide detective you must always assume the worst ...

At 9:32 on a tropical morning, a puddle jumper takes off into the skies over Tortola. But at 9:39, not far from Detective Hannah Sampson’s boat, it nose-dives into the water. Only moments later, Hannah and her partner are sixty feet below the surface, vying with reef sharks for any survivors.

Soon Hannah plunges into an investigation. Was one of the passengers a target? And who would want to kill a planeload of Caribbean tourists? Every lead is a dead end. And as Hannah copes with a nine-year-old survivor, a shady suspect, a shaky relationship -- and an approaching hurricane -- she wonders if she’s gotten in too deep ...

Review: Under Pressure, the aptly titled fourth underwater investigation by Kathy Brandt featuring British Virgin Islands detective Hannah Sampson, is a thrilling adventure with multiple suspense threads woven through a fast-paced plot.

The very brief first chapter succinctly sets up the mystery—a small plane carrying eleven passengers plunges into the Caribbean. Was the crash an accident or sabotage? If the latter, how was it accomplished, by whom, and for what reason? Though subtitled "an underwater investigation", most of the investigating by Hannah takes place on dry land. This minor point does not diminish the story at all, as the initial underwater scenes serve as an important first step in the solving the mystery behind the downed plane. Even with a limited number of suspects, Brandt provides a clever twist in the end that may surprise some readers.

Under Pressure concludes without completely resolving some of the personal issues in Hannah's life, keeping the door open for more intrigue in the future.

Special thanks to Breakthrough Promotions for providing a copy of Under Pressure 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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Mystery Hardcover Bestsellers (07/14/2006)

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending July 14, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

12 Sharp by Janet Evanovich received some stiff competition this week from Kathy Reich's 9th mystery featuring forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan, Break No Bones, which took over the top spot at Barnes & Noble.com.

In Break No BonesBreak No Bones by Kathy Reichs Tempe is summoned to South Carolina to fill in for a negligent colleague, stuck teaching at a lackluster archeology field school in the ruins of a Native American burial ground on the Charleston shore. But when Tempe stumbles upon a fresh skeleton among the ancient bones, her old friend Emma Rousseau, the local coroner, persuades Tempe to stay on and help with the investigation. When Emma reveals a disturbing secret, it becomes more important than ever for Tempe to help her friend close the case. Reichs' mysteries are the inspiration for the hit Fox series Bones.

Another new book to break into the top 10 is Angels Fall by Nora Roberts, where she explores the wilds of the Grand Tetons, and the mysteries of love, murder, and madness, in her engrossing and passionate new novel. Angels Fall by Nora RobertsReece Gilmore knows there's a killer in Angel's Fist, Wyoming, even if gruff loner Brody, despite his seeming impatience and desire to keep her at arm's length, is the only one willing to believe her. When a series of menacing events makes it clear that someone wants her out of the way, Reece must put her trust in Brody-and herself-to find out if there is a killer in Angel's Fist before it's too late. Publishers Weekly states that "Roberts's latest novel of romantic suspense is a cunningly calibrated portrait of a young chef's recovery from violent trauma." And adds, "A slow-burn start combusts in a satisfying denouement; Roberts's legions of fans will be enthralled."

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: Lauren E. Smith, Author of Ashley Enright Investigations

Lauren E. Smith didn't have to look very far to find her first editor, writes Katherine Lewis of the Naples (FL) Daily News. Her 10-year old nephew was happy to read her first book. His enthusiastic response prompted Smith to submit her manuscript for publication, the result being her first children's mystery, Ashley Enright Investigations.

Ashley Enright Investigations by Lauren E. SmithSynopsis from Publish America, Smith's publisher: Ashley isn’t nosey, just curious and intelligent. When she looks out her bedroom window one night, she notices a light flickering in the window of an abandoned lighthouse. She knows that something is not right, but doesn’t want to call the police just yet. Ashley investigates the mystery with her best friend, Josh Stewart, who draws comic books featuring superheroes. What the two friends discover at the lighthouse in Donnybrook will change someone’s life forever.

In her article, Lewis continues that Smith, a fan of mysteries herself, wanted to share her love of the genre with children. "I wanted to tap into innocence and be creative. I also wanted to write a book that didn't have the violence that so many books do," she said. "The characters will tell me when I am done," she adds. "Ashley is 12 years old and I want to keep the characters around that age."

Ashley Enright Investigations has been a success for Smith who has signed a contract to get the second book of the series published. Ashley Enright and the Mystery at Millers Pond should be available early next year.

Read the rest of the profile of Lauren E. Smith on NaplesNews.com here.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Self Publish Mysteries Adds Current News Articles

Self Publish MysteriesSelf Publish Mysteries, a comprehensive source of articles, books, news, resources, and websites for authors who want to write and self-publish their mystery books, has added a new feature to keep you current on this rapidly expanding business: self publishing news articles from around the world.

Each week, Self Publish Mysteries will provide links to the most relevent new articles on writing and self publishing from a wide variety of online sources. While the emphasis will be on selecting news that is most relevant to mystery books, any writer or self publisher will find the articles interesting and informative.

In addition, Self Publish Mysteries will soon be expanding its list of online resources to better serve writers of all genres. Look for updates in this section next week!

Self Publish Mysteries is a member of the Mystery Nexus family of websites for readers and collectors of mysteries and detective fiction.

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Press Release: Nancy Drew Danger by Design from Her Interactive Goes Gold

Games of MysteryWorld’s Favorite Female Sleuth Embarks on Fourteenth PC Mystery Next Month

Bellevue, WA, July 11, 2006 – Never fashionably late, Her Interactive today announced Nancy Drew: Danger by Design has gone gold. The fourteenth installment in the award-winning mystery series that has sold more than 3 million units worldwide, Nancy Drew: Danger by Design will be available nationwide at the end of this month.

Nancy Drew 14: Danger by Design“From the start, Her Interactive has been committed to high quality design and production values for each successive Nancy Drew PC game, and more importantly, increasing the fun,” said Megan Gaiser, president and CEO of Her Interactive. “With its immersive storyline, rich character development, intuitive interface and vivid graphics, Nancy Drew: Danger by Design underscores our commitment to quality, and we are excited that the game will be released right on schedule.”

Nancy Drew: Danger by Design finds Nancy in Paris where she was sent by a nervous investor to check on Minette, a leading fashion designer whose strange, unexplained behavior may delay her Spring Collection and potentially derail the fashion house. Strange threats and unwelcome guests arrive for Minette. Unsettling rumors dating back to an unsolved, historic mystery distract Nancy from the current task at hand.

As Nancy, players will sort through the web of suspects to look for clues. From Minette’s old flame Dieter von Schwesterkrank to gorgeous model Jing-Jing Ling, deceit is woven deep within the fashion industry. Whether exploring the underground catacombs or abandoned metro stations for clues, players will need to rely on their powers of observation and deductive reasoning to solve this international mystery, and help Minette launch her Spring Collection on time.

Rated “E” for Everyone, Nancy Drew: Danger by Design will be available nationwide this month for a suggested retail price of $19.99. More information about Her Interactive and the Company’s entire line of exciting Nancy Drew games can be found online at www.herinteractive.com.

Order your copy of Nancy Drew: Danger by Design today! Find information about the entire series of Nancy Drew mystery games and more at Games of Mystery.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Mystery Book Review: When Good Bras Go Bad by Gayle Trent

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of When Good Bras Go Bad by Gayle Trent. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

When Good Bras Go Bad by Gayle TrentSynopsis (from the publisher): Myrtle Crumb, the sassy sixty-something sleuth, must go undercover in the middle school cafeteria to prove her granddaughter is not a thief. Still, Sunny knows more than she's telling: and it's starting to affect her relationship with her grandmother. Is Sunny's new friend Alicia the thief? If so, how far will Sunny go to protect her? Sunny might be fixing to learn a powerful lesson: that betrayal "is like when a good bra goes bad. First it lets you down, and then that underwire pokes you right in the heart."

Review: Gayle Trent's delightful second mystery in the Myrtle Crumb series, When Good Bras Go Bad, is a joy to read. It is, in a word, exceptional. Fully developed characters, a well thought out plot, expressive and eloquent dialog, are all deftly composed in a book that runs less than 100 pages. Ironically, it may take longer to read When Good Bras Go Bad than a book three times as long, if only to savor every word.

As a mystery, Trent has included the appropriate suspense elements, but there are comedic moments as well: Myrtle musing about boob trenches is laugh out loud funny! At its core, however, When Good Bras Go Bad is a story about relationships.

Trent helpfully includes insightful reading group questions at the conclusion of the book that should serve as the basis for some interesting discussions.

When Good Bras Go Bad is a gem of a mystery for all readers, regardless of preferred genre. It is enthusiastically recommended.

Special thanks to Grace Abraham Publishing for providing a copy of When Good Bras Go Bad for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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News: Publisher Dabbles in Murder and Mayhem

A few days ago, we published a news report on Felony & Mayhem Press, a small publisher in Greenwich Village that specializes in publishing out-of-print mysteries. At the Houston Chronicle, we found a similar article on Busted Flesh Press owner David Thompson. Busted Flesh Press expects to primarily publish crime novels that have slipped out of print

Chronicle writer Fritz Lanham writes that mystery fans will recognize the name as an homage to one of Thompson's favorite authors, John D. MacDonald, whose sleuth Travis McGee lives on the Busted Flush, a houseboat he won in a poker game.

Thompson, the longtime publicity manager at Houston's Murder by the Book, said frustration at seeing wonderful books go out of print prompted him to launch Busted Flush, adds Lanham.

He plans to release about six books a year in trade paperback, each retailing for between $15 and $18. He'll also do occasional limited editions — hardcover books priced at $175 — for the collectors' market.

Read this entire article on Chron.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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Press Release: Mystery At Mansfield Manor Brings Intrigue To The Internet

Toronto's SR Entertainment Inc. Unveils Online Interactive Murder Mystery Movie

TORONTO, July 11 /CNW/ - SR Entertainment Inc. is ready to test your deductive skills with the launch of its new website Mystery at Mansfield Manor. Mystery at Mansfield Manor is an online, live-action interactive murder mystery movie. Hailed as a unique blend of Clue(TM) and a choose-your-own-adventure movie, the mystery gets underway witha click of a mouse button.

"On the eve of his forced early retirement Detective Frank Mitchell is sent to Mansfield Manor to solve the murder of wealthy oil industrialist Colin Mansfield Sr. After arriving at the manor, the viewer begins to take control over his actions," says Rory Scherer, producer and screenwriter for Mystery at Mansfield Manor. "Essentially, the viewer takes on the role of the lead character, Detective Mitchell, and must solve the murder before the story's midnight deadline."

MysteryAtMansfieldManor.com is a unique business model: once the viewer visits the website, a 10 minute introduction video plays in which Detective Mitchell interrogates the first suspect, Anna Mitrov, the victim's maid. She reveals her version of the evening through flashbacks and the clues start to roll in. After the introduction, the viewer pays a nominal $4.99 fee to continue the game and receives 72 hours of unlimited access to the complete website, including a Bonus Materials section with a behind-the-scenes documentary and photo gallery.

Gameplay progresses as the player interrogates suspects and eventually arrests one. Some suspects lie, others are truthful. It is up to the player to decipher who is lying and what clues led them to that conclusion. In the grand tradition of the choose-your-own-adventure genre, multiple endings exist in the body of the two and a half hours of video time. Gameplay gets even more involving as some interactive components allow the viewer to become even more immersed in the investigation.

Visit Games of Mystery for more online, interactive, and downloadable mystery games.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

News: Margaret Maron Cameos No Longer a Mystery

Marti Maguire of the Raleigh News & Observer reports that three colorful local characters will appear in mystery author Margaret Maron's upcoming book due out next year. She writes that Maron offered cameo appearances to anyone who donated $2,500 to the Johnston County Heritage Center, a local history clearinghouse where her mother was a longtime volunteer.

There were three takers: a Durham couple whose dog has a nose for trouble, a goat-raising bed-and-breakfast owner in Fuquay-Varina and an activist from Greenville for people with disabilities.

Maguire concludes with Maron saying she has little difficulty incorporating cameo appearances because her novels have so many characters, something her critics cite as a problem.

Read the entire article on NewsObserver.com here where she describes what roles the characters will play in the book.

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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Monday, July 10, 2006

Mystery Book Review: 13 Days by L. A. Starks

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of 13 Days by L. A. Starks. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

13 Days by L. A. StarksSynopsis (from the publisher): What could spike gasoline prices even higher?

Energy executive Lynn Dayton thinks her challenge is fixing the troubled refinery her company has just acquired on the Houston Ship Channel. But soon she must save it, and other oil refineries, from the industrial havoc and deaths directed by a French saboteur, simultaneously fighting off threats to her own life.

As Lynn deals with chemical leaks, disloyal employees, a new season of hurricanes, and mounting casualties, Robert Guillard, a corrupted idealist, plans to manipulate her through her vulnerable sister.

But Robert underestimates his prey.

Review: L. A. Starks' first novel, 13 Days: The Pythagoras Conspiracy, is a topical international thriller set in large part at one of the many oil refinery complexes that border the Houston Ship Channel.

Lynn Dayton, the oil industry executive at the center of 13 Days, is stretched so thin, both professionally and personally, that she barely has time to deal with all the issues at hand. And that is part of the problem with this book. Starks has included so many subplots involving Lynn that they ultimately dilute the effectiveness of this otherwise well written and thought out suspense novel. Had she scaled back the scope of material included, the end result would have been a much more focused, far more suspenseful, book.

13 Days moves along at a brisk pace and is generally intelligently written. The conspiracy plot is just absurd enough to be totally believable, and it is refreshing that Starks selected a group other than the stereotypical Middle Eastern extremists or the US Government to be the puppet master pulling the strings behind the conspiracy.

The book is prefaced by a list of key characters, some background notes, a map of the refinery, and a (ahem) simplified refinery process flow diagram. Many chapters are also preceded by definitions of terms that help the reader better understand and appreciate the complexity of the oil refining business, and, by inference, the difficulty Lynn faces in identifying the problems at her refinery.

Special thanks to Breakthrough Promotions for providing an ARC of 13 Days for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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