Monday, September 04, 2006

Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for September 04, 2006

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for September 04, 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 letters and mystery clue: A C E H K M N O R. The Fractal Murders, this author’s first mystery, introduced private eye Pepper Keane (9 letters).

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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Mystery Book Contest: Win a Set of Romantic Suspense Titles

The Mystery Book Contest WebsiteNew! The Romantic Suspense Contest is now available on The Mystery Book Contest Website. Enter daily through November 14, 2006, for a chance to win a prize package featuring five romantic suspense titles by authors represented by Book Trends!

The mysteries featured in this prize package are:

Triple Threat (paperback) by Jan Coffey
Double Dare (paperback) by Vicki Hinze, autographed!
Run for Your Life (paperback) by Andrea Kane
Maggie Without a Clue (paperback) by Kasey Michaels
Dark Truth (paperback) by Mariah Stewart


Triple Threat by Jan CoffeyDouble Dare by Vicki HinzeRun for Your Life by Andrea KaneMaggie Without a Clue by Kasey MichaelsDark Truth by Mariah Stewart

The Romantic Mystery Contest is sponsored by Book Trends, a company that meets authors' unique needs with personally designed promotions and publicity from an experienced industry insider, and Mysterious Reviews.

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Profile: Christopher Fowler and a Very Odd Crime Unit

A recent article in The Independent describes how Christopher Fowler, author of the Bryant and May mystery series, created his curmudgeonly detective duo. Fowler's most recent mystery, Ten Second Staircase, was recently published by Bantam.Ten Second Staircase by Christopher Fowler

"To invent your own detective, it's necessary to glance at the sleuths of the past," says Fowler. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle didn't need to give his famous consulting detective a quirk because at the time Sherlock Holmes was conceived, the whole idea of a consulting detective was novel. Things are different now. "So how does a writer create a memorable detective these days?", Fowler asks. "My detectives, I decided, would be old, troublesome, wayward and faintly disreputable. Broadly speaking, there are two approaches to crime: the realistically detailed police procedural, usually grim and downbeat, and the more left-field, joyous theatre of ideas in which past masters once specialised."

Once the characters and location are set, it's time to write the story. "In the search for original plots, I decided to produce a modern take on each type of 'classic' crime in turn, from the locked-room mystery to the whodunnit," writes Fowler. "With such rich storylines to tap into, the problem is not one of finding cases for Bryant and May to investigate, but of choosing between them."

Read the entire article by Christopher Fowler on The Independent here.

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Friday, September 01, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Moonblind by Laura Crum

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

Moonblind by Laura Crum
A Gail McCarthy Mystery
Perseverance Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-880284-90-1 (1880284901)
ISBN-13: 978-1-880284-90-1 (9781880284901)
Publication Date: September 2006
List Price: $13.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Gail McCarthy, seven months pregnant, is on leave from her work as a horse vet. Despite her firm intention to rest and prepare for her baby, she is drawn into the odd situation surrounding her cousin Jenny, who claims that she is being stalked. Newly relocated from Michigan, Jenny hints at nefarious dealings in her past as a racehorse trainer that may return to haunt her; and accidents seem to happen with astonishing frequency at her Thoroughbred lay-up farm. As Jenny’s only relative and friend in the area, Gail feels the need to support and help her cousin, but can hardly sort out truth from fiction as she tries to discover who the stalker might be. Jenny’s ex-husband, her former lover, the lover’s ex-wife, an unscrupulous player on the racehorse scene?

Gail finds herself confused and frustrated, while she struggles at the same time to solve a medical mystery involving one of her own horses. As the accidents at Jenny’s farm become more serious, Gail’s concern becomes desperate and personal, leading her to a dark confrontation where she must use all her wits to survive.

Review: Laura Crum's 9th mystery featuring horse veterinarian Gail McCarthy, Moonblind, is a simple, yet effective, story of how one's actions in the past may have unintended, and deadly, consequences in the present.

Pregnancy has made Gail philosophical. She muses about the life she will have with her unborn child, nicknamed Mac, and the life with her beloved horses she fears she will leave behind. When her cousin, Jenny, a thoroughbred race horse trainer who has recently purchased property nearby, suddenly calls late one night, obviously distraught but unwilling to provide any details, Gail wonders how she can help without knowing what the problem is. As Gail learns of the circumstances of her cousin's move to California from Michigan, she realizes Jenny's situation is far more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

The title, Moonblind, refers to a disease (Equine Recurrent Uveitis) that affects the eyesight of horses, temporarily and sometimes permanently causing blindness. The original term "moonblindness" was coined decades ago due to the recurrent nature of the disease, and many at that time erroneously thought the condition was related to the cycles of the moon. It is an authentic, integral, and unexpected, component of the story.

Crum allows the suspense of the story to build and proceed slowly, almost mimicking how Gail, being 7 months pregnant, might move and react. The side story about Gail's favorite horse, Danny, offers insight into how she handles critical situations both intellectually and emotionally, and that in the end, people and animals adapt to their given situation in the best way they can. The concluding scenes in the horse barn are vividly constructed and provide a shocking conclusion to this most unusual mystery.

Special thanks to Perseverance Press for providing a copy of Moonblind for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Mystery Trivia for September 2006

Mystery BestsellersThe Hidden Staircase Mystery Books has posted new mystery trivia questions for September 2006.

In which east coast city are the Tess Monaghan mysteries, by Laura Lippman, set?

For which of the major mystery book awards is Lippman a multiple winner?

Visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books to see the answers to these questions as well as previous mystery book trivia questions from prior months.

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 Bestsellers for September 01, 2006

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending September 01, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Mostly a bit of reshuffling on the lists this week, with only one new title: Ricochet by Sandra BrownRicochet, a story of murder and betrayal by Sandra Brown. When Savannah Detective Sergeant Duncan Hatcher is summoned to the home of Judge Cato Laird in the middle of the night to investigate a fatal shooting, he knows that discretion and kid-glove treatment are the keys to staying in the judge's good graces and keeping his job. Determined to learn the dead man's connection to the Lairds and get at the truth, however, Duncan investigates further and quickly finds his career, as well as his integrity, in jeopardy. Publishers Weekly states, "No one does steamy suspense like Brown, as shown by this expert mix of spicy romance and sharply crafted crime drama."

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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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mystery Book Review: South Beach Shakedown by Don Bruns

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of South Beach Shakedown: The Diary of Gideon Pike by Don Bruns. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.South Beach Shakedown by Don Bruns

South Beach Shakedown by Don Bruns
A Mick Sever Mystery
Oceanview Publishing (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-933515-02-3 (1933515023)
ISBN-13: 978-1-933515-02-1 (9781933515021)
Publication Date: September 2006
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Someone is about to make a killing in the music industry. Why would songwriting legend Gideon Pike mysteriously disappear just when he is about to turn a 30-year career into a multi-million dollar profit?

Music columnist Mick Sever is back in Don Brun’s third suspense masterpiece. This time he’s looking for answers and his missing friend in the gritty backrooms of South Beach’s biggest nightclubs, dodging suicide speedboats and running from sniper fire. What surfaces is how the major players in the music industry are not making the headlines, they’re just pulling the strings that create them. Hit it right, and the royalties – even someone else’s – can rake in millions for the rest of your life. The key is finding Gideon before Korean mobster Jimmy Shinn does. Jimmy is ready to cash in on the one secret that will bring Gideon to his knees and strip away what’s left of his career, his fortune, and his life. Whoever gets to Gideon first will ether save him or pull the trigger.

The deadly race is on.

Review: South Beach Shakedown: The Diary of Gideon Pike is the third entry in the mystery series featuring music and entertainment reporter Mick Sever, this time set in sunny and sultry Miami.

At the request of his ex-wife, Ginny, Sever travels to Miami to search for Gideon Pike, a legend of rock and roll and an old friend of Sever's, who has suddenly disappeared after agreeing to allow Ginny to publish his diaries. Though controlling a music catalog worth hundreds of millions of dollars, Gideon is living a fairly austere lifestyle leaving Sever to wonder if this change of fortune has anything to do with a Korean businessman who seems to be intimately involved in Gideon's corporate and personal activities. When some of Gideon's associates are subsequently murdered, Sever looks into Gideon's past and discovers long buried secrets that someone is willing to kill to keep hidden.

The primary problem with South Beach Shakedown is that, with one notable exception, Bruns doesn't develop his characters in any meaningful way, and especially falls flat with the series character, Mick Sever. No matter how interesting a plot may be, if a book is populated with 1-dimensional characters, it simply isn't compelling. The exception here is the richly drawn Jimmy Shinn, Sever's nemesis in the story, though even his presence isn't enough to recommend this book.

Bruns favors a choppy style of writing, using short sentences and paragraphs, clipped dialog, and chapters rarely longer than a few pages. For a mystery set in the world of rock and roll, South Beach Shakedown never develops a rhythm of its own.

Special thanks to Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity for providing an ARC of South Beach Shakedown: The Diary of Gideon Pike 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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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mystery Book Contest: Win a Set of Signed Mysteries by Hailey Lind

New MysteriesNew! The True Faux Contest is now available on The Mystery Book Contest Website. Enter daily through October 31, 2006, for a chance to win one of two prize packages featuring copies of the Art Lover's Mysteries by Hailey Lind, each personally signed by the author, and a faux finishing kit!

The mysteries featured in this prize package are:

Feint of Art, the first Art Lover's mystery featuring former art-forger-gone-good Annie Kincaid, whose search for several Old Master drawings may draw her back into the underworld of forgers she swore she'd left behind.

Shooting Gallery, in which Annie has a dead sculptor and a missing Chagall to deal with, mysteries that she must solve fast, because art is long, but life can be very, very short. (Available for purchase October 3, 2006.)

Feint of Art by Hailey LindShooting Gallery by Hailey Lind

The True Faux Contest is sponsored by Hailey Lind, author of the Art Lover's mysteries, and Mysterious Reviews. Reviews of Feint of Art and Shooting Gallery are available on the Mysterious Reviews website.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Strawberry Moon by Robert Underhill

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

Strawberry Moon by Robert Underhill
A Hoss Davis Mystery
Arbutus Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-9766104-4-2 (0976610442)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9766104-4-1 (9780976610441)
Publication Date: May 2006
List Price: $16.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): When Dr. Barbara Wilson fails to pick up her daughter from school and then does not show up for rounds at the hospital, the Leelanau County sheriff’s department initially treats her disappearance as a carjacking. But when her strangled and scalped body is discovered near her van in the woods outside town, Sheriff Hoss Davis suspects Harry Swifthawk, a member of the Band of Ottawa and Chippewa, who has caused Hoss many problems in the past and has gone into hiding. Davis must walk a fine line in dealing with the tribal authorities, the group of suspects who begin to crop up, and the FBI, which holds jurisdiction.

Review: Strawberry Moon, what the northwestern Michigan Chippewa call the first full moon of summer, is also the title of Robert Underhill's debut mystery, an intricately plotted novel of suspense.

Following the disappearance of a local doctor, Sheriff Hoss Davis is presented with three viable suspects, each of whom seems to have means, motive, and opportunity: her husband, her psychiatrist, and a member of the Chippewa tribe. Sensing a weakness in the Sheriff's investigation, a local land developer sees the chance to do some political damage as well, adding to Davis' troubles and possible list of guilty parties. Underhill credibly interleaves all these storylines—just as one suspect seems to be the obvious culprit, the perspective changes and another takes his place.

It's all very well done up to a point. Several key plot elements remain unresolved at the end of the book, some of which are rather crucial to the resolution of the story. And the oddly ambiguous epilogue raises, probably intentionally, more still more questions.

The final chapters aside, Strawberry Moon is a captivating mystery that deserves a wider audience.

Special thanks to Arbutus Press for providing an ARC of Strawberry Moon for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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News: The Strange Case of Hercule Poirot

P. D. James investigates an enduring mystery: Just how has Agatha Christie's best-loved fictional detective survived so long? That is a mystery that might defeat the bizarre Belgian himself.

Hercule Poirot made his debut in Agatha Christie's first detective story, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which was written during World War I but did not come out until 1920, after being rejected by a number of publishers. The story foreshadows the development of Christie's art, but her hero, far from developing, remains essentially the same. He appears in over 30 novels and 50 stories, and we learn that his eyes appear green in moments of excitement, that he acquires a chauffeur, George, and an efficient secretary, Miss Lemon. He lives in Whitehaven Mansions, a starkly modern London flat which satisfies his love of symmetry and order. We are never privy to his private thoughts and we see and know him only through the eyes of other characters.

But the fact that we feel we know Poirot intimately while actually knowing very little is an advantage. He is at the center of the novel, yet we are never distracted from his purpose - the solving of the crime - nor does he compete for psychological interest with other characters.

Read the rest of this fascinating article on Telegraph.co.uk here.

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 Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for August 28, 2006

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for August 28, 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 letters and mystery clue: A E G L M O R U Y. She is the author of the Deputy Sheriff Claire Watkins mysteries (9 letters).

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, August 27, 2006

News: LA Times Launches Black Dahlia Archive Site

The Los Angeles Times in association with Universal Pictures has launched a website with original articles on the murder from the newspaper's archives to promote the upcoming release of The Black Dahlia.The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy

Titled The Black Dahlia: The Story as it was Originally Reported, the site includes a downloadable map (PDF format) of the area where the crime took place and reproductions of actual articles from the LA Times reporting on the murder and subsequent investigation.

The Black Dahlia film trailer and photos from the movie are also available to view.

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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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Mystery Bestsellers for August 25, 2006

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten mystery hardcover bestsellers for the week ending August 25, 2006 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Not much change in the lists this week. The most significant newcomer is Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline WinspearMessenger of Truth, the 4th Maisie Dobbs mystery by Jacqueline Winspear. The night before an exhibition of his artwork opens at a famed Mayfair gallery, the controversial artist Nick Bassington-Hope falls to his death. The police rule it an accident, but Nick's twin sister, Georgina, a wartime journalist and a infamous figure in her own right, isn't convinced. When the authorities refuse to consider her theory that Nick was murdered, Georgina seeks out a fellow graduate from Girton College, Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator, for help. Nick was a veteran of World War I, and before long the case leads Maisie to the desolate beaches of Dungeness in Kent, and into the sinister underbelly of the city's art world. Maisie once again uncovers the perilous legacy of the Great War in a society struggling to recollect itself. But to solve the mystery of Nick'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. Mysterious Reviews states that "... Messenger of Truth will almost certainly be remembered as one of the best mysteries of the year."

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, August 24, 2006

Mystery Book Review: The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld

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

The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld
Non-series
Henry Holt (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-8050-8098-8 (0805080988)
ISBN-13: 978-0-8050-8098-8 (9780805080988)
Publication Date: September 2006
List Price: $26.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): In this ingenious, suspenseful historical thriller, Sigmund Freud is drawn into the mind of a sadistic killer who is savagely attacking Manhattan’s wealthiest heiresses.

Inspired by Sigmund Freud’s only visit to America, The Interpretation of Murder is an intricate tale of murder and the mind’s most dangerous mysteries. It unfurls on a sweltering August evening in 1909 as Freud disembarks from the steamship George Washington, accompanied by Carl Jung, his rival and protégé. Across town, in an opulent apartment high above the city, a stunning young woman is found dangling from a chandelier—whipped, mutilated, and strangled. The next day, a second beauty—a rebellious heiress who scorns both high society and her less adventurous parents—barely escapes the killer. Yet Nora Acton, suffering from hysteria, can recall nothing of her attack. Asked to help her, Dr. Stratham Younger, America’s most committed Freudian analyst, calls in his idol, the Master himself, to guide him through the challenges of analyzing this high-spirited young woman whose family past has been as complicated as his own.

The Interpretation of Murder leads readers from the salons of Gramercy Park, through secret passages, to Chinatown—even far below the currents of the East River where laborers are building the Manhattan Bridge. As Freud fends off a mysterious conspiracy to destroy him, Younger is drawn into an equally thrilling adventure that takes him deep into the subterfuges of the human mind.

Review: Sigmund Freud's pioneering work on psychoanalysis, William Shakespeare's Hamlet, the aristrocracy of New York in the early 20th century, and the construction of the Manhattan Bridge are all key elements of Jed Rubenfeld's well plotted though curiously rather languid murder mystery, The Interpretation of Murder.

Freud actually plays a minor role in The Interpretation of Murder. The investigation of the murder and attempted murder of two wealthy young women in New York City is conducted by two principal characters in the book: Dr. Stratham Younger, a Freudian adherent, and Detective Jimmy Littlemore of the police department. Younger analyzes the actions, motives, relationships, and personalities of all those involved in the crimes while Littlemore methodically and energetically hypothesizes on what might have happened and sets out to determine if it could, or did, happen. The juxtaposition of the two approaches works well in The Interpretation of Murder, lending credibility to the sometimes implausible.

The historical elements of The Interpretation of Murder both add to, and detract from, the story. It is interesting to see how Younger incorporates both the theories of Freud and the writing of Shakespeare into his investigation, but much of the academic debate regarding Freud, Carl Yung, and the Triumvirate is completely irrelevant to the mystery.

Rubenfeld oddly chose to write Younger's role in first person narrative, using third person point of view for the rest of the book. With at least two principal characters, this method doesn't work well. Rubenfeld illustrates how ill-considered this literary approach was by inexplicably writing a pivotal chapter near the end of the book that includes Younger but is written in third person. Based on this chapter alone, it is highly likely that had the entire book been written in third person, the result would have been significantly better.

The Interpretation of Murder is a cleverly devised murder mystery and Rubenfeld is clearly a talented writer. But flaws in style and editing prevent it from being a memorable novel of suspense fiction.

Special thanks to FSB Associates for providing an ARC of The Interpretation of Murder for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

News: Nominees for 2006 Quill Book Awards Released

The Quill Book Awards, which celebrates the best books of the year in nineteen popular categories, has released their list of nominees for 2006. The Quills, an initiative launched with the support of Reed Business Information and NBC Universal Television Stations, is designed to be an industry qualified "consumers choice" awards program for books, honoring the current titles readers deem most entertaining and enlightening.

In the Mystery/Suspense/Thriller category, the nominees are:

Michael Connelly: The Lincoln Lawyer (Little Brown)
Arthur Conan Doyle: The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes (Norton)
Harlan Coben: Promise Me (Dutton)
Elizabeth Peters: Tomb of the Golden Bird (Morrow)
Janet Evanovich: Twelve Sharp (St. Martin's Press)

Consumer voting is now open at www.quillsvote.com. Voting will continue through September 30th with the winners announced at the Quills awards ceremony October 10th in New York City.

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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