Monday, April 16, 2007

Mysteries on TV: Murder, She Wrote Season 6

Mysteries on TVNew television mystery series to be released this week on DVD:

Murder, She Wrote, the sixth season, starring Angela Lansbury as mystery writer Jessica Fletcher.The Streets of San Francisco Season 1

Whether Jessica was at home in Cabot Cove or traveling the world promoting her books or visiting old friends, murder was never far away. This season opens with Jessica in Athens, Greece, where she is reunited with a British secret agent who asks her to pose as his wife to rescue a kidnapped fellow spy. Other episodes in the season have Jessica visiting Palm Beach, Wall Street, California, and Jamaica.

The 6th season ran for 22 episodes during the 1989/1990 television season on CBS. The 5 disk DVD set also has a number of bonus features including interviews with Angela Lansbury and the cast, guest stars, and crew.

Visit the Mysteries on TV website to discover more currently available on DVD.

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Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for April 16, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for April 16, 2007A new 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: C E G H I N R T W. John Sandford wrote this mystery with freelance video team member Anna Batory (with "The", 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!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

News: Your Favorite Author May be Just a Brand Name

Kerry Lengel, writing for the The Arizone Republic, starts by asked a trick question: Who wrote Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell?

You're right, it isn't Tom Clancy, even though his name gets the biggest type on the cover of the book. All three Splinter Cell novels clear state that they were written by David Michaels.

But even then, as Lengel notes, the mystery of who wrote the books deepens. David Michaels is a pseudonym for professional ghostwriter Raymond Benson who acknowledges writing the first two books in the series. As to who wrote the third ... well, that remains unknown.

We have entered a new era in the branding of bestselling authors, Lengel writes. The poster boy for this 21st-century phenomenon is James Patterson, who had eight of the 100 most popular books of 2006, according to USA Today, and is scheduled to release six novels this year - that's one every two months. The majority of his books are written by "co-authors" who take a detailed outline and flesh it out, then turn it back to Patterson for edits.

There are many variations on the theme, from secret ghostwriters and credited co-authors to posthumous publication and next-generation torchbearers. For example, Robert Ludlum is still writing books despite the fact he died six years ago. His publisher doesn't make it obvious that he's still not writing them.

Lengel also points out there are other ways to brand an author. Having "theme" titles, for example. It's a technique that has worked for Janet Evanovich (One for the Money, Two for the Dough), another author who has made her name a bona-fide brand, although in this case without hiring lesser-known writers for the assembly line.

The fundamental question is, does it matter to you if your favorite author may not be who you think it is? For millions of readers, the answer is clearly no.

Read the entire article on the branding of popular authors on AZCentral.com here.

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are committed 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, April 14, 2007

Profile: Prosecutor has a Paper Trail Worth Following

Oline H. Cogdill, mystery book columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, recently profiled , the former NYC prosecutor who is now a best-selling author. Her most recent book the Alex Cooper series, Bad BloodBad Blood by Linda Fairstein, was published in February.

"The law and literature -- those are two things I can't give up and I'm so fortunate that they feed off each other," Fairstein said during an interview in Miami.

Cogdill writes that when Fairstein joined the Manhattan District Attorney's Office in 1972, she was one of seven women on a staff of 180 lawyers. At the time, the district attorney didn't permit women to work on homicides or violent crimes, let alone prosecute them in court. Just four years later, Fairstein took over the newly formed sex crimes unit, revolutionizing the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse cases. "It's the work that kept me there," she says. "It became so richly rewarding on a professional level, on a personal level, on an emotional level to help make changes in the law."

She wrote her first four novels while still a prosecutor, and the pace was wearing her down. "When I was writing and prosecuting, prosecution came first," she said. But her novels were beginning to attract as much attention as her law career.

Fairstein's fifth novel, The Bone Vault, written after she left the D.A.'s office, became her breakout hit in 2003. Critics and readers have cited the authenticity in Fairstein's novels; the author says she pulls from real cases and events, though she has never fictionalized a real defendant or villain.

But the law still calls, Cogdill adds. She often does consulting work or gives seminars, workshops and discussions at law enforcement agencies or attorney groups around the country. Recently at the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office, she did a 90-minute informal training session on special victims and a discussion with the DNA Unit.

Read the rest of Cogdill's profile of this remarkable author on Sun-Sentinel.com here.

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are committed to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Ladykiller by Lawrence Light and Meredith Anthony

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Ladykiller by Lawrence Light and Meredith Anthony. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Ladykiller by Lawrence Light and Meredith Anthony

Ladykiller by Lawrence Light and Meredith Anthony
Non-Series

Oceanview Publishing (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-933515-05-8 (1933515058)
ISBN-13: 978-1-933515-05-2 (9781933515052)
Publication Date: April 2007
List Price: $22.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): In the city that never sleeps, evil is wide awake.

From the bright lights of Times Square to the dark alleys of New York, the Ladykiller is at work – and at prey.

Four women savagely murdered on the mean streets of New York. The Ladykiller leaves no trail, no clues.

The pressure is on for NYPD detective Dave Dillon: either he solves the crime, or he can kiss his job goodbye. When Dave joins forces with Megan Morrison, a beautiful young social worker, the search for a cold-hearted killer leads to a hot romance. But a host of forces threaten to intrude: Nita, Megan’s jealous mentor, would delight in derailing the romance between Dave and Megan, as would Jamie, a determined detective with her own not-so-hidden agenda. And Dave’s shadowy past is never far behind. The clock is ticking for Dave and Megan. Will they close in on the shocking truth behind the crimes, or will it close in on them?

In the world of the Ladykiller, passion can turn deadly in a New York minute.

Review: The papers have coined the term Ladykiller to describe a serial killer who has already struck three times, and kills a fourth woman in the opening chapter of Ladykiller, a new book by the married writing team of Lawrence Light and Meredith Anthony. The couple have created a compelling character in NYPD detective Dave Dillon and crafted an interesting, if somewhat flawed, series of crimes for him to solve.

The four murdered women apparently have nothing in common, living in different areas of the city and having different socioeconomic backgrounds. But all were killed in the same way: a 45-calibre bullet through the right eye at close range. Detective Dave Dillon of the NYPD is assigned the case, and is aggressive in pursuing leads. Just when he thinks his investigation is making progress, there's a twist: a man is killed in the same manner. Was it wrong to assume the killer was simply stalking women? Could this latest murder be a copycat crime? Or is there a common thread linking these crimes that has nothing to do with gender?

There are a couple of plot points that tend to weaken the overall story. The crimes are set in 1991 where the NYPD seemingly have limited forensic skills (at least compared with what ostensibly is the norm today). This leaves the authors with the freedom to have the killer walk away from the crime scene leaving minimal evidence to be found by the authorities. Murders of this nature would seem to leave an abundance of clues and setting the book in the present day would require a killer that was far more careful. Furthermore, it seems highly improbable that one would calmly stare at their killer, someone who was pointing a gun just a few inches from their right eye, even if they knew them. Maybe once or twice, but some 6 or 7 people are ultimately killed in this way in Ladykiller. It's simply not credible.

The authors reveal the identity of the Ladykiller early in the book which removes a huge element of suspense from the story. Typically in a book with a known killer, the plot becomes a police procedural. But not in this case: there is nothing terribly methodical about the way Dillon handles his investigation. Thus to keep the reader's interest, what follows is a series of unexpected twists and turns that are hit-and-miss; some work within the context of the plot, some don't. Fortunately, the ending works, and provides an element of surprise that will have the reader thumbing back through the pages to see how they missed anticipating this startling conclusion.

Special thanks to Maryglenn McCombs for providing an ARC of Ladykiller for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

For more visit Mysterious Reviews, a partner with the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books which is committed to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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News: John Banville Confronts Benjamin Black

Writing for Newsweek.com, John Banville conducts an interview with his alter-ego, author of Christine Falls.Fresh Disasters by Stuart Woods Not unlike the book, the interview has a noir-ish feel to it.

How did Black come to conceive of Christine Falls? “About three years ago I began to read Georges Simenon—not the Maigret books, a single one of which I’ve yet to read, but what he called his romans durs, his hard novels. I thought, if this kind of thing can be achieved in simple language and direct, lightweight narrative, then I want to try it myself.”

Aren't all your characters ciphers, especially Quirke? “So they are, ciphers all. Just like folks. You see, that’s the difference between you and me,” he says. “You devote pages to speculating on why this or that character did this or that action, without ever, of course, coming up with an answer or the shade of an answer. That’s your brand of phenomenology, if you’ll permit me one of the big words you’re always being berated for using. My way is by way of action. Your books think: mine look, look and report.”

Read the rest of this entertaining self-interview on Newsweek.com here.

[Mystery Books News Editor's note: A is available on the Mysterious Reviews website.]

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are committed 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 Bestsellers for April 13, 2007

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten for the week ending April 13, 2007 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Fresh Disasters by Stuart WoodsNew this week: Fresh Disasters, the 13th mystery in the Stone Barrington series, by with the New York City attorney embarking on his most dangerous adventure yet when he takes on a job as a lawyer for a sleazy and clueless con man-and ends up getting embroiled in the underworld of the New York mafia. With the help of his ex-partner, Dino, Stone investigates crime boss "Datilla the Hun," and the rest of the mob family, encountering intrigue and danger at every turn. Will Stone finally take a stand, or will he end up at the bottom of Sheepshead Bay? Publishers Weekly states, "Woods delivers few surprises, but there are plenty of laughs as the pages speed by. Series regulars and newcomers alike will be perfectly satisfied."

Be sure to check out our new, updated Mystery Bestsellers aStore to purchase any of the bestselling mysteries featured on our website!

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are committed to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Mrs. Shumak's Boarding House

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Mrs. Shumak's Boarding House by Marty Kam. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Mrs. Shumak's Boarding House by Marty Kam

Mrs. Shumak's Boarding House by Marty Kam
Non-Series

MKO Publishing (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-9786823-0-0 (0978682300)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9786823-0-9 (9780978682309)
Publication Date: December 2006
List Price: $14.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): For widow Mary Shumak and the seven boarders at her tumble-down house in Lewiston, PA, life’s about to get very difficult. Greedy casino developer Victor Masters has set his sights on the land and will stop at nothing to get it.

Now Mary must somehow come up with enough money to spare their house from the wrecking ball—with some dubious help from her scheming vagabond brother Bert, and a whole rogue’s gallery of other boarders and friends. Together, they’ll try their hands at ill-fated renovations, riverboat gambling, and even a game show, in a race against time to save the only place they’ve ever called home.

Review: “I love a mystery!” Although Mrs. Shumak’s Boarding House would in no way be considered a mystery like the works of Patterson, Baldacci or Connelly, this book written by Marty Kam has the tension, questions and excitement of a mystery. There are scheming contractors, members of a mob, a banker indebted to the mob or the contractors, and not so legal investigators. There’s even a 97 year old Italian with a gun, and he uses it.

The story is of a widow, Mary Shumak, who has inherited a very large beautiful, but very old white house and grounds. She has expected that she and her children will live their lives out there. This is their home. Living in the house, too, is her rather unstable, freeloading brother. Most of the time, when he isn’t planning something that will upset Mary, he is fun to have around. There are six boarders. This is their home, too. We meet each and every one around the breakfast, lunch or dinner table. Each one is unique in their backgrounds and ages.

The “mystery” begins when a greedy contractor wants to buy the house and land and build a large casino at the bend of the river, to be financed by the local mob organization. He will give Mary $400,000 for it, but needless to say, she refuses. The dialogue and situations that arise from the plans of the mob and the contractor keep the reader alert and interested in just how these few people will be able to keep their home.

The contractor sent an “inspector” out to estimate just what had to be done to make this old house livable, after all the roof was falling in, some wooden studs were broken and showing through the siding. It was really not a safe house to live in and according to the inspector it will cost about $50,000. But Mary will not give in. She asks the bank for a mortgage loan, which was refused because of the banker was in association with the contractor.

The mob went into action to scare the tenants and ruin the house even more. With that the children secretly came up with a plan where they could help. Mary’s brother got the roomers behind closed doors and plotted a way they could get the money. All this was kept secret from Mary until the last minute.

This is a story about a woman trying to do the right thing: for herself, her children, her brother and her roomers. Mary faces losing her home, the life she and her children have always known, her brother and her friends who depend on her.

Mrs. Shumak’s Boarding House is a great book.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty for contributing a review of Mrs. Shumak's Boarding House and to Blanco & Peace for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

For more visit Mysterious Reviews, a partner with the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books which is committed to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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News: Introducing First Clue Mysteries

Mysteries on TVIntroducing First Clue Mysteries, your source for .

First Clue Mysteries has been designed to allow parents to find mystery books at reading levels appropriate for their children. Approximately 50 mystery series are currently listed and categorized by ages: New Sleuth (ages 4 to 7), Future Sleuth (ages 7 to 10), and Sleuth in Training (ages 10 and older).

In addition, we've provided two categories, mini mysteries and minute mysteries, with books that are appropriate for childen and adults alike. Links to our partner website, Games of Mystery, provide information on mystery parties for and .

All books at First Clue Mysteries may be conveniently purchased through our affiliation with Amazon.com.

If you have a suggestion for a children's or young adult's mystery series to be added, please send an e-mail to [email protected] or post a comment to this message.

Thanks for visiting First Clue Mysteries!

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News: Penzler's Mysterious Quiz 3

The always entertaining Otto Penzler, writing in The New York Sun, has published his third Mysterious Quiz, a list of 20 questions that span the mystery genre from books to television to film and range, in our opinion, from the easy (Name the detective who solves The Mystery of Marie Roget), to the hard (In which film does the protagonist offer these words of wisdom: "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer?"), and to the somewhat obscure (Which famous author created the female private eye Theodolinda (Dol) Bonner?).

Penzler's The Crime Scene column, published every Wednesday, is a must-read for any mystery fan.

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are committed 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, April 11, 2007

News: NBC Mystery Series Cancelled After 4 Episodes

The critically acclaimed NBC comedy/mystery series Andy Barker, P. I. has been cancelled by the network after airing just four episodes. The remaining two episodes will be shown this Saturday. The series was created by Conan O'Brien and stars Andy Richter as Andy Barker, a CPA-turned-private investigator.

Mystery Books News first reported on the series just prior to the premiere. As of this news entry, all six episodes remain on the NBC.com website and can be viewed for free (with only a couple of short commercials); check them out before they disappear!

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are committed to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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News: Parker Pens First Novel for Young Adults

Lauren Beckham Falcone of the Boston Herald writes that it was no mystery why Robert B. Parker decided to write a book for young adults. “My wife and my agent both thought it was a good idea,” said Parker. “When the two women in my life suggest something, how can I resist? I do what I’m told.”

Edenville Owls by Robert B. ParkerParker's first book in this category, Edenville Owls, centers on 14 year old Bobby Murphy and is set at the beginning of his school year in 1945. World War II has just ended and the world is changing, especially Bobby's world. There's his relationship with Joanie, for one-why does being her friend feel awkward all of a sudden? And then there are his buddies, the junior varsity Edenville Owls-a group of basketball players in need of a leader. And there is something evil in the air. Who is that man he saw arguing with his pretty, new English teacher? And what was the real reason she missed school for days afterward? Bobby knows he should mind his own business, but times are confusing.

The prolific Parker, a resident of Cambridge and the author of the -based Spenser mysteries and several other mystery series, said writing about teenagers for teenagers presented new challenges. “You have to narrow your language range,” he said. “Which is something that’s completely opposite when you’re writing for adults. Also, you know, I’ve been around for 70-something years now and I know things you can’t possibly know when you are 14. So you have to figure out ways to keep that knowledge out of that, whereas in so many of my other novels, I would try to find ways to get that knowledge in.”

To read more about Parker and his new book for young adults, visit BostonHerald.com here.

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are committed 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, April 10, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Hades by Russell Andrews

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

Hades by
A Justin Westwood Mystery

Mysterious Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-89296-021-3 (0892960213)
ISBN-13: 978-0-89296-021-7 (9780892960217)
Publication Date: March 2007
List Price: $24.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): Police Chief Justin Westwood is content to escape his big-city past in sleepy East End Harbor in the , but the brutal murder of a Wall Street shark is about to change all that-not least because Westwood was in bed with the victim's wife at the time.

As Justin Westwood tries to clear himself of involvement in murder, a multinational financial conspiracy brings destruction in its wake. Westwood is willing to do whatever it takes to solve this crime, even if it means teaming up with an FBI agent who once broke his heart.

A trail of dead bodies draws him back home to Providence, , where he must deal with his own personal demons as well as reconnect with troubling memories of the past. Here he will discover a complex corporate scam with unimaginably murky depths, and at the heart of it an evil, scheming intelligence and a deadly temptress whose greatest joy lies in human suffering and death.

Review: The third entry in the Justin Westwood series by Russell Andrews, Hades, has the Long Island police chief scrambling to clear his name when the investigation of the brutal murder of a wealthy local businessman implicates him in a potential cover-up.

Hades opens with Westwood in bed with the widow-to-be. Though it gives her an airtight alibi, the district attorney seizes upon the situation to promote his grander political ambitions. Convinced the official authorities aren't doing enough, and using his own connections, Westwood runs a parallel investigation to uncover the truth behind the millionaire's death.

Across the Long Island Sound in Providence, Westwood has another death to contend with, this one personal. His brother-in-law has been murdered, and though somewhat estranged from his family, he enlists their help in tracking down his killer. Though there is no apparent connection between the two killings, a third murder, this time of an FBI agent, uncovers evidence of a conspiracy far wider than anyone thought.

The prologues are intriguing and the first chapter certainly puts an interesting twist on the plot to come. But then the author makes a serious error in judgment in writing what immediately follows, effectively rendering moot what is ultimately intended to be a pivotal plot point. Andrews subsequently proceeds to develop an overly complex story involving international commodity trading and Enron-esque financial management; a kinder, gentler Rhode Island mob; and a pair of ruthless Asian killers; all of which seems intended to compensate for a lack of suspense.

On the plus side, Hades is well written and competently researched. Characterization and dialog are spot on. Given how far-reaching the plot threads are, Andrews deserves considerable credit in bringing them all together in the end in a credible manner. And, in contrast to many writers who use prologues that are promptly forgotten by both the reader and the author, Andrews effectively incorporates them into the overall plot.

As an action-adventure thriller, Hades works, and works well. As a novel of suspense, it falls short.

Special thanks to Hachette Book Group for providing an ARC of Hades for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

For more visit Mysterious Reviews, a partner with the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books which is committed 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: New Weekly Web Serial Follows Humorous Mystery in New Jersey

Apr 09, 2007 -- /prbuzz/ -- This week the Wizard of Wit launched a free weekly web-serial entitled “It Happened in Plainfield.” The story is a humorous comic mystery that will be updated online each Monday with a new chapter.

The web-serial follows the adventures of Henson Ray, a gay NYC resident who moves to Plainfield, NJ after he receives an unusual offer from a mysterious benefactress. But life in the suburbs is anything but dull, as Henson soon finds himself embroiled in a real-life mystery involving a famous movie actress, peculiar neighbors and a secret society bent on his destruction.

Filled with colorful characters and witty dialogue, the serial is billed as “an amusing piece of fluff.” But as the chapters begin to unfold, readers will soon discover that the more outrageous the story gets, the more plausible it becomes.

The web serial is the brainchild of Writer and Marketing Manager Michael Latshaw, who began the project at the urging of some friends.

The website has been up less than a week and the response has been extremely positive.

“People are really responding to the characters and the humor," Latshaw confesses. "I'm getting e-mails from perfect strangers who say they're already hooked, and they can't wait for the next chapter. So I guess the story has the right mix of humor and heart..with a little mystery thrown in to spice it all up.”

To read the first four chapters, please visit www.ithappenedinplainfield.com.

Read the entire press release here.

[Mystery Books News Editor's comment: We read the first few chapters and agree that it is, as advertised, "fluff", but we also chuckled more than a few times. Give it shot and let us know what you think!]

Please visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are committed to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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Mysteries on TV: The Streets of San Francisco Season 1

Mysteries on TVNew television mystery series to be released this week on DVD:

The Streets of San Francisco, the first season (volume one), starring Karl Malden as Detective Lieutenant Mike Stone and Michael Douglas as his rookie partner Inspector Steve Keller.The Streets of San Francisco Season 1

Stone was the street-smart 20-year veteran cop while Keller was a college-educated rookie who solved crimes in . The appeal of the series was how well Malden and Douglas played their respective characters and the camaraderie they had as partners.

The 1st season ran for 26 episodes during the 1972/1973 television season on ABC. This DVD set includes the first 14 episodes on 4 disks.

A British crime drama is also being released today:

Murder in Suburbia, the second season, starring Caroline Catz as Detective Inspector Kate Ashurst and Lisa Faulkner as Detective Sergeant Emma Scribbins who have a unique blend of humor and an unorthodox style in solving crimes in the London suburb of Middleford.Murder in Suburbia Season 2

The 2nd season and final season ran for 6 episodes during the spring and summer of 2005 on the ITV1 network in the UK. This DVD set includes all 6 episodes on 2 disks.

Visit the Mysteries on TV website to discover more currently available on DVD.

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