Tuesday, June 05, 2007

News: 2007 Quill Awards Nominations Announced

At BookExpo America this past weekend, five nominees in each of 18 categories were announced for the 2007 Quill Awards. The Quill Awards are the only book awards to pair a populist sensibility with Hollywood-style glitz. They are the first literary prizes to reflect the tastes of all the groups that matter most in publishing--- readers, booksellers and librarians.

In the Mystery/Suspense category, the nominees are:

The Collaborator of Bethlehem by Matt Beynon Rees (Soho Press).
What the Dead Know by (William Morrow).
Body of Lies by David Ignatius (W. W. Norton).
The Overlook by (Little, Brown and Co.).
A Welcome Grave by Michael Koryta (St. Martin's Minotaur).

The 2007 Quill Awards will be presented on October 22, 2007, during a gala ceremony at Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York City.

For more information, visit the Quill Awards website 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.

Return to ...

Press Release: Authors to Share Their Secrets at CraftFest 2007

New York, NY (PRWEB) June 3, 2007 -- New York area aspiring and experienced fiction writers have the opportunity to live a dream. Those who have toiled for years in high school and college level creative writing courses will be able to leapfrog to the head of the class on July 12th when some of the greatest best selling authors alive all gather for the International Thriller Writers convention at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan to teach their techniques.

While many two week or month long courses that cost hundreds of dollars offer a local author or two to talk about the craft and industry, CraftFest offers a whole shelf for only $250:

David Morrell, legendary author of the Rambo series tells the secrets of how to uncover the subject matter and voice that's uniquely your own.

James Rollins has sold thrillers in twenty-one countries and is a mainstay on the NYTimes Top 10. He'll reveal how to hook readers on your first page and keep them turning for more.

Medical thriller bestseller will show you how to develop your idea into a fully fledged plot and teach you how to research the idea to the readers' heart-stopping point.

Hone your novel to a razor's edge with Lisa Gardner, as she teaches you how to recognize "telling" versus "showing" in your plot. Dr. D. P. Lyle, author and medical consultant for television shows such as and will reveal how to create realistic psychology in your villain. Later, , will discuss creating a series character, while espionage writer Gayle Lynds shows you how to create nail-biting suspense. Every step of a bestseller is detailed as David Hewson, Jon Land, David Hagberg, and more take the stage to guide you through the writing process.

CraftFest, the International Thriller Writers Thriller School, will take place on Thursday, July 12, 2007. It begins at 10:00 a.m., and ends at 4:50 p.m. You'll have lunch with your favorite thriller writers, plus well-known agents and editors from 12:00 - 1:50 and those who stick around after class will get bonus "Buzz Your Book" tips from bestseller from 5:00 to 5:50.

Read the entire press release 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.

Return to ...

Monday, June 04, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Hot Rocks by Lev Raphael

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

Hot Rocks by
A Nick Hoffman Mystery

Perseverance Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-880284-83-9 (1880284839)
ISBN-13: 978-1-880284-83-4 (9781880284834)
Publication Date: April 2007
List Price: $14.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Fitness = Death, when Nick Hoffman heads back to the gym after his Caribbean vacation, finding himself caught in a Desperate Housewives-type mystery.

Just back from their Caribbean vacation, professor Nick Hoffman and his partner, Stefan Borowski, need to get back in shape. Michigan Muscle is a luxurious health club near the State University of Michigan. With the latest equipment and top-notch personal trainers, it‘s a palatial complex for fitness. But every palace has its intrigue, and when Nick finds a dead trainer in the steam room, he‘s drawn into a web of passion and privilege unlike anything he‘s experienced before. The prime suspect because he discovered the body, Nick has to work out this mystery to its bitter end.

Review: Hot Rocks is the 7th mystery by Lev Raphael in the Nick Hoffman series set in a major metropolis in .

The opening chapter of Hot Rocks sets the stage for a interesting locked room-type murder mystery: Nick Hoffman, relaxing in the steam room at a popular health club, tries to engage the room's only other occupant, Vlado, a trainer at the club, in conversation. When he realizes that Vlado reminds him of the young poet depicted in the painting The Death of Chatterton, he begins to suspect that Vlado may be dead. And indeed he is, murdered by a blunt object struck to the head. With all the people coming and going at the club, how could someone have killed Vlado without being seen?

Unfortunately, the who, how, and why aspects of the murder are largely set aside until the very end. Both how the crime was committed and how Nick puts the pieces together to solve it are very clever indeed. But what transpires between the beginning and the end borders on the tedious.

Part of the problem is in the description of Nick's friend Juno Dromgoole. She's intended to be a larger-than-life character with exaggerated features. But she dominates whatever scene she is in to the point of distraction. And her presence is pervasive, overpowering that of Nick Hoffman. Less, much less, of Juno would truly equate to a more, far more, readable and enjoyable book.

A more subtle problem lays in Raphael's constant use of literary and artistic references. Comparing Vlado to Chatterton in the first chapter is inspired; even if the reader had never seen the painting, they could imagine what might be depicted and construct a mental picture of the dead trainer in the steam room. But scarcely a page goes by without some simile being presented. Some of these work well; consider this eloquent passage: "I couldn't figure out what was underneath her languor, but it felt insidious, maybe even corrupt. Though not as strange, she reminded me of Carmen Sternwood in The Big Sleep." But most references are either just contextually odd ("I don't see how you ended up studying Wharton. Your period is really the Picaresque, and Juno is right out of Fielding.") or nonsensical ("My new [chairman] had recently risen to the top through politicking as arcane as some of the references in The Da Vinci Code.").

Some might find Raphael's writing in this manner witty, but it's mostly arduous and tiresome.

Finally, Raphael tends to use unusual names for his characters, so a Who's Who at the beginning is a very helpful addition for keeping track of them.

Hot Rocks is a near miss: a terrific mystery overwhelmed by verbiage.

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

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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.

Return to ...

Mysteries on TV: CHiPs, The Fall Guy, Mission Impossible

Mysteries on TVTelevision series being released this week on DVD:

CHiPs Season 1CHiPs, Season 1 starred Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada (pictured on the DVD cover) as California Highway Patrol motorcycle cops (CHiPs) Officer Jon Baker and Officer Frank "Ponch" Poncherello.

The series ran for 6 seasons on NBC from September 1977 through May 1983.

This DVD set includes the 22 episodes from the 1st season on 6 disks. Additional features include an introduction and trivia with Erik Estrada on select episodes and a retrospective featurette.

The Fall Guy Season 1The Fall Guy, Season 1 starred Lee Majors as bounty hunter and stunt man Colt Seavers. Special effects were often included as a part of his effort to capture criminals.

The series ran for 5 seasons on ABC from November 1981 through May 1986.

This DVD set includes 23 episodes from the 1st season on 6 disks. The featurette Remembering the Fall Guy: An American Classic is included on the first disk.

Mission: Impossible Season 2Mission: Impossible, Season 2 introduced Peter Graves as the new leader of the IMF, Jim Phelps. Returning team members included Cinnamon Carter (Barbara Bain), Rollin Hand (Martin Landau), Barney Collier (Greg Morris), and Willie Armitage (Peter Lupus).

The original series ran for 7 seasons on CBS from September 1966 through March 1973. An updated version of the series aired on ABC during the 1988/1989 television season.

This DVD set includes 23 episodes (including 2 2-part episodes) from the 2nd season on 7 disks.

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

Return to ...

Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for June 04, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for June 04, 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: A C D E F I J K L. This Maine kennel owner is also an amateur detective in mysteries by Lee Charles Kelley (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, June 03, 2007

Mysteries on TV: Jericho Returns to PBS Mystery!

Mysteries on TVJericho returns to Mystery! on PBS this evening in To Murder and Create, the third mystery movie in this UK series from 2005. Robert Lindsay stars as Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Michael Jericho. Check your local listings as dates and times may vary.

A distinguished scientist involved in atomic weapons research is brutally murdered on Valentine's Day. Was this murder politically motivated, or the work of an overzealous hate mail writer interested in derailing his scientific work? Suddenly more murders committed in a similar fashion are popping up around London. Are they connected to the scientist? Jericho and his team must race against the clock to catch their killer.

The first two episodes in the Jericho series, A Pair of Ragged Claws and The Killing of Johnny Swan, are currently available on DVD.

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

Return to ...

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Mystery Book Review: The Tunnels by Michelle Gagnon

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

The Tunnels by
A Kelly Jones Mystery

Mira (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7783-2446-X (077832446X)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7783-2446-1 (9780778324461)
Publication Date: June 2007
List Price: $6.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): An old, abandoned tunnel system beneath the prestigious New England college becomes the gruesome stalking ground of a serial killer ...

The crime scenes are both grim and otherworldly. The bodies of two female students are found mutilated and oddly positioned in the dark labyrinth beneath the school—haunting symbols painted on the walls above them.

In her decade tracking serial killers, FBI special agent Kelly Jones has seen some of the worst humanity can inflict. Yet the tragedy unfolding at her alma mater chills her to the bone. Evidence suggests that the connection between the victims—daughters of powerful men—and the cryptic message behind the killings is rooted in a dark, ancient ritual. As the body count rises, so do the stakes. The killer is taunting Kelly, daring her to follow him down a dangerous path from which only one can emerge.

Review: Michelle Gagnon introduces FBI special agent Kelly Jones in The Tunnels, a murder mystery set at a college in New England.

Kelly is back on familiar turf here: she is an alumnus of the college and is aware of, but not particularly familiar with, the series of tunnels that snake beneath the campus. These tunnels are the scenes of two horrific crimes: two female students have been hung in front of symbols painted on the tunnel walls and their blood drained from them. Together with her FBI partner Roger Morrow, Kelly needs to decipher the meaning behind what appear to be ritualistic killings before another murder takes place.

Gagnon has created an intelligent, confident character in Kelly Jones who grows more complex and, not coincidentally, more interesting as the story progresses. The members of her investigative team are also well drawn, particularly the character of Jake Riley who works for the father of one of the dead girls. Kelly and Jake clearly have the potential for a romantic relationship in the future, but fortunately Gagnon doesn't complicate her book by introducing one here.

Where The Tunnels tends to fail is in the development of the plot. Almost by definition, serial killers have a sense of purpose and are methodical in their choice of victim, yet it's rather disappointing to discover that neither is especially true in this case. The identity of the murderer is fairly obvious early, but the reasoning behind the crimes when revealed at the end seems particularly strained. And Gagnon should have come up with a better way for Kelly to solve the crimes than to put her in a "you're going to kill me anyway so you might as well tell me everything" scenario; she's smarter than that and deserves a better ending.

A relatively weak plot aside, readers are likely to embrace Kelly Jones in The Tunnels and look forward to her next case.

Special thanks to Michelle Gagnon for providing an ARC of The Tunnels for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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.

Return to ...

Friday, June 01, 2007

Mystery Bestsellers for June 01, 2007

Mystery BestsellersA list of the top ten for the week ending June 01, 2007 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

The Overlook by Michael ConnellyNo changes among the top 3 bestselling mysteries at Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com: , the 13th entry in the Harry Bosch mystery series by , remains in the top spot on both lists followed by The 6th Target by James Patterson and Invisible Prey by John Sandford. Furthermore, there are no new mysteries appearing on either list in the top ten this week, a very unusual situation.

We've upgraded our website to allow you to easily purchase any bestselling mystery book featured on our site over the past 8 months. 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.

Return to Mystery Books News ...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

News: Rankin Reveals Subject of Libretto

More news from The Guardian Hay Festival ...

Last month we reported that Ian Rankin had agreed to write a libretto for a new opera by composer Craig Armstrong. (Read more here.)

We now know the subject of that libretto. As reported by Guardian Arts correspondent Charlotte Higgins, Rankin has revealed that the opera will be a grisly historical tale of betrayal and murder.

"It's a true story of a 16th-century Italian nobleman who killed his wife, his wife's lover, and his son, because he thinks he might be a bastard," said Rankin. "He repents but he is eventually killed by his second wife."

The opera will be one of six 15-minute operas, all by writers new to the genre, to be staged in a single evening by Scottish Opera. "It will be a sort of Opera Idol," added Rankin. "The audience will get to vote on the one they want to be turned into a full-length opera. I'm just hoping I don't win that one."

Read the entire article on Guardian.co.uk here where there is additional information on Rankin continuing the Rebus series after his next book in which the Scottish detective retires.

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.

Return to ...

Mystery Book Review: Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception by Lois Winston. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Love, Lies, and a Double Shot of Deception by Lois Winston

Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception by Lois Winston
Non-Series

Love Spell (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-505-52719-7 (0505527197)
ISBN-13: 978-0-505-52719-6 (9780505527196)
Publication Date: May 2007
List Price: $6.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): Life has delivered one sucker punch after another to Emma Wadsworth. As a matter of fact, you could say the poor little rich girl is the ultimate poster child for Money Can’t Buy Happiness — even if she is no longer a child.

Billionaire real estate stud Logan Crawford is as famous for his less-than-platinum reputation as he is his business empire. In thirty-eight years he’s never fallen in love, and that’s just fine with him — until he meets Emma.

But Emma’s not buying into Logan’s seductive ways. Well, maybe just a little, but she’s definitely going into the affair with her eyes wide open. She’s no fool. At least not any more. Her deceased husband saw to that. Besides, she knows Logan will catch the first jet out of once he learns her secrets.

Except things don’t go exactly as Emma has predicted. When the caca hits the fan, and Emma is accused first of her husband’s crimes, then his murder, Logan not only hangs around, he becomes her staunchest defender. That’s when Emma discovers her inner Sidney Bristow and sets out to expose the truth and clear her name.

Review: Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception by Lois Winston is the story of a very wealthy widow, Emma Wadsworth, known as the "Princess of Philadelphia.” Although she seems to have everything, she feels she has nothing. Her late husband married her for her money and prestige, then mentally abused her with threats of all kind should she leave him. Enter Logan Crawford who seems to have it all: he's very good looking and, oh by the way, a billionaire. When he and Emma meet it is instant true love for both. Though Logan wants a commitment from Emma, she backs away because she has secrets from her past that she has told no one. But someone out there knows her secrets and is determined to tell all and ruin her life.

The marketing blurbs for Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception ("smart, witty fun” and “a whimsical love story”) didn't prepare me for what I read between the covers. I found the book to be quite dark with an excess of sex, drugs, hate, jealousy, anger, blackmail and revenge. With few exceptions, notably Emma and the mayor and his wife, the characters would seem to be more appropriately situated in ("Sin City") rather than Philadelphia ("The City of Brotherly Love").

I'm sure there are readers who will enjoy this kind of book. But call me old-fashioned: I wouldn't want to see my daughter reading it.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Love, Live and a Double Shot of Deception and to Book Trends for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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.

Return to ...

Monday, May 28, 2007

News: Inspector Rebus to Retire ... But May Return

Reuters is reporting that Scottish mystery author Ian Rankin, creator of the acclaimed Inspector Rebus series, will retire his hard-drinking detective hero this year but he might well be back to tackle unsolved cases.

Attendees at The Guardian Hay Festival which runs from May 24th through June 3rd in Hay-on-Wye in Wales were told by Rankin that Rebus would reach mandatory retirement age in the next book scheduled for publication in September.

"There is every possibility that Rebus could be brought back to investigate cases that have not been cleared up," Rankin said. "I don't get the sense yet that the Rebus books are running out of steam." The most recent book in the series, , was the 16th mystery to feature the Scottish detective.

Read the entire article on WashingtonPost.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.

Return to ...

Mystery Godoku: Weekly Puzzle for May 28, 2007

Mystery GodokuMystery Godoku Puzzle for May 28, 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: A F G I L M N O S. This 1992 book was the second crime caper novel by (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, May 27, 2007

Author Interview: Mary E. Martin, The Osgoode Trilogy

Mysterious ReviewsWe recently had the pleasure of speaking with Mary E. Martin, author of the Osgoode Trilogy featuring Toronto lawyer Harry Jenkins. The third and final book in the series, A Trial of One, is scheduled for publication later this year.

An excerpt from our conversation appears below; the entire text of our appears on our website.

Mysterious Reviews: Tell us a bit about the trilogy.

Ms. Martin: Harry Jenkins is a most unlikely hero. He’s a middle-aged lawyer, who feels with dead certainty that life is passing him by. Trapped under his senior partner’s thumb and stuck in a dead marriage, he is desperate for change—almost any change.

The three novels span a period of eighteen months in Harry’s life. In that time frame, he grows from a frustrated, tentative man, beset by doubts and worries to one who is able to live with energy, passion and conviction.

Why a trilogy?

Actually, I didn’t set out to write a trilogy. I just had one book in mind. But, I became so engrossed in the character of Harry Jenkins that I felt he deserved lots more space. Harry is a very human guy with plenty of flaws. I like to think that almost everyone can identify with him. He represents [most of the time] our honest, reasonable selves trying to figure life out.

Why did you choose self publishing?

The latest figure I read was—one percent of all manuscripts sent to traditional publishers were in fact published. Those odds are likely better than winning a lottery, but they are not very encouraging. With publishing on demand [POD], you retain the copyright in your work and that, I think, is worth something. As well, I think that the whole publishing industry, including distribution, is in a period of massive change. My publisher, iUniverse is partly owned by Barnes and Noble. From that you can see how the lines between production and distribution are blurring. In another five years, I expect the POD technology will be used throughout the publishing industry and there will be a greater integration of production and distribution.

You practiced law before turning to writing. What are your thoughts on mid-life career change?

Actually, I was writing for about the last ten years of my twenty-eight years of practice and so, by the time I retired from law, I had drafts of two of the three novels completed. But, I think, if you possibly can, you must find a way to follow your passion. If you don’t, then I think something important “dies” in you. Also, I think we often become stale in our work after twenty or thirty years and really do need a change. So keep on writing and never give up.

For the latest in 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.

Return to ...

Profile: U.P. Author Publishes Second Mystery

Jane Nordberg, writing for The Daily Mining Gazette of , recently conducted an interview with local author , whose 2nd mystery to feature reporter and amateur sleuth Robin Hamilton is being published this month.

In , Robin spies a dusty old scrapbook in a bookstore with a cover photo of a young girl with golden brown eyes. Inside, newspaper clippings from regional newspapers cover the girl's sudden disappearance on her last day of school in 1974. Robin’s journalist instincts come alive and she starts asking questions about the scrapbook and the girl whose body was never found.

Nordberg notes that Barr introduces a new character in this book, Aunt Gina, that will provide Hamilton with the impetus to deal with the early loss of her mother and the murder of her fiance; two events that she is unwilling to face.

“Robin has not dealt well with her loss,” Barr said. “In fact, she hasn’t dealt with it at all. Aunt Gina helps her learn that it’s okay to open up and break through.” Barr also adds that Page One: Vanished is considerably darker than her first book.

Barr is already at work on the third book in the series, called Page One: White Out. The title refers to the U.P.’s legendary winters as well as its drug trade. For that novel, Barr will draw upon her experiences as a reporter with the Daily Press, where she covered drug cases on the law enforcement beat.

Read the rest of the interview with Nancy Barr on MiningGazette.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.

Return to ...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Murdering Americans by Ruth Dudley Edwards

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Murdering Americans by Ruth Dudley Edwards. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Murdering Americans by Ruth Dudley Edwards

Murdering Americans by
A Robert Amiss Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-413-9 (1590584139)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-413-2 (9781590584132)
Publication Date: April 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Academia (n.): a profession filled with bad food, knee-jerk liberalism, and murder...

Being a member of the House of Lords and Mistress of St Martha’s College in Cambridge might seem enough to keep anyone busy, but Baroness (Jack) Troutbeck likes new challenges. When a combination of weddings, work, and spookery deprives her of five of her closest allies, she leaps at an invitation to become a Distinguished Visiting Professor on an American campus.

With her head full of romantic fantasies inspired by 1950s Hollywood, and accompanied by Horace, her loquacious and disconcerting parrot, this intellectually-rigorous right-winger sets off from England blissfully unaware that academia in the United States is dominated by knee-jerk liberalism, contempt for Western civilization, and the institutionalisation of a form of insane political-correctness.

Will the bonne viveuse Baroness Troutbeck be able to cope with the culinary and vinous desert that is New Paddington, ? Can this insensitive and tactless human battering-ram defeat the thought-police who run Freeman State University like a gulag? Does she believe the late Provost was murdered? If so, what should she do about it? And will she manage to persuade Robert Amiss—who describes himself bitterly as Watson to her Holmes and Goodwin to her Nero Wolfe—to abandon his honeymoon and fly to her side?

Review: Murdering Americans is the politically incorrect title of the 11th mystery in the Robert Amiss (and "Jack" Troutbeck) series by Ruth Dudley Edwards.

Those who attended college in the fifties no doubt have vivid memories of their experiences being a combination of academic hard work and youthful pleasure. From the sixties to the present day, we have watched our children and grandchildren attend the colleges of their choice. Reading this fictionalized story escorts the reader into a new reality.

Murdering Americans takes place in a solidly built, nice looking college in the abandoned steel town of New Paddington, Indiana. The college, Freeman State University, has deteriorated over the years from the principles on which it was founded, that is the teachings of math, science, and history, freedom of speech, diversity of thought and integration, and so on. Political Correctness (with a capital "PC") has become their crushing ideology. The only competition permitted by this college is who is the greater victim.

Baroness "Jack" Troutbeck, though quite busy being a member of the House of Lords and the Mistress of St. Martha’s College in Cambridge, is always eager to face a new challenge should one present itself. To her surprise and delight she has been invited to America as a Distinguished Visiting Professor. She readily accepts, leaves London and flies off to America, and on to Freeman State University. The Baroness imagined the American colleges to be as she had viewed them in the movies of the fifties. What a shock to find them bastions of the liberal elite who have contempt for all things Western and who preside over not an institute of higher learning but one of political correctness. To some, no doubt, they are one and the same.

Jack is a brilliant, witty, and rather nice lady who is kind to animals. But she is a complainer when things don't quite go her way. Her plane was late because someone had to check Horace, her parrot, to make sure he was not carrying bird flu, and that he was not a terrorist because of some of the language he was using. Her chauffeur, Betsy, drove on the wrong side of the road. After a fourteen-hour trip, she wanted a little “pick-me-up” from a bar, any bar. But it was Sunday and there no bars open, even in the hotel. Her accommodations were unsatisfactory as they overlooked an active train track. Then there's the tasteless American food. She enticed the hotel’s chef and his wife to prepare food just for her, with, of course, the right wine. And all this on her first day in the US. On Monday she started in on the academic studies provided for the students. She found that this college did not offer the standard courses in literature and science but instead an array of programs in political correctness. Because Christian Americans are at the root of the world's problems, students need only to study the backgrounds and cultures of blacks, gays and lesbians, Muslims, Jews, and other oppressed minorities to understand why all countries in the world hate America.

During her stay, the Baroness is involved in four murders of which she has been inconveniently accused. She immediately calls for her friend in need, Robert Amiss, who flies to her side to help her solve the crimes.

Baroness Jack is a delightful character and with Robert at her side they make a perfect duo in this entertaining and witty book. At the end of Murdering Americans they not only solve the mystery of the murders, but also extract a promise from the founder of the University to turn it around and once again make it into a truly credible college.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Murdering Americans and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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.

Return to ...

Omnimystery Blog Archive

Total Pageviews (last 30 days)

Omnimystery News
Original Content Copyright © 2020 — Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites — All Rights Reserved
Guest Post Content (if present) Copyright © 2020 — Contributing Author — All Rights Reserved