Friday, March 28, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers for March 28, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers

A list of the top 15 for the week ending March 28, 2008 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Although there was just a bit of reshuffling of titles in the top 8 positions this week, 4 new books enter the mystery bestsellers list this week.

Black Widow by Randy Wayne White

Revenge becomes very personal for Doc Ford in Black Widow, the 15th mystery in this series by . When Ford's goddaughter, Shanay, called one day, he assumed it was with details of her imminent wedding, but the news was anything but cheerful. She and her bridesmaids had thrown a pretty wild bachelorette party on St. Arcs in the Windward Islands and someone had secretly videotaped it. Now that person was threatening to blow up her future unless she came across with enough money. "But don't worry, Doc," she said. "I negotiated it down. All I need you to do is make the exchange. Please?" Ford knew it was a mistake but he agreed. And now one of the bridesmaids is near death. The blackmailer took the money and released the tape on the Internet anyway, and the panicked bridesmaid took an overdose of pills washed down with alcohol. Fueled by guilt and an overpowering rage, Ford and his friend Tomlinson swear to destroy the person responsible, but she - and it is a woman - has other ideas. An agent of corruption like no one they have ever met, the black widow is just getting started.

Compulsion by Jonathan Kellerman

Psychologist Alex Delaware investigates a series of unusual crimes in Compulsion, the 22nd mystery in this series by . A tipsy young woman seeking aid on a desolate highway disappears into the inky black night. A retired schoolteacher is stabbed to death in broad daylight. Two women are butchered after closing time in a small-town beauty parlor. These and other bizarre acts of cruelty and psychopathology are linked only by the killer’s use of luxury vehicles and a baffling lack of motive. The ultimate whodunits, these crimes demand the attention of LAPD detective Milo Sturgis and his collaborator on the crime beat, psychologist Alex Delaware. What begins with a solitary bloodstain in a stolen sedan quickly spirals outward in odd and unexpected directions, leading Delaware and Sturgis from the well-heeled center of L.A. society to its desperate edges; across the paths of commodities brokers and transvestite hookers; and as far away as New York City, where the search thaws out a long-cold case and exposes a grotesque homicidal crusade. The killer proves to be a fleeting shape-shifter, defying identification, leaving behind dazed witnesses and death - and compelling Alex and Milo to confront the true face of murderous madness.

The Dark Tide by Andrew Gross

There are twists aplenty in the 2nd thriller by , The Dark Tide. An explosion rips through New York City's Grand Central Station one morning, destroying the train Karen Friedman's husband, a successful hedge fund manager, is riding in to work. Days later, with many bodies still unidentifiable, Karen resigns herself to the awful truth: her husband of eighteen years is dead. On that same day, a suspicious hit-and-run accident leaves a young man dead in Karen's hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut. Ty Hauck, a detective, becomes emotionally caught up in the case and finds a clue that shockingly connects the two seemingly unrelated events. Months later, two men show up at Karen's home digging into Charles's business dealings. Hundreds of millions of dollars are missing and the trail points squarely to Charles. With doubt suddenly cast on everything she has ever known, Karen, with Hauck, steps into a widening storm of hedge fund losses, international scams, and murder. And as the investigations converge, these two strangers touched by tragedy are pulled into a deepening relationship and unwittingly open the door to a twisted - and deadly - conspiracy.

Buckingham Palace Gardens by Anne Perry

Thomas Pitt must exercise all his diplomatic and deductive skills in Buckingham Palace Gardens, the 25th mystery in this long-running series by . The Prince of Wales has asked four wealthy entrepreneurs and their wives to the palace to discuss a fantastic idea: the construction of a six-thousand-mile railroad that would stretch the full length of Africa. But, alas, the prince’s gathering proves disastrous when the mutilated body of a prostitute hired for a late-night frolic (after the wives have retired to bed) turns up among the queen’s monogrammed sheets in a palace linen closet. With great haste, Thomas Pitt, brilliant mainstay of Special Services, is summoned to resolve the crisis. The Pitts’ cockney maid, Gracie, is also recruited - to pose as a palace servant and listen in on the guests’ conversations, scan their bedrooms, and scrutinize their troubled faces for clues to hidden rivalries and attachments that could have lead to murder. If Pitt and Gracie fail to find out who brutally murdered the young woman - as seems increasingly likely - Pitt’s career will be over, and the scandal may just cause the monarchy to fall.

On our bestseller page, we've added an icon next to every title that is available for immediate download onto the Amazon Kindle. To learn about this wireless reading device, visit the Amazon Kindle page for more information. And don't forget to check our page where you can save an additional 5% when you purchase your mystery books prior to their publication date.

The top four mystery bestsellers this week are shown below:

A Prisoner of Birth by Jeffrey ArcherKiller Heat by Linda FairsteinBetrayal by John Lescroart

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, March 27, 2008

First Clues: More Mystery Series for Kids

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

We've updated our website by adding three mystery series each of which has a new title being published early next month.

Reynie, Kate, Constance, and Sticky are the Mysterious Benedict Society, a group of gifted children who are recruited by the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened (LIVE) to prevent a master criminal from taking over the world.

The first book in the series, aptly titled The Mysterious Benedict Society, was published in March 2007. The second book, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey, is being published next month and is available for pre-order.

The are appropriate for readers aged 9 to 12.

Bitsy Burroughs is a 12-year-old tomboy who finds mystery and adventure on the islands off the southeastern coast of the US in the by Vonda Skinner Skelton.

There are currently two books published in the series: Bitsy and the Mystery at Tybee Island and Bitsy and the Mystery at Amelia Island. The third, Bitsy and the Mystery at Hilton Head Island is being published next month and is available for pre-order.

The Bitsy Burroughs mysteries are appropriate for young sleuths aged 8 to 12.

by Pete Hautman and Mary Logue feature high school students Roni Delicata, a reporter for her school's newspaper, and Brian Bain, a science geek. Together they investigate mysteries in their home town of Bloodwater, .

Published in 2006, the first book in the series, Snatched, was nominated for an . The second, Skullduggery, was published last year with the third, Doppelganger, scheduled to for publication next month and available for pre-order. The books in this series are appropriate for readers aged 11 and older.

is also the author of several other books, including the Mary Watkins mystery series.

is pleased to provide information on over 90 mystery series for children and young adults. Each series is conveniently listed under three different age categories (New Sleuth, ages 4 to 7; Future Sleuth, aged 7 to 10; and Sleuth in Training, ages 10 and older). If you have a favorite mystery series you'd like to see added to our site, please contact us.

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Mystery Books News Welcomes Tinisha Nicole Johnson

Tinisha Nicole Johnson
Photo courtesy of
Tinisha Nicole Johnson.

in partnership with the is pleased to welcome Tinisha Nicole Johnson on her virtual book tour to promote her new book, Searchable Whereabouts.

Tinisha Nicole Johnson was born in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois and grew up and still resides in Denver, Colorado. She is an entrepreneur, an only child, a wife and mother of two. Tinisha's new book, Searchable Whereabouts, is published by Xpress Yourself Publishing and was released in February 2008. She has written three books, but Searchable Whereabouts is her first in print. Tinisha is also editor and co-founder of the non-profit organization Authors Supporting Authors (ASA). Tinisha also publishes a quarterly newsletter for the group.

Mysterious Reviews: Searchable Whereabouts is your first published novel. Tell us a bit about the pathway you took to get it in print.

Answer: I knew I wanted to have it published the traditional way so I began by sending out a lot of query letters to various agents and publishers. After several rejections, I was finally accepted by a publisher.

Tinisha Nicole Johnson: Searchable Whereabouts

The book has an unusual title. Is it something you had in mind all along, or was it suggested to you by your editor or publisher?

Yes, I know the book title is unusual. I get that a lot. It’s a funny thing because the book title was really hard for me to come up with. I’d like to think the title adds mystery and invites people to know what is inside. Since the book has a lot to do with the main character Rahkel searching for answers about her uncles murder and not knowing where to find them, that led me to the title.

Is Searchable Whereabouts a stand-alone mystery, or do you envision a series developing from its characters?

No, no series. I have been asked that. It’s just a stand-alone mystery.

You were already a published poet before you began this book. What prompted you to write a crime novel?

Yes, I was already a published poet and I had even published a short story in one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. As far as writing a mystery novel, I’ve always loved watching crime shows and movies. I’m a big fan of that. I love the problem solving and figuring out whodunit. So by being a fan of mysteries, I finally thought I’d just sit down and write one myself.

Was the plot of the book inspired by a real event? Or is it completely fictional?

Searchable Whereabouts is completely fictional. There may be some characters with personalities that are derived from real people, but that’s about it.

The principal character of Searchable Whereabouts, Rahkel Williams, has a romantic relationship with the private investigator she hires to investigate her uncle's mysterious death. How would you characterize your book for potential readers? Thriller ... romantic suspense ... chick-lit mystery ... something else?

As one reviewer said, “It’s a thriller with charm.” That had a nice ring to it, but really, I’d say thriller and suspense. Although there is a romance that evolves within the story, the focus is mainly on unraveling the whereabouts of the person who murdered Rahkel’s uncle.

As a first-time novelist, what advice would you offer to others who may be interested in publishing a book?

I really believe everyone has a book in them. However, when most people even think of writing a book it seems like trying to climb a mountain. At least that’s what one person told me. But the advice I’d offer is that you have to be passionate about writing. And you also have to be consistent. Do your best to set a schedule, and stick to it. If you don’t, you could find yourself one day writing a few pages and then weeks later adding to it, and then months later trying to sit down again and writing some more in a book that you have forgotten what the first paragraph was about.

Your website states you have two other books written but not yet published. Are these books also mysteries? And if so, what can you tell us about them?

Yes, I do have two other books I’ve written that are not published. The very first book I wrote will be coming out early 2009. I won’t give too much away, but I’ll say its contemporary and drama - no mystery. The book is sort of like a fictional biography of one woman’s troubled life from her teen years into adult years. The other book I have is a non-fiction, self-help book. And, I am also working on my fourth book. And that is definitely classified as Thriller/Suspense. It involves a serial killer.

You're the co-founder of the non-profit group Authors Supporting Authors. Can you tell us a little more about the organization?

Yes, this group was formed in September 2007. This group has helped me out tremendously and I’ve formed a lot of positive relationships. The group basically helps promote avid reading, and also helps support other authors. Some of the ways we help each other is by e-blasting a quarterly newsletter that I run which promotes authors and their books. The newsletter discusses tips and information on other literary information in the industry. Our group also discusses ways to promote ourselves and to reach the readers. We have online contests and book give-a-ways. We also take each other's promotional materials with us to our own book signings, book events, etc. You can learn more about Authors Supporting Authors at our website: www.freewebs.com/asanetwork.

We'd like to offer our special thanks to Tinisha for speaking with us. For more information about Tinisha, visit her website at TinishaNicoleJohnson.com.

We'd also like to thank Pump Up Your Book Promotion for organizing Tinisha's virtual book tour and inviting us to participate.

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Mystery Book Review: Searchable Whereabouts by Tinisha Nichole Johnson

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Searchable Whereabouts by Tinisha Nicole Johnson. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Searchable Whereabouts by Tinisha Nicole JohnsonBuy from Amazon.com

Searchable Whereabouts by
Non-series

Xpress Yourself (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-9799757-0-0 (0979975700)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9799757-0-7 (9780979975707)
Publication Date: February 2008
List Price: $16.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): After becoming obsessed with finding her Uncle's killer, and no definite answers from the police, Rahkel Williams enlists the services of private investigator, Darrin Miller. With his help, she sets out to find answers and it's not long before they both begin to get personal.

As time goes on, Rahkel finds herself caught in a web of lies and deceit, where nothing and no one are as they seem. She begins to wonder if she can trust anyone. The deeper Rahkel searches for answers, the stranger things become, while people of interest are being killed and she’s afraid she’ll be next. There is a race against time for Rahkel to find the truth.

Review: Rahkel Williams discovers the circumstances surrounding the mysterious death of her beloved uncle in Searchable Whereabouts, a debut thriller by Tinisha Nicole Johnson.

Rahkel is a nurse who does a little bookkeeping for her uncle on the side. She's had a tough run lately, recovering from divorce and substance abuse. But she's convinced she's on the right track in life. One day she comes across some unusual entries in her uncle's accounts and asks him about them. He waves them off as being routine business matters, but several days later he's found dead, badly burned in a car accident. Convinced that her uncle was murdered, Rahkel embarks on a personal investigation to uncover the truth.

The formulaic plot of Searchable Whereabouts is brightened by the character of Rahkel Williams. She's not a typical heroine and has plenty of weaknesses to balance her strengths. Although the book's resolution is foreshadowed early and is not unexpected when it happens, there is a fair amount of misdirection along the way. The suspense in the story increases when Rahkel becomes a target herself, though it's never quite clear what she knows that makes her a threat. One thing that doesn't work to the story's advantage is that it takes place over the course of 7 months or so (not including the 8 months that pass prior to the final chapter which reads more like an epilogue); a much tighter time frame would have helped maintain a higher tension level.

There are a number of stylistic and syntactic problems with Searchable Whereabouts. There is no uniform voice to the story. The narrative abruptly shifts from formal to informal and back again for no obvious literary reason. The dialog is mostly conversational but often doesn't sound natural, especially in the context of the story. And somewhat inexplicably, towards the end of the book there are a couple of chapters from a different character's point of view; it's unnecessary and confusing. Finally, the book could have benefited greatly from a critical eye towards editing. Sentence structure is frequently awkward and commas are used far too often, disrupting the flow of the text and making the story seem choppy and uneven.

Searchable Whereabouts is a moderately successful first novel, but the reader needs to overlook some of its shortcomings to appreciate the story being told.

Special thanks to Tinisha Nicole Johnson for providing a copy of Searchable Whereabouts for this review.

Learn more about the author and the book in .

Review Copyright © 2008 — 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.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mystery Book Review: St. Barts Breakdown by Don Bruns

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of St. Barts Breakdown by Don Bruns. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

St. Barts Breakdown by Don BrunsBuy from Amazon.com

St. Barts Breakdown by
A Mick Sever Mystery

Oceanview Publishing (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-933515-12-0 (1933515120)
ISBN-13: 978-1-933515-12-0 (1933515120)
Publication Date: March 2008
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Rock and roll journalist Mick Sever is back with a new assignment: interview music legend Danny Murtz.

Murtz's walls are lined with platinum records, but his closet is full of skeletons.

Known for producing an unbelievable string of hits, Murtz is also tied to a string of disappearances. Seems a number of Murtz's romantic conquests have vanished into thin air. After his latest incident, Murtz conveniently retreats to his secluded St. Barts villa.

Before Mick can hop a plane to the island, he's nearly run down by a speeding car. Coincidence? Maybe, but hitmaker Danny Murtz and near misses go hand in hand.

After receiving anonymous threats, Murtz is convinced: someone wants to bring him down. Even his longtime secretary Nancy, and attorney/manager/cleaner-upper Harvey Schwartz are suspect. And that meddlesome Mick Sever is digging too deep.

If Danny Murtz has his way, Mick will only need a one-way ticket to paradise. Because if Mick isn't careful, his next column will be an obituary - his obituary.

Sun, sand and a psychopath: it's a deadly mix.

Review: Music journalist Mick Sever's latest assignment is to interview legendary producer Danny Murtz at his Caribbean hideaway on Saint Barthélemy in St. Barts Breakdown, the fourth mystery in this series by Don Bruns.

Danny Murtz hasn't been interviewed in 15 years, but has agreed to participate in an A&E special on his life and music to be filmed on St. Barts. The Chicago Tribune in Murtz' home town is also doing a profile and the producer has agreed to be interviewed by Sever at the same time. This isn't to say that Murtz hasn't been newsworthy; firearm charges, abuse, resisting arrest, DWI, drunk and disorderly, and assorted other pleasantries have kept Murtz on the cover of tabloids for years. When Sever arrives on the tiny island, he quickly finds himself immersed in a tangled network of the producer's associates, friends, and enemies, at least one of whom seems to want Sever dead. And he hasn't even been introduced to Murtz yet.

St. Barts Breakdown is far more intrigue than mystery and is based in part on the premise that there have never been any murders on Saint Barthélemy. The multiple points of view keep the reader fully informed as to what's happening at all times and for the most part why. There's the mysterious, unnamed woman who seems to be stalking Murtz, but even her activities don't really generate much suspense.

Bruns takes a light, almost relaxed, approach to his narrative which suits the characters and the setting in particular very well. There are glimpses of humor. At one point Sever is in a nightclub and doesn't know if the sofa bed is for sitting, reclining, or some other position and is then referred to as an older man by the woman he's with - it's really quite comical. And despite the rather large number of dead bodies that remain on the island when Sever leaves, none are classified as a murder, keeping St. Barts' record intact. Finally, there's a nice ironic twist in the concluding paragraph that brings closure to a certain plot point.

St. Barts Breakdown is an entertaining, if somewhat predictable, addition to this series and is possibly the best entry to date.

Special thanks to Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity for providing an ARC of St. Barts Breakdown for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — 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.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mysteries on TV: Midsomer Murders and The Vice

Mysteries on TV

, your source for the most complete selection of detective, amateur sleuth, private investigator, and suspense television mystery series now available or coming soon to DVD, has two series that have season DVDs being released this week plus one series compilation.

The cozy villages of Midsomer County reveal their most sinister secrets in , the long-running series based on characters created by . The series stars John Nettles as the unflappable Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby, with John Hopkins as his brash young assistant, Sergeant Dan Scott, and remains in production today.

Midsomer Murders Set 10 contains the 4 episodes, each on a separate disc, originally shown on ITV during 2005: Second Sight, Hidden Depths, Sauce for the Goose, and Midsomer Rhapsody.

Also being released this week are the first 18 episodes of in a single DVD set. Collectively titled Midsomer Murders: The Early Cases Collection, the episodes are presented in chronological order as they originally aired and include the five mysteries adapted directly from novels by : The Killings at Badger's Drift, Death of a Hollow Man, Death in Disguise, Written in Blood, and Faithful Unto Death.

The 19 discs in this set have the 18 original episodes, one per disc, plus a bonus disc that includes a documentary about the show's first decade, featuring John Nettles, Caroline Graham, writer Anthony Horowitz, and others.

Can you see the truth? Can you see the lie? Ken Stott (who would later go on to star in the Rebus crime drama series) starred as Detective Pat Chappel, leader of a dedicated London Metropolitan Police Force vice squad in which aired on ITV for five seasons from 1999 through 2003.

The Vice Season 1 DVD set of 3 discs contains the three 2-part episodes of the first season that aired in early 1999: Daughters, Sons, and Dabbling.

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

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Mystery Book Review: The Guilty by Jason Pinter

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

The Guilty by Jason PinterBuy from Amazon.com

The Guilty by
A Henry Parker Mystery

Mira Books (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7783-2463-X (077832463X)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7783-2463-8 (9780778324638)
Publication Date: March 2008
List Price: $7.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): Justice is as fast as a bullet…

As I lie in bed with Amanda, ignoring another late-night call from my ex, a shot rings out in the New York night and a beautiful starlet dies outside the city's most popular nightclub. This is the kind of story I was born to chase—but I never dreamed this story began over a hundred years ago. …

Suddenly another life is taken, the bullet fired from one of the deadliest guns ever made. Both victims are highly controversial, their murders more like public executions. My search leads me into the twisted world of The Boy—a world defined by a demented code of honor and shocking, long-buried secrets of the world's most infamous outlaw.

When this assassin realizes I'm getting too close to the truth, uncovering the past could jeopardize everything I care about. Because in his world there's a fine line between good and evil, and the difference between innocence and guilt depends on who's holding the gun. …

Review: Investigative journalist Henry Parker probes the murders of four prominent people, all within days of each other, in The Guilty, the second thriller in this series by Jason Pinter.

"Some reporters are always a step behind. Some reporters always keep pace. Some reporters are always a step ahead. What kind of a reporter are you?" So asks a plaque placed outside the news division of The Gazette, a hard-hitting newspaper in New York City. Henry Parker has vowed to be a step ahead, no matter what. The murders have the city on edge and Henry tries to not only find the reasons behind their deaths but possibly even the person responsible. The only clue: the victims were killed with an antique Winchester rifle. His investigation takes him from the ghettos of the city to the open plains of New Mexico. And he makes a truly amazing connection between a modern killer and an outlaw from the wild west.

The book's title, The Guilty, is intentionally ambiguous. Who are the guilty? Certainly Henry himself, who is presented as a flawed individual, especially in his personal life, and in particular in his relationships with women. In the killer's mind, however, the victims are "guilty of the degeneration of society by their ethical and moral failures." But why kill them with a famous (or possibly infamous) weapon from the late 1800s? This connection between crimes of the past and the present murders makes for a compelling thriller and the best passages in the story follow Henry's research, watching him link together the pieces of this puzzle. There is a bit of hero worship, or maybe romanticizing, for the outlaws of the past (Billy the Kid, Jesse James, and others) that seems at odds with Henry's investigation of the killings, but that's a minor criticism.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of The Guilty and to Precedent Media for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — 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.

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Mystery Godoku Puzzle for March 24, 2008

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for March 24, 2008A new has been created by the editors of the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books and is now 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 D E G L N O R U. This private investigator is featured in a series by (9 letters).

New! We now have our puzzles in PDF format for easier printing. Print this week's puzzle here.

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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Unravel mysterious clues at ShopPBS.org

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Compendium of Mystery News 080323

A compendium of recently published mystery news articles:

• In a press release, Her Interactive has officially announced the title of the 18th installment in the Nancy Drew PC game series, Nancy Drew: The Phantom of Venice. The game is expected to be available this July for purchase. A short (40 second) trailer for the game is also available on the Her Interactive website. [MBN note: All of the current are available on the , including the new released earlier this year. Also available are for many of the games.]

Reuters is reporting that one of Britain's best-known children's book series, the Famous Five by Enid Blyton, is being turned into a 21st century cartoon for Disney. "The Famous Five themes of adventure, mystery and friendship are as relevant and appealing to kids today as they were 70 years ago," said the Disney Channel's Steve Aranguren in a statement. [MBN note: The original are available on the .]

Time Magazine interviews who, they say, is nothing if not versatile: feminist activist, mystery writer, lesbian pioneer, fox hunter, screenwriter, novelist, animal rescuer.

The New York Times has brief overviews and reviews of half a dozen or so recently published mysteries and thrillers.

BBC America Shop logoThe best of BBC programming now available on DVD

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Book your murder mystery weekend on Travelocity

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Books, video, audio, and games at B&N.com

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Pre-Order Discounted Mysteries: Featured Titles for 03/25/2008

Pre-Order Discounted Mysteries

Amazon.com recently began offering an additional 5% discount on selected titles if ordered before the publication date. We've collected the most popular mysteries that are included in this program and listed them on a new site, .

Each week we'll feature here those titles that are scheduled for publication during the coming week to alert you that the pre-order discount from Amazon.com for these titles will end after the books are published. On the , we have eligible titles scheduled to be published over the next 6 weeks that you may pre-order.

This week's featured pre-order discounted mysteries:

Death Walked In by Carolyn G. Hart. The 18th mystery in the Death on Demand series featuring mystery bookstore owner Annie Laurance Darling. Scheduled publication date: 03/25/2008.

Lost Souls by Lisa Jackson. Scheduled publication date: 03/25/2008.

Compulsion by Jonathan Kellerman. The 22nd mystery for psychologist Alex Delaware. Scheduled publication date: 03/25/2008.

Buckingham Palace Gardens by Anne Perry. The 25th case for Victorian London police inspector Thomas Pitt. Scheduled publication date: 03/25/2008.

Miss Julia Paints the Town by Ann B. Ross. The 9th mystery featuring amateur sleuth Miss Julia. Scheduled publication date: 03/27/2008.

To qualify for the additional 5% discount at checkout, you must order these books prior to their date of publication. See the terms and conditions for the 5% discount program on the Amazon.com site or at .

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, March 22, 2008

Mystery Book Review: The Silver Swan by Benjamin Black

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

The Silver Swan by Benjamin BlackBuy from Amazon.com

The Silver Swan by
A Quirke Mystery

Henry Holt (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-8050-8153-4 (0805081534)
ISBN-13: 978-0-8050-8153-4 (9780805081534)
Publication Date: March 2008
List Price: $25.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): Two years have passed since the events of Christine Falls, and much has changed for Quirke, the irascible, formerly hard-drinking Dublin pathologist. His beloved Sarah is dead, his surrogate father lies in a convent hospital paralyzed by a devastating stroke, and Phoebe, Quirke’s long-denied daughter, has grown increasingly withdrawn and isolated.
 
With much to regret from his last inquisitive foray, Quirke ought to know better than to let his curiosity get the best of him. Yet when an almost forgotten acquaintance comes to him about his beautiful young wife’s apparent suicide, Quirke’s “old itch to cut into the quick of things, to delve into the dark of what was hidden” is roused again. As he begins to probe further into the shadowy circumstances of Deirdre Hunt’s death, he discovers many things that might better have remained hidden, as well as grave danger to those he loves.

Review: Benjamin Black's second novel to feature Quirke, The Silver Swan, has the Dublin pathologist facing personal battles as well as professional ones when he fails to quell his curiosity and performs an autopsy on a woman who purportedly accidentally drowned in the sea.

The autopsy probably wouldn't have even happened. Autopsies aren't required for accident victims, yet when the husband of the dead woman, an old school chum, asks Quirke specifically not to perform an autopsy, he can't help but wonder why. There's no water in her lungs and he finds a fresh puncture wound with traces of morphine in her blood. Still, for reasons he's not even sure of himself, he lies to the coroner's court and testifies that she accidentally drowned. In a case of the police chief knowing Quirke lied and Quirke knowing the chief knows this, they both begin quiet, but separate, investigations into the true circumstances of the woman's death.

The sequence of events in The Silver Swan is so improbable that it almost seems is if the message here is, truth is stranger than fiction. But this is fiction. And as a mystery or suspense novel, it completely misses the mark. To be sure, the book is beautifully written with masterfully crafted narrative effortlessly flowing down the page. It's a genuine pleasure to read such elegant prose. But the plot seems incomplete or maybe it's just weakly executed.

A minor difficulty in navigating this book is the intertwined inclusion of chapters that relate the backstory of the dead woman, Deidre Hunt who is also known as Laura Swan. The two timelines eventually come together in the end at a point that is supposed to be climatic but falls far short. Instead of being revealing and surprising, it's all rather expected, even routine. It's a bit disappointing.

Quirke's character, already well developed from his introduction in Christine Falls, continues to evolve here. This complex man is the core of these books and one of the reasons this series excels. Read The Silver Swan because it is a superbly written atmospheric novel with multi-dimensional characters; just don't expect any mystery here.

Special thanks to Henry Holt for providing an ARC of The Silver Swan for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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