Sunday, October 26, 2008

First Clues: New Nancy Drew Mysteries

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

We've updated our website by adding new Nancy Drew titles that have already been announced by the publisher through May 2009. We've also added links to all titles in the Nancy Drew: All New Girl Detective and Nancy Drew: The Clue Crew series available to purchase from Amazon.com.

Nancy Drew: The Perfect Escape

The third and final mystery in the Nancy Drew "Perfect Trilogy", The Perfect Escape, was published earlier this month. (It is the 32nd book in the All New Girl Detective series.) This time, Nancy Drew may be in way over her head. What started out as a simple undercover mission at a beauty pageant in New York City has turned into complete chaos! The pageant's sponsor, Pretty Face Cosmetics, knows that she's uncovered a big secret about their product, and now she's in serious trouble. They want to keep her quiet -- no matter what it takes.

She's being held hostage but knows that Bess and George are doing everything they can to find her. But time is running out. She has to figure out a way to get back to that pageant so she can reveal Pretty Face's secret ... before it's too late for the next Miss Pretty Face, and millions of other girls!

The first two books in the trilogy are Pageant Perfect Crime (published June 2008) and Perfect Cover (published July 2008).

The are recommended for young sleuths aged 12 and older.

Nancy Drew Clue Crew: Wedding Day Disaster

New early next month is the 17th mystery in the Nancy Drew Clue Crew series, Wedding Day Disaster. Nancy's cousin is getting married, and Nancy is the flower girl. She can't wait to see the butter crème de le crème wedding cake! Bess and George have the special job of rolling out the cake. But a wedding day disaster strikes when Bess and George bring out the cake and Nancy notices that a slice is missing. Who would want to ruin it?

The crew begins to wonder if the culprit is Kendall, the bride's neighbor. But when the clues point to another guest, Nancy is worried. Will this culprit get to have his cake and eat it too?

The are early chapter books featuring an 8-year-old Nancy Drew and are written for an appropriately younger audience aged 7 to 10.

is pleased to provide information on nearly 100 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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Saturday, October 25, 2008

First Clues Review: The Case of the Left-Handed Lady by Nancy Springer

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

is delighted to introduce a new feature for our website, book reviews written by students. These students offer their unique perspective on the book in their review and provide a valuable resource to parents looking for new mystery adventures for their kids to read.

The Case of the Left-Handed Lady by Nancy Springer

The Case of the Left-Handed Lady by Nancy Springer

Puffin (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-14-241190-6 (0142411906)
ISBN-13: 978-0-14-241190-2 (9780142411902)
Publication Date: May 2008
List Price: $6.99

Review written by Asheena, Age 11, Grade 6. Date of review: October 2008.

Review: Enola Holmes and the Case of the Left-Handed Lady is written by Nancy Springer and is the 2nd book in the series. The whole series is about Enola Holmes, who is Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister, who runs away from her brothers at the age of 14.

Enola is a very lonely person. Her name spelled backwards spells alone, which makes Enola think that her mother knew she was going to be a very lonely person. Enola Holmes has run away from her brothers Sherlock Holmes and Mycroft Holmes because she didn’t like Mycroft’s idea of turning her into a proper lady knowing all proper etiquettes. After running away from her brothers, she decides to pretend to be four different people. First she pretends to be Dr. Ragostin's secretary. Enola also very cleverly is Dr. Ragostin’s “pretend” wife meeting with people because Dr.Ragostin is suspiciously not able to meet with people himself. That is because Enola is actually Dr. Ragostin herself! Enola also pretends to be Lady of the Streets who is known to give supplies to people living on streets. At this time, Enola gets her first case finding a girl named Lady Cecily a girl who has supposedly “run away” but Enola finds out differently... There are many twists and turns along the way that make Enola’s head spin as well as the readers.

This book is has a very interesting concept, and would be suitable for readers in middle school. It has many twists that can be confusing and require a second reading. It is a very interesting book and it is so descriptive it could become a movie. The writing is so fascinating that it is a shocker and it flows so easily from page to page. It looks like Nancy Springer didn’t even have to try to put together a masterpiece. It is unforgettable book for mystery lovers.

The whole idea is amazing how Nancy Springer ties every single detail into the end and she really engulfs the reader into the book. Enola Holmes and the Case of the Left-Handed Lady is truly one of those kinds of books where “once you start you just can’t stop!”

Buy from Amazon.com

If you are interested in purchasing The Case of the Left-Handed Lady from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right.

is pleased to provide information on nearly 100 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.

All student book reviews are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in any manner, print or electronic, without the express written consent of the copyright owner. Reviews are published here with permission of the copyright owner.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Games of Mystery: Dr. Lynch Grave Secrets and The Treasures of Mystery Island New at Big Fish Games

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed games, parties, and vacations, is pleased to announce the availability of two new mystery games from Big Fish Games that were released this past week. You can find out more about these games from our page or by clicking on the links provided below.

Dr. Lynch: Grave Secrets

Join world-renowned skeptic Dr. Ignatius Lynch as he investigates strange happenings at an archeological dig site in the English countryside in Dr. Lynch: Grave Secrets. Villagers fear a spectral horror has descended upon the sleepy town of Hereford, England; uncover hidden clues and discover the truth behind the ghostly apparition in this haunting hidden object game!

Dr. Lynch: Grave Secrets may be downloaded and purchased for as little as $6.99 with the Big Fish Game Club Jumbo Pack. A demonstration version (85.41 MB) may be downloaded and played for one hour for free.

The Treasures of Mystery Island

A mystical talisman draws you to The Treasures of Mystery Island. Survive the island's strange inhabitants while hunting down hidden items and solving fantastical puzzles. Every item found and puzzle solved will bring you one step closer to uncovering the island's incredible secret. Are your eyes and mind sharp enough to escape from Mystery Island?

The Treasures of Mystery Island, a Big Fish Games exclusive, may be downloaded and purchased for as little as $6.99 with the Big Fish Game Club Jumbo Pack. A demonstration version (100.36 MB) may be downloaded and played for one hour for free.

Other popular games on our page include several Agatha Christie games, James Patterson's Women's Murder Club: Death in Scarlet, The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes, Righteous Kill (inspired by the movie of the same name), and Forgotten Riddles: The Moonlight Sonatas.

Visit for all types of mysterious fun!

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Mystery Savings: Mystery Case Files Ravenhearst Available for 99 Cents!

Mystery Savings: Discounted Products and Services on Books, Movies, and more!

Mystery Savings periodically provides our readers with current promotions that offer discounts or other incentives for purchasing mystery-themed products and services products through our partner websites. Below is a special offer recently received by us that we're pleased to pass on at this time.

If you like mystery games, you've got to like them priced at 99 cents! Big Fish Games is offering Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst at only 99 cents through October 27, 2008. This game is available for both Windows PC and the Mac.

Unlock the secrets of a century old mystery: Rumors surrounding the history of stately Ravenhearst Manor have circulated for decades. The recently acquired diary of Emma Ravenhearst may hold the key to unraveling the history of this unsettling place, yet the pages are missing. Players assume the role of Master Detective to unlock secrets held within Ravenhearst, scouring 32 rooms in the manor for cleverly hidden clues. Locating and assembling diary pages helps tell the history of the house and, ultimately, unlock the mystery.

To purchase Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst for only 99 cents from Big Fish Games, follow these simple steps: (1) Click on the Buy button; (2) Select the $19.99 price option; (3) Enter the coupon code 99RAVEN into the coupon code box. That's it! And look for the sequel, Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst later this year.

Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst

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First Clues Review: The Falcon's Malteser by Anthony Horowitz

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

is delighted to introduce a new feature for our website, book reviews written by students. These students offer their unique perspective on the book in their review and provide a valuable resource to parents looking for new mystery adventures for their kids to read.

The Falcon's Malteser by Anthony Horowitz

The Falcon's Malteser by Anthony Horowitz

Penguin Young Adult (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-14-240219-2 (0142402192)
ISBN-13: 978-0-14-240219-1 (9780142402191)
Publication Date: July 2004
List Price: $6.99

Review written by Michael, Age 11, Grade 6. Date of review: October 2008.

Review: The Falcon’s Malteser is the first book in the Diamond Brothers series. The series is written by Anthony Horowitz, the writer of the Alex Rider series. Nicholas Simple is the main character of this series and is the one in danger all of the time.

Nicholas Simple has chosen to stay with his older brother Herbert, the detective, instead of going to Australia with his parents. Their detective names are Nick and Tim Diamond. When Johnny Naples gives them an envelope with a malteser pack that used to belong to The Falcon, the crazy events starts to happen. Three villains are after Nick: The Fat Man and The Falcon’s two henchmen. Nick and Herbert are faced with one of the most mysterious challenges ever, and the only clue they have is that the pack is very important.

Nick is smarter than his brother, which makes a twist in this book. The Falcon’s Malteser is now one of my favorite books and probably one of my favorite series. When Nick is faced with near death experiences, it made the book a lot more interesting, like when Nick is running in the mall away from a shooting maniac, when he drops a piano, when he almost dies from a grenade, and when he is cemented into a bathtub. Also, I liked how the book made me think that I knew what would happen next, but something else would happen, and it made me feel clueless until the very end. One thing that could have been different is that Herbert (Tim Diamond) could have been smarter, but at least Nick is smart enough to make up for Tim’s dumbness. Sometimes though, Tim’s dumbness is funny.

The book is good for ages: 9 – 14. Filled with lots of action, humor, near death experiences, and a strange mystery, this has been my favorite mystery book.

Buy from Amazon.com

If you are interested in purchasing The Falcon's Malteser from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right.

is pleased to provide information on nearly 100 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.

All student book reviews are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in any manner, print or electronic, without the express written consent of the copyright owner. Reviews are published here with permission of the copyright owner.

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Mystery TV Theme Music (081024)

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, is pleased to provide you with the Mystery Theme Music of the Week.

Click on the play button below to hear the mystery theme music from a current or classic TV mystery series; on most browers it plays correctly but plays at a slightly slower speed on IE:

Think you know what show this theme is from? Enter your answer in the comment section below or click here to be taken to the series that featured this mystery theme.

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

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(Note: Mystery Books News does not own or claim ownership of the theme music presented here and believes its use is covered under fair use guidelines for a sample of a musical composition. If you are the owner of this theme music and believe we are infringing on your copyright, please contact us and we will remove it immediately.)

Mystery Book Review: Indigo Christmas by Jeanne M. Dams

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Indigo Christmas by Jeanne M. Dams. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Indigo Christmas by Jeanne M. Dams

Indigo Christmas by
A Hilda Johansson Mystery

Perseverence Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-880284-95-2 (1880284952)
ISBN-13: 978-1-880284-95-7 (9781880284957)
Publication Date: September 2008
List Price: $14.95

Review: When the husband of one of Hilda Johansson's closest friends is accused of murder when he finds, and keeps, the abandoned wallet of the dead man, Hilda jumps right in to clear his name in Indigo Christmas, the sixth mystery in this series by Jeanne M. Dams.

Hilda is still struggling with her change in economic and social status, from being a servant to having servants. An additional complication comes in the form of a very pregnant Norah who arrives on Hilda's doorstep after her husband Sean is arrested. Though Sean is soon released, the police still believe he's involved somehow. Even after Norah and Sean's daughter is born, they remain in residence at Hilda's home. In the meantime, Hilda decides to find out more about the dead man Sean was initially accused of killing and how he came to be sleeping in a barn that caught fire. Under the guise of a community outreach program, she enlists a group of young boys to be her eyes and ears. As she notes, "People never really looked at servants, never saw past the cap and apron to the human being inside." But she also knows that gives them the opportunity to observe and hear things they probably shouldn't, young boys share the same status, as it were.

Readers expecting a mystery may be disappointed with Indigo Christmas, at least initially. Much of the early part of the book is devoted to Hilda, herself an immigrant and until just recently in the employ of a wealthy family, lamenting how to remain friends with other servants while being the lady of her own house. Though of Swedish descent, she deplores the conditions of the Irish immigrants in her community. This discourse on social injustice and prejudice of the early 1900s substantially overshadows the nascent mystery plot.

About halfway through, a standard mystery does emerge, the most entertaining aspect of which is Hilda playing Sherlock Holmes to her own version of the Baker Street Irregulars. The boys are eager participants, asking questions of people and relaying the information to her. In exchange they are rewarded with chocolate or nickels. With what she learns, and from her own observations, she manages to piece together a potential solution to the crime and sets out to expose the real culprit. In the end, Indigo Christmas has an interesting and credible story but it's a shame the path it takes at first is so circuitous.

Special thanks to Perseverence Press for providing a copy of Indigo Christmas for this review.

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

Buy from Amazon.com

If you are interested in purchasing Indigo Christmas from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right.

Synopsis (from the publisher): Once housemaid to the wealthy Studebaker family in South Bend, Indiana, Hilda Johansson is now married and living a well-to-do life with her new husband. But her Swedish family doesn’t get along with his Irish relations. She’s having trouble finding friends, since she no longer fits into her old world and isn’t accepted in the new one. Just before Christmas, when the husband of her sole remaining friend is accused of theft, arson, and murder, Hilda has to find new ways of investigating a crime that seems to make no sense.

In the hard times of 1904 with bank failures weekly, Hilda tries to help the unemployed youth of South Bend by helping to form a Boys’ Club (modeled after Hull House founded in Chicago).. And she also enlists some of them as “Baker Street Irregulars” in her mystery investigation, giving the reader a vivid sense of the city and street life of the times.

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 Bestsellers for October 24, 2008

Mystery Bestsellers

A list of the top 15 for the week ending October 24, 2008 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

Last week's top 5 mystery bestsellers shift a notch downward with The Brass Verdict, the 14th mystery in the Harry Bosch series by taking over the top spot this week.

Bones by Jonathan Kellerman

New this week and debuting in the 9th position is the latest entry in the Alex Delaware mystery series by , Bones. The anonymous caller has an ominous tone and an unnerving message about something “real dead ... buried in your marsh.” The eco-volunteer on the other end of the phone thinks it’s a prank, but when a young woman’s body turns up in L.A.’s Bird Marsh preserve no one’s laughing. And when the bones of more victims surface, homicide detective Milo Sturgis realizes the city’s under siege to an insidious killer. Milo’s first move: calling in psychologist Alex Delaware. The murdered women are prostitutes -- except the most recent victim; a brilliant young musician from the East Coast, employed by a wealthy family to tutor a musical prodigy, Selena Bass seems out of place in the marsh’s grim tableau. Conveniently -- perhaps ominously -- Selena’s blueblood employers are nowhere to be found, and their estate’s jittery caretaker raises hackles. But Milo’s instincts and Alex’s insight are too well-honed to settle for easy answers, even given the dark secrets in this troubled man’s past. Their investigation unearths disturbing layers -- about victims, potential victims, and suspects alike -- plunging even deeper into the murky marsh’s enigmatic depths. Bizarre details of the crimes suggest a devilish serial killer prowling L.A.’s gritty streets. But when a new murder deviates from the pattern, derailing a possible profile, Alex and Milo must look beyond the suspicion of madness and consider an even more sinister mind at work. Answers don’t come easy, but the darkest of drives and desires may fuel the most devious of foes.

Rough Weather by Robert B. Parker

Also new this week and debuting in the 11th position is Rough Weather, the 36th Spenser mystery by . Heidi Bradshaw is wealthy, beautiful, and well connected -- and she needs Spenser's help. In a most unlikely request, Heidi, a notorious gold digger recently separated from her latest husband, recruits the Boston P.I. to accompany her to her private island, Tashtego. The reason? To attend her daughter's wedding as a sort of stand-in husband and protector. Spenser consents, but only after it is established that his beloved Susan Silverman will also be in attendance. It should be a straightforward job for Spenser: show up for appearances, have some drinks, and spend some quality time with Susan. But when Spenser's old nemesis Rugar -- the Gray Man -- arrives, Spenser realizes that something is amiss. A storm, a kidnapping, and murder tear apart what should be a joyous occasion, and Rugar is seemingly at the center of it all. The only thing is that the sloppy kidnapping is not Rugar's style -- as Spenser knows from past encounters. With six dead bodies and more questions than he can process, Spenser begins a search for answers -- and the Gray Man.

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.

The top four mystery bestsellers this week are shown below:

The Brass Verdict by Michael ConnellyThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonHeat Lightning by John SandfordHot Mahogany by Stuart Woods

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, October 23, 2008

First Clues Review: Disappearing Acts by Betsy Byars

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

is delighted to introduce a new feature for our website, book reviews written by students. These students offer their unique perspective on the book in their review and provide a valuable resource to parents looking for new mystery adventures for their kids to read.

Disappearing Acts by Betsy Byars

Disappearing Acts by Betsy Byars

Penguin Young Adult (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-14-240566-3 (0142405663)
ISBN-13: 978-0-14-240566-6 (9780142405666)
Publication Date: September 2006
List Price: $5.99

Review written by Valerie, Age 11, Grade 6. Date of review: October 2008.

Review: Herculeah Jones is back in another hair frizzing adventure with her friend Meat attempting to solve a mystery in the book Disappearing Acts by Betsy Byars. It starts on April 1st with a practical joke Herculeah pulls on Meat. Herculeah tells Meat that she found a dead body on Oak Street but it turns out to be just a squirrel body. The small April Fools joke will not prepare them for what is about to happen. Meat has signed up for a comedy class at Funny Bonz the comedy club. On the first day of classes Meat goes to the bathroom and discovers a dead body in one of the stalls. When the body disappears, Meat and Herculeah go off and try to find clues on how to solve the mystery. This story includes a part when Herculeah finds an old camera that she had someone tell her to purchase at a resale shop. She later discovers that there is still some film inside undeveloped. Shockingly the pictures are of Meat and his estranged father who he hasn’t seen in years!

Everyone should read the book because it was very entertaining because it was suspenseful and had a unique plot that no other book has. Also the book described many times so you kind of felt like you were in the story. Also another advantage was that the book only had 120 pages so it was a fast book to read from cover to cover so many age groups can enjoy this book. But the story might not be good for small age groups because it shows some minor violence and might freak youngsters out. Also barely anyone wants to read the same book for weeks and weeks.

Betsy Byars the author of Disappearing Acts has gotten many awards. Betsy Byars has won the National Book award and a John Newbery Medal. She has also had some of her books appear in the best books list for the School Library Journal, American Library Association and the American Bookseller.

Buy from Amazon.com

If you are interested in purchasing Disappearing Acts from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right.

is pleased to provide information on nearly 100 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.

All student book reviews are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in any manner, print or electronic, without the express written consent of the copyright owner. Reviews are published here with permission of the copyright owner.

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Mysteries on DVD Review: Hammett

Mysteries on DVD: Mystery Books that have been Adapted into Screenplays and Made into Movies

We're still in the process of setting up a new website with reviews of mystery TV shows and movies which may (or may not) have a separate blog. In the meantime, we'll continue to post our television and film reviews here on and advise you of when the new site is up.

Film: . Original release date: 09/17/1982; DVD release date: 01/11/2005.

Samuel Dashiell Hammett (Frederic Forrest), Jimmy Ryan (Peter Boyle), Kit Conger (Marilu Henner), "English" Eddie Hagedorn (Roy Kinnear), Crystal Ling (Lydia Lei). Directed by Wim Wenders. Screenplay adapted from the novel Hammett by .

Hammett

Paging through the mystery section on Netflix I stumbled across a movie I had wanted to see when it first came out on DVD a few years ago but wasn't available at my local video store.

The movie opens with Hammett (Frederick Forrest) completing his latest manuscript for publication in a weekly crime magazine. The setting is 1928 and as Hammett drifts off to sleep the screen fades to a visual representation of a scene from Hammett's story with his private investigator (played by Peter Boyle) confronting the ubiquitous dame (Marilu Henner) about a strand of missing pearls. She confesses to taking them and he gives her an hour to beat it (though gives her only 15 minutes before calling the cops). Hammett awakens to find his old Pinkerton partner, Jimmy Ryan (also played by Peter Boyle), in his apartment. Jimmy is the real-life inspiration for the PI in his pulp crime stories. Hammett and Jimmy take off to a local bar where Jimmy tells Hammett he's in town looking for a girl, Crystal Ling, living in Chinatown. When a punk with a gun shows up, Jimmy takes off. Hammet tries to follow but loses him.

Hammett

Up to now (some 30 or so minutes into the film) the pace moves along briskly. At this point it accelerates and then some. Hammett steps into the shoes of a private investigator, looking not only for Jimmy but why he's disappeared. The girl, Crystal Ling, later appears in his apartment but that only complicates matters for him. If Jimmy is looking for Crystal and Crystal is with Hammett, where is Jimmy?

Hammett is first and foremost a visually stunning film. The minimal sets are designed for atmosphere, not to dazzle, with muted primary colors, high contrast between light and dark, stark lighting producing mysterious shadows, and unusual camera angles, all contributing to a surprisingly fresh look. The noirish feel to the movie is exceptionally well done. The music by John Barry, for example, is subtle, appropriate to the time and setting, and vaguely familiar in a good way. The solo piano and horn pieces add depth to narrative.

Hammett

The performances are generally first rate. Frederick Forrest seems perfectly cast as Hammett, Peter Boyle less so as Jimmy Ryan. The supporting characters, especially Marilu Henner, are superb; it really makes you appreciate how important supporting performances are to a movie.

The very few plot holes (and yes, there are some) are quickly overlooked and all but forgotten by the end of the movie. I haven't read the book (it's being added to my list, though), but one wonders if the continuity of the story is more complete in the novel. Screenplays need to take shortcuts here and there and if the movie is reasonably faithful to the book, it is logical to assume that some scenes here and there were omitted which would have provided for a more seamless transition.

Hammett

Still, Hammett is a terrific movie. It was made over 25 years ago (though just released on DVD in 2005) but it has a timeless quality to it that makes it appear as if it were more recently produced. Look for it at your video store or if it's not available, order it from your favorite online service.

The DVD of Hammett is available to purchase from Mysteries on DVD, your source for movies that have been adapted from mystery books.

Reviewed on October 23, 2008 by Mr. E., television and movie critic for Mystery Books News.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Omnimystery — All Rights Reserved.

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Mystery Savings: Save 20% at the New Barnes&Noble Home

Mystery Savings: Discounted Products and Services on Books, Movies, and more!

Mystery Savings periodically provides our readers with current promotions that offer discounts or other incentives for purchasing mystery-themed products and services products through our partner websites. Below is a special offer recently received by us that we're pleased to pass on at this time.

Bookseller Barnes&Noble is expanding their reach beyond books, movies, and music by introducing Barnes&Noble Home, a distinctive online collection of gifts and home accessories. For a limited time only, save 20% on one specially marked Barnes&Noble Home item. No coupon or coupon code is required; the discount will be automatically applied at checkout. But hurry, this offer ends October 29, 2008.

We visited the Barnes&Noble Home collection and were impressed by the breadth of products offered. Categories include Lighting and Furniture, Decorative Accents, Desk Accessories, Reading Aids, Electronics, Writing Instruments, and more. There are even categories for Arts and Crafts, Holiday, and Wedding. Many of the items offered make great gifts. Visit Barnes&Noble Home and save 20% of specially marked items now through October 29th.

Barnes & Noble Home

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Freezing Point by Karen Dionne

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Freezing Point by Karen Dionne. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Freezing Point by Karen Dionne

Freezing Point by
Non-series

Jove (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-515-14536-X (051514536X)
ISBN-13: 978-0-515-14536-6 (9780515145366)
Publication Date: September 2008
List Price: $7.99

Review: Karen Dionne's debut thriller, Freezing Point, is a terrifying, yet mesmerizing, tale of good intentions gone terribly wrong when researchers try to tap the frozen Antarctic for pure, fresh water.

Water, the building block for all life on earth, is being wasted, or so it is believed by countless “Save the Earth” protesters. Derek MacCallister has a potential solution in a patent he has been granted providing for a method and apparatus for melting Antarctic icebergs into drinking water. Selling the process to Soldyne Company, he accepts $2 million in return. The process, however, requires a native, floating iceberg, not ice attached to the Antarctic continental shelf. Three years pass and the frozen giant has still not produced any fresh water leaving the corporate executives worried about a return on their investment. But it appears that global warming may produce just what is needed: a 1250-square-mile, 650-foot-high section of an Antarctica that may be calved as an iceberg. If it happened, it would unleash 700 billion gallons of pure fresh drinking water –- enough to fulfill the needs of 4.6 million families for a year. Cold winds and storms hamper the division of the ice cap. But not for long. Someone decides not to wait for the nature to take its course and blasts a crevice separating the huge iceberg. Some team members working on the mission are injured or killed. Horrendous nightmares are subsequently caused by the separation. How many of the team will get off the iceberg? And even if they do, how many will make it safely home?

Though clearly and firmly in the category of ecothriller with all that the label typically implies, the author actually presents a fairly balanced view of each side in Freezing Point. The characters could easily have been caricatures but are not, and are portrayed as sincerely believing that their approach is best. Solutions to the problem of fresh drinking water are not black and white, right or wrong, and extreme positions on either side are far from ideal. From a plot standpoint, the author probably takes it a step too far in relating the consequences of the iceberg cleavage, but that's part of what puts the thrill in thriller. In short, Freezing Point is a fast-paced novel with some thought-provoking themes.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Freezing Point and to Penguin Group for providing a copy of the book for this review.

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

Buy from Amazon.com

If you are interested in purchasing Freezing Point from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right.

Synopsis (from the publisher): As he faces the frozen behemoth of a giant iceberg, environmental activist Ben Maki sees Earth’s future. Clean drinking water for millions, waiting to be tapped from the polar ice. The Soldyne Corporation backs Ben’s grand philanthropic vision for a better today—while making its own plans for a very profitable tomorrow.

Rebecca Sweet lives for the cause—an eco-terrorist who will do whatever she must to protect the earth. And Ben Maki’s ideas have set her on the path to war …

All of them will be drawn into a battle between hope and helplessness, power and pride. But they are about to discover that deep within the ice waits an enemy more deadly than any could imagine—an apocalyptic horror mankind may not survive.

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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First Clues Review: Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

is delighted to introduce a new feature for our website, book reviews written by students. These students offer their unique perspective on the book in their review and provide a valuable resource to parents looking for new mystery adventures for their kids to read.

Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

Penguin Young Adult (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-14-240611-2 (0142406112)
ISBN-13: 978-0-14-240611-3 (9780142406113)
Publication Date: February 2006
List Price: $7.99

Review written by Joey, Age 11, Grade 6. Date of review: October 2008.

Review: Stormbreaker, written by Anthony Horowitz, is about a young teenager named Alex Rider. This is the first book in what could be a very excellent series.

This story takes place in many different places in England such as Chelsea. Alex Rider is the main character and is the “good guy”. There are also some bad guys such as Mr. Grin Nadia Vole. The main bad guy Herod Sayle a multi-millionaire with a very good company. That isn’t exactly what it seems. Alex Rider is trying to find out what Sayle enterprise is really up to. He is sent in to do this at such a young age because without knowing it his uncle Ian Rider was a spy and was training Alex for this day all his life without Alex knowing it.

I thought this was a very interesting book. I’ve never read a book like it. It always keeps you on the edge of your seat like when Alex is hanging on a flag pole at the top of a very tall building about to fall when suddenly. That is an example of when the author kept you on the edge of your seat. It is full of action, and it was really hard to put the book down because you never know what is going to happen next. This book is good for young adults like middle and high school kids. It isn’t very appropriate for younger kids because there is a little too much violence because a lot of people die. I thought it was cool how in some points in the book it shows both Alex’s and the bad guys points of view. Also I like the surprise at the end of the book. I would definitely suggest this book.

This book won the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award in 2004.

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is pleased to provide information on nearly 100 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.

All student book reviews are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in any manner, print or electronic, without the express written consent of the copyright owner. Reviews are published here with permission of the copyright owner.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Games of Mystery: New PlayPass Program at PlayFirst.com

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed games, parties, and vacations, is excited to tell you of a new innovation at PlayFirst Games, the PlayPass.

With the PlayPass program, in exchange for signing up to receive PlayGold points in your account each month, you will get up to a 50% discount on games and also receive discounts on add-ons like the Diner Dash restaurant episodes. PlayFirst is pricing this program at $13.95 per month, which puts 1395 PlayGold points into your account. This means that each month you’ll have enough credit to select a full game to purchase plus some leftover. Just save that extra PlayGold – yes, it “rolls over” – and pick up another full game or two over the next months. Additionally, PlayPass gives you early access to newly released PlayFirst games.

PlayFirst Games has many mystery games that will bring out your inner sleuth. Popular games on our page include games in the Mystery PI series, Mystery P.I.: The Vegas Heist and Mystery P.I.: The Lottery Ticket, James Patterson's Women's Murder Club: Death in Scarlet, and Private Eye.

Visit PlayFirst Games for more information about the PlayPass program.

Visit for all types of mysterious fun!

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Mystery Book Review: The Chocolate Snowman Murders by JoAnna Carl

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of The Chocolate Snowman Murders by JoAnna Carl. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The Chocolate Snowman Murders by JoAnna Carl

The Chocolate Snowman Murders by
A Chocoholic Mystery with Lee McKinney 

New American Library (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-451-22506-6 (0451225066)
ISBN-13: 978-0-451-22506-1 (9780451225061)
Publication Date: September 2008
List Price: $19.95

Review: Both chocolate shop manager Lee McKinney and her husband Joe Woodyard are implicated in the murder of a visiting art critic in The Chocolate Snowman Murders, the eighth mystery in this cozy series by JoAnna Carl.

WinterFest is the social event of the season for Warner Pier, the small resort town on the shore of Lake Michigan where TenHuis Chocolade, the chocolate shop for which Lee works and which is owned by Lee's aunt, is located. A major event during WinterFest is the annual arts festival drawing major artists and critics from around the country. When one of the judges of the festival has to drop out, the organizing committee recruits retired art professor Fletcher Mendenhall to be a juror. Lee is assigned to pick him up at the Grand Rapids airport but once there, he starts to make unwanted moves on her. She promptly dumps him at a local motel, returning home alone. When Joe goes to pick up Mendenhall the next morning, he's found murdered, his head bashed in. The police at first suspect Lee (being the last person to see him alive) and then Joe (the presumably jealous husband), but for lack of evidence they are released. When Mendenhall's missing cell phone turns up in Lee's jacket, she's the center of attention again. Later when the festival's public relations director found with her head bashed in, and the murder weapon found in Lee's car, she knows she's being framed and sets out to prove her innocence.

The Chocolate Snowman Murders is a pleasant if predictable mystery. Although the book probably doesn't have any more or less dialog than any other cozy, it just seems chatty, as if someone is always speaking. And as is typical when someone prattles on and on, it's not always interesting and it's fairly easy to tune it out. Still, the plot moves along at a brisk pace and there is no shortage of suspects for Lee to investigate. Subtitled "a chocoholics mystery", there is actually very little chocolate mentioned and it certainly isn't integral to the plot (though it does play a role when Lee defends herself against a mysterious attacker). The infrequent inclusions of chocolate historical trivia are, however, a welcome addition, informative and entertaining.

Special thanks to Penguin Group for providing a copy of The Chocolate Snowman Murders for this review.

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

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Lee McKinney Woodyard knows that being in the luxury chocolate business isn't all sweetness and light, and neither is the holiday season. But she tries to draw the line at cold-blooded murder.

As treasurer of WinterFest, Lee is up to her elbows in the arguments, egos, and last-minute mix-ups that happen behind the scenes. But she's coping, even when the guest juror of the art show shows up drunk. Lee leaves him to sleep it off, and is stunned the next day when her husband, Joe, discovers someone has put the visiting dignitary into a permanent state of repose ...

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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