Wednesday, May 27, 2009

NPR Talks to Mystery Author James Patterson

James Patterson

Crime novelist James Patterson is featured on this week's All Things Considered on NPR (audio, 4 min 59 sec).

This year, Patterson will release nine books, including his latest, Swimsuit (Little Brown, June 29th). And, as the author tells Michele Norris, he still has more manuscripts in reserve.

"There are, right now, 29 manuscripts sitting there [in my office] in some degree of completion," says Patterson. "It's a lot of material, a lot of stories."

Patterson says his involvement in research depends on the subject that needs investigation. He is more than happy to conduct research in Hawaii — less so when the setting is an urban crack house.

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Games of Mystery: The Hardy Boys, The Perfect Crime, New at Big Fish Games

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, and mystery getaway vacations, is pleased to announce the availability of a new mystery game from Big Fish Games released today. You can find out more about these games by visiting our page or by clicking on the links provided below.

The Hardy Boys: The Perfect Crime

A crime wave has gripped the Hardy Boys' hometown of Bayport! Help the Hardys solve this rash of crimes and unravel the perfect crime! It’s up to the boys and their detective skills to follow the clues and discover an incredibly deep plot in this hidden object game. The Hardy Boys: The Perfect Crime will challenge you with tough minigames and detailed scenes. Can you find the mastermind behind it all and crack the case?

Also available: The Hardy Boys: The Perfect Crime Game Walkthrough.

The Hardy Boys: The Perfect Crime, a Big Fish Game Club World Premiere Exclusive, may be downloaded and purchased for $6.99 with a Big Fish Game Club membership. A demonstration version (90.83 MB) may be downloaded and played for free for one hour.

Watch a preview video below:

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Other popular games on our page include several and games, games in the series and in particular the latest, Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst, Adventure Chronicles: The Search for Lost Treasure, Syberia and Syberia II, The Serpent of Isis, James Patterson's Women's Murder Club: A Darker Shade of Grey, and Nick Chase: A Detective Story.

Read our new game reviews by Ms. Terri: , and .

Big Fish Games: Bestsellers

Big Fish Games: New releases

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And don't forget to visit for all kinds of mysterious fun!

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NPR's List of the Best Mystery and Crime Novels for Summer 2009

NPR's Selection of Summer 2009 Mystery, Crime Novels

NPR's Maureen Corrigan lists her choice of the best mystery and crime novels for Summer 2009. She recalls her youth reading Nancy Drew and notes several similarities between those books and her selection of "grown-up" mysteries.

In The Shanghai Moon by S. J. Rozan, Lydia Chin is on the hunt for a cache of stolen jewels, a plot Corrigan wryly notes constitutes about 99% of the classic Nancy Drew mysteries.

In The Way Home, George Pelecanos takes a detour into Nancy Drew territory when a house under renovation reveals a bag stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash.

And just like the dilapidated mansions and hidden staircases Nancy Drew was always poking about, S. J. Bolton sets her latest mystery, Awakening, in a quaint English village with a Gothic flair.

Two other books make Corrigan's list: The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly and Black Noir, an anthology of crime and suspense fiction edited by Otto Penzler.

Reviews and excerpts for all five books can be found in Corrigan's article.

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Games of Mystery: Real Crimes, The Unicorn Killer, New at PlayFirst Games

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, and mystery getaway vacations, is pleased to announce a new mystery game available from PlayFirst Games. You can find out more about these games from our page or by clicking on the links provided below.

Real Crimes: The Unicorn Killer

Based on a true story, Real Crimes: The Unicorn Killer puts you in the role of rookie FBI Agent Jennifer Lourdes. It's up to you and veteran detective Alan Michaels to catch the infamous Unicorn Killer. Travel all around the globe and explore crime scenes for important clues to capturing this dangerous criminal! Can you track down the murderer in this exciting hidden object game?

Real Crimes: The Unicorn Killer is available to purchase for $9.95 with the PlayPass program. A trial version is available to download for a 60 minutes of play (Windows PC, 123.9 MB).

Other popular games on our page include the Mystery PI series of casual games, 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.

And don't forget to visit for all kinds of mysterious fun!

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

First Clues Review: Point Blank 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.

Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz

Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz
The Alex Rider Series

Puffin (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-14-240612-0 (0142406120)
ISBN-13: 978-0-14-240612-0 (9780142406120)
Publication Date: February 2006
List Price: $7.99

Review written by Kevin, Age 11, Grade 6. Date of review: May 2009.

Review: The story Point Blank was a great follow-up to Stormbreaker, Horowitz’s first novel. This story gets you going right away with a certain situation that has you biting your nails and urging to see what happens next. Then, you are stuck in a predicament in which the only situation is to keep reading. The mind blowing Alex Rider is, yet again, off on another marvelous spy mission that is crucial. This breathtaking novel was written by Anthony Horowitz.

The story starts off as Alex Rider is just getting back “into the swing” of school again after being away so long when action calls once again. Alex is very passionate about his risky lifestyle, and he definitely lives it to its fullest. Alan Blunt and Mrs. Jones (workers for the secret service in London) watch Alex as he tracks down a drug dealer. They are very impressed and decide that his spy career is not yet over. The deaths of two very important men have put Blunt and Jones into suspicion that they might be linked. Alex has to go undercover as a rotten rich child and to be sent of to a very odd school called Poin Blank. When Alex arrives he has to find out what is going on in the underground tunnels and the upper floors of the school. This gets Alex into some tight situations that he may not be able to get out of. Will the British secrete service (MI6) get Alex out, or will he have to suffer and die?

This novel was one of the finest I have ever read. Anthony Horowitz blended the characters of action, suspense, and comedy to create a whole new genre of book. Point Blank was very well developed saying that it had two parts going on at the same time. The story never got away from one story to focus on the next; instead, it blended both sides of the story into one. The introduction started you off with a great short story with the thriving adventurous Alex Rider sets off to break a drug raid. The characters at the school were especially well developed with there own unique personality. Every character’s personality is like a snow flake in this book, different at every angle. The author also blended science into the story along with the mystery of what really is going on at the school. Some parts toward the end of this book would serve as good debate starters if you are like that. Overall, Point Blank was well thought out and put together and all of the components come together to form bliss in your mind.

Buy from Amazon.com

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

is pleased to provide information on over 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 Book Review: Hard Stop by Chris Knopf

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

Hard Stop by Chris Knopf

by
A Sam Acquillo Mystery

Permanent Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-57962-183-X (157962183X)
ISBN-13: 978-1-57962-183-4 (9781579621834)
Publication Date: May 2009
List Price: $28.00

Review: Master craftsman and ex-corporate executive Sam Acquillo is "asked" by the CEO of his old company to look into the disappearance of a former colleague in Hard Stop, the fourth mystery in this series by Chris Knopf.

When Sam finds someone snooping around his house, he takes it personally, taking the guy down and finding out who hired him. It turns out that the head of Con Globe, a massive energy company and, not coincidentally, Sam's former employer, is behind it. When Sam confronts him, it's all about getting leverage on Sam to do a job for him, namely, find Iku Kinjo, a hot shot analyst and his secret lady friend, who has gone missing. Sam agrees to find her, and does, but she's dead in an apparent suicide that clearly wasn't. Though Sam's responsibility ends here, he's troubled by her death and continues to dig. And his digging stirs up all sorts of attention, mostly of the unwanted kind.

The best mysteries are all about character, plot, and setting, and Chris Knopf excels at all three. Hard Stop sets a breathtaking pace right from the start and doesn't let up. In fact, it may be a little too brisk as the intricate plot involving corporate mischief doesn't really start to come together until the final few chapters. In a way, though, that's part of the appeal, disparate pieces of a puzzle that have no apparent connection, suddenly coming together to form a picture of what really happened ... and why.

The characters are all fully realized, even the minor ones, but none more so than Sam and his dog Eddie, giving the story a depth and richness that fans of the genre will relish. The setting is not the Hamptons of the ultra-wealthy, though they are present and accounted for here, but of everyday people who live and work on the island.

Knopf has a marvelous way with words, making Hard Stop a real pleasure to read. Here's a passage that gives the book its title: "I'm always offended by the arrogance of people who think killing other people is a legitimate undertaking. I wonder, how do you get up in the morning and think to yourself, gotta do some errands, wash the car, and if I can fit it in, permanently snuff the lights out of someone's beloved husband, brother, mother, sister, son? I've never considered myself more deserving of life than the next guy, probably less, but at least take a second to think about it. Altruism doesn't come naturally to me, but it was easier to apply this line of reasoning to Iku Kinjo than to myself. No willful murder is justified, but hers felt less like an act of butchery than a surgical elimination. A tactical execution. Maybe that's all it was, a simple transaction. A line item on a profit and loss statement. Case closed. Meeting over. The ultimate hard stop."

Chris Knopf is among the most literate mystery authors writing today, and Hard Stop is a terrific example of his work. It is not to be missed.

Special thanks to Chris Knopf for providing an ARC of Hard Stop for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

Buy from Amazon.com

If you are interested in purchasing Hard Stop from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right. Hard Stop (Kindle edition) is also available. Learn more about the Kindle, Amazon's Wireless Reading Device.

Synopsis (from the publisher): Sam Acquillo is getting to be alot more sociable. People are constantly dropping by, including guys in black outfits with .45 automatics breaking into his cottage in the middle of the night.Though on doctor's orders to stay clear of violence and mayhem, Sam does what's needed to encourage a candid conversation with the home invader, with surprising results.

Suddenly Sam's past reaches out to pull him back into the world of big money and even bigger egos, where the term "corporate intrigue" is redundant and ambition the only virtue. It seems a person important to the private life of a very important person has gone missing in the Hamptons. And it looks like the best way to get her back is to extort Sam's cooperation.

After finally achieving some measure of peace and contentment on the tip of Oak Point, overlooking the Little Peconic Bay, Sam is yet again an accidental player in other people's dramas. It takes him into the world of private security goons, predatory financiers and lifestyles of young hedonists, some brave, some beautiful, all a bit lost. But this time there's some added incentive. An opportunity Sam thought he'd never see again. The chance to get a bit of his old life back. The only piece he might actually want.

With lawyer Jackie Swaitkowski and cop friend Joe Sullivan reluctantly in tow, and the beautiful Amanda Anselma, fisherman Paul Hodges and mutt Eddie Van Halen eager to lend a hand, Sam is back on the quest.This time with a few ambitions of his own, which lead him into something all his battles in the ring and corporate boardroom could never have preapared him for.

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Mysteries on TV: The Closer, Law & Order SVU, The Mod Squad, and Murder Most English, New This Week on DVD

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 profiling four series that have season DVDs being released this week.

An offbeat personality, a tough-as-nails approach and a track record as one of the country's leading investigators: These are just a few of the traits exhibited by Deputy Police Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick), also known as . For the Atlanta transplant heading up the Priority Homicide Division of the Los Angeles Police Department, her position on this elite detective squad, which handles high-profile cases of a sensitive nature, is a tenuous balancing act. She faces antagonistic roadblocks, even from her own peers within the department, and must manage a team that remains wary of her unconventional style.

The The Closer: Season Four DVD set of 4 discs contains the 15 episodes that aired on TNT from July through September 2008 and January and February 2009.

Re-enter the gritty world of New York's complex justice system with . Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni reunite as Detectives Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler -- two dedicated cops loyal to each other and to their job of investigating sexually based crimes ripped from today's headlines.

The 9th season included a compelling roster of guest stars including Robin Williams ("Authority", which earned him an Emmy nomination), Cynthia Nixon ("Alternate"), Bill Pullman ("Closet"), and Aidan Quinn ("Savant").

The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Season Nine DVD set of 5 discs contains the 19 episodes that aired on NBC from September 2007 through May 2008.

were young adults in trouble with the law who became undercover detectives. The trio consisted of rich, long-haired Pete Cochran (Michael Cole), Lincoln "Linc" Hayes (Clarence Williams III) from the Watts section of LA, and the beautiful flower child Julie Barnes (Peggy Lipton). They're recruited by police captain Adam Greer (Tige Andrews) for a covert unit that will help bridge the generation gap. These three cops with love beads wrestle with criminals -- and their own consciences. They may have been the "fuzz," but they never compromised their values.

The The Mod Squad: Season Two (V2) DVD set of 3 discs contain the concluding 13 episodes that aired on ABC during the spring of 1970.

A kindly detective puts right the wrongs in a sleepy English town in , based on the series of detective novels by Colin Watson. Clad in tweed and puffing on a pipe, Detective Inspector Purbright (Anton Rodgers, Lillie, May to December) pursues the evildoers of Flaxborough with a doggedness that belies his polite conversation and mild manner. And a good thing, too. For although the quiet country town appears all gentility, beneath the surface lies a darker world of deception, intrigue, treachery, and infidelity. These forces can upset the harmony of the most staid of small communities … and ignite passions that erupt into violence.

The Murder Most English: The Complete Series DVD set of 3 discs contains the 4 2-part episodes that aired on BBC during May and June, 1977.

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

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Monday, May 25, 2009

First Clues: Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, Books for May and June 2009

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

, your source for information on over 100 mystery series for children and young adults where 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), is pleased to announce Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys books that are scheduled for release during May and June, 2009.

Treasure Trouble by Carolyn Keene

Treasure Trouble by Carolyn Keene


Nancy, George, and Bess are headed to beautiful Barnacle Beach for a pirate-themed birthday party. They've planned every detail, from nautical party games to a real chest of buried treasure. This is going to be the most fun party ever! Until none of the guests show up. Perhaps they've been scared off by mythical beach monster Lonny the Lake Lizard. But that's just silly -- monsters aren't real, right? And now the treasure is gone! This looks like another case for the Clue Crew -- time to find the missing treasure, and the missing friends, too!

Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew mysteries are recommended for readers aged 7 to 9.

Model Crime by Carolyn Keene

Model Crime by Carolyn Keene


The first book in the Model Mystery Trilogy.

Sydney, Bess and George's cousin and my good friend, is finally getting married to her fiancé, Vic! We're so happy for her, and we're sure it's going to be a beautiful wedding -- after all, she's a famous model and he's a reality TV stud. Plus, we're all bridesmaids! Imagine seeing George in a dress. But that's where the fun and games stop. As Sydney prepares for her wedding, mysterious things start happening to her and Vic. Vic is almost poisoned, and Sydney's bridal shower is sabotaged -- and there are too many suspects to count. But why would anyone want to ruin Sydney's special day? These can't be coincidences. I'm sure there is something sinister afoot, and I'm determined to find it out and help my friend.

Nancy Drew, Girl Detective mysteries are recommended for readers aged 10 and older.

Galaxy X by Franklin W. Dixon

Galaxy X by Franklin W. Dixon


The first book in the Galaxy X trilogy.

The Mission: To find out who is trying to sabotage the opening of the brand-new X Games theme park, Galaxy X. The Location: Galaxy X, a new theme park in sunny California. The Potential Victims: Music producer and Galaxy X owner Tyrone McKenzie and his family, as well as anyone who shows up to the GX premiere week. The Suspects: There are protestors outside the gates, but are there people on the inside who have a motive to sabotage the opening?

The Hardy Boys, Undercover Brothers mysteries are recommended for readers aged 10 and older.

Word Up! by Scott Lobdell and Paulo Henrique

Word Up! by Scott Lobdell and Paulo Henrique


Someone has made death threats against a high school talk radio host ... and it’s up to Joe and Frank Hardy to find out who is making these threats and why. Before they can focus on that however, they’ve got to make sure their radio host stays alive and on the air! They may not agree with the boy's bombastic and bellicose style, but the brothers will risk life and limb to protect his right to say it!

The Hardy Boys Graphic Novels are recommended for readers aged 10 and older.

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Seven Crime Dramas from the 1980s and 90s Coming to DVD

Video Business is reporting that Mill Creek Entertainment will distribute seven crime dramas from Stephen J. Cannell Productions on DVD beginning this fall. Cannell, at one time one of the most prolific series producers on television, developed and/or wrote The Rockford Files, Hardcastle and McCormick, Hunter, 21 Jump Street, Riptide, The Greatest American Hero, Adam-12, and about 20 or so more series.

The seven series mentioned in the deal are (in alphabetical order): Booker, Broken Badges, Cobra, Missing Persons, Palace Guard, Unsub, and Wiseguy. We admit, we'd only heard of one of these, so we did a little research to find out more.

Booker, a spin-off of 21 Jump Street, aired on Fox in 1989 for one season and starred Richard Grieco as Dennis Booker (the same character he played on 21 Jump Street), the head investigator for a large Japanese corporation. 22 episodes were produced.

CBS aired a pilot of Broken Badges in November 1990 but it's unclear how many episodes were actually shown or produced. The ensemble cast were all ex-cops, suspended from the force for various reasons, reassembled to form a maverick unit to solve tough cases.

Cobra was a syndicated series that aired during the 1993 / 1994 television season. The series starred Michael Dudikoff as Robert "Scandal" Jackson as the lead member of an elite undercover anti-crime government agency. 22 episodes were produced.

Also on during the 1993 / 1994 television season was Missing Persons, which aired on ABC for 17 episodes. The series starred Daniel J. Traventi (Hill Street Blues) as the head of a Chicago police task force specializing in missing persons.

D. W. Moffett starred as an expert jewel thief in Palace Guard, a series that aired on CBS during the fall of 1991. Moffett was responsible for security for a global hotel chain. It's not clear how many episodes actually aired or were produced since the series was quickly cancelled.

An expert FBI forensic team that investigates serial murderers and other unsolved violent crimes was the premise behind Unsub. A mid-season replacement series on NBC in 1989, only 7 episodes aired.

The most successful of these seven series was Wiseguy, which aired for 3 plus seasons on CBS (from 1987 through 1990). Ken Wahl starred as Federal Agent Vincent Terranova of the Organized Crimes Bureau who went deep undercover to solve cases. The series was previously released on DVD.

Come September when these series begin to become available, we'll feature them on Mysteries on TV, your source for one of the largest selections of detective, amateur sleuth, private investigator, and suspense television mystery series that are now available or coming soon to DVD.

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Mystery Book Review: The Murder Stone (A Rule Against Murder) by Louise Penny

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of The Murder Stone (US title: A Rule Against Murder) by Louise Penny. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The Murder Stone (US title: A Rule Against Murder) by Louise Penny

by
An Armand Gamache Mystery

St. Martin's Minotaur (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-312-37702-9 (0312377029)
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-37702-1 (9780312377021)
Publication Date: January 2009
List Price: $24.95

Review: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec has solved his previous cases in the fall, winter and spring in the idyllic Three Pines village of Quebec’s Eastern Townships. But now it is a scorching summer and he is on vacation at the nearby historic Manoir Bellechasse to celebrate Canada Day, July 1, and his thirty-fifth anniversary with his beloved Reine-Marie. Murder, however, as everyone knows, never vacations, so he has no sooner settled into the inn and its amenities than he is called upon to solve the most puzzling “How” of all the murder cases in his career as a several ton statue topples from its marble pedestal to crush its bloodied, mud-covered victim, but leaves the pedestal unblemished.

In straying just beyond the bounds of Three Pines, Penny has maintained the picturesque setting of rural Quebec, but introduced a whole new set of characters in the wealthy Finney family led by its acerbic-tongued matriarch, Irene, and her second husband Bert Finney who may or may not have married her for her money or for a couple of secrets they share. Her daughter, Mariana Morrow, is cruelly nicknamed by her siblings as “Magilla the Gorilla” for her attachment as a child to the cartoon show of the same name. Mariana is a single mom to her uniquely strange10-year-old child, Bean, of undisclosed sex, a secret she and the child refuse to share with others. Irene’s pretentious and cruel son, Thomas Morrow, has come from Toronto with his snobbish wife, Sandra. Irene’s estranged daughter, Julia Martin, of Vancouver, has recently divorced from her jailed embezzler husband and claims to know her father’s secret. Peter and Clara Morrow, the artists and year-round residents of Three Pines and by now fast friends of the Gamaches have reluctantly joined the gathering but can’t wait to get home for the annual Canada Day celebrations and the clogging event that Reine-Marie is just as reluctantly dreading. A more distrustful, despicable and dislikeable family it would be hard to find. Their initial view of the Gamaches before Peter and Clara arrive is as “the shopkeeper and his cleaning woman wife.”

But their view rapidly changes when a family member is found impaled into the earth by the statue of Irene’s first husband, Charles Morrow, for whom the family have reunited to provide a reluctant tribute, lest mother disinherit them. Gamache quickly takes charge, bringing his team of “alpha dog” Inspector Jean Guy Beauvoir and Agent Isabelle Lacoste, “the hunter of their team,’ to the lodge to begin their procedures of analysis, interviews, debate and meditation to discover who among the family or the staff at the inn might have committed the crime. Everybody is more or less of a suspect – even Gamache’s friends peter and Clara and the enigmatic child clutching his book of mythology, firing half-eaten marshmallow cookies to stick on the dining-room ceiling or listening to his chock-a-block bedroom of clocks ticking, ticking, ticking. Credible motivations abound from the past as well as the present. But it is the means of the murder that challenges the Gamache team beyond anything they have faced previously. The solution, however, like the Devil who did the deed, is found in the details of “Such a small thing. Imagine that giving away a murder,” and in the words of a poem that speak prophetically of slipping “the surly bonds of earth” as Gamache battles his fear of heights during a fierce summer storm to rescue another potential victim and shackle a murderer.

As always, Penny is meticulous in finding memorable descriptions. Chef Veronique, for example, “was huge and beefy, her face like a pumpkin and her voice like a root vegetable. And she had knives. Lots of them. And cleavers and cast-iron pans.” Another character stands with “his hand to his brow to block out the sun, as though in a permanent salute.” And a third, “went through life with his shields raised, repulsing attack by food or beverage, or people.” Little wonder shields are raised when their father, Charles, dispensed advice to them such as, “Never use the first stall in a washroom.” Penny uses words to depict settings like a landscape painter uses his brushes and colours. Dialogue flows without a glitch and there’s humour, too, in Gamache referring to a pet duck as a Clouseau-like “minkey” or Beauvoir decrying that, “here in the middle of nowhere ... it was like trying to conduct a modern murder investigation in Fred Flintstone’s cave.” On the serious side there is the murder in a “greedy and even cruel” family wherein the victim admittedly was “the cruellest, the greediest of us all.” There is a gripping, underlying story as well about Gamache’s father, Honore, a conscientious objector during the War, and now Mrs. Finney firing the epithet, “Coward,” at Gamache like bullets from a machine gun even as he and his own son, Daniel, tussle over the naming of a new baby after the old man, while Reine-Marie patiently interacts.

Truly, another flawless performance, The Murder Stone has been nominated for Best Novel for 2009 for the Arthur Ellis Awards.

Special thanks to M. Wayne Cunningham ([email protected]) for contributing his review of The Murder Stone.

Review Copyright © 2009 — M. Wayne Cunningham — All Rights Reserved — Reprinted with Permission

Buy from Amazon.com

If you are interested in purchasing The Murder Stone (US title: A Rule Against Murder) from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right. The Murder Stone (US title: A Rule Against Murder) (Kindle edition) is also available. Learn more about the Kindle, Amazon's Wireless Reading Device.

Synopsis (from the publisher): It is the height of summer, and Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache are celebrating their wedding anniversary at Manoir Bellechasse, an isolated, luxurious inn not far from the village of Three Pines. But they’re not alone. The Finney family—rich, cultured, and respectable—has also arrived for a celebration of their own.

The beautiful Manoir Bellechasse might be surrounded by nature, but there is something unnatural looming. As the heat rises and the humidity closes in, some surprising guests turn up at the family reunion, and a terrible summer storm leaves behind a dead body. It is up to Chief Inspector Gamache to unearth secrets long buried and hatreds hidden behind polite smiles. The chase takes him to Three Pines, into the dark corners of his own life, and finally to a harrowing climax.

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Mystery Book Review: Mission: Murder by Betty Kerr Orlemann

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Mission: Murder by Betty Kerr Orlemann. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Mission: Murder by Betty Kerr Orlemann

by
A Hattie Farwell Mystery

ShadowDance Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-9771329-1-9 (0977132919)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9771329-1-1 (9780977132911)
Publication Date: August 2008
List Price: $12.95

Review: Betty Kerr Orlemann introduces retired school teacher Hattie Farwell, living on her family farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and investigating the suspicious death of a dear, old friend in Mission: Murder, the first in a proposed series to feature the octogenarian amateur sleuth.

Hattie had known Annie Turner most of her life. Annie's daughters, Anna and Brooke, referred to her as Aunt Hattie, one of the family. Just before Thanksgiving, Annie is struck down and killed by a hit-and-run driver. The police treat her death as an unfortunate accident, but Hattie isn't so sure. Then Anna, on her way to Hattie's house, is chased by a car and forced off the road, badly injuring her. This was no accident; someone deliberately tried to kill Anna. Though there is nothing to link the incidents, Hattie is sure there must be a common thread between the death of Anna's mother and the attempt on her life.

Hattie Farwell is a delightful woman and Mission: Murder is a pleasure to read. Hattie's backstory adds depth and interest to her character and provides an understanding as to her motivation in pursuing this case. For example, Hattie prefers to wear what she finds comfortable, and what Hattie finds comfortable are “long skirts – usually black – immaculate white blouses and black lace-up boots.” If she were pressed to explain her choice, she would say it was her way of paying homage to a strong woman whom she loved, admired and respected, her grandmother. The underlying message here: family and respect, and respect of family, are everything.

The plot of Mission: Murder is well thought out and there are many twists and turns that keep the briskly paced story fresh and exciting. In short, this debut is a fine cozy and readers will be eagerly looking forward to Hattie's next outing.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Mission: Murder and to Word Forge Books for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

Buy from Amazon.com

If you are interested in purchasing Mission: Murder from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right.

Synopsis (from the publisher): The suspicious death of her lifelong best friend jolts octogenarian Hattie Farwell out of a comfortable retirement in rural Bucks County, Pennsylvania. When Annie Turner is killed leaving a Philadelphia concert, a grieving Hattie is suddenly flung into the world of high-stakes political intrigue, drifting amid a web of deceit and the uncomfortable dynamics of the family her friend left behind.

Police efforts turn up more questions than answers, and Hattie’s patience wears thin. Finally, aided by Annie’s granddaughters and her huge dog, Wolf, Hattie sets out to pursue her own theories about what really happened to Annie.

Between Wolf’s nose for trouble and Hattie’s determination to solve the murder, she finds herself navigating an unsavory—and increasingly dangerous—path to the truth. America’s latest unlikely sleuth uncovers the ugly underside of political campaigns, marital infidelity, and more than one old family secret that someone will stop at nothing to keep hidden.

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Mystery Godoku Puzzle for May 25, 2009

A 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!).

Mystery Godoku Puzzle for May 25, 2009

This week's letters and mystery clue

C E I K L N T W Y

Harry Kemelman featured this New England college professor in his short stories (9 letters).

We now have two weeks of our puzzles on one page 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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Games of Mystery: The Omega Stone, Riddle of the Sphinx II, New at Big Fish Games

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, and mystery getaway vacations, is pleased to announce the availability of a new mystery game from Big Fish Games released today. You can find out more about these games by visiting our page or by clicking on the links provided below.

The Omega Stone: Riddle of the Sphinx II

After years of digging, noted archeologist, Sir Gil Blythe Geoffrey uncovered a secret chamber and an ancient papyrus scroll that revealed the whereabouts of an ancient treasure, The Ark of the Covenant. Further exploration led to the discovery of another prophetic scroll, the contents of which unravels an ominous mystery. In The Omega Stone: Riddle of the Sphinx II, you are called upon to lead the exploration and examination of the origins of this sacred scroll, whose symbols point to cultures of great intelligence. This game features full screen animations and stunning, realistic 3D images.

Also available: The Omega Stone: Riddle of the Sphinx II Strategy Guide.

The Omega Stone: Riddle of the Sphinx II may be downloaded and purchased for $6.99 with a Big Fish Game Club membership. Due to its large size, a demonstration version is not available.

Watch a preview video below:

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Other popular games on our page include several and games, games in the series and in particular the latest, Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst, Adventure Chronicles: The Search for Lost Treasure, Syberia and Syberia II, The Serpent of Isis, James Patterson's Women's Murder Club: A Darker Shade of Grey, and Nick Chase: A Detective Story.

Read our new game reviews by Ms. Terri: , and .

Big Fish Games: Bestsellers

Big Fish Games: New releases

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And don't forget to visit for all kinds of mysterious fun!

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Games of Mystery: Jake Hunter Detective Story, New for Nintendo DS

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, and getaway vacations including murder mystery weekends, is pleased to announce the availability of a new mystery game for the Nintendo DS. More mystery games for this platform are available on our recently updated webpage.

Jake Hunter Detective Story: Memories of the Past

Jake Hunter Detective Story: Memories of the Past features three brand new stories, one made exclusively for Nintendo DS. Jake Hunter Detective Story: Memories of the Past also includes a brand new mode, Jake Hunter Unleashed, which incorporates brand new art direction and six mind-boggling comedic stories. As an added bonus, the game includes the first three stories from Jake's original adventure, Jake Hunter: Detective Chronicles, all re-localized with creative imagination and flare.

Jake Hunter Detective Story: Memories of the Past Nintendo DS is currently scheduled for release on May 26th, 2009.

Don't forget to visit for all types of mysterious fun!

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First Clues Review: The Dark Stairs 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.

The Dark Stairs by Betsy Byars

The Dark Stairs by Betsy Byars
The Herculeah Jones Series

Puffin (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-14-240592-2 (0142405922)
ISBN-13: 978-0-14-240592-5 (9780142405925)
Publication Date: February 2006
List Price: $5.99

Review written by Breanna, Age 13, Grade 7. Date of review: May 2009.

Review: The book I choose to review was The Dark Stairs written by Betsy Byars. The book is the first book in the Herculeah Jones series, introducing the main characters, the feel of the story, and Byars chosen writing style for this series. This book is patterned the same as the rest of the series, so if you like this book you will probably like the others, however if you don’t like this book, the rest of the series won’t interest you either.

Herculeah Jones is not your average girl, she’s strong, tall, flexible, and very athletic. She has inkling for danger, a strong mind, and an insatiable curiosity. Her mother is a private investigator, her father a policeman. When she spots her father over at “Dead Oaks”, a place of local legend, and the scene of an unsolved murder mystery, and later sees her mother with a very mysterious man who seems overly concerned with this place, Herculeah’s inner detective is awakened and the adventure begins. The plot is very slow in the beginning and it’s hard to stay interested, but as the mystery progresses it’s hard to put the book down, however, this not until more than halfway through the book. Herculeah was a somewhat boring character and hard to connect with. Meat (Herculeah’s friend and “sidekick”) is a bit more of a complex and entertaining character. The setting is wonderful. In the small average town, the mystery house where a man disappeared and a man was said to have been murdered. The voice is engaging and interesting.

Overall the mystery of The Dark Stairs earned a total of 2½ stars from this reviewer.

Buy from Amazon.com

If you are interested in purchasing The Dark Stairs from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right.

is pleased to provide information on over 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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