Friday, November 13, 2009

Mystery Bestsellers for November 13, 2009

Mystery Bestsellers

A list of the top 15 for the week ending November 13, 2009 has been posted on the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books website.

After a quiet week last week, two new books enter the top 15.

Kindred in Death by J. D. Robb

Though debuting at 23 last week, Kindred in Death, the 35th futuristic thriller featuring NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas by J. D. Robb, moves up sharply this week into the 6th spot.

When the newly promoted captain of the department and his wife return a day early from their vacation, they were looking forward to spending time with their bright and vivacious sixteen-year-old daughter who had stayed behind. Not even their worst nightmares could have prepared them for the crime scene that awaited them instead. Brutally murdered in her bedroom, Deena's body showed signs of trauma that horrified even the toughest of cops; including Dallas, who was specifically requested by the captain to investigate. When the evidence starts to pile up, Dallas and her team think they are about to arrest their perpetrator; little do they know yet that someone has gone to great lengths to tease and taunt them by using a variety of identities. Overconfidence can lead to careless mistakes. But for Dallas, one mistake might be all she needs to bring justice.

Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris

Coming in at number 12 is the 4th mystery in the Harper Connelly series, Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris.

Lightning-struck sleuth Harper and her stepbrother Tolliver take a break from looking for the dead to visit the two little girls they both think of as sisters. But, as always happens when they travel to Texas, memories of their horrible childhood resurface. To make matters worse, Tolliver learns from his older brother that their father is out of jail and trying to reestablish contact with other family members. Tolliver wants no part of the man- but he may not have a choice in the matter. Soon, family secrets ensnare them both, as Harper finally discovers what happened to her missing sister, Cameron, so many years before. And what she finds out will change her world forever.

The top four mystery bestsellers this week are shown below:

The Lost Symbol by Dan BrownNine Dragons by Michael ConnellyTrue Blue by David BaldacciThe Scarpetta Factor by Patricia Cornwell

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, November 12, 2009

Mystery Book Review: Holidays Can Be Murder by Connie Shelton

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Holidays Can Be Murder by Connie Shelton. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Holidays Can Be Murder by Connie Shelton

by
A Charlie Parker Mystery

CreateSpace (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-4495-1973-3 (1449519733)
ISBN-13: 978-1-4495-1973-5 (9781449519735)
Publication Date: October 2009
List Price: $12.00

Review: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in New Mexico, but murder spoils the festivities for Charlie Parker in Holidays Can Be Murder, the 11th mystery in this series by Connie Shelton.

In the old Albuquerque Country Club neighborhood where Charlie and her husband Drake live, there is a tradition that residents decorate their homes and lawns to the max. During the holidays there are actually buses filled with people that tour the area. As with every Christmas season, Charlie has a demanding schedule: decorating, baking cookies for the neighborhood cookie exchange, shopping, and wrapping presents. And to top it off this year, Drake has invited his mother to spend the holidays with them. Charlie has only met Catherine once in the fourteen months she and Drake have been married. When Catherine arrives, Charlie is delighted to find her to be pleasant and congenial. But isn't the only mother-in-law making a visit to the neighborhood this year: Wilbur’s mother, Paula, has dropped in – uninvited. Judy, Wilbur’s wife, is in the early stage of her pregnancy and isn’t all that well on the best of days. One evening after Christmas, Paula stayed home allowing Judy and Wilbur to dine with friends and play a game or two. When they came home, they found Paula sprawled out on the living room sofa – dead.

When the police learn that Judy had complained to some that her mother-in-law was a cruel woman who drank too much and probably was on drugs, a woman who continually brow beat her son and had done so throughout his life, and that she wished she were dead, they immediately see Judy as the prime suspect. Charlie knew this was Judy’s anxieties talking and is positive she is not a murderer. Charlie remembers there had been a dark car that she had seen driving slowly past their houses for a few days, one for which she had written down the license plate number. Following up on this lead takes her to California and the home of Paula’s ex-husband. He leads her to Paula’s drug dealer who reveals that Paula had left town owing him money. As Charlie comes closer to finding the real murderer, her own life is put in peril.

Holidays Can Be Murder is a crisply written, briskly paced mystery, and befitting the season, filled with vibrant colorful characters. Though relatively short in length, the fully developed whodunit plot is quite entertaining. And if this holiday treat of a mystery weren't enough, two New Mexican Christmas recipes are included for readers to try at home. Consider Holidays Can Be Murder as a fun stocking stuffer, or to include in a holiday basket to give this season.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Holidays Can Be Murder and to Connie Shelton 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 Holidays Can Be Murder from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right.

Synopsis (from the publisher): It's a New Mexico Christmas. The lights are strung, the luminarias are set along the sidewalks. Treats are abundant and Charlie Parker is getting ready for her mother-in-law's holiday visit.

But there is trouble in the neighborhood and when death shows up -- right next door -- Charlie's bright, festive plans suddenly take a turn for the dark.

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Mystery Book Review: The Price of Malice by Archer Mayor

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of The Price of Malice by Archer Mayor. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The Price of Malice by Archer Mayor

by
A Joe Gunther Mystery

St. Martin's Minotaur (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-312-38192-1 (0312381921)
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-38192-9 (9780312381929)
Publication Date: September 2009
List Price: $24.99

Review: Vermont Bureau of Investigation agent Joe Gunther is called in to investigate the brutal murder of a suspected child predator, while also helping his girlfriend deal with her grief over the deaths of her father and brother, in The Price of Malice, the 20th mystery in this series by Archer Mayor.

The murder of Wayne Castine comes as little surprise to the authorities in Brattleboro. Though he was suspected of being a child predator, and he had a long juvenile record, there was never enough evidence to arrest him as an adult. "It looks like he learned not to get caught after he reached maturity," one of Joe's team tells him. But Joe's investigation of the murder suggests there may be more to the case than the police originally thought. Meanwhile, Lyn Silva, owner of a local bar and Joe's girlfriend, has returned to Boston to care for her ill mother, who has been virtually catatonic since her husband and son, Lyn's father and brother, were lost at sea. In an unexpected twist, however, their boat has been found, housed and undamaged (though repainted) on a private island near the Canadian border. How it got there, however, remains a mystery.

Many mysteries frequently have substantial subplots that play out in tandem with the main story, but there seems to be a recent trend in series mysteries to combine two, generally unrelated principal plots, into a single novel; The Price of Malice is an example of this type of book. It's almost as if the author is unsure that one plotline can be sufficiently developed into a full-length novel and thus adds a second one to take up the slack. The result is often disjointed, as it is here. Joe's colleagues are a little miffed that he's spending so much time and effort on what is clearly a personal matter while there's a murder to be solved, and that reaction extends, to some degree, to the reader as well. It is somewhat ironic, then, that the storyline involving Lyn is the more interesting of the two presented, but the least challenging for Joe. Still, as is typical of the series, The Price of Malice is well written with interesting characters, but the concept of merging, or interweaving, what are essentially two independent novellas into one cohesive novel is one that rarely turns out well.

Special thanks to St. Martin's Minotaur for providing a copy of The Price of Malice for this review.

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

Buy from Amazon.com

If you are interested in purchasing The Price of Malice from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right.

Synopsis (from the publisher): Wayne Castine was found brutally murdered and the murderer remains at large. Castine, a suspected child predator, was killed in Brattleboro where he was involved with a tangled network of an extended family living in a local trailer park. Any member of the clan would have had the opportunity to kill him, and, as he was involved with both the mother and her 12 year old daughter, reason to commit the murder. At the same time, Joe Gunther has learned that his girlfriend Lyn Silva’s fisherman father and brother, believed lost at sea off the coast of Maine, might have actually been murdered.

Without enough solid information to warrant law enforce ment involvement, Lyn returns to Maine to try and investigate Gunther’s findings. Gunther periodically puts his on-going murder investigation on hold -- irritating his colleagues and angering his bosses -- to go and help Lyn in Maine. It appears increasingly possible that her father and brother weren’t the good guys that Lyn always believed them to be and that they might have been involved with vicious smugglers who murdered them -- and might do the same to Lyn if she keeps pushing.

Torn between his conscience and his heart, a murder investigation and a personal search for the truth, Gunther finds that betrayal and loyalty are often a matter of viewpoint.

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Games of Mystery: Alabama Smith in the Quest of Fate, New from Big Fish Games

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, and murder mystery weekends 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.

Alabama Smith in the Quest of Fate
Alabama Smith in the Quest of Fate

Ever since Alabama Smith barely escaped with his life after going back in time to witness the destruction of Pompeii, he's been living a scholarly life. Now it's time for him to toss aside his books and head to Peru for an all-new time-twisting adventure involving powerful relics that could alter the destiny of mankind in Alabama Smith in the Quest of Fate!

Join Alabama and his girlfriend, Anastasia, as they hunt for the elusive Crystals of Fortune using the Amulet of Time. Jump back and forth between the past and the present to solve mind-bending puzzles, search for cleverly hidden objects and stop a shadowy nemesis from finding the Crystals first!

See also the first game in this series, Alabama Smith and the Escape from Pompeii.

Also available: Alabama Smith in the Quest of Fate Game Walkthrough.

Alabama Smith in the Quest of Fate may be downloaded and purchased for $6.99 with a Big Fish Game Club membership. A demonstration version (131.11 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, Enlightenus, Cate West: The Vanishing Files, Return to Mysterious Island 2: Mina's Fate, 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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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Mystery Bookshelf: Once Were Cops by Ken Bruen

The Mystery Bookshelf: Discover a Library of New Mysteries

The Mystery Bookshelf, where you can discover a library of new mysteries, is pleased to feature a new mystery series title we recently received from the publisher.

— ◊ —

Once Were Cops by Ken Bruen
Non-series
St. Martin's Minotaur (Trade Paperback)
Publication Date: November 2009
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-54017-3

Once Were Cops by Ken Bruen
More Information About Once Were Cops by Ken Bruen

About Once Were Cops (from the publisher): Michael O'Shea is a member of Ireland's police force, known as The Guards. He's also a sociopath who walks a knife edge between sanity and all-out mayhem. When an exchange program is initiated and twenty Guards come to America and twenty cops from the States go to Ireland, Shay, as he's known, has his lifelong dream come true--he becomes a member of the NYPD. But Shay's dream is about to become New York's nightmare.

Paired with an unstable cop nicknamed Kebar for his liberal use of a short, lethal metal stick called a K-bar, the two unlikely partners become a devastatingly effective force in the war against crime.

But Kebar harbors a dangerous secret: he's sold out to the mob to help his sister. Her rape and beating leaves her in a coma and pushes an already unstable Kebar over the edge just as Shea’s dark secrets threaten boil over and into the streets of New York.

— ◊ —

About Ken Bruen: An English teacher in Africa, Japan, Southeast Asia, and South America, he has won the Macavity Award, the Shamus Award, the Barry Award, and the Lovey Award for books in his Jack Taylor series. He lives in Galway, Ireland. Visit his website at KenBruen.com.

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Strand Magazine to Publish New Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot Murder Mystery

Carina Press

In the What's New? section on the Strand Magazine website, a "surprise" for the 10th anniversary issue is casually mentioned. Specifically, it states (as of the date of this post) "We have something else up our sleeve for our holiday issue that will surprise and intrigue our readers ... stay tuned."

Well, in an article by Reuters today, that "surprise" was revealed: The Strand Magazine said it will publish a lost Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot murder mystery, a 5,000-word story called the "Incident of the Dog's Ball", which was found in the attic of the author's daughter in 2004, in the next issue of the magazine.

"It's a typical Agatha Christie whodunnit," Andrew Gulli, the editor of the Strand, said in a telephone interview, adding that it contains lots of surprises. Gulli also noted the story would be the first new appearance since 1975 by Hercule Poirot in fiction in the United States.

The Strand Magazine, which considers itself to be the reincarnation of the journal that started in the late 19th century in England and published the first Sherlock Holmes short stories, publishes quarterly in the US. For more information, visit the magazine website.

Mystery Book Review: One Deadly Sister by Rod Hoisington

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of One Deadly Sister by Rod Hoisington. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

One Deadly Sister by Rod Hoisington

by
A Raymond and Sandy Reid Mystery

EnteraBooks (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-615-29852-4 (0615298524)
ISBN-13: 978-0-615-29852-8 (9780615298528)
Publication Date: September 2009
List Price: $16.99

Review: Rod Hoisington introduces Raymond and Sandy Reid, estranged brother and sister who now need each other when Ray is arrested for murder, in One Deadly Sister.

Sandy hasn't forgiven her brother for neglecting her as a teenager after the death of their parents. Working for a criminal law firm in Philadelphia until she can earn enough money to go to law school, she hasn't spoken to Ray even though he lives in the same city. But then Ray calls her, in part to apologize but mostly because he needs her help: he's in jail, in Florida, arrested for murder.

Following his divorce, Ray moved to Florida to work as a securities broker. While attending a party for the local gubernatorial candidate, Ray is seduced by an elderly femme fatale. He subsequently gets involved with other prominent women, all of whom support the political candidate. When the candidate is murdered, Ray was placed in his apartment by one of the women. Arrested and jailed without bail, Ray has no one else to turn to but his sister Sandy. At first she ignores his plea, but finally agrees to go to Florida for a few days to see what she can do -- if anything. She has no authority to question anyone, or see any of the official police documents, so she takes on the role of private investigator for Ray's defense attorney. She quickly zeroes in on the women Ray was involved with, not sure what their motive might have been, but certain that though her brother may be guilty of poor judgment, he is innocent of murder.

One Deadly Sister is a light murder mystery, full of comedic elements. It's hard to believe, for example, that anyone could characterize a 75-year-old woman in a thong bikini as a femme fatale; just the mental image brings on a chuckle. The contrast between Ray and Sandy, brother and sister, is nicely characterized; they see the same situation differently, bicker and disagree, but are unified in proving Ray innocent and freed from prison (even though Sandy, who was once left in a detention center because Ray didn't show up to release her, might want to see him left there for a while). The mystery plot is well developed, there are an ample number of colorfully drawn suspects, and the secondary characters are delightful. No doubt the first in a series, One Deadly Sister is a terrific opening chapter for this pair of amateur sleuths.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of One Deadly Sister and to Rod Hoisington 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 One Deadly Sister from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right. One Deadly Sister (Kindle edition) is also available. Learn more about the Kindle, Amazon's Wireless Reading Device.

Synopsis (from the publisher): Ray Reid doesn't come looking for trouble, he simply wants to get past his Philadelphia divorce and start a new life, but woman-trouble comes looking for him.

Unfortunately, he arrives in the small Florida oceanside town just as someone decides to murder the local gubernatorial candidate. Reid doesn’t have a clue about women and gets seduced and framed—by a 70-year-old in a thong. He’s the perfect target for the local prosecutor who figures he has the ideal trial that’ll propel him to the US Senate.

Ray hasn’t bothered with his estranged sister up north for years but now, as a stranger in a hostile town, she’s his only hope. She holds an old grudge and resents having her life interrupted. After first telling him to go to hell, she reluctantly decides to at least check out her brother’s predicament.

This small step leads to an ever-increasing entanglement of deceit, double-cross, and danger, as she can’t leave well-enough alone and goes after the real killer

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Games of Mystery: The Cherry Blossom Murders in a Season of Mystery, New from Big Fish Games

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, and murder mystery weekends 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.

Season of Mystery: The Cherry Blossom Murders
Season of Mystery: The Cherry Blossom Murders

Irene and Richard Pemberton have moved across the globe to Japan and are living comfortably in a new and exciting world. One night, Richard is found dead in his office, under mysterious circumstances. The local detectives believe he has taken his own life, but Irene knows that this couldn’t have been a suicide. Help Irene find the true murderer in this intriguing hidden object game.

Also available: Season of Mystery: The Cherry Blossom Murders Strategy Guide and Season of Mystery: The Cherry Blossom Murders Game Walkthrough.

Season of Mystery: The Cherry Blossom Murders, a Big Fish Games exclusive, may be downloaded and purchased for $6.99 with a Big Fish Game Club membership. A demonstration version (132.71 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, Enlightenus, Cate West: The Vanishing Files, Return to Mysterious Island 2: Mina's Fate, 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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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Lineup, edited by Otto Penzler, Publishes Today

The Lineup, edited by Otto Penzler

The Lineup: The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives, edited by Otto Penzler, publishes today.

A great recurring character in a series you love becomes an old friend. You learn about their strange quirks and their haunted pasts and root for them every time they face danger. But where do some of the most fascinating sleuths in the mystery and thriller world really come from?

What was the real-life location that inspired Michael Connelly to make Harry Bosch a Vietnam vet tunnel rat? Why is Jack Reacher a drifter? How did a brief encounter in Botswana inspire Alexander McCall Smith to create Precious Ramotswe? In The Lineup, some of the top mystery writers in the world tell about the genesis of their most beloved characters -- or, in some cases, let their creations do the talking.

Listen to an interview with Otto Penzler, who talks about The Lineup, below:

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Harlequin Announces New Digital Publisher Carina Press

Carina Press

In a press release yesterday, Harlequin announced Carina Press, a digital-only publishing house whose ebooks will be sold direct to consumers.

Though most of the ebooks are expected to be romance novels, Carina Press is currently accepting submissions in all genres of commercial fiction. Carina Press will also acquire books that have been previously released in print form, but for which the author has either retained digital rights or had digital rights revert to them.

According to the website, in the "Mystery" category, Carina Press is open to the full range of mysteries, from soft to hard including cozies, procedurals, historical mysteries, and contemporary PIs, especially those in the 60,000 to 80,000 word range. For the "Thriller" category, they're looking for edge-of-the-seat suspense, all types including psychological, legal, medical, and political thrillers.

Advances will not be paid. Authors will receive royalty-based payments only. For more information about submitting manuscripts to Carina Press, visit their FAQ page.

Carina Press plans to launch in summer 2010 and will release new titles on a weekly basis.

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Stumptown, a New Graphic Crime Series, Sells Out in Less than a Week

Stumptown by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth

Less than a week after its publication date, the first issue in a new graphic crime series by Greg Rucka, Stumptown, is reportedly sold out at the distributor level. The only copies that may be available will be in your local comic book store. (It's also unavailable from the publisher, Oni Press.)

The series, set in Portland (Oregon), features Dex, proprietor of Stumptown Investigations, and a fairly talented P.I. In the first issue, Dex is less adept at throwing dice, however, than solving cases. Her recent streak has left her beyond broke—she's into the Confederated Tribes of the Wind Coast for 18 large. But maybe Dex's luck is about to change. Sue-Lynne, head of the Wind Coast's casino operation, will clear Dex' debt if she can locate Sue-Lynne's missing granddaughter. But is this job Dex's way out of the hole or a shove down one much much deeper?

In the second issue, on sale November 25th, Dex is hot on the trail of the missing Charlotte Suppa, but the closer she gets, the more people shoot at her. Why is Charlotte on the run and what did she do to garner the attention of the Marenco crime family?

The series website, Stumptown Investigations, is still under development as of the date of this post.

Greg Rucka, author of the Atticus Kodiak mystery series, also wrote the Whiteout graphic series on which the movie of the same name was recently released.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Games of Mystery Review: Midnight Mysteries, The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, and mystery getaway vacations, is publishing a new review of Midnight Mysteries. For readers of Mystery Books News, we are printing it here first in advance of its publication on our website.

Midnight Mysteries

Mystery Game Review: Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy.

Midnight Mysteries is a hidden object game based on the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Edgar Allan Poe.

There is a long introduction to the game, and periodically throughout your gameplay will be interrupted with cutscreens that provide a continuation of narrative. It wasn't clear to me where this was leading, though it strongly implied that a solution to the mystery was to be gained by the end of the game. Both the introduction and the cutscreens have options to skip them.

Gameplay is straightforward, with the story divided into 6 chapters. (Note: I was only able to get through most of the second chapter before an apparent software bug prevented me from continuing. This review, therefore, only goes through these first 2 chapters.) The cursor is a skeletal hand that is used for picking objects; it changes to blue when an object needs a tool from your tool chest, or green when a closer look is required.

Midnight Mysteries

The screens are beautifully rendered and have "movement", branches swaying and the like. The scenes are atmospheric, something you'd expect to visualize in a Poe story. There are many more objects on the screen than you need to find; the list of objects changes every time you play the game, something that adds interest for replays. Some objects, however, are tools and will be automatically placed in your toolbox. The majority of the objects are placed within the context of the scene; some are randomly (and illogically) placed, and these detract only a bit from the experience. There are quite a few objects that are "hidden in plain sight", so well integrated into the scene that they're easy to overlook. Some objects are partially obscured by other items in the scene.

Midnight Mysteries

Clicking randomly causes your ability to obtain a hint to disappear for a short time, but it's really not necessary to do so. I found I was using hints rather frequently. That's partly because they're easy to use, and virtually unlimited. Finding a raven in a scene gives you a hint, but really, you don't need to find the ravens at all. After you use a hint (in the form of a raven), another raven automatically appears several seconds later, restoring your hint. The lantern in the scene is lit when a hint is available, but you don't necessary have to use it to locate an object. Simply selecting the object name will give an outline, oriented properly thought not to scale, of the object to be found. Some of the object names aren't really name, but clues to the object. For example, "wise bird" is an owl, "bottle stopper" is a cork, and "attracts metal" is a magnet. It's a nice touch, and an interesting variation.

Midnight Mysteries

But all is not perfect here. I initially got stuck at the beginning of Chapter 2 on the gravestone scene and was never able to find the secret map. Maybe there's some proper order in which the operations much be done, but I got to a point where I could do nothing. Finally, an option showed up that completed the "puzzle" for me, but I'm not sure what that puzzle was. In the next scene I had a scroll briefly in my toolchest, but it soon disappeared. I still don't know what I was supposed to do with it, or how it should have been used. The next scenes of the chapter proceeded smoothly, and I found myself in Poe's study hunting hidden objects. One, a banana ("monkey food"), was plainly in view but couldn't be selected (even though the "selected" sound played every time I clicked on it). Using a hint to try to select it also didn't work. I couldn't go forward, or backward, and there was no option to complete the task for me. Even restarting the game didn't help. I suppose I could have created a new profile and replayed the game (and I still may do that at some point; I'm curious how it plays out, as it were), but I confess I was too discouraged at this point to do so now.

Midnight Mysteries has a beautiful look to it, the background music is appropriately mysterious and the ambient sounds are relevant to the scenes. I greatly enjoyed the experience as long as it lasted, and though I'm willing to concede I was at fault at some point during the gameplay that may have affected later play, there should have been some option to either allow me to proceed or to restart without having to create a new profile. If anyone has a suggestion on how I might have done this differently, leave a comment below and I'll try it.

Reviewed on November 09, 2009 by Ms. Terri, game reviewer for Mystery Books News.

Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy may be downloaded and purchased for $6.99 with a Big Fish Game Club membership. A demonstration version (142.17 MB) may be downloaded and played for free for one hour. Also available: Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy Game Walkthrough.

Watch a preview video below:

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Mystery Book Review: The Silent Spirit by Margaret Coel

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of The Silent Spirit by Margaret Coel. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The Silent Spirit by Margaret Coel

by
A Wind River Mystery

Berkley Prime Crime (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-425-22976-9 (0425229769)
ISBN-13: 978-0-425-22976-7 (9780425229767)
Publication Date: September 2009
List Price: $24.95

Review: Margaret Coel weaves a real event, the making of the 1923 silent film The Covered Wagon, into a murder mystery spanning nearly 100 years, in The Silent Spirit, the 15th book in this series set on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.

Kiki Wallowingbull is a troubled young man, spending nearly half of his 25 years incarcerated -- juvenile detention, tribal jail, and most recently, state prison for dealing drugs. To atone for the trouble he's caused his family, he sets out for Hollywood to solve a family mystery: the disappearance of his great-grandfather, Charlie Wallowingbull, who left on a promotional tour for a film featuring "real" Indians but never returned, his whereabouts unknown and largely forgotten. But soon after Father John learns of Kiki's return to the reservation, he sets out to find him, only to discover his body in an area known where drug deals go down. The case seems closed when someone confesses to attorney Vicki Holden of killing him. But when Father John reads an old letter written by Tim McCoy, the star of The Covered Wagon, to express his concern over Charlie's disappearance, he realizes "the truth was here [on the reservation] all the time." And that Kiki's death may not be drug-related after all, but the result of something that happened in Hollywood so many years ago.

The Silent Spirit is a strongly compelling, seductive even, mystery, one that draws the reader in, knowing there's more to the disappearance of Charlie Wallowingbull and the murder of his great-grandson than meets the eye but, like the snow-covered landscape that is the setting for the story, not sure where to look to find it. The plot is clever, the misdirection subtle. The author includes several chapters set in 1922 and 1923 during the filming of, and later the promotion of, The Covered Wagon, which provide historical context to the story as well as giving clues as to circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Charlie. But it's Father John's tenacity and belief in Kiki that prevails, culminating in a denouement that will likely come as a surprise to most readers.

Special thanks to Penguin Group for providing a copy of The Silent Spirit for this review.

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

Buy from Amazon.com

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

Synopsis (from the publisher): In 1923, Arapahos from the Wind River Reservation were recruited to appear as extras in the silent film The Covered Wagon. But Charlie Wallowingbull never returned home, leaving people to believe he abandoned his wife and unborn son.

Kiki Wallowingbull, Charlie's great-grandson, went to Hollywood determined to uncover the truth behind his great-grandfather's disappearance. But Kiki has been murdered -- his frozen body discovered by Father John, and his supposed killer confessing to Vicky that it was self-defense. Together, they must find the connection between two deaths separated by nearly a century.

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Remake Planned for The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, based on the novel by Max Ehrlich

The Reincarnation of Peter Proud by Max Ehrlich

The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that an updated version of the controversial movie The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, based on the novel of the same name by Max Ehrlich, is being planned for Columbia Pictures.

The creative team behind the thriller Se7en, Andrew Kevin Walker and David Fincher, will (respectively) write and direct.

About The Reincarnation of Peter Proud: Peter Proud, a professor at a small California college, begins having recurring dreams that disturb him. Under hypnosis, he discovers he is the reincarnation of a young man from the 1940s who was murdered. Determined to find out who killed him in a past life, Peter begins to relive an existence that is fraught with danger.

The 1974 book is long out of print, and the 1975 film, adapted by Ehrlich from his novel and starring Michael Sarrazin, Jennifer O'Neill, and Margot Kidder, was never released on DVD.

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Mysteries on TV: JAG and Nash Bridges, 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 two series that have season DVDs being released this week.

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(Judge Advocate General) is an elite legal branch of military officers trained as lawyers who investigate, prosecute, and defend those accused of military crimes, including murder, treason, and terrorism. The JAG team is on the case -- aboard aircraft carriers, submarines, and on military bases -- investigating and litigating incidents involving Navy and Marine personnel.

Navy Cmdr. Harmon "Harm" Rabb (David James Elliott), an ace pilot turned lawyer, and Marine Lt. Col. Sarah "Mac" MacKenzie (Catherine Bell), a strictly by-the-book officer, are partners with similar high standards who often find themselves clashing as they take different routes to solve cases.

The JAG: Season Nine DVD set of 5 discs contain the 23 episodes of the penultimate season that aired on CBS from September 2003 through May 2004.

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is back with a season of special investigations, car chases, shootouts, and, of course, ex-wife drama.

Starring Don Johnson as San Francisco's most charismatic and dedicated detective -- and Cheech Marin as his loyal yet screwball partner, Joe Dominguez -- this explosive season finds Nash and the SIU crew taking on some of San Francisco's toughest criminals, from corrupt cops and dangerous drug lords, to desperate robbers and sexual predators. Armed with his gun, his electric yellow 1971 Plymouth Barracuda, and his killer instincts, Nash is one officer of the law who refuses to let the bad guys win.

The Nash Bridges: Season Three DVD set of 5 discs contain the 23 episodes of the third season that aired on CBS from September 1997 through May 1998.

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

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