Sunday, November 15, 2009

Games of Mystery: The Mystery of the Crystal Portal, 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.

The Mystery of the Crystal Portal
The Mystery of the Crystal Portal

Embark on a brain-bending adventure that's full of unique hidden object fun! Journalist Nicole Rankwist has always been close to her archaeologist father. When her father goes missing, Nicole knows she has to find him. After all, he had apparently just made a discovery that could "change the course of humanity."Join Nicole as she searches the globe on a quest to find her father and discover the truth behind the Crystal Portal.

Featuring innovative hidden object gameplay, an intriguing storyline, stunning full-screen graphics and more, The Mystery of the Crystal Portal is a thrilling escape.

Also available: The Mystey of the Crystal Portal Game Walkthrough.

The Mystery of the Crystal Portal may be downloaded and purchased for $6.99 with a Big Fish Game Club membership. A demonstration version (80.47 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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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Games of Mystery: Hostile Makeover and Elementals, New at Amazon.com

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, murder mystery weekends and mystery getaway vacations, and more mysterious fun, is pleased to announce new mystery and suspense games available for immediate download from Amazon Video Games.

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Hostile Makeover
Download and Buy Hostile Makeover

Hostile Makeover

Supermodel Amanda Manville has been murdered! It's up to the smart and sassy Lacey Smithsonian to investigate a colorful cast of nine quirky characters before the killer strikes again. Thankfully, she's armed with her razor wit and perfect matching pumps.

Based upon the devilishly funny Crime of Fashion mystery novel by Ellen Byerrum, help solve this smart and spunky fashion murder mystery!

Windows Vista / XP (135 MB download).

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Elementals: The Magic Key
Download and Buy Elementals: The Magic Key

Elementals: The Magic Key

Plunge into a captivating world of magic and mystery inhabited by elementals. Embark on a thrilling adventure to help Albert, a young magician, restore the Key of Eiron and save his sister kidnapped by Sibelius, a wicked sorcerer. Your aide, Felly, will assist and faithfully follow you, no matter what obstacles you face. Solve brain-teasing puzzles, hunt for cleverly hidden items and try your hand at challenging board battles in this amazing game full of surprises!

Windows Vista / XP (94 MB download).

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A complete list of downloadable mystery games is available on our Games of Mystery: Amazon.com Game Download page.

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Reviews of Mystery and Suspense Books for Kids, New This Week on Book Trends

Book Trends: Reviews of Young Adult and Children Books

Book Trends, a review site for young adult and children books, published several new book reviews this past week. We're presenting here a summary of those in the mystery / suspense category.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner. 1st book in the Maze Runner trilogy. Recommended for readers aged 12 and older. Reviewed by a 8th grade student who wrote, "The book took turns I wasn't expecting and kept me in plenty of suspense!"

For more reviews of children and young adult books, visit Book Trends; their reviews will amaze you!

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Harlequin Intrigue Titles for December 2009

eHarlequin.com has released the December 2009 titles in their Intrigue, breathtaking romantic suspense series. Get these edge-of-your-seat reads today with characters who conquer everything from kidnappings to murder mysteries, only to find themselves irresistibly drawn to one another! For more information or to purchase any of the books below, click on the book title or book cover. (Previous months titles can be found on the backlist page.)

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Scene of the Crime: Bridgewater, Texas by Carla Cassidy

Scene of the Crime: Bridgewater, Texas by Carla Cassidy

When Sheriff Matt Buchanan discovers FBI profiler Jenna Taylor snooping around his crime scene, he isn't pleased. The last thing he needs is the FBI meddling. But Jenna is determined to find her best friend's murderer, and she won't be bullied out of town. Then the madman strikes again. His calling card? A red rose.

Realizing they're dealing with a serial killer, Matt accepts Jenna's help. But when Jenna becomes the madman's target, the danger—and their unrelenting attraction—is imminent. Will Jenna find safety in Matt's arms—or will the next rose she receives be her last?

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Secluded with the Cowboy by Cassie Miles

Secluded with the Cowboy by Cassie Miles

Colorado rancher Dylan Carlisle had eagerly awaited the safe return of his kidnapped wife. But now that Nicole was finally back home, it seemed the tension that existed before her abduction was still between them. Except now she was being more secretive than ever. Before long, Dylan discovered someone still tracked Nicole's every move, preventing her from moving past her recent trauma and sharing his joys of the holiday season. As Nicole began to let down her guard and trust her husband's protective embrace, Dylan finally felt hopeful about their previously unsettled future. Until she dropped the ultimate bombshell on him and he realized just how much he had to lose.

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First Night by Debra Webb

First Night by Debra Webb

As far as Christmas packages went, Brandon Thomas was one tall drink of water. And at the moment he was in over his too-handsome head. He'd showed up at the Colby offices covered in blood and desperate for help unraveling a mystery of murder. Luckily for Brandon, Merri Walters was a determined investigator not about to let an innocent bystander get railroaded—especially so close to Christmas.

With careful coaxing, Merri learned that Brandon unknowingly possessed information high-level people wanted to keep secret. Now, the only challenge was keeping Brandon at arm's length in order to make sure they both stayed alive to see the New Year.

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Police Protector by Dani Sinclair

Police Protector by Dani Sinclair

Finding three children locked in a saferoom wasn't how Lucan O'Shay planned to spend the holidays. Taking the children and their feisty aunt into his home … well, if that's what it took to serve and protect, that's what he would do. Never mind that the aunt, Kyra Wolfstead, was making him crazy. But someone was trying to kill her and take the children. Not on Lucan's watch.

It would take all of Lucan's expertise and self-control to give Kyra and the kids a safe Christmas under his own personal house arrest. But what scared this tough Irish cop the most was his growing hope that this sentence was for life …

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Beauty and the Badge by Julie Miller

Beauty and the Badge by Julie Miller

When girl next door Beth Rogers pounded on Detective Kevin Grove's door in the middle of the night, she awakened not only the cop, but also the die-hard protector. His spunky neighbor had uncovered scandalous secrets about a murder and someone was threatening to silence her … permanently.

After one heartbreak too many, Kevin was ready to call it quits. With his brawn and tough-guy looks, no woman had been able to see the caring soul that lurked beneath. But with one look into Beth's frightened eyes, the true-blue hero couldn't turn her away. Now, with every step leading them closer to danger, the safest place was in each other's arms.

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His Secret Christmas Baby by Rita Herron

His Secret Christmas Baby by Rita Herron

Investigator Derrick McKinney's quiet bachelor life was shattered when the son he just learned existed was abducted right out from under the watchful eye of his beautiful guardian. And although she was left unconscious and heartbroken, someone feared Brianna Honeycutt saw more than she claimed, placing her life in danger. Working together, Derrick now had to push aside the long-buried attraction he'd always felt for Brianna. More determined than ever to end this nightmare and put a smile back on Brianna's face, Derrick vowed he'd stop at nothing to bring his baby home in time for Christmas …

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If you enjoy the romantic suspense books in this series, you can get 2 free Harlequin Intrigue books plus 2 free gifts just for giving the automatic program a try. Accepting your two free Intrigue books and mystery gifts places you under no obligation to buy anything. You may keep the books and gifts and return the shipping statement marked cancel. If you do not cancel, about two months later, and then every other month, eHarlequin will send you four additional Intrigue books.

Keep up to date by subscribing to eHarlequin.com's free newsletter that contains the latest information about their series of books as well as informing you about subscriber-only special offers and new products. Click on the banner below to subscribe for free:

Sign up for email newsletters from eHarlequin.com

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Games of Mystery: Alabama Smith, Three Cards to Midnight, and Valerie Porter, New from PlayFirst Games

Games of Mystery

, your source for mystery-themed electronic and board games, parties for kids and adults, murder mystery weekends and mystery getaway vacations, and more mysterious fun, is pleased to announce a list of new mystery and suspense games available for immediate download from PlayFirst Games.

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Alabama Smith in the Quest of Fate
Download and Buy Alabama Smith in the Quest of Fate

Alabama Smith in the Quest of Fate

Alabama Smith is back in an all-new time-twisting adventure involving powerful relics that could alter the destiny of mankind! Join him as he hunts for the elusive Crystals of Fortune using the Amulet of Time.

Windows Vista / XP (129.9 MB download).

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Three Cards to Midnight
Download and Buy Three Cards to Midnight

Three Cards to Midnight

Unlock your hidden memories! Something is causing you to block out events that has happened in the past few days. Use the Tarot cards to take a chilling journey into the past and recover them in this hidden object adventure!

Windows Vista / XP (218.4 MB download).

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Valerie Porter and the Scarlet Scandal
Download and Buy Valerie Porter and the Scarlet Scandal

Valerie Porter and the Scarlet Scandal

Murder, scandal and your first big break! You're a young, aspiring reporter in the 1920's looking for a scoop. When you stumble upon a scandalous celebrity murder and the framing of an innocent man, it is up to you to search for hidden clues, locate missing objects and uncover enough evidence to solve the murder. Can you crack the story and finally be recognized as a top investigative reporter?

Windows Vista / XP (81.1 MB download).

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All games are available to purchase for $9.95 with the PlayFirst PlayPass program. Trial versions for most games may be downloaded and played for one hour for free.

A complete list of downloadable mystery games is available on our Games of Mystery: PlayFirst Game Download page.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Mystery Book Review: The Test by Patricia Gussin

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

The Test by Patricia Gussin

by
Non-series

Oceanview Publishing (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-933515-19-8 (1933515198)
ISBN-13: 978-1-933515-19-9 (9781933515199)
Publication Date: October 2009
List Price: $25.95

Review: Captivating in its own way, but not a suspense novel or thriller by any conventional definition, Patricia Gussin's The Test will likely be the cause of many lamps burning the midnight oil.

Paul Parnell lived a full life. Head of a major pharmaceutical company, whose life-saving technology won him a Nobel Prize, he amassed a vast fortune during his 75 years. Married twice, with both his wives predeceasing him, he had five children with them ... and a sixth out of wedlock. With only months to live, and convinced that he had spent too little time with his children for them to develop a "code of values", one that includes God, family, community, and profession, he has his lawyers draw up his will such that they will have one year to pass a "test", one administered by the executor of his estate, in order to inherit any of his money. If they fail, their portion will be donated to the Parnell Foundation. The reactions of the siblings -- Frank, a U.S. Senator representing Pennsylvania; Dan, palm tree farmer estranged from the family; Rory, a mother with eight children; Monica Monroe, an entertainment superstar; Ashley, a medical student; and Carla, a design school dropout -- vary dramatically depending on their current circumstances and future plans, and dictate how they go about passing the "test", if indeed they plan on taking it at all.

Though largely a family saga, a literary soap opera if you will, there are some sinister elements in the plot of The Test that add an edge to the story. Not unexpectedly, given some $2 billion is on the table and it isn't clear how one should go about passing an ill-defined test. As Frank says at one point, are Number 2 pencils required, or does proof of good deeds need be submitted? The possibility of one acquiring a serious quantity of money doesn't necessarily bring out the best in people.

The story spans an entire year, and setting it during 2001 -- the year of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington DC -- adds an interesting twist to the actions of the characters. But what really keeps the reader's attention, and the pages turning late into the night, is the crisp writing, deft handling of the relationships between the family members (and there are a lot; it will help to bookmark the family tree page thoughtfully provided at the beginning), and evolution of the characters from self-centered individuals with single-minded goals to ones that, yes, embrace a family "code of values". The ending of The Test might be a little too pat, but the path there is one worth taking.

Special thanks to Oceanview Publishing for providing a copy of The Test for this review.

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

Buy from Amazon.com

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

Synopsis (from the publisher): Renowned philanthropist and billionaire Paul Parnell had reached the pinnacle of monetary success, but not without cost. Had he put too much emphasis on work and spent too little time with his family?

Determined to leave something far more valuable than money to his six children, Paul instructs his lawyers to create an unusual last will and testament. This unorthodox will, which stipulates that the lion's share of Paul's two billion dollar estate be given to the heirs who pass "the test", was Paul's last hope of creating an enduring legacy by inspiring his children to give back to society and embrace a code of moral values.

The six children -- Rory, Frank, Dan, Monica, Carla and Ashley -- have only one year to make a difference. But what a difference one year will make. Before these six very different siblings can complete the test, they'll be forced to face their personal demons and the incredibly evil influence that could claim one of their own.

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Press Release: 2010, Year of the Children's Mystery Book

2010: Year of the Children's Mystery Book

(CHARLOTTE, NC) - At the American Association of School Librarians, to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina in early November, Carole Marsh, Founder and CEO of Gallopade International, will announce 2010 as the Year of the Children's Mystery Book. Marsh was a longtime North Carolina resident and is the most popular children's book author in the state, with almost a dozen NC-based mysteries. She founded Gallopade in Rocky Mount in 1979 and the company is now one of the top producers of children's mystery books in the world.

"The children's mystery book has a long and distinguished history in literature for young people," says Marsh, originator and spokesperson for 2010: Year of the Children's Mystery Book. "Today, mystery books for readers ages 7-14 serve a more important purpose than ever," says Marsh. "Often, even for reluctant readers, the short, chapter, mystery-based book is the key that turns the lock of turning children on to reading!"

Marsh should know. As long ago as the mid-1970s, while living in Bath, the author was encouraged to write a mystery so compelling that it would lure children back to reading from television. "Uh, that was black and white TV," the author reminds. The then unpublished author responded by spending a year researching the pirate history of the colonial port town of Bath, former home and haunt of the infamous Blackbeard, so-called "Fiercest Pirate of Them All!" "I had grown up reading Nancy Drew and even Hardy Boys," Marsh explains. "But they seemed tame and old-fashioned compared to television. So I created a new mystery series using real children as characters and real places as settings. Something about that real life combo captured the imagination of young readers and I found that I had created a monster: an instantly successful children's mystery series!"

The Mystery of Blackbeard the Pirate, Marsh's first "Real Kids/Real Places" mystery, was widely hailed by readers, booksellers, school and public librarians, parents, and critics as a great new wrinkle in children's mysteries. The author actually had to create a small press, recruit family and other employees, and instantly gain numerous new skills to keep up with the demand for books which at that time focused exclusively on Tarheel locations such as the Biltmore House, Kill Devil Hills, the Graveyard of the Atlantic, and others.

Soon, locales across the nation begged to be included in the series and Marsh expanded her growing list of books to include locations across America, ranging from New York City to the Grand Canyon to the Space Center in Houston and on Alaska's Iditarod Trail. Simultaneously, she created an opportunity for children to "apply" to become characters in future books. After her own children (now adults active in the publishing company) outgrew real character roles, she used the children of family and friends as well as eager applicants for the roles from around the U.S. Today, her grandchildren, Christina and Grant, are the key characters, with other real children filling slots in mysteries as diverse as new ones for 2010 such as The Mystery at Fort Sumter and The Mystery at Yellowstone National Park.

"The goal of the 2010: Year of the Children's Mystery Book is to revive further interest in this amazing genre," says Michele Yother, president of Gallopade International, today a global publisher of educational fiction and non-fiction for the children's market. "The competition for kids' time is tough: video games, computer time, and yes, as always, television. From our 30 years in this specific industry, our experience with Carole Marsh Mysteries has emphasized how crucial the role of a well-written, entertaining, and even educational mystery can be in both transforming good readers into avid readers, but also reluctant readers into reading more and at much improved capabilities."

While 2010: Year of the Children's Mystery Book will launch at the AASL biennial conference, the coming year will include many special events, including those tied to National Reading Week and other such literary times. Marsh will complete a major new history on the children's mystery book, which will be released early in the year. Contests, tie-ins, and other creative opportunities will be announced in a calendar to be sent out closer to year-end.

"We continue to gather sponsors and other alliances," says Sherry Moss, head of Gallopade's New Product Development department. "For 30 years, we have had the strong support of teachers, parents, librarians, homeschoolers, booksellers, Accelerated Reader, school supply and teacher stores, and so many others in the wide and varied community who help match young readers with good books they really will read, and that is, now more than ever ... a children's mystery book!"

For more information visit ChildrensMysteryBooks.org.

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The Prisoner Debuts This Sunday on AMC

The Prisoner

This weekend, AMC debuts a reinterpretation of the British 1960s cult hit series The Prisoner. The miniseries starts on Sunday, November 15, at 8 PM and airs its 6 episodes, each based on an episode from the original series, over three consecutive nights (2 per night).

The Premise: A man, known as Six (played by Jim Caviezel), finds himself inexplicably trapped in The Village with no memory of how he arrived. As he explores his environment, he discovers that his fellow inhabitants are identified by number instead of name, have no memory of any prior existence, and are under constant surveillance. Not knowing whom to trust, Six is driven by the need to discover the truth behind The Village, the reason for his being there, and most importantly -- how he can escape. Ian McKellen co-stars as Two.

Watch a trailer for The Prisoner below; previews of each night's episode, as well as an online graphic novel, can be found on the The Prisoner website:

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Collision Airs This Sunday on PBS Masterpiece Contemporary

Collision (PBS Masterpiece Contemporary)

This Sunday, PBS Masterpiece Contemporary airs the first part in the two part drama Collision. Written by Anthony Horowitz (Foyle's War), Collision stars Douglas Henshall as Detective Inspector John Tolin and Kate Ashfield as Senior Investigating Officer Ann Stallwood, who are assigned to investigate a six car collision on England's busy A12 highway, which leaves two dead.

Cries of racism come from the family of one of the victims, but a methodical investigation only scratches the surface of the ten strangers involved, and the surprising and touching ways they are transformed after the accident. As the investigation continues, allegations of corporate crime, infidelity, shameful secrets and murder slowly rise from the wreckage.

A video preview and detailed synopsis of each episode is available on the PBS: Collision website.

The Collision DVD will be released on December 15th.

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ABC Reportedly Close to Ordering Pilot for Updated Charlie's Angels

Charlie's Angels (TV Series)

Variety is reporting that ABC is close to ordering a pilot for an updated version of its classic series Charlie's Angels. Leonard Goldberg, who launched the series with Aaron Spelling, is expected to produce together with Drew Barrymore, who starred in and produced the theatrical films based on the series.

The crime drama ran on the network for 5 seasons, from 1976 through 1981, and originally starred Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith, and Farrah Fawcett as private investigators working for The Townsend Agency. Charlie Townsend (voice of John Forsythe) was never seen on screen. There were frequent cast changes, though Smith stayed with the series through its entire run.

Two popular theatrical films based on the series were made (one in 2000, the other in 2003), both starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu as the angels.

Several attempts to revive the series for television have failed. A version called Angels 88 was proposed to Fox in 1988, but never got off the ground. Another version was pitched to ABC in 2004 but didn't go to pilot. The new Charlie’s Angels is expected to be geared toward a new generation while paying homage to the past.

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Games of Mystery: Murder, She Wrote, 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.

Murder, She Wrote
Murder, She Wrote

Based on the beloved TV show, join Jessica Fletcher to solve 5 murder mysteries in sleepy (but lethal) Cabot Cove, Maine. The police of the town are always willing to arrest the most likely suspect, but as fans of the series know, the culprit is never who you think it is. Explore crime scenes and use Jessica’s curiosity and wits to discover the identity of the true culprit. Each case is enriched with twists and turns that create a fun and surprising gameplay experience.

Also available: Murder, She Wrote Strategy Guide and Murder, She Wrote Game Walkthrough.

Murder, She Wrote, a Big Fish Game Club Exclusive, may be downloaded and purchased for $6.99 with a Big Fish Game Club membership. A demonstration version (107.46 MB) may be downloaded and played for free for one hour; the full unlimited version is 331.16 MB.

Watch a preview video below:

gcads_80x80

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

mbfgads_468x60

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

Return to ...

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