Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Firsts on the 1st: New Series Characters Being Introduced in September 2010 Mysteries

New Hardcover Mysteries from the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books recently updated its list of September 2010 hardcover mysteries as well shelved new September paperbacks on The Mystery Bookshelf.

In this series of monthly posts, which we call Firsts on the 1st, we're introducing readers to new series characters who will make their mysterious debut during September.

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Disappeared by Gary Alexander
More information about the book

Title: Disappeared
Author: Gary Alexander
Series Character: Buster Hightower
Format: Hardcover

What we know about the character: Buster Hightower is a stand-up comic.

His first case: Former minor league basketball player Ted Snowe lives next door to Buster and his love, Carla Chance, owner of the aptly-named Last Chance Insurance Agency. Unbeknownst to Buster and Carla, Ted is a hit man who isn't. He immobilizes his subjects and gives them the choice of doing it the conventional way or accepting a new identity he's prepared. Naturally, all accept the second option -- for a price.

Ted, who's bluffing, double-dips and everybody's happy.

That is, until his "disappeareds" begin reappearing.

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In the Belly of Jonah by Sandra Brannan
More information about the book

Title: In the Belly of Jonah
Author: Sandra Brannan
Series Character: Liv Bergen
Format: Trade Paperback

What we know about the character: Liv Berger manages a limestone quarry in Colorado.

Her first case: Liv becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of Jill Brannigan, a summer intern at the limestone mine she manages near Fort Collins, Colorado. In doing so, she inadvertently puts her friends, her family, and herself at risk of being swallowed in the belly of a madman bloated with perverse appetites for women, surrealistic art, and renown.

Perhaps a bit too daring (and at times irreverent) for her own good, ''Boots,'' as Liv's eight siblings call her, soon realizes she has a knack for outsmarting and tracking down the Venus de Milo murderer--and she enjoys it!

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A Nose for Justice by Rita Mae Brown
More information about the book

Title: A Nose for Justice
Author: Rita Mae Brown
Series Character: Mags Rogers
Format: Hardcover

What we know about the character: Magdalena "Mags" Rogers works on a ranch in Nevada.

Her first case: With the ruins of her high-powered Wall Street job now far in the rearview mirror of her rented silver Camaro, thirty-two-year-old Mags arrives at her great-aunt Jeep’s sprawling Wings Ranch to reassemble her life. In the passenger seat, with his suspicious nose to a cracked window, is Mags’s beloved wirehaired dachshund, the urbane Baxter.

Mags was named for her great-aunt, Magdalena—though everyone calls the spry octogenarian rancher Jeep. From piloting planes in World War II to discovering one of America’s largest gold deposits, Jeep has enjoyed a lifetime jam-packed with love and adventure, and she’s not done yet. At her side—to Baxter’s low-down distress—is Jeep’s loyal German Shepherd mix, King. The growlings are mutual: King sniffs that Baxter is a “fuzzy sausage.”

Meanwhile, someone pipe-bombs Red Rock Valley’s pumping station, endangering the water supply near and far. Deputy Pete Meadows links the sabotage to a string of local murders, but he doesn’t yet know if it’s a corporate plot or twisted eco-terrorism. He’s also called out to Wings Ranch when human bones are dug up in Jeep’s barn; the dead man’s ring identifies him as an elite Russian military officer from the late 1800s, apparently knifed to death. In her search to find out whodunit, Mags uncovers fascinating history about Jeep’s ranch, including an intriguing connection to Buffalo Bill.

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Skating Around the Law by Joelle Charbonneau
More information about the book

Title: Skating Around the Law
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Series Character: Rebecca Robbins
Format: Hardcover

What we know about the character: Rebecca Robbins is an amateur sleuth in a small Illinois town.

Her first case: Rebecca is a woman on a mission---to sell the roller rink she inherited from her mother and get back to Chicago. Fast. However, when she discovers the dead body of the town’s handyman headfirst in a rink toilet, potential buyers are scared off. Now Rebecca is stuck in a small town where her former neighbors think she doesn’t belong, living with her scarily frisky grandfather, Pop, and relying on a police department that’s better at gardening than solving crimes.

Eager to move forward with her life, Rebecca begins investigating the murder herself, reluctantly accepting help from Pop and his extensive social network, which includes a handsome veterinarian and a former circus camel named Elwood. Nevertheless, someone isn’t happy she’s looking into the case, and their threats will have her questioning whether playing sleuth was such a good idea after all.

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Act of Evil by Ron Chudley
More information about the book

Title: Act of Evil
Author: Ron Chudley
Series Character: Hal Bannatyne
Format: Hardcover

What we know about the character: Hal Bannatyne is a successful actor.

His first case: Bannatyne is in town to shoot a big-budget film. Spotting an old flame, Mattie, he immediately becomes involved with her family. When Mattie s father-in-law tries to protect his land from the hands of a fervent land developer, Bannatyne soon finds he is mixed up in the conflict. Thus the intrigue begins, with a crooked land-development scheme, where someone is willing to stop at nothing to get what is wanted. Things take a turn for the worse with an attempted murder. Soon, the lives of all are in danger.

Bannatyne unravels seemingly innocuous events that all become intertwined and more than anyone bargained for. A death isn t what it seems, no one is who they say they are, and life does not seem real at times.

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A Nose for Hanky Panky by Sharon Love Cook
More information about the book

Title: A Nose for Hanky Panky
Author: Sharon Love Cook
Series Character: Rose McNichols
Format: Trade Paperback

What we know about the character: Rose McNichols is a newspaper reporter in Granite Cove, New Hampshire.

Her first case: Murder has changed the sleepy fishing village of Granite Cove -- and it's no ordinary killing. Beautiful, brainy Vivian Klinger, Ph.D., was the woman who had everything but a sense of humor. Now she's dead, and Rose is determined to discover the who, what, when, where and why of her demise. Was the killer a prominent Granite Cove attorney or his social-climbing wife? Or a former golden boy who climbed from the wharves on a football scholarship, only to wind up a burned-out drunk? Or was it another suspect unknown, bent upon destroying the small town Rose knows and loves?

Not even gorgeous cop and former high school sweetheart Cal Devine can offer much help, preoccupied as he is with domestic problems. Rose goes it alone in her search for the truth about Dr. Vivian Klinger's true identity ... and who killed her because of it.

— ◊ —

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich
More information about the book

Title: Wicked Appetite
Author: Janet Evanovich
Series Character: Diesel
Format: Hardcover

What we know about the character: Diesel (just Diesel) solves problems among a group of people who possess supernatural powers. He originally appeared in the "between-the-numbers" books of the Stephanie Plum series.

His first case: Life in Marblehead has had a pleasant predictability, until Diesel arrives. Rumor has it that a collection of priceless ancient relics representing the Seven Deadly Sins have made their way to Boston’s North Shore. Partnered with pastry chef Lizzie Tucker, Diesel bullies and charms his way through historic Salem to track them down—and his criminal mastermind cousin Gerewulf Grimorie. The black-haired, black-hearted Wulf is on the hunt for the relic representing gluttony. Caught in a race against time, Diesel and Lizzie soon find out that more isn’t always better, as they battle Wulf and the first of the deadly sins.

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Murder in Vein by Sue Ann Jaffarian
More information about the book

Title: Murder in Vein
Author: Sue Ann Jaffarian
Series Character: Madison Rose
Format: Trade Paperback

What we know about the character: Madison Rose is a waitress in Los Angeles.

Her first case: Vampires. Real live—er, dead (undead?)—bloodsucking vampires, living in the City of Angels. Madison would never have believed it—until a vampire thwarts a vicious attack against her by appearing in the nick of time and finishing off her assailant in one tasty bite.

Madison has been saved by the vampires—or has she? She learns that women have been going missing; their lifeless bodies turning up drained of blood. Now the murderer is after her. As the violence escalates, Madison, LAPD Detective Notchey, and a cadre of alluring and dangerous vampires search for the true killer—while Madison keeps a wary eye on the skittish and thirsty vampires. Will she survive to see the light of day?

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Liar, Liar by K. J. Larsen
More information about the book

Title: Liar, Liar
Author: K. J. Larsen
Series Character: Cat DeLuca
Format: Hardcover

What we know about the character: Cat DeLuca is the owner of the Pants on Fire Detective Agency in Chicago.

Her first case: Cat has a reputation for catching cheaters. It’s a skill Cat mastered when married to her run-around ex, Johnnie Ricco. Armed with a camera, Cat scales balconies, dangles from hotel windows, and splashes the bare facts on 8X10 glossies. They tend to sweeten her clients’ divorce settlements.

Life takes a strange turn when a reporter for the Chicago Tribune (Rita Polansky) masquerades as a client with a liar-liar husband. Rita retains Cat to follow Chance Savino, a steamy guy with a pocketful of smuggled diamonds. The detective is hot on his heels when an exploding building hurls her out of her sling-backs and into the hospital. The FBI claims Savino was killed in the fireworks but Cat isn’t buying it. She escapes the hospital determined to find out.

When her client fails to show for a scheduled meeting, Cat finds her at home with a knife in her chest. She learns the reporter was researching a ball-buster story involving a gangster, gun smuggling, and a pocketful of diamonds. Cat discovers two clues in Rita’s apartment; Starburst candy wrappers and Chance Savino rummaging through her drawers.

Meanwhile, no one believes Chance is alive, everyone thinks Cat’s crazy, and Cat makes a murderer’s “must kill” list. A botched attempt puts ex husband, Johnnie Ricco on the short list of suspects. Can Cat solve this case before it is too late?

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Immortal Quest by Alexandra MacKenzie
More information about the book

Title: Immortal Quest
Author: Alexandra MacKenzie
Series Character: Nick Wilson
Format: Trade Paperback

What we know about the character: Nick Wilson is a detective in London who works with a mage.

His first case: 500-year-old Mage Marlen will do anything possible to get mortal Detective Nicholas Watson to remember their past lives together.

Confronted by an arrested thief who claims to be his best friend of many lifetimes, the young detective sargeant struggles to come to grips with Marlen’s story. Nick’s skepticism begins to wane, however, when the mage tells him details — intimate secrets about himself no one could know!

Before Marlen can reveal more though, he needs Nick’s help!

In a bid to secure a spell to help the detective remember the truth, Marlen accidentally releases Vere, one of the world’s most powerful immortals, from her multi-century imprisonment.

Cast into a quest across Wales and Scotland, Nick and Marlen must rapidly retrieve three Objects of Power before Vere can find them and use the hidden objects in her most potent spell — one that could destroy the world!

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Needle in a Haystack by Ernesto Mallo
More information about the book

Title: Needle in a Haystack
Author: Ernesto Mallo
Series Character: Superintendent Lascano
Format: Trade Paperback

What we know about the character: Superintendent Lascano is a police detective in Buenos Aires during the 1970s.

His first case: Working under the shadow of military rule, Lascano is sent to investigate a double murder. He arrives at the crime scene to find three bodies. Two are clearly the work of the Junta's death squads, murders he is forced to ignore; the other one seems different.

The trail leads Lascano through a decadent Argentina, a country poisoned to its core by the tyranny of the regime. The third corpse turns out to be that of Biterman, moneylender and Auschwitz survivor. When Lascano digs too deep, he must confront Giribaldi, an army major, quick to help old friends but ruthless in dealing with dissenters such as Eva, the young militant with whom Lascano is falling in love.

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A Deadly Row by Casey Mayes
More information about the book

Title: A Deadly Row
Author: Casey Mayes
Series Character: Savannah Shore
Format: Mass Market Paperback

What we know about the character: Savannah Shore is a puzzle-maker married to a retired police chief.

Her first case: Math whiz Savannah makes a living creating puzzles in rural North Carolina. But when the mayor starts receiving death threats, Savannah needs to solve this puzzle -- before the next box to be filled is the mayor's coffin.

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Buzz Off by Hannah Reed
More information about the book

Title: Buzz Off
Author: Hannah Reed
Series Character: Story Fischer
Format: Mass Market Paperback

What we know about the character: Story Fischer is a beekeeper in Wisconsin.

Her first case: It's September -- National Honey Month -- in Moraine, Wisconsin, and things are looking up for Story. Her messy divorce is final; the honey from her beekeeping business has been harvested; and the Wild Clover, the market she owns, is thriving. Life seems pretty sweet until her mentor in the honey business is found stung to death in his apiary.

Story is still trying to explain to the panicked locals that Manny was killed by wasps, not honeybees, when another body is found floating in the Oconomowoc River. This time the evidence points to Story's ex. Sure, Clay's a womanizer and a buzz kill -- but a murderer?

With the townsfolk stirred up against her honeybees, and a handsome cop -- who also happens to be Story's former high school sweetheart -- putting Clay in cuffs, it's up to Story to get them both out of a very sticky situation.

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A Clause for Murder by Jill Shure
More information about the book

Title: A Clause for Murder
Author: Jill Shure
Series Character: Betsy Ross
Format: Trade Paperback

What we know about the character: Betsy Ross sells insurance in southern California.

Her first case: Courtney Farrow is a woman other women despise. She will steal your lover or husband, leave you crying, and wash her hands in your tears. Her special victim is Betsy Ross. Ever since Courtney bought life insurance from Betsy and insinuated herself into Betsy's circle of friends, Courtney has used all her charms to seduce every guy in Betsy's life. So when Courtney turns up deader than a cooked Brussels sprout in a neighbor's garage, after an ugly confrontation with Betsy at a party, more than a few fingers point to Betsy as the murderess. In order to save herself from being the prime suspect, Betsy must discover who killed Courtney Farrow, a woman too many men loved and too many women despised a woman who made men and women pay for her favors.

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Dead Politician Society by Robin Spano
More information about the book

Title: Dead Politician Society
Author: Robin Spano
Series Character: Clare Vengel
Format: Hardcover

What we know about the character: Clare Vengel is an undercover cop.

Her first case: When the mayor keels over dead in the middle of a speech, a clandestine student society immediately takes credit for his demise. Their mission is to create a perfect political system by any means at their disposal. Clare, a rookie officer fresh from the police academy and beyond bored with her routine as a beat cop, volunteers to go undercover as a student to infiltrate the secretive organization. A streetwise amateur mechanic, Clare takes a dim view of book smarts—she is of the opinion that higher education is for people who can't handle the real world. In short order, she alienates a popular professor and begins to lose the respect of her police superiors. Soon, another politician is killed, and Clare steps up her clandestine involvement with the suspect students. When two more politicians die, the race begins to apprehend the culprits before her own duplicity can be revealed.

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For a list of more mysteries scheduled for publication during September, please visit our New Mysteries home page. If you're interested in new paperbacks, visit The Mystery Bookshelf, where you can discover a library of new mysteries, also updated with September 2010 releases.

Please also visit the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books where we are committed to providing readers and collectors of mystery books with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

MBN Welcomes Sandra Brannan, Author of the Liv Bergen Mystery In the Belly of Jonah

Mystery Books News: Authors on Tour

Mystery Books News is thrilled to welcome Sandra Brannan as our guest today. Sandra is the author of In the Belly of Jonah (Greenleaf Book Group Press, Trade Paperback, September 2010), the first in the Liv Bergen mystery series.

Today, Sandra talks about her book and the series character.

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Sandra Brannan
Photo provided courtesy of
Sandra Brannan

Tell us about In the Belly of Jonah and the other books in the series.

My novel, In the Belly of Jonah, is a fast-paced mystery with what I hope readers will find to be a likable protagonist and an intricately woven narrative brimming with bizarre yet believable twists. The first in a series, the book lays the groundwork for Liv Bergen, amateur sleuth, and her budding romantic interest in FBI Agent Streeter Pierce. Set in the mountain states, the Liv Bergen and Streeter Pierce adventures are oddly successful as a team and the attraction between them, titillating.

I developed the series around morphed biblical titles to highlight the dichotomic nature of Liv Bergen’s structured mind to her elusive faith, often underscoring this concept by selecting unexpected heroes to help solve crimes of unsuspected villains. For example, when a woman who was destined to be Liv’s future sister-in-law is murdered in Lot’s Return to Sodom, a family friend casts a light in deeper corners than the FBI’s singular focus on a motorcycle gang member as the suspect. In Noah’s Rainy Day, Liv’s nephew Noah witnesses a crime yet struggles to communicate what he saw because of his limitations with severe cerebral palsy.

You come from a large family, what was that like?

My parents had nine children – I was the seventh. Living in the woods, far into the outskirts of town, our house was built by my dad, uncle and grandpa. My parents had their own room. The oldest three girls shared a room. My two brothers had their own bedroom, but shared a bathroom with the four youngest girls. I shared a room with three other sisters and LOTS of dolls. Home cooked meals, a milk machine, the smell of pine trees and cigars, hand-me-downs, Tonka trucks, fights over pantyhose, long lines for the bathroom, bike rides, military marches through the quarry, and lots and lots of memories, love and laughter. Lucky me! And what great fodder for my hunger to create memorable characters.

After our own adventures, we’ve all chosen to move back to Rapid City as adults and remain best friends. Today I am married to the love of my life, a Vietnam Veteran with a Purple Heart of gold. We’re a blended family with four sons ranging in ages of twenty years. We also have three adorable grandbabies (so far).

Why have you chosen to write a mystery series set in the mining industry?

I grew up in the world of mining. Literally. My childhood home was nestled amongst three limestone quarries, a stone’s throw from each. I never understood stereotypes of our industry because most miners I know are incredibly concerned for the environment and the communities where they operate. By choosing a setting to my mysteries that I know and love so well, I hope to shed a little light on my world.

You have been a top executive in your family business working your way up from day laborer to running one of the divisions of the mining company. Can you tell use about your company and your experience?

The family company that I work for, a mining, mineral processing, ready mix and concrete block company, was founded by my grandpa, dad and uncle in 1944. My dad and uncle sent home their earnings from WWII and subsequently the Korean War to help Grandpa Pete, a WWI veteran, build the company while they served our country.

Through high school, college and graduate school, I worked for the mine in the summers. I went on to work for Boeing for a few years, then started and sold my own company selling computer software. At the age of 28 and eight-months pregnant, I took over a Colorado division of our mining company that was struggling. Ten mines and 50 workers with families depending on them to make a living, I had to perform. It was a scary, but rewarding 10 years spent turning that division around to fit our company’s culture.

Today, I am Vice President Corporate Development for the company, but have carved out some time to write my novels, which is a passion of mine.

You’re pretty tough like Liv Bergen, the protagonist in your series. What are some of the things that have happened to you over the years that could easily be part of a mystery-thriller?

I don’t know if I’m tough, but I sure have found myself in some tough situations. The first week into my new job, 28 and pregnant, taking over the Colorado division riddled with problems, I was served with a citizen lawsuit that drew national attention and was later dismissed. With Colorado being one of the most beautiful states in the nation, mining is far from being the easiest business to operate, particularly when it comes to permitting. As the manager, I received numerous threats, including letters and phone calls. Eventually as I met with neighbors and invited those individuals to our operations, I realized most of the animosity toward mining was founded on misinformation, old ideologies, or broad brushed generalizations of operators because of one player taking short cuts. Once we have a chance to welcome people into our world, clearer heads and more positive attitudes about mining prevail.

After Colorado, my success with sticktoitivity led me to spearhead two more business turnarounds in steel related divisions and eventually earned me a spot on the senior manager team as the Vice President of Corporate Development. My job is to train our management team and to replenish reserves that supply our operations for the coming generations of at least a hundred years, a gift our parents and grandparents gave to our generation.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

I’m no expert, but I can tell you three things made a HUGE difference for me:

• Be a bumblebee. Our mom used to tell us that the bumblebee was not aerodynamically designed to fly, but no one ever told the bee. No matter what people tell you or how much they try to convince you otherwise, continue to pursue your dream. If you love to write, then write! Even if you weren’t trained as a writer (which I wasn’t), write anyway.

• Sticktoitivity! If you haven’t seen Walt Disney’s So Dear To My Heart, go rent or buy it and you’ll know what I’m talking about. I’ve been writing since my youngest son was a baby, burning the midnight oils in a therapy I never knew existed. I didn’t let rejections from potential agents deter my enthusiasm or whittle away at my persistence to improve my writing.

• Write, write, write and read, read, read! Regardless of whether or not you find an agent or a publisher right away, keep writing and learn by reading the books by authors in the genre you most want to emulate in your writing.

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Much like her character Liv Bergen, Sandra Brannan has spent her career in the mining business. Her mystery thriller series has been inspired by her real-life experiences that include the 25 years she has spent building her career from day-laborer in the mining company her grandfather founded to a top executive in the family business.

Unlike the protagonist in In the Belly of Jonah, Sandra has had anything but a solitary life as a single woman. She was raised the seventh of nine children in a 4-bedroom, 2-bath home filled with lots of love in Rapid City, South Dakota. She was a tomboy schooled by nuns.

Sandra had worked summers through high school and college at her family’s mine in Rapid City, she started full-time in earnest as a laborer at their Iron Ore mine, earning her way to assist in drilling/blasting, to crusher operator, to loader operator, to project engineer, and eventually to manage the company’s mining and mineral processing division in Livermore, Colorado, north of Ft. Collins.

At the young age of twenty-eight, she embraced the opportunity to manage one of the divisions struggling to remain profitable. She took the helm of ten mines, four mills, and fifty employees. Being eight months pregnant with her first son and arriving on the job one week before being served with a citizen lawsuit that drew national attention and was later dismissed, she hit the ground running and never took time to look back as she led that division successfully through the next ten years. The time in Colorado was a battlefield, to say the least, with the sheriff having to get involved a couple of times after she received various threats from those opposed to mining. And Sandra, at one point, had to take her son out of the state after his life was threatened during a permit hearing. Her life experiences have given her a first-person perspective into the high-stakes scenarios of which she writes.

Her first marriage ended after losing their second son. A year later she adopted her son from Vietnam. And, in 2000 she married the love of her life who had two sons. Their family now consists of four boys, a 9th grader, a sophomore in college, a junior in college and the eldest works in the family business. He and his wife have three children. Sandra and her husband are thrilled to have three grandbabies. All of Sandra’s siblings have moved back to Rapid City as adults and continue their journey as best friends.

“I enjoy writing and love the escape it affords me from real life tragedies, using fiction to create a world where I can control the ending. The back story to these mysteries is my hope to create more tolerance and understanding of the need for and reliance on mining in a positive, subtle, and healthy way,” Sandra explains.

Visit her website at

— ◊ —

In the Belly of Jonah by Sandra Brannan
More information about the book

About In the Belly of Jonah: The first in a series, the book lays the groundwork for Liv Bergen, amateur sleuth, and her love interest, FBI Agent Streeter Pierce.

Liv becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of Jill Brannigan, a summer intern at the limestone mine Liv manages near Fort Collins, Colorado (a breathtaking setting that unwittingly becomes an accessory to crime). In doing so, she inadvertently puts her friends, her family, and herself at risk of being swallowed in the belly of a madman bloated with perverse appetites for women, surrealistic art, and renown.

Perhaps a bit too daring (and at times irreverent) for her own good, "Boots," as Liv's eight siblings call her, soon realizes she has a knack for outsmarting and tracking down the Venus de Milo murderer -- and she enjoys it!

Harlequin Mira Mystery and Suspense Titles for September 2010

Harlequin Mysteries has announced the September 2010 titles for their Mira imprint, the brightest stars in women's fiction. From all titles available, we've only listed those that are mystery, thriller, or suspense on this page. 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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Ghost Moon by Heather Graham
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Ghost Moon by Heather Graham
The Bone Island Trilogy (3rd in series)

Reclusive collector Cutter Merlin is seldom seen in Key West—lately, not at all. Officer Liam Beckett visits Merlin's curious house and discovers the gentleman in his study. In his death grip: a volume of occult lore and a reliquary. His eyes are wide with fright, his mouth a horrified rictus where spiders now dwell.

Kelsey Donovan returns to the old house to catalog her estranged grandfather's collection of artifacts and antiquities, vowing to see his treasures divested properly. But she cannot ignore the sense that she's being watched, the reports of malevolent black figures, the pervasive smell of death.

Is the Merlin house haunted, even cursed? Liam knows well that some ghost stories are true and he swears to protect Kelsey. But there are forces at work for whom one more life is a pittance to pay for their deepest desire …

— ◊ —

Body Heat by Brenda Novak
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Body Heat by Brenda Novak
A Department 6 Novel of Suspense (4th in series)

Twelve people have been shot at point-blank range and left to rot in the desert sun. It's Sophia St. Claire's job to do something about it. She's Bordertown, Arizona's new chief of police—and she's out of her depth.

Help arrives in the form of Department 6 hired gun Roderick Guerrero. As far as Sophia's concerned, his involvement only makes things worse. Maybe he's managed to turn his life around. And maybe he's a good investigator. But as the bastard son of a wealthy local rancher, he has a history he can't get past. A history that includes her.

Rod refuses to leave town until the killer is caught. He's not worried about the danger posed by some vigilante. It's Sophia who threatens him. Because he's used to risking his life—but his heart is another story.

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Dark Road Home by Karen Harper
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Dark Road Home by Karen Harper
The Ohio Amish Trilogy (1st in series)

After a murder case threatens her safety, attorney Brooke Benton seeks sanctuary in the quiet Amish community of Maplecreek. Although the locals disagree with her cosmopolitan ways, she soon manages to find a place in their lives. But when a tragic hit-and-run accident turns fatal, Brooke cannot abide by the community's belief in absolute forgiveness. She wants answers.

Daniel Brand left his childhood home to explore the outside world years ago. Now he has returned to his Amish roots, and worldly Brooke Benton does not fit into his plans. But when his niece dies, he slowly agrees that they must bring to justice the driver who killed her—especially when a silent presence continues to threaten the community. Together Brooke and Daniel begin a journey along a dark road, hoping to bring peace to the small community … and maybe lead their hearts home.

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Kiss Me, Kill Me by Maggie Shayne
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Kiss Me, Kill Me by Maggie Shayne
The Secrets of Shadow Falls (3rd in series)

A long-ago act of kindness to a desperate woman changed Dr. Carrie Overton's life forever. Before disappearing, the grateful stranger had given Carrie her newborn son. When the woman is murdered, the secret becomes Carrie's alone.

She has kept both it and her son, Sam, safe for sixteen years. But now a friend of Sam's has gone missing. The police believe he's a runaway—until he's found dead. Then another teen disappears, and talk turns to that long-ago murder.

Newcomer Gabriel Cain is asking too many questions, befriending Sam, getting too close. Carrie distrusts him even as she finds herself falling for him. But Gabriel has secrets, too …

Is it time for the lying to end?

— ◊ —

While Galileo Preys by Joshua Corin
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While Galileo Preys by Joshua Corin

If there were a God, he would have stopped me.

That's the message discovered atop an elementary school in downtown Atlanta. Across the street are the bodies of fourteen innocent men and women, each quickly and cleanly murdered. The sniper Galileo is on the loose. He can end a human life from hundreds of yards away. And he is just getting started.

Where others see puzzles, Esme Stuart sees patterns, and these outside-the-box inductive skills made her one of the FBI's top field operatives. But she turned her back on all that eight years ago to start a family and live a normal life. She now has a husband and a daughter and a Long Island home to call her own, far removed from the bloody streets of Atlanta.
,br>But Galileo's murders escalate and her beleaguered old boss needs the help of his former protégé. But how can she turn her back on her well-earned quiet life? How would she ever be able to justify such a choice to her husband? To her daughter?

And what will happen when Galileo turns his scope on them?

— ◊ —

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

NPR Interviews Sara Paretsky

Body Work by Sara Paretsky
More information about the book

NPR published an interview today with mystery author Sara Paretsky today, whose latest V. I. Warshawski mystery, Body Work, hit bookstores today. The first in the series, Indemnity Only, was published in 1982.

Paretsky tells NPR's Neal Conan that letting Warshawski age along the years has been a challenge: She isn't as fit as she used to be and she can't drink as much as she used to.

The author also says she doesn't like working from outlines, preferring instead to let the plot flow organically from the book's starting point.

"What I start with very often is the idea of a crime," she says. "In this case, the actual underlying crime that drives the whole book ... [is] the world of the private contractors doing business in the Middle East, in Iraq and in Afghanistan. And then I want a way to make that a small story. I want a way to make it about people and have it set in Chicago."

Listen to the entire interview on the NPR site, where an excerpt from Body Work is also provided.

Today's Featured Free Kindle Mystery: The Girl on the Beach, a Short Story by Charles Todd

Kindle Mysteries: Mystery Books Available on the Amazon Kindle

Kindle Mysteries is pleased to feature a mystery title that is currently available in Kindle eBook format for free from We believe that the publisher intends to make this book available free only through September 13, 2010, so download it today!

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The Girl on the Beach by Charles Todd
More Information About The Girl on the Beach by Charles Todd

The Girl on the Beach by Charles Todd
A Bess Crawford Short Story Mystery
HarperCollins (Kindle eBook)
Download Link

About The Girl on the Beach (from the publisher): No synopsis available. The book also includes free excerpts of the first Bess Crawford mystery, A Duty to the Dead; the second mystery in the series, An Impartial Witness, which is published next month; and A Lonely Death, the 13th mystery in the Ian Rutledge series, to be published in January 2011.

Road to Omalos by Marilyn Jax (Book Review)

Mysterious Reviews: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller and Crime Novel Reviews, edited by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

Road to Omalos by Marilyn Jax. A Caswell & Lombard Mystery. Beaver's Pond Press Hardcover, June 2010.

Private investigators Claire Caswell and Guy Lombard are hired for a most unusual case when a man threatens them with a gun -- it turns out it wasn't loaded -- to take on the case of tracking down who reduced his life to shambles in Road to Omalos, the second mystery in this series by Marilyn Jax.

Read the full text of our review at Mysterious Reviews: Road to Omalos by Marilyn Jax.

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Mysterious Reviews is your source for the latest mystery, suspense, thriller, and crime novel reviews, edited by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books.

The Quest for The 39 Clues Comes to a Close with Into the Gauntlet

Into the Gauntlet by Margaret Peterson
More information about the book

The quest comes to an end for Amy and Dan Cahill with Into the Gauntlet by Margaret Peterson Haddix, the 10th and final book in the bestselling The 39 Clues series of thrillers for kids.

Throughout their hunt, the brother and sister have uncovered history's greatest mysteries and their family's deadliest secrets. But are they ready to face the truth about the Cahills and the key to their unmatched power?

After a whirlwind race that's taken them across five continents, Amy and Dan face the most the difficult challenge yet -- a task no Cahill dared to imagine. When faced with a choice that could change the future of the world, can two kids succeed where 500 years worth of famous ancestors failed?

We've been fans of this series. Between our own Mysterious Reviews, student reviews submitted to First Clues, and featured reviews on Book Trends, we've posted links to reviews for each of the first nine books in the series on the First Clues: The 39 Clues book page. We'll have a review of this tenth and final book soon!

Rag and Bone by James R. Benn (Book Review)

Mysterious Reviews: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller and Crime Novel Reviews, edited by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

Rag and Bone by James R. Benn. A Billy Boyle WWII Mystery. Soho Press Hardcover, September 2010.

Military investigator Billy Boyle, a newly promoted 1st Lieutenant in the US Army, is sent to London to determine if the murder of a Soviet official was a random killing or a pre-meditated act of revenge in Rag and Bone, the fifth mystery in this series set during World War II by James R. Benn.

Read the full text of our review at Mysterious Reviews: Rag and Bone by James R. Benn.

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Mysterious Reviews is your source for the latest mystery, suspense, thriller, and crime novel reviews, edited by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books.

Today's Featured Free Kindle Mystery: A Short Story from And Thereby Hangs a Tale by Jeffrey Archer

Kindle Mysteries: Mystery Books Available on the Amazon Kindle

Kindle Mysteries is pleased to feature a mystery title that is currently available in Kindle eBook format for free from We don't know how long it will be offered at this special price (typically only until a certain number of downloads have been completed), so download it today!

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And Thereby Hangs a Tale by Jeffrey Archer
More Information About And Thereby Hangs a Tale by Jeffrey Archer

And Thereby Hangs a Tale by Jeffrey Archer
One Free Story from this Collection
Macmillan (Kindle eBook)
Download Link

About And Thereby Hangs a Tale (from the publisher): "Stuck On You" is an early look at his upcoming story collection, And Thereby Hangs a Tale (St. Martin's Press Hardcover, September 2010). In this story, the glamorous and wealthy Arabella meets Jeremy, an ordinary man, at Ascot. They’re an unlikely match, but when Arabella invites him into her high society world, they fall in love. But as with any trademark Jeffrey Archer story, the reader will be stunned at the conclusion.

In And Thereby Hangs a Tale, Archer sets each story in a different major city around the world. As readers are transported from city to city, they’ll encounter arranged marriages, priceless paintings, expensive cars, and humble, hard-working families, and much more. Each story revolves around a planned crime (some big, some small) and will satisfy your intellect as well as put a smile on your face as Archer put his own particular stamp on each tale.

Mystery Party Suggestions for Halloween

Games of Mystery

Halloween is only two months away but there's still plenty of time to plan a festive mystery party for the occasion!

Below are some suggestions, ranging from parties appropriate for kids to parties with adult themes. Visit our mystery party pages on Games of Mystery for more suggestions!

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Which Witch Did The Switch? is a children's party for either 8 to 10 girls or 8 to 12 boys and girls set at Miss Terry's School of Magic and is a great choice for Harry Potter fans. (See also the character list for this party. Rated E.)

Horrible Happenings in the Haunted House is a spooky mystery game for 8 to 12 children set at a present day horror fancy dress party. A perfect party for kids who go all out with their costumes! (See also the character list for this party. Rated E.)

A Devilish Masquerade is a non-murder mystery party for at least 5 teens, but can readily be expanded to include an unlimited number of characters. A brief appearance by an adult hostess is built into the game to help set the scene. (See also the character list for this party. Rated T.)

Death of a Vampire is a murder mystery game for 8 to 14 teens set in present day Transylvania, and provides the perfect setting for a Halloween party. (See also the character list for this party. Rated T.)

Murder at Spooky Castle is a haunting murder mystery party for adults set in an 11th century castle. Could the night end in tragedy for one of the guests? (See also the character list for this party. Rated M.)

Death of a Wizard takes place on October 31st when during the Academy of Magic Awards ceremony, hosted by Wizard Oscar Winner and his lovely wife, Witch Enva Lope. See who wins the coveted Merlin. (See also the character list for this party. Rated M.)

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Games of Mystery is your source for mystery-themed video, electronic, and board games, parties for kids and adults, and murder mystery weekends and mystery getaway vacations!

Drawn: Dark Flight Collector's Edition, a New Mysterious Adventure Game from BFG

Games of Mystery

Games of Mystery is pleased to announce the availability of a new mystery casual game from Big Fish Games released today and available to BFG Club members. You can find out more about these games by visiting our Mystery Games: Big Fish Download Games page or by clicking on the links provided below.

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Drawn: Dark Flight Collector's Edition
Drawn: Dark Flight Collector's Edition

Iris has escaped from the Tower but she still needs your help! Explore the Kingdom of Stonebriar and solve the mysteries of the shadows that prowl its streets in this fun adventure game. Enter magical worlds through colorful paintings and meet a host of fantastic characters that will help you on your quest. Only someone with the power of imagination can unravel the mysteries of the three beacons, and save a future queen that will bring hope back to a people!

This is a special collector's edition full of exclusive extras you won't find in the standard version. Included are bonus gameplay, concept art and wallpapers, original soundtrack, integrated Smart Guide, and more!

See also the first game in this series, Drawn: The Painted Tower.

Drawn: Dark Flight Collector's Edition may be downloaded and purchased for $13.99 with a Big Fish Game Club membership. A demonstration version (160.76 MB) may be downloaded and played for free for one hour; the full version is 476.00 MB.

Watch a preview video below:

Get any standard game for $6.99 with a Big Fish Game Club membership. Other benefits include the $2.99 Daily Deal, Tomorrow's Game Today, and special member rewards. And if you purchase any 6 games within a single month, you earn a free game with the Big Fish Game Club Monthly Punch Card! (Collector's Editions earn 3 punches each, half-way towards your free game!)

Read Ms. Terri's reviews of the adventure and casual mystery games featured on this site, including Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy, Nancy Drew Dossier: Lights, Camera, Curses!, Enlightenus, and many more!

Big Fish Games: Bestsellers

Big Fish Games: New releases

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Games of Mystery is your source for mystery-themed video, electronic, and board games, parties for kids and adults, and murder mystery weekends and mystery getaway vacations!

MBN Welcomes Louise Baker, Writing about Basic Story Plots

Our guest blogger today is Louise Baker, who writes about seven basic plots that are the foundation of most novels, including mysteries and suspense thrillers.

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Basic Story Plots, and their Sub-Genre Variations

Nearly every story that has ever been written, whether for a novel, short story, movie, or television show, follows one of seven basic story plots. While stories can certainly be made more complex by combining these with one another, playing with the reader's expectations, and creating in depth characters who feel real, it is almost inevitable that any story you read or write will be a variation of one of these seven story types.

The Quest:

A quest story hinges upon the idea of a problem that has significant repercussions on the world of the novel. The main character of the story must solve this problem by striving to reach a goal that typically requires a journey of some kind and a great deal of self-improvement. This journey will introduce the character to many obstacles that must be faced and defeated in order to achieve the goal.

The Voyage and Return:

This story type is very similar to the quest in that it revolves around a journey. The difference in this case is that the character is transported to a place that challenges him, and is then brought back to his or her home. This process leaves the character with a greater knowledge of themselves and their world.


This is a story about a character who has become trapped by some kind of internal psychological struggle. The character can only be freed of his or her imprisonment by the intervention of outside forces that allow them to change for the better.


The traditional definition of comedy has nothing to do with humor. Instead, it is a story in which a series of events causes the characters to endure increasingly disruptive problems until the extreme form of the problem is inevitably reached, and solved in and ending that ends well for the characters.


A tragedy is a story about a character who makes a series of sympathetic but ultimately detrimental decisions, leading them to an ending that is unsatisfactory for them. Tragedies typically involve characters who start out with a lot in the world, and lose it all.

Defeating the Monster:

This is a classic hero versus villain tale in which an evil force or personality that is acting against the world must be defeated by the main character.

Rags to Riches:

This is a story in which somebody who has very little is suddenly given a great deal. This great gift is then taken away from the main character for one reason or another, and the character must earn it back.

Romances often take on the form of a rags to riches, tragedy, or rebirth story. Science fiction and fantasy often involve quests or "voyage and return" stories, as do many thrillers. Thrillers, mysteries, and horror stories usually take on a defeating the monster story. Tragedies are rare in modern storytelling, so most stories can be considered comedies.

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Louise Baker ranks online degrees for Zen College Life, and most recently wrote about the best colleges online.

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