Saturday, August 19, 2017

Vintage Alfred Hitchcock Movie Posters

Here at Mystery Playground, we're celebrating Alfred Hitchcock all month long, and today we've got all of these lovely vintage posters from some of our favorite movies. Don't you just love the one above of Cary Grant trying to out run a crop duster or The Birds, below?                    

This one is Dial M for Murder in French. 

And in English...

And who doesn't want to head to the French Riviera, To Catch a Thief? 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Path Into Darkness and the Irish Shillelagh

If you love the Irish, and even if you don't, you'll love Lisa Alber's new book, Path Into Darkness. Lisa is here today making Ireland-inspired cocktails today on Drinks with Reads.  

Third novel, third signature cocktail!

Unlike the previous two cocktails, which I also wrote about on this blog—thanks Deborah! —here and here, this time around I didn’t invent a new cocktail. I decided to go on a search for an Ireland-inspired cocktail.

I found one called the Irish Shillelagh (pronounced shuh-lay-lee). The word “shillelagh” means “cudgel.” I’m not sure what a cudgel has to do with drinking, except that drink enough of these and you’ll feel like you’ve been beaten about the head!

I thought the name was fairly apt considering that my third novel, PATH INTO DARKNESS, features an unusual murder implement made out of a hard wood, similar to cudgels. I won’t say anything more about my murdering tool, though. Hopefully, you’ll read the novel!

Here’s a little something about the novel:

A Haunting Tale of Family Secrets, Madness, and Healing
Lisfenora is known across the British Isles for its yearly matchmaking festival. But a local man’s murder and the grim discovery in his home have cast a somber mood over the town. Detective Sergeant Danny Ahern tries to make sense of the chaotic scene while struggling to set aside moral conflicts and grief for his comatose wife. Within days, he’s plunged into even darker terrain when the investigation leads him on a collision course with the Tate family: troubled Nathan, who conceals secrets within ghastly secrets, and beautiful Zoe, the daughter Nathan abandoned years ago.
In this “dark, compelling mystery” (Booklist), one man is propelled toward a tragic downfall while the other struggles to walk the narrow path between life and death.
And now for the drink!

Irish Shillelagh

Serves 1

4-6 crushed ice cubes
2 measures Irish whiskey
1 measure lemon juice
½ measure sloe gin
½ measure white run
½ tsp. simple syrup
½ peach, peeled, pitted, and finely chopped
2 raspberries, to decorate
  1. 1. Put the crushed ice cubes into a blender and add the whiskey, lemon juice, sloe gin, rum, simple syrup, and chopped peach. Blend until smooth.
  2. 2. Pour into a small, chilled highball glass and decorate with raspberries.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Alfred Hitchcock Notecard: Rear Window

Lorraine Masonheimer has created a series of Hitchcock-themed blank notecards to celebrate the master of suspense and the books that inspired him. The five piece set includes Rear Window, The Birds, To Catch a Thief, Dial M for Murder and Psycho. Today’s card is Rear Window.

8 1/2” x 11” cream cardstock
Scrap cardstock
Dark solid color paper
1 color coordinated rhinestone or pearl
Book page
6 ½” x 6 ½”
Glue dots
X-acto blade

Step One: Card Base
Cut an 8 ½” x 11” cardstock to 5 ½” x 11”. Score at 5 ½” and fold in half. Cut the dark solid paper to 5” x 5” and glue to the front of the card leaving an equal border.

Step Two: Create Templates
Using scrap cardstock, draw a 1 ¾” x 4 ½” Hitchcock. Draw a 1 ¼” x 2” window with camera rectangle and a ½” circle. If desired, place your cursor over this image, right click, scroll to "Save Image As" and place it onto your computer desktop. Open a word document, create a textbox, insert the image to size, print and cut. Keep the Hitchcock outline to make the complete set of notecards.

Step Three: Trace & Cut
Take a page or copy of a page from a book (1942 It Had to Be Murder by Cornell Woolrich would be even better selecting just the right words) and trace the outline of Hitchcock and the window with camera as shown. Using the x-acto blade, cut the two images from the text taking care to accentuate Hitchcock’s double chin. If desired, cut the images with the type at an angle.

Step Four: Assemble & Embellish
Glue Hitchcock to the lower right side and the window to the upper left side. Glue the circle to the right of the camera and place a rhinestone or pearl in the center to represent the camera’s light bulb. Either leave the inside blank for writing a note or add “from your window to mine, how’s it going?”

Step Five: Envelope
Glue a 5 ½” x 2” scrap of the dark colored paper to the inside flap of the envelope. Take a 5 ½” x 2” piece of left over book page, tear along the top and glue to the dark paper for a custom envelope.

Postage is extra.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Crime & Beyond Book Club Reads The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

The Denver-based book club Crime & Beyond has a new author to report on; let’s see what they have to say.

Crime & Beyond book club took a break from the Testosterone filled books where one lone man takes down all the bad guys with his bare hands. This month we read Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10, a psychological whodunit of sorts by a new-to-us author. Critics hail Ware as a modern day Agatha Christie with a Girl on a Train feel. We felt that the latter was a fair comparison but the Christie influence aspect led to a great discussion.

The story revolves around a woman named Lo, a travel writer who gets assigned to cover the maiden voyage of a new luxury cruise liner called the Aurora. Lo boards the ship in somewhat of a state, since her apartment has just been burgled and she’s pretty rattled by it. Her anxiety, and her heavy drinking, are both in full swing when she believes she witnesses a woman in the next cabin being thrown overboard. She reports it to the ship’s security but is told that the cabin is empty and that there are no passengers or crew members unaccounted for. Lo—and the reader—spend the remainder of the book trying to figure out what really happened, what she really saw, and whether or not she’s losing her mind.

We had a lot of great reviews and held quite an in-depth discussion. A lot of people were torn because Lo was such a mess of a character, but her mental condition really did set the stage for the rest of the book. It was a great closed universe whodunit with a list of suspects to choose from. I personally loved the cruise ship setting and knowing that no one could get on or off the boat at the time of the suspected crime.

The person who led the discussion even contacted the author with some plot questions and was rewarded with very fast and very detailed answers to her questions. It was wonderful to see an author so engaged with her readers!

The Woman in Cabin 10 has been optioned by CBS for a movie, so now is the time to read the book; we know it’s always better than the movie.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Quiet Child by John Burley

Kerry Hammond takes us back to 1954 with a review of John Burley’s latest novel.

Yesterday we reviewed Rear Window, Alfred Hitchock’s 1954 classic film. What a coincidence that John Burley’s latest book The Quiet Child, which was released on August 8 by William Morrow, also takes place in 1954. This is Burley’s third book, all of them standalone novels of suspense. I read and enjoyed The Forgotten Place, and it made me eager to try the author’s latest novel.

The story takes place in the small town of Cottonwood, California and follows one family through a series of tragedies that culminates in the kidnapping of their two young sons. Cottonwood is a town full of despair. It has seen more than its fair share of illness, heartache, and death. The residents don’t think this is a coincidence, though. They blame a 6-year-old boy, Danny McCray, who hasn’t spoken a single word in his short life. A quiet child whose peculiarity breeds suspicion and blame.  

Danny’s own family isn’t immune to whatever plagues the town, and his mother is slowly dwindling away from a fatal disease. Keeping the family together falls on his father, until one day on his watch both Danny and his ten-year-old brother Sean are kidnapped. What follows is a search for the boys, with only their father and local law enforcement who really want their safe return.

The book was eerie and I had a hard time putting it down. I wouldn’t call it a mystery, but there were definitely elements of suspense and a twist or two. It really makes the reader think about the choices we make and brings up the question of what we might do in a similar situation. I think it also solidifies the concept that no matter what decision you make at any given time, there are consequences. Whether you can move on and accept those consequences is another matter. It's the kind of book that stays with you past the turn of the final page.