Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Mystery Wednesday

Happy Wednesday! It's been a crazy few weeks, but I think I am finally caught up. 

Two of my favorite shows -- Timeless & the Royals have been back on the air for two weeks now, and the mysteries in both shows are getting deeper and deeper. 

On Timeless (a TV show about time travel, and a generations-old conspiracy to control the world), Lucy's mother and the Rittenhouse seem to be changing the future at strategic points, but our heroes Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus can't quite seem to glean why. This week's trip back to the 1950s for NASCAR racing made for a fun and different episode. If you haven't gotten caught up, you might want to set aside some time. Timeless is on NBC.

On The Royals (a TV show about an alternative British royalfamily who doesn't mind committing the odd murder or two while they are sleeping around), Robert is turning out to be more of a villain than Cyrus could even imagine. I love the crazy characters on this show, the fabulous wardrobe and the mixed up plots. It's great fun. 

Moving onto the book world, Kerry Hammond (Mystery Playground's chief reviewer) and I will be at the Malice Domestic fan convention this year, where Kerry will sign her story the Malice 2018 anthology, Murder Most Geographical, at a special party on Friday night. I'll probably keep mentioning that for the next few months. We're excited. 

I'm also looking forward to seeing Ellen Byron, Catriona McPherson, Anne Cleeves, Amanda Flower and Cathy Ace at the conference. The conference runs from April 27-April 29th in Bethesda, MD. Tickets are still available. They have a great guest of honor line up this year:

Hope to see you there, but if you can't make it, tune in here and we'll share photos from all the happenings. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Carol J. Perry and It Takes A Coven

Author Carol J. Perry joins us today to brew a wicked good drink for her new novel.

The newest book in Carol J. Perry’s Witch City Mystery series from Kensington Publishing is It Takes a Coven. Seems that there’s a new Witch-hunt going on in Salem, Massachusetts. With witches dropping dead before they even come out of the proverbial broom closet, and with thousands of crows  descending on Salem, Lee Barrett’s best friend River thinks she may have unleashed a terrible curse on the Wiccan population of the city. With the aid of a talkative crow named Poe, and her clairvoyant cat, O’Ryan, Lee sets out to investigate. She learns that casting light on the wicked truth can be one killer commitment.

    The Black Crow is a well-known, simple to make old standby in rum-loving New England. Nothing fancy, but it does seem appropriate for a story involving thousands of the big black birds. Appropriately enough, the collective noun for such a gathering is “a murder of crows.”

Here’s the recipe:

Black Crow
1 part 151 Rum
4 parts Root Beer. (Lee uses Barq’s.)

Mix together with crushed ice in a glass. Garnish with mint leaves if you like.

Here's the book trailer for It Takes A Coven...


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Affliction by Beth Gutcheon

Kerry Hammond has discovered a great new author and can’t wait to tell us about it.

I am so excited to have discovered not only a new author, but a new series. The Affliction by Beth Gutcheon was published in Hardcover on March 13 by William Morrow. It’s the second book in a series that features Maggie Detweiler and her friend Hope. Maggie is a former headmistress of a private New York City school who has been tasked to evaluate the financial stability of Rye Manor School for girls. She meets the faculty and students at the school and one teacher, Florence Meagher, stands out for her peculiar affliction—she talks incessantly. When Florence’s body is found floating in the school’s pool, Maggie’s work takes on a new focus. She helps with damage control and helps investigate to find out who killed Florence and why.

Hope Babbin is Maggie’s socialite friend who is always available to drop everything to join Maggie for a little investigating. Hope’s social skills, and her ability to disarm people she wants to get information from, are invaluable to Maggie as she continues to investigate not only the teachers, but the students at Rye Manor. Maggie and Hope make quite a crime solving duo and soon get to the bottom of the mystery.

At first I wasn’t sure about this book; the title and the cover made me think it was a novel of suspense and I expected it to delve into some sort of psychological disorder. But when I read the book jacket I realized that Florence’s affliction was her inability to stop talking; I found this funny. I was also intrigued to see where the author would go with the private girls’ school setting. I wasn’t disappointed, Gutcheon has created two very appealing characters in Maggie and Hope and the setting was all I had hoped for. The plot kept me guessing and I enjoyed unraveling the puzzle. I’m looking forward to reading the first book in the series, Death at Breakfast.

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Innocents and the Dirty Shirley Temple

David and Mary Putnam join us on Drinks with Reads today to talk about David's latest novel, The Innocents. The book is getting great reviews -- "Reminiscent of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch" and also compared to "...the best of Joseph Wambaugh" by New York Times best-selling author Robert Dugoni, who also writes, "David Putnam provides an insider's knowledge of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. His characters and settings are rich and authentic, and his dialogue is spot on accurate. A great novel for lovers of the mystery genre that blurs the line between good and evil and will keep you guessing until the final pages."

This first of several "The Early Years" prequels (to his Bruno Johnson thrillers: The Disposables, The Replacements, The Squandered, and The Vanquished) is chronologically the earliest in Bruno's life so a great place to jump in if you're new to the series.

In the first chapter, Bruno meets the baby girl he didn't know he had. So for this drink pairing, a "Shirley Temple" (alcohol optional) seemed like a logical fit.

Ginger ale 
Splash of grenadine
Maraschino cherries
Optional: (to make it a "Dirty Shirley") Vodka
NOT optional (half the fun, in Mary's option): Lots of parasols and perhaps pinwheels!!

Add ice to your favorite glass, perhaps a "shot" mug, directions to make your own, here:

Add ginger ale and splash of grenadine (I'd forgotten how super-sweet this stuff is! A tiny bit for color is plenty)

Of course, if you're making these drinks NOT for The Innocents, you can add some vodka to make what some call a "Dirty Shirley."

When adding all your parasols and pinwheels, you can skewer your cherries so they don't sink to the bottom, for easier snacking.

Bottoms up!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Instinct on CBS: from author James Patterson

There’s a new drama on CBS starting this spring and it’s based on a James Patterson novel; Kerry Hammond is here to tell us about it.

I am a big fan of Alan Cumming and I enjoyed every episode of the Good Wife he appeared in. I started to see previews for an upcoming CBS drama starring Cumming and I was very intrigued. When I heard it was from bestselling author James Patterson, I knew I had to check it out.

The show is called Instinct and is scheduled to air on March 18. Cumming plays an author and professor teaching abnormal behavior, Dr. Dylan Reinhart. He is also an ex-CIA agent. The NYPD pulls him into a case involving a serial killer because the killer sent Reinhart's book as a clue. Even though Reinhart really clashes with detective Lizzie Needham, who is heading up the case, they eventually realize that they have a way of working together that gets the job done.

Here’s a preview of the show.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Anthem For Doomed Youth & Lavender Lemonade

Kerry Hammond is here today to pair a historical mystery with the perfect drink.

Anthem For Doomed Youth is the 19th book in the Daisy Dalrymple series by author Carola Dunn. Dunn has just finished the 23rd book, which is due out this year, and I've always enjoyed this historical series. Daisy was born into a certain social position but has never been interested in an idle life. She works as a freelance writer and is married to a Scotland Yard Detective whose superiors are constantly bewildered at her involvement in her husband’s cases.

In this adventure, it’s 1926 and Daisy’s husband, DCI Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard, is away investigating three bodies found buried in the woods. In his absence, Daisy heads to their daughter Belinda’s school for a visit. Just when you think Daisy is staying away from all police investigations, a dead body is found on campus and she is put in the middle of solving her own murder. While Daisy tries to figure out who at the school might want the victim dead, Alex is racing against time to stop more deaths from happening.

Lavender Lemonade is a great drink to go with this book, Daisy and the friends she visited the school with were always quite parched as they chased the girls around and spent time sleuthing.

Lavender Lemonade
4 oz. Lemonade (best if made from fresh squeezed lemons mixed with simple syrup)
1 oz. Lee Spirits Lavender Gin
A dash of Strongwater small batch spirits and botanicals

Pour all ingredients over ice in a glass and gentle stir.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Crime & Beyond Book Club Reads I See You by Clare Macintosh

Kerry Hammond is here with her most recent report from the Denver-based Crime & Beyond book club. This month they read a new-to-them author.

This month the book club met to discuss a new-to-us author; we read I See You by Clare Macintosh. In the book, Zoe Walker is traveling home on the London Tube when she spots the photo of a woman in a classified ad and swears it’s a picture of her. The photo is advertising a dating site called and Zoe has never joined a dating site. As the days go by, Zoe sees other women in similar ads and continues to feel uneasy. When she notices that these women have been the victims of violent crimes, she contacts the police. What follows is Zoe’s realization that she might be the next victim, that she is being watched, and that she has no idea who she can trust.

We had mixed opinions of the book; some really enjoyed it and others felt that it had crossed over into what we’ve noticed is a new category of books: the whiney female victim category. Don’t get me wrong, if I were being stalked and saw my face in a personal ad I hadn’t placed, I might be a tad whiney myself. As much as we felt for Zoe’s circumstances, we at times had a hard time connecting with her.

What we all agreed on was that the premise was excellent. I won’t give any spoilers, but the meaning behind the website and the ads is chillingly realistic. Macintosh is an ex-police officer and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that most of the club members really liked the character of Kelly, one of the police officers investigating Zoe’s case. We had a very interesting discussion of the book and many are planning to read the author’s first novel, I Let You Go.