Friday, April 17, 2015

Kevin Egan's The Missing Piece and the Perfect Drink

Kevin Egan’s new legal thriller, The Missing Piece, makes it's debut this week and returns to the same New York County Courthouse depicted in Midnight, a Kirkus Best Book of 2013. Let's see which drink to pair with The Missing Piece...

In its most obvious sense, The Missing Piece refers to a fabulous hoard of ancient Roman silver with a murky provenance. The treasure’s owner, the Earl of Leinster, planned to auction it for many millions of dollars before three nations asserted rights of patrimony and hauled him into court. The ill-fated first trial ended with a courtroom invasion, the shooting of a court officer, and the theft of one treasure piece. 

Three years later, the parties re-assemble for the re-trial. The judge, Linda Conover, is secretly pregnant but determined to handle the trial before moving on to the next phase of her life. The paralyzed Gary Martin, convinced that the missing piece never left the courthouse, directs fellow officer Mike McQueen on a literal treasure hunt through the iconic building. Meanwhile, the gunmen are circling with an even more daring plan to disrupt the trial.

And now for Kevin’s drink:  
“Since The Missing Piece is set in the month of October, the temptation is to suggest a warm drink with an apple cider base. But the book comes out in the spring, with summer not far away, so readers might rather reach for lighter and more refreshing fare. In Chapter 16, Linda Conover, who should not be drinking at all, fixes herself a wine spritzer as follows:
Pinot grigio

“Being a responsible person, her ratio is approximately one ounce of wine to seven ounces of seltzer. You can use a different ratio. Or a different white wine. You can add ice. Or not. Garnish with lemon, lime, or both. But whatever you do, stay away from flavored seltzer.”

You can read all about the setting for Kevin's first book here and you can see which drink he paired with MIDNIGHT here

Don't forget that you can find Mystery Playground on Twitter @mysteryplaygrnd

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Crafty Thursdays: Blood Splatter Table Runner

Kerry Hammond is making fabulous blood splatter table runners. But you can use any fabric you like...

This table runner takes 10 minutes to make. If you have a rudimentary knowledge of sewing, you can create this project quickly and easily. You can make it out of any fabric and even make seasonal ones to display for holidays. I made mine out of blood spatter fabric, so it’s really an all season piece.

Sewing Machine

Step One: Cut your Fabric
The size of the table runner is really up to you. The blood spatter one I made in the photo is wider because I plan to use it on my kitchen island for either platters of food, or as a place to put plates and silverware for a party. For the traditional table runner, you need ½ yard of the back fabric and 1/3 yard of the front fabric (the finished brown runner in the photo is this one). 

Step Two: Sew back to Front
With good sides of each fabric facing each other, pin the long edge of one side and sew a ½ inch straight stitch. Repeat to other side and then turn right side out.

Step Three: Iron
Iron your table runner flat. Your back fabric will show as a border next to the front fabric on each side, so try and make it even before you iron it down.

Step Four: Sew Sides
Keeping your runner right side out, fold in half the long way, with the front fabric on the outside. Stitch a ½ inch straight stitch down each of the shorter sides. 

Step Five: Turn Edges
Unfold the runner and turn the edges you just sewed so that the back material shows up at the ends in the triangle shape shown.

For an optional finishing touch, I ironed under a ¼ inch at the edge of my short end before sewing step four, so that when I turned the triangle around, the seams that are underneath the edge were a little more finished.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Secrets from Beneath the Library Stacks

Tomorrow is World Librarian Day, so I asked some librarians who are friends of mine to reveal their deepest darkest library secrets. Here is what they told me:

Cari Dubiel, Librarian and co-host of the ABC Book Reviews Podcast

"The main thing I want people to know is that we have digital collections!  If you are an e-book reader, you don't have to buy all your books. Library collections have gotten much better in the past few years now that the publishers are willing to sell e-books to us. Also, the reading apps have gotten much better. Your librarian or library staff can help you learn how to download them. My library (Twinsburg) has e-books, audiobooks, music, movies, and television series all available through different services."

Amanda Flower, Librarian and Mystery and Children's Book Author

"Librarians like to be asked questions! If we didn't, we wouldn't be librarians. So don't ever be afraid to approach a librarian.
"Librarians want your book suggestions. The goal is to have materials circulate, so we want to buy things you want to read. Don't be shy sharing the names of your favorite authors. Every library loves a guaranteed circulation statistic. ;)
"Come in and stay awhile. Even if you never check anything out from a library and would just like to use it as a quiet place to work, study, and read, you are welcome. Libraries are places and are open to the public for you to use, take advantage of this wonderful service.

"Librarians love libraries... really. I have spent most of my life in a library. The wonder of all the beautiful books still amazes me as much as it did when I was a young child. Being an author is pretty awesome, but being a librarian is magic."

Pat Hernas, Librarian and Founding Member of the Mystery Playground Crafty Thursday Team
"Libraries are great spaces.  Reading nooks, self browsing, displays of local art or new materials, computers to cruise the web, and more.  But when the patrons are gone the librarians and staff often ruminate on the events of the day.  One of my favorite librarian type blogs to read is the Swiss Army Librarian.  The author is a public librarian with a lovely sense of wit and finds the interesting in all his interactions with the public.  Here is a great example sharing is Reference Question of the Week (If you're a Red Sox fan it will even be more interesting!)

Swiss Army Librarian is a blog by Brian Herzog mostly about library and technology issues relating to public libraries

"But we librarians often get a chuckle (or thrill) when our library users forget to remove their bookmarks.  Back comes the book down the book return shoot and we find: tickets, photos, leaves (leaves?!), Bible verse, paper towel (unused, phew!), shopping list, receipt, and many other things.  But what we hope to find and never do:  bills (any denomination, please), tickets for future events, and the winning lottery ticket.   
"So make your librarian's day and leave a thank you note in a book...or a dollar bill..."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Fabulous Pulp Fiction Covers

I recently acquired some great new old pulp mystery paperbacks and had to share. The one above is missing the title page, so I'm not even sure when it was published. Here's the illustration on the back:

The Ngaio Marsh is falling apart, but the I still love the cover.

The copy of The Long Memory below was published in 1951. It's in better condition, but it would fall apart if you tried to read it. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Disney Event at the Silverado Winery

D23 is the official Disney Fan Club and they have events all over the country. I was lucky enough to attend an event at the Silverado Winery in Napa Valley recently. We toured the winery, tasted the wine, had lunch and heard from two archivists from Pixar who are charged with cataloguing and maintaining Pixar treasures, Christine Freeman and Julie Roth. They brought the two animation models below that inspired drawings used in Pixar's movie, Ratatouille. 

Here are Remy & Emile. They are brothers.

The archivists wear gloves when handling the models so they don't get damaged or soiled.

The winery itself is beautiful and we loved the wine. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Book Excerpt: A Ghostly Grave

Today we have book excerpt from Tonya Kapps latest Ghostly Southern Mystery, called A Ghostly Grave. This is the second book in the series. You can see the beginning of the first book, A Ghostly Undertaking here

Just think, this all started because of Santa Claus. I took a drink of my large Diet Coke Big Gulp that I had picked up from the Buy and Fly gas station on the way over to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery to watch Chicken Teater’s body being exhumed from his eternal resting place—only he was far from restful.

Damn Santa. I sucked up a mouthful of Diet Coke and swallowed. Damn Santa.

 No, I didn’t mean the real jolly guy with the belly shaking like a bowlful of jelly who leaves baby dolls and toy trucks; I meant the plastic light-up ornamental kind that people stick in their front yards during Christmas. The particular plastic Santa I was talking about was the one that had fallen off the roof of Artie’s Deli and Meat just as I happened to walk under it, knocking me flat out cold. 

Santa didn’t give me anything but a bump on the head and the gift of seeing ghosts—let me be more specific—ghosts of people who have been murdered. They called me the Betweener medium, at least that was what the psychic from Lexington told us . . . us . . . sigh . . . I looked over at Jack Henry. 

The Ray Ban sunglasses covered up his big brown eyes, which were the exact same color as a Hershey’s chocolate bar. I looked into his eyes. And as with a chocolate bar, once I stared at them, I was a goner. Lost, in fact. 

Today I was positive his eyes would be watering from the stench of a casket that had been buried for four years—almost four years to the day, now that I thought about it. 
Jack Henry, my boyfriend and Sleepy Hollow sheriff, motioned for John Howard Lloyd to drop the claw that was attached to the tractor and begin digging. John Howard, my employee at Eternal Slumber Funeral Home, didn’t mind digging up the grave. He dug it four years ago, so why not? He hummed a tune, happily chewing—gumming, since he had no teeth—a piece of straw he had grabbed up off the ground before he took his post behind the tractor controls. If someone who didn’t know him came upon John Howard, they’d think he was a serial killer, with his dirty overalls, wiry hair and gummy smile. 

The buzz of a moped scooter caused me to look back at the street. There was a crowd that had gathered behind the yellow police line to see what was happening because it wasn’t every day someone’s body was plucked from its resting place. 

“Zula Fae Raines Payne, get back here!” an officer scolded my granny, who didn’t pay him any attention. She waved her handkerchief in the air with one hand while she steered her moped right on through the police tape. “This is a crime scene and you aren’t allowed over there.” 

Granny didn’t even wobble but held the moped steady when she snapped right through the yellow tape. 

“Woo hoooo, Emma!” Granny hollered, ignoring the officer, who was getting a little too close to her. A black helmet snapped on the side covered the top of her head, giving her plenty of room to sport her large black-rimmed sunglasses. She twisted the handle to full throttle. The officer took off at a full sprint to catch up to her. He put his arm out to grab her. “I declare!” Granny jerked Zula Raines Payne, the owner of Eternal Slumber, and this is one of my clients!” 

“Ma’am, I know who you are. With all due respect, because my momma and pa taught me to respect my elders—and I do respect you, Ms. Payne—I can’t let you cross that tape. You are going to have to go back behind the line!” He ran behind her and pointed to the yellow tape that she had already zipped through. “This is a crime scene. Need I remind you that you turned over operations of your business to your granddaughter? And only she has the right to be on the other side of the line.” 

I curled my head back around to see what Jack Henry and John were doing and pretended the roar of the excavator was drowning out the sounds around me, including those of Granny screaming my name. Plus, I didn’t want to get into any sort of argument with Granny, since half the town came out to watch the 7-a. m. exhumation, and the Auxiliary women were the first in line—and would be the first to be at the Higher Grounds CafĂ©, eating their scones, drinking their coffee and coming up with all sorts of reasons why we had exhumed the body.

I could hear them now. Ever since Zula Fae left Emma Lee and Charlotte Rae in charge of Eternal Slumber, it’s gone downhill, or my personal favorite, I’m not going to lay my corpse at Eternal Slumber just to have that crazy Emma Lee dig me back up. Especially since she’s got a case of the Funeral Trauma.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Edward Gorey Fun

If you've every watched PBS Mystery! or PBS Masterpiece Mystery! you'll recognize the work of Edward Gorey from the opening sequence. Here's an interview with Gorey that took place before his death in 2000. 

And here's a video of that opening sequence:

PBS has some delightful Edward Gorey items in their store right now...

Fabulous bat earrings

Here's a toy theater with characters from Dracula:
And a very fun looking puzzle:

You can also find fun Gorey items in the Gorey Store connected with the Gorey Museum in Massachusetts.