Saturday, March 28, 2015

Game Review: Simply Suspects

Kerry Hammond reviews mystery board game, Simply Suspects...

Since I love all things mystery, I own quite a few mystery board games. I decided to write about them on Mystery Playground to share the fun with other mystery lovers. Today’s game is Simply Suspects, put out by a company called Spy Alley. 

Simply Suspects can be played by up to 6 players, and the ages are 8 to adult; fun for the whole family! And what family doesn’t want to play a game where suspicion, betrayal, and evidence tampering are the main goals? 

Each player is assigned a character, known only to himself/herself, course, and the player assumes the identity on their suspect card. Players receive three getaway cards and the pegs on the board are placed at the top in neutral position. Players move around board with the roll of a die or by use of a getaway card. The spaces on the board determine what the character must do, and when the pegs can be moved on the board. The pegs, when placed in the row under your hidden suspect, can lead to your downfall and the discovery of your identity. Players move the pegs around, sometimes putting one in their own row to throw the others off the trail. If there are two pegs in your row when another player lands on the Grand Jury space, your number is up and you are eliminated from the game. The last player standing is the winner.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Drinks with Reads: Aunty Lee's Delights and the Singapore Sling

Robin Berry is here today matching Ovidia Yu's most recent Aunty book with the Singapore Sling...

In Aunty Lee's Delights, Ovidia Yu draws us into the subcultures of Singapore.  While the location and food is exotic, the characters will be familiar to mystery readers.   

Rosie Lee is the widowed proprietor of Aunty Lee's Delights.  She is people savvy and uses food to understand those that cross her path. Her faithful and long suffering companion Nina is her eyes and ears to the outside world.  It is Rosie's astuteness that solves the mystery, but her acceptance of people of all walks of life that makes her a delight.  

The second book Aunty Lee's Deadly Specials, is a delightful return to Singapore and it's sometimes not so nice subcultures. Here food takes center stage.  Aunty Lee is compelled to use her wits and understanding of the ingredients in people and food to solve the murders while saving her reputation.

Throughout the books are woven bits of color about the vastly intricate world of Singapore. Not mentioned in the books, but a Singapore original is the Singapore Sling; my drink of choice.  Per Wikipedia -- The Singapore Sling was developed sometime before 1915 by Ngiam Tong Boon, a Hainanese bartender working at the Long Bar in the Raffles Hotel, Singapore.
Here is the recipe:

Singapore Sling
1 ½ ounces gin
½ ounce cherry Heering liqueur
¼ ounce Cointreau liqueur
¼ ounce Benedictine
4 ounces pineapple juice
½ ounce lime juice
1/3 ounce grenadine 
1 dash 

I will look forward to the next installment -- Aunty Lee's Chilled Vengeance.  What could be better than a fun witty mystery and a tall chilled Singapore Sling?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Crafty Thursdays: Author Autographed & Photo Keychains

I have to admit that this is one the easy end of crafting but it is fun. We took Creatology photo keychains to mystery convention (Bouchercon) and got author autographs. It solves the problem of so many ebooks and nowhere to sign. 

Comment below about which author you'd like to sign a keychain for you to be entered to win the double-sided keychain above, signed by Laurie R. King. US Residents only. 

  • Creatology blank photo keychains (we got ours at Michaels)
  • Fun or pretty paper
  • A pen
  • An author

Step One: 
Cut out circles that fit inside the Creatology key chain. Extra points for pretty paper. You can use the inside circle as a pattern.

Step Two:
Find your favorite author and get them to sign the paper. Then slide the paper inside your keychain, clip it closed and you're done! 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wolf Hall Coming April 5th

I have a penchant for the Tudor line of English - especially Henry VIII -- and I am so excited to see the BBC production Wolf Hall, starring Damian Lewis (Homeland) as Henry VIII and Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell. Look at the trailer below and these beautiful photos and then run go set your DVR. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Book Review: Night, Night Sleep Tight

Kerry Hammond has been up late nights reading Hallie Ephron's latest...

Night Night, Sleep Tight is the latest novel of suspense by Hallie Ephron. It is a fictional story loosely based around a real life murder that happened not far from where the author grew up in Beverly Hills. In real life 1958, movie star Lana Turner’s daughter murdered her mother’s boyfriend in their home, just down the street from the Ephron home. In Night Night, Sleep Tight, the main character has a similar experience, but the author weaves in her own version of events and creates a wonderfully entertaining story of what could have been.

Deirdre Unger grew up in Beverly Hills, wit parents who worked in the movie business. Her father, Arthur, and mother, Gloria, were a writing team back in the day. They wrote screenplays and mixed with the best Hollywood had to offer. It’s now 1985 and her parents are divorced. Her Mom is finding her true self at a Zen Buddhist Temple and her Dad is still living in the home where she grew up, even as it becomes outdated and run down around him. Henry, her brother, is back living with their Dad, or off of him as the case may be. Deirdre returns home at her father’s request, to help him with selling the house. She takes a short break from her job at an art gallery in San Diego in order to help out. When she arrives, she finds Arthur floating in the swimming pool. His death was no accident and the police begin to suspect each member of the family, including Deirdre. 

Deirdre soon realizes that her father’s death is linked in some way to a tragedy that happened in 1963, when her best friend Joelen killed her mother Bunny Nichol’s boyfriend, Tito Acevedo. On that same night, Deirdre was in a car accident that left her partially crippled and she has walked with a crutch ever since. Being back at her childhood home brings everything back, and the players in her father’s death appear to be the same as they were all that time ago. As she starts to go through all of her father’s papers, she finds her Dad’s memoir and learns he was intending to get it published and make it into a movie. She realizes that there are several people who don’t want the memoir to be seen. And the reasons seem to surround the murder of Tito. 

I really enjoyed reading this book. I loved being in the company of these characters and was able to live vicariously through their involvement in the movie industry, which I personally find intriguing. The characters were great and both the current storyline, as well as the murder from the 1960s, kept me guessing.  It’s easy to get invested in Deirdre’s search for the truth. Both the truth in what happened to her father, as well as the truth from her childhood, and the answers to questions she didn’t even know to ask. Once again, Hallie Ephron creates a suspenseful and entertaining story that will keep you guessing.

And here’s one additional tidbit that I found exciting. After writing this book, Hallie Ephron decided that there was something missing, something more to tell. So she’s written Photoplay: A Short Tale of Suspense. In it, the narrator is a photographer hired to cover a big party at Bunny Nichol’s house. It’s a story of what happened before Night Night, Sleep Tight. It’s the playing out of the events that happened in 1963. So once you put this book down, you may hear a voice saying “wait, there’s more.” Because there is!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Review: Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell

I picked up Inspector of the Dead on the trade table as I was leaving the world's largest mystery convention, Bouchercon, last November, and stuffed it in my already overstuffed bag because I thought the cover was so beautiful. That was even before I noticed that David Morell wrote it and that it had two autographed postcards from Morrell inside. I am so glad I did. I loved reading this book.

My first favorite thing about this book is the characters. The series revolves around the fictionalization of the real writer Thomas De Quincey, most well known for writing, Confessions of an Opium Eater.  (If you are curious about Confessions, you can find it electronically along with many works out of copyright, on 

You also get point of view from his daughter, Emily, who favors the newfangled and somewhat scandalous bloomer skirts over pants invented by Amelia Bloomer, the rich and powerful Home Secretary of England, Lord Palmerston, and various members of the newly formed Metropolitan Police Department and Scottland Yard. These characters are all different and fun to watch.  

My second favorite thing it's set in Victorian England in 1855. Morrell does a brilliant job providing a sense of the City of London at that time, the political concerns, economic disparities, and Victorian attitudes in a fresh way. The books are like their covers - you get lost in the London fog as you are drawn into the time and the lines blur between fact and fiction. 

My third favorite thing is that this book was the second in a series, so as soon as I finished, I got the first book, Murder as a Fine Art. It was as excellent as the second, and I didn't feel like I lost anything having read the second in the series first. It had all of the same main characters and the murder laid out in the first echos an actual murder De Quincey wrote an essay about and one of the most infamous murders of that time, The Ratcliff Highway multiple murders.  

I will definitely be on the lookout for book number three. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Novel Teas & Tea Pot

Yesterday's post featured Kerry Hammond's review of the cookbook, The Afternoon Tea Collection. And now she's back with her favorite tea and some great tea pots.

Here are two great products that allow you to combine a love of reading with a love of tea. I found these tea bags at a store called Uncommon Goods around Christmas time. They’re called Novel Teas and each tea bag tag has a different quote from a famous author. And the tea is my absolute favorite, English Breakfast. Great to buy for yourself or a gift for a book lover.

And to drink the tea, you can’t beat this teapot and mug set. It has a books design and the lid of the pot is a little stack of books. The teapot is small, more of an individual, and holds enough for two small cups. You can buy the teapot and mugs on Amazon.