Friday, August 29, 2014

Drinks with Reads: Left Turn at Paradise & Rum with Diet Coke

Tom Shawver, author of Left Turn at Paradise and The Dirty Book of Murder, joins us today for Friday Drinks with Reads. You can read Kerry Hammond's review of Left Turn at Paradise here

Michael Bevan, the protagonist of my mystery series, is a disbarred lawyer who seeks peace and redemption by opening a used bookshop.  He soon learns, however, that there are bibliophiles who will lie and cheat to obtain books as shamelessly as an addict in pursuit of his drug.

In the first of the series titled The Dirty Book Murder, Bevan loses a bid for a set of rare erotic books to a stranger with a South African accent who works for a murderous sadist.  Things don’t get much better for the bookman in Left Turn at Paradise when he ventures to the wilds of New Zealand in search of lost journals from the 18th century voyages of Captain James Cook.  

It’s enough to drive a man to drink.  

The bars he frequents are many and varied.  As a member of the Marines’ Memorial Club in San Francisco, Bevan has reciprocal privileges to some of the best clubs in the world, the East India Club in London being a particular favorite.  Others, like the Almond in Kansas City, thrive on neglect, making up for sticky table tops and exasperating service with the greatest BLTs in the universe.

And it is there that you can often find our hero when he isn’t pushing books, singing rebel songs at Fitzpatrick’s Galway Pub, or facing the occasional book fiend.  

From The Dirty Book Murder:

A few hours later, I hobbled into the Almond to meet Detective Buford Higgins for lunch. His idea.
Pegeen Flynn poured a pair of giant Cuba Libres, said she was glad to see me alive, if not well, and reminded me that I owed her gas money for the use of her Saab. I tossed her six of those dollar coins found only in stamp machines these days and she disappeared into the kitchen to prepare our order.

Being mid-afternoon, only three other customers were in the place. A lone drinker with the face of a flat tire sat at one end of the counter. He spent a lot of time shaking the ash off his cigar into empty longneck bottles placed neatly in a row like little brown soldiers. In a booth behind him, two women locked lips. When we tired of watching them, Higgins started talking...

Here’s the recipe for the Almond’s signature drink:  

Throw handful of ice from the beer cooler into 10-ounce plastic cup.

Add four shots (more or less) of cheap house rum, preferably with a pirate ship on the label.

Spray in Diet Cola from semi-functioning dispenser.  

Lime slice optional, depending on barmaid mood and/or memory.       

Place elbow of drinking arm securely on table to avoid spillage.

Shout “A la vida!” to the four other barflies in the joint.



  1. I knew there was something missing as I read Left Turn at Paradise. The whole time my hand felt so empty. Thanks Michael, now when I pick up The Dirty Book of Murder I know what to drink while I read. Rare books, Irish songs, Murder, and Rum with Diet Coke. Perfect!

  2. Thanks for a great post Michael! Can't wait to read The Dirty Book of Murder.

  3. Sounds like an interesting series with a unique protag! Not to mention the hilarious drink description.