Friday, February 13, 2015

Drinks with Reads: Hush, Hush and the Old Bay Red Snapper

Kerry Hammond has found the perfect drink for the new Laura Lippman novel, Hush, Hush. I'll let her tell you all about it...

Tess Monaghan is back, in Laura Lippman’s latest novel Hush Hush. The story centers around Melisandre Harris Dawes, a beautiful woman who came from old Baltimore money. Melisandre had it all: a husband, two young daughters, a nanny, and a two-month-old newborn baby girl. One warm sunny day she drove down to the Patapsco River and sat by the water while her baby sat locked in the car in the sun. At the trial that followed her baby’s death, she was found not guilty by reason of criminal insanity. She was sent to a mental institution and walked away from her husband, her life, and her surviving children.

Now, more than ten years later, Melisandre has returned to Baltimore and the family she left behind. She brings with her a documentary filmmaker who is doing a film about the events leading up to and including the baby’s death, and interviewing those who were a part of the tragedy. Melisandre also wants to reconnect with her two daughters, now teenagers, but her ex-husband doesn’t want that to happen.

Tess, former reporter and current private investigator, becomes involved in the events through her connection to Tyner Gray, Melisandre’s lawyer. Tyner, who is married to Tess’s aunt and with whom Tess has had a working relationship, has asked her to assess his client’s security needs. Tess and her partner Sandy Sanchez step in to run their security analysis, but soon get more involved that they had planned. Melisandre starts to receive anonymous notes, and events begin to happen around her that make it clear that her life is in danger.

The story is told through the author’s narrative, but also with excerpts of transcribed interviews being used for the documentary. Through those interviews, the reader is able to get information on the events that led to the death of Melisandre’s baby and her subsequent institutionalization. The use of these transcripts was extremely interesting and I loved how the author used them to give firsthand accounts of the initial death. 

Throughout the book, Tess is struggling with her new role as a mother to her own daughter. I found that her simultaneous struggles and insecurities with motherhood to be a great compliment to the main issue of the mystery and Melisandre’s experience. Tess even starts to receive her own anonymous notes and must figure out who is sending them and why.

I really enjoyed this book and had trouble putting it down. Sometimes a book is character driven and sometimes plot driven. I really felt that this book had both great characters and a great plot, the type with enough twists and turns to keep me guessing until the end.  

Since the Tess Monaghan series takes place in Baltimore, I thought long and hard about what drink to pair with this great book. The Red Snapper is basically a Bloody Mary, but uses gin instead of vodka. Since I am a fan of gin, and Baltimore (lived there for many years), I created a Red Snapper that would make any Baltimorean proud.

Old Bay Red Snapper
6 oz. Tomato Juice
4 oz. Gin
¾ oz. lemon juice (fresh squeezed or bottled)
¼ oz. lime juice (fresh squeezed or bottled)
3-4 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
4 dashes Tabasco Sauce
½ tsp. Extra Hot Horseradish 
¼ tsp. Old Bay
Olives, peppers, onions, or a celery stick for garnish

Put all ingredients (except garnish) in a Boston Shaker and pour back and forth to mix. Pour mixture in a glass filled with ice. Garnish with olives, peppers, or onions on a skewer, or just throw in a celery stick. 

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  1. This book is on my list to read and now after this review, it just moved up to the top of the pile.