It's Agatha Christie week and to kick off the festivities, Kerry Hammond is matching Christie's At Bertram's Hotel with the perfect drink.
I’ve read everything Agatha Christie has ever written, probably at least twice if I care to sit down and do the math. She is one of the only authors that I will continue to re-read until I can recite the book by memory, from cover to cover. Since my memory isn’t that great, I know that I will be re-reading until the end of time. When I am in the mood for a book that will make me feel comfy and cozy, I am drawn to the Christie section of my bookshelf.
In order to choose just the right book, I first determine if I’m in the mood for Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Tommy & Tuppence, or none of the above. This time I was in the mood for a Miss Marple, and what better choice for a nostalgic read than At Bertram’s Hotel. It’s a great choice for nostalgia because the very reason Miss Marple finds herself at Bertram’s is to relive a past memory she has of the hotel.
Miss Marple is too frugal to splurge on a long stay at a fancy hotel, but her nephew and his wife want to treat her to a little trip. They offer a few ideas, but she tells them that as a young girl she stayed at Bertram’s Hotel in London and has always wanted to go back. They book her at the hotel for a two week stay, and she sets out to take her trip down memory lane.
At first, Miss Marple is thrilled to see that everything is the same as she remembers. There is tea and seedcake, the staff is meticulous and doting, and the look of the place hasn’t changed a bit. She runs into an old friend, and comes across people she’s heard of but not met, specifically Bess Sedgwick. Bess is a notorious daredevil and her exploits have often been in the newspaper. Miss Marple, as she is wont to do, observes the other guests with her critical eye. She also observes the hotel and its staff, realizing that perhaps the fact that Bertram’s hasn’t changed a bit in all these years isn’t just nostalgic, but a bit suspicious.
The goings on at the hotel become more of a past time for Miss Marple when she hears that Cannon Pennyfather, another guest at the hotel, has gone missing. The police get involved, and Miss Marple is called upon to help them figure out just what is going on at Bertram’s. When the doorman is shot, her observations become critical to the solving of the case.
As much as I love St. Mary Mead, it was a lot of fun to see Miss Marple out of her village and in the big city. She’s still as sharp as ever, though, and her ability to understand human nature is wonderful. Christie weaves in all aspects of the story and then unravels them clue by clue so that the reader is surprised in the end.
I decided to pair this book with a Blood Orange Gin & Tonic:
2 oz. Blood Orange Juice (fresh or bottled)
¼ of a Lime
1.5 oz. Gin (I used Tanqueray)
2 Dashes Orange Bitters
4 oz. Tonic Water
Fill a glass with ice and add blood orange juice, gin and bitters. Squeeze the ¼ lime in. Stir. Pour tonic in and give it a light stir, just to mix but not enough to lose your fizz. You can garnish the drink with a Blood Orange wedge if you squeezed them fresh. But if you used the bottled juice, a garnish isn’t necessary.