Award-winning author Catriona McPherson holds a special place in the Mystery Playground cannon as being the very first author we talked into, I'm mean volunteered, to do a drinks with reads post.
Today she's back matching her latest book from Midnight Ink, The Child Garden, with the perfect drink. It's a super creepy title and the book has a super creepy cover, let see what drink she picked...(and don't forget to comment because there is a giveaway...)
Not everyone in Scotland likes whisky. But there are ways round that. My Granny MacDonald used to put coke in it. I don’t think we need to go that far. My dad had a different remedy for people – usually women – who found it unpalatable . . . add a nice sweet mixer in the form of a good glug of Drambuie. (It says a lot about Scottish drinking culture that Drambuie is a mixer. And that we call coke “juice” too.)
When the whisky is a single malt, whisky and Drambuie mixed 50/50 is called a Stag’s Breath. If, for some reason, you use a blend it’s called a Rusty Nail. No judgement. Add a couple of ice-cubes and sip by a roaring fire. Or, as Stig and Gloria do in The Child Garden, by the open oven door of a Rayburn cooking stove, with your feet on a Labrador.
If you want to feel as Scottish as a tartan haggis, use a crystal glass etched with a picture of a curling stone, won in a curling competition. Curling – flinging lumps of granite up and down an ice rink or frozen pond – involves a fair bit of standing about in the cold, so whisky (with or without Drambuie) is often involved. It says a bit more about Scotland that our national sports have hard liquor served during the match.
I’m giving away a copy of Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses, which was part of the inspiration for The Child Garden. It’s supposed to be charming but when I was a kid it creeped me out big-time-styley. Read it if you dare. Read it to your kids if they’ve been naughty.
And now here is an excerpt from Catriona McPherson's The Child Garden:
“I didn’t do it.”
That was the first thing he said when we were back in the car, crawling along the track to the gap in the fence. I would have driven like a bat out of hell if I could have, but my limbs had turned leaden on me, my feet sludgy on the pedals and my arms so heavy I thought they might drop from the steering wheel and just lie in my lap like sandbags.
“So, if you’re protecting me for some mad reason, you don’t have to. I didn’t do that. I could never …”
I believed him. I knew without a flicker of doubt, right from the off, that Stig Tarrant hadn’t killed April Cowan. It wasn’t sentiment. It wasn’t old times. It was the way he had called out her name, so hopeful, and the way he had said she wasn’t there, so torn between relief and disappointment. He wasn’t acting.
I can smell insincerity at fifty paces. I can hear the lie under the kind word every time. Lynne at work calls it a certain kind of detector and, though I don’t like the sound of having one of them inside me, I suppose it’s true. One of the orderlies is always saying Nicky’s a lovely boy and I’m a lucky mummy or he’s a lucky boy and I’m lovely mummy, and she might as well shout at the top of her lungs that she despises me and Nicky gives her the creeps. But then there’s this old Irish orderly, Donna, and she says,
“Ah, the poor soul, but he’s still your blessing.” And she means every word.
“I know you didn’t,” I said to Stig.
“So why aren’t we dialling 999?” he asked me.
“Listen,” I said, “and I’ll tell you.”
Back in the kitchen the Rayburn was teetering. When the wind gets up in the north it sometimes just snuffs it out, and then Rough House is a miserable place to be. I usually light a fire in the living room if it looks likely, but tonight I didn’t have the energy to strike a match, never mind lay the paper and twigs and nurse it. The chimney’s as bad as the stove when the wind blows.
“Tea?” I said.
“Whisky?” said Stig. I went through to the living room to get the bottle from the press. When I got back he had dragged two chairs from the table, set them close to the oven and opened the door.