Friday, May 27, 2016

Drinks with Reads: Susanna Calkins and Gin Iced Tea

Laura Brennan is here matching Susanna Calkin's new book with the perfect drink. Laura produces a podcast called Destination Mystery where she interviews mystery authors of all subgenres. There are show notes, full transcripts and monthly book giveaways. Check it out at  Because life’s a mystery… but finding a good book doesn’t have to be.

A Death Along the River Fleet is Susanna Calkins’ latest Lucy Campion mystery, and one of her best. The series is set in the 17th century, a time of fire and plague and tremendous social upheaval as the survivors set to rebuilding London. 

It was also the time of the Enlightenment, and new ideas find footing in the changing social landscape. Lucy Campion started out as a chambermaid, but she was able to follow her talents and passion to be accepted as a printer’s apprentice. She also has the respectful ear of several of her “betters,” including the magistrate she once worked for as a maid, a police officer, and a doctor, all of whom value her insight and dedication. 

In this fourth outing, Lucy discovers a woman alone on a bridge. A woman with no memory of who she might be. A woman covered in blood. But helping this woman unravel the mystery of who she is and how she got there becomes a whole lot more difficult when a dead body is found nearby. 

If you like historical mysteries, you are going to love this series. By day, Calkins is an historian, so the research is meticulous. Each book looks at a different aspect of society in the 17th century; A Death Along the River Fleet takes on the medical practices of the day as well as the stigma certain illnesses could bring. While the stories are rich with detail, they never get bogged down or turn into a history lesson. Instead, the writing transports you to another age -- and the mystery keeps you turning the pages.

A Death Along the River Fleet takes place in London, and what could be more British than a cup of tea? Ah, but then I discovered that gin was introduced into England during the 17th century, right about the time the Lucy Campion series takes place. Combine the two and you have the perfect drink with this particular read.

Gin Iced Tea 

Strongly brewed black tea, such as orange pekoe or Darjeeling
3 oz of gin
A teaspoonful of sugar (more to taste)
Lemon slices and wedges
Fresh mint

Fill the cup 2/3 of the way with ice.
Add lemon slices, stuffing them between the ice cubes. Squeeze a wedge or two of lemon juice into the cup and put a final wedge on the rim as garnish.
Add the gin.
Throw in a few sprigs of mint.
Stir the sugar into the hot tea to help it dissolve.
Carefully pour the sweet, hot tea over the ice cubes to fill the glass. Stir gently.

Drink up!