Today we’re pairing the perfect drink with the perfect historical mystery. Read on to see what drink Kerry Hammond paired with Tessa Arlen’s Death Sits Down to Dinner.
Death Sits Down to Dinner is the second book in Tessa Arlen’s Edwardian mystery series. Her first in the series, Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman, was nominated this year for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. The first book in the series introduces the reader to Lady Montfort and her housekeeper Mrs. Jackson. Lady Montfort has a knack for sleuthing but finds that getting information below stairs is just as important as her observations above. Much to Mrs. Jackson’s chagrin, she enlists her to help solve murders.
In this latest installment, Lady Montfort is in London, at a dinner party thrown by the well-known and charitable Hermione Kingsley. The guest list is a veritable who’s who of society because they are celebrating Winston Churchill’s birthday. This makes things extremely sticky when one of the guests is murdered. Jackson is sent for and Lady Montfort, with her help, sets out to solve the murder before someone else gets killed.
I liked this book even better than the first. Most likely because I’d gotten to know the characters and fallen for their charms. I was drawn into the mystery and had no idea whodunit until it was revealed to me at the end. This made it so much more enjoyable and I found myself drawn into the many possibilities.
These books are suggested reads for Downton Abbey fans, and I couldn’t agree more. I did listen to a podcast interview with the author and found it interesting that the first novel had been written before Downton Abbey aired. Another fun fact: In Death Sits Down to Dinner, Arlen uses many historical figures as characters, obviously including Winston Churchill. She draws from real life to lend her mysteries a more authentic feel and it really adds to the fun. The author provides short biographies of the historical figures used at the end of the book.
I am pairing this book with a Ginger Death Snap, a gin drink because gin reminds me of the early part of the 20th Century (even though the English have been drinking it for hundreds of years). The drink was created and named by my friend Dean, who is an amateur Alchemist and Mixologist. Note: a shrub is a mix of fruit, sugar, and vinegar. You can make them yourself if you google instructions, or you can purchase them. Shrub & Co is one online store.
2 oz Gin
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Blood Orange Liquor
2 Tbsp Ginger Liquor or Ginger Shrub
½ cup Lemonade
¼ cup Crushed Ice
Basil Leaves for garnish
Put all ingredients except the basil into a cocktail shaker & shake. Strain into martini glass. Garnish with “smacked” basil leaves. (Simply put the basil leaf in one palm and clap your hands together once or twice, smacking the leaf between your palms. This will release the flavor and scent.)
You can follow Kerry on Twitter @kerryhammond88 and Mystery Playground @mysteryplaygrnd, or find us on Facebook.
What are your favorite Downton Abbey type mysteries?