Monday, October 31, 2016

Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie

Fontana Books 1973

"The past is the father of the present."
- Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie's Hallowe'en.
If you want a little something to watch tonight while you wait for the trick or treaters have we got the Poirot episode for you. In Hallowe'en Party a girl recalls a tale of someone being murdered in years past during a Hallowe'en party. Of course, no one believes the poor little girl until she's found drowned in the bobbing for apples bucket and by then it's a little late to get all the details. But never fear, for Poirot arrives, but how will he find the killer when the trail has gone cold... 

Here's the preview to get you in the mood. 

We also have a drink that matches the book.

And here are some of the different covers from the Agatha Christie book over the years. I love the different images. 

Fontana Books 1984
Pocket Books 1970
Harper Collins 2001

Hope you have a wonderful Halloween! 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Book Review: Westmorland Alone by Ian Sansom

Ian Sansom writes a great traditional mystery series set in 1930s England. Kerry Hammond has fallen in love with the series and is here to tell us why.

Westmorland Alone is the 3rd in the County Guides Mystery series by Ian Sansom. It releases in paperback on November 1 by Witness Impulse. One of my favorite mystery genres is the British traditional mystery, and the best ones are set in the early 1900s. This book had both the time and place, and I was intrigued to find out more about the county guides that the characters were creating.

Swanton Morley is the renowned writer of the English countryside’s County Guides. He travels around with his assistant Stephen Sefton in a Lagonda, writing about the land and the people he encounters. Sefton is the narrator of the stories and offers up a no-nonsense version of events, in stark contrast with Morley’s effusive manner and Morley’s daughter Miriam’s drama.

Their travels take them to Westmorland and the small town of Appleby, where they are involved in a horrible train crash. Stranded in the town, they explore the county fair and an archeological dig. When a woman’s body is found at the dig, Morely can’t help but investigate the suspicious death, even when the local police order them to leave things alone.

Sansom’s County Guides series is unique in its premise and at the same time wonderfully familiar in its execution. If you’re a fan of the traditional British mystery of old, where quirky characters go about their business, stumble over a murder, and solve it using nothing more than their common sense and intelligence, you will join me in being one of the newest fans of this author.

Jumping into the third book is the series wasn’t a problem at all, I quickly became acquainted with Sefton, Morley, and Miriam. I wasn’t at a loss as to their history but did feel intrigued to find out about it. Sansom is also the author of the Mobile Library mystery series, and I plan to check those out next, no pun intended.

This book was provided to Mystery Playground by the publisher. The review was fair and completely independent.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The New York Champagne Cocktail and THE CORPSE WITH THE RUBY LIPS

Cathy Ace is here to match her latest book - The Corpse with the Ruby Lips - to the perfect drink. Cathy has the distinction of being our most frequent Drinks with Reads contributor. You can find links to all of her posts at the bottom of the blog. 

First, a bit about the book: in THE CORPSE WITH THE RUBY LIPS, Cait Morgan is teaching a semester of courses in criminal psychology at the Hungarian University of Budapest. Without her beloved husband, Bud, at her side (he’s in Canada helping his mom recuperate from hip surgery) she finds herself feeling isolated and lonely. Bud discovers he’s ill-suited to nursing duties, and is bored to tears. 

Thus, with the aim of giving her husband something to keep his mind occupied, Cait takes up the challenge presented to her by a Hungarian student, Zsófia Takacs, to look into a cold case from the 1970s.  Zsófia’s grandmother was murdered on Cait’s own campus back in Canada but no one was ever arrested, and Cait is intrigued. Bud’s onboard in a heartbeat, and enjoys discussing the case with old colleagues from his time with the RCMP, but he’s warned off by some well-connected folks who “work for the Canadian government”.

As Cait becomes tangled in the web of denial, deceit and distrust being spun by Zsófia’s bizarre family, she wonders if she’s becoming paranoid…or is she really being followed as she visits some of Budapest’s iconic landmarks? Maybe it’s too much rich food. Maybe it’s the unwanted attention of a colleague at the university who smiles just a little too much. Or is it just the atmosphere created by zither music and gypsy violins? Whatever is causing her unease, Cait tries to ignore the signs she’s in more danger than ever before, until...

And now the drink: to pair with this tale of a cold case possibly linked to the Cold War set in a fascinating city with a troubled past, try the signature cocktail from one of the places Cait dines in Budapest, and where  Zsófia invites her to look into her grandmother’s death – the world-renowned New York Café. Built at the height of the Austro-Hungarian Empire it’s an awe-inspiring building where the chefs now lead the way in modern interpretations of traditional Hungarian cuisine. 

The mango syrup in this cocktail offsets the sour Campari, giving the drink a unique, complex flavor. An intriguing cocktail from a complicated city – totally delicious, and absolutely suited to this book. 

The New York Champagne Cocktail 

Campari, mangó szirup, pezsgő 
Campari, mango syrup (not mango puree), champagne

Add 1oz of chilled Campari, ½ ounce of chilled mango syrup to a chilled champagne glass, top up with chilled champagne. Works well as an aperitif, or with fruit (especially strawberries). 

(That’s Cheers! in Hungarian, and is pronounced “eggy sheggy drey”.)

THE CORPSE WITH THE RUBY LIPS is the eighth Cait Morgan Mystery by Cathy Ace. You can connect with Cathy in the following ways:
Twitter: @AceCathy

Here are links to all of Cathy's Drinks with Reads posts:

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Fan Girl Autograph Zipper Clutch

Ingrid Willis, head of Blaze Productions and chairwoman for Bouchercon 2014 and Left Coast Crime 2016, is here on the playground today to show us how to make these fabulous fan girl autograph clutches, with zippers at the top. And if you comment at the end, you'll be entered for our giveaway for the clutch above signed by one of our favorite authors, JA Jance (US residents only).


½ yard Exterior Fabric (should be a medium to heavier fabric - make it a light color if you want to get it signed.)
¼ yard Interior Fabric for lining (this can be lighter material such as for quilting)
¼ yard #808 Pelloncraft Fusible Interfacing
1 – 9” zipper
Sewing Machine
Straight Pins
Iron & Ironing Board

2 pieces for body (exterior fabric) – 10” x 6” 
2 pieces for lining (interior fabric) – 10” x 6”
2 pieces of interfacing – 10” x 6” 
1 piece for strap (exterior fabric) – 14.5” x 3.5”

The first thing we need to do is attach the interfacing to the exterior body pieces. To do this lay one piece of interfacing (shiny side up) on the ironing board, put one of the exterior body pieces (right side up) on top of the interfacing. Following the interface instructions, press the fabric and fuse them together. Repeat with the other exterior body piece. 

Now fold one long edge of each of the exterior body pieces down about ½” (including the interfacing) and press. Also press one edge down ½” on each of the interior lining pieces. 

Take your strap piece and fold it in half lengthwise.

Iron it, then open it up so there’s a crease down the center. Now take each side and fold it inward toward the center crease and press.
 Fold again down the original crease to finish strap and press. 

To sew the strap, sew close along the edge to close the opening; then sew down the other side, again close to the edge to match the other side.

Set aside.

Now we’ll install the sipper. Place the zipper with the pull side down (and on the left) and lay the fold of one of your interior pieces (right side up) on top and stitch. When you get about one inch from the end, stop sewing and with the needle down, raise the sewing machine foot and open the zipper past where you’ve sewn. Put the foot back down and continue sewing to the end. It should look like this. 

Before sewing the other side, keep the zipper pulled down a few inches. Start to sew the interior fabric until you can close the zipper. Leaving the needle down, close the zipper and finish sewing. 

Now, turn the zipper over with the pull on the left side (and closed). Lay an exterior piece (right side up) with folded edge right along the zipper edge.

Sew along the edge. Remember to pull the zipper down once you get about one inch from the end. 

Now sew the other side. Again, remember to keep the zipper pulled down when you start (like you did with the interior lining) and sew until you can close the zipper. Once again, leaving the needle down, close the zipper and finish sewing. 

With the zipper installed now we just have to sew the edges. First, fold the strap in half and lay it on top of the exterior bag letting about ½” stick out. 

With the strap on the inside, pin the exterior pieces right sides together (with interface side out). Leave the lining free. When you pin be sure the top parts of the zipper are even. With the zipper pulled down a few inches, sew around the three sides.

It should look like this. 

Now we’ll sew the inside of the bag. Be sure the zipper is open a few inches. Pin the lining together, again make sure the top parts of the zipper are even. Sew the sides leaving about a three inch opening at the bottom so you can turn the bag right side out. Trim the edges and corners so they won’t be so bulky. 

Pull the entire bag through the hole. Use a wooden spoon to push out the corners. Open the zipper and pull the lining out. Press the lining, then sew opening closed. 

Put the lining back in the bag. Iron the clutch and… Viola! 

You have yourself a new zippered clutch. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Little Grey Cells: The Quotable Poirot by Agatha Christie

Kerry Hammond introduces Little Grey Cells, a new book full of quotes from our favorite Belgian detective. 

You may have seen your favorite quote from Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s famous Belgian detective, on tote bags or t-shirts. These gems of wisdom are sometimes funny and sometimes thought-provoking, and they are always entertaining.

HarperCollins Publishers has taken the words that Agatha Christie wrote for the detective and put together a must have book for mystery fans. Little Grey Cells: The Quotable Poirot releases today, and is a wonderful little hardcover reference book that is, not surprisingly, grey in color with Poirot’s signature mustache in the cover. It is chock full of the lines we’ve read in the Agatha Christie books that feature the detective.

Readers can read the book from beginning to end or, for even more fun, open it to a random page each time for a chuckle or a thought provoking start to your day. The quotes are categorized in chapters and you can choose to read what Poirot has to say about several subjects. You will no doubt have your own favorite quotes, but I thought I would give you some of the ones that I love best.

Poirot on Detective Work:

‘The impossible cannot have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.’ Murder on the Orient Express.

Poirot on Human Nature:

‘There is nothing so intangible, so difficult to pin down, as the source of a rumor.’ The Labours of Hercules ‘The Lernean Hydra’

Poirot on the Criminal Mind:

‘Once a man is imbued with the idea that he knows who ought to be allowed to live and who ought not – then he is half way to becoming the most dangerous killer there is.’ Cards on the Table

Poirot on ‘Les Femmes:’

‘The heart of a woman who loves will forgive many blows.’ The Murder on the Links

And lastly, from ‘My Dear Hastings:’

‘You know, Hastings, in many ways I regard you as my mascot.’ The ABC Murders