Friday, September 22, 2017

The Top of the Line Manhattan and the Fifth Reflection

Police psychologist, PhD and mystery author, Ellen Kirschman is here today to match her book, The Fifth Reflection, with the perfect drink. 

The Fifth Reflection is my third Dot Meyerhoff mystery, following Burying Ben and The Right Wrong Thing.  Like myself, only younger and thinner with decidedly poorer taste in alcoholic beverages, Dot is a police psychologist. Her favorite cuisine is microwave popcorn with a glass of Pinot Noir. See what I mean? If she had any flair, she’d be drinking my favorite cocktail. More about that later.

Dot has a few problems, mostly of her own making. To begin with, she’s too dedicated for her own good. Secondly, she should be counseling cops, not solving crimes. Thirdly, she suffers from post-divorce-dumped-for-a-younger-woman syndrome and is on the verge of running from Frank, a man most women would be running toward. 

Dot is in her 50’s and works as a psychologist for the Kenilworth Police Department. She has a love hate relationship with cops, starting with her boss, Chief Pence, who, I must admit, is rather hard to like. People become psychologists for many reasons. This is how Dot explains her career path in The Fifth Reflection.

I didn’t become a psychologist like some of my colleagues who went from BA to PhD on Mommy and Daddy’s credit cards. My parents didn’t have credit cards. Didn’t believe in them. My father thought bankers were Shylocks who cheated the poor with exorbitant interest rates and balloon payments buried in the small print. My mother was for simplicity and against needless consumerism. 

I worked my way through college and grad school waiting tables, serving cocktails, and pleading for scholarships. Turns out I am better at reading people than serving them food. I acquired this skill trying to anticipate when the sins of the rich and powerful would send my father on a rant, barging around the house for twenty-four hours, spewing letters to the editor. While my mother, for whom all life’s challenges contain lessons to be learned, regarded my father’s tantrums as an opportunity to practice patience and understanding. With righteous indignation for the underdog combined with the ability to normalize bizarre behavior as my parental legacy, how could I have not become a psychologist?

I wonder. Did Dot’s early experiences serving drinks turn her off cocktails? 

The Fifth Reflection finds Dot pulled into the vortex of a terrible crime involving a missing child and an eccentric photographer whose images of nude children make her a prime suspect in the kidnapping of her own daughter. The principal investigator in the case is a young officer whose dedication to work and obsession with finding the missing girl is tearing his own family apart. Dot’s psychological expertise and determination contribute to solving the mystery at the same time her involvement with the missing child’s extended, dysfunctional family brings her face-to-face with painful psychological issues of her own. 

Whew! Now I need a drink. My favorite cocktail is a Manhattan. No surprise. I was born New York hospital, right in the heart of the city. I’ve borrowed the following recipe from my husband Steve, whose entire life I have plagiarized for the character of Frank.

Steve’s Top-of-the-line Manhattan: 
½ oz. sweet vermouth
1 ½ oz. Templeton Rye 
2 dashes of Scrappy’s Chocolate Bitters
Luxardo cherries (Pricey, but not your mother’s radiation red carcinogenic wonders).

First chill two cocktail glasses by filling them with ice and cold water. Set aside.
Add ice to a cocktail shaker (nearly to the top).
Add all the ingredients (except the cherries) into the shaker.
Stir don’t shake until the ice melts.*
Empty the chilled cocktail glasses.
Strain** the Manhattan into the glass and add one or two cherries 

•Stirring and shaking both chill the drink and tone down the alcohol. Shaking will make a Manhattan cloudy.

••Straining prevents ice from falling in the drink.

Ellen Kirschman, PhD. is an award winning public safety psychologist and author of I Love a Cop: What Police Families Need to Know, I Love a Firefighter: What the Family Needs to Know, lead author of Counseling Cops: What Clinicians Need to Know and three Dot Meyerhoff mysteries. She is a member of Sisters-in-Crime and Mystery Writers of America. She blogs with Psychology Today and The Lady Killers. Sign up for her newsletter and blog at 


  1. Dot sounds like an extremely likeable character and one I could definitely relate to. One of my favorite dinners is also microwave popcorn but with a glass of a sweet wine like a Moscato or White Zin. This book goes on to the TBR pile!

    1. Thanks Sharon. My publisher Oceanview produces two great New Zeleand wines, a Pinot and a Sauvignon Blanc under the Villa Maria label.