Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Major Crimes Returns Tonight to Begin the Final Season

Major Crimes returns tonight to begin it's six and last season on TNT (I am so hoping that someone else picks it up...) and on a new night.

We have 13 episodes this season, with the 100th episode of the series to be aired on December 19th. The double episode finale is set to air in January. After last season's loss of Captain Taylor, Sharon will have a new boss, and something tells me that they won't exactly get along. There's also word that our old "pal" Phillip Stroh will be back to cause more than mayhem for our favorite detectives. 

No official word on a possible return of Kyra Sedgwick, who played Brenda Leigh Johnson in The Closer, the precursor show to Major Crimes, although show creator James Duff has hinted that it might happen near the end of the show over the years. Sedgwick is currently appearing in a ten episode show called, Ten Days in the Valley, where she plays the mother of a kidnapped daughter.  

Fans of Major Crimes are trying to get the show revived as other shows like Chuck and most recently Timeless were saved by fans. Duff, always loyal to the shows fans, has tempered expectations in that quarter in a Facebook post. I still hope it happens. 

Here is some of the best of our Major Crimes coverage to tide you over until tonight:

Monday, October 30, 2017

A New Kind of Book Club: Page Habit

There's a subscription box for everything these days - foreign food, make up, jewelry, candles - and recently I came upon a book club in a box called, Page Habit. This subscription box takes the decades old "Book of the Month Club" in a much more personalized direction offering one annotated book selection and a few reading related gifts by monthly or quarterly subscription. I decided to try it out as a gift for my mother. 

She received the box above with The Trick by Emanuel Bergmann filled with annotations from the author on yellow Post It notes. She also received a Comic Book pin, a bookmark, a Time Traveler patch and fox coaster. 

The best part of the box for her was the book and reading the annotations from the author. She said it was fun and really different. 

The second best part was learning that for every box that is purchased, they donate to a charity that delivers a book for an underprivileged child. There was a card in the box that talked all about the books that would be delivered to Togo. 

Page Habit has eight different genres to choose from - Mystery, Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Literary Fiction, Romance, Horror. They also have short stories available. 

It's a great gift for someone who reads a lot and enjoys having books selected for them. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Purple Banana Smoothie and Her Last Day

TR Ragan is making smoothies to celebrate her new book, Her Last Day. Since her first book sold in 2011, she has sold more than two million books. Let's she what she has planned for us...

Ten years ago, PI Jessie Cole and reporter Ben Morrison each suffered a tragedy that changed their lives—and now these two strangers are about to share a nightmare.
For Jessie, who makes her living finding missing persons, no case has consumed her more than the disappearance of her younger sister, Sophie. But left alone to raise Sophie’s daughter, she realizes that solving the case has become an unhealthy obsession.
For Ben, a horrific car accident resulted in scars both physical and emotional—and amnesia that has made his life a mystery. But curiously, out of his shattered memories, there’s one person he recognizes without a doubt: Jessie’s sister. He just doesn’t know why. Yet.
But Sophie isn’t the only phantom drawing Jessie and Ben together. An elusive serial murderer known as the Heartless Killer has reemerged from the shadows. His next move will cut even deeper into Jessie’s worst fears. And for Ben, what happens this time is going to be unforgettable.


The Purple Banana Smoothie is the perfect drink for Her Last Day. It’s a refreshing and quick drink that’s impossible to put down until the very last drop!


Almond Milk


Add one cup of ice to a blender. If you have time, make some almond milk ice cubes ahead of time.

½ cup fresh Almond Milk

½ cup strawberries

½ cup blueberries

1 ripe banana

Blend all of the ingredients together at once until smooth. Thicken smoothie by adding more berries if needed to get just the right texture, creaminess and thickness.

Don't forget to check out TR's last Drinks with Reads here

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express Necklace

The Murder on the Orient Express party train is leaving the station and we want to get you everything you need to throw your own MOTOC theme party - including jewelry to wear that night. Today we're making a Murder on the Orient Express necklace. 


  • Chain, o rings
  • Lobster clasp
  • Daisy button
  • Mini watch face
  • Read bead
  • Headpins
  • A gold button that looks like it's from a uniform
  • Miniature books 
  • Thumbnail color printouts of Murder on the Orient Express book covers
  • Miniature doll house books (I got mine at Michaels, but they have them at other craft stores)
  • E6000 Glue
  • Three earring hooks 

Step One:

Save the photos above on your computer and size them to one inch by 3/4 inch (or the size of your little books). Cut them out. You may have to trim the edges to get them to fit the books. 

Step Two:

Glue the book covers on to the little books.Wait until the glue dries. 

Step Three:
Use the wire cutters to snip the earring hooks like in the photo below. 

Then glue the cut end into a little book, leaving the loop hanging out on top of the book. 

It will look like this:

Step Four:
Cut the desired length of chain. Now it's time to attach the charms. We selected charms that tied to the book itself, or clues in the story - book covers, a button, a train and a clock - but you can use anything that strikes your fancy. Start with the charm that you want in the middle. We used o-rings and used the pliers to open them, thread them through the chain and the charm. Keep working until all of the charms are attached. 

Step Five:
Then take the pin and thread it through the daisy bead, make a loop using the pliers and attached it to the end of the chain. This will enable the wearer to adjust the length of the necklace according to the outfit. 

And you're done!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

New Miss Fisher Movie in the Works

There is a new Miss Fisher Movie in the works - thanks to the Australian fan base that blew out the goals for a Kickstarter funding campaign in the first day of the campaign

According to the Kickstarter page, the movie will be set in the late 1920’s, and will be called Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears. The movie is intended to honor the heightened exoticisms of the murder mystery genre as the Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher, lady detective, escapes the small screen and takes off on a global adventure - via romantic wayside stops in the Far East, glamorous sojourns in the mansions of London, and a battle to survive the rolling sands of the Arabian Desert long enough to find the missing treasure, solve numerous murders and break all aviation records as she wings her way home again.

Sounds like a lot of fun and still in the style of the wonderful Kerry Greenwood books

No word on when we might get to see the film in the US, but we'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

#Halloween Drinks to Die For

The Castle Vampire Weekend drink
Recipe for a vampish weekend.
Halloween is almost here. Some friends and I decided we needed to create, borrow, and adapt beverages for our favorite Halloween crime classic TV episodes. We got together to mix and test the drinks below. 

So grab a cocktail shaker and your TV remote and let’s get started.

• Castle: “Vampire Weekend”
The Episode: Beckett and Castle find themselves trying to solve the murder of a man killed with a wooden stake who hung out in the “vampire underworld” while trying to decide what to wear to a Halloween party.
The Drink: “The Castletini” – Three parts champagne, one part cranberry juice, and a splash of blood orange liqueur. This drink is really well suited for any episode of Castle. You can also have a glass of Vampire merlot (available from World Market).

• NCIS: “Chimera”
The Episode: In Greek mythology a Chimera (pronounced Ki-mera) is a monster with the head of a goat, the body of a lion, and a dragon’s tail. When Gibbs and the team head for a ship, called Chimera, they find that the crew has disappeared, except for the dead body of one crewman.
The Drink: “The Chimera” – Two parts whiskey; one part blood orange juice, a tablespoon of sugar (a Halloween version of the whiskey sour). True Gibbs fans may want to have a steaming mug of black coffee instead.
• Bones: “Mummy in the Maze”
The Episode: Temperance Brennan and Seely Booth investigate the discovery of two dead women found disguised as mummies, one in a Halloween maze, the other in a haunted fun house. Dressed as Wonder Woman and a nerdy scientist they have to work quickly to prevent the death of a third woman.
The Drink: “I Want My Mummy” – Three parts ginger ale, one part cranberry juice and a splash of pomegranate liqueur for just a little kick.
True Blood shots
• Any Episode of True Blood
The Episodes: The show follows the adventures of telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse as she fights vampires and werewolves. It is based on the Southern Vampire Mysteries series by Charlaine Harris.
The Drink: “The Blood Shot” – Two ounces vodka, one ounce cassis liqueur, and one ounce cold water. Wax fangs optional.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Flame Noir Candle Company

This time of year we're always on the hunt for gifties for our favorite mystery fans. So nice to see new offerings over at the Flame Noir Candle Company, like the Poirot inspired Whitehaven Mansions candle which is scented with Belgian chocolate, blooming poppies and the "aroma of old-fashioned grooming tonic." I love the creative whimsey of these scents that can make it seem like your favorite mystery character was just in the room. 

Fans of Miss Phryne Fisher will love the Wardlow House candle, scented with lavender, bergamot, vanilla, and cinnamon

Here's the Nick and Nora Charles gift set...The 52nd Speakeasy featuring "a top shelf blend of warm, fragrant tobacco, wittily intertwined with an ample dose of sweet and spicy bourbon whiskey" and the Hotel Normandy, "a sassy cocktail of intoxicating jasmine, upscale bergamot, and the amorous whimsy of whole vanilla bean."

And don't forget Poirot's Christmas..."A dignified blend of teakwood, citrus, vetiver and pine trees for a Jazz Age holiday filled with mystery and delight."

They also have scented room sprays and wax melts.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Double Cross Martini & The Last Mrs. Parrish

The sisters Constantine - Lynn & Val , who write under the name Liv Constantine, have just published their first novel, The Last Mrs. Parrish. Let's see what drink they've cooked up to match the book.

Our novel, THE LAST MRS. PARRISH, is set in the tony town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, where the only thing bigger than the houses are the bank accounts of its residents. Amber Patterson is tired of watching from the sidelines while these pampered women get everything they want. She decides it’s her turn, and sets her sights on Jackson Parrish. So what that he’s someone else’s husband? She hatches a plan to get close to his wife, Daphne, with the intent of taking over her glamorous life. 

Amber arranges an “accidental” meeting at the gym, where she pretends to have lost her sister to Cystic Fibrosis, the same disease that claimed the life of Daphne’s sister. Over coffee, Amber sets the trap. “Amber leaned forward and did her best to look interested while she calculated the total worth of diamonds on Daphne’s ears, the tennis bracelet on her wrist, and the huge diamond on her tanned and perfectly manicured finger. She must have had at least a hundred-grand walking around on her size four body, and all she could do was whine about her sad childhood.”    

Before long, Amber is Daphne’s co-chair on the Cystic Fibrosis fundraiser committee, where she insinuates herself into Daphne’s good graces. Their “shared grief” bonds them, and soon Amber is Daphne’s closest friend. As the story progresses, a secret from Amber’s past threatens to destroy all her plans. Will she succeed in becoming The Last Mrs. Parrish or will she get what she deserves?

The Double Cross Martini is what everyone is drinking in Bishops Harbor. It’s deliciously duplicitous, sneaks up on you, and packs a potent punch. Best of all— it’s low-carb so you will still fit into your designer jeans the next day. But be careful, you never know what might happen after you down a few.

Double Cross Martini Recipe

Double Cross Vodka
Malibu Passion
Pineapple Juice
Peach Juice
Splash of Grenadine
Garnish with orange

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express Train Cake

We're getting ready for our Murder on the Orient Express Party to celebrate the new movie. What better dessert than a train, made out of cake, so Kerry, Sharon, Lorraine and I all got together to make it happen. 

- train cake mold
- flour spray to get the cake out of the mold
- black cake paint (we got ours from Michaels)
- Coconut flakes for snow
- Chocolate chips for the stacks
- Gold icing for the light
- Black icing to help coal and stacks stay in place
- Black sugar balls for the coal ( we got ours at Michaels)
- large tray to seat the cake on
- Foil covered cookie sheet

We made our cake using the Williams Sonoma Train Cake mold (many can be found on eBay).

Step One:
Make the cake. William Sonoma recommends the following recipe for the train cake: 

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract


Have all the ingredients at room temperature. Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 350°F. Grease and flour the wells of a railway cake pan and spray with flour spray. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sour cream, eggs and vanilla until combined. Fit the mixer with the flat beater. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture and beat on the lowest speed until the dry ingredients are moistened, 15 to 20 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds. Divide the batter in half and set half of it aside. 

Spoon the remaining batter evenly among the prepared wells. Tap the pan firmly on the countertop to release any air bubbles. To ensure good details on the cakes, spread the batter so it reaches the top edges of each well and is slightly lower in the center of the well. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes.Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then invert the cakes onto the rack and let cool for at least 1 hour before decorating or serving. Wash and thoroughly dry the pan. Grease and flour the wells and repeat with the remaining batter. Makes 18 cakes.

Step Two:
Cover the tray with coconut flakes so it looks like snow.

Step Three:
Spray paint your train car cakes. We used the foil covered cookie sheet underneath the cakes so we would't make a mess. You can use plates because the spray is edible, but it's one more thing to clean. 

Step Four:
Add a little black icing on top of coal cars and then add the black balls at the tops. The icing will help the balls stay in place.

Step Five:
Add a dab of icing on top of the smoke stacks and add chocolate chips.  

Step Six:
Take your gold icing and put it over the light on the front of the engine. 

And now you have a beautiful train cake for your fabulous party. Check out our Murder on the Orient Express sandwiches.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Mary Rose by Geoffrey Girard

Fall has arrived, Halloween is just around the corner, and Kerry Hammond is here to review a ghost story to keep you up at night.

Mary Rose by Geoffrey Girard released in Paperback on October 17 from Adaptive Books. I was fascinated by the backstory of this book. It was based on a ghost story written by J. M. Barrie, best known as the creator of Peter Pan. Barrie wrote Mary Rose as a play in 1920 and Alfred Hitchcock attempted to adapt the story into a film but it never got off the ground. I was extremely excited to see how Girard would put a modern day spin on such a story.

Mary Rose Morland and Simon Blake are a successful Philadelphia couple. They’re in love and Simon is ready to pop the question. Before he proposes, however, they travel to England where Mary Rose grew up in order for Simon to ask her father for her hand in marriage. While there, Simon learns of an event in Mary Rose’s childhood where she disappeared for thirty-three days on a remote island. After this time, she showed up with no memory of the lost time and no visible scars. The details of her disappearance were never understood and Simon decides that he needs to understand what happened to her. They travel to the remote area of her disappearance and Simon’s obsession with the truth gets even stronger as he sees the effect the location has on his fiancĂ©. It makes you wonder if some things are better left undiscovered.

I was drawn into the book immediately. I loved Girard’s writing style and found myself wondering why I hadn’t read this author before. His descriptions were wonderful and made me feel like I was right there; I was immersed in the story being played out in front of me. It was chilling and wonderful, a great book that is best enjoyed with the light on.

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