Friday, December 22, 2017

A Blustery Christmas Mystery and the Christmas Cosmo

Lorraine Masonheimer has created a wonderful Christmas Cosmo to go with J. Jefferson Farjeon's Mystery in White: A Christmas Crime Story. 

Grab your mittens and escape into the wintry, snow-laden tale—Mystery in White:  A Christmas Crime Story.  Penned by J. Jefferson Farjeon, a golden age English crime novelist, this classic whodunit is the perfect read for mystery fans that love a few twists and turns with their candy cane.
On Christmas Eve, an English country mansion is found vacant with an unlocked door, fires burning and the kettle whistling with tea ready to go.  Six strangers take shelter in the house fleeing a train stranded by the blizzard.  The eccentric characters find themselves trapped with a murderer in their midst that may be tied to the secrets of the empty house.  With no phones, impassable roads and blinding snow, they realize no help will arrive.
At the start, there is a sense that something is very wrong and the suspense ratchets tighter and tighter with each page.  As the plot thickens like the falling snow, the story is foreboding and atmospheric with a bit of a supernatural slant.  As more secrets are revealed and the body count rises, who knows if they’ll survive the night.
The story is full of lurking, footprints in the snow that weren’t there five minutes ago, a sense of being watched, a dark forest, blizzard force winds, unexplained open windows, the sound of shuffling feet, a creepy portrait above the fire and concealed identities all make this story a Christmas mystery delight.  The ghosts of Christmas past leave one with shivers and quivers and a satisfying conclusion.  
Mystery in White was written three years after Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express.  In both books, the train is stuck in a snowdrift and a murder takes place. The stories diverge widely from there.  Ten years after Mystery in White was published, Agatha Christie wrote Three Blind Mice (adapted into the play Mousetrap) which has several themes present in this book.  Farjeon’s main character, Mr. Maltby, is Sherlock-like with his sharp mind, crisp questioning and uncanny ability to solve a puzzler.  While not as well-known as Christie, Conan Doyle and du Maurier, Mr. Farjeon was highly acclaimed in his day with more than 60 mystery novels to his credit.  He is best known for his play Number Seventeen that was adapted to film by Alfred Hitchcock.  Mystery in White is a great example of the books from the golden era of mysteries and this story continues to enchant.  
The story ends amiably with a toast to drink to the health of everybody under the sun including the police inspector who exclaimed “I’ve earned my bit of turkey.”  Nothing goes better with turkey than cranberries.  Here’s a perfect deep red classic Christmas drink to offer up a toast for a new addition to your Christmas mystery library and to family and friends.  

3 ¼ c + 2T Just Cranberry juice
1 ½ c Simple syrup
½ c         Cinnamon syrup (recipe follows)
1 3/4 c   Plymouth Gin
6T         Lemon juice, fresh
Fill a large pitcher with cranberry juice, simple syrup, cinnamon syrup, gin and lemon juice.  Serve chilled over crushed ice.  Garnish with 3-4 cranberries threaded onto a rosemary sprig.  Yield:  10 drinks.

½ c         Water
½ c         Sugar
2 oz. Cassia Cinnamon Chunk (Penzeys Spice)

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes.  Off the heat and drop in 1 cheesecloth tied with string filled with cinnamon chunks and let steep about 1-2 hours.  Strain syrup into a container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  Syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.  Yield:  ½ cup.

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