Friday, December 15, 2017

Murder Keeps No Calendar and The Negroni with Cathy Ace

One of our favorite authors, Welsh-born, now Canadian Cathy Ace, has launched a new collection of novellas and short stories based on the calendar. Cathy Ace is the author of the Cait Morgan Mysteries and the WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries. Winner of the 2015 Bony Blithe Award for Best Canadian Light Mystery, she was a finalist again in 2017, the same year she was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story. Her new collection is just in time for the new year.  

December 18th sees the launch of a collection of novella and short stories that allow Cathy Ace to do something her readers have been asking her to do for some time – she gets the chance to share how Cait Morgan met Bud Anderson, and how the women of the WISE Enquiries Agency decided to set up in business together. Not only that, but she also gets the chance to introduce readers to a new character she hopes they’ll warm to – Detective Inspector Evan Glover of the Glamorgan Police Service, and his wife Betty…whose insights are not something he exactly relies upon, but he’s absolutely prepared to admit they help him out sometimes. 
Beyond these murderously good tales, she also brings standalone shorts and novellas, a total of eight novellas and four short stories, each connected with one month of the year, and all with something in common – MURDER! 
One of the novellas takes readers on a journey to Florence, with Doug Rossi, a chip shop owner from south west Scotland who’s won the lottery, and decides it’s time to find out what his grandfather left behind when he migrated decades earlier. Unfortunately he gets a bit more experience of Italy – and the Italian reality of vendetta – than he’d bargained for. Here’s a brief introduction to Doug:

Doug Rossi considered himself a lucky man: he’d been born to a loving couple; raised in a small but caring community on the west coast of Scotland; married his childhood sweetheart, and ran a well-established family business – Rossi’s Fish and Chips – with a prime location on the seafront.

Most other people in the village considered Doug cursed: he was the only child of five siblings to survive infancy; his fisherman father had been lost at sea when Doug was very young, leaving his mother to run a foundering chip shop alone, then she had died just weeks after his eighteenth birthday; his wife of seventeen years had recently been killed when her car hit a stray cow and – to top it all – the local council was insisting Doug make thousands of pounds’ worth of alterations to his ramshackle chip shop, or be closed down.
As Doug always said: it was how you looked at a thing that made it what it was, and if you just took the bitter with the sweet, it would usually all work out for the best. In the end.”

Whilst chatting with a mysterious woman at his Florentine hotel, Doug is encouraged to try a Negroni. She suggests he takes it lengthened with soda, to allow it to be more suitable as an afternoon quencher, rather than the aperitif it usually is. So what’s it like? Let Doug tell you:

He sipped the reddish liquid with care, unsure what to expect. His taste buds felt as though they were about to burst; the drink was fragrant and, at first, sweet at the front of his tongue, and on his lips. Then, as he swallowed, a wave of intense bitterness hit him; his mouth felt cleansed. The singed orange peel balanced on the edge of the glass gave the experience an extra dimension, the pungent oils settling in his nose and making the flavor of the drink even more complex.
‘It’s like a wee work of art in a glass,’ he said quietly, addressing the drink itself, more than the woman opposite. 
She sat back and looked at Doug through narrowed eyes. ‘You understand what is difficult. Complicated. This is good. So, why you come here, in Firenze?’”

So, if you fancy an anthology that’s going to give you some wonderful background insights into characters you might already know, as well as introducing you to characters who will be around more in the future, this is a great one for you. Two of the stories in it have already been produced for BBC Radio 4…and there are settings to please everyone, too; come to Canada to be with Cait when she meets Bud, to Wales to meet Evan and Betty Glover, to London where the four women meet who will set up the WISE Enquiries Agency, to Shanghai in the 1930s, a tea shop in an Oxfordshire village, meet a fledgling PI in the Kentish city of Dover, or enjoy Florence with Doug and the mysterious woman he meets over a Negroni. And try a Negroni yourself – it’s an unusual, fabulous taste, as Cathy can attest – but be aware it’s very much a “love it or hate it” sort of drink.

The Negroni

This drink was invented at Casoni Bar in Florence in the 1920s, and recipes don’t vary too much. This one is tried, tested, and loved. You can add as much soda as you like to lengthen the drink, but if you add more soda water than the total quantity of the alcohol, the flavor changes a great deal. You have been warned!

One part Bombay Sapphire gin (or your favorite gin)
One part Cinzano Rosso (or any sweet vermouth)
One part Campari (no substitutes for this one!)
Shake with ice, strain over ice in a tumbler, or stir over ice in a stirring jar
Either place a slice of orange in the drink, or, if you have the time, take the rind from a slice of orange and singe it with a lighter, placing it on the edge of the glass, not in the drink.
You may add soda water if you wish.

As the Italians would say, “Cin, cin!”

You can find Cathy on Facebook and Twitter @AceCathy. The book is on Kindle and print. 



  1. Thanks for having me along today - it was fun to make this drink...and to taste test it, of course!