Sunday, April 29, 2018

Her Beheading by Anne Graue

April is Poetry Month, so every Sunday this month we will be featuring a poem about crime from Gerald So's 5-2 blog. This week's poem is called Her Beheading and it was written by Anne Graue.


sordid garments laced
with brazen-faced

her convicted eye
her heart
her little neck

she shed her self
the germ of her
on peaceful knees

her folded hands
on white ermine
the red skirt

her throated falcon
ladies waiting
a crucifix for her waist

her gaze
a disturbance then
the gleaming descent

Friday, April 27, 2018

Kerry Hammond: Malice Domestic Mystery Most Geographical and the Chai Manhattan

Kerry Hammond's first short story has been published in the Malice Domestic Anthology: Mystery Most Geographical. Today's she tells us about her story.

Four men from four different countries are snowed in at a mid-mountain ski lodge in Megève, France. When they start talking, a question is posed: have you ever known a murderer? One man starts to tell a story as the fire crackles. He changes the names, not to protect the innocent, or so he says.....but to protect the guilty.

I first came across Megève while watching one of my favorite Audrey Hepburn movies, Charade. Megève is the ski resort where Hepburn meets Cary Grant and tells him, "I already know an awful lot of people, so until one of them dies I couldn't possibly meet anyone else." I thought the resort would be the perfect place to snow in some characters and see what happened.

To Protect the Guilty goes perfectly with a Chai Manhattan. It's strong enough to keep you warm as you envision yourself snowed in with the characters.  

Chai Manhattan Ingredients:
2 oz Bourbon
.5 oz Chai Liqueur
1  Amarena Cherry

Shake bourbon and chai liqueur in a shaker with ice. Pour into your favorite glass and drop in the cherry.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Taking Care Wine Charms and Cupcake

Kick off your next book group get-together with a great conversation starter—A set of 12 wine charms that celebrate Deborah Lacy’s short story, "Taking Care" in the May/June edition of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. Lorraine Masonheimer created these fabulous charms that include key elements in the story. To inspire your very own design, select a set of charms that impressed you most about the story. Serve the wine alongside cupcakes tucked into a broken heart wrapper with an edible wine glass top rising from the broken heart. Frost the cupcake using the grass tip and green frosting for the story’s garden setting. 

Twelve Hinged ear hoops ¾” to 1”
Swarovski beads (12 blue, 12 green, 24 clear)
Silver round beads (48)
Twelve charms listed above
Round nose pliers
Jump rings 6mm
Self-adhesive rhinestones

Cupcake mix
Green frosting
Decorating bag and tip 233
Premade pie crust
Wrapper, heart and wine glass template
Patterned and red paper and glue dots

Step One: Organize Beads & Prep Charms
Create piles of beads in the order of stringing. Some charms have the jump ring attached. Add jump ring to charms that do not have a ring. Type, cut and glue the word "Mother" to the inside of the frame charm and seat the protective cover. Add rhinestones to the U.S. shape to mark Los Angeles, CA and Raleigh, NC. Add a red rhinestone to the inside of the teacup. Take care when washing the charms and reapply rhinestones as needed.

Step Two: String Beads and Charms
Open the ear hoops and slide a clear crystal bead onto the hoop. Next, slide a silver round bead, a green bead, a silver bead, a charm, a silver bead, a blue bead, a silver bead and a clear crystal bead onto the hoop and close

Step Three: Repeat & Attach
Repeat until all 12 wine charms are completed. Open the hoop, slide the completed ring onto the stem of the wine glass, close the hoop and pour the wine. A nice Chardonnay is a great place to start while whipping up a batch of cupcakes!

Step Four: Print & Cut Templates
Place your cursor over this image, right click, scroll to Save Image As and place it onto your computer desktop. Open a word document, draw a text box and insert the image into the box. Size the templates to the sizes marked on the templates, print and cut out the images.

Step Five: Create Cupcake Wrap
Trace the cupcake wrap and heart templates onto the patterned and red paper and cut out the shapes. Roll the wrapper into a circle to fit the cupcake and glue together. Cut the heart into two broken pieces and glue to the wrapper. If desired, add a drop of blood at the bottom of the heart.

Step Six: Create Edible Wine Glass Top
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take the wine glass template and place onto the pie crust. Using a sharp knife, cut around the wine glass to equal the number of cupcakes plus a few extra in case some break. Carefully place the glasses onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and brush with egg whites. Bake for 10-12 minutes until light golden brown. Lay the glasses flat to cool for a minimum of 15-20 minutes.

Step Seven: Bake & Frost Cupcakes
Bake your favorite cupcakes according to package directions and cool. Mix your favorite medium consistency icing recipe and add green food paste to create the color of grass. Fit the decorating bag with decorating tip 233 and fill the bag ½ full with the icing. Squeeze the bag to form grass. Pull up and away when icing strand is long enough (1/2”) to stop pressure and pull tip away. Grass will form only if you stop squeezing before pulling the tip away. Keep clusters close together so the cake doesn’t show through.

Insert the cupcakes into the broken heart wrappers. Carefully place the wine glass into the center of the cupcake so the glass appears to rise from the center of the broken heart.

Step Eight: Set Up & Party
Set out the wine glasses with charms and the cupcakes. Open the wine and let the conversation begin! You can read the story in the May/June issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine

For a fun party idea, have the book group vote on a favorite book read that year and have everyone create one wine charm from the book. Draw a name and the wine charms go to the winner.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Review: All The Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson

Peter Swanson has a new book out and Kerry Hammond is here to tell us about it.

All The Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson was released in Hardcover on April 3 by William Morrow. I am a big fan of Peter Swanson’s writing. I read and enjoyed The Kind Worth Killing in 2015; see the Mystery Playground review HERE. When the author’s latest book was about to be released, I jumped at the opportunity to read it, wondering how it would stack up to his previous books.

In All The Beautiful Lies we meet Harry Ackerson, a young man who has just learned of the death of his father. Harry leaves college, missing graduation, to travel to Maine to deal with funeral arrangements and provide moral support for his stepmother, Alice.

Alice was much younger than Harry’s father, who remarried after Harry’s mother passed away, and Harry has always felt a certain attraction toward her. Perhaps it’s the grief they are both dealing with, but Harry feels the same attraction he initially felt as they continue to spend more time together. When Alice makes it clear that she feels the attraction as well, Harry wonders what he’s really feeling and what it might mean to act on it. The police eventually decide that Harry’s father’s death is murder rather than an accident, and he can't help but wonder just who would want to kill his father and why.

The story is told in alternating chapters. We have “Then,” where we learn who Alice is, where she came from, and what she’s been through. We have “Now,” where we watch current events unfold. We witness Harry’s grief as well as his uncontrollable attraction to his not-much-older-than-him stepmother. We also meet Grace McGowan, who claims to know Harry’s father from his NYC bookstore, but who is clearly hiding something. The alternating timeline is well written and allows the story to unfold in such a way that builds suspense and keeps the reader on edge.

Swanson’s ability to build suspense is what I enjoy most in his novels. Even if I try to guess the conclusion, I find that I am always surprised by a twist or two at the very end. His plots are well thought out and never cease to draw me in. They’re never cookie cutter, but rather intriguing, unique, and interesting stories about human nature and the things people will do to get what they want.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Persona by Karen Petersen

April is Poetry Month, so every Sunday this month we will be featuring a poem about crime from Gerald So's 5-2 blog. This week's poem is called Persona and it was written by Karen Petersen. 


Dead male body in hotel room
age 23, overdose
with yesterday's tan.
Cheerful coroner,
little black bag,
"This one’s easy."
Hot sun melting
the weeping needle
Parking lot tar,
footprint by the door
the last evidence of life.
This kid was no one
but he had a past,
and dreams
The ticking clock...
all gone by the stillness of noon.

Here Karen Petersen reads her poem:

Friday, April 20, 2018

Death by Dumpling and the Fortuitous Sling

Vivien Chien combines two of my favorite things in the whole wide world in her novels, Chinese take out and mysteries, and today she's prepared a fabulous beverage to match all of this goodness on today's Drinks with Reads. 

Vivien Chien lives and writes in Cleveland where she is hard at work on the third book in her Noodle Shop series. The second book, Dim Sum of All Fears, will release in August 2018. When she’s not writing, she can be found frolicking in the bookstore or searching for her next bowl of noodles. 

The last place Lana Lee thought she would ever end up is back at her family’s restaurant. But after a brutal break-up and a dramatic workplace walk-out, she figures that helping wait tables is her best option for putting her life back together. Even if that means having to put up with her mother, who is dead-set on finding her a husband. 

Lana’s love life soon becomes yesterday’s news once the restaurant’s property manager, Mr. Feng, turns up dead―after a delivery of shrimp dumplings from Ho-Lee. But how could this have happened when everyone on staff knew about Mr. Feng’s severe, life-threatening shellfish allergy? Now, with the whole restaurant under suspicion for murder and the local media in a feeding frenzy―to say nothing of the gorgeous police detective who keeps turning up for take-out―it’s up to Lana to find out who is behind Feng’s killer order. . . before her own number is up.

The Fortuitous Sling is the perfect complement to Death by Dumpling not only because its tarty flavor matches the sassy attitude of Lana Lee, but much like the story, this drink is guaranteed to sneak up on you. Enjoy the subtle notes of cherry, lime and ginger orange as you delve further into the mystery of who killed Thomas Feng. But, beware, both will have your head spinning by the end of the evening!

To enjoy, follow the recipe below:
The Fortuitous Sling

.75oz London Dry Gin (Tanqueray, Brokers)
.75 Blended Japanese Whiskey (Toki) 
.75 Cherry Heering
.5 Benedictine
.25 Grenadine
.75 Fresh Lime Juice
.5 Ginger Orange Syrup*
3 Dashes Angostura Bitters
2 oz Ginger Beer

Add all ingredients and ginger beer to a cocktail shaker with ice
Shake well
Strain over fresh ice in Collins glass
Top with Ginger Beer.
Garnish with orange slice & cherry

*Ginger Orange Syrup
2:2:1 ginger:sugar: water by weight.

2lbs ginger, peeled and grated
2lb sugar
1lb water
2 oranges zested
Simmer on low/medium heat until fully incorporated, try not to boil. Has other uses for delicious Mules!

*Thank you to John Gibian at LBM Bar in Lakewood, OH for putting together this drink. For more information on this amazing establishment, check out

You can find Vivien on Facebook, on Twitter @vivien_chien and on Instagram: vivien_chien_author.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Crime & Beyond Book Club Reads The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Kerry Hammond is here with the latest report from the Denver-based Crime & Beyond book club. They just finished a book by Shari Lapena.

Crime & Beyond met recently to discuss The Couple Next Door, written by new-to-us author Shari Lapena. The latest craze in books is the domestic thriller, think Gone Girl and Girl on a Train. A recent article in the New Yorker explains that these books are ”a subset of recent thrillers featuring “unreliable” female protagonists who, despite their considerable handicaps—which may involve alcoholism, drug addiction, paranoia, and even psychosis—manage to persevere and solve mysteries where others have failed.”

The Couple Next Door falls into the domestic thriller category and it features Anne and Marco Conti, a young couple who have just started a family with their new baby Cora. One evening they decide to treat themselves to a night out and go next door to have dinner with neighbors. While they are enjoying their little dinner party, their world is turned upside down when Cora goes missing. Blame and suspicion falls on Anne and Marco, and as the police investigate we see inside their marriage. We see that Anne was overwhelmed with her new baby, Marco was struggling at work, and Anne’s parents never approved of their daughter’s choice in husband. The story behind Cora’s disappearance takes more than one turn as each character’s story unravels and the truth is revealed.

This was a great book club pick and we had a very lively and spirited discussion. We delved into everything from Anne and Marco’s parenting skills to the author’s ability to build suspense and lay suspicion at everyone’s door. The pace of the book made it hard to put down and the style of writing kept us all interested. We had differing opinions of the final twist and this provided additional points to debate.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

To Be A Woman in American Society by Josephine Napiore

April is Poetry Month, so every Sunday this month we will be featuring a poem about crime from Gerald So's 5-2 blog. This week's poem is called "To Be a Woman in American Society" and it was written by Josephine Napiore.


She says words that fall from lips bitter
with experience. "Women," she says, "see violence
enacted on other women." "Women,"
she says, "are always aware of a constant threat."

My ears ring with memories of "sweetheart"
from a man on the bus. I just looked away.
If I had responded at all, would he have followed me
off at my stop? Of "smile" from the man
on the sidewalk who blocked my path until I did.
If I had got around him, would he have followed me,
yelling "smile"? I imagine him screaming, "Smile,
you bitch, and make ME happy!"

We are controlled—we can't go out at night
alone. We cannot go THERE at all—in that skirt.
When we are sent home from school to change clothes
because our yoga pants distract the boys from their
education, we are being told ours
doesn't matter.

We are fat-shamed, slut-shamed, frigid-shamed.
Accused of "Friend zoning," which blames us
for not wanting the one who wants us. For having
our own feelings, desires, preferences. We are bullied
—by other women—online, to our faces, behind our backs.
We are told that we asked for it when we dress sexy.
We are raped and/or murdered when we say, "No."

We have to fight for the rights to control our own bodies
—over and over. Even once we have them.
We are made to feel stupid, worthless, unfeminine,
"bossy" when we stand up for ourselves. We are "crazy"
when men don't want to deal with our anger, even
when they are the ones who treated us badly
and made us angry. We should just take it
and shut up.

I fear for my daughter in this world—her lips
are still sweet. They still smile on their own.
To be a woman is limiting—in movement,
in careers, in income, in even our own facial
expressions. To be a woman is frightening,
dangerous. There are too many words
to be used against us.

Here is the poem read by the author.