Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Review: Last Summer by Kerry Lonsdale


Kerry Hammond is here with her review of the latest novel by Kerry Lonsdale.

Last Summer by Kerry Lonsdale was published on July 9, in Trade Paperback, by Lake Union Publishing. Lonsdale is known for her Everything series, which includes Everything We Keep, Everything We Left Behind, and Everything We Give. Last Summer is her second standalone.

I started this book thinking it was a mystery. While there is no murder, the book is a mystery of sorts. The mystery revolves around Ella Skye’s memory loss. When a car crash lands her in the hospital, she finds out she’s lost her unborn baby. The problem is, Ella doesn’t even remember being pregnant. The last thing she does remember is having an argument with her husband, Damian, right before she got in the car.

Elle questions Damian as she tries to get her memory back, but he refuses to talk to her. At first, she thinks he’s grieving for the loss of their unborn child, but a few comments he makes make her wonder if there’s more to it than that. When she lands a new writing assignment for the magazine she works for, she takes it, hoping it might lead to some answers. The answers she finds, though, might not be the ones she wants to hear.

I honestly couldn’t put this book down. I enjoyed following along as Ella searched for her lost memories and tried to unravel the events that led up to her accident. Lonsdale doles out the clues to Ella’s lost time in the perfect amount of bits and pieces to keep the suspense going and keep this reader on the edge of her seat. Although I previously stated that the book isn’t a mystery, there were a couple of excellent twists that were both surprising and satisfying. The story was well written, fast paced, and full of suspense. This was a great summer read.

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

You can always find Mystery Playground on Twitter @mysteryplaygrnd and on Facebook. You can also follow the blog by clicking the link on the upper right-hand corner of this webpage. 


Friday, July 12, 2019

Watermelon Margaritas and the Trouble with Talent





Our guest today on Drinks with Reads is Kathy Krevat is the author of the Gourmet Cat Mystery series by Kensington/Lyrical and the Chocolate Covered Mystery series by Berkley Prime Crime. She’s also on the board of Partners in Crime – the San Diego chapter of Sisters in Crime, on the board of Playwrights Project, a nonprofit that teaches literacy through playwriting, and an advisor to the CCA Writers’ Conference, the only free writing conference for high school students in the US. 

Colbie Summers, star of the Gourmet Cat Mystery series, loves Pico’s Restaurant, set in the fictional town of Sunnyside, California. She often meets her friends there to enjoy spicy burritos and tangy margaritas while solving her latest mystery. 

In THE TROUBLE WITH TALENT, Colbie is forced to find a new restaurant when Pico’s is closed due to an unusual situation – an infestation of crickets. She has no idea that someone deliberately set the insects loose to get her out of her comfort zone. 

She’s too busy to go far. Her Meowio Batali Gourmet Cat Food business is growing and her business partner is the prime suspect in a murder. Sunnyside’s most gifted students have been at the mercy of a shadowy network of college fixers—including an abusive oboe teacher whose recommendation is necessary to get into a college conservatory and a school secretary who alters grades for cash. When they turn up dead, Colbie has to untangle a cat’s cradle of suspects and motivations—from livid parents and students whose dreams have been crushed to an entire secret Facebook group of spurned lovers.
With the big re-order now on hold and the real killer still at large, Colbie discovers that someone has been grading on a very dangerous curve—and it will take all her newfound sleuthing talent to land safely on her feet.

*****
 
With the summer heat upon us, I know Colbie and her friends would love the cool taste of Watermelon Margaritas:

1 cup of ice
2/3 cup of diced fresh watermelon
1-1/2 oz tequila
1/2 oz triple sec
2 TB agave or simple syrup
Lime juice squeezed from half a lime 

Blend it all in together until smooth and serve immediately.



Thursday, July 11, 2019

Crime & Beyond Book Club Reads Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly


The Denver-based book club Crime & Beyond recently discussed the latest book by Michael Connelly in the Renee Ballard series and Kerry Hammond is here to tell us what they thought.

Michael Connelly is one of our go-to authors. We enjoy his writing and have read books in each of his series: Mickey Haller, Harry Bosch, and Renee Ballard. Dark Sacred Night is the second in the Renee Ballard series, but also features Harry Bosch. It’s the 21st book for Harry Bosch, but is also being listed as a Ballard & Bosch novel. Try and keep up.

Renee Ballard is an LAPD detective who has been put on the night shift, also known as “the late show.” She finds a man rifling through her files and learns that it’s retired detective Harry Bosch. Harry is working on a cold case and Renee wants in. They decide to team up to try and solve the murder of 15-year-old runaway Daisy Clayton.

The book got decent ratings and we had a great, in-depth discussion about all of the details of the story. We usually get a good discussion going because Connelly’s books have a lot of side investigations and aspects of each case the detectives are investigating. His books tend to be fast, enjoyable reads.

We were torn on whether or not we loved the Bosch-Ballard match up. Half of us liked it and the other half weren’t quite as taken with the idea. We felt that it wasn’t entirely fair that Ballard only got one book on her own before Bosch came on the scene. We didn’t get enough time to flesh out her character as an individual; Harry can kind of take over any scene he’s in. We would love more character development in addition to the plot driven stories Connelly is known for. We'll have to see what's in story for Ballard and Bosch next time.


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Review: A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder by Dianne Freeman


Kerry Hammond is here with a review of an historical mystery by a new-to-her author.

The Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder by Dianne Freeman was published on June 25, in Hardcover by Kensington. It is the second book in the historical Countess of Harleigh mystery series and a follow up to The Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder. This is the second book in the series, but the first I have read. I am a fan of historical mysteries and am always keen to try out new authors who write in that genre. I figured, if I can jump in at book two and not feel left out, that would be a testament to the author’s ability to write series installments that could function as standalone novels. I decided to put Freeman to the test, and spoiler alert, she passed.

Frances Wynn is an American born young widow and the Countess of Harleigh. She married Reggie, a man who turned out to be a cad and a philanderer, after a short courtship. Reggie is out of her life now, having died in the past year, and Frances is really coming into her own as a widow. She has gained independence and moved to London with her daughter. When her friend Mary Archer is murdered, she becomes embroiled in the case because she had attempted to set Mary up with her cousin Charles, who is now a suspect in the murder. She works with her friend and handsome neighbor, George Hazelton, to clear Charles’ name and get to the bottom of the murder.

There are books you devour because you can’t help yourself. You must read to find out what happens to the characters, who the murderer is. Then there are books that you are enjoying so much that you savor each page. You carry the book around with you but read in small bursts because you’re not ready for it to end—like taking small bites of your favorite chocolate bar to make it last. Much like a chocolate bar, when it’s gone it’s gone. So I savored this book, not wanting it to end too quickly.

If I had to choose, I would say that it was the characters that first drew me into the story. I loved the mystery too, but the characters really grabbed my attention; I immediately liked them and became invested in their exploits. Freeman does a great job of fleshing out their different personalities and pulling the reader in. I’m glad I jumped in at book two, since I now have book one to immediately look forward to. Let’s hope the author is working on the third installment.

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

You can always find Mystery Playground on Twitter @mysteryplaygrnd and on Facebook. You can also follow the blog by clicking the link on the upper right-hand corner of this webpage. 


Friday, July 5, 2019

Heart of Barkness and the La Paloma



Dog lovers rejoice! Today our guest on Drinks with Reads is Spencer Quinn, author of the Chet and Bernie mysteries featuring...you guessed it. He's paired his most recent book with the La Paloma. Curious about both, well read on...

Heart of Barkness is a Chet and Bernie mystery. Bernie is the detective and Chet, his pal, narrates the story – think Holmes and Watson. But don’t overdo the comparison. Chet is a dog. Not a talking dog! Not a human in a dog suit! He’s a narrating dog and as purely canine as I can make him.

The case concerns a country singer named Lotty Pilgrim, who was somewhat famous long ago. Something dreadful went wrong in those early years, a violent, crushing event Lotty has misunderstood all her life. Chet and Bernie start looking into her past, an investigation that takes them down to the Arizona/Mexico border. This is a beautiful, harsh country, full of sunshine but somehow not sunny, and very hot for much of the year. So how about a tequila drink of the non-sweet kind to cool one down? The La Paloma is nice, especially if you like grapefruit, which I do. Paloma is the dove, symbol of peace, in this case, the peace Chet and Bernie try to bring to Lotty’s life – and indeed into the lives of all their clients. The tequila drink is for Bernie, of course. Chet’s drink, as he points out from time to time, is water, preferably cold and fresh, so I’ve added some ice cubes to his bowl.

Here’s a simple recipe for La Paloma:
Ingredients
  •  2 oz. tequila
  • one half ounce lime juice
  • pinch of salt
  • grapefruit soda

Pour the mixture in a tall glass, add ice, stir, drink. Repeat.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Review: The Perfect Fraud by Ellen LaCorte


Kerry Hammond is here with her review of a debut novel of suspense.

The Perfect Fraud by Ellen LaCorte was published on June 18, in Hardcover, by Harper publishers. After a long career in Human Resources, LaCorte has tried her hand at writing and The Perfect Fraud is her debut novel. It’s a well-done first book and I have no doubt there will be more.

The book toggles between two protagonists: Rena, a young mother who is dealing with a small child who has a chronic illness that doctors have been unable to diagnose, and Claire, a tarot card reader whose only abilities lie in being good at guessing what her customers want to hear from their psychic. Both women are struggling with their own demons. Rena spends every waking hour with her daughter but gets no answers. Claire is caught in a rut, avoiding phone calls from her mother and future plans with her boyfriend Cal.

A chance encounter on an airplane put the two women’s lives on the same path. Their encounter eventually leads to an awakening for both Rena and Claire, but these awakenings both come with consequences.

LaCorte’s debut is an enjoyable pager-turner. I would categorize it as a novel of suspense with a few twists and turns to leave the reader guessing. I found her characters engaging and I enjoyed the way she unraveled their stories, piece by piece, so that I didn’t see what was coming until it was right in front of me. I’m not sure if this will be the start of a new series, but I can definitely see Claire continue her tarot readings in a future installment. Great summer read!

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

You can always find Mystery Playground on Twitter @mysteryplaygrnd and on Facebook. You can also follow the blog by clicking the link on the upper right-hand corner of this webpage. 


Friday, June 28, 2019

Strangled Eggs and Ham and A Bourbon Lemonade




Our guest today on Drinks with Reads is Maddie Day and if you comment on your favorite drink in sweltering weather below you can be entered to win a copy of Maddie's new book (US Resident only). 

Maddie Day writes the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. As Edith Maxwell, she writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the Local Foods Mysteries, and award-winning short crime fiction. With seventeen novels in print and five more in production, Maxwell has been nominated for an Agatha Award six times. She lives north of Boston with her beau and two elderly cats, and gardens and cooks when she isn’t killing people on the page or wasting time on Facebook.

In my Country Store Mysteries, proprietor Robbie Jordan and her seventy-something Aunt Adele are both fond of a taste of Four Roses bourbon. Strangled Eggs and Ham takes place during a steamy southern Indiana August, and Robbie can’t always take time for a dip in Lake Lemon to cool off.

Here’s what the story is about: While Robbie scrambles through breakfast orders in South Lick, tempers run as high as the sticky August heat. A developer’s plans to build a luxury resort atop one of the most scenic hills in Brown County infuriates opponents, who concoct protests and road blockades. When tensions boil over and a vocal protester is silenced forever at the resort site, Robbie ditches the griddle to catch the killer. But if slashed tires are any indication, she’ll need to crack this case before her own aunt gets served something deadly next.  

While Robbie usually takes her whiskey neat, over ice, or in hot tea, she might well enjoy this refreshing summer concoction. 

Bourbon Lemonade

Note: You can make this simply by combining lemonade and bourbon, but I felt it needed a punch-up.

Strip six or eight mint leaves off their stem into a flat bottomed glass. Crush with a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and a tablespoon of sugar. Add three ounces pink lemonade and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Strain into another glass filled with ice, add two ounces bourbon (Four Roses or your favorite), and stir. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a slice of lemon and enjoy a great mystery.

Please find her at edithmaxwell.com, at the Wicked Authors blog, and elsewhere:
Killer Characters (on the third of every month)

Readers: What’s your favorite refreshing drink in sweltering weather?

Friday, June 21, 2019

Chai Another Day and The Pink Lady




Leslie Budewitz, our guest today on Drinks with Reads, blends her passion for food, great mysteries, and the Northwest in two cozy mystery series. CHAI ANOTHER DAY, her fourth Spice Shop Mystery, set in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, was published on June 11. DEATH AL DENTE, first in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries, set in Jewel Bay, Montana, won the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. “All God’s Sparrows,” her first historical fiction, won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story; she also won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction. A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives and cooks in NW Montana. You can find her on Facebook.




“Welcome to the new Seattle, where climate is the only thing changing faster than the city’s skyline.”
So says Pepper Reece, owner of Seattle Spice in the famed Pike Place Market, and the main character in my Spice Shop mysteries. In Chai Another Day, the 4th in the series (Seventh St. Books, June 11, 2019), Pepper and her pals attend a memorial service for Joelle Chapman, a friend who was stabbed to death in the vintage and antique shop where she worked. Afterwards, the three women go out for a drink. Though Pepper favors wine at home, she enjoys the occasional nip of something stronger when she’s out and about. And the reaction of Joelle’s friends and family, all dressed in bright florals and shades of pink, acting like they’re celebrating a gallery opening rather than mourning the loss of a woman they loved, definitely calls for something stronger. 
The Pink Lady, a classic cocktail of the pre-war club era, is just right. The egg white smooths out the sharpness of the gin, and combines with the grenadine to make a lovely drink in shades of pink, topped with a light layer of froth. Joelle would have loved it. 

From CHAI ANOTHER DAY, Ch. 15
“I don’t care what the gallery owner says, that was not Joelle’s favorite champagne,” Kristen said. “Her taste was waaay more expensive.” 
“Where to?” I said. “For a real drink.”
We were standing on the sidewalk outside the gallery. Seattle summer evenings were never this hot. What was going on?
The theme of my life these days. 
Kristen steered us to a newish spot in the next block where she and Eric had gone for Date Night. The three of us snuggled into a booth for two and grabbed menus. 
“Hmm. I had my taste buds set on a Cosmo, but a Pink Lady sounds good. In Joelle’s honor,” I said. 
Seetha read the ingredients. “Gin, grenadine, and egg white? That’s raw egg. You could get salmonella.”
“The alcohol will kill the germs,” I said. Her mouth fell open. “I’m joking. I’m sure they use pasteurized eggs. The risk is minimal.”
We ordered drinks and Kristen chose appetizers to share. I sat back, my eyes stinging with the emotion of the day. 
“Remember when you were a kid,” I said, trusting that my friends had felt much the way I had, “and you thought when you were twenty-five, you’d have life all figured out and you’d just live it and there wouldn’t be any problems. Gad, I wish that were true.”
“It’s not?” Kristen said. I stuck out my tongue.
“I thought it was just me,” Seetha said. “That things were coming together late because my upbringing was a mix of so many cultures.”
“Then you hit forty,” I said, “and realize everybody’s always trying to figure it out. Even those people in their flowery outfits, pretending to enjoy cheap champagne.” 
“They were there for the art,” Kristen said, and we all giggled. “I swear, sometimes the pretension makes me want to gag. I miss funky Seattle. I miss when Northwest fashion meant the latest in plaid flannel and the hot new Gore-Tex rain jackets.” 
“As if,” I said. “You haven’t worn plaid flannel since we went camping at La Push in, what, 1997? It rained all weekend. A forest of Gore-Tex wouldn’t have kept us dry.”
She had a point, though. Natives and long-time residents do sometimes feel like the city’s gotten too big for its britches, believing the hype and overindulging in pseudo-sophistication. 
But I didn’t want to go all cranky over that right now. I had enough other reasons to feel cranky.
Our server set our drinks on the table. Mine was frothy and pretty, the pale pink deepening to dark rose near the bottom of the martini glass. I touched my tongue to the icy surface. “Delish.” 

Pink Lady 
For each drink:
1/2 ounce grenadine
1 egg white
1-1/2 ounces gin

Add all ingredients to a shaker with cracked ice. Shake well—when your hands are chilled, so is the drink—then strain into a martini or cocktail glass. 
(Excerpt and recipe from CHAI ANOTHER DAY, Seventh St. Books, June 2019)

About CHAI ANOTHER DAY:

Seattle Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece probes murder while juggling a troubled employee, her mother's house hunt, and a fisherman who's set his hook for her.
As owner of the Spice Shop in Seattle's famed Pike Place Market, Pepper Reece is always on the go. Between conjuring up new spice blends and serving iced spice tea to customers looking to beat the summer heat, she finally takes a break for a massage. But the Zen moment is shattered when she overhears an argument in her friend Aimee's vintage home decor shop that ends in murder. 
Wracked by guilt over her failure to intervene, Pepper investigates, only to discover a web of deadly connections that could ensnare a friend - and Pepper herself.





Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Review: The Cutting Room by Ashley Dyer


Kerry Hammond is here with a review of another writing duo.

The Cutting Room by Ashley Dyer was published on June 18, in Hardcover, by William Morrow. It is the second book to feature Detectives Ruth Lake and Greg Carver, who first appeared in Splinter in the Blood. Ashely Dyer is the nom de plume of the writing team of Margaret Murphy and Helen Pepper. Murphy is the author of psychological suspense and police procedurals and Pepper is an analyst and Forensic Scientist who has consulted for shows like Vera, Shetland and Bancroft.

In The Cutting Room, Lake and Carver are caught in a cat and mouse game as they hunt for a killer who calls himself the Ferryman and who passes his crimes scenes off as art exhibits. The killer sets up the scenes and alerts his followers via social media where to find them. The scenes are as gruesome as they are random and the detectives struggle to find a connection between the victims that could lead them to the identity of the killer.

Carver and Lake are both recovering from on the job traumas. Carver is physically injured and experiencing visions of auras, and Lake is suffering from an attack that has left her vulnerable. Individually they deal with their issues, and as a team they work past them to catch a sadistic killer who taunts the police every step of the way.

The Cutting Room is well-written and full of suspense. The authors combine their knowledge and skill into one seamlessly written novel that I couldn’t put down. Carver and Lake are well drawn, interesting characters whose demons I enjoyed exploring. The killer’s work is complex and horrifying, and I was on the edge of my seat as I read. This is a brilliant new series, and although The Cutting Room read as a standalone, I will go back to read the first in the series to fill in the missing details.

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

You can always find Mystery Playground on Twitter @mysteryplaygrnd and on Facebook. You can also follow the blog by clicking the link on the upper right-hand corner of this webpage. 
  

 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Review: The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine


Kerry Hammond is here to give us her review of the second book by the writing duo known as Liv Constantine.

The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine was released on May 7, in Hardcover, by Harper. Liv Constantine is the pen name chosen by sisters Lynne and Valerie Constantine and this is the second book they’ve published using their combined names. The first, The Last Mrs. Parrish, was featured in a Drinks with Reads segment on Mystery Playground. You can read that post HERE.

The Last Time I Saw You centers around an affluent community in Maryland. Kate English is a wealthy heart surgeon whose mother, Lily, has been brutally murdered. The police are baffled and Kate is just trying to keep it together. She is surrounded by friends and family, including her father and her husband, Simon. But it’s Blaire Barrington’s appearance at Lily’s funeral that has Kate reeling. She and Blaire used to be the best of friends. They were inseparable throughout high school and into college; Lily even welcomed Blaire into the family and treated her like a second daughter.

Blaire and Kate had a falling out when Blaire disapproved of Kate’s marriage to Simon. Now, all these years later, after the loss of her mother, Kate welcomes Blaire back into her life. The women begin to recreate the bond they once had, something Simon is not at all pleased with. Blaire decides to help Kate figure out who killed Lily and why, but the closer they get to the truth, the more fragile Kate’s nerves become. When the killer begins to stalk her, she suspects everyone around her, finding it hard to decide who to trust.

I read The Last Mrs. Parrish and enjoyed it, so I was excited to see that the authors had another book in the works. I would categorize The Last Time I Saw You as a domestic thriller, a genre that has been quite popular of late. Kate’s grieving and history of anxiety make her an unreliable narrator, but Constantine manages to tell the story without the cliched alcohol and drug addiction that is so often a part of these stories. It was refreshing to see that  these elements don’t need to be present to make up an enjoyable read.

I was surprised to find out that the book was written by two authors. The sisters must be very in tune with each other’s writing because it is seamlessly written, without any awkward changes in voice. A great summer read.

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


You can always find Mystery Playground on Twitter @mysteryplaygrnd and on Facebook. You can also follow the blog by clicking the link on the upper right-hand corner of this webpage. 


Friday, June 14, 2019

Not Bad People and Passionfruit Mimosas




Brandy Scott is here on Drinks with Reads today to celebrate her new novel...Not Bad People.

Not Bad People is set in the vineyards of Victoria, Australia – where my characters often have a glass in hand. And they need it! The book kicks off on New Year’s Eve, with a pinot-fueled bad idea to have a letting-go ceremony, where Aimee, Melinda and Lou tie their resolutions to sky lanterns and let them off the balcony. Just minutes later, there’s a flash in the sky – and the next morning, it’s reported that a small plane crashed in the same area. 

Did they cause the accident? Aimee is convinced they’re responsible, and finds herself unable to stay away from the crash site and the family involved. Melinda knows they didn’t, but Aimee’s very public paranoia is putting her business and adoption plans at risk. While Lou has her own family problems to deal with – problems that become increasingly intertwined with the accident that has taken over all their lives. 

It’s a toxic recipe for anxiety, guilt trips, shame, obsession and power games. And also for cocktails! I bought some fantastic prosecco while researching this novel in Victoria, and I’ve used that as a base for a passionfruit mimosa – just the thing for plotting revenge on a hot Australian summer’s afternoon. 

PASSIONFRUIT POWER GAME MIMOSAS 
(makes six)

One bottle of Prosecco
One passionfruit per person
Carton of passionfruit juice
Mint to garnish

Incredibly simple: place a mint leaf in the base of the glass, pour two-thirds full with prosecco, then top up with juice. (Or not, if you like something a little stronger.) Carefully scoop the passionfruit in at the end – it will froth in outrage at this stage. Try not to choke on the mint while feuding with your oldest friends. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Review: The Body in the Wake by Katherine Hall Page


Kerry Hammond is here to tell us about the latest book in the Faith Fairchild mystery series by Katherine Hall Page.

Katherine Hall Page, author of the long-running Faith Fairchild mystery series, has released her 25th book in that series. The Body in the Wake was published on May 7, in Hardcover, by William Morrow. Any author that can keep a series fresh for 25 books amazes me, yet Page manages to do just that.

In The Body in the Wake, Faith and her friend Sophie are taking a swim in the pond when they come across the dead body of an unknown man. The police are baffled by the man’s death as well as the strange tattoo he has on his arm. Faith, although busy helping plan her friend Pix’s daughter’s wedding, finds time to do a little sleuthing with Sophie to find out what the man was doing in town and why he was killed.

Followers of the series have seen a lot happen in Faiths world. Kids have grown, and there have been many marriages, funerals, and babies. These books are feel good reads where catching up with the characters is just as important as the plot, and this plot hits close to home by dealing with the opioid crisis. Page does a great job weaving a real-life issue into a fictional murder mystery; the details are all too realistic.

Life at Faith’s summer cottage in Maine is always interesting and I think the setting makes the book a great summer beach read. Each installment reads well as a standalone and the author manages to give enough backstory for those who jump in mid-series. So reading them out of order isn’t an issue.

A great added bonus: the books have a large culinary component and the author includes recipes in the back that appear in the story.

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

You can always find Mystery Playground on Twitter @mysteryplaygrnd and on Facebook. You can also follow the blog by clicking the link on the upper right-hand corner of this webpage.


Friday, June 7, 2019

Drinks with Reads—FLAMINGO BINGO




Our guest today on Drinks with Reads is Terrie Farley Moran. Terrie is the recipient of both the Agatha and the Derringer awards, Terrie Farley Moran is the author of the beachside Read 'Em and Eat cozy mystery series; co-author of Laura Childs’ New Orleans scrapbooking mystery series; and has published numerous short stories in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and numerous anthologies. You can also find Terrie on Facebook



“Flamingo Bingo” featured in the May/June issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, tells us what danger can lurk when a daughter decides to make a birthday visit to her mother who lives in a trendy Florida retirement community, complete with swimming, bike riding, and even a game called Pickleball. There are always events and parties in the community clubhouse, and naturally, alcohol is often served. Since The Sunshine State is famous for lush oranges, highballs and cocktails that include oranges are extremely popular.
There is a lot of confusion about exactly when the Harvey Wallbanger was invented and whether or not it was named after a surfer named Tom Harvey, who may or may not have started running into walls after he’d drunk a few of them.
Still, no matter the origin of the drink, the vanilla/anise taste of the yellow Galliano mixes sweetly with vodka and orange juice, turning an ordinary Screwdriver into a refreshing patio drink on a Florida summer evening.
Harvey Wallbanger
Ingredients1 1/2 oz Vodka, 3 oz  Fresh orange juice, 1/2 oz  Galliano

PreparationStir the vodka and orange juice with ice in the glass, then float the Galliano on top. 

ServedOn the rocks; poured over ice

Garnish: with an orange slice if preferred

Don’t wait until you visit Florida to try a Wallbanger. They are delicious whenever you may be. And if you are not familiar with Galliano, every liquor store carries it. Look for a pretty yellow liquid in a clear tall bottle. 







Thursday, June 6, 2019

Review: Murder at Morrington Hall by Clara McKenna


Today we're reviewing a new historical mystery set in Edwardian England.

Murder at Morrington Hall by Clara McKenna was released in Hardcover on May 28 by Kensington. It is the author’s first novel and the first book in the new Stella and Lyndy mystery series. The historical series takes place in Edwardian era England and mixes horse racing and murder. I’m a big fan of historical mysteries and I am always looking for new series to try.

The year is 1905 and American heiress Stella Kendrick leaves her home in Kentucky with her father to travel to England. She thinks she’s helping deliver a few racehorses to a wealthy British family. What she doesn’t know is that her father has promised her hand in marriage to Viscount Lyndhurst, or Lyndy as he prefers to be called. Stella is mortified that she’s being married off, but she can’t help her attraction to the young Viscount. Lyndy is initially hesitant, but finds himself charmed at the American’s spunk and love of horses.

The young courtship is cut short when the Reverend Bullmore, who is supposed to perform the ceremony, is found murdered at Morrington Hall. Stella and Lyndy’s marriage is put on the back burner as the two get wrapped up in solving the murder.

I think this is going to be a great new series. It’s a bit reminiscent of Downton Abbey, if Downton had a murdered vicar in the library. I think it’s a great setup—the American heiress matched up with British high society. Stella is a free spirit and a likeable character. Lyndy starts off a bit arrogant, but manages to grow on you. I look forward to the next book in the series.

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

You can always find Mystery Playground on Twitter @mysteryplaygrnd and on Facebook. You can also follow the blog by clicking the link on the upper right-hand corner of this webpage.