Monday, January 14, 2019

Poe Birthday Bash, Jack Reacher Mashups, and Gigi Pandian's Healthy Drinks

Edgar Allen Poe's birthday is this Saturday, and if you're near Richmond, VA you can hop on over to the Poe Museum's Birthday Bash from noon to midnight. It's free for members ($25 a year). If you live close to Baltimore, you can head over to the PoeZella Birthday Bash at Zella's Pizzaria. 

If you're closer to Sullivan's Island, SC, head on over to Poe's Tavern and grab a Poe-themed burger. 

How are you celebrating Poe's birthday?

Reacher Mash-Ups Gone Wild

If Poe isn't your thing and you just want to relax and enjoy best-selling author Lee Child making up fake mashups for Jack Reacher, check out this video of Lee going wild. 

Healthy Drinks with Reads

I'm still on my 2019 health kick, and so I thought I'd share two blasts from the Drinks with Reads past with healthy drink options from author Gigi Pandian. She has two healthy drink recipes to match her novel, Elusive Elixir and a fabulous smoothie called the Green Smoothie Alchemy to match her novel The Accidental Alchemist. Worth checking out. 

More mystery fun next week...

Deborah Lacy

Friday, January 11, 2019

A Welsh Hot Toddy and The Wrong Boy

Welsh Hot Toddies, a deserted beach, and murder. Sounds like a fun afternoon. Author Cathy Ace is our guest today on Drinks with Reads and I am intrigued. 

Cathy is the author of two mystery series - the Cait Morgan and the WISE Equeries Agency novels. She has been a frequent guest on Drinks with Reads, won numerous awards, and she is the Toastmistress for the 2019 Left Coast Crime fan convention to be held March 28-31 in Vancouver, Canada. We'll have more on Left Coast Crime later.

- Deborah Lacy

A Welsh Hot Toddy and The Wrong Boy
By Cathy Ace
Today is National Hot Toddy Day (January 11th 2019 in the USA) – so let’s celebrate! 

THE WRONG BOY is set on the Welsh coast, where I grew up and where the wintry rain is frequent and often horizontal…so a warming beverage is just what’s needed on a winter afternoon. THE WRONG BOY is also something of an increasingly chilling read – so have one of these drinks to hand, and settle in for a book that’s been described as a "…suspense-packed page turner…the ending is a stunner…" by Hallie Ephron, NY Times bestselling author of ‘You’ll Never Know Dear’, and as “…about as cozy as a cornered snake. Told in a rising chorus of authentic voices, the story is deft and disturbing, creepingly claustrophobic, and with a grip that tightens to a choke-hold before its shattering conclusion…" by Catriona McPherson, multi-award-winning author of ‘Go To My Grave’.

A “hot toddy” is part of a genre of beverages, but has twists…rather like THE WRONG BOY itself, which is a tale of psychological suspense, with a splash of domestic thriller, featuring a setting dripping with mythical overtones.  

A toddy generally includes: some sort of spirit base, usually whiskey; a splash of hot water; some sweetener, such as honey or sugar; and any combination of woody spices, the most popular being cloves, but cinnamon and anise are also popular choices. The proportions can be adjusted to taste, and – because they allow for personal choices to be made when it comes to exact ingredients – I’m using Penderyn Dragon Myth single malt whisky in this recipe to make sure the drink is truly Welsh (Penderyn is the only whisky distiller in Wales, more info here.) and – when you read the book – you’ll see why it’s the perfect accompaniment for curling up with The Wrong Boy.

Here’s the recipe – feel free to adapt.

  • Add 2 ounces of Penderyn Dragon Myth single malt whisky and 1 teaspoon of honey to a heat-safe glass.  
  • Heat 2 ounces of water to a near-boil and pour into glass.
  • Stir until the honey is dissolved. (Add a bit of orange marmalade at this point if you like…I do!)
  • Insert a few cloves into an orange wedge, squeeze it in and leave in the glass. 

Garnish with a thin slice of lemon.  

NOTE: the first sip will be HOT – take care! 

You can find out more about Cathy’s new book THE WRONG BOY, as well as her eight Cait Morgan Mysteries, four WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries and two collections of short stories and novellas (which include the back-stories of all her characters) at her website

You can connect with Cathy on Facebook and on Twitter @AceCathy. You can 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. 

The photograph in the background is courtesy of, and copyrighted by, ©Emma Mugford; it is the original of the photo used on the cover of the book. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is Baaaaaack!

Crushed. I was crushed when FOX deep-sixed my favorite half-hour comedy show - Andy Samberg's Brooklyn Nine-Nine. But it has been rescued by NBC and it starts again tonight at 9/8c. If you need a little refresher, NBC has a great series recap here

And here's the series trailer. 

I'm so happy that this funny show is back on the air. Thank you, NBC for rescuing a classic. I think we all need more laughter in our lives. 

- Deborah Lacy

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Review: The Last Lie by Alex Lake

Kerry Hammond is here today to review a new mystery by British author Alex Lake.

Alex Lake is the author of four mystery novels. His latest, The Last Lie, was released on December 31, 2018, in Trade Paperback by HarperCollins. Lake’s novels are all standalone psychological thrillers, so I didn’t hesitate to pick up his latest to see what it was all about. I was not disappointed.

The Last Lie is a story of marital bliss, at least for one party. Claire Daniels is madly in love with her husband Alfie. He is everything she’s ever wanted, he dotes on her, and could not be a better husband. Alfie, on the other hand, can’t stand Claire and dreams of being free of her. When the conversation turns to starting a family, everything starts to spiral out of control. What follows is a fast paced back and forth that could never have a happy ending.

The book drew me in immediately and I found it hard to put it down to get any sleep. The pace was perfect and the author managed to switch gears just when I thought I knew where the story was going. The characters he has created are fascinating, the dialogue realistic, and the plot fast paced. If Lake’s other novels are as good as this one, I’ve got some reading to do!

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. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Starting the New Year with Mystery Playground

Happy 2019! I thought I'd start the New Year off right and talk about a change we're making to Mystery Playground this year. In addition to Kerry Hammond and me (Deborah Lacy), we've added a new regular blogger & reviewer, TK Starr. She'll be joining us starting later in the month, so look out for her byline. Sharon Long, Pat Hernas and Janet Kuchler will continue to be on assignment. 

Of course, we'll still be doing Drinks with Reads on Fridays and covering our favorite authors, TV shows, mysteries, thrillers, short stories and books from all sides. We'll be adding more coverage on audio books, different TV shows, and speakeasies around the country.

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. 

Now that we've gotten some of the business sorted, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite mystery and book-related gifts that I received this holiday season. 

First off is The 2018 Best American Mystery Stories, edited by Louise Penny and stories curated by Series Editor, Otto Penzler, and the Book Lovers Candle by Frostbeard Studios.

I enjoy writing short stories and it's my dream to be selected for this anthology - BUT my dream will have to wait. None of my stories were chosen, but a friend of Mystery Playground -- Paul Marks -- did have his excellent story "Winward" selected. And another friend, John M. Floyd, had his excellent story "Gun Work" selected. Their stories join those of Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Charlaine Harris, James Lee Burke, Michael Connelly, and others. It's an awesome anthology and if you get a chance, take a read. 

Kerry Hammond, a good friend, short story writer, and fellow MP blogger, gave me this ceramic vase shaped like a book. It's so cute that I decided to put it on my desk for pens so I can see it every day. The box said there were other book vases and sizes, but mine is clearly the best. 

Ok, I may have bought the Barnes & Noble Happy Socks with books all over them for myself, but you deserve to know that these socks exist, so I'm including it. 

I also received this mystery novel called the 71/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. It's different than anything I've read. Here's the description from the back of the book:

There are three rules of Blackheath House:
  1. Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
  2. There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
  3. We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
Understood? Then let's begin... Evelyn Hardcastle will die. She will die every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. Some of his hosts are helpful, and others only operate on a need to know basis.
I've just started this book, so I'll let you know what I think some future Monday. The excellent bookmark that you see with it also came from Kerry Hammond. 

Just a note to authors:

If you are an author and have a traditionally published book that you'd like one of us to review or your an author who'd like to guest on Drinks with Reads, the best way to contact us is by sending a message to us on the Mystery Playground Facebook page. 

Hope everyone has a happy and healthy 2019! 

Deborah Lacy

Friday, January 4, 2019

Murder on Cape Cod, A Wine Spritzer & A Giveaway

Need a hint of summer to get you through the winter? Maddie Day (the nome de plume of Author Edith Maxwell) has the perfect solution with her cozy mystery novel, Murder on Cape Cod and A Summer Wine Spritzer. Don't forget to comment on the post because Edith will pick one lucky winner at random to receive a free signed copy of the book (US residents only).  I can feel the heat of the sun already.

Summer is busy season for Mackenzie “Mac” Almeida’s bicycle shop, nestled in the seaside hamlet of Westham, Massachusetts. She’s expecting an influx of tourists at Mac’s Bikes; instead she discovers the body of Jake Lacey, and her brother soon becomes a suspect. Mac’s only experience with murder investigations is limited to the cozy mysteries she reads with her local book group, the Cozy Capers. To clear her brother’s name, Mac has to summon help from her book group co-investigators. For a small town, Westham is teeming with possible killers, and this is one mystery where Mac is hoping for anything but a surprise ending.
Cape Cod, with its iconic beaches, inland ponds, and tourist towns, is a favorite with visitors. But the flat sandy soil is also prime cranberry-growing terrain. I included this refreshing light cranberry spritzer in Murder on Cape Cod, a favorite of Mac’s to enjoy while relaxing at home.

Cape Cod Wine Spritzer 
Adjust proportions up or down depending on sweetness and degree of alcohol you like in your spritzer.

6 ounces Pinot Grigio 
4 ounces cranberry juice (I used an all-juice cranberry-apple mix but you can also use cranberry juice cocktail)
1 tablespoon Grenadine syrup
1/4 lime, squeezed
Lime seltzer

Combine ingredients in large bowl wine glass. Add ice cubes and top up with seltzer. Easy to adjust up or down on the juice and Grenadine to make it more or less sweet, and the seltzer to dilute it.
Murder on Cape Cod is available exclusively in paperback from Barnes & Noble for the first year, then it will be re-released on all platforms and formats. I’m happy to send one commenter here a signed copy of the book!

Agatha- and Macavity-nominated Edith Maxwell writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the Local Foods Mysteries, and award-winning short crime fiction. As Maddie Day she writes the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. Maxwell 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. Please find her there, at, on Instagram, and at the Wicked Authors blog and at