Friday, November 22, 2019


Cathy Ace, author of the Cait Morgan and WISE Enquiries Agency mysteries, joins us today on Drinks with Reads to celebrate The Corpse with the Golden Nose .  Cathy is one of our favorites here at Mystery Playground, check out her other Drinks with Reads posts.

“There needs to be a new vocabulary invented for all those of us over forty-five—or, in Bud’s case, over fifty—who are beginning new relationships. It’s not as though there aren’t a lot of us, after all, and it can’t be just me who feels uncomfortable about it. Right?”

Cait Morgan, in The Corpse with the Golden Nose by Cathy Ace
(Cait Morgan Mysteries #2)

In The Corpse with the Golden Nose Welsh Canadian professor of criminal psychology, Cait Morgan finds herself in a difficult position: she’s agreed to help her new “beau/boyfriend/manfriend” Bud Anderson look into the suicide of his grief-buddy, but Cait doesn’t believe it was a suicide at all. Nevertheless, she travels with him to the picturesque heart of British Columbia’s wine country where she meets a group of vintners and restaurateurs who are – to say the least – “quirky”.

Bud believes he’s trying to help a friend come to terms with her understandable grief; Cait believes she’s on the hunt for a murderer. Soon there’s another tragedy, and she’s finally able to convince Bud she might have been right to believe they’ve been mixing with a group of people amongst whom a killer is hiding.

Each chapter of this book, described by The Globe and Mail as having “…touches of Christie or Marsh but with a bouquet of Kinsey Millhone”, is titled for what Cait drinks within it – so you can drink along with the book! called it ““Agatha Christie set in the modern world, with great wallops of lovingly described food and drink” and there’s certainly no shortage of meals served as Cait and Bud try to solve the case – so you won’t have to drink on an empty stomach!

Maybe you’d like to try this Holiday Champagne Cocktail as a suitable accompaniment to your reading? The book is set over the Easter period, but if your nights are drawing in, and you fancy snuggling in front of a roaring fire with a cozy throw – and read – try this recipe.

Squash a few fresh cranberries between your thumb and forefinger and drop them into a champagne glass of your choosing
Add a measure of Chambord (a sweet, raspberry liqueur - add more if you like a sweeter drink)
Top up with chilled sparkling wine/champagne

The tartness of the cranberries works well with the sweetness of the raspberries – and it’s a true flavour of the Holiday Season. Cheers!

If you’d like to find out more about Cathy Ace and her Cait Morgan Mysteries, you can do so here:

Twitter: @AceCathy

Friday, November 8, 2019

Gaelic Coffee and A Step So Grave

Gaelic Coffee and A Step So Grave

Our guest today on Drinks with Reads is Catriona McPherson, the national best-selling and multi-award-winning author of the Dandy Gilver series of preposterous detective stories, set in her native Scotland in the 1930s. She also writes darker contemporary suspense novels, of which STRANGERS AT THE GATE is the latest. Also, eight years after immigrating to the US and settling in California, Catriona began the Last Ditch series, written about a completely fictional Scottish woman who moves to a completely fictional west-coast college town. 

Catriona is a member of MWA, CWA and SoA, and a proud lifetime member and former national president of Sisters In Crime, committed to advancing equity and inclusion for women, writers of colour, LGBTQ+ writers and writers with disability in the mystery community.
Here is my personal recipe for a drink that will warm you to the marrow – even if you’ve come on the coal boat to a draughty mansion in the remote West Highlands of Scotland, because your beloved son is threatening to marry a girl ten years too old for him and you’ve got to stop it, while pretending not to because you are a guest in his father’s house. For instance. It can also serve as a soother and stiffener if a member of the household ends up lying the garden with a peat cutter through the rib cage. Truly, country life is not nearly as restful as it is cracked up to be. 

  • A good glug of any whisky (= US single malt Scotch)
  • Another good glug of Drambuie
  • Some brown sugar. How much depends on whether you actually like whisky. I hate it so I’d use about a cane plantation’s worth
  • Strong hot black coffee
  • Cream. Traditionally it’s single (= US light) cream, poured over the back of a spoon so it doesn’t sink. I say: life’s short – whip the cream.
In a glass that will be okay with hot liquid (it doesn’t have to be a curling trophy, but why not if you can?) mix the whisky, Drambuie and sugar. The sugar might not all dissolve at this stage. Fill the glass with hot coffee, leaving an inch at the top. Stir again. The sugar should dissolve now. Carefully add whipped (and sweetened, if you like) cream until the glass is full. You could use aerosol cream, but don’t tell me. Enjoy!

A Step So Grave comes out in the US on the 5th of November and is available from your favourite bricks and mortar bookshop as well as all the usual places online.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Review: A Step So Grave by Catriona McPherson

Kerry Hammond is here with a review of the latest book in one of her favorites historical series.

A Step So Grave is the 13th book in the Dandy Gilver mystery series by Catriona McPherson. It was published on November 5, in Hardcover, by Quercus. This series is set in Scotland in the 1920s and 1930s and features Dandelion Gilver, lady detective. McPherson is also the author of the Last Ditch mystery series as well as 10 standalone novels. To read a review of her latest standalone, Strangers at the Gate, click here.

In A Step So Grave, Dandy, her husband Hugh, and their two sons are traveling to a remote area of Scotland….in February. Dandy is not pleased to be traveling so far in the bitter cold, but she can hardly complain. They are going to meet her son Donald’s bride-to-be and her family. It’s also a celebration of said bride-to-be’s mother, Lady Lavinia, who is turning fifty.

Unfortunately, Lady Lavinia is murdered before she can celebrate her birthday and there seems to be no end of suspects in and around the house. Dandy must figure out who murdered the woman so that she can decide if she needs to step in to call off her son’s wedding—in order to save him marrying into a murderous household. When the police pin the murder on an unknown vagrant that no one even saw, it’s quite convenient, but it’s not good enough for Dandy. With the help of her detecting partner Alec, she is determined to get to the bottom of things.

This was one of my favorites in the Dandy Gilver series. It had it all: a country house murder, lots of suspects, plenty of subterfuge, strange Scottish superstitions, and family secrets. Put these all together and it made for one heck of a murder mystery. I can’t say that I solved the murder, but I enjoyed watching Dandy and Alec piece everything together and outwit the police. I really enjoy this series and always look forward to the next installment.

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

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