Saturday, December 31, 2016

Nick & Nora: New Year's Eve Libations

Happy New Year! My final post for 2016 includes drinks and Nick & Nora film clips to help you celebrate!

Several years ago I blogged about Detectives and their Drinks. I also posted about James Bond's Vesper Martini. Detective team Nick and Nora Charles always come up on top for detectives with a pension for drink. The constant drinking of this bantering couple never hampers their investigative skills - quite the opposite. "Can't you say anything about the case?" a detective asks. "Yes," Nick grumbles. "It's putting me way behind in my drinking."

Be sure and scroll down for some Nick & Nora drinks video clips!

The Bronx Cocktail (Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man)
1 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1 oz orange juice
Shake well (to a two-step time, as Nick suggests). Strain and garnish with orange peel. (recipe from Nightcapped)

Knickerbocker from The Thin Man (1934)
50ml gin
Large dash dry vermouth
Small dash sweet vermouth
Add the gin and both vermouths to a mixing glass filled with ice. Once well mixed, strain into a frosted martini glass. 

What will you be drinking tonight?  Pick Your Poison and Toast 2017! Enjoy!

Cartoon of the Day: New Year's Eve Party

Champagne in Mysteries

If you follow this blog or if you know me in real time, you know that I'm a list maker. This week I put together a list of different chocolatiers who make champagne truffles for a New Year's Eve post on, and I thought there must be several mysteries in which Champagne has a prominent role. I know that Champagne figures in Dashiell Hammett's Thin Man books. I remember Nick and Nora drinking lots of champagne in the movies. So I came up with a short list of 'Champagne' books to toast  (and read) on New Year's Eve. I do have a New Year's Crime Fiction list, and champagne is featured in some of them, although not necessarily as the main theme. Please comment with any missed titles.


Murder & Champagne by Ashok Banker
The Charlemagne Connection by R.M. Cartmel
Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie
Tug of War by Barbara Cleverly
Champagne Fuhrern by Kare Hallden (in Swedish)
Champagne: The Farewell by Janet Hubbard
Champagne Blues by Ivan and Nat Lyons
Dry Bones by Peter May
Design for Dying by Renee Patrick
Champagne for Buzzards by Phyllis Smallman
Murder by Champagne by Keith Spicer
Champagne for One by Nero Wolfe

And here's a true mystery related story about Champagne, especially for history mystery folks. This was reported in The Daily Mail (UK) July 2010. Talk about a vintage that holds its own!

Divers have discovered what is thought to be the world's oldest drinkable champagne in a shipwreck in the Baltic Sea.
  They have already tested out the contents of one bottle and claim it tastes 'fantastic' despite dating back to the late 18th century.
   Diving instructor Christian Ekstrom said the bottles are believed to be from the 1780s and likely were part of a cargo destined for Russia.
   'We brought up the bottle to be able to establish how old the wreck was. We didn't know it would be champagne. We thought it was wine or something,' he said.
   Ekstrom said the divers were overjoyed when they popped the cork on their boat after hauling the bubbly from a depth of 200 feet (60 meters).
   'It tasted fantastic. It was a very sweet champagne, with a tobacco taste and oak,' Ekstrom said.
   The divers discovered the shipwreck near the Aland Islands, between Sweden and Finland. About 30 bottles are believed to be aboard the sunken vessel.
Read More Here.

And, then, of course, there's always Sabering Champagne, as opposed to savoring Champagne. Sabering is opening the champagne bottle with a saber. A talent a mystery reader and writer might have!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: New Year's Resolutions Most Easily Broken by Cats

HT: Jayna Monroe

Meg Chittenden: R.I.P.

Judy Bobalik reports that Author Meg Chittenden passed away yesterday after a long illness. I remember Meg from so many Bouchercons, Malice Domestics, and Left Coast Crimes.  I always enjoyed chatting with her and reading her books.

Meg (Margaret) Chittenden, born in 1935, was the author of the Charlie Plato series set in San Francisco, as well as numerous non-series books. She also wrote romantic suspense under the name Rosalind Carson.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

New Year's Mysteries, Crime Fiction, Thrillers & Movies

New Year's Mysteries! Mysteries, Crime Fiction, Thrillers and Movies that take place at the New Year. 

I wish you a safe, healthy and prosperous 2017. May Mystery and Mayhem only happen in crime fiction!

Crime Fiction Set at the New Year
As always, let me know if I've missed any titles.

Marian Babson: Line up for Murder
Bain, Donald and Jessica Fletcher. Murder She Wrote: Death of a Blue Blood
T. L. Barnett: Murder for the New Year
George Baxt: The Marlene Dietrich Murder Case
Nero Blanc: A Crossworder's Gift
Jon L. Breen: Touch of the Past
Rita Mae Brown: Full Cry
Alison Cairns: New Year Resolution
Lillian Stewart Carl: The Blue Hackle
C.S. Challinor: Murder at Midnight
Lee Child (ed): Killer Year: Stories to Die for
Anne Cleeves: Raven Black
Anna Ashwood Collins: Deadly Resolutions
Patricia Cornwell: Cause of Death
Mark Costello: Bag Men
Alisa Craig: Murder Goes Mumming
Jeffrey Deaver: The Devil's Teardrop
Colin Dexter: The Secret of Annexe 3
Carter Dickson: Death and the Gilded Man
Carole Nelson Douglas: Cat on a Hyacinth Hunt
Loren D. Estleman: Stress
Janet Evanovich: Plum New Year
J. Jefferson Fargeon: Death in Fancy Dress (aka The Fancy Dress Ball)
Quinn Fawcett: Siren Song
Jerrilyn Farmer: Dim Sum Dead
Frederick Forsyth: The Fourth Protocol
Janet Gleeson: The Grenadillo Box
J.M. Gregson: The Lancashire Leopard
Jane Haddam: Fountain of Death
Karen Harper: The Queene's Christmas
Lee Harris: The New Year's Eve Murder
Ellen Hart: Hallowed Murder, Merchant of Venus
Roy Hart: Seascape with Dead Figures
Lauren Henderson: Pretty Boy
Reginald Hill: Killing The Lawyers
J.A. Jance: Name Withheld
Rufus King: Holiday Homicide
Frances and Richard Lockridge: The Dishonest Murderer
Heather Dune Macadam: The Weeping Buddha
Ed McBain: Lullaby
Johnston McCulley: New Year's Pardon; New Year's Duty
Philip McLauren: Scream Black Murder
Elisabeth McNeill: Hot News
Leslie Meier: New Year's Eve Murder
James Melville: Body Wore Brocade
David William Meredith: The Christmas Card Murders
Miriam Ann Moore: Stayin' Alive
Tamar Myers: A Penny Urned
Leonardo Padura: Havana Blue (starts with a New Year's Eve hangover)
Elizabeth Peters: The Golden One
Edward O. Phillips: Sunday's Child
Ellery Queen: Calamity Town
Craig Rice: The Right Murder
Gillian Roberts: The Mummer’s Curse
Cindy Sample: Dying for a Date
Dorothy L. Sayers: The Nine Tailors (begins on New Year's Eve)
Catherine Shaw: Fatal Inheritance
Joan Smith: Don't Leave Me This Way, Why Aren't They Screaming
Meg Taggart: Murder at the Savoy
Kathleen Taylor: Cold Front
Charles Todd: A Long Shadow
Patricia Wentworth: Clock Strikes Twelve
Valerie Wolzein: 'Tis the Season to be Murdered (aka And a Lethal New Year)
James Ziskin: Stone Cold Dead
Mark Richard Zubro: The Truth Can Get You Killed

You might also want to check out my Christmas list (Christmas Mysteries, Authors A-Z). Some of the books spill over into the New Year.

And here's a list of Mystery Movies that take place at the New Year.

After the Thin Man (1936)
Better Luck Tomorrow (2002)
Entrapment (1999)
The Godfather Part II (1974)
Little Caesar (1931)
Money Train (1995)
New Year's Evil (1980)
Night Train to Paris (1964) 
Ocean's 11 (1960)
Strange Days (1995)
Survivor (2015)

Monday, December 26, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: Prison Library

Boxing Day Crime Fiction

December 26 is Boxing Day. I've put together a list of over 1700 mysteries that take place at Christmas, and I'm sure there are several that continue through Boxing Day, but I've only found a few mysteries that focus or start specifically on Boxing Day,

One is Nicholas Blake's Thou Shell of Death (1936). Nicholas Blake is the pseudonym of Cecil Day Lewis, late British poet laureate.

Thou Shell of Death features Fergus O'Brien, WWI flying ace. Fergus receives four letters predicting that he will be murdered on Boxing Day. Despite this, or maybe because of this, he plans a party and invites all the suspects (there are several people who might want to do him in) plus private detective Nigel Strangeways. O'Brien does die, and it's up to Nigel Strangeways with the help of Inspector Blount of Scotland Yard to solve the crime. This is Blount's first appearance in the series. Thou Shell of Death is an oldie but goodie, especially if you like houseparty mysteries.

There are three other novels that focus on Boxing Day. A frozen body is found on Boxing Day in Viveca Sten's In Harm's Way. Another mystery is Gilbert Adair's The Act of Roger Murgatroyd that takes place entirely on Boxing Day. This is part of his series of novels about Evadne Mount, and is clearly a play on Agatha Christie novels. In another Boxing Day mystery, Death at Sandringham House by C.C. Benison, Her Majesty the Queen, along with her housemaid Jane Bee, investigates.

And, if you're unfamiliar with Boxing Day, it's the day after Christmas, when "servants and tradesmen traditionally would receive gifts from their superiors." Today it's a national holiday in most of the British Commonwealth and former British colonies. As far as why it's called Boxing Day, there are several different theories:

A ‘Christmas Box’ in Britain is a name for a Christmas present.

Boxing Day was a day off for servants and when they received a ‘Christmas Box’ from the master. The servants would also go home to give ‘Christmas Boxes’ to their families.

A box to collect money for the poor was placed in Churches on Christmas day then opened the next day.

Great sailing ships when setting sail would have a sealed box containing money on board for good luck. If the voyage were a success the box was given to a priest, opened at Christmas and the contents given to the poor.

Are there any other Boxing Day Mysteries I've forgotten?

And, if you're not tired of cooking and baking, today is also Candy Cane Day. If you have any candy canes lying around, try this recipe for Candy Cane Truffles.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Chanukah Crime Fiction

Chanukah (no matter how you spell it - Hanukah, Hanukkah) is celebrated for eight days, so you have plenty of time to read all these books! Hanukah starts tonight. Let me know if I've missed any mysteries. This is an updated list.

Hanukah Mystery Novels
A Crafty Christmas by Molly Cox Bryan
Holiday Grind by Cleo Coyle (mostly about Christmas but Hanukah is mentioned)
Beautiful Lie the Dead by Barbara Fradkin
Strength to Stand by Sheyna Galyan
Festival of Deaths by Jane Haddam
Hanukkah Gelt by T. Lee Harris
Out of the Frying Pan into the Choir by Sharon Kahn
Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry by Harry Kemelman
Murder at the Minyan by Shlumat E. Kustanowitz
The Body in the Sleigh by Katherine Hall Page (mostly about Christmas but Hanukah is mentioned)
Dog Have Mercy by Neil Plakcy
Chanukah Guilt by Ilene Schneider
The Tattooed Rabbi by Marvin J. Wolf

Children's Hanukah Mysteries
Rabbi Rocketpower and the Mystery of the Missing Menorahs - A
Hanukkah Humdinger! by Rabbi Susan Abramson and Aaron Dvorkin and Ariel DiOrio

Mystery Short Stories
"Mom Lights a Candle" by James Yaffe, appeared in Mystery: The Best of 2002, ed. by Jon L. Breen.
"Hanukah" by Morris Hershman in Cat Crimes for the Holidays, ed. by Martin Greenberg, Edward Gorman and Larry Segriff
"The Worse Noel" by Barb Goffman in The Gift of Murder.
"Death on the List" by B.K. Stevens (AHMM, January 1999)
For more info on Jewish short story mysteries, check out Steven Steinbock who blogs on Criminal Brief, the Mystery Short Story Web Log Project.
"Navidad" by Elizabeth Zelvin, EQMM, January 2011
"No Candles for Antiochus" by Barry Ergang
Murder is no Mitzvah: Short Stories about Jewish Occasions, edited by Abigail Browning

Mystery Games
Children's software mystery game: Who Stole Hanukkah? offered in five languages: English, Hebrew, Russian, French and Spanish
Other Games for Children: The Case of the Stolen Menorah: An Enlightening Hanukkah Mystery

Cartoon of the Day: Cats

Friday, December 23, 2016

P.J. Lambrecht (aka P.J. Tracy): R.I.P.

P.J. Lambrecht (left)
Very sad news. P.J. Lambrecht: R.I.P.

From the TwinCities Pioneer Press. 

Patricia “P.J.” Lambrecht, co-author with her daughter Traci Lambrecht, of seven best-selling thrillers featuring the St. Paul Monkeewrench gang, died Wednesday on her own terms after entertaining her oldest friends. She was 70.

Lambrecht, who died in the home north of Stillwater she shared with her husband, Ted Platz, had struggled with health problems for several years and was in and out of the hospital since early November when she took a bad fall, according to her daughter. She asked to go home after ending her drug regimen.

“She had an amazing first week when she was home,” Traci said of her petite, lively mother. “We decorated the tree, wrapped presents, shared memories. Death is never beautiful, but hers was as good as it can get. She went out gracefully like the extraordinary woman she was. She was sitting on her favorite sofa with her kitty at her side and Ted and I holding her hands.”

The popular Monkeewrench series, which the women wrote as P.J.Tracy, features a colorful group of computer geniuses who work in an old mansion on Summit Avenue. Their most recent adventure, “The Sixth Idea,” published in August, was inspired by secrets from P.J.’s personal life. The story centers on the murders of  men who secretly worked on developing the hydrogen bomb, one of whom was P.J.’s father, Don Hepler.

Read more here 

 Condolences to her family and friends.

Cartoon of the Day: The Writer's Life - the Fifth Draft

HT: Doc Quatermass

Last Minute Bookish Gifts

Last minute Bookish Gifts.

1. Buy a Book!

2. Bookworm Socks

3. Bookish Earrings from Coryographies on etsy

4. Library Card Pouches, Totes, Socks & Scarves from Out of Print Clothing

and Poe-ka-Dot literary socks

5. Pattie Tierney Designs.. my favorites!!! Pins, bracelets and more!!

6. Raven Bookends

7 Edgar Allan Poe Coffee Mug

7. Mystery Readers Journal. 5 issues for the price of 4! 2017 Subscription with bonus issue (Volume 32:4)!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: Fruitcake

Retro Christmas Typewriter Ads

I have a softspot for Typewriters. I often choose typewriters as my photo theme at the Flea Market. I don't collect them (no space or I would), but I do take photos of them.. and occasionally post here on Mystery Fanfare. I also love Retro Ads, so here's the marriage of both... retro typewriter advertisements for the holidays!

The Typewriter: Perfect gift for Christmas from the 20s through the 70s. Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: Writer's Muse

Winter Solstice Crime Fiction

I love the Winter Solstice. So glad the days will begin to lengthen. I'm big on light. I put together a huge list of Christmas Mysteries (divided into 5 posts), and I'm sure some of those authors/titles reference the Winter Solstice, but I didn't find all that many that actually center on the Winter Solstice. Any titles/authors you can add?

Winter Solstice Mysteries

Ngaio Marsh, Off with His Head
Joan Hess, A Holly Jolly Murder
Jane Langton, The Shortest Day: Murder at the Revels
Henning Mankell, Italian Shoes
Gladys Mitchell. The Dancing Druids

And, if you want to celebrate your Winter Solstice in chocolate, check out these Yule Log (Buche De Noel) posts.

Ice Cream Cake Yule Log aka Buche de Noel
Where to Buy Buches de Noel in the San Francisco Bay Area