September 6, 2022
As a good reporter and editor (much like Rock Rockwell, the intrepid editor of The Record, and hero in this here mystery book from 1950), I’m going to start this Cocktail Talk by referring you to the reference point of the What Rhymes with Murder? Cocktail Talk Part I, where I dig into the idea of reporters/mystery heroes, and a little more about the book as a whole. Here, I wanna just dive into the Cocktail Talking, so the only background on the book I’m putting in this paragraph is the tagline from the back cover, cause it’s one the finest taglines ever: “When a lusty lothario sings his serenade, romance rhymes with death!” Oh, and in the below they talk about overly-bittered Old Fashioneds. Also, memorable. Read it!
A voice at my elbow said, “Cocktail, sir? Old-Fashioneds and dry Martinis.”
“Old-Fashioned,” I said, hardly noticing the neat figure in black and white who spoke.
“Okay, but there’s more bitters in them than whiskey.”
I started and looked around. From under a frilly cap, the face of Amy Race was peering at me impishly. “I’m sticking to straight whisky myself,” she said. “That’s the trend below stairs.”
In spite of myself, I burst out laughing.
–Jack Iams, What Rhymes with Murder?
April 12, 2022
I do so love me a good Pocket Book (not “pocketbook” as in the old-timey word for a smallish purse, at least usually), both the initial-capped brand of books made mainly in the middle of last century, and made to naturally fit in a pocket, but also the many books of the same size but not under the actual kangaroo-reading-a-book-with-a-backup-book-in-the-pouch-logo’d brand. For one, many of this ilk fell into the mystery genre (which I like), though sci-fi, romance, westerns, all found their way into pockets. But also, just the idea of a non-massive book that was easily totable for the bus, or the park bench, or the couch, or anywhere, so you were always ready for reading – I like, that too! Add in that many of the books have grab-your-eyes covers (it was all about getting those newsstand eyeballs), and, well, me and pocket books (branded and not) get along. Which isn’t to say I like every single pocket-sized book, as there are of course as many clunkers in that book-size-genre as any other. Even the book I’m going to Cocktail Talk from today, the Mystery of the Dead Police, didn’t set my world on fire. An interesting set up (London police being killed at random), but the main characters just didn’t grab, and neither did the writing in the main. However, being a pocket-sized book, it wasn’t an inordinately long read, and still had some good twists here and there, but most of all it has the below quote, where two characters drink White Ladies (after mulling about drinking some other choice classics). How often do book characters drink White Ladies? Not enough! Honestly (why not!) speaking of “not enough” I don’t think there are enough White Ladies being consumed today – I’ll bet half the bars within say 20 minutes of me even in Seattle (home of genius bartenders) wouldn’t know what a White Lady was (gin, lemon, Cointreau, egg white), sadly. But at least our pocket-book pals below know!
“What about a cocktail,” said Nicholas Revel, and sat himself down to face her. His hand pressed the bell push upon the table leg.
Jane, as she has confessed, goggled.
“I . . .” she began. “What . . .”
Giulio came hurrying.
“Dry Martini?” said Nicholas Revel. “Bronx? Sidecar? White Lady? . . . Try a White Lady – yes, a White Lady’s just the thing for this morning. Giulio, two large White Ladies – not too much lemon, and make it snappy.”
— Philip MacDonald, Mystery of the Dead Police