Friday, August 3, 2018

Research for S’more Murders - A Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Maya Corrigan to the blog today. Maya writes the Five-Ingredient Mystery series. S’more Murders is the fifth book in the series and was released this week.

Research for S’more Murders
By Maya Corrigan

As a mystery writer, I’ve had to do unusual research to get the details right. I’ve gone to creepy places like haunted corn mazes and Poe’s tomb at dusk. I’ve also acted out the scenes in my book in order to get the details right—the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feel of a crime. For By Cook or by Crook, the first of my Five-Ingredient Mysteries, I whittled the handle of an antique tennis racket to turn it into a murder weapon and then I set it on fire. For the second book, Scam Chowder, I tried to slip poison into a dinner guest’s soup while pouring his wine. Fortunately for my victim, I used salt as a replacement for arsenic. In researching the next book, Final Fondue, I played the victim instead of the murderer. While I ate chocolate fondue, the killer crept up behind me . . . and hands closed around my throat. For my latest book, S’more Murders, I was “pushed” into a car trunk. Like my main character, I am claustrophobic, so I knew exactly what she went through when she was shoved into and trapped in a trunk.  

S’more Murders also required an elaborate and time-consuming rehearsal for the dinner scene. In the book my main character, café manager and sleuth Val Deniston, can’t pass up a cool catering gig on a yacht. She agrees to make a ten-course meal for eight aboard a yacht, recreating the last dinner the first-class guests ate on the Titanic. As Val and her grandfather serve the meal, the guests engage in a murder mystery role-playing game called Death on the Titanic. The game ends abruptly when someone goes overboard during a squall.

To write the book, I needed to research the Titanic. I read nonfiction and watched the blockbuster movie. I frequently consulted Last Dinner on the Titanic by Rick Archbold and Dana McCauley. It contains details about the menus on the ship, table settings, and recipes useful for those who want to hold their own Titanic memorial dinner, which many people did in 2012, on the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking.

But I needed to go further in my research. I couldn’t write the book without doing what Val does—serve a ten-course meal to eights guests as they play a whodunit mystery game. I downloaded a Titanic murder mystery dinner party game. Then I coaxed family members into assuming roles as Titanic guests, eating their last meal and solving a murder that took place on the ship. We had enough males to play the roles but we were short one female, so I had to assume a role in the game too.

In the game I downloaded, unlike most murder mystery role-playing games, no one knows whodunit—not the host, not even the person whodunit. So everyone is both a suspect and a sleuth. We each had a character sketch and a booklet with a script. The night of the dinner party, most of us were dressed to kill 1912-style: cocktail frocks, gowns, fur, elaborate hats, tuxedo, dinner jackets, and a captain’s uniform. We had wine with Titanic labels on the bottles and clues to peruse, including a telegram, a birth certificate, and a medical examiner’s report. Over the dessert course, we each announced the person we believed had committed the murder. And none of us figured it out! We all had fun, though, and I had the experience I needed to write the dinner scene in S’more Murders.

The murder mystery game in the book is nothing like the game I downloaded. The victim, suspects, and crime are different. The game in the book is designed for nefarious purposes rather than fun. If you would like to hold a fun Titanic dinner party with a murder investigation, I recommend the Titanic Murder Mystery Dinner Party Game by Printable Mystery Games. It contains instructions and recipes for the dinner, as well as all game parts, invitations, and wine labels to print. It’s possible to play the game during a less elaborate dinner, four courses instead of the ten courses Val and I made. At least my guests got to eat all the courses. Val only served five courses before a storm and a killer struck, putting an end to the meal, the mystery game, and one of its players.   


S'more Murders (A Five-Ingredient Mystery) by Maya Corrigan

About the Book

Cozy Mystery 5th in Series 
Kensington (July 31, 2018) 
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Managing a fitness club café and collaborating on a cookbook with her grandfather are Val Deniston’s usual specialties, but she’s about to set sail into nearby Chesapeake Bay—straight into a murder case . . .
Since catering themed events is a good way to make extra cash, Val agrees to board the Titanic—or at least cater a re-creation of the doomed journey on a yacht. The owner of the yacht, who collects memorabilia related to the disaster, wants Val to serve the last meal the Titanic passengers ate . . . while his guests play a murder-mystery game. But it is the final feast for one passenger who disappears from the ship. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Now Val has to reel in a killer before s’more murders go down . . .
Includes delicious five-ingredient recipes!

About the Author

Maya Corrigan blends her love of food and detective stories in her Five-Ingredient Mystery series set in a fictional historic town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The first book in the series, By Cook or by Crook, was published in 2014. It was followed by Scam Chowder in 2015, Final Fondue in 2016, and The Tell-Tale Tarte in 2017.

Before taking up a life of crime (on the page), she taught university courses in writing, detective fiction, American literature, and drama. She won the 2013 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Unpublished Mainstream Mystery / Suspense. Her short stories, written under the name of Mary Ann Corrigan, have been published in anthologies. When not reading and writing, she enjoys theater, tennis, trivia, cooking, and crosswords. Her website features trivia about food and mysteries.  

Author Links:

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  1. This sounds like a great read. Who would think of catering a meal using the menu last served on the Titanic.

  2. Enjoyed reading about the research Maya Corrigan did for writing "S’more Murders". Thanks for being part of the book tour.

    This book is on my TBR list and I would love the opportunity to read it.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  3. Sounds like a good cozy. Thanks for this opportunity. jluebke(at)frontier(dot)com