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A "hard-boiled" detective novel and wine with personality
This week I read a fun little book in the style of a pulp detective novel. It was in no way serious and gave me an entertaining thrill ride through the gritty streets of 1950s New York (and some upscale haunts too).
by Emily J. Edwards
Crooked Lane Books, 2022
I presume Amazon suggested this book to me because it knows I am a fan of mysteries and historical fiction, and this book falls into both categories.
Viviana Valentine is a smart young woman living on her own in 1950s New York. She has worked her way into a secretarial job through the school of hard knocks. She lands a gig with Tommy Fortuna, an ace private eye. We quickly learn that Viv has enough of a head on her shoulders to solve even the toughest mystery on her own. When Tommy turns up missing (and an unknown body shows up in their office), Viviana gets on the case right away!
The mystery revolves around more than Tommy’s disappearance. Local millionaire (and all-around shady guy) Talmadge Blackstone has requested that Tommy tail his daughter, Tallulah (Tally), to find out the real reason she doesn’t want to marry his business partner. On top of that, who was that body on the floor of the office? There’s more of course, including some romance and a quick segue into the West Village for music and slam poetry.
Emily Edwards, the author, really nails the style. The language alone is a love letter to old, hard-boiled detective novels:
“Shut your mouth, Lawson.” “Or what?” “You’re not going to trick me into a threat, you slug.” I balled my fists, but I didn’t take a swing. “You’ll talk if you know anything—that is, if you know what’s good for you.”
A few threatening whacks of heavy steel against the palm of his hand and the reluctant pigeon would always sing …
I’ve been reading a few heavier novels lately, so to dive into this was an entertaining break. It was an adventurous drive down the lurid Hell’s Kitchen streets of 1950. I’ve already pre-ordered the second book, due out in May.
Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man is a quick, enjoyable read that left me feeling happy. I recommend it to anyone who wants a little bit of pulp fiction on their bookshelf.
My review (because it was just so much fun):
Wine: 2018 Klinker Brick Winery Old Vine Zinfandel
15.8% AbV, ~$20
If you won’t drink it, don’t cook with it.
Last week, I told you about a cranberry sauce recipe I liked to make for Thanksgiving using Zinfandel. This is the zin I used, and wow, did it pack a berry-full punch. Next year, I may add some fresh oranges in there, but otherwise, the Klinker Brick made the cranberry sauce really stand out.
In general, I tend to be a Francophile, so I can be a bit blind to California wine. But if you want a good, big zin, California is the place to go. This zin was made in Lodi, in California’s Central Valley, from vineyard blocks up to 120 years old.
BIG. That’s the first word that comes to mind with this zin. It’s big on flavor, big on alcohol, and big on personality, although still balanced and structured. This is a wine to thoroughly sip and enjoy. There is light vanilla when it first hits the tongue, then an explosion of dark berries and pepper, finishing off with some oak and more vanilla.
This zin would hold up to BBQ, and it worked in my cranberry sauce. I’d love to try it with a steak. I’ll buy it again.
Is everyone ready to plunge into the holiday season? The weather here can’t decide if it wants to be cold or warm, so it’s sticking with wet. But the sun is setting early and that always puts me in the mood for a nice glass of wine or a cocktail near the fireplace.
What are your favorite drinks for winter? Let me know in the comments!
Have a great week ahead!