The Deadly Gambler - An Alexander Steele Murder Mystery - Lawrence Johnson, Sr.

12:22 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Squash with onion and Tomatoes
(Click on the link and watch the video of this dish)

Peel and slice 3 medium squash 
Place in shallow baking pan lined with foil
Add 3 to 4 cherry tomatoes
Add 1/2 onion thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Drizzle 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil 
Seal foil, add a couple of small holes to help vent the steam
Bake 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees


The Deadly Gambler - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish


What the hell's going on here?"  Steel stumbled to the window and tried opening it but it was shut tight.  In fact none of the windows would budge.  By now the room was engulfed with the strange, intoxicating, sweet, fruity smell.  At the window there was a more familiar odor, glue.  Someone had super glued all the windows shut.  The murder had finally made his move to take Steele out.  As he stumbled toward the bedroom door he tripped on the brown, oriental carpet and fell to his knees.  Steele began coughing and wheezing.  The air closer to the floor was a bit more breathable.  Steel crawled back to where he had left his gun.  The time it took to cross the room seemed like hours but had only taken a few minutes.  Expecting the culprit to come in and finish the job any minute Steele reached up and grabbed his Glock  He crawled to the door and giggled the handle.  The door had been locked from the outside with a skeleton key.  Steele cursed under his breath as he struggled to stand.  It wouldn't be long before the gas would completely overtake him.  Steele was close to passing out.

Alex Steele, P.I. has been investigating the murder of a millionaire's wife and the pool boy.  Their murder is quite a suspense.  They were found inside the pool house with the doors locked from the inside.  There was no evidence showing how anyone could have gotten inside.  And then there was their actual deaths.  No gunshot nor knife wounds and it appeared that neither victim had been beaten to death.

At present his suspects consist of the chef, the gardener, the maid, the butler, the sister-in-law and, of course, the millionaire himself.  So with his list of possibilities and lack of evidence, how will he ever solve the mystery of who killed the rich wife and her pool boy lover?  Especially now that someone has him locked in a room with vapors that can only leave another body.

I've read all of the Alex Steele novels and each one takes me on a journey of murder, suspense and scratching my head for clues.  But in the end, Steele always shows me that he is a much better detective than I am.  Hoping to see more of him in the very near future!

The Insanity Plea - Larry D. Thompson, Author

10:01 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Desdemona's Cheesecake -  Lemon Vanilla  Cheesecake
By Victoria Thompson - Larry's wife
This recipe takes all day so I consider it a Special Occasion Dessert only! It is gorgeous and tasty when done.

Shopping list:
6 vanilla beans
6 medium lemons
1 1/2 c. flour & 1 1/2 Tbl flour
2 1/2c. sugar & 1/3 c. sugar
8 eggs
1 3/4 c. butter
1/4 tsp. salt
2  8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese
8 oz. ricotta cheese or small curd cottage cheese
1 small container of vanilla yogurt
31/4 c. sour cream
1/2 c. powdered sugar
21/2 c. whipping cream
31/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Crust: Approx. 45 min. prep, 1 hour chill, 15 min. bake

2 vanilla beans
1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 egg yolks (save whites for filling)
1 c. butter diced into 4 pats
1/4 tsp. salt
 Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. during the chill

1. Split vanilla beans and scrape seeds into a medium bowl;
2. Stir in flour, sugar and zest.  Add egg yolk, butter and salt.  Cut in until crumbly.
3. Knead until a smooth dough ball forms, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
4. Lightly spray springform pan with butter flavored spray.  Press dough on bottom and sides to 1/8th to 1/4 inch thickness.  Spray a sheet of foil with butter flavored spray, careful place the foil on top of the dough to line the pan.  Add beans into the foil lining to hold sides of dough in place while they bake.  Bake in the center of oven until lightly golden, about 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and carefully lift the foil full of beans out of the crust.  Cool.





Filling: Approx. 1 hour prep time – 2 hours baking time – 3 hours cooling time

2 eight ounce packages of cream cheese softened
8 oz. ricotta cheese or small curd cottage cheese
1 container of vanilla yogurt
1/4 c. sour cream
1/3 c sugar
1/2 c. powdered sugar 
1 1/2 Tbl flour
1/2 c. whipping cream
4 lg. eggs separated and one egg white retained from crust prep.
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
2 vanilla beans
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Boil water for the baking bath.

Three bowl method to very fluffy and light cheeses cake.
1. In a small bowl, whip cream until lightly peaking, split vanilla beans and add seeds to cream as well as the extract, continue whipping until firm peaks form;
2. In a second medium bowl, beat egg whites until lightly peaking, add powdered sugar and continue beating until firm peaks form;
3. In a large bowl, cream egg yolks, zest, sugar, sour cream and yogurt.  Blend in cream cheese and finally the cottage cheese.  Do not over blend - should be light and fluffy.
4. Fold in (bowl#2) whites and (bowl#1) whipping cream, blend on low with a mixer just until smooth. Do not overbeat.
5.  Cover the outside of the springform pan (the cooled crust) with foil that goes above the edges of the pan (to be sure water stays out).  Pour the cheesecake mix into the crust/springform. Place the springform into a roasting pan, fill with boiling water to half way up the springform.
6. Bake in the center of the oven 45 to 60 minutes, until the perimeter of the cake is light brown and set and the center jiggles.  Turn off the oven and leave the door ajar for 1 hour.
7.  Take cake out of the oven and remove from the roasting pan.  Remove outside foil and continue to cool on a wire rack.  When the bottom is cool to the touch place the cake in the refridgerator for 3 hours before topping.

Topping:  3 layers

Lemon curd:  Approx. 30 min. prep time plus time to chill.

2 large eggs
3/4 c sugar
1 1/2 Tbl. lemon zest
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice 
3 Tbl. chilled butter in three pats

1. In the top of a double boiler, whisk eggs until smooth, whisk in sugar, zest and lemon juice.
2. Place over the bottom of the double boiler when the water is simmering and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thick and pale yellow, 7 to 10 min.
3. Stir in butter one pat at a time until thoroughly combined and smooth.
4. Remove top of double boiler and set into a bowl of ice, stirring occasionally until cool.  Refridgerate.

Sour Cream topping: Approx. 10 minutes prep time plus time to chill

3 c. sour cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
seeds of 1 vanilla bean

Beat all ingredients and chill.

Lemon Vanilla Whipping cream topping: Approx. 10 min. prep time plus time to chill.

2 c. whipping cream
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla
seeds of 1 vanilla bean

Whip cream until peaks lightly form, add other ingredients and continue to whip until firm peaks form.  Chill. 

Assemble:

Spread sour cream topping evenly over the cheesecake.
Spread a very thin layer of lemon curd over the sour cream layer.  Do not use all of the curd, just enough to make a very thin layer.

Pipe the whipping cream in peaks to cover the top of the cheese cake.  Decorate with the lemon zest curls, chill and serve.

The Insanity Plea - Review by Martha A Cheves, Author of:  Stir, Laugh Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

The killer held her with his left hand while he retrieved a knife from its holster on his waist.  He flipped open the blade and pulled it from right to left against the soft flesh of her throat.  Blood spurted from both carotid arteries and spilled from her neck.  She was breathing more and more slowly when she slipped to the concrete.  Her fluttering eyes became fixed as life drained from her body.  The killer smiled with satisfaction as he bent over and used his knife to slice the running shorts from her lifeless body.

When he started his slow jog back to the hotel, he felt a few drops of blood, trickling from his cheek.  He used her shorts to stem the flow.  I'll probably have to explain a Band-Aid on my cheek to my audience this morning as a shaving cut, he thought.  As he continued his job, he smiled.  She was number three.  Forty-seven to go.


State v. Little - The State of Texas arrested Dan Little for the murder of a jogger found thrown over the seawall in Galveston.  Dan, ex-football player, ex-attorney, had begun to hear voices and see people that only he could see and hear. He had been living on the streets for years.  He had also been in and out of institutions for many of those years.  So could it be that the voices had started telling him to kill.

His brother Wayne knew Dan's condition.  He also knew that the State of Texas shunned pleas of insanity but with the DA going for the death penalty, insanity was his only way out.  But, did he actually commit the crime?  According to his confession he did.  But did he know what he was saying when he confessed?

This was a 'don't put me down book.'  I read a few pages, told myself I would finish the next chapter and then come back later just to find myself reading the next chapter and the next.  This would make a great movie!

And Then He Was Gone - Joan Hall Hovey, Author

11:15 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Quick Veggie chili
(A Joan Hall Hovey Special)

Chopped half onion
Can tomatoes
Can tomato soup
1 Can white beans
1 Can kidney beans
1 cup mixed vegetables (frozen)
1 teaspoon chili powder

Simmer for half an hour or less and serve.  Place a cake tray under the pot to keep chili from sticking.

And Then He Was Gone - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

His hands still on the rope, then dropped away as he stared with shock and terror, mouth agape, at the water.  As if the table had suddenly transformed into a deep reservoir, water gushed from it, spilling onto the floor, flooding it, then spiking up suddenly as if alive, like thrusting fingers, reaching for him.  He gasped and lost his footing, tumbling off the ladder and bringing it down on top of him.  Laying on his back on the floor, his terror-filled eyes were riveted on the horror unfolding before him.  Even as he managed to get back up on his feet, his eyes never once left the visage that Julie thought had to be the results of some sort of conjoined hysteria, since they were both witnessing it...As he backed away from what her rational mind insisted had to be some trick of the imagination, long skeletal fingers shot out of the water and clamped around his wrist.  Beneath his screams, she heard the sirens in the distance, but that did not quite register, perhaps only existed in some other realm, some alternate universe, for Julie was aware of nothing except what was happening here and now...  Adam was here.

Julie's husband Adam went missing on July 14th, her birthday.  He was supposed to take her out to dinner but he never showed.  She drove around town looking for him and even submitted a missing person's report with the police department.  Six months later they were still questing and accusing her of murdering her husband and doing something with his body.

Many years earlier a boy named David was found in the lake after someone tried to drown him.  He didn't die but ended up in a coma for what was the better part of his life.  After all those years he has finally awaken to a life with no memory.

So, what does a missing husband and a boy that has been in a coma for 19 years have in common?  As I read the story of both I saw a very twisted mind that reeked pure terror on both families.  It held me in suspense to see what this sick mind would do next.  I have to say that I had a hard time putting this book down.


Deadly Games - Bobby Nash, Author

7:24 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



SIMPLE DOUBLE-LAYER FUDGE

This is one Bobby Nash's Mom made when he was a kid and he still makes from time to time. Perfect for parties and game night.

The ingredients:
2 pkg. (4 oz. each) Semi-Sweet Chocolate (or your flavor of choice), broken into pieces
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk, divided
1 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 pkg. (4 oz. each) White Chocolate (6 oz.) (or your flavor of choice), broken into pieces

Here’s how you make it:
Microwave semi-sweet chocolate and 3/4 cup milk in medium microwaveable bowl on high for 2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.
Add vanilla and mix well.
Spread onto bottom of a pan. I use spray so it doesn’t stick. Some use foil.

Microwave white chocolate and remaining milk in medium microwaveable bowl on high for 1-1/2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.
Spread over semi-sweet chocolate layer. 
Refrigerate 2 hours.


Once hardened, cut and serve.

Deadly Games - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of:  Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

John Bartlett - An Atlanta Police Officer
Benjamin West - A photojournalist
Vivian Morehouse - Ex-Wife of Darrin Morehouse
Laura Sellars - Criminal Attorney
Nathan Hughes - Judge
Michael Coombes - District Attorney
Francis Chalmers - Prison Warden
Philip Jason Hall - Probate Attorney

"Lock this place down," he ordered the guards.  No calls in or out without my written permission.  I want this cell searched top to bottom then sanitized.  Cover all the basis, but do it with as few people as possible.  The less who know about this the better we'll be able to contain the fallout."

This was Warden Chalmers' reaction after the body of Darrin Morehouse was found hanging in his cell.  It appeared to be suicide, all the way down his note and 8 letters he left behind.  So what do the 8 people above have in common?  Well, 7 of them are listed in the dead man's will.  Each one had a hand in his conviction with the exception of Philip Hall who would be the one to carry out his will.

Why would a criminal like Morehouse want to list those who put him away in his will.  Will he 'award' them with money gained by his criminal activities?  Or has he found a way to punish them after his death, maybe with some dirt he dug up on them.  John Bartlett and Benjamin West seemed to know him best and they didn't believe he was up to anything good.  They knew he LOVED to play games and this could only be one he dreamed up to torture all of them.

I've read a lot of books and this one really got my attention.  Author Bobby Nash took me all the way to the end, throwing tiny bones along the way but nothing that would lead me to guess the ending of this book.  Now I can't wait to read the next chapter in this series.