Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery, Spotlight on December 2, 2015

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empty nest

Empty Nest: A Birds of a Feather Mystery
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Publisher: Alibi (December 1, 2015)
Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Sold by: Random House LLC


If you love Laura Childs, Ellery Adams, or Jenn McKinlay, don’t miss Marty Wingate’s charming Birds of a Feather series! In Empty Nest, Julia Lanchester’s life is interrupted by a murder most foul—and a killer who’s watching her like a hawk.

Manager of a tourist center in a quaint British village, Julia Lanchester finds herself with more ideas than time. Her boss is the Earl Fotheringill himself, but apart from him, she doesn’t mix well with the aristocracy. Unfortunately, toxic mold forces her from her cottage and into one of the earl’s countless spare rooms at the Hall. She tries to get a handle on her overload of work, while she finds herself arguing with dinner guests, chaffing at the sudden interest the earl’s son has in running the estate, and missing her new beau, Michael Sedgwick.

Her life goes from bad to sinister when Julia discovers poisoned sparrowhawks on the expansive estate grounds. And soon after, she finds one of the Hall’s visitors murdered—felled by the same poison. While simultaneously both spooked and angry, she still can’t keep herself from snooping, and dragging Michael along into her investigation. But will she find the culprit before her own wings are clipped?


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Guest Post

You Say “Potato,” I Say “Packet of Crisps”

I love language, and I especially love the many varieties of English. As an American who spends a great deal of time in Britain (and watching lots of Brit television) and who writes mysteries set in various parts of Britain, I absorb as much as I can of the local flavor to infuse my stories with authenticity, using words and phrases that might sound foreign to an American ear. Lift for elevator – that’s an easy one, right? Lorry for truck – surely you’ve heard that one? Have you heard these?

A dual carriageway is a freeway – and if you think about it for a moment, that makes sense. “Dual” – the two sets of lanes are divided into their separate directions – and “carriageway” for the carrying (of the cars and people). What’s a bit more difficult to figure out when you are driving in the United Kingdom is the use of “inside lane” and “outside lane.” In the States, the inside lane is the one on the inside (near the median, the thing that separates the directions). It’s what we call the fast lane. In the UK, the inside (fast) lane is called the outside lane, and the outside lane is … well, you see what I mean.

“I’ll give you a ring.” That’s mostly understood in the States – it means I’ll phone you. In Britain, the verb goes further, and is used to finish the call. “I rang off” means I hung up. The word “call” is still mostly used for appearing. “I’ll call for you at three o’clock.” That little word “for” signals to you that someone will stop by your house to pick you up, not be on the phone.

Tea is vital, and in Empty Nest as well as my other mysteries, putting the kettle on is akin to saying, “It’s all right now, dear,” or “You can tell me about it,” or “I need to sit down.” It’s a signal for a break. Although I must confess, I’m still trying to get my copy editors to understand the sequence. First, you put the kettle on (or switch it on, for the electric variety). Next, you pour up the tea. That doesn’t mean you are pouring the tea into a cup – it means you are pouring the boiling water over the tea (bags) in the pot or in a mug (acceptable). After the tea steeps, that’s when you pour it into the cup (or fish out the teabag from the mug).

“I’ll be mother.” That’s lovely, isn’t it? It means you are offering to pour (not pour up!) the tea.

There’s a fair bit of food mentioned in Empty Nest – Julia has a good appetite. And so, be on the lookout – both in my book and on menus when you are over there – for the following: mushy peas and spotted dick.

You will, of course, want to order fish and chips in England. Accompanying your order will be green peas, either the hard round kind (usually called marrowfat peas) or the mushy kind. It isn’t baby food (as Julia explains to an American in The Royal Oak, one of the village pubs), it is green peas, well seasoned and quite tasty that are mushed up.

Spotted dick, anyone? Snicker all you want – this is a delightful steamed sponge pudding with sultanas (raisins) and orange zest that is served warm in a pool of custard sauce. I’m hungry just thinking about it.

If all you want is something to nibble on while you sit in the pub and drink your pint (of good English ale), then order a packet of crisps – a reasonably sized bag of potato chips that come in the usual flavors – salt and vinegar, cheese and onion, prawn cocktail.

Sorry, I must draw the line somewhere, and I draw it at prawn cocktail.

About the Author

marty wingateMarty Wingate is the author of two previous Potting Shed mysteries, The Garden Plot and The Red Book of Primrose House. Her new Birds of a Feather Mystery series debuted with The Rhyme of the Magpie. Wingate is a regular contributor to Country Gardens and other magazines. She also leads gardening tours throughout England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and North America. More Potting Shed and Birds of a Feather mysteries are planned.

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