June 27 – July 3: “Do your characters have favorite cocktails and meals for the summer?”

thriller-roundtable-logo5Summer’s in full swing, so we have to ask: Do your characters have favorite cocktails and meals for the summer? This week we’re joined by ITW Members Tim Baker, Robert Walton, Jennifer Delozier, James W. Ziskin, Camille Minichino, John Farrow and Manning Wolfe. Kick back with your favorite summertime beverage and enjoy!




SEVEN DAYS DEADJohn Farrow is the Canadian author of five thrillers; and another seven novels and four plays under his real name, Trevor Ferguson. Seven Days Dead, the second in The Storm Murders Trilogy, has received a starred review in Booklist, while a great review in the New York Times (Marilyn Stasio) is forthcoming on June 12th. The Detective Émile Cinq-Mars series has been called the best of our time by Booklist, the best of all time by Die Zeit in Germany.



Fever City Europa World NoirTim Baker’s debut noir thriller, FEVER CITY (Europa Editions & Faber), has just been longlisted for a CWA Dagger award. Other longlisted writers this year include Stephen King, Don Winslow and Lee Child. Prior to publishing FEVER CITY, Tim liaised with international authorities on cases involving murder, kidnap, terrorism and disappearances in North Africa and Europe. He currently lives in the South of France with his wife and son. Twitter: @TimBakerWrites



deathCamille Minichino (aka Margaret Grace, Ada Madison, and Jean Flowers) has written more than 20 mystery novels as well as short stories and articles. Latest release: DEATH TAKES PRIORITY, November 2015. A retired physicist, she’s married to her webmaster, loves writing, but misses her helium-neon laser.




mask minosRobert Walton grew up in a multi-cultural village of Narberth in the main line of Philadelphia. Armed with a degree in Anthropology from Penn State, Bob has worked tirelessly over the years to live up to his father’s expectations. Having failed at that, he has traveled the world in search of the true meaning of life. Still, this has not stopped him from pursuing a career in writing that began over 35 years ago with unpublished poetry and short stories, and then in earnest when he began writing his first novel Fatal Snow. Since then he has joined Pennwriters and The International Thriller Writers and has published his second Harry Thursday thriller, The Mask of Minos: Bruno’s Inferno. There is more to come of Harry Thursday and more.


Type Cross_CVR (1)Dr. Jennifer Delozier attended Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. She’s spent 13 of her 22-year career as a federal servant, assisting America’s veterans and providing disaster care during Hurricanes Katrina, Ike and Gustav. In her spare time, she tinkers with short stories and her accordion. She’s inspired by facts that lie on the edge of reality: bizarre medical anomalies, new genetic discoveries and so on. Dr. Delozier lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and four cats.



DOLLAR SIGNS Final Ebook Cover 04Manning Wolfe, an author and attorney residing in Austin, Texas, writes cinematic-style, smart, fast-paced thrillers with a salting of Texas bullshit. The first in her series, featuring Austin Lawyer Merit Bridges, is Dollar Signs: Texas Lady Lawyer vs. Boots King. A graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas School of Law, Manning’s experience has given her a voyeur’s peak into some shady characters’ lives and a front row seat to watch the good people who stand against them.



Heart of StoneJames W. Ziskin is the author of Styx & Stone, No Stone Unturned, and Stone Cold Dead, the first three Ellie Stone mysteries. A linguist by training, Ziskin was director of New York University’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò for five years, where he collaborated with an impressive catalogue of writers, journalists, and academics on cultural and educational events.





  1. The Garibaldi – the perfect summer cocktail

    In my novel, ‘Fever City’, one of the main protagonists serves her favorite summer cocktail – a Garibaldi – which is such a coincidence, as it just happens to be my favorite summer cocktail too…!

    The recipe is simple. Half fill two double old-fashioned glasses with freshly squeezed blood orange juice. Add crushed ice and wedges of freshly cut blood orange. Fill nearly to the brim with Campari. Gently stir, then hand one of the glasses to someone you love. Saluti. Cincin.

  2. Type & Cross, my debut psychological thriller, mentions four adult beverages by name (feel free to draw your own conclusions…)
    Dr. Persephone “Seph” Smith, a nightmare-plagued criminal psychologist, is all about tequila. She prefers her Patrón straight up but indulges in a margarita (never frozen) during an unexpected layover in the Outer Banks. During the same layover, her partner, Homeland Security Special Agent Paul Marin, sticks with the tried-and-true and tosses back a pint of Guinness.
    Their next stop is Bermuda, home of the rum swizzle and the Dark ‘N Stormy®. Manny, a local smuggler, offers Seph and Marin the trademarked cocktail, a refreshing and potent mix of Gosling’s ginger beer and Gosling’s Black Seal rum. They, being true professionals, refuse.
    While Type & Cross doesn’t mention any specific summer foods, Seph is of Italian descent and originally hails from Philadelphia, so I have to think a cheesesteak would be on her menu. For those of you familiar with Philly, this raises the age-old debate: Geno’s or Pat’s? What do you think, dear readers? Here’s your chance to weigh in.

  3. I’m in way over my head here! The fanciest I’ve gotten (in life and in fiction) is an affogato, made with gelato. Gloria, my retired physicist character, treats herself to this at least once in every book.

    1. I think it’s a great idea, Camille, to have a character treating themselves to something special in every book! You should patent the ‘Gloria Affogato’ with an unusual touch like pistachio flavored ice-cream!

      Your mention of the affogato reminded me of one time when I was in Aranjuez in Spain in early September for the town’s fiesta, and it was very hot. A cafe near the bullring was selling a late morning drink called a ‘sol y sombra’ which everyone was having: iced black coffee with vanilla ice-cream. It went down very well.

      A few days later back in Madrid and the heat wave hadn’t let up. So I ordered a ‘sol y sombre’ around 10am to cool off, but was surprised by the strange look the waiter gave me.

      It wasn’t until the drink arrived, that I realized my mistake. A ‘sol y sombra’ is actually the name of a cocktail, half Chinchon anis, half Fundador cognac. At least it was shaken over ice.

      So why did the cafe name its coffee and ice-cream drink after a cocktail?

      I just wasn’t paying attention. The cafe was called the sol y sombra, named after a section of the bullring, that is in the sun at the beginning but in the shade at the end, and apparently it only ever sold its non-alcoholic drink when there was a corrida in the bullring…

  4. Do your characters have favorite cocktails and meals for the summer?

    Ellie Stone, the heroine of my series set in the early 1960s, is known to enjoy her drink. In general it’s coffee in the morning, seltzer during the day, and Dewar’s Scotch whiskey at night. She holds her liquor well. She has to or be ready to defend her honor with the men she consorts with.

    In HEART OF STONE, however, Ellie is enjoying a much deserved vacation in the Adirondacks with her aunt Lena and elderly cousin Max. It’s August 1961, and evening cocktails at Lena’s Cedar Haven cabin are a mainstay. Ellie still drinks her Dewar’s, but Lena and Max alternate between gin and tonics, old fashioneds, and Manhattans. The drinks are consumed with accompanying canapés, everything from cheese and pineapple (canned, of course) on a toothpick to pimento loaf on a cracker. After meals, Max is partial to port, which he consumes with Rabelaisian avidity.

    There is plenty of eating and drinking in HEART OF STONE, especially at the nearby Arcadia Lodge, where lavish Sunday evening Bacchanalia are de riguer. Have a look at HEART OF STONE and enjoy with a drink of something nice.

    1. James – your comment about enjoying with a drink of something nice reminds me that I’ve not paired Elle with a good wine in my newsletter. I know you saw the one with Mark Pryor’s book. I think I’ll have to start sampling wines for next month’s pairing. I may need to re-read a few passages in HEART OF STONE to get me in the right frame of mind. Cheers!

  5. Hello All, it’s “hotter than the dickens” as they say here in Texas. Merit Bridges, the main character of ‘Dollar Signs: Texas Lady Lawyer vs Boots King’, is a big wine drinker. In the summertime, she’ll often mix up a batch of Sangria to take the heat off for happy hour. I was recently in Santa Fe and enjoyed some great Sangria, told Merit all about it, and sent her this great recipe:

    1/2 apple, chopped
    1/2 orange, thinly sliced
    4 tablespoons brown sugar
    3/4 cup orange juice
    1/3 cup brandy
    1 750 ml bottle dry red wine
    Hope it helps to cool you all down and keep you company paired with a good thriller!

    Tex Mex is also a favorite in Austin (the setting of ‘Dollar Signs’), and one of Merit’s most enjoyed cuisines! In the summer, all the peppers, melted cheeses, and tortillas can be a little heavy, so Merit turns it all into a Taco Salad instead! In short, Merit loves her wine and she loves her Tex Mex! Both tried and true staples to cope with the steamy Texas summers.

      1. J.L.: The brown sugar is optional, and probably adds to the hangover factor a little bit. You might try substituting Agave Nectar – we do that a lot in Texas for Margaritas too!

        1. Wow. It’s amazing that you all are in your characters’ heads so much! How do you think know such detailed info helps you write your characters?

          1. I don’t think of it as having details and then writing them. The details emerge as I find the character in a certain situation. For example, if Merit is in a bar, she’s probably going to have a glass of wine – it’s her style. Same for Ag, he’s a beer drinker – wouldn’t be caught dead with a Cosmo in his hand! And, of course, everyone in Texas drinks Margaritas – it’s a requirement to live here.

          2. I agree with Manning. I know some authors do run through an exercise before they start writing where they flesh out fun details of their characters – what they eat and drink, how they’d dress. These type of authors also usually create an outline for their book.
            I, on the other hand, prefer to address these things as the situations arise. As Manning said, if I wrote a bar scene for my protagonist, Dr. Seph Smith, what would she drink and why? I find it’s more fun that way. I enjoy discovering details about my characters as I write them, just as I hope my readers enjoy discovering the same details as they read.

    1. Manning, this sounds AWESOME — and just in time for a long weekend 🙂

  6. I like the pistachio ice cream idea, Tim! I might have to test the recipe first myself.

    As with all of these, I’m thinking of tasting party soon.

    One of my series is a crafts series and I have included, for example, a recipe for “finger” cookies, a Halloween treat. The fingers, of course, are stand alone, no hand/body attached. Creepy. recipe on request.

  7. So many delectable choices here!

    My main character, Sergeant-Detective Émile Cinq-Mars, comes from a farming background, and he’s still raising horses, so his tastes have never run to the exotic when it comes to food. A mean-and-potatoes type guy. An indulgence, which is typical among fictional detectives perhaps, is a love of whiskey. In his case, he does not drink excessively, and only for the enjoyment, not to obliterate his faculties. As he has progressed in life, his taste in whisky has ascended the ladder up through single malts, in particular, which he prefers to blends. He’s still not the most affluent of persons, so his preference is for Springbank – expensive, especially in Canada, but it doesn’t quite break the bank. Usually, he has a selection on hand.

    In one book, he delivers a mini-lecture on how to spell the word, with or without an “e”, as whiskey, or as whisky. For the Irish and the Americans, it’s whiskey. For the Canadians, Scots and Japanese, it’s whisky. If that’s not bad enough, the plural of whiskey is whiskeys, and the plural of whisky is whiskies. The New York Times, around seven years ago now, decided to spell the word according to the origin of the whisk(e)y they happen to be discussing. And if all sounds rather dry, then let’s just have a drink.

    1. John
      My husband and I recently traveled to Canada and took a tour of the Hiram Walker distillery. At the conclusion, we received a whisky tasting. I’ve never been a whisky drinker, but my husband convinced me to try the new Canadian Club Maple whisky. While I’m sure connoisseurs of fine whisky turn up their noses at flavored products, I was quite fond of it – enough to bring a bottle back to the States! Good stuff…

      1. I’ve never had Canadian whisky JL, but that does sound pretty interesting! Like John’s Sergeant-Detective Cinq-Mars, I am a single malt man and actually have always referred to the drink as Scotch, not whisky or whiskey.

        But in ‘Fever City’ one of the main characters, a hit man named Hastings, only drinks J.T.S. Brown, a Kentucky bourbon whiskey.

        I was introduced to it by a friend who came from Louisville, Kentucky and then came across it again some years later in Walter Tevis’s story, ‘The Hustler.’ It’s a killer drink, and I guess that makes it a good drink for a killer…

  8. I visited Cape Breton, NS, last summer and toured the Glenora Distillery. Lots of Scottish influence in the area and in the whisky, but they can’t call it Scotch. Cape Breton is one of the most beautiful places on earth, by the way.

  9. Hey all. I read Moby Dick recently, ( and let me tell you , it is much better to watch the movie.) Mark Twain said that a classic is something everyone should read, but no one wants to. Yet while reading that wonderful novel, I couldn’t help notice he detailed everything Ishmael and Queequeg did and ate. One scene they walked into a tavern looking for a meal and they were offered either Fish or Clam chowder. It sounded so good I went out and bought a dozen clams and other things needed to make clam chowder. Mine didn’t come out as good, I think.
    But that shows you the power of food in a novel. It is something we all share in our enjoyment of and why I always try and put something in my stories about food. If I leave out food, there is still good old Whiskey. Aarrhh, mighty smooth stuff matie

  10. Yes Robert, you’re right that by and large the posts here have been more concerned with drinks than food. Could be a reflection of the writer’s well-known affection for booze. 😉

    I once wrote a piece on that, and of all the responses I received, I remember Gore Vidal’s the most: ‘only a fool believes there is a connection between drinking and writing – writers and readers alike.’

    1. Tim – I’ll throw in a little foodie info since I love to cook. In Dollar Signs Merit and her love interest make a Greek Omelette post fun and games. It has Feta Cheese, eggs of course, and some tomato basil to give it that Mediterranean flavor.

  11. James – I love a good scotch whiskey. Johnny Walker Blue is always on my Christmas List and I try to sip it through the year. Year before last we stayed at the Peabody in Memphis – they have a nice bourbon tasting menu. Bill enjoyed it a bit more than I did, but we both experimented and learned.

  12. Whiskey, of course, may arrive with a history. The corn whiskeys of Kentucky and Tennessee, known as moonshine, which subsequently give rise to speciality Bourbons, have known their internecine wars, and gunfights with “revenuers”. The growth of the distilleries of Montreal, notably Hiram Walker and Seagram’s, was largely due to illegally supplying the clubs of New York and Chicago — and beyond — during Prohibition.

    Here’s a scene I haven’t written yet, and may never. But single-malts are their own entities in Scotland, and are my personal favourites, but many cheer the blends. (Johnny Walker, for instance, is a blended Scotch.) But where do the blends come from? Many small distilleries. In a club in Edinburgh, the single malts that will only be sold commercially as part of a blended Scotch, are available for sampling on their own. Hundreds of different varieties. Yes, I can envision a couple of characters sitting down for a tasting there, while mulling through the intricacies of a case, or plotting a crime.

    1. Great point, John, the essential role Canada played during Prohibition, shaping drinking habits for two generations.

  13. Has anyone used food in a killer way — as the murder weapon? One of my characters narrowly escaped poisoned lemonade, but that’s as close as I’ve come.

    1. Camille, in my forthcoming novel, there is a poisoning scene complete with recipe and means of disguising the alarming tastes. Luckily the natural poison is so rare that not many would-be killers could get their hands on it…

  14. To Manning’s reference to Greek omelettes, and Camille’s to deadly food, I am reminded of Patterson’s Honeymoon. The female antagonist killed her husbands, and lovers alike with poison in the omelettes. Because of that I don’t think I’ll kill anyone that way. Nothing like good old bullets and knives to name a few.
    But yes, hail to Whiskey. My character Harry Thursday loves his Whiskey. In Fatal Snow, I think I got drunk just proofreading the damned thing. Alcohol can have negative affects too. Hunter S Thompson made that point in Fear and Loathing…
    The moral of the story is, “everything in moderation.” Especially poison.

    1. I tell my patients that all the time (the “everything in moderation” part – not the poison part!) They are often shocked to hear I enjoy a drink now and again or that I “allow” my husband to have a cigar. If you want to have a cigar, have a cigar. As in, ONE cigar. Don’t have ten. Same with whiskey or whatever adult beverage sets your soul afire. Life’s too short to eliminate anything. But you can make it shorter by over-indulging!

  15. In Spain they offer wonderful summer food: light, fresh and tasty. In my forthcoming novel about Picasso, a group of friends stop off at a bar and are served tapas – free, simple snacks to go with your drinks; on this occasion “diced pieces of grilled octopus sprinkled with paprika, a tiny dish of anchovies white and plump in vinegar, olives dark as a farmer’s hands, and cubes of tortilla speared by toothpicks.” Today, more and more places sell elaborate tapas, but in little local bars throughout Spain, free tapas are still served. A lovely gesture of hospitality.

    1. On a recent trip to Barcelona, we had almost that same grilled octopus dish – tapas all over the region. You’re making my mouth water!

  16. Had an early 4th party today and kept thinking I should recipes from this week’s Roundtable. Being lazy, however, I stuck to the usual salads and cookies. Someone brought a spectacular cake, however — tried to add a photo but couldn’t figure out how.20160702_113959 2.jpg

  17. Had an early 4th party today and kept thinking I should recipes from this week’s Roundtable. Being lazy, however, I stuck to the usual salads and cookies. Someone brought a spectacular cake, however — tried to add a photo but couldn’t figure out how.

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