Posted in Cozy Mystery, Guest Post

Guest Recipe Post and Blog Tour for The Gold Pawn, an Art Deco Mystery, by L. A. Chandlar

This post was contributed by author L. A. Chandlar Her cozy mystery, The Gold Pawn, is currently on tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

Charlotte’s Pocket Peanut Butter Cookies

(Lane’s Mom – from the recipe box Lane finds in her Rochester home in The Gold Pawn)

1 ¼ Cups brown sugar                        1 egg

¾ Cup peanut butter                           1 `1/4 Cups flour

½ Cup softened butter                        ¾ teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon vanilla                           ¾ teaspoon baking soda

3 Tablespoons milk                             Extra peanut butter for middle pocket

Heat oven to 375. Combine butter, peanut butter, sugar, milk and vanilla on medium speed until well blended. Beat in egg until just blended. Combine flour, salt and baking soda, add gradually to creamed mixture. Mix until just blended.

Drop by heaping teaspoon onto lightly greased cookie sheet and flatten.

 

Drop 1 teaspoon peanut butter onto each disc. Take 1 heaping tablespoon of dough, roll and make a pancake in your hands. Lay on top of flattened disc with the peanut butter – don’t worry if they crack a little.

Pinch and seal edges (look like flying saucers), then scooch the edges back in to form more of a ball.

 

 

 

 

Place in oven for about 9 minutes or until golden brown.

ENJOY! For a quicker version, use pre-made refrigerator dough. Use the same method. They’re delicious! Let’s hope Lane figures out how to make the recipe without burning them. I’m pretty sure Finn will love them and Mr. Kirkland will want the recipe.

The Gold Pawn (An Art Deco Mystery)
by L.A. Chandlar

About the Book

The Gold Pawn (An Art Deco Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Kensington (September 25, 2018)
Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 1496713435
ISBN-13: 978-1496713438
Digital ASIN: B078QSRGRY

November 1936. Mayor La Guardia’s political future buckles under a missing persons case in New York City. Simultaneously, Lane unravels devastating secrets in the outskirts of Detroit. As two crimes converge, judging friends from enemies can be a dangerous game . . .

Finally summoning the courage to face the past, Lane Sanders breaks away from her busy job at City Hall to confront childhood nightmares in Rochester, Michigan. An unknown assailant left Lane with scattered memories after viciously murdering her parents. However, one memory of a dazzling solid gold pawn piece remains—and with it lies a startling connection between the midwestern tragedy and a current mystery haunting the Big Apple . . .

Meanwhile, fears climb in Manhattan after the disappearance of a respected banker and family friend threatens the crippled financial industry and the pristine reputation of Lane’s virtuous boss, Mayor Fiorello “Fio” La Guardia. Fio’s fight to restore order leads him into more trouble as he meets a familiar foe intent on ending his mayoral term—and his life . . .

Guided by overseas telegrams from the man she loves and painful memories, only Lane can silence old ghosts and derail present-day schemes. But when the investigation awakens a darker side of her own nature, will she and New York City’s most prominent movers and shakers still forge ahead into a prosperous new age . . . or is history doomed to repeat itself?

About the Author

L .A. Chandlar is the author of the Art Deco Mystery Series with Kensington Publishing featuring Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and a fresh take on the innovation and liveliness of 1930s New York City. Her debut novel, The Silver Gun released August 29, 2017, and the sequel, The Gold Pawn, will release September 25th, 2018. Laurie has been living and writing in New York City for 16 years and has been speaking for a wide variety of audiences for over 20 years including a women’s group with the United Nations. Her talks range from NYC history, the psychology of creativity, and the history of holiday traditions. Laurie has also worked in PR for General Motors, writes and fund-raises for a global nonprofit is the mother of two boys, and has toured the nation managing a rock band.

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Posted in Cozy Mystery, Guest Post

Guest Post and Blog Tour for Fatal Flip, a Home Renovator Mystery by M. E. Bakos

This home improvement tips post was contributed by author M.E. Bakos. Her cozy mystery, Fatal Flip is currently on tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

Katelyn’s Fatal Flip’s Home Improvement Tips

Enjoy the home improvement tips. If you have tips you would like to share, leave a post, or contact me at mebakos@yahoo.com.

*The home improvement stores make do-it-yourself look so easy. Plumbing is one area where they can convince you to fix your own toilet or replace existing faucets. Both are fraught with peril. I once spent hours trying to fix a leaky toilet with the wrong part sold me by a home improvement store employee. I finally gave in and called a plumber.

I did successfully replace a faucet set—it took three days, and multiple trips to the store where a plumber apprentice who walked me through the process. My final tip, find out the expertise level of the employee before you buy something to do it yourself.

*Dollar for dollar, insulating a home can save bunches on heating and cooling bills, not to mention cut unwanted sound travel. 

*The factory codes you get with your new garage door opener should always be changed. Otherwise, it is possible someone could have the same code to open your garage—and your house, if the garage connects to the house.  

*There are items designed to slip under a doorknob, and prop from the floor for security. If you need something in a hurry, shove a chair under the doorknob to prevent an intruder. Simple security measures, like locking your doors even while at home are a good idea.

*One way to silence a squeaky hinge is to tap out the pin, clean the pin and coat with petroleum jelly

*Any stain is tough. If you have a wine spill, the best time to get it out is before it dries. Blot the stain first, then depending on the area, try white wine or club soda, and cover with salt and let sit, and vacuum. Best thing to do is drink all the wine, thereby avoiding any unfortunate spills.

*It is my humble opinion; the best home is a mortgage free home. After your monthly mortgage payment, make a separate payment each month towards the principal portion of your mortgage. It saves a bundle on interest and cuts the length of your loan, and you won’t even miss the money in your budget.

*My final home improvement tip is a saying from Pliny, a Roman philosopher, “Home is where the Heart is.”  I would add “Home is Nice.” Make your home as nice as you can. It’s where you live.

Fatal Flip: A Home Renovator Mystery
by M. E. Bakos

About the Book

Fatal Flip: A Home Renovator Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Cozy Cat Press (October 27, 2017)
Paperback: 220 pages
ISBN-10: 194606341X
ISBN-13: 978-1946063410
Digital ASIN: B077WRRMH6

Flipping houses can be fatal! When Katelyn finds a dead body in her first home renovation project, she seriously doubts her decision to “follow her bliss.” After getting fired from her steady job, her plan to flip houses takes a hit when she becomes a suspect. After all, possession is nine points of the law, isn’t it? Especially, when it’s a dead body.

To keep herself in pizza, peanut butter, good coffee, and her stray cat, Boots, in kitty chow she takes survival jobs as a wine sample hostess and market researcher. Meanwhile, Sheriff Don is kind of hunky, and her ex-husband, Eddy (it’s complicated) is back in her life sleeping on her sofa. How’s a girl supposed to solve dead body mysteries, make a living, and find love?

About the Author

M.E. Bakos has published several short stories in national women’s magazines. Her love of mysteries has led to writing cozies. Her first mystery short story, “Carpe Diem or Murder at the Carp Fest” appeared in the Festival of Crime, a SINC Anthology. Her second, “Perfect Storm . . . Perfect Murder” will be in Dark Side of the Loon, May 2018 also a SINC Anthology.

Her first cozy, FATAL FLIP, A Home Renovator Mystery has several home improvement tips for the reader.

Mary is a member of Twin Cities Sisters in Crime, the SINC Guppies Group, and an alumna of the University of Minnesota. She is a lifelong resident of Minnesota and resides in Minneapolis with her husband, Joe Sebesta, and their spoiled Morkie.

Website – Mystery | M. E. Bakos, Author

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Posted in Cozy Mystery, Guest Post

Guest Post and Blog Tour for Just in Time, a Dodie O’Dell Mystery, by Suzanne Trauth

This post was contributed by author Suzanne Trauth. Her cozy mystery, Just in Time, is currently on tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

JUST IN TIME by Suzanne Trauth
From the beginning of my Dodie O’Dell mystery series, I knew that I wanted to create a cast of quirky, fun characters who would be included in each book. A cozy mystery series with both murder and humor, the latter generated by the mainstays of  Etonville, New Jersey. They include Dodie O’Dell, my protagonist, manager of the Windjammer restaurant and amateur sleuth—but don’t tell her she’s an amateur! Her investigative instincts are usually right on the money, much to the chagrin of her current squeeze Bill Thompson, Etonville’s police chief, who appreciates Dodie’s nose for detection but is wary when she gets in over her head. There’s her boss Henry, chef/owner of the restaurant, who is finally getting on board with Dodie’s theme food ideas that accompany the Etonville Little Theatre productions. Italian night for Romeo and Juliet, a seafood buffet for Dames At Sea…

     Lola Trotter, theater diva and Dodie’s BFF, is always present to support Dodie’s adventures and accept a little hand-holding whenever the ELT is in production, or whenever she has to deal with Walter Zeitzman, ELT director, actor and sometime playwright, and his sidekick stage manager Penny Ossining. Who never met a cliché she didn’t love to mangle.

     Of course Etonville wouldn’t be a small town without a gossip center—in this case Snippets Salon owned by Dodie’s other BFF Carol whose son Pauli is Dodie’s teenage computer guru. He’s always available to supply Dodie with digital forensic assistance in the form of email hacking, facial recognition software, deep Internet searches…you get the picture. And to round out the cast of locals there’s sweet Mildred, choir director, and husband Vernon, in a perennial prickly mood; the Banger sisters, elderly siblings who stay on top of Etonville rumors while dipping their toes in the acting waters of the ELT; and Edna, the law enforcement dispatcher for the Etonville PD who loves her police codes!

     These regulars are the source of much of the humor in the mystery series as they navigate daily life in Etonville, generate gossip, busy themselves with Dodie’s love life, support the Etonville Little Theatre, and offer advice and perspectives on the murder-solving process. You gotta love them!

     But what about the non-regulars? In every book I add characters who may or may not show up in future books…a few of them have been killed off. Sorry about that. In my upcoming book JUST IN TIME, there are a handful of interesting folks who make their debut in Etonville. The ELT is doing its first co-production with the Creston Players from the town next door. Dale Undershot, their leading man who becomes Lola’s heartthrob, makes a bow in Bye, Bye, Birdie, along with high school student Janice who claims Pauli’s heart—young love! There are also a few staff members, like the musical director and the rehearsal accompanist, who add a little levity to the story. Finally, Windjammer owner Henry has hired a new sous chef to replace his second in command: Wilson, fresh from the culinary institute. Happy, enthusiastic, eager to make his mark in the gastronomic world. He loves to experiment with Caribbean recipes from his hometown.

     So every Dodie O’Dell mystery is a stew of the tried and true, regular, fun characters seasoned with some special folks who are passing through Etonville on their way to—wait I can’t tell you that. It will ruin the mystery…you’ll have to read JUST IN TIME to find out where they are headed.

Just in Time (A Dodie O’Dell Mystery)
by Suzanne Trauth

About the Book


Just in Time (A Dodie O’Dell Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Lyrical Underground (September 25, 2018)
Print Length 220 pages
Kindle ASIN: B078QTBB4F

FACE THE MUSIC

Business is humming at Dodie O’Dell’s Windjammer Restaurant, where she offers theme menus connected to the Etonville Little Theatre’s amateur productions. This June, the theatre is collaborating with the neighboring Creston Players to stage Bye Bye Birdie under the stars—their first musical! There’s a contest in the play to pick a fan to receive rock idol Conrad Birdie’s last kiss before he ships off for the Army, so Dodie plans a contest to pick the food for a pre-show picnic.

But before the show opens, Ruby, the rehearsal accompanist, is found dead in her car. Why would anyone murder the crusty old gal who loved to sneak a smoke and a nip between wisecracks? Once again, the resourceful restaurant manager must play the part of amateur sleuth, accompanied by Police Chief Bill Thompson, who also happens to be her beau. Confronted with a chorus of suspects, she’ll need to stay composed to catch the killer—or it’ll be bye bye Dodie…

About the Author

Suzanne Trauth, Harvard Studio, Montclair, NJ. 06/27/2014 Photo by Steve Hockstein/HarvardStudio.com

Suzanne Trauth is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and a former university theatre professor. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Dramatists Guild. When she is not writing, Suzanne coaches actors and serves as a celebrant performing wedding ceremonies. She lives in Woodland Park, New Jersey. Readers can visit her website at www.suzannetrauth.com.

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Posted in Guest Post, New Releases

Recipe Guest Post by Tina Kashian, author of Stabbed in the Baklava, A Kebab Kitchen Mystery

First, I’d like to thank Ruff Drafts for inviting me as a guest today to celebrate the release of Stabbed in the Baklava. The second book in my Kebab Kitchen Mystery series features a Mediterranean restaurant at the Jersey Shore. I grew up in the restaurant business. My Armenian parents owned a restaurant not far from the shore for thirty years. I worked almost every job, from rolling silverware in napkins, to hostessing, to waitressing. So, setting my Kebab Kitchen mysteries at a Mediterranean restaurant at the Jersey Shore was a natural fit for me. I also love coming up with fun cozy titles that involve a pun on food!

I’d like to share my family’s recipe for baklava. It’s the perfect dessert and the perfect time to share for the release of Stabbed in the Baklava. In the book, Kebab Kitchen is hired to cater a high-society wedding at the Jersey Shore and baklava, along with wedding cake, is served for dessert. I attended my cousin’s wedding where baklava was on the table, along with special M&M’s with the couple’s initials for a nice touch (see picture). Here’s my recipe:

1½ cups sugar

1 cup water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

3 cups finely chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1½ cups clarified butter

1 pound phyllo dough (9-x-14-inch sheets)

Combine walnuts, cinnamon, and ¼ cup sugar in a small bowl and set aside. This is the walnut filling, Melt butter and coat a 14-x-10-inch baking pan. Layer 7 sheets of phyllo dough in the pan, buttering each sheet with a pastry brush. Spread half of the walnut filling evenly over top. Layer another 7 sheets of phyllo dough in the pan, buttering each sheet. Spread the remaining walnut filling evenly over top. Cover with the remaining sheets of dough, buttering each sheet. Bake in preheated 325-degree oven for 40 minutes. Cool baklava before cutting it.

Simple Sugar Syrup: Boil together 1¼ cups sugar and 1 cup water for 10 minutes. Stir often until sugar dissolves in water. Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Turn off flame and set syrup aside to cool. Pour cooled syrup on your baklava and enjoy.

Thanks for having me!

Here’s a quick blurb of Stabbed in the Baklava:

 Lucy Berberian has taken over her family’s Mediterranean restaurant on the Jersey Shore after an unsatisfying stint at a Philadelphia law firm. It’s great to be back in her old beach town, even if she’s turning into a seasoned sleuth.

Catering a high-society wedding should bring in some big income for Kebab Kitchen—and raise its profile too. But it’s not exactly good publicity when the best man winds up skewered like a shish kebab. Worse yet, Lucy’s ex, Azad—who’s the restaurant’s new head chef—is the prime suspect. But she doesn’t give a fig what the cops think. He may have killer looks, but he’s no murderer. She just needs to prove his innocence, before he has to go on the lamb . . .

Recipes included! “A delectable read.”

—Bestselling author Shelley Freydont

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2qGdYKT

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iBooks: https://apple.co/2JQmvnn

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Tina Kashian is an attorney and a former mechanical engineer whose love of reading for pleasure helped her get through years of academia. She is the author of the Kebab Kitchen Mediterranean cozy mystery series. Tina spent her childhood summers at the Jersey shore building sandcastles, boogie boarding, and riding the boardwalk Ferris wheel. She also grew up in the restaurant business, as her Armenian parents owned a restaurant for thirty years. Tina still lives in New Jersey with her supportive husband and two young daughters. Please visit her website at http://www.tinakashian.com to join her newsletter, receive delicious recipes, enter contests, and more!

You can also connect with Tina at:

Website: www.tinakashian.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TinaKashianAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TinaKashian1

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tinakashian/

Posted in Cozy Mystery, Guest Post

Guest Post and Blog Tour for The Scent of Waikiki and A Trouble in Paradise Mystery by Terry Ambrose

This post was contributed by author Terry Ambrose. His new cozy mystery, The Scent of Waikii, is currently on tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

The Big Island of Hawaii — more than just one volcano

I’m so happy to be here today! Thanks for having me as your guest. The McKenna Mystery series is set in Hawaii, which is getting a lot of attention right now due to Kilauea’s ongoing eruption. In addition to the volcano, however, there are other parts of the Big Island people never hear about. I’ve been fortunate to have been there several times and have photos from those trips, so let me take you on a little virtual tour of the Big Island of Hawaii.

We’ll begin our journey on the north end of the island at Waipio Bay. While staying in the upcountry, which is less than an hour away, we drove to the scenic point at end of the road, where the beauty of the Pacific Ocean seems to stretch on forever.

As we leave the upcountry and it’s cattle ranches, we travel through miles of rolling hills. At this point, we were ten to fifteen miles from the coast and could easily forget we were on an island. The peak in the background is Mauna Kea, one of the island’s five volcanos. As Kilauea is doing today, Mauna Kea wrought its share of devastation. While the last eruption of Mauna Kea was between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago, the threat of another eruption is still considered moderate.

If we continue south, we pass through Kona and the many coffee plantations to a place where volcanic devastation can be seen very clearly. At Naalehu, there is a lookout that provides an explanation of the various lava flows and when they occurred. The lava field pictured here is from a Mauna Loa eruption in 1907.

Continuing south, we arrive at the southernmost point in the United States. Here, the average annual temperature is nearly eighty degrees and the area receives almost fifty inches of rain. But looking out over the lava, you’d never know there’s so much rain. This is a popular spot for fishing and for diving from the rocks.

Our journey around the Big Island takes us east to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where the terrain ranges from lush rainforest to solid rock. One of the easy sights to see is the Thurston Lava Tube, where the entrance is overgrown and an excellent example of how eventually even rock can serve as the home to a wide variety of flora.

If we continue our journey and head east through Hilo and then north, we’ll find ourselves in more lush backcountry. Here there are small housing developments, ranches, and farms. As you can see, some of the neighbors can be quite inquisitive. We met these guys at a house we rented for a week. While they didn’t stop by to visit each day, they did drop in periodically. Fortunately, there’s a fence that keeps them from wandering too far afield.

The last stop on our tour is nearly where we started. This is near the little village of Lapahoehoe. I first heard about Lapahoehoe from a friend who told me it was a “must see.” They were right. The waters here are stunning, the landscaping more shades of green than you can imagine, and the trade winds a constant delight. It’s hard to believe that on April 1, 1946 a schoolhouse in Lapahoehoe was inundated by a tsunami that killed twenty students and four teachers. At the park, a monument stands to commemorate the loss.

So, now you know the Big Island of Hawaii is more than just one volcano. Nobody knows how long Kilauea will continue to spew lava and ash. There may be more violent events in store, or the activity may simply subside. Only time will tell.

* * *
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Posted in Cozy Mystery, Guest Post

Guest Post and Blog Tour for Knot My Sister’s Keeper, a Quilting Mystery, by Mary Marks

This post was contributed by author Mary Marks. Her cozy mystery, Knot My Sister’s Keeper, is currently on tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

I’m often asked if the characters in my books are based on real people. The simple answer is yes and no. Martha is totally a younger me, except I don’t stumble across real dead bodies.

When I create a new character, I like to have an image in my head of what that person might look like. Sometimes I may actually know somebody who inspires that character, so I’ll think of their image when I write. With a clear picture in mind, I can then extrapolate how they might think or act in a given situation.

Here’s one example. The husband of a good friend is a retired sheriff’s deputy. At six feet tall with white hair and mustache, his was the image I had in my head when I created the character of LAPD Homicide Detective Arlo Beavers. However, the resemblance ends there. The fictional Arlo is somewhat of a ladies’ man, whereas my friend’s spouse is a devoted husband. I simply used my imagination to give Arlo different traits for the stories.

Martha’s best friend, Lucy Mondello, was inspired by my late sister-in-law: a tall, slender red-head who never went out without matching clothes and perfect makeup. She also peppered her speech with clichés and finger quote, just like Lucy. Although the fictional Lucy’s life is very different than the real life of the woman who inspired her, writing about Lucy makes me feel close to my sister-in-law, who was always a dear friend.

In Something’s Knot Kosher, I introduce a new character, Jazz Fletcher. I wanted him to be talented, attractive, successful and gay. The real person who immediately came to mind was a famous fashion icon and television personality, who embodies all the traits I was looking for in my new character. I admire the man tremendously, and in real life I’d aspire to be his best friend. I wanted the reader to feel the same way about Jazz.

Other times, a character might be inspired by a certain type of person. We’ve all known people who like to gossip—I had one in my own neighborhood who used to patrol the streets every day looking for juicy information. Her behavior inspired the character of Martha’s neighbor, Sonia Spiegelman, a yenta and head of the Neighborhood Watch. In my stories, Sonia organizes a nighttime patrol called the Eyes of Encino. They keep a log of any unusual activity, much like the real gossip, who kept that information in her head.

The character of Crusher, aka Yossi Levy, was inspired by two learned rabbis I know, who have physical characteristics similar to Crusher’s. Although it was fun to imagine either of my rabbi friends riding a Harley, the fictional Yossi’s behavior, his job and his personality are made up strictly from my imagination.

And finally, I sometimes get secret satisfaction from creating villainous characters who are inspired by scoundrels I’ve known in real life. What I can’t do in actuality I can do through fiction: expose them or kill them off.

I’m always looking for inspiration for characters and their names. On a recent trip, I visited Daisy, a tiny town in Northeast Washington state. Now don’t you think the name Daisy Washington is perfect for a character in one of my stories?

You can connect with Mary at her website www.marymarksmysteries.com  or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mmarks2013

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Posted in Cozy Mystery, Guest Post

Guest Post and Blog Tour for Bamboozled by Barbara Barrett

This post was contributed by author Barbara Barrett. Her cozy mystery, Bamboozled, is currently on tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

Mah Jongg Etiquette

The Mah Jongg Mystery series features four friends who play the game weekly and somehow wind up investigating murders that involve their friends, usually fellow mah jongg players. Part of each story includes actual game play to lend credibility. (They say write what you know, so as an avid addict of the game, that’s what I did. I have played the game for over nine years.)

Over time, one develops a set of expectations about the game in addition to the actual rules. Ways of playing that respect other players and tend to reduce misunderstandings. For this article, I am referring to these as mah jongg etiquette, but keep in mind, these are my thoughts only. The mah jongg-set scenes in this series employ this philosophy, either as the norm, or in some cases, to demonstrate abnormal situations.

First, there is a certain rhythm of play. Players tend to take the same amount of time setting up their tiles, selecting new tiles, exchanging tiles with other players and determining a hand. Players who finish faster than others either attend to their own business or help other members set up. Players who take too much time setting up may sometimes irritate the rest of the table, if they are consistently slow. Sometimes this happens with new players; more experienced players will tolerate this type of slow play better than that of other experienced players, who just tend to be slow. (Especially if those more experienced slower players are enjoying a winning day.)

Interrupted play is another area which can frustrate players. Occasionally, a player must excuse herself to attend to her personal needs in the middle of a game. Those situations can be overlooked; when it happens frequently, it becomes an irritant. The same applies to telephone calls. Some groups ask their players to silence their phones, but when they don’t, it is expected that calls will be handled expeditiously. Players who receive calls on a regular basis frustrate other players. Players who make calls on a regular basis are testing others’ patience.

I am not a fan of table talk. Talking during play, fine, as long as it doesn’t disturb play. But talking about play during play to me is a no-no. For instance, there are so many of each type of tile, like four Two Bams. It’s important to remember how many have been played for a player to know if she can make her hand. That’s part of the strategy. So when another player announces that three Two Bams have already been played, the player who still needs two Two Bams receives information she may not have known otherwise and may help her win.

Another kind of table talk occurs when one player indicates she knows what hand another is playing, which tips off the rest of the players. (I’m guilty of this on occasion.) Part of a good defense is to be aware which tiles the other players need and avoid playing them.

In this game, there are eight Jokers, which serve as wild cards. When a player uses one in a threesome (pung), foursome (kong) or quintet and another player has or draws the tile that was substituted by that joker, they may exchange their tile for the joker and use it for their own purposes. Some suggest it is good etiquette to hand the tile to the player with the joker and let them hand back the joker rather than simply exchanging it oneself.

Before play starts, players exchange three tiles at a time to the right, then across and then to the left. Typically, when four players play, this exchange continues in reverse order, to the left, across and finally back to the right. One player can stop the exchange after the first time to the left. This tends to irritate other players, because it limits the number of new tiles they can collect, but it’s a great defensive play for that reason. The good etiquette part is how the group determines this can happen; one way is to agree that play will continue unless the person wanting to stop it speaks up immediately after the first play to the left.

Speaking of passing, here’s another instance of faster versus slower players. In the exchange of tiles described above (called The Charleston), faster players can sometimes get ahead of slower players. This can become problematic when plays get out of order. Some feel good etiquette is to decide before the game starts that no one passes until everyone is ready. Not one of my favorite options, because I’m one of the faster players, but I understand why it might be necessary.

This is probably more than you ever wanted to know about Mah Jongg etiquette, but I thought it would help my readers understand the setting of this series as it concerns my four protagonists’ dealings with other players. Though it may seem like overkill at times, etiquette provides a framework of civility in the game. I see it as partly responsible for the depth of friendship that would prompt my quartet to move outside their everyday existence to investigate murders involving their mah jongg friends.

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