What Our Mystery Book Club and Podcast Read and Discussed in 2023 ...
In 2023, the Tea, Tonic & Toxin mystery book club and podcast covered the history of mystery from 1911-1934. We started with The Innocence of Father Brown (1911), which we LOVED, and then continued on into the British Golden Age of Mystery and the hardboiled noir of America. We aimed to educate, entertain, and delight. Listen in, won’t you?
Get Caught Up: Check out the 2023 book list.
Get Excited: Check out the 2024 book list.
Get Heard: Tell us what you’re thinking here.
Podcast Transcript: Tea, Tonic & Toxin Mystery Book Club and Podcast 2023
Sarah Harrison 0:24
Welcome to Tea Tonic & Toxin, a book club and podcast for anyone who wants to explore the best mysteries and thrillers ever written. I’m your host, Sarah Harrison.
Carolyn Daughters 0:35
And I’m your host Carolyn Daughters. Pour yourself a cup of tea, a gin and tonic, …
Sarah Harrison 0:40
… but not a toxin …
Carolyn Daughters 0:44
And join us on a journey through 19th and 20th century mysteries and thrillers, every one of them a game changer.
Sarah Harrison 0:59
There’s a lot to talk about. It was a big year for us.
Carolyn Daughters 1:03
And it was so fun. I really loved — not all of the books, but most of the books — and I’m thrilled that I read every one of the books.
Sarah Harrison 1:15
Didn’t we grow 223% for 2023. Is that is right?
Carolyn Daughters 1:20
That’s exactly right.
Sarah Harrison 1:22
On purpose. We did that so we would match the year.
Carolyn Daughters 1:27
Oh, I didn’t think about that — 223% in 2023.
Sarah Harrison 1:30
223, silent zero.
Carolyn Daughters 1:32
I wish we had grown 2,023%.
Sarah Harrison 1:37
Carolyn Daughters 1:39
Because if that were the case, we would be filming this mystery book club and podcast from Monaco or from a beach on the French Riviera.
Sarah Harrison 1:47
Listeners, see if you can make that happen.
Carolyn Daughters 1:51
This is our retrospective episode on the books that we read and discussed in 2023. And we have a listener award.
Sarah Harrison 2:00
We have a wonderful listener this episode.
Carolyn Daughters 2:03
We do. It is Shelly Abriss from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Thank you for being a member of the Tea Tonic & Toxin mystery book club and podcast. Shelly spent some time in our studio in the last month, as well.
Sarah Harrison 2:18
Thank you, Shelly. It was wonderful to meet you in person.
Carolyn Daughters 2:23
Shelly came to our holiday party as well. We did a Tea Tonic & Toxin celebration of two years of podcasting.
Sarah Harrison 2:31
Yeah, it was really fun.
Carolyn Daughters 2:33
To get your own sticker, all you have to do is comment on our website, teatonicandtoxin.com. Or on our Instagram page or Facebook page @teatonicandtoxin. You can also subscribe to the podcast and give the podcast five stars on Spotify or Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen. We’re on all the platforms. And you can also give us reviews. We’ll take reviews as long as they’re five stars. I think that is that the qualifier, right?
Sarah Harrison 3:01
Yeah, why would you even bother reviewing something for not five stars? I mean, just don’t listen to it.
Carolyn Daughters 3:09
We’re looking to grow the podcast.
Sarah Harrison 3:13
If you’re our friend or you love us or you are nice person who wants to do us a solid …
Carolyn Daughters 3:18
Review us on Apple podcast, Spotify, or wherever you listen to Tea Tonic & Toxin. Your reviews mean a ton to us, seriously, and they help like-minded folks find us.
Sarah Harrison 3:32
You can also subscribe. We’re doing a lot more listener interactive polls and things on the Spotify platform. They’ve enabled some more listener engagement features. That’s all very, very exciting. We want to hear from you. This is, I would say, first and foremost, a book club. Book clubs are about talking about books and listening to other people talking about books. We want to listen to you, too. Reach out and let us know your thoughts.
Carolyn Daughters 4:06
2023 was our second year of the Tea Tonic & Toxin book club and our second year of podcasting. It felt to me very different than 2022. But I want to get your perspective. Tell me what 2023 was about for you.
Sarah Harrison 4:25
I feel like we almost set resolutions each year, like what are we gonna try? What’s the next step? You know, the first year was kind of obvious. Like, let’s try to do a podcast without any experience whatsoever. And then in 2023 we made a huge leap in incorporating guests. Like I said, it’s a mystery book club first. And so it’s so fun to bring in these people with different perspectives, different thoughts about the book. I love it when I’m pulled out of my own thoughts and into someone else’s that are totally different. I’m like, what? That’s not what I thought at all! That’s something different.
Carolyn Daughters 5:10
Our 2023 guests included Deb Donner, Wendi Anderson, Jill Carstens, Mike Nugent, …
Sarah Harrison 5:17
We had the super handsome Nate Harrison, Eli Milliman, Emily Schwartz. Now that we started naming people, I’m like, crap, we gotta get all of them. I don’t want to leave anyone out.
Carolyn Daughters 5:33
We also did a couple interviews, which was awesome.
Sarah Harrison 5:37
That was so fun.
Carolyn Daughters 5:39
Gary Braver, author of Rumor of Evil.
Sarah Harrison 5:40
Karen Pierce, author of Recipes for Murder. We had them both on for their new books. That was so much fun.
Carolyn Daughters 5:47
I really liked that. We’re focused on the history of mystery, which is a phrase, just to be clear, that Eli Milliman came up with.
Sarah Harrison 5:58
Carolyn Daughters 5:59
Because he’s amazing. He said, when I think you all, I think of the history of mystery. And I was like, whoa, this guy’s good.
Sarah Harrison 6:06
He is a rhyming genius. He’s like the white panther who cries.
Carolyn Daughters 6:14
And that is really all the context anyone will get.
Sarah Harrison 6:18
Go back and listen to his episode, folks.
Carolyn Daughters 6:23
We’re focused on the history of mystery, so we’re going chronologically. For 2023, we went from 1911-1934.
Sarah Harrison 6:36
We covered a lot of ground.
Carolyn Daughters 6:38
When we bring in these other voices, we’re getting contemporary takes on these stories. And with Karen Pierce and Gary Braver, we’re also getting contemporary authors. And I think that juxtaposition is super fun. I love being in the period where we are, but I think it’s nice to dip in to what’s happening right now in the mystery and thriller genre.
Sarah Harrison 7:01
And Karen Pierce was especially unique there. One, Recipes for Murder is cookbook. Two, it was inspired by Agatha Christie. Every book of Agatha Christie’s. Though Christie is not a modern author, it’s this modern take, it’s this modern lens that Karen Pierce is looking at the author through food. Through 2022. 2023. What year is it?
Carolyn Daughters 7:30
I believe it’s 1934. Because our 2024 book selections for our mystery book club and podcast are going to run from 1934 all the way to 1939.
Sarah Harrison 7:42
Not quite so much ground covered this year. But still a lot of amazing books.
Carolyn Daughters 7:48
I think a lot of ground covered in what’s happening with the form. And as far as years are concerned, we’re really basking in it. We’re doing a deep dive. We’re gonna spend some time over this five or six year period.
Sarah Harrison 8:03
We did a whole episode. If you’ve haven’t listened to our prospective — what’s coming up for 2024 — listen to that. We’d love to get your take on if you agree with our book selections, or if you have other ideas or vehement feedback.
Carolyn Daughters 8:22
Vehement objection to one or more of our choices.
Sarah Harrison 8:25
Let us know.
Carolyn Daughters 8:27
Curating these lists is, is a challenging process that we go through each year. And the 2023 list was no exception. We started with a book called The Innocence of Father Brown and worked our way to Dorothy Sayers’ The Nine Tailors. And on the surface, I thought that I would like The Innocence of Father Brown the least of all of the books.
Sarah Harrison 8:54
Why did you think that? Was that in your mind as the thought?
Carolyn Daughters 8:58
Because first of all, it’s short stories, and I have trouble with short stories.
Sarah Harrison 9:03
Carolyn Daughters 9:04
I do. Because I get involved in it, and then it wraps up. And then you’ve got to start again. And to me, it’s a lot of effort to emotionally detach and then reattach.
Sarah Harrison 9:19
Carolyn Daughters 9:21
I have challenges with the short story form. Now, there are some incredible short stories out there in the world, and I can recognize and appreciate that. But then also, he’s a Catholic priest, and I thought, I’m just going to get beaten over the head with …
Sarah Harrison 9:44
Carolyn Daughters 9:45
Yeah, moral guidance. What happened instead is that G.K. Chesterton won me over really fast. I still think about some of the stories in The Innocence of Father Brown.
Sarah Harrison 10:03
Me too. Of course, I don’t think I came at any book particularly thinking, I won’t like this one. I come to every one of the books we read in our mystery book club with kind of a blank slate in my brain.
Carolyn Daughters 10:18
I was maybe less excited about that book than some others. That’s probably a better way to say it.
Sarah Harrison 10:24
And so was our guest, which blew my mind. Our guest Deb Donner picked the book because she wanted to kind of tear it apart. She has a fascinating background/experience leaving a cult, and she thought that this book would relate to that. And she was won over by Father Brown as well. That was incredible.
Carolyn Daughters 10:47
She had expected to really rip into the text have some strong opinions. It’s an example of how skillfully G.K. Chesterton wrote this character and these stories that those of us who thought “I’m not into this at all” were completely won over. Sarah, you came in with an open mind, but, like me, you still reflect back on some of these stories.
Sarah Harrison 11:25
He was my favorite. He was my favorite for sure. I loved all the books, but he was probably my favorite. Father Brown has levels. A lot of mysteries do, and a lot of them, I think, are at the level of fine literature. But Father Brown goes deep, it gets into your brain. Chesterton discusses spirituality in ways … I don’t even know how to describe it. I have a religious background, which comes up with some frequency on the show, but I had never really heard of G.K. Chesterton. Chesterton.
Carolyn Daughters 12:04
It’s also a hard name to say.
Sarah Harrison 12:06
You just want to call him Chesterson. I do. But you’d be wrong. I had not heard of him before. But I feel like since reading the book, I’m noticing his name come up all over the place. I see quotes by G.K. Chesterton all the time now for the rest of the year. I really want to get into more of his books, although I don’t know if I’ll have time in 2024.
Carolyn Daughters 12:34
We’ve got a lot on the slate for our mystery book club in 2024. When you listen to the 2024 prospective, you’ll see that. On our website, we list the 2023 books that we read and the 2024 books that are coming up. I had read several of our 2023 books before, and then the others were new to me. Of the ones I hadn’t read, I was least excited going in about The Innocence of Father Brown and most excited about Trent’s Last Case.
Sarah Harrison 13:11
Yeah, that’s funny.
Carolyn Daughters 13:13
It is funny because I came away most conflicted about Trent’s Last Case. Of all of the books from last year.
Sarah Harrison 13:21
I remember you were less of a fan of that one. Although, to me what I liked about Trent’s Last Case … it’s not always obvious to me when we read a book as to why it’s on the list. Like, how was it developing the genre? But with Trent I really felt like I could see it. I was like, oh, okay, this feels really different. This feels like a step in the direction of a modern detective.
Carolyn Daughters 13:48
What about it felt that way to you?
Sarah Harrison 13:51
You know, the way he did his detecting was different. And by design, the author did not make him one of these savant guys putting it all together. In the end, he’s got all the clues, and he turns out to be completely wrong. You know, it employs modern methods. And it was just a really different detecting style and a different internal monologue. You didn’t have the adoring partner writing it all down. It was like his own head.
Carolyn Daughters 14:29
There’s a romance in Trent’s Last Case.
Sarah Harrison 14:31
I mean, Trent felt like there was some romance. I don’t know. I think we felt like it wasn’t a strong romance.
Carolyn Daughters 14:39
It was to me a very odd romance.
Sarah Harrison 14:43
He was in love with the person he thought was the murderer.
Carolyn Daughters 14:48
E. C. Bentley is the author. He wrote the book with G.K. Chesterton’s encouragement. Bentley was not into Sherlock Holmes. He wanted to satirize the genre by having his hero not solve the crime, Agatha Christie called it one of the three best detective stories ever written. G.K. Chesterton said it was the finest detective story of modern times. Dorothy Sayers said, “it holds a very special place in the history of detective fiction, a tale of unusual brilliance and charm, startlingly original.” I came in thinking, Oh, my gosh, I cannot wait to read this book as part of our mystery book club. And then I read the book, and I was just … mind blown. I did not understand where all of this praise came from.
Sarah Harrison 15:35
Well, and I do love the concept, just philosophically, that you can have every single clue down to the fingerprints and where they were. And when you put it together — which is always kind of the moment in every mystery, the way the detective is putting it together in different ways, whether he’s gathering everyone in a room or just kind of talking with one person — when he puts it together, it all falls into place. And with this one, he was just totally wrong. It probably still is a pretty unique concept. We don’t read a lot, right? Which is why they’re wrong.
Carolyn Daughters 16:15
Which is why it’s Trent’s last case. He’s like, Well, here we go. I guess I’m not suited for this.
Sarah Harrison 16:23
Though, it’s the first case we read about.
Carolyn Daughters 16:26
It’s his first case, as E.C. Bentley is writing, but it’s also titled Trent’s Last Case. I think another frustrating thing for me is that I don’t think a reader could have figured out what happened in the book. So what we’re gonna see in Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers and others of this period is that they’re putting things on the page that the reader — if the reader reads and interprets in just the right way — can ostensibly solve the crime.
Sarah Harrison 17:01
That’s true, but that was kind of a development as we’re reading this past year in our mystery book club. I couldn’t have solved any of Father Brown’s mysteries or the mystery stories in Lady Molly of Scotland Yard, to step back to one of our books from 2022. You just couldn’t solve most of them. You just had to know. And so this one wasn’t there yet, in terms of, I think, solvability. Although I did have a gut feeling that the person who did it might have done it just because there weren’t that many characters in the book.
Carolyn Daughters 17:32
You must ran out of people.
Sarah Harrison 17:34
It must be this guy who’s totally unsuspecting and drinks milk and soda.
Carolyn Daughters 17:40
Right, exactly. Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles was our fourth book. And even in that book, arguably, you can’t easily figure out who the killer is. It’s her first book, and it’s her first Hercule Poirot. She’s gonna, from there, start putting on the page the sorts of things we’re going to see in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.
Sarah Harrison 18:05
I think that’s right. I think you put the finger on maybe one of the most interesting developments in the books we read in 2023. It went from being unnecessary for the reader to solve it to being one of the tenets of mystery writing that the reader ought to be able to solve it. But you had some runners up to Father Brown. Who did you pick as your next most interesting picks?
Carolyn Daughters 18:31
Ooh, that is a great question. I would say, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, because it’s just entertaining. I mean, I’ve read it several times, and it’s just entertaining. The Maltese Falcon, I really enjoyed. The Thirty-Nine Steps is a great adventure story through Scotland, on trains. It’s just fun. And I really liked The Nine Tailors. It’s super heady. And it makes you work for it. But I felt the rewards were immense. And so I’m glad I stuck with it. I was going to stick with it no matter what, because it was our mystery book club pick.
Sarah Harrison 19:14
Of course you have to read it.
Carolyn Daughters 19:16
Like, oh, I decided to skip this month.
Sarah Harrison 19:18
I’ll just talk to myself here.
Carolyn Daughters 19:20
I’ll just talk about what I think the book might be about. The Nine Tailors is to me very odd. You go 80 or so pages, and there’s no murder, there’s no crime. It’s not structured in a common way where you would have a stable context, a destabilizing condition, something that shakes up the world and makes it different, and then the story proceeds from there. It’s the hugest, longest stable context I’ve seen in a really long while. And at the time I was reading it, I was wondering to myself, “How is it possible she is doing this?” And then by the time I got to the end of the book, I was like, “Oh, good job, Dorothy Sayers.” Obviously a writer of extreme talent that as I’m questioning along the way, she still wins me over.
Sarah Harrison 20:15
That’s interesting. The Nine Tailors made my list, too, as did the Maltese Falcon. I picked two runners up. The Maltese Falcon again, was one like, when we got to it, it felt like such a left turn, such a slap in the face. It was so different from these savant detectives or these like little British breakfast-eating people. What did you call it, a cozy mystery?
Carolyn Daughters 20:48
Sarah Harrison 20:49
Is sub genre?
Carolyn Daughters 20:51
For sure. The way I think of it, nd this may not be the traditional way, but you have a cup of tea and the fire is raging and you’re reading your book. They’re cozy.
Sarah Harrison 21:02
They did feel cozy. But Hammett, not so much. It’s terse, it’s a page turner, it is seedy. The women were a huge departure from these tender, gentle, you get the occasional bad seed, but we don’t know too much about them. In Hammett, we have these leading ladies who were complete psychopaths.
Carolyn Daughters 21:30
The Maltese Falcon, for sure, is a great runner up for one of the best books that we read last year in our mystery book club. But Red Harvest we read the month prior to The Maltese Falcon. And if there was ever an entry point to the Maltese Falcon, it’s Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest. Talk about when you first read Red Harvest.
Sarah Harrison 21:53
That one’s a funny contrast to me to what you were saying about Dorothy Sayers. You get so far into Sayers before you know what the mystery is. But Red Harvest is the opposite. You solve the mystery in the first 30 pages. And then I was like, well, what’s going to happen? Oh, a bloodbath. The town is obliterated. After the first bit, the mystery almost becomes, did the Continental Op kill Dinah? He’s trying to figure out if he killed? There are a couple of mysteries. Did I kill Dinah? I don’t think I did, but let me prove it. So after the Continental Op solves, the mystery that starts the book, there’s this other trail we follow. So that was in so many ways different.
Carolyn Daughters 22:45
Outside of a war novel, it was the bloodiest book I’ve read in a really long time.
Sarah Harrison 22:51
It was a real shootout.
Carolyn Daughters 22:53
It’s a page turner. I was hooked. And shocked as well, because we had just come from The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.
Sarah Harrison 23:01
Poirot is growing vegetable marrows and flinging them over fences. We go from finicky mustaches to jumping in cars, machine gunning people, blowing up liquor storage facilities, sleeping in the woods. It was wild. Another of our favorites, The Nine Tailors, totally different reasons. And you touched on this as well. Sayers goes so deep into a number of what I would call archaic, cultural aspects. In the sci-fi world, when someone’s doing an adept job at creating this unknown place and giving it all the details, it’s called world building. It felt a lot like world building, but it wasn’t fictional. They were real things. They’re historical things. And the fact that Sayers used the bottling of Bass beer as a whole plot point. Or methods of cryptography, let alone the whole change ringing thing. It was fascinating.
Carolyn Daughters 24:18
“Nine tailors maketh the man.” When a man dies in a small village, you might ring the bell nine times, which signifies that a man has died. Six rings for a woman, and three for a child. And then you would pause some period of time, say 30 seconds. And then you would ring out the age of the individual who died. Between knowing the sex and the age of the individual, in a small village you probably have a good sense of who it was who had passed. That’s one of the things with Dorothy Sayers — you come away learning a lot. It’s an entertaining read, but it’s also weirdly educational. Probably more than any of the other books that we read last year. With Dorothy Sayers’ Whose Body? and then The Nine Tailors, I feel like I’m learning and loving the journey.
Sarah Harrison 25:23
I went so far as to look up the North American Guild of Change Ringers to see if there was a Denver chapter. There is not. But the website is in the show notes. If you go back to the episode, and check out some of these fascinating and obscure elements. Our Tea, Tonic & Toxin mystery book club and podcast now has more than 40 episodes.
Carolyn Daughters 25:44
Now, with the book Malice Aforethought, your husband, Nate Harrison, was our guest.
Sarah Harrison 25:48
He was, which was interesting, because it was a book about a dark marriage, I would say. In the book, you were very in the main character’s head. Obviously, we’ve seen some internal dialogue in the books we’ve been reading, but I felt like Malice Aforethought went the deepest psychologically into the characters’ thoughts.
Carolyn Daughters 26:17
This wasn’t a whodunit. It was more of a howdunit and whydunit.
Sarah Harrison 26:22
Right. It starts at the beginning telling you about the murder on page one.
Carolyn Daughters 26:26
We’re not spoiling anything to say that we know who’s going to die right out of the gate. And you’re left asking the question, what’s going on? What’s happening? Why is this happening? I thought Malice Aforethought was really well done, and possibly the funniest book that we read.
Sarah Harrison 26:47
And that was kind of an evolution of humor. I think it was funnier at the beginning. And as you got into it, you were just kind of pulled darker and darker. Until you were just like, whoa. And then at the end … well, I forget what we thought.
Carolyn Daughters 27:06
The protagonist is a full-on sociopath by the end.
Sarah Harrison 27:20
He has this grandiose delusions. Outside of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, when you’re in the character’s head, you’re usually not in the criminal’s head. At least not in the books we’ve read so far in our mystery book club. In Murder Aforethought, the protagonist is the murderer. You’re often associated more with the detective who’s figuring it out. But here we were with the murderer, figuring it out along the way.
Carolyn Daughters 27:41
Certainly, the first half of the book had a lot of places where I either marked little smiley faces in the margins, which is what I do, or I just I laughed out loud. Michael is sitting across the room from me watching, and I’m just reading and laughing out loud.
Sarah Harrison 28:00
Well, then that’s one, too, where my allegiances really changed. I did start out kind of feeling for the protagonist in Malice Aforethought. He’s a downtrodden, doormat-ish guy. By the end, I was like, his wife is awesome. Oh, what a shame. I would hang out with her. I bet she was kind of cool.
Carolyn Daughters 28:24
I did not like her in the beginning of the book, and you feel for him right in chapter one. And then something flips after a while because you’re a little too in this guy’s head. You’re like, this guy is not right.
Sarah Harrison 28:36
Right. You start out hearing his thoughts, so you naturally take his perspective. But as you get into the story, you just can’t keep with it. His perspective is too demented.
Carolyn Daughters 28:48
We read Perry Mason last year in our mystery book club. It was the first Perry Mason, The Case of the Velvet Claws. Really interesting. He’s not in a courtroom in this book.
Sarah Harrison 29:01
No. I grew up with the TV show. And I just always imagined he was in courtrooms. But he acted more like a detective with a weird moral code.
Carolyn Daughters 29:13
Super weird. It actually makes sense to me that everybody should have the best possible representation that they can have. Guilty, innocent, whatever, you should have representation that is as if you had the skill and wherewithal to represent yourself. You should have a commensurate level of representation in your attorney. When somebody hired Perry Mason, he represented that individual.
Sarah Harrison 29:46
Even when they tried to throw him under the bus.
Carolyn Daughters 29:49
When they tried to make him look like the murderer, that sort of thing. He’s, like, well, that’s my client …
Sarah Harrison 29:55
Even when his client got him arrested. It was only to serve their best interest.
Carolyn Daughters 29:59
This is probably one of my favorite series of book covers because on many of them you have the femme fatale on the cover. There’s one version with a woman’s claw.
Sarah Harrison 30:12
Right, it was like a severed hand. I thought it was a book about a severed hand.
Carolyn Daughters 30:21
We are obsessed with book covers here at Tea Tonic, & Toxin.
Sarah Harrison 30:26
Vintage artwork. Vintage illustrations.
Carolyn Daughters 30:28
And if you visit us on Instagram or Facebook @teatonicandtoxin, you’ll see tons of these book covers on on the pages. We love them. We collect them, we look for them, and when you share them, we’re thrilled. And I loved The Case of the Velvet Claws covers for sure.
Sarah Harrison 30:50
I ranked The Case of the Velvet Claws as the most frustrating in the series of books we read in our mystery book club in 2023. Even though I get Perry Mason’s perspective, and I do believe that in the terms of the American legal system. I was definitely feeling the Della Street side of frustration. I was like, Oh my goodness, your client is trying to get you arrested. What are you doing? What is happening? So I found it frustrating.
Carolyn Daughters 31:34
Della Street reminds me of Effie Perine from The Maltese Falcon, who I loved. I loved her character. I loved the different ways we saw the ending of The Maltese Falcon in our conversation with Mike Nugent.
Sarah Harrison 31:47
Yeah, we did. We had a lot of different views.
Carolyn Daughters 31:50
It was really interesting. But I like Effie Perine a lot. The most frustrating book for me was Trent’s Last Case. Now, just to be clear, I’m super glad I read it. I think it’s key to the evolution of the mystery form. And that whole anti-Sherlock Holmes thing. Now, “Sherlock Holmes” is a name dropped into almost every book we’ve read. So to have somebody who’s sort of the anti-Sherlock Holmes, someone not into that whole, “Ah, I found some cigarette ask and a footprint outside that’s perfectly maintained because of the weather.” Trent is coming up with all of these clues and doing a lot of the same legwork Sherlock Holmes does, but Trent comes up with the wrong solution. It’s a tongue in cheek, tip the hat kind of thing. And I think it’s an important book. I don’t know, I’m still working on my take on Trent’s Last Case.
Sarah Harrison 33:05
That’s the sign of something if you’re still thinking about the book. That’s one of my favorite parts about running a mystery book club is when we find a book that sticks with you.
Carolyn Daughters 33:12
Here’s another one that threw us — Murder on the Orient Express. I’ve read this book several times. There are multiple movie and television versions with David Suchet. There is of course, of course, Kenneth Branagh’s version of Murder on the Orient Express. There’s one from the 1970s. That is amazing. In some ways, I like the 1970s Murder on the Orient Express film — this is so weird to say — better than the book.
Sarah Harrison 33:51
I know. We kicked Carolyn off the podcast for a moment based on that comment. It’s interesting — so many of you guys are interested in hearing more about the film versions. And that makes a lot of sense. I think this period was not just important to literary mysteries and that development, but so many movies are still being inspired. You mentioned Kenneth Branagh. I just watched the House of Usher series, which includes so much different Poe woven together in these interesting ways. There’s also a Sam Spade series coming. We’re so excited!
Carolyn Daughters 34:38
It’s going to be on AMC. It’s called Monsieur Spade. I believe it’s set in France. It’s starting in January 2024, which is cool.
Sarah Harrison 34:47
So, we’ve heard from you, our listeners. You want to hear more about the film versions of the books. So we’re gonna cover that as well.
Carolyn Daughters 34:59
It’s a fun other entry point into these stories. Our first book for 2024 is The Thin Man, and we’ve watched the 1934 version of The Thin Man with William Powell and Myrna Loy. As we’ve seen, the film version can have quite a few divergences from the book.
Sarah Harrison 35:20
It was so wild the way they handled certain things. It’s fascinating to think about, and we have a fascinating guest for our Thin Man episodes — Julie Rivett, Dashiell Hammett’s granddaughter. So look up The Thin Man episodes. And watch the movie.
Carolyn Daughters 35:32
Yes, Dashiell Hammett’s granddaughter Julie Rivett is our guest on our first two episodes of 2024. But look at The Maltese Falcon, as well. The book and the 1940s movie starring Humphrey Bogart, I believe, end very differently.
Sarah Harrison 35:51
It was so interesting that our guest Julie Rivett did not like the film version of The Maltese Falcon, even though so many people love it. It was really interesting speaking with her and learning her perspective. She’s deep into the world of Dashiell Hammett.
Carolyn Daughters 36:06
There are television and film versions of many of the books that we’ve read as part of our mystery book club. The Mysterious Affair at Styles, David Suchet does a great job with Hercule Poirot in that story. We have not seen any of the Lord Peter Wimsey series. Perry Mason, I did watch The Case of the Velvet Claws, and I have opinions. And Father Brown has a series that I thought was really odd. The short stories in The Innocence of Father Brown are all standalones. You could read each story as a chapter in a book if you like, or you could dip into one, as they’re short. The one episode I watched was completely different from the story on the page. And I thought, okay, but G.K. Chesterton did such a great job, why would you make these changes? That gets into conversations that Sarah and I find really interesting. What is prompting the divergences that are happening on screen? Sometimes it has to do with the time period — sometimes it has to do with, as we talked about with The Thin Man, restrictions on what you can show on screen. It’s interesting. We’re gonna definitely do more of that in 2024. Sarah, what takeaways do you have from 2023, now that we’ve wrapped up this year?
Sarah Harrison 36:18
I feel like my biggest takeaway was a massive amount of respect for all these writers. Being a creator, we think about people on social media, and we call them creators. We’re podcast creators — well, really, we’re more like commentators. Where you have these creators who are bringing something from nothing. Something hasn’t existed in a genre, and they think of a way to do it. Wow, everyone has their inspiration and their ties to the past, but these authors were making something new. Even the books that maybe aren’t my favorite, I just have a massive amount of respect for what they were creating and how they were moving the genre forward. I try to use that lens when I’m reading any of these books. How about you, Carolyn, what were your biggest takeaways?
Carolyn Daughters 38:47
Well, you had me thinking there, but words that I get annoyed by sometimes are creative, creator, and influencer. When they’re applied with a broad brush.
Sarah Harrison 39:03
Like they’re a bunch of Instagram words.
Carolyn Daughters 39:05
I’m a creative, I’m a creator, I’m an influencer. At parties and other places. people have introduced themselves to me as an influencer. And all I want to do is interview the heck out of them because I’m fascinated. I’m like, this is crazy town. Like, tell me all about your job as an influencer. I feel like 2023 for me was a huge learning experience.
Sarah Harrison 39:49
I loved watching the progression of this mystery form from 1911-1934 as part of our mystery book club.
Carolyn Daughters 39:55
I come away with the same respect. Seeing how these authors are influencing each other. Perry Mason, The Case of the Velvet Claws, probably could not have been written without The Maltese Falcon ahead of it. That sort of thing. You see how influential Agatha Christie is, you see how interesting Dorothy Sayers is and how passionate she is on certain subjects. She does this incredible deep dive. I loved that. I loved expanding with guests and having these other voices. In 2024, one of the things I want to do more is learn the half of the podcast that I don’t currently focus on, which is the technology. Sarah and I were talking about this. We recently went to a party hosted by the Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America. They had a stage setup, and they had microphones and so forth, as a radio show. That’s the play that is going to be performed on the stage. And I said to Sarah, “Are they podcasting?”
Sarah Harrison 41:15
I think first you asked if they were on the radio. And I was like, “No.”
Carolyn Daughters 41:18
I was like, “Is it a real radio show And Sarah said, “No.” And I said, “Are they podcasting?” And Sarah was like, “No.”
Sarah Harrison 41:32
They did their homework. They had an On-Air sign. They had lights and a sound effects man, who I loved. He was doing all like the boot stomps, etc.
Carolyn Daughters 41:42
It was cool. I know what a mystery book club is. In 2024 I hope to find out what a podcast is. I think that will be really helpful in our third year. All joking aside, I want to learn the tech side of what we’re doing so. And Sarah, I think you want to crossover a little bit with the stuff I do.
Sarah Harrison 42:04
I think we both want to cross train, to use White Castle terms. White Castle was my first job ever. At White Castle, you have to learn every single skill, so that everyone is interchangeable. And it makes them very efficient.
Carolyn Daughters 42:19
I would have never thought that this was related to White Castle.
Sarah Harrison 42:22
Everything comes back to White Castle.
Carolyn Daughters 42:23
I did not know this.
Sarah Harrison 42:25
I can talk about White Castle for quite some time. If you don’t know what that is, please go to the midwest.
Carolyn Daughters 42:34
If you want to get one burger, you end up ordering like 10 of them.
Sarah Harrison 42:37
You want a tiny burger? Be sure to ask for extra pickles.
Carolyn Daughters 42:44
People order them by the case. That’s really the only thing I remember about White Castle.
Sarah Harrison 42:49
Especially if you are high.
Carolyn Daughters 42:51
And now I’ll remember that they’re exceptional at cross training.
Sarah Harrison 42:57
That’s the little known side of White Castle, folks. We definitely want to cross-train, and in that way, get a little bit more unified in our roles and our approach and be able to interchange a little bit. So that’s gonna be exciting and fun.
Carolyn Daughters 43:14
Another thing that I learned and that I’m still working through, grappling with, is that you and I could quit our day jobs and just do Tea Tonic & Toxin, and we would still not have enough time to do everything we wanted.
Sarah Harrison 43:28
Right. To be clear. We could quit our day jobs if we didn’t need any money.
Carolyn Daughters 43:35
As Sarah and I have discussed, I would be living in a tent in her backyard. But I’d also have all my podcasting stuff set up back there. And I would know that technology by that point, so it would all be good.
Sarah Harrison 43:46
There’s so much, there are so many things we’d like to do and explore. So that’s why each year we have to be kind of choosy. We can’t do everything right. We do the things that we need to do in a given year. This year, we’re working on things like audio quality, we’re working on having some more new and exciting guests for the books we’ll be reading and for new fiction. I think that’ll be a really fun addition to what we’ve been growing.
Carolyn Daughters 44:17
We’ve made it really easy on our website to purchase the books that we are reading as part of our mystery book club from 2022, 2023. and now 2024. We have links to amazon.com. You pay nothing extra when you use these links, but we get a small commission for each of those sales.
Sarah Harrison 44:37
I loved this little thought-provoking question, this little meditation that you have here What have you learned about yourself doing this podcast in the last year? You said you learned you could spend 40 hours a week on the podcast?
Carolyn Daughters 45:00
The other thing that I’ve learned is, this is hard work, this podcast, and keeping up with the books and keeping up with the interviewees and the guests and preparing ahead of time … If you don’t love this work, it’s just going to fall apart. You can see why a lot of podcasts last only a year.
Sarah Harrison 45:22
And by love of the work involved in a mystery book club, I don’t think of loving to figure out how to get the audio set up for a hybrid interview so much as loving the conversations and loving the books.
Carolyn Daughters 45:35
But loving the conversations and the books so much that you’re going to work through how to get that technology up and running. It’s the same for me. I feel like what we’re doing is important enough and valuable enough to myself to you, our listeners, and to readers in our book club that I’m gonna figure this thing out, I’m gonna find the time to do this. If you’re not committed, this whole thing falls apart. And you could see easily how it could. I’m very grateful that you and I have stuck with this and that we have put our heads together and figured stuff out. We put in, we put in the hard work.
Sarah Harrison 46:20
I feel like though the loving has to kind of be the North Star for what we do, what we do next, how we want to grow. It has to keep us loving the conversations that we’re having so that it’s that it’s fun.
Carolyn Daughters 46:35
Is there anything else you’ve learned about yourself?
Sarah Harrison 46:41
Along those same lines, it has been unique and different when we have guests on. We have our banter, and then it’s great to kind of adapt, to sit back. to pause, to listen to what they’re bringing to it. There are so many ideas to try, it just blows up my brain. Things I’d like to try. I’m always a person where I have to calm it down. There’s no time, Sarah.
Carolyn Daughters 47:13
Put it in priority order. I’ve got a long list as well. If you just stare at the list, you would just close your computer and give up. You’ve got to start organizing this stuff and figuring it out and focusing. I think that’s what we’re doing each year. We’re picking a handful of things that we want to try out that are maybe a little bit different and new this year, and really wrap our brains around it. And then keep getting bigger and better.
Sarah Harrison 47:46
You guys have told us some of the things that you’d like to hear or see, which is more about the movie aspects that have been inspired by the books. There’s a poll on Spotify right now asking for feedback on what you would like to see. So if you get a chance, if that’s your platform, go on there and give us your opinion on what you’d like to see more of. Or write us on the website, the Facebook, the Instagram. There are so many ways you can talk to us.
Carolyn Daughters 48:14
Absolutely. Well, Sarah, this has been a great year. I’m looking forward to 2024 and the 12 awesome books that we’ll read in our mystery book club, ranging from 1934-1939.
Sarah Harrison 48:29
Starting with The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett, guys. We look forward to hearing from you.
Carolyn Daughters 48:35
You can find all our 2024 books for the Tea, Tonic & Toxin mystery book club at teatonicandtoxin.com. You can also comment, weigh in, and follow along with what we’re reading and discussing @teatonicandtoxin on Instagram and Facebook. And you can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
Sarah Harrison 48:49
And please stay mysterious.
January 29, 2024
Dashiell Hammett’s granddaughter Julie Rivett joins us on a second episode to discuss The Thin Man, Nick and Nora Charles, and all things Dashiell Hammett. Color us honored, which I envision as pleurigloss with a hint of alpha plaid. What a DELIGHTFUL conversation. Folks, you want to hear what Julie has to say. Trust me.Listen →
January 21, 2024
We could have interviewed Julie M. Rivett for days on end. She’s fascinating in her own right, and she shared AMAZING information about her grandfather, Dashiell Hammett. This one’s a must-listen, folks. Well, they’re all must-listens in our biased opinions, but this one belongs at the top of the must-listen list.Listen →
January 7, 2024
Wow, what a year. In 2023, our listener base grew by 223%, and we had the great fortune to read and discuss Murder on the Orient Express, The Maltese Falcon, The Innocence of Father Brown, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, The Thirty-Nine Steps, and the very first Perry Mason novel. Get the scoop on 2023 here!Listen →