East Meets West in this Original Mystery ‘Changes’ by Charles Colyott (review & recipe)
Changes — A Randall Lee Mystery by Charles Colyott
I love a good mystery. In fact if an author can keep me guessing or enjoying the merry chase of the protagonist without me figuring it out at least 50% of the way through? It’s good! If he can keep me confused happy and smiling even though I still haven’t figured it out at around 75%? It’s great in fact almost unheard of for me! This book literally had me caught off guard, deliriously happy in the sweet love story and eclectic music displayed by an author who I am deeming the Harry Blackstone of Mysteries! I kept thinking I had it figured out. In fact when he figures out who the killer is, I still had not figured it out! And that was not even all of it (that was about at 89% of the way through) I did not figure it out till 98% of the way through (and that was because is an author bio at the end, seriously! THIS is unheard of!
The delicious scoops that make a base for this sundae, which is more of a rich frozen custard, are the devices used by Charles to tell the tale and to keep us all misdirected with the mystery! Our protagonist Randall is living life in St. Louis which is perhaps, in my opinion, the Arm Pit of the US. Yet he is able to find this quiet beauty in just standing still. His flash backs to his life in Hong Kong in comparison to his dark memories of his life before St. Louis are intense and balance so well with the snark heavy, wonderful and sarcastic humor of Randall.
“Well, yeah, but we were hoping to find somebody they’d talk to. Y’know, one of them.”
“I could show them my jade secret decoder ring.” I said. (location 102)
Maybe she just likes self-bondage.” I shrugged and grinned. “You never know with these kinky old broads and their weird hobbies.” (location 415)
Tracy tilted her had and smiled “So really, nothing is pointless?” I drank some beer and said, “Oh, sure. Some things are Boy bands, reality television, fast food, Ashton Kutcher movies…that sort of thing.” (location 1684)
This is the important story device for me. Charles is able to write this wonderful gut wrenching darkness bearable. The incredibly molded and three dimensional character pops immediately from the first chapter, we know who he is, even though we learn more as the story progresses. Tracy is his savior, his light and Charles slowly allows for the breaking free of this light by slowly weaving more and more into her. Where we have a sudden full character with Randall, we have a shadowed purple colored lock of hair that slowly expands into a solid person, a person Randall can count on. This is so important to the the structure of the story, and how it is told. It is almost as if the mystery, at least this time around, is secondary to the rebirth of his soul.
Top it off some more and the whipped cream of this story is in addition of being a fantastic character, Randall is also a Tai Chi Chuan expert, a Doctor of Traditional Chinese medicine and an acupuncturist. He must find his chi in order to clear the darkness within his soul from his past. Perhaps along with Tracy solving this murder he be able to reclaim his life back.
The sprinkles? The music references! I live with a musician as well as being a huge love for a huge eclectic and I have a bizarre seemingly random taste in music! First he mentions Dead Can Dance! (and of course it is Tracy introducing him and goes on to mention Bjork, Descendents and even David Bowie and
“This,” she said with flourish, “Dad Can Dance. Listen, learn and love.” She closed her eyes with a smile and made a slow, swaying turn in time with the music gliding up to me like a ghost, wrapping her arms around my neck and looking up with those eyes; she made my chest ache, though not unpleasantly. (location 864)
My cherry? I’m a huge Hard Boiled and Noir fan and any one who can make “..because i was off playing Sam-freaking-Spade” work and work well not only with humor but also in giving you an idea of style and stage he is setting up for you.
Do I have more to say? Plenty. But right now I’m craving Heineken and digging around for my Bjork t-shirt. I think I will slip in some Dead Can Dance, twirl my magical snow spoon and smile some more. Hats off Charles, this is a brilliant start to a grand new series!!
AND NOW? ICE CREAM!!!
I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. I love series books and I hope the llamas let him finish the next one quick. But for now, I created a recipe based on my tried and true Ice Cream recipe.
This is not true custard, but it is rich enough plus easy enough you can make it without cooking. Just prepare yourself for bliss! We had blackberries at the store and Geoff brought me home a small container. The purple that the ice cream will be represents the color that Tracy brings into Randall’s life. The candied ginger is definitely something that is used in both Chinese recipes as well as American.It is for Randall, the subtle bite that turns into wow in your mouth, kind of like his snark and seriousness rolled into one.The cayenne pepper is the SPARK and POP of the two of them together and BOY is it WOW!
East Meets West Ice Cream (Ginger Blackberry Ice Cream)
- 2 cups of heavy cream
- 1 can of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk.
- 1 cup of blackberries
- ½ cup of crystallized ginger finely chopped
- 2 tsp of pure vanilla
- 2 pinches of cayenne pepper
- Take your blackberries, rinse, and sprinkle with 1 TBPS of sugar stir and let sit for 30 minutes in the fridge. Drain the juice and save, you will be whisking this in with the sweetened condensed milk.
- Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks in large chilled metal bown with a chilled metal whisk. (faster whipping, just throw them in the freezer in the morning or the night before.)
- whisk 2 pinches of Cayenne (the SPICE that marries the flavor), 2 tsp of pure vanilla and your blackberry juice. This will add a beautiful color!
- Gently fold in the whipped cream. This is important so not stir hard and heavy manhandling, find your chi and gently fold.
- Gently put it into a glass baking dish (like a brownie dish) cover with Saran wrap and place in freezer.
- About ½ hour into freezing, stir in the chopped candied ginger and your blackberries, GENTLY. Spread back around and place back in freezer till done.
- When the ice cream is done, I transfer it into my ice cream keeper (Tupperware) but a Freezer safe container is good.
- Wanna make yourself a sundae as good as this book? I would layer a scoop with slivered candied almonds, extra unsweetened whipped cream (whipped obviously) and whole blackberries. Sprinkle with more almonds and instead of a cherry, put a lovely blackberry on top! VOILA! Sorry I ate it all ready.
- (Yes this is based off my recipe that both myself and now AlchemyScrawl makes and swears she will never buy ice cream again. I have tons of ice cream recipes, I even have a machine but this is SO bloody easy to make and to create your own flavors easily and with fun)
So whats YOUR favorite Ice Cream Flavor?
Whats your favorite Hard-boiled novel or Noir film?
Do you know who Prefab Sprout is? (this was the only band I had NO clue about and had to look up!)
Charles Colyott writes mystery, dark fantasy, horror, and whatever else strikes his fancy. He is the author of Black — Canto I of the Nephilim Codex, Changes — A Randall Lee Mystery, and the collection Unknown Pleasures. He lives in Southern Illinois with his wife, daughters, cats, and alpacas.
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