“The Postscript Murders” and how chocolate makes everything better

I have been an avid Elly Griffiths fan for years. I LOVE her Ruth Galloway series, and eagerly read the newest addition each year, so I was very pleased when I found her first stand alone novel, “The Stranger Diaries,” a couple of years ago. Color me shocked when a few weeks ago, I discovered a sequel, “The Postscript Murders.” Apparently it is a new series following Detective Harbinder Kaur. I regret that though I remember her character from “The Stranger Diaries,” I did not remember her playing a large role in the novel. But this book gave me a second chance to get to know this really unique and interesting character.

Harbinder is a fun character to get to know. Her parents emigrated from India to raise their family, and Harbinder still lives with them. She has mixed feelings being a grown woman in her 30s still living with her parents, but she secretly enjoys not coming home to an empty house after long days at work. Harbinder is a closet lesbian, unsure of how her parents would feel about it if they knew. She is somewhat lonely; she doesn’t feel connected with her partner and spends her free time addicted to a game on her phone. But she is smart, and she’s kind, but tough.

When 90 year-old Peggy Smith is found dead by her carer Natalka, Natalka knows it wasn’t a heart attack, it was murder. A band of unlikely heroes gather to solve the case: Natalka, a Ukranian expat with a skill for numbers and Peggy’s carer, Benedict, a former monk who now owns a coffee shop on the beach, loves mysteries and the conversations he had with Peggy, and Edwin, an 80 year-old retired BBC producer who lived across the hall from Peggy and found her his only respite in their sheltered accommodation. (This is rented housing that is for older, disabled, or other vulnerable people.)

After a masked gunman steals an out of print book from Peggy’s extensive crime collection, and a famous crime writer is murdered who used Peggy as a “Murder Consultant,” Harbinder Kaur agrees with the motley crew, there is more going on.

This book has more murders than an episode of “Midsomer Murders,” but it’s a great read with an excellent cast of characters. I absolutely loved the trio of amateur sleuths determined to solve the case. At one point, they drive to Aberdeen, Scotland in order to track down two other writers who acknowledged Peggy in their books, using her as their own “Murder Consultant.”

I love the idea of writers employing a “Murder Consultant.” I think that would be the most amazing job to have, so I’d like to go ahead and offer my services as a “Murder Consultant” to anyone out there writing a book and needing a clever way to kill their characters. I’m ready to be hired!

I really enjoyed this book. But, one thing I found too “on the nose” was Benedict’s name: former monk and being named Benedict was too spot on. Truthfully, every time I read his name I thought of Benedictine Spread, which is a delicious cream cheese and cucumber spread that you can eat as sandwich or dip for crackers and veggies. Until today, I thought it was created by a Benedictine monk. Turns out, Jennie Benedict from Louisville, KY created it. It may only be a Kentucky thing, but you should definitely try it.

The bake for this book, was inspired by their trip to Aberdeen, Scotland. Few things are better than shortbread cookies. They are a perfect, not too sweet treat. I took a basic shortbread recipe we use for Christmas and made plain shortbread, and cranberry pecan shortbread. I used my heart-shaped cookie cutters in honor of Benedict’s coffee design he used for Natalka’s coffee. After they cooled, I dipped some of them in chocolate to add a little extra sweetness, and it’s true, chocolate makes everything better. I must say the cranberry pecan were delicious and I highly recommend them. Here is the recipe I used. I’m not sure where it originated, but it’s the recipe we use every year for Christmas baking.

Shortbread Cookies


1 cup butter, softened

½ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

⅛ teaspoon salt


  1. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar; beating well. Stir in vanilla.
  2. Combine flour and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed until blended.*
  3. Roll dough to ½ inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut with 2 ½ inch round cutter. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 275°F for 50 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove to wire rack to cool.**

*After the dough came together, I divided it in half and rolled half out as plain shortbread, and added some chopped craisins and pecans to the other half.

**After cooling completely, I dipped some into 1 cup of melted semisweet chocolate chips mixed with about 1 Tablespoon of whipping cream.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Published by Aprile

An passionate reader, amateur baker, aspiring writer, and professional cat lady.

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