Sunday, May 19, 2019

Grace Topping and Staging is Murder

LESLIE: It's such a delight to see a writer you've known for several years get a publishing deal and launch her first book! I met Grace Topping at Malice Domestic, the convention celebrating the traditional mystery. She's here today with a recipe and a few hints about STAGING IS MURDER, her first Laura Bishop mystery, which came out April 30. Welcome, Grace, and congratulations!

Leave a comment below for a chance to win a print copy of STAGING IS MURDER. 


GRACE TOPPINGIn my cozy mystery, STAGING IS MURDER, Laura Bishop, a home stager, doesn’t ply sources with liquor to loosen their lips. Instead, she knows the value of questioning them in a place conducive to sharing secrets—a cozy English-style teashop. Who wouldn’t open up while enjoying sandwiches, scones with cream and jam, and fruit tarts, all washed down with fragrant tea? It worked for Laura, and she was able to get good leads that helped her unmask a murderer.

Next time you want to coerce someone into spilling their secrets, serve an English-style tea and include scones like the ones served at the Orangery, the teashop frequented by Laura and her sources. 

English Butterscotch Tea Scones

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup granulated sugar
1 stick cold unsalted butter (4 ounces) cut into small pieces
1 cup butterscotch chips (or cinnamon chips, currants, or raisins)
1 egg
1 ½ cups buttermilk (Or substitute 1 ½ cups milk with 2 tablespoons white vinegar. Allow to sit for ten minutes before adding to other ingredients.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.


Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut in butter until the mixture is the size of small pebbles. 

Add chips, (or currants or raisins) to dry mixture and stir to coat well. Set aside.

Beat egg and buttermilk together and add to dry ingredients.


Stir to combine all ingredients. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly.


Roll dough until it is 1 inch thick or press with floured fingertips.


Cut rounds with a lightly floured cutter or a juice glass and place on a greased baking sheet or one lined with parchment paper.


Brush lightly with milk or cream and sprinkle with granulated sugar.


Bake 20-25 minutes or until scones are lightly browned. 


Allow to cool. Slice in half and spread with butter or whipped cream and jam. Enjoy!

What would you serve to loosen a source’s lips? 

Leave a comment below, with your email address, for a chance to win a print copy of Staging is Murder. (U.S. and Canadian addresses; winner will be announced on Tues, May 21.) 

Staging is Murder
Laura Bishop just nabbed her first decorating commission—staging for sale a 19th century mansion that hasn’t been updated for decades. But when a body falls from a laundry chute and lands at Laura’s feet, removing flowered wallpaper becomes the least of her duties. To clear her young assistant of the murder and save her fledgling business, Laura’s determined to find the killer. Turns out it’s not as easy as renovating a manor home, especially with two handsome men complicating her mission: the police detective assigned to the case and the real estate agent trying to save the manse from foreclosure. Worse still, the meddling of a horoscope-guided friend, a determined grandmother, and the local funeral director could get them all killed before Laura props the first pillow.




Grace Topping is a recovering technical writer and IT project manager, accustomed to writing lean, boring documents. Let loose to write fiction, she is now creating murder mysteries and killing off characters who remind her of some of the people she dealt with during her career. Fictional revenge is sweet. She’s using her experience helping friends stage their homes as inspiration for her Laura Bishop mystery series. The first book in the series, Staging is Murder, is about a woman starting a new career midlife as a home stager. Grace is the current vice president of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and a member of the SINC Guppies and Mystery Writers of America. She lives with her husband in Northern Virginia.

Visit Grace's website, join her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter. 




43 comments:

  1. I love scones and this recipe looks delicious -- I can't wait to try it! Thanks for visiting Mystery Lovers' Kitchen ~ (I already have a copy that I'm looking forward to reading, so don't put me in the drawing)

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  2. Your recipe looks so good but it’s dairy and my daughter is lactose intolerant. I make nondairy chocolate chip cookies that are delicious, and I think if I fed them to a suspect they would definitely open up! meeshpsych@aol.com

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  3. I love scones thank you for the recipe. I'd love to read this book soon.

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    1. Chocolate just might loosen lips homemade chocolate chip cookies

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  4. Grace is traveling today and having trouble commenting, but she is reading your comments and will join us when she can.

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  5. I love scones but don't have the nerve to try and make them! To loosen lips? Maybe a lovely mojito and some guac and chips.
    patdupuy@yahoo.com

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  6. Scones are so tempting.
    @Pat D--Don't be afraid. They are really simple. Just biscuits that got "dressed up".

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    1. Oh, I love that description, Libby -- and the advice. Scones really are very easy to make.

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  7. Recipe looks amazing. I love scones, but have never tried making them. A mimosa and a couple of the butterscotch scones would probably loosen up some lips!
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

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  8. Gotta be chocolate. Works for everything!
    kozo8989@hotmail.com

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  9. I love butterscotch as well as scones and know the combination of the two would be sinful. Thanks for featuring Grace Topping and her book on your blog. It would be wonderful to be able to claim it as mine. robeader53(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  10. I love making scones, and I love going to tea as well! Happy Sunday, and thanks for sharing the recipe! Nicole :-)
    nicolev.girldetective@gmail.com

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  11. Grace, Love this recipe and love a theme about staging a tea... so important. :) ~ Daryl

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  12. Vera wilson
    Thanks for sharing a delicious sounding recipe

    snoopysnop1 at yahoo dot com

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  14. I love the idea of staging a tea. I have also wanted to try to make scones for a long time, but it seemed difficult. With this recipe and the pictures, I think I can do it! We will see! Also, thanks for the wonderful giveaway. bentleyboy22@comcast.net

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    1. Oh, yes, Jamie, do try them! Scones may seem daunting to make at first, but they really are quite forgiving, and so yummy!

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  15. I'd make my famous peanut butter cup, chocolate brownies. They're to die for! toniann40@verizon.net

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    1. Sure to soften even the most hardened criminal!

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  16. Well, I'm not much of a cook, so I would have to give them alcohol. Those scones look delicious! mbradeen [at] yahoo [dot] com

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  17. First I have never tried to make scones -- despite the YEARS I have spent in the kitchen making all sorts of wonderful goodies. This might be the encouragement I need to try them.
    Second, I love she gets to kill off former desk mates who weren't all that nice! prizewinner (at) hotmail [dot] com

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  18. Would love to read this book sounds really good

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  19. This is now on my list to bake! Looks like a wonderful recipe for scones! I look forward to being able to read your book soon! meg85242 at gmail dot com

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  20. These look fantastic! My kids will love them! Congratulations on your new book!
    tami.norman@gmail.com

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  21. I would serve lemon trifle and tea. I just love lemon.

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