Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Top 5 Places to Visit in a Cozy Town with Nina Bannister

WELCOME TO BAY ST. LUCY!

Bay St. Lucy is home to Nina Bannister, retired high school English teacher and protagonist of the Nina Bannister “Cozy” Mysteries, co-written by T. Gracie (actually Pam) Reese and Joe Reese. Nina’s first exploits were recounted in Sea Change: A Nina Bannister Mystery, which was published by Cozy Cat Press in May of this year, and her next adventure (Set Change) will appear in September. She loves her little Mississippi sea coast village very much, and recommends the following first stops for visitors:

1. Elementals from the Sea and the Earth. This shop is owned and run by Margot Gavin, retired director of The Chicago Art Institute and best friend of Nina (who sometimes helps out at the cash register). Everything in Margot’s vine enshrouded shop—all of the landscapes, seascapes, portraits, pots, knick knacks, local art, exotic art—is exquisite, which is not surprising, given the woman’s background; but how the most hideous possibilities could result in the most magical realities, never ceases to amaze. Take time, when you go to Margot’s, to people watch.
You might see a murderer.

2. Sergio’s By the Sea. The restaurant is slightly ill named, there being no ‘Sergio’ connected with it (It was in fact owned by a man named Leonard Katz, who lived in Jackson), and the distance between it and the sea being somewhat more than two miles. Still, Nina always tells herself, it is by the sea, to the degree that all places in the world are by the sea, given a bit of poetic license—and direct ownership of the restaurant by Sergio is not implied by the sign outside it, which contains no apostrophe.
Try the soft shelled crab.

3. The Robinson Mansion. A huge monstrosity of a place, built by gangsters (or so the story always goes), and allowed to fall into ruin after the horrific events of one stormy night in a September almost a decade ago (events well chronicled in Sea Change). Renovated at great expense by Eve Ivory, and described by Nina as follows: “It could not be viewed as a mansion at all, nor a house of any kind, nor even a land-fixed dwelling. No, the thing she was entering, with its chandelier spinning slowly and sparkling brilliantly like a Cinderella Ball Gown hanging from a ceiling high above—this thing could only be compared to the Titanic, dried, refurbished, up-ended, and wet-barred.
Explore the old escape tunnel in the back.

4. McGraw’s Landing. An improbable place on the ‘Bay’ side of the community. It lies on the far side of a great earthen levee which keeps the Bayou Fourche out of the town, and it triples as a slightly disreputable bar nights, an unhealthy restaurant afternoons, and the Center for Swamp Tours! mornings.
It has very little to be famous for except its drink menus.
But what menus!

The Landing (as it is referred to by townspeople) offers a remarkable variety of alcoholic beverages, a fact which always delights the fruit loving Nina and always appalls the pure gin loving Margot.

It is dimly lit, and one enters by walking beneath a huge stuffed alligator which had been clamped by massive concrete rods to the wall above the door.

One is then (hopefully, on uncrowded nights) taken to a table by a window, which overlooks the bay. The water is usually placid in the moonlight, and lamps glow on various platforms or fishing huts that dot the murky, moss laden, swamp surrounding the restaurant.

Try the Bacon Old Fashioned with either Gran Classico or Curacao as an inversion, if you are Nina.

Have a big glass of gin with just a splash of tonic sprinkled in it if you are Margot.

And keep an eye peeled, because the famous Shakespearian actor Clifton Barrett (from New York!) often brings women here, a habit which may lead to his eventual murder.

5. Seaside Statuary. Nina and the young and beautiful Helen Reddington go here, on the horrible afternoon several hours after Helen is publically humiliated by her husband. Nina has to talk about this, of course, but for a time all the two women can is gape at their surroundings. The first thing they notice is that they are surrounded by what would certainly be the largest most massive most wonderful cemetery lawn in the world except that there are no dead people under it. What there are, though, are birdbaths. Big birdbaths, wide birdbaths, petite little cute birdbaths, ornate birdbaths, Greek birdbaths, simple rustic birdbaths, birdbaths for eagles, romantic and flowery birdbaths, obscene and dirty and vulgar birdbaths—it even seems a shame, Nina finds herself wondering, that, just as there are apparently no corpses buried in the most wonderful graveyard in the world, there are also no birds bathing in the thousand million or more swimming pools that have, by dint of light gray limestone and loving workmanship, been offered up to them. Perhaps because there is no water.
Look carefully at all the statuary.
But don’t believe anything Helen tells you.

We—T Gracie, Joe, and Nina, as well as well as Margot, Tom Broussard, Alana Delafosse, Penelope Royale, Eve Ivory, Helen Reddington, John Giusti, Clifton Barret, and Moon Rivard—invite you to spend time in Bay St. Lucy.
You won’t regret it—and you might even guess whodunit!

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