5 Intriguing Things I Learned While Researching Naughty on Ice

Read about all the interesting things Maia Chance learned while researching her latest Discreet Retrieval Agency Mystery, then comment below for a chance to win a copy of Naughty on Ice!

How to Make a Negroni

When my 1920s-set mystery novel required an apéritif that was both sinister and festive, I thought: Negroni. The only trouble was I had never actually drunk one. I’m not a fan of Campari. Not only does it remind me unpleasantly of an ex-boyfriend’s judgy, country-club type father, but it originally derived its glowing scarlet hue from carmine, which is made from boiled bugs. Also, I was appalled to learn that Campari contains … rhubarb.

The Negroni was allegedly invented in Florence, Italy, in 1919, and although it wasn’t popular in 1920s America, my murderee is a wealthy cosmopolitan who could have been exposed to the cocktail. (In the ‘20s, the trendy Campari cocktail was the comparatively lily-livered Americano, with club soda in place of the Negroni’s gin.)

A Negroni is made of equal parts Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth, stirred over ice and garnished with a twist of orange. Feeling very vintage, I ordered one at a bar. The verdict: although the sweet vermouth tones things down, it is still bitter, herbal, and decidedly Campari-flavored. And strong. I decided it would serve nicely for a murder.

How Booze Was Smuggled from Canada into New England

I had done some research on this topic already since bootlegging appears in all of my Discreet Retrieval Agency mysteries. However, for Naughty on Ice, I needed to get into the nitty-gritty.

Take a visual tour through Naughty on Ice with GIFnotes!

Unlicensed drinking establishments called line houses were built just over the border, or even straddling the border, in Canada. Bootleggers would pick up contraband at line houses and transport it many miles south where they would deposit it at a holding facility. Some bootleggers carried alcohol on horseback, while others drove along perilous mountain roads, sometimes stashing alcohol in caves.

Intriguingly, while bootlegging operations were run by professional gangsters, much of the transport of alcohol from the border was done by locals who knew the roads. Young men, even teenagers, would get liquored up for courage at line houses and then set out with their risky cargo. Immigration road patrol officers, lurking in the lonely New England hills and dales, could often spot a bootlegger by his erratic driving.

All About One of Vermont’s Most Fabulous Historic Mansions

Burklyn Hall via Christie’s International Real Estate

Burklyn Hall in Burke, Vermont, was the inspiration for Goddard Farm, the lavish country estate of the troubled family at the center of my story. What is more, the real-life biography of Elmer Darling (not joking), the local-boy-made-good who built Burklyn Hall, helped me shape the story of my fictional family.

Completed in 1908, Burklyn Hall pulls out all the Colonial Revival stops, with towering pillars, mahogany paneling, wedding cake-worthy plasterwork, and countless grand rooms simply ripe for familial loathing, scandal, and homicide.

You can get a really good look at this place on Zillow because it’s currently on the market for a touch under 3 million smackeroos. At more than 13,000 square feet, it’s a dollar-per-square-foot bargain, right?

The History of Downhill Skiing in 1920s America

I am not only a history nerd but a skier. So imagine my delight when I discovered an exhibit about the history of skiing in New England in the lower level of Bretton Woods Mountain Resort in New Hampshire. (My delight may have been deepened by the fact that every minute spent studying the exhibit was a minute not somersaulting down a black diamond behind my more athletic companions.)

That exhibit opened up an avenue of research that became a core part of Naughty on Ice. Downhill skiing was just catching on in the United States in the ‘20s, having been imported from Scandinavia and promoted by local ski clubs all over the country. Many of these ski clubs were even run by Scandinavian immigrants.

That Vermont Is Rife with Legendary Spooks and Monsters

You wouldn’t expect it of no-nonsense Yankees, but New England legend is saturated with creepy supernatural … things. Just read Robert Frost’s poem “The Witch of Coös” if you’re skeptical. That must be one of the most disturbing poems ever—although the fact that I first read it in a 1870s farmhouse in Vermont just across the Connecticut River from Coos County (yes, the place in which the poem is set), probably intensified my experience.

Some of the spooky things Vermonters can boast of: an oversupply of ghosts (the University of Vermont alone claims 14!), a cemetery statue called Black Agnes that might kill you if you sit on her lap, a phantom bear named Slipperyback that raids farms, the Pigman of Vermont (I think this one may have inspired a Seinfeld episode), and huge serpent-like monsters in Willoughby Lake and Lake Memphremagog. Either this is one supernaturally-charged region, or it’s the cabin fever talking. Either way, let’s keep the axes locked up, okay?

Read an excerpt from Naughty on Ice!

Comment below for a chance to win a copy of Naughty on Ice by Maia Chance!

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Naughty on Ice Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at http://www.criminalelement.com/5-intriguing-things-i-learned-while-researching-naughty-on-ice-comment-sweepstakes beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) November 29, 2018. Sweepstakes ends at 12:59 p.m. ET December 11, 2018. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

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  1. Donna Kelly
  2. Mary Tilman

    I visited Vermont only once, staying in a historic “painted lady” Victorian home in Montpelier (smallest state capitol in the US with only 8,000 people). Appropriately, I was there to attend a funeral. Despite the gorgeous fall foliage and crisp but sunny weather, I found it quite atmospheric. Wonderful setting for this type of story.

  3. Daniel M

    sounds like a fun one

  4. John Smith

    I will have to start an online fundraising campaign to buy Burklyn Hall–I think it would fit me like a glove!

  5. Anne

    Fascinating and intriguing novel.

  6. ellie

    This interests me greatly. Sounds unique and very appealing.

  7. carloshmarlo

    This sounds like an excellent book. Thanks for the chance to win Naughty on Ice!

  8. Rhonda Aspinwall
  9. susan beamon

    I like stories set in places I have no desire to visit IRL. They keep me wandering while I’m comfortably at home.


    Thank you for this interesting background info behind the writing, it has me even more excited to read this book. Would love a chance to wander through that home!

  11. Susanne Troop

    Love a good book!

  12. Shelly Garnett

    Looks like a great book

  13. katevocke

    This one sounds like a really fun read!

  14. Lori P

    Lots to chill on in this article!

  15. Jane Beeman

    I would love to read this book. Looks great.

  16. bill norris

    loving that cover

  17. Tiffany

    This looks really good

  18. jane

    Sounds like fun reading.

  19. Francis Cardosi

    The Negroni cocktail is very good.

  20. Jayne Homsher

    Negroni drink, a hint of perfume and a soft glow in the room….sounds good!

  21. John Davis

    What are the odds? I’m aware, through family stories, of misadventures in Canada during the bootlegging era of Prohibition! I’ve never read a book which researched that period though!

  22. Shirley Evans

    This books sounds so interesting and along with history, one of my favorite subjects, will be a winner.

  23. Susan Marshall

    Fingers crossed 🤞🏻
    Never Read anything from this author – I love trying something new !

  24. Doris C. Losey

    Have enjoyed the others in this series and look forward to reading this title.

  25. E Rae

    I grew up (and live) in Vermont and only knew some of this. Great research for what looks like a great book!

  26. Anne Whalen

    As a fourth generation Vermonter, this sounds wonderful. Although the Negroni does sound kinda disgusting. I am more of a straight bourbon sort. Love tow read this, thanks

  27. Page Inman

    This sounds like a very good mystery to read on a snowy day

  28. Elena

    Sounds a fun read! Thanks for the chance =)

  29. Penni Ellington`

    Ooh! This looks good!

  30. JJ Wong

    Maia Chance had me at “supernatural”!! I’m intrigued.

  31. charles j hauser jr

    This is an author with whom I am not familiar but the time period has always fascinated me. The excerpt has certainly gotten my attention

  32. April Shuffler

    Very interesting facts! Sounds like an intriguing book! I would love to win a copy! Thanks for the chance!

  33. Danielle Hammelef

    This book will be so much fun to read. Thanks for the chance!

  34. Pat Dupuy

    I love the Discreet Retrieval Agency. Those ladies rock!

  35. Valerie Welbourn

    “Naught on Ice” has everything I want in a book – mystery, strong intelligent women detectives, delving into moneyed-family secrets, and cocktails!

  36. Karen Parisot

    I love New England, but I didn’t know about all the supernatural stuff other than Salem and its witches.

  37. Rebecca Brothers

    I’ve been wanting to check out this series. Looks like a good one!

  38. MM

    I’m intrigued! Thank you for the opportunity to win!

  39. Bonnie Karoly

    I enjoyed reading about your research. Teetotaled was a fun read, and I look forward to reading Naughty On Ice. bluedawn95864 at gmail dot com

  40. Benjamin Thomas

    Sounds like this is right up my alley

  41. joel timmons

    Knock 3. Times. For. Entry. To. Speakeasy. Have. A. Stiff. Belt

  42. Helen Allman

    Can’t wait.

  43. Melissa Lawrence

    Would love to win this! Happy Holildays!

  44. Nicole seabolt

    Love all the research that was done for this book. Can’t wait to reserve it!

  45. Susan T.

    Vermont sounds like a great place to visit. Or maybe not. Lol! Not many places have ghosts, lake monsters and pigmen!

  46. Emma Cazabonne

    Cocktails are amazing. I just read an incredible book about the origin of many cocktails and how to make them. I’m curious to see how they are connected with the plot. Thanks for the chance to win

  47. Michael Carter

    Here in the Northwest we have a history of smuggling booze into Washington State from Vancouver Island during Prohibition.
    Yes, please enter me in this sweepstakes.
    Thanks —

  48. Nancy

    I find this time period very interesting.

  49. Roberta

    Did the off season tour of Vermont
    As a non skier did ski lift sans snow. Fun

  50. Sandra Richard

    It is interesting, thank you for sharing. And > A Negroni is made of equal parts Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth, stirred over ice and garnished with a twist of orange. (imagine that)

  51. Joy Isley

    Interesting information. I always learn something new when I read a well researched book. This one sounds really good

  52. Jean Barber

    A good and beautiful Vermont this must be a winner!

  53. Janie Young

    Negronis !!! I am a fan. I tried my first one in a restaurant on Lake Como on a clear day.
    Can’t wait to read this newest installment. Keep them coming!

  54. Desmond Warzel

    Count me in, please!

  55. Karen A.

    Burklyn Hall is spectacular

  56. Barbara

    A new author for me and the book sounds great!

  57. Jackie Wisherd

    I would love to read this book and report on it at my book club.

  58. peter w.

    Booze! Yes!

  59. Kara Marks

    This sounds really good—I’d love to read it! Legallyblonde1961@yahoo.com

  60. Kimberly Dull

    Though I don’t think I’ll be trying a Negroni, I definite would like to check this book out! It sounds like a fun read!

  61. lasvegasnv

    interesting info

  62. Janet Gould

    What a fun article!


    I would like to read this book.

  64. Carole Knoles

    Twenty three skidoo on the Negroni!

  65. L

    A 1920’s mystery sounds wonderful and an Estate styled after Burklyn Hall for the setting is perfect. I would definitely pass on the cocktail during that period. The thought of boiled bug liquid is disgusting! So, I can certainly believe that a woman willing to kill would be willing to drink it.

  66. Erica Stafura

    Thank you for the chance to win – sounds great!

  67. Margit Curtright


  68. Saundra K. Warren

    Sounds like an awesome book

  69. Karen H

    We spent a wonderful summer vacation in Vermont. The history of the state and its people is really interesting and the setting is beautiful. Did the marble city get mentioned in the book?

  70. Adrien Toro

    I like the connection with Canada. It makes sense that booze was brought in from Canada but I had no idea. Thanks for the historical tidbit!

  71. Jane Schwarz

    Love the whole idea of the characters, place and time. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of “Naughty on Ice”.

  72. Christal M

    Thank you for the chance

  73. Karen Terry

    Sounds like a winner.

  74. Kevin Burton Smith

    As recently as the 1970s, according to a pilot friend of mine, you could see (from an airplane) strange lines running straight north/south through the thick forests of Quebec’s Eastern Townships into Vermont — the colour and size of the trees visibly distinct from their neighbours. The story was that they were the scars from old smuggler’s roads from the Prohibition era, grown back over the ensuing forty or so years.

  75. Susan Morris

    Love reading spooky tales based in New England.Thank you for the opportunity to win!

  76. Teresa Allen

    I would love to win this book!

  77. Laurent Latulippe

    Very interesting facts about Vermont. Thanks

  78. Beth Walsh

    I love the 20’s—one of my favorite historical periods to read about!!

  79. Marisa Young

    Interesting article.

  80. Karen Hester

    Thanks for reminding me of the Negroni I had in Rome

  81. Dianna Young

    Interesting that VT has so many ghosts…who knew?
    Not sure what Campari is but it does sound nasty!

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