Like most primates, I'm easily distracted by bright colors and shiny things. Red. I like the color red, and red foods are especially attractive. Strawberries, tomato sauce, apples, and red wine are red, and I love all of those things. Also cherries.
So when I saw a bottle of diet pomegranate ginger ale at Hannaford, all shiny and red, I bought it. It was only 85 cents; I had that much in my pocket from returning bottles. It looked seasonal and festive, and pomegranate is supposed to have powerful antioxidant properties.
It also tastes like Robitussin. Seriously, I think that pomegranate is the main flavoring agent of most cough syrups, and it's also the flavor of grenadine syrup, which shouldn't be used for anything once you've outgrown Shirley Temples.
Why has pomegranate taken off and become the new hot flavor? Do people actually like it, or is it just something like V-8, that you drink because it's supposed to be good for you?
Strangely, I don't think pomegranate flavor or pomegranate juice tastes much like the seeds of a real pomegranate, which I like and think are a cool, fancy thing to put on salads or pork chops. (Yes, I'm hooked on Top Chef, and have dreams about Anthony Bourdain. But who doesn't?)
Red or not, I won't be buying any more pomegranate ginger ale. In fact, I've got an extra bottle, if anyone wants it. I might bring it with me to tonight's holiday party at Kate's Mystery Books in Cambridge. Mix it with enough other stuff, and it might be drinkable as a holiday punch.
What I Read This Week
I read manuscripts this week, but did manage to finish two good books.
Chris Mooney, THE SECRET FRIEND. A paperback available only in the UK -- unless you happen to know the author, which I do. This sequel to THE MISSING is a solid forensic thriller featuring Mooney's series protagonist, CSI Darby McCormick -- but McCormick is not as interesting in this book as renegade former FBI agent Malcolm Fletcher, who gives McCormick the information she needs to track down a serial kidnapper whose victims wind up dead, with small statues of the Virgin Mary concealed in their clothing. Fletcher is such a cool, spooky character that he deserves a series of his own.
Alex Carr, THE PRINCE OF BAGRAM PRISON. Alex Carr is Jenny Siler, the subject of Crimespree magazine's next cover story (written by me). I met Jenny briefly at the Madison Bouchercon, when she was on a panel with Joe Finder, and thought, "Wow, she's really smart -- I should read her books." I'm embarrassed that it took me two years to pick one up, because this book is a diamond -- hard, clear, sharp and luminous. Nineteen-year-old Jamal, orphaned as an infant in Morocco, becomes a pawn of American intelligence operatives after arriving in Afghanistan with the wrong people. A complex plot spirals through 30 years and half a dozen major characters, cramming an astonishing amount of detail and emotion into less than 300 pages.