Book Review


Book Review by Pauline Reid ⭐ The Dragon Sleeps by Ellen Read

The Dragon Sleeps by Ellen Read
Book One of The Thornton Mysteries

Historical Fiction ( Australia – 1927 post or after WW1)
Cosy Mystery Murder/Romance

Thank you to Ellen Read for giving me an ARC of The Dragon Sleeps in return for an honest review. This book has been re-published by Crimson Cloak Publishing

My View On What This Book Is About
We open The Dragon Sleeps, and here we are, an invitation to a weekend party at Thornton Park. The hot topic is a brass Dragon…… it sits inside a velvet-lined box. An antiques dealer, Mr Zhang sold it to, Thomas Thornton, (Alexandra’s father) the owner of Thornton Antiques.

Edith wasn’t all that impressed with the brass Dragon and told Alexandra so. However, Alexandra felt she had to defend her father and said to Edith it…

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MRS PRESTON’S KITCHEN (The Thornton Mysteries)

Morning Tea


Miss Alexandra said to me, Mrs P … Miss Alexandra calls me Mrs P. Such a lovely young woman. I’ve seen her grow from a beautiful baby … wait, I’m getting off track. Edward, that’s my husband, Mr Preston, he tells me I waffle too much. Dear Edward, he only teases me. So, Miss Alexandra said why don’t you tell everyone about what you have for morning tea … especially this time, because of Anzac Day. Mr Benedict fought in the Great War. He was only a boy. So many boys killed. I think it upsets Miss Alexandra too much to talk about it.

I had to get my head on straight though to talk to you about it, too. I had to think when it all started. 1916 – that was the first Anzac Day. One year after all those poor boys and men died on Gallipoli Peninsula on the 25th April 1915. Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

Well, we had to commemorate the tragic loss of life. I remember that first Anzac Day. We held a Dawn Service here at Thornton Park, and in the afternoon, Mr Thornton opened the polo field up to the locals for a football match. Some people played tennis. Mr Preston told me later that services were held across Australia and our boys in Egypt had a sports day. To us Aussies, it’s the mateship that’s important.

Such a terrible time. The things I read in the newspaper about our poor boys. They landed at Gallipoli to knock Turkey out of the war but everything … now what’s that word …stalemated, that’s it. Eight months and over eight thousand soldiers killed.

I remember on other Anzac Days, the 25th April became the day we remember the sacrifice of all those who had died in war. Ooh I can’t think of it without crying. Miss Alexandra always gives me a kiss on the cheek when I get upset. Edward tells me to pull myself together … but it upsets him to remember, too. Those Anzac boys were courageous and have left a strong legacy.

By now, you’re probably wondering about morning tea. At Thornton Park, we have Anzac biscuits. Like the poor boys in the trenches ate. They weren’t called Anzac biscuits then. The boys called them the Soldiers Biscuits. Food took a long time to reach the boys and there wasn’t any refrigeration then. Not like I have here now. Mr Thornton bought me one of those new ice boxes. So, food had to last. Like hard tack, bully beef – tinned corned beef, rice and tea. That’s what fed the army.

I always make Anzac Biscuits. It’s so easy – rolled oats, plain flour, sugar, butter, golden syrup or treacle, coconut, bi-carbonate of soda, and boiling water. I like to make the original recipe. I’ll let you have a copy of it. I had it from a friend of a friend.

I hope you’ll enjoy a cuppa and an Anzac biscuit now with me. Mr Preston and Harry just served the family. I made some jam tarts to go with the biscuits.

I’ll see you next time. After I’ve finished my cuppa, I have to think what to prepare for lunch.




1 cup each of plain flour, rolled oats, coconut and sugar

4 ounces butter

1tablespoon treacle or golden syrup

2 tablespoons boiling water. (Add a little more if the mixture is dry)

1 teaspoon bi-carbonate soda


1 Grease tray and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

2 Combine the dry ingredients.

3 Melt together butter and golden syrup. Combine water and bi-carbonate-soda – add to butter mixture

4 Mix butter and dry ingredients.

5 Drop teaspoons of mixture onto tray.

Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden.

Allow to cool on tray for a few minutes before transferring onto cooling racks.

Makes approximately 35 biscuits.

(This is from an original recipe by Mr Bob Lawson, an ANZAC present at the Gallipoli landing.)



The Thornton Mysteries

When writing a book set in the 1920s, the first thing you realise is there is a lot of research to do. The Dragon Sleeps is a murder mystery, the first in The Thornton Mysteries.

The family home, Thornton Park, is a lavish mansion. There are servants and a definite upstairs downstairs scenario. Fashions, music and cars aside, I found the need to research food. What would the family eat in 1927? What did the servants eat?

Mrs Preston is the cook at Thornton Park. Not a chef, but she’s as meticulous and proud of her culinary achievements, as any chef in a restaurant would be. She manages the menus and the kitchen staff to perfection. She does discuss the family menus with Alexandra Thornton, who is mistress of the house.

Kedgeree - photo credit

On an average day, the family is served breakfast in the morning room. This usually entails dishes such as Kedgeree served with softly scrambled eggs. This is a British recipe, as much of Australian food was at that time. Kedgeree originated in India, during the British Colonial days. At a time before refrigeration, it allowed cooks to use leftovers from the night before to make into appetising breakfast dishes.  Essentially the ingredients are boiled rice, chopped hard-boiled egg, cold minced fish, fried in one pan and flavoured with herbs.

Strawberry jam on English muffins w Credit

Sausages are also a much-loved breakfast fare, along with English muffins and toast, served with marmalade and strawberry jam. All served with tea or coffee.

Royal Albert tea set 02a


For the servants of Thornton Park, Mrs Preston always cooks a whole grain oatmeal or porridge, whether it be summer or winter. The servants need a hearty breakfast to sustain them for the long hours ahead.

Servants Hall OatmealSQ-600x600


Now, there’s morning tea to think of. What will Mrs Preston serve?



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You can purchase The Dragon Sleeps from the following:


Book Depository

Barnes and Noble




Better World Books

Chapters Indigo

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