1 January 2024

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In this issue: more ARC reading opportunities, a fave Miss Marple, why we love mysteries with hubris, and ordering direct from an author.

ARC reading in the new year

I have expanded the team and have a few more ARC reader spots available for Bummer at Luna Beach, my first SoCal cozy mystery.

What are ARC readers? As I mentioned last time, ARC readers are keen book lovers who receive a free e-copy of a book before it’s published (an Advance Review Copy), then provide general feedback to the author (if they’re comfortable), then share their support of the book with friends, on social media, and anywhere else they can think of. And that’s it!

join the ARC team

Bummer at Luna Beach begins with a dead body on the beach, covered in sand at the bottom of a sea bluff. There’s a real police detective on the case, but he’s new to the town of San Benno. In steps Rosie McMahon, 72-year-old maven, to assist.  Like all my mysteries, it’s a story with appealing characters and a serious underlying theme. Definitely in the “cozy mystery” category. 

For this book, I’ll be sending out an e-copy this month, and asking for some sharing by the beginning of March. Book release date (paperback and e-book) is April 20.

If this sounds good to you, email me at lisa@grousablebooks.com.

Miss Marple

Who’s your favorite TV/movie Miss Marple? Margaret Rutherford in the old films? Geraldine Ewan, Julia Mackenzie, or Joan Hickson on Masterpiece? How about Angela Lansbury in The Mirror Crack’d?

Although Agatha Christie’s female sleuth is sometimes thought of as a doddering old lady, most actors played her as more intelligent than the other characters. She is an older woman who is underestimated by those around her, often by her own design. 

Joan Hickson as Miss Marple

Joan Hickson as Miss Marple

Each portrayal is different, but I’d go with Joan Hickson as the most unassuming and underestimated, a Miss Marple you would hardly notice, asking suspects ordinary questions and placing hints for the other characters when they are most needed. But one would have to go back and read the books again to decide who was most faithful to Christie’s character.

Why mysteries? Hubris!

The more chaotic our world is, the more we love our mysteries. In the best novels, the reader has the assurance that justice will prevail, an especially potent motif when it seems like this isn’t happening in the real world. For some, the thrill is the race between the reader and the sleuth to solve the puzzle. 

I am not into puzzles, I’m not a game player, and I’m not fascinated by the criminal mind. Fairness and justice are my ingrained values, while hypocrisy and unallayed selfishness are anathema. Psychotic killers are of little interest to me, which is why I don’t write thrillers. Rather, like Arthur Conan Doyle, I write stories where intelligence prevails and the killer is caught.

Holmes and Watson, originally printed in The Strand Magazine, October 1891, p. 401.

Originally printed in The Strand Magazine, October 1891, p. 401.

Why are they caught? Certainly because the sleuth is cleverer than they are, but also because of hubris. Translated loosely as “excessive pride”, hubris is a self-centeredness so profound that the character follows his own goals heedless of the pain they cause. They haven’t inherited the estate? They kill the person who has. They were rejected by someone they loved? Overlooked vocationally or socially? Bullied or harassed? They get their revenge.

Hubris causes their own downfall, not just the sleuth putting together clues. The guilty characters have brought it upon themselves. Perhaps they lied and were found out, or left behind something that could be traced, or forgot to burn that important piece of evidence. We smirk when the murderer reveals him/herself accidentally. But it’s fun to trace the tales where hubris plays a role, where the criminals are hoisted on their own petard.

Grousable Bookshop

With the recent publication of hardcover editions of the Tommy Jones Mysteries, I am reminded that most readers order from online booksellers like Bookshop.org for print versions, and e-book dealers like Kobo or Amazon for e-reader versions.

All dealers, all retailers, take a cut for themselves—they wouldn’t stay in business otherwise. Ordering directly, however, provides more profit for the author. It can also make signed copies available.

book packing

People I don’t know packing books for shipping. CC Jeremy Keith on Flickr.

So when you get a chance, visit the Grousable Bookshop. Each of my books is listed there in all the available formats, and I mail it out myself so a dedication or signature is easy.

And more!

  • Want to read previous newsletters? They’re located here at my website, where you can also find information and buy links to all my books. You can post comments there too.
  • Want to read my blog posts on historical research and writing? They’re here.

Until next time, keep grousing!