15 January 2024

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In this issue: Resuming the Victorian mysteries, The Assassination Bureau, Glass Onion, and the Bummer at Luna Beach cover reveal.

Missing the Victorian mysteries?

Me, too! But soon I will be back to writing Murder at the Gasworks, the prequel to the Tommy Jones mysteries. I’ve wondered myself how Tommy became the ward of Cuthbert Slaughter and his wife, so it’s time to get going.

The Victorian era has so much in common with today. Fascinated by the latest gadget? Worried about the environment? Frustrated that the government doesn’t implement the will of the people? Interested in gender issues? All of these were debated and written about extensively in 19th century England.

City of London Gasworks

City of London Gasworks, from Discoveries and Inventions of the Nineteenth Century by Robert Routledge, 1905.

This is why it’s so enjoyable to do the research. The reader must feel they are part of the era through historical detail, but the overall social setting already seems familiar. And I love technology, so the gasworks is a great subject. There were several gasworks serving London in the 1860s, all competing against each other (oh, yeah, that’s another familiar topic!). The one shown above was in the City of London, which is where much of my novel will take place. 

The Assassination Bureau

I love old movies, as you know, but many of my favorites aren’t commonly known.

Take The Assassination Bureau. Oliver Reed and Diana Rigg are at their serious silly best. Based on an unfinished thriller by Jack London, it’s the story of Ivan Dragomiloff and his nemesis, Sonia Winter. She has discovered that Dragomiloff runs an organization that kills immoral reprobates for pay. She’s decided he’s one of those reprobates.

Assassination Bureau

Set in 1908, Winter is a women’s rights activist, and gets funded by her employer to hire Dragomiloff to assassinate . . . himself. He’s not upset by this. In fact, he’s downright pleased at setting his minions to the task. It gives him an opportunity to purge his organization, because most members are killing for money rather than morality. A very fun film.

Glass Onion review

I like new movies too, or almost new, anyway — it’s 2002. I saw the first film in what is now obviously a series (“A Knives Out Mystery“, says the subtitle).

Glass Onion

Glass Onion intrigued me with its title, since I know the Beatles song well. Turns out that’s the name of the actually glass feature in the billionaire’s home, and I was delighted they used so much music, including the song. Janelle Monáe is outstanding.

The beginning was great, because it was set up exactly like an Agatha Christie: a small group is invited to a billionaire’s isolated island retreat for a murder weekend. All the guests (except the detective) have had their careers advanced by the billionaire. What follows are murder, and twists and turns, just like you’d expect, set against a glorious production design I’d call Billionaire Modern.

It’s worth watching just for Janelle Monáe’s portrayal of Andi (Cassandra – don’t miss the classical reference!) Brand. The guest star cameos are fun, too, but unnecessary.

Daniel Craig again plays Detective Benoit Blanc, but I didn’t enjoy his interpretation of the character any more than in Knives Out. I just can’t figure out what he’s trying to do with the character. Any idea, just tell me in comments! 

Cover reveal

Only for newsletter subscribers and visitors to my website, it’s the cover reveal for Bummer at Luna Beach, my upcoming cozy mystery.

Release date is April 20, but I still have a spot for an early reviewer (just email me at lisa@grousablebooks.com). If you are on LibraryThing, I’ll be putting early reviewer copies there too for free in February. After that, the paperback and e-book will be available at all the usual booksellers, including my shop if you want it autographed.

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 history and writing? They’ve moved back to my Lisahistory blog, which I’m busy reorganizing. (Two blogs was just silly.)

Until next time, keep grousing!