Grousable Books Newsletter: Ides of March 2023

New! Pre-order Murder on the Pneumatic Railway

The trilogy is complete! Murder on the Pneumatic Railway is the third interconnected stand-alone Tommy Jones Mystery, and the one where Tommy solves the crime. Publication date is 22 March, so pre-order now!

The blurb:

In 1870 London, the body of a postal clerk is found inside a pneumatic railway car, and surgeon Samson Light has been accused. Tommy Jones must abandon his many jobs to pursue the witness who can exonerate his former tutor. 

Inspector Morgan of St Giles Station seems unusually reluctant to pursue the case, so Samson’s barrister, wife, and friends must investigate. Clues lead to the General Post Office, the London Pneumatic Despatch Company, the highest realms of the Foreign Office, and inside Clerkenwell Gaol itself. Why was an ordinary clerk killed and, if it wasn’t Samson who did it, who did?

Peas in a Pot and a Possum

Garden news is a bit sparse given all the recent rain. SoCal folks joke about the rain, but we have little idea how to actually deal with it. Driving is crazy, water doesn’t know how to drain–it’s kind of a mess.

So, some photos. The snow peas, unhappy in the ground, are quite happy in a pot. In the middle picture is one of several possums who come in the night. They tend to the garden and scare away rats, eating all the ticks along the way, so I love them and leave out apple pieces. OK, so the last pic isn’t from my garden–it’s what I ate because I had a cold. Just an ordinary head cold, not at all what a lot of people are dealing with these days!

Book: The Dante Club

The Dante Club - WikipediaVictorian but American, The Dante Club was written by Matthew Pearl. I had previously read The Last Bookaneer, and wanted to see what the author did with a different subject.

Of the four or five real-life historical figures who help solve the crimes in 1865 Boston (U.S.), I knew something about only two: Oliver Wendell Holmes and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. These two and other famous friends were part of the Harvard scene at the same time, and in this story they become amateur detectives as a killer seems to be imitating parts of the as-yet-untranslated Inferno by Dante. So it’s the story of the first American translation of Dante, and what Dante meant to the scholars, and how the work of scholars and poets was seen after the Civil War. Combined with a murder mystery.

Although written in an elevated style at the beginning, it settles into a real whodunnit, and although they aren’t played for laughs, I found authors of the likes of Longfellow and Holmes running around solving a mystery to be amusing as well as intriguing.

TV: Miss Scarlet and the Duke, Enola Holmes 2

Naturally drawn to things Victorian, I am watching Miss Scarlet and the Duke on public television and Enola Holmes 2 on Netflix. They are rather similar.

For Miss Scarlet, I first had to get past the name, since with Miss Scarlet I’m thinking either the board game Clue or Gone with the Wind; the Duke is supposedly a nickname for Inspector Wellington but his personality is such that I can’t imagine anyone using a nickname in his presence. Enola Holmes refers to the sister of Sherlock Holmes.

The women in both series are trying to make their way as detectives, which allows for stories that include sexism and the chance to prove themselves. Both women are “strong female protagonists”; they stay true to their own personalities even as they experience some growth as a result of their adventures. The historical accuracy is a bit better in Enola Holmes than in Miss Scarlet, where I’ve winced at a few verbal anachronisms and wondered at some flat painted walls. But from a writer’s perspective, Miss Scarlet has a side character that is worth the whole show: a Jamaican criminal named Moses. While other viewers are no doubt wishing that Miss Scarlet and Inspector Wellington would kiss and get a room, I keep hoping that Miss Scarlet and Moses will set up a business together.

Tidbits on Facebook and Instagram

If you like little tidbits of history, all Victorian, follow me on either Facebook or Instagram: I’ve been posting them there as I find ’em!

This, for example, is the Battersea trial pneumatic railway. It was tested above ground first, where people could see it, before being installed underground to carry mail parcels. It is in just such a mail car that the body is found in my novel.


Haven’t read the first Tommy Jones mystery when the third is being released? That’s OK! Starting today, March 15, Kobo is offering Murder at Old St. Thomas’s e-book at 30% off. Take advantage!

And don’t forget if you like certain genres of books that BookFunnel is having promotions:

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And that’s it till April!