Newsletter 15 May

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My Grousable Books newsletter for May 15 comes to you live from England, and includes England events, Magpie Murders on TV, and upcoming book signings. 

Live from England

This newsletter is coming to you directly from England, where I am doing a bit of research and a bit of book marketing. So far my most exciting visit has been to the Clayport Library in Durham, where the librarian was thrilled to accept Murder on the Pneumatic Railway as a library offering. I also brought a copy to Collected, a new bookshop featuring local and female authors, where I purchased a copy of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, a book I’ve never read. I’ve met bookshop owners and left my card.

Much of Pneumatic Railway, a cozy historical mystery, takes place in Victorian-era Durham. I did quite a bit of research, and used real names and addresses from the 1870 Durham Directory to create characters and jobs for Tommy Jones. He has to journey to Durham to bring a witness back to London, and meets a girl there, and . . . well, you’ll just have to read it!

The exact spot where Callum, the homeless man with the dog, sits most days and talks with Tommy, from Murder on the Pneumatic Railway.

I will also sign copies of my book Murder at Old St. Thomas’s in the gift shop at the Old Operating Theatre in London later this week. I’m so looking forward to meeting (in person!) Monica Walker, who invited me to Zoom talk about the book and its connection to the place which inspired it. You can view the talk here.

Oh yes, and Charles Windsor was coronated as King Charles III shortly before I arrived. I was privileged to sing God Save the King with a huge congregation celebrating at Durham Cathedral. I’m a big fan of the King because he’s a big fan of . . .


Without access to my own garden, I bring you the garden from Gresgarth Hall in Lancashire, where garden designer Arabella Lennox-Boyd has created a beautiful place.

Naturally, a great many plants grow here that are difficult if not impossible to grow in water-challenged southern California. It’s surprising how viewing many lovely plants can be followed by grumbling, “but we can’t grow that, of course.” 

Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum)

The trend here for awhile has been letting more places grow naturally. I saw a graveyard today with a sign that said the grass is being allowed to grow all year to create better wildlife habitat. Perhaps weeds need not be seen as weeds, but as a place for bees and bugs to proliferate. Goodness knows we need more bees!

TV: Magpie Murders

Not “The” Magpie Murders, as the victim vehemently insists. He’s the successful author of murder mysteries, but he’s been killed and left an unfinished manuscript, so no one knows whodunnit. The detective he writes about is in the middle of his own similar case.

I read the book when it was published in 2016 because the author was Anthony Horowitz, the genius teleplay writer behind Poirot, Midsomer Murders, Foyle’s War, and New Blood. Unfortunately, I was disappointed in the book–it didn’t seem to have the same life and intensity as his teleplays. 

So it doesn’t surprise me that Magpie Murders is really good television. I confess I did get confused between the 1950s and modern timelines, probably because the same cast plays each ensemble. Right now the show is on the PBS app and other providers. 

Don’t forget June 3

That’s the date for the Once Upon a Book Fair, where it’s my understanding that there will be dragon-led tours through the books (!) and a free book prize to win. I’ll be there with all my books to sign and chat.

On June 10-11, I will be at the California Crime Writer’s Conference, signing my books for other authors and, I’m sure, learning a lot.

That’s all for now! And don’t forget, you can find all the previous Grousable Books newsletters here.