Snafus and Saints: 15 April Grousable Newsletter

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In this issue: Newsletter snafus, The Saint, Astrid, the garden in spring, and author M. Culler.

Newsletter news and snafus

A big thanks to the readers who contact me when the newsletter touches them. I got lots of mail about my poor bees from good-hearted folks who lauded my efforts. Made me feel better about the whole thing!

Now for the snafu. 

Old newsletter design with backgrounds

I’ve also received unhappy notes about the formatting of the newsletter, especially how it looks on phones, or in dark mode, or other viewports where strange things happen: white text on beige background, dark text on the red brocade, etc. I can’t account for it, so I’ve eliminated all the backgrounds.

Yup, we’ve got a plain white newsletter now. I like decoration, but it’s no good if we can’t read it!

Yes, it’s The Saint

Awhile back I was at Footnote Books in San Diego, and picked up an old paperback of The Saint in Europe by Leslie Charteris. Why? Because I like the TV show with Roger Moore, which I watch on occasion. But I’d never read the books.

The Saint books

As you can see here, I’m kinda hooked now. No reason to go elsewhere (it’s one of those fabulous old-fashioned shops with used books piled to the ceiling), so I returned to Footnote and got three more. The first two covers match The Saint in Europe. I could have gotten all matching covers, but that 25 cent Avon paperback was too cool not to buy.

Very few things are “dated”, to my mind, and these stories certainly aren’t. I found surprisingly few anti-female passages (which are common in spy books from this era). In one story I was a bit shocked at The Saint killing someone as coolly as he might order dinner, but overall the stories were varied and interesting. Just when I thought there was a formula, Charteris would break it. 

It’s not surprising, I suppose, that the Saint, a man trying to help people out while he has some fun (and profit) for himself, would still work in our times.

For those who like author notes: Leslie Charteris was half British and half Chinese, so couldn’t establish residency in the U.S. due to the Chinese Exclusion Act. It took an act of Congress to give him and his daughter permission in 1942, one year before the appeal of the Act. Charteris became a U.S. citizen after World War II.

Neurodivergent mystery TV

While fiction and media have always featured neurodivergent characters (Sherlock Holmes counts!), the past decade or so has brought more differently-abled mystery characters to our attention. The most popular literary example might be Nita Prose’s The Maid (which to me seemed to come rather late to the party).

On PBS, there’s Astrid. She’s an adult who’s been dealing with severe social anxiety forever, and her job is designed to keep her from having too much human contact. She knows she’s on the autism spectrum, but has special abilities. She can remember most of the case files she copies in Criminal Records, finding parallels and connections.

Still from Astrid TV show

Her counterpart is a creative and disorganized police detective, and the story is as much about how they work together as it is the mysteries they solve. In French with great subtitles that capture the essence of phrasing, not just the words. Highly recommended. 

The garden in spring

Of course, I don’t have to watch TV, because I can just look out the window. I saw one rabbit jump over another rabbit’s head. They did it three times just for fun. We seem to have a dove ménage-à-trois after a hawk attack took out one of a pair, we have more wrens than usual, and one sparrow spends all day, every day, trying to attract a mate by screaming bloody murder from a nearby tree.

the garden in april

Between the sparrow and my cat, it’s taking a very long time to record the audiobook for Bummer at Luna Beach. Even with my best efforts, those animal sounds sneak in. And some animal sounds I’m putting in on purpose–I’m thinking of having the sound of seagulls between the scenes. They’re French seagulls, so pretend you don’t notice. 

Author of the month: M. Culler

In the middle of each month, I like to share an author whose work I’ve gotten to know or who writes in genres similar to my own. Writers who write well, and whose work I like to read, are highest on my list.

This month I’d like to introduce you to M. Culler, writer of cozy mysteries that are bright and intelligent. Take a look.

M. Culler and her book

Her A New Year’s Cat-aclysm features a feline, of course. The main character is the new owner of an animal shelter, and the biggest donation goes missing. As with many of M. Culler’s books, there’s a bit of romance there, too.

M. also runs the Book Dragons readers group on Facebook. Like me, she writes in several genres. If you like cozy mystery or romance or fantasy, I think you’ll enjoy her books.

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 blog posts on history and writing, or even teaching online? See my Lisahistory blog.

Until next time, keep grousing!

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