It’s all systems go at the seaside as I put the final touches to Blackmail In Bloomsbury, ready for launch next month. The book is back from the proof-reader; I’ve sent copies to the book bloggers for review and – most exciting of all – I’ve finally held a copy in my hands. No matter how many books I publish (and this is number five) nothing beats seeing your words down on paper in a ‘proper’ book for the first time!
You can pre-order Blackmail In Bloomsbury today!
And onto the next…
In August I dived into writing the first draft of the next Marjorie Swallow murder mystery, The Soho Jazz Murders. I absolutely love this part of writing; when the story is fresh in your mind and you have the fun of introducing the characters that have popped into your head, creating the settings and making sure all the elements needed are in place. I’m more than halfway through the first draft now.
Research for this book has been exciting. I’ve read about 1920s nightclubs, flappers, early jazz musicians and organised crime. I’ve enjoyed learning some of the slang of the era – my favourite is the phrase ‘giggle juice’ for booze! I can certainly relate to that after a glass or two of my sleuth Mrs Jameson’s favourite cocktail, the French 75 (recipe below).
So what is the story about? Well, I don’t want to give away spoilers but it involves Freddie the pianist, the American ambassador’s wayward niece, and Marjorie going ‘undercover’ as a dance hostess in a Soho nightclub on the trail of a drugs gang. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Recommendations: books, blogs and booze
Did you know that Dorothy L Sayers, one of the greats of ‘Golden Age’ crime fiction, worked in advertising? The wit and wordplay of copywriting obviously stood her in good stead. It also provided the setting for one of her most enjoyable novels, Murder Must Advertise. I read it for the first time recently and was blown away by its contrasting witty tone and dark subject matter. I found it completely gripping and loved the pin-sharp dissection of the work of an advertising agency.
I read it on the recommendation of Kate Jackson, a prolific blogger about classic crime and author of the entertaining-sounding British Library book How To Survive A Classic Crime Novel. I’m a big fan of the British Library’s crime books, so I’ll be picking up a copy next time I’m there for research. Kate also wrote a very funny blog post, Dorothy L Sayers Guide to Amateur Sleuthing, which you might enjoy.
My version of the French 75 comes from Cecil Beaton’s Cocktail Book, a splendid publication which kept me amused during those long evenings of lockdown. As well as delightful recipes to try, it includes lots of inspiring photographs of the Bright Young Things photographed by Beaton in his studio. As the book says, the French 75 is ‘a beautifully straightforward sweet and sour combination, with a charge of gin and a bubbling fuse of champagne leading to a kick likened to the French 75 field gun.’
Here’s how: Shake 25ml gin, 20ml lemon juice, 10ml sugar syrup together and fine strain into a champagne flute, then top up with champagne and garnish with a lemon twist. Cheers!