Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Guest Post: Bembridge House, A well-preserved Queen Anne Victorian by Janet Elizabeth Lynn, Co-Author of Slick Deal

On the eve of the New Year, 1956, oil tycoon, Oliver Wright dies suspiciously at a swanky Hollywood New Years Eve party. Some think it was suicide.

His death is soon followed by threats against the rest of his family.

Private Investigator Skylar Drake and his partner Casey Dolan are hired by an L.A. gangster to protect the family and solve Oliver’s mysterious death.

Clues lead them to Avalon, on Santa Catalina Island, a Hollywood movie star playground.

A high profile scandal, mysterious women, treason and more deaths complicate matters, putting Drake and his partner in danger.

Twenty-three miles may not seem far away but false identity and corruption on this island could squash their efforts to answer the question—How in the world can a dead man commit suicide?

Bembridge House,
A well-preserved Queen Anne Victorian

My husband, Will Zeilinger and I co-write the Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series, a hardboiled series that takes the reader to 1950s Los Angeles and other areas of the west. Our new book, SLICK DEAL, begins News Year's Eve 1956 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The first murder and clues lead to Avalon, Catalina.

It was vital that we find the right house for the Wright Family, a long time resident of Long Beach, and Pasadena with a summer house in Avalon. Their wealth affords them mansion type homes in the three cities. The Wright "summer cottage" as they call it, is a three story mansion situated in the heart of Avalon. Since their house rivals the Wrigley Manor on the hills overlooking Avalon, we had to find something to go by. We searched for Victorian mansions and found the perfect place, Bembridge House in Long Beach. While researching the house, we discovered the last owner and last of the family line was murdered on the property. How apropos!

We took a tour of the house during the holiday season. The house had a parlor, sitting room, formal dining room, morning room and a music room. Perfect for various scenes in the book. And...a carriage house, perfect for intrigue.

The house was built in 1906 by Stephen and Josephine Green. He was one of the founders of City National Bank, a wealthy businessman who came to Long Beach from Seattle. Green planted exotic shrubs and flowers around the house, he also built an aviary for his collection of foreign birds and a barn where he kept Shetland ponies.

Thomas Rankin purchased the house in 1918 following Green's death. The house remained in the Rankin family for more than 80 years. After the death of Thomas Rankin, the house was inherited by his children, Dorothy Bembridge and Neil Rankin.

Dorothy Bembridge was a musician and a Long Beach school teacher until her retirement in 1968.
Bembridge lived in the house starting in 1918. In 1969, the house was threatened with demolition when the City of Long Beach sought to expand the adjacent Drake Park. Historical preservationists lobbied to save the structure, and eventually won. The Long Beach Cultural Heritage Committee designated Bembridge House as a Long Beach Historic Landmark in 1981.

In 1999, at age 89, Bembridge was strangled at the house. Her body was found in the backyard. Daniel William Borunda, a 51-year-old man who had done odd jobs for Bembridge and had spent time in prison for burglarizing her home in 1990. He was convicted of Bembridge's murder and sentenced to 60-years-to-life in prison. Borunda was released from prison in October 1999, a few weeks before the murder. Police asserted that the motive was burglary and revenge.

We of course used our literary license and moved the Bembridge House to Catalina Island for the story.

Website: Janet Elizabeth Lynn www.janetlynnauthor.com
Website: Will Zeilinger www.willzeilingerauthor.com

Published authors Will Zeilinger and Janet Lynn write individually until they got together and created the Skylar Drake Mystery Series. These hard-boiled tales are based in old Hollywood of 1955. Janet has published seven mystery novels and Will has three plus a couple of short stories. Their world travels have sparked several ideas for murder and crime stories. This creative couple is married and live in Southern California.

The next Skylar Drake Mystery, fourth in the series, SLICK DEAL will be available April 16, 2018 and yes...we are still married!

1 comment:

Janet Lynn said...

Thank you for hosting us on your blog, Cheryl. It looks great! Janet