Sunday, May 21, 2006

Laurie R. King's latest Kate Martinelli hardcover THE ART OF DETECTION is in the stores, and her previous one, from her Mary Russell series

is just out in paperback. Here's some of what I said when it first appeared:
"His greying hair and coat-tails tossed wildly in the wind as he continued to scan the rocks, and Holmes found himself muttering under his breath: 'Hammett, it must be damned cold out on that exposed rock; this won't be doing your lungs a bit of good.' "
How does Laurie R. King keep her series about Mary Russell, a young American woman who meets and marries a much older Sherlock Holmes when the detective has ostensibly retired to the country to keep bees, so fresh and strong? Inventing wonderful moments like this one is part of the answer. Hammett is Dashiell, the tubercular ex-Pinkerton agent now pursuing his writing career in San Francisco, and Holmes has hired him to help look into an event that has shaped Russell's life and now haunts her dreams.
Recent books in the Mary Russell series seem to have been trying to improve on Conan Doyle's hopes of leaving Holmes behind on Baker Street while the author went on to wider adventures in the world in other books without his famous detective. Ironically, King now returns Russell to the obsessively personal world of the early Holmes stories, adding a depth of art and imagination Sir Arthur never exhibited.