Meet the marvellous Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes

One of the lovely things about this blog is that it lets us share little gems of books which get lost in the whizz and bang and flash of the publishing industry’s publicity. Today I’d like to highlight to you the very finest of the Sherlock Holmes continuations, the Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King.

The premise is that the teenaged Mary Russell, while wandering with her nose in a book, disturbs a shabby middle aged man who is watching some bees collect pollen from a flower. After an argument, they become friends, teacher and apprentice, and finally, husband and wife. The man she has met is the great, though retired, detective, Sherlock Holmes. The Holmes in the Russell stories is a little younger, less depressed, and more feminist than in the originals, but he’s still recognisable. Their adventures take them to America, India and Palestine, following the First World War.

The two things I’d note about this series are that they are suspense stories, not intellectual puzzles as many people assume the Holmes novels to be, and that King plays fairer than Conan-Doyle, who I sometimes feels keeps some of his clues to himself a little more than is strictly fair by modern standards.

If you’d like to dip your toes in the water, the author has the first two chapters of the initial book in the series available through her website. The navigation to them is a little difficult, so here’s a deeplink: http://www.laurierking.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/beekeeper.pdf