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Laurie R. King

Updated on October 8, 2012

Laurie R. King--Creator of the Mary Russell Novels Featuring Sherlock Holmes

This lens is intended to highlight the novels of Laurie R. King, especially her Mary Russell novels featuring Sherlock Holmes. King writes beautiful novels that are somewhat difficult to categorize. By different readers, they might be considered mysteries, or suspense novels, or detective fiction. Thus, when a friend described the series to me, I was at first reluctant. I mean who wants to read a hashed attempt at capitalizing on the icon of Sherlock Holmes? I was so wrong! My friend gifted me a copy of the first book, The Beekeeper's Apprentice and I was hooked. Since then I have read all the Mary Russell novels and eagerly await each new one in the series. King has created an entire world inhabited by Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes and somehow makes me believe in it too. A gifted writer, King also has the Kate Martinelli series as well as several stand-alone novels. If you haven't read any of Laurie R. King's books, you are missing a treat!


About the Author

Laurie R. King (1952- ) is an American author best known for her detective fiction. Among her books are the Mary Russell series of historical mysteries, featuring Sherlock Holmes as her mentor and later partner, and a series featuring Kate Martinelli, a fictional lesbian San Francisco, California, police officer.

King's books have received numerous awards beginning with her first book, A Grave Talent , published in 1993 which received the 1994 Edgar Award for Best First Novel. She has also been awarded a John Creasey Memorial Award in 1995 and a Nero Award in 1996 for A Monstrous Regiment of Women, and the 2002 Macavity Award for Best Novel, for Folly.

King's educational background (an undergraduate degree in comparative religion and and a Master's degree in Old Testament Theology) is evident in the Mary Russell novels where Mary pursues religous studies. King is a long-time resident of the Santa Cruz, California area.

Q & A with Laurie R. King

This is a very interesting (and amusing) question and answer session with Laurie R. King in which she addresses the question of where she got the idea of writing about Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. The wit with which she answers questions helps explain to me why I find her books so enjoyable.

Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Mysteries - My favorite Laurie King series

In this series Mary Russell (introduced in The Beekeeper's Apprentice) meets the retired Sherlock Holmes in 1915. She becomes his apprentice and, as the series develops, covering the teens and twenties, also becomes his partner in both work and life. Mary is the focus of the series, but Holmes and the relationship between the two adds a fascinating layer to these intriguing and well plotted suspense novels. The most recent book in this series is The God of the Hive, although Pirate King is due out in September 2011. Recently I re-read (I know--not everyone does that) several of the books in the series and was reminded why I like these books so much! Now I can hardly wait to read Pirate King. ( I preordered it from Amazon this weekend). {Update--Got Pirate King in, read it and loved it}.

Note: King's twelfth Mary Russell novel, Garment of Shadows came out September, 2012. I have just ordered it and am looking forward to reading it. Early reviews I have read are mixed, although I read part of the book online at Amazon and I was certainly hooked enough to buy it! Update will follow as soon as the book comes in.

The Beekeeper's Apprentice (1994)

A Monstrous Regiment of Women (1995)

A Letter of Mary (1997)

The Moor (1998)

*O Jerusalem (1999)

Justice Hall (2002)

The Game (2004)

Locked Rooms (2005)

The Language of Bees (2009)

The God of the Hive (2010)

Pirate King (2011)

Garment of Shadows (2012)

  • *(Although written fourth in the series sequence, the events in this book actually take place during the latter part of those described in The Beekeeper's Apprentice).

The First Mary Russell Novel

The Beekeeper's Apprentice: or, On the Segregation of the Queen (A Mary Russell Mystery)
The Beekeeper's Apprentice: or, On the Segregation of the Queen (A Mary Russell Mystery)

While any of the Laurie King books can stand alone, this series is best appreciated by beginning with the first book. I loved this book and think you will too.


God of the Hive--A Summary from Laurie R. King's Website

Russell and Holmes have worked together to solve the most perplexing of cases. Now, The God of the Hive picks up where The Language of Bees left off: with the duo and those they are protecting scattered to the winds, Scotland Yard after them from one side and a shadowy faction of the government from the other-in rickety airplanes above Scotland and on boats in the North Sea; in hidden rooms above London shops and rustic woodland cabins. Chased by those who want them dead, chasing answers...


The Kate Martinelli Series

King's other series concerns San Francisco homicide inspector Kate Martinelli, a fictional lesbian San Francisco policer officer. The books also include recurring characters including Kate's SFPD partner Al Hawkin, and her life partner Lee Cooper. King's Kate Martinelli books include the following:

A Grave Talent (1993)

To Play the Fool (1995)

With Child (1996)

Night Work (2000)

The Art of Detection (2006)

Non-Series Books by Laurie R. King

Her "Stand-Alone" Novels

A Darker Place (1999)

Folly (2001)

Keeping Watch (2003)

Touchstone (2007)

*Califia's Daughters (written as Leigh Richards) (2004) is a futuristic novel, and very different from her other work.

Laurie R. King Books

Garment of Shadows, published in September, 2012, features a concussed Mary separated from Holmes, while each works separately to solve a complicated and dangerous situation in Morocco. (Click on the book on Amazon and you can read the beginning of the book there by using the "inside this book" feature....and then if you're like me you'll have to know what happens next and end up buying it!)

Any comments or suggestions are welcome!

Are you a Laurie R. King fan? - Reader Feedback

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      Li-Li-ThePinkBookworm 5 years ago

      I love the Mary Russell series. My favorite book in it is The Pirate King, just because it was a terrific adventure and suspense story. Great lens, a good overview of the author's work.

      Li Li