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A Letter of Mary


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About the Author

Laurie King is a third-generation native of San Francisco, but since her marriage to an Anglo-Indian profesor she has lived briefly on five continents. She and her husband have two children and now live mostly in California.


YA‘As this latest Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes escapade opens, the happy couple is settled in a cottage in Sussex. It is now 1923, and Mary and her husband set out to find the assumed murderers of her dear friend Dorothy Ruskin, an archaeologist working in Palestine at the beginning of the Zionist movement. The detectives employ all of the old tools of analysis, disguise, and reasoning for which Holmes is so well known to solve the puzzle. This story contains as much, if not more, of the wit and intelligence of The Beekeeper's Apprentice (1994) and A Monstrous Regiment of Women (1995, both St. Martin's), as well as a fully developed relationship between the partners. King continues to provide period details and she maintains the integrity of Holmes's character as established by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is as good or better than the first and hopefully a harbinger of more well-constructed and literate adventures featuring this unusual but highly involving twosome. The mystery is well developed and the history and feelings of the time are evoked with much skill. A sure hit with previous fans and a fine introduction to a dynamic duo.‘Susan H. Woodcock, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA

'Crime fiction's most unlikely but utterly credible romance Laurie King is the most interesting writer to emerge on the American crime fiction front in recent years' Val McDermid (of The Beekeeper's Apprentice) 'An inventive variation on the Sherlock Holmes myth' Time Out

King set a new paradigm for Holmesian scholarship with her inspired invention of a retired, still energetic Sherlock Holmes who trained young Mary Russell in The Beekeeper's Apprentice (1994) and then embraced her as a professional partner and wife (A Monstrous Regiment of Women, 1995). This third in the series, set in 1923, involves the suspicious death of Dorothy Ruskin, an amateur archeologist recently returned from Palestine, who gave Mary, an academic theologian, a letter dated about A.D. 70 written by "Mariam the Apostle" to her sister in Magdala. Mary Magdalene? An Apostle? Holmes and "Mrs. Sherlock," as Lord Peter Wimsey addresses her in a funny cameo, collaborate. Red herrings define the political and cultural climate: a retired colonel's opposition to women's suffrage; Dorothy's interest in Zionism; the British Near East scholar/spy network; the tumultuously upsetting implications of the letter for organized Christianity. The investigation also includes the Ruskin family. King's achievement is her depiction of the complex relationship between two individualists. Almost 40 years apart, they're fondly indulgent of one another's idiosyncrasies and share intellectual camaraderie, companionable humor and sexual attraction. While Sherlock delivers ongoing tutelage in arcane clue analysis, Mary hypnotizes a witness to prod her memory. If you can't imagine the misogynist Sherlock Holmes sharing domestic bliss, this novel will make you a believer. Major ad/promo; author tour; paperback rights: Bantam; audio rights: Durkin Hayes and Recorded Books.(Jan.)

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