Mary Russell

Created by Laurie R. King

I’ve always been a bit leery of delving too far into Sherlockania on this site, what with its endless mutilations, permutations and pastiches; since that’s a rabbit hole from which there’s little chance of escape.

But Laurie R. King’s outstanding series featuring MARY RUSSELL is just too well-written, important and influential and just damn enjoyably original to ignore any longer.

It all kicks off in the audacious series debut, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (1994), with one of the great meet-cutes of detective fiction. It’s in the early years of World War One, and Sherlock Holmes, of course, has famously retired to Sussex, where he intends to devote the rest of his life to studying bees.

Then along comes precocious young Mary, a gangly, fifteen year-old American orphan chuffing under the rule of her dour Briitsh aunt with whom she’s staying, who literally stumbles over a prone Holmes who’d been out on the Downs looking for wild bees.

Soon impressed by the young woman’s obvious savvy and acumen (if not a bit put off by her cheek and her walking skills) the notoriously cranky old bugger takes the girl under his wing, encouraging her in her academic studies at Oxford and more important in developing her natural detective abilities which Holmes quickly realizes may rival his own. She becomes, in other words, the beekeeper’s apprentice.

Throughout the many books in the series, the friendship grows into a true relationship, and Mary moves in with Holmes and the eternal Mrs. Hudson. Dr. Watson is a frequent visitor, Mycroft drops by now and then, and other references to the canon and surprise visitors pop up on a regular basis. As does, of course, various instances of theft, blackmail, robbery, assorted treachery and of course murder, all of which must be attended to by the detecting couple.

By the time Mary and Holmes get married, it no longer seems as weird (or downright creepy, given that Holmes at the time was — according to canon — at least 45 years older) as it might. Thanks to King’s considerable writing chops and deft characterization, the marriage seems not just right but inevitable.

NOVELS

SHORT STORIES

  • “Beekeeping for Beginners” (April 2012, digitalBuy the audio Kindle it!
  • “Mary’s Christmas” (2014)
  • “The Marriage of Mary Russell” (March 2016, digitalBuy the audio Kindle it!
  • “Mary Russell’s War”
  • “Mrs Hudson’s Case”
  • “Birth of a Green Man”
  • “A Venomous Death”
  • “My Story”
  • “A Case in Correspondence”
  • “Stately Holmes”
  • “The Customer” (2017, Bound by Mystery)

COLLECTIONS

NON-FICTION

  • Laurie R. King’s Sherlock Holmes (2013) Kindle it!
    A digital collection of eight essays and other bits and pieces by King on the Great Detective and his world.
  • The Mary Russell Companion (2014) Kindle it!
    At times scholarly and at other times tongue-in-cheek look at Sherlock and Mary’s world, including everything from Sherlockian hotshot Leonard Klinger’s annoted comments on The Beekeeper’s Apprentice to the floor plan of the Holmes/Russell residence.
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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