Pirate King (2011)

I find myself of mixed mind about this, my eleventh volume of memoirs concerning life with Sherlock Holmes. On the one hand, I vowed when I began writing that the accounts would be complete, that there would be no leaving out failures or slapping wallpaper across our mistakes.

Nonetheless, this is one episode over which I have considerable doubts—not, let us be clear, due to any humiliations on my part, but because I fear that the credulity of many readers will be stretched to the breaking by the case’s intricate and, shall we say, colourful complexity of events.

If that be the case with you, dear reader, please rest assured that for this one volume of the Russell memoirs, you have my full permission to regard it (and alas, by contagion, me) as fiction.

Had I not actually been there, I, too, would dismiss the tale as preposterous.  —MRH


What They Say

Brilliant and beautifully complex, the chronicles of Mary Russell Holmes are told in the voice of their subject, the much younger, highly educated, half-American Jewish wife of Sherlock Holmes. This one’s tangled web includes some very high comedy from Gilbert and Sullivan, pirates, and early moviemaking, Russell finds herself, possibly at the behest of Mycroft Holmes, working for Fflyte Films and on a Mediterranean voyage (in a brigantine!). Her assignment: shepherding a bevy of blonde actresses, their mothers, young British constables, and a handful of men whose dark eyes and darker scars may reflect an unsavory history. Mr. Fflyte, we learn, is making a film about the making a film version of The Pirates of Penzance and wants real pirates, a real ship, and real locales. King rings merry changes on identity, filmmaking, metafiction, and the tendency of each and all to underestimate blondes. Her descriptions of locale are voluptuous, and her continued delineation of the relationship of Russell and Holmes exquisitely portrays the eroticism of intellectual give-and-take. Quotations from Gilbert and Sullivan and the language of sailing ships (take that, Patrick O’Brian!) add to the general, luscious hilarity.   (Booklist starred review)

To Buy a Copy

Bookshop Santa Cruz (ask for a signed copy!)

As an added bonus, the trade paper also includes Beekeeping for Beginners, last summer’s e-novella, in print for the first time!


Watch a video trailer here

For Laurie’s thoughts on writing Pirate King, follow her blog posts on Mutterings, watch the video below to hear her read the introduction, and play along in our Ten Weeks of Laurie ARrrgh! King Festival. (Download a press release with details by clicking here.)

You can hear the book’s intro in Laurie’s talk to the UC Berkeley library, during their Story Hour, starting at the 19:00 point:

Watch the Pirate King trailer: