Dressing the part of Murder

One of my favorite times on the recent tour for Murder of Mary Russell was the launch, when friends near and far gathered to celebrate the publication–and to admire the amazing donning of Victorian garb by Caroline Bellios, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Fashion and assistant director of the Fashion Resource Center at SAIC.

I got in touch with Professor Bellios when I was looking for a fun way to launch the book, and a search for Victorian cosplay enthusiasts that began with The Victorian Society of Chicago ended up with a whole lot more.

Professor Bellios started off dressed in her combinations, stockings, and shoes (once you put on a corset, you don’t want to be bending to fasten your shoes…)CB combinations

She laced on her corset with the assistance of her sister, Joanna Bellios Wozniak, playing the role of lady’s maid. First Caroline worked the front hooks of the busk, then let out her breath while the laces in back were drawn tight, after which she could tie the long strings. She noted that those corsets we see in museums, which give rise to the belief that all Victorian women had 20″ waists, would in fact not have been laced all the way together, but instead would be separated by a few inches. (Which may be something of a relief, although that doesn’t account for those tiny shoes one also sees…)

CB corset front fastening

CB corset lacing





CB lacing corset

Then came the petticoat–which in 1879, the year Clara Hudson meets Sherlock Holmes, would have been relatively straight, since the fashion was for the long line rather than the exaggerated hips of the crinoline era.

CB petticoat goind on

CB petticoat

It was followed by the underskirt and the skirt itself, with ruffles (removable for cleaning–the streets were filthy!)

CB overskirt

CB overskirt going on

After the skirts came a many-buttoned bodice

CB fastening bodice

then the jacket with its long, snug sleeves.CB putting on jacket

In 1879, hoops were long gone and even bustles were (temporarily) in abeyance, replaced by ruffles that emphasized the smooth front and dramatic back line of the skirt:CB showing back of skirt

We now added a hat:

..and with a small reticule fastened to her wrist, had the very model of the Victorian lady, out to conquer the world:

CB fully dressed

Professor Bellios even brought a few actual vintage garments, including gorgeously delicate silk 1920s undergarments, and a Victorian corset and pair of bustles, one with wires, the other composed of tightly-stuffed linen rolls (horsehair, probably).bustles

This really was a thrill, and I owe a Victorian boat-load of thanks to Caroline and her sister, to Anderson’s at Naperville, and to long-time friend of Russell and photographic genius John Bychowski, who took all these photos except the last.  (John is also a moderator in the Book Club.)

Finally, if you’d like to add a couple of pages to your meditative coloring book, a page illustrating a lady’s Victorian garments is here, with its 1925 counterpart here.

An everyday god on the road

As you probably know, I’ve been on the road since last Tuesday, talking about The Murder of Mary Russell in a variety of bookstores, tea shops, and even an opera house.
During that time, I’ve also been listening to the talk about it, in person and on Facebook, and I’m so very happy that you’ve been loving it even more than I. A book tour is a strange thing. Airports are diabolical in their ability to play on the nerves, airline apps that work fine one day turn their backs the next. E-boarding passes vanish. One scuffles onto and off of planes, sometimes on the same day–yesterday I landed in Austin at one, did an event for Book People at two, and got back on a plane at five, leaving my poor brain to wonder…What just happened there?
Even stranger is what it does to the self. Fifty weeks a year, I sit in my study and push words around on paper and screen, muttering snippets of dialogue under my breath, breaking off to make a cup of tea or greet the UPS lady in the driveway. I cook dinner, unload the dishwasher, do the laundry, tell myself I really need to mop the floor. Groceries need buying, packages need mailing at the post office, and grandsons demand complicated structures involving pvc pipe and golf balls on the deck.

Then I come on tour, and I’m a god. Beautiful and intelligent young women stand before me with shaking hands and halting tongues, trying to express how much it means to them that I deign to speak my gracious words in their direction. Lawyers and teachers break into smiles and say that they’ve been taking joy in my work since The Beekeeper’s Apprentice came into their hands twenty years before. People at the end of the line bend to unload a vast stack of clearly read and loved books that have been awaiting my signature since the collection began many years before.

And they leave with The Murder of Mary Russell treasured in both hands, as if I’ve given them a gift rather than made them spend $28 for a few hours’ reading.

And all that? It makes the airport hassles vanish in the past.

Contest ending…

Tomorrow is the last day to get me your entries for the obituary/headstone contest, so I have a chance to judge them AND SEND YOU YOUR COPIES OF THE HARDBACK BOOK…Copies Murder

…and one of you an iPad mini (sweet!) before I take off on next week’s (!) book tour (whee–check out the cities here.)

So if you’re eyeing your budget, or bemoaning the length of the request list at your library, here’s your chance to bypass both lines and win a fresh, signed, gorgeous copy all for yourself.

All it takes is a dash of creativity. And you have that, right?

I need Russell’s obituary (dated 1925 if you believe the current title, or… 2018? 2020? 2025?? if you don’t believe it) OR her headstone, with the same date options.  The rules are here, the deadline is midnight tomorrow. Do it now!e-card 1 tyres


For Murder, that’s the ticket!

Murder will be on tour—or at any rate, its author will be—in just a few weeks. And because I’d hate for my faithful followers (that’s you) to get left out, I wanted to point out that some of the events are ticketed. A couple of these are venues that asked me and agreed to wait until the new book came out, and others are fundraisers for excellent causes. So if you’re in one of these places, take a look at their sites for the tickets:

Traverse City, MI, (April 6) the National Writer’s Series

St Louis, MO, (April 7) Meet Me St Louis

Houston, TX: April 11, Murder by the Book Author Luncheon 

(I’m also doing an evening event for MbtB, but don’t worry—I never say the same thing at night that I say during the luncheon!)

Indianapolis, IN: April 15, Christamore House Benefit Luncheon

I should also mention the extra-special launch party Anderson’s in Naperville is holding on April 5. After that ccomes Denver on the 8th (Tattered Cover), then the 9th in Scottsdale’s Poisoned Pen, followed by Austin’s  Book People on the 10th.

Closer to home, I’ll be at Books Inc Alameda on April 16, and on the 20th with my local bookstore, Bookshop Santa Cruz!


Road trip with Laurie! (and a Murdered Mary?)

So here’s me, from April 5 until April 15:2016 tour mapThe Murder of Mary Russell will launch at the amazing and wonderfully warm Anderson’s Books (yay!) in Naperville (near Chicago.) They hosted an event for me a year ago—and made a great video interview. So when I learned that I’d be passing through Chicago, I brought forward my bowl to say, “Please, sir, I want some more?”


No, my publishers aren’t this stern. And booksellers never are.

I’m sure There Will Be Fun at the launch—more when I know what they have planned for us.

Then after Anderson’s, I head back to the airport for (deep breath):

Traverse City

St. Louis








This is in addition to my beloved Bookshop Santa Cruz, and one or two Bay Area venues. (Then at the end of the month, draw another line across the map for the 27th, when I cross to New York for the Edgars, then drop down to DC for Malice Domestic.)

Details of times and places are here.  There’ll be more to come, I’m sure, but I wanted to give you the “save the date” notice while your calendar is still relatively empty…

Book tours & Cons

A funny thing happened on my way to Dreaming Spies


Dreaming Spies low Res JPEG copy






Months and months ago, I said to Random House that I didn’t think a tour was really necessary for this novel, since it would be the first Russell & Holmes in 2 ½ years and people might be interested in it even without the author standing in front of them talking. And they agreed, since after all a tour costs them money that could be spent elsewhere.  So there we were, all nicely agreed, until Pub Day came on Feb 17th and I looked down at the printout of my duties for the month and said to myself, I said, Holy Granola, Batlady, looks like I’m doing a tour after all.

So off I set for Chicago and Houston and Scottsdale and California South and North (lots of North) and then Portland at the end since, well, I was going to be there anyway for Left Coast Crime, and…

All of which means that a month has disappeared on the road, leaving me now holding my skull and wondering what on earth I intended to do with this book I’m supposed to be writing.

Let me be clear: I enjoy touring. Not only is it a huge inflation to the ego to have rooms of people eager to hear what passes for my wisdom

Mission Viejo


while staying in hotels with interesting décorBed foot



but I also get to see the sorts of friends I only catch glimpses of when I go on the road.

Meg Gardiner

Me and Meg Gardiner

In the bar

Also there are a lot of amazingly talented people who come out, some of whom write poems or make sketches about the talk


At Kepler’s with Catriona MacPherson


while others give me presents.


I have a typewriter!

But, maybe next year I’ll keep the travel part down under a month, so I can do less of this


and more of this


If so, will you forgive me?

(Though in the meantime, keep in mind that my events page always has a list of appearances.  At the moment, those include Crimefest in May and BoucherCon in the fall, but we’ll be adding events in England this May: more when I know them.)

Lost grey matter

Since the airlines (one of three) seem to have misplaced Laurie’s brain somewhere between Houston and Los Angeles (or perhaps in Phoenix), Mary Russell’s War will return as soon as the lost brain has been located and delivered to her door.  In the meantime, here’s a picture of yesterday’s fab event put together by the Mission Viejo library, with decorations, two kinds of tea on the tables (English and Japanese) in the appropriate tea pots, and platters of Girl Scout cookies, with tables laid with white cloths by some young volunteers and books schlepped in and sold by San Diego’s great Mysterious Galaxy bookstore.  Thank you, everyone!Image 1

Tour, and toilets!

I hope you’ve managed to get your hands (and your eyes) on a copy of Dreaming Spies?  If not, I’ll be all over in the next couple of weeks, and I’m happy to sign one for you.  All my events are listed here.  Oh, and I should mention that there are still places left at the Chicago University Club luncheon on the 27th, you need to give them a ring (yes, they’re old school) at (847) 446-8880.

Also, there’s a new book(let), something I co-wrote with the Poisoned Pen’s Barbara Peters: m.php

Not in Kansas any more, TOTO

by Laurie R King & Barbara Peters


A cultural exploration of the Japanese bath-room, (toilet and bath)

with side-excursions into shoes, maps, irrigation pipes,

the effects of earthquakes on architecture,

the problems of finding a bed during cherry-blossom time,

and the uncooperative nature of diesel fuel.

A travelogue with a limited point of view, a heavily illustrated anthropological monograph, and really just a fun project that came about when Barbara and I fell in love with Japanese toilets.  We’ll be signing it when I’m in Scottsdale on Saturday, you can order a copy here.

Thurber, Columbus, Columbus

Portland was fabulous, and Seattle was gorgeous, in all ways:image

(Thanks to Meredith T for the photo.)

But the Great Bones of Paris Tour isn’t over yet. Monday, I’m in Ohio’s capital. That’s right, Columbus Day in Columbus, Ohio. I’m speaking at Thurber House, which just tickles me. Long have I lived with the suspicion that Thurber’s granny was right, that electricity does leak out of the sockets when the switches are left on. If it wasn’t some kind of liquid, why would we speak of it as a current?
Anyway, Thurber House invited me and I was very happy to say yes, and if you’d like to join us, they have a few tickets left, here.


bones-of-paris-coverI’ll be in Portland on Thursday night–or rather, Beaverton, at the great Powell’s branch there. I’ve done a number of fabulous events at this store, including a really memorable Pirate bash two years ago. This time, I can’t promise a squadron of pirates, but one never knows. Flappers?  Skeletons?  People wearing Eiffel Tower costumes?

It’s time for The Bones of Paris in Beaverton, come and join us.  Event info is here.