Vanishing shorts

Two weeks from today, on Feb 1, a number of my e-short stories will be coming down, vanishing, going underground (except, of course, if they’re already on your reader.) king_beeke_9780345529930_h-203x300These stories won’t be for sale again until Random House publishes my collection of Russell & Holmes tales in October (as an ebook, though possibly, eventually, as a print book as well. We don’t have a contract for that yet.)

The e-stories going out of, er, print (?) on February 1 are:

Russell’s War

Mary’s Christmas

Mrs Hudson’s Case (Kindle, Nook, and other)

Beekeeping for Beginners

Cover-5-201x300My other self-published shorts won’t change: Mila’s Tale, The Mary Russell Companion, Laurie R. King’s Sherlock Holmes, My Thesis Being…, and Hellbender will all remain for sale as ebooks (and, in the case of the Sherlock Holmes essays, in print.)

Got it?  Good.

Matters Unspoken? (My blushes!)

In the twenty years since The Beekeeper’s Apprentice introduced Mary Russell to the world, many questions have been raised about the good lady, and about her relationship with Sherlock Holmes, her religious beliefs, her Oxford college, what kind of car she drives—and just where on the Sussex Downs is that house of hers, anyway? 

In a fervent (if tongue in cheek) commitment to the Game, and in celebration of the anniversary, this year I assembled all those questions and more under one electronic roof.  Some of them get answered; others merely discussed.

Such as: Mary Russell’s sex life.

On Matters UnspokenHolmes & basket chair

One element of the Russell & Holmes memoirs that excites considerable interest among her readers is the question of the marital relations between the principals.  Generally speaking, Russell is decorous when it comes to personal revelation, although she does admit (A Letter of Mary) that Holmes is “as energetic and scrupulously attentive to detail in the physical aspects of marriage as ever he was in an investigation or laboratory experiment”, then adds that he was “not otherwise a man demonstrative of his affections.”  In Locked Rooms, Russell says that not only was she “well matched mentally” to Holmes, she was also “well suited physically, to a man who interested my intellect, challenged my spirit and roused my passions.”

He brushes her hair.  He sits beside her and fiddles with her fingers.  And that is as steamy as the Memoirs get. 


If you’d like to read more about the Russell Memoirs’ “Game”, 

The Mary Russell Companion is available here.


A Case in Companionship (4)

In a discussion of how Laurie King came to publish Miss Russell’s Memoirs, “A Case in Correspondence” came to light. This series of postcards, letters, and newspaper clippings culminates with a postcard written by Miss Russell to her new literary agent, Laurie R. King, in 1992: a card that led to the eventual publication of the Memoirs, albeit as fiction.


CinC 20

And the card’s transcription:

19 May 1992

Dear Ms King,

I enclose the attached with the trunk of my memoirs, that you might understand something of its history. The Goodman case shook the Intelligence community 68 years ago. As these varied correspondences show, its effects still reverberate through the corridors of power. Thus, I would strongly urge upon you the solution offered by the Oxford friend referred to in the communications: that this volume be published as fiction. Personally (although our current Prime Minister would disagree) I suspect any readers of my memoirs will be too intelligent to fall for the ruse.

It rankles, to imagine my autobiography being published as mere entertainment, however I agree that in this one case, the world may not be ready for the truth about Mycroft’s organisation.  And if I may make a further suggestion? A whimsical title might be only appropriate. Something along the lines of, The Green Man, perhaps?




For the complete “Case in Correspondence”, 

The Mary Russell Companion is available here.


A Case in Companionship (3)

“A Case in Correspondence” is a series of twenty postcards, letters, and newspaper clippings dating to 1992.  The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, the first Russell Memoir, was published two years later.  This collection of correspondence, along with the previously published “My Story”, explain how Laurie R. King came to have Miss Russell’s multi-volume autobiography–although neither story explains adequately why the Memoirs appeared as fiction..


CinC 16






For the rest of “A Case in Correspondence”, as well as discussions about the Memoirs being categorized as fiction, The Mary Russell Companion is available here.


A Case in Companionship (2)

A frequent question in Laurie R. King’s email and events is, “How come you’re taking credit for Mary Russell’s Memoirs?”  “My Story”  began the explanation, and “A Case in Correspondence” continues it, with postcards, letters, and newspaper clippings dating to 1992.  It would be 18 years before The God of the Hive saw publication, but the epistolary evidence behind events in that story is contained in this set of twenty documents, such as this one from the Times “agony” column:


CinC 13


“A Case in Correspondence” is included in The Mary Russell Companion, here.


The backstory: A Case in Companionship (1)

For the question of how Laurie King came to publish Miss Russell’s Memoirs, “A Case in Correspondence” is essential reading: a series of postcards, letters, and newspaper clippings dating to 1992.  Along with “My Story” (see yesterday’s blog post) the two additions to the Russell Memoirs go far to explain the eventual publication of the Memoirs, albeit as fiction..

This series of twenty documents begins, innocently enough, with a post card from Miss Russell to her missing husband:CinC 1


3 May 1992

Holmes—I trust you reached home without difficulty, following my crass abandonment of you on the banks of the Thames.  As I expected, I had no problem creating the façade of aged and infirm old woman—one of my rescuers even insisted on pressing a £5 note into the cabbie’s hand. I will be here at the Vicissitude for two or three days, completing that research the Americans interrupted.  If you wish anything from Town, a note will reach me in the usual way. R

PS. I discovered a box of ancient postal cards behind the shot-gun shells in the Brompton Road bolt-hole, which I am appropriating for the purpose.  Do you never clear anything out?


The complete “Case in Correspondence” is in The Mary Russell Companion, here.


The backstory: My Story

“My Story”, a short story included in its entirety in The Mary Russell Companion, is the first part of the tale of how Laurie King came to have (and publish) the Russell Memoirs as novels. This excerpt (episode 9) also makes reference to a dwelling that will play a large role in next February’s Dreaming Spies:

My Story: episode 9

The house in Oxford to which we retreated was in the northern district of the town, a tree-studded neighbourhood of large brick houses inhabited by dons and their families. It is close enough to town that a stroll to the Bodleian and Radcliffe libraries, even with an arm full of books, is a pleasant interlude; it is far enough from the centre that the wrangle of bells on a Sunday morning is amusing, not headache-inducing.

My house is like its fellows from the outside, with high walls on all sides, a spacious gravel drive at the front, and a narrow turret glued onto one corner. The house and its garden are too nondescript for any passer-by to bother with a second glance, and as far as the neighbours are concerned, the owner is an independent older woman who spends much of her live travelling and working on her academic studies, which (it being Oxford) could be Romanian campanology or liver flukes of the upper Nile.

Many, many years before, Holmes had arrived at my student flat through an upper window, setting off an elaborate and circuitous traverse of Oxford’s roof-tops in the snow.  Fortunately for us, this time I was permitted to drive through the elaborate and circuitous city roads in the actor’s Mercedes.


If you’d like to read more about the Russell Memoirs, The Mary Russell Companion

is available here.


The back story: a Companion

In the twenty years since the publication of the first Mary Russell memoir, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, many questions have been raised about that mysterious and previously unknown partner of Sherlock Holmes.  Not the least of those questions has been: So why on earth are the books published as Laurie King novels? 

Now, The Mary Russell Companion endeavors to provide something of an answer:  

Laurie R. King, literary agent?


The Mystery of the Russell Memoirs


Being short tales of revelation,

deduction, and befuddlement

The all-important question is this: Are the Russell tales the memoirs of an elderly woman with an implausibly thrilling life, or novels by Laurie King?  If they are in fact novels, all well and good—but if these books are actual autobiography, why is Ms King publishing them as if they were her own?

My Story

Beginning in 2009, the fifteenth anniversary of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, a series of posts on Mary Russell’s blog set out to unravel the story of how the manuscripts came to Ms. King—although perhaps “unravel” is not quite the right word, since the questions her posts introduced only added to the overall mystery.

A Case in Correspondence

The following year, King unveiled a collection of correspondences that had been sent her, which included vintage post cards, letters and carbon copies of letters, a telegram, and two newspaper clippings.  Many of these pieces of correspondence appear to have been either placed in envelopes that were later lost (unlikely, given the otherwise complete nature of the collection) or else delivered by hand.  The use of couriers may be understandable, when one considers the momentous gravity of the matters at stake.


For more about Mary Russell and her Memoirs, The Mary Russell Companion

is available here.


Companion to Bees

An interesting aspect of  having a long-lived and highly detailed series of stories about a set of characters is how those characters take on lives of their own in the eyes of their readers–even if they don’t belong to an already established world such as that of Sherlock Holmes.  Circles within circles take form: Laurie King writes a novel about Mary Russell; Mary Russell expresses her bemusement about being taken as a fictional character; Mary Russell becomes rather more real in the minds of her readers than her “author” Laurie King.

Areas of overlap with “the Game” of ardent Sherlockians inevitably occur.  Such as, the personal and unexplained history of the Great Detective: 

The Language of Bees

Scopes monkey trial and Sister Aimee in America; Naturalists and Spiritualism; Houdini and fairy photographs and Ouija boards.

The Twenties are a long way from the world Holmes was born into.  A man his age has gone from gas lamps to neon lights; lantern slides to moving pictures; hansom cabs to aerial bomber planes: Victoria’s stiff upper lip has a joke moustache drawn on it.  In the Twenties, world has learned to speak the language of Surrealism—a language with roots in confusion and a vocabulary forged under the trauma of the Front.


And Holmes own son, it turns out, is among the most fluent speakers of this new tongue.  Damian Adler is a Surrealist artist.  A man who glories in confusion, who welcomes chaos and repudiates the analytical.  A man with almost nothing in common with Sherlock Holmes…except for their blood that runs in their veins.


If you’d like to read more about the Russell Memoirs “Game”, The Mary Russell Companion

is available here.


Russell Swag

At long last, by popular request: new Russell swag on the Cafepress store.

The Mary Russell Companion t-shirts, mugs, iPad cases, and Other Stuff:

All about the world’s greatest detective

…and her husband, Sherlock Holmes.

Maybe your companion dog needs a Companion Shirt?


Or you just want to be cool with water from a Dreaming Spies flask that will make all your friends jealous:

dreaming_spies_stainless_steel_water_bottleThe Laurie R. King Cafepress store, here: because everyone should own something that makes them smile.