Letters from… fans??

Well, how would YOU answer this? In a way Miss Manners would approve?

“For some time I resisted buying The Art of Detection because I was afraid it was a mere spin-off, an attempt to use in another way research already used. I broke down, however, and—trusting the author—bought the CDs.

“Not only is it a mere spin-off as described above; it blatantly advocates for alternative lifestyles, an attitude that cannot be said to have complete acceptance in our culture. It is one thing to have a crime as the structural necessity for a mystery novel; it is another to advocate—through the protagonist—for something may feel is unacceptable, without any warning to the reader.

“Justice Hall included a situation that didn’t quite overwhelm the story, although I wouldn’t recommend that book. I have come to expect that in order to sell a book these days an author may feel it necessary to have some deplorable pages, such as the description of the toy room in The Game….

“Nothing on your websites or book jackets would have warned me away from the Kate Martinelli series. I didn’t read them before because I thought the dipicted [sic] language of the SP police might be a bit rough; indeed that was terrible in The Art of Detection. I know enough now to warn my like-minded friends, but caveat emptor aside, in the future I think a little common courtesy is called for, something like ‘for our friends who are sympathetic to alternative lifestyles.’

“Perhaps Ms. King would defend herself by recalling the advocacy of Dickens and others for social change…. Today’s moral quagmires are of an entirely different order, and it is truly possible to offend the reader and—in this case—take advantage of him or her.

“From now on, I will examine new L R King novels first in the library and advise my like-minded friends to do the same.”


  1. Hmm. Seems to me the commentor’s grasp of history leaves a bit to be desired. To pontificate that “Today’s moral quagmires are of an entirely different order…” (than those of Dicken’s times) seems ill informed, at least, and more than a bit histrionic to sniff that presenting the *fact* of a happily coupled pair of women is more horrible than putative child slavery, horrific conditions in most factories, pollution worse than we see today in many major cities, etc. I suppose Dickens was merely employing artistic license calling it “The best of times, and the worst of times”.
    On another note – I’m home fighting off a fever and nagging cough, and spent the last couple of hours happily re-devouring “Folly”. Though I love Kate and Lee, Rae Newbourne is my empathetic favorite. I’m a clinical social worker, and my heart goes out to her struggle against depression. (Really astonishing depictions of the mind numbing fear and panic of paranoia and psychosis, and of the “how can I trust anything if I can’t trust my mind?” despair). I am also a woodworker, and I drool at both her collection of Japanese chisels (I have only a few) and her artistic vision. Comparing the characters of Zebrawood and teak, indeed!! My fantasy character short story pairing has Rae, Lee, Kate and Vaun Adams having dinner. And many pages of wonderful conversation…

    Thank you – again – for many hours of excellent reading.
    “Ignore the ignorant.”


  2. birddogmom says:

    Oh, please – If something offends one’s sensibilities – then don’t continue reading! All of Laurie’s books are entertaining and well-researched. And they are FICTION! There are books that I don’t finish for whatever reason and I have never felt compelled to write to the author. I have written letters for things I have truly enjoyed reading and several of those letters were to Laurie.

  3. What a hoot! Thanks for posting. Even my 80+ year old mom is well aware of gay life (lives in the DEEP south, religious). And while “its not for her”, she willingly reads books with gay characters, as well as bums, bootleggers, spinsters, bank robbers, killers, strippers, and every so often a real minority character!! I think you have lots of options provided here, so I won’t add what I would do! (might start with a match!!)

  4. What fun! Laurie has sent all we children off to the den with a truly engaging puzzel. I believe it even rivals the ‘sex’ post of some while back for numbers of comments.

    Let’s see;


    according to the OED, discuss or dispute about an issue

    debating point: an inessential matter used to gain advantage in a debate.

    no where in the definition does it ever suggest that maligning an individual is part of the debating process.

    in fact the word above it is malicious which seems more to the point of our dear critical letter writer who is providing us with such grist.

    I’m reminded of the days (thankfully long past) when we in the gay community were ‘debating’ the man/boy love group.

    no debate folks, an adult perpetrating anything on a minor is NOT alright.

    goodness knows we all are guilty of it at some time, adult abuse of a dependant being, never mind the age or species, but the honest among us do not tout it as something worthy of debate. We seek to modify our behavior.

    Still in all, these kinds of issues presented in an abusive manner, clearly sparks us all…some to outrage, some to the moral high ground, some to intellectual meanerings.

    Yet I do so tire of listening to the what other 90% who wish we could all be hard wired the same.

    I truly can’t ever remember once proslatizing to a straight person to ‘try’ being gay…well OK once when I was enamored with a straight woman in my youth, a not uncommon senario when first coming out. She demured without losing her cool. Nor did I imply that her orientation was bad, wrong, a mistake, or harmful and I went on to locating like minded folks.

    Settled on one, for 24 years now.

    I mean REALLY can we not let each other be.

    When no harm is being done…I guess that is the oppositon’s position is it not, that harm is being done…

    This post reminds me of the one about the gay pride demonstration in the Islamic land…culturally misplaced? Maybe, still we are everywhere and and have as much right as the next culture.

    Then there is leaving cultural practices alone when we are not of that culture, hmmmm?

    That’s a hard one especially when said practices do clearly cause physical harm, I’m thinking of female child mulitation here.

    What ever is the answer, answers?

    more debate, why not?

    and thanks Laurie once again for yet another hot topic.


  5. Responding to the query about why should the Library of Congress include “Lesbians fiction” as a subject heading: as it was my reply to the letter posted, in retrospect it seems easy to interpret my remarks about the subject heading as a need for a warning.

    I actually don’t like the subject headings assigned to fiction, or at least the ones that say, for instance, detectives England. Subject headings with the names of the detective can be useful. Let’s face it, detectives England, or detectives female England seem too general to be helpful. But, then, sometimes someone does want to see everything available in a library with a female detective. Or a lesbian. Laurie’s correspondent could benefit from that by avoiding such books, if there were a subject heading. But others could benefit from finding books easily.

    In many areas of the country, a person seeking fiction with primarily gay or lesbian characters might not feel comfortable asking a librarian if there were any such books in the library. A subject heading would be useful, and comparable to headings for ethnic/religious groups (african-americans fiction, jews fiction.)

    And, yes, I know — no subject headings for heterosexuals fiction, so one with Gays or lesbians does seem perhaps a way of indicating otherness. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do.

    In terms of a book jacket, I would have thought that mentioning Kate’s sexual orientation on the inner book jacket summary would be a sales tool, but perhaps not.

  6. I find it interesting that so many of us feel the writer of the letter is a male. I’ve read the post a couple of times, and I don’t see any gender identification, although I, too, feel the writer is a male. Did I miss some gender id in it?

  7. Hmm! it struck me as odd that the last poster thought most of us assumed the poster is a male – I actually assumed s/he is female..!
    So, hmm…
    I think it’s the tone… but what about it, I don’t really know…


  8. I also thought it was a female writer, also not sure why…maybe just don’t like the thought of having to share LRK with guys 🙂

    Seriously, does anyone know the female/male proportion of LRK readers? Or if it’s very different for the Russell series, the Martinelli series, and the other books?

  9. Marianne McA says:

    I checked the book’s blurb, and it doesn’t say anything about Kate’s sexuality [though I’m still mystified by the comment ‘devoted Russell readers will know… the core story really was written by Doyle’]. However, this website does make reference to the fact Kate is gay.

  10. I presumed the writer was a woman.. I even have a very graphic picture of her in my mind. Complementary to her in some ways, but rather rigid in her posture. Hmmmmmmmmmmm. Will this never end?

  11. YourFireAnt says:

    Something like:

    “Dear reader, I have read your letter and got a brief impression of things you might like/not like in a book. Why don’t you write it? and send it to a publisher.

    Good luck.

    yours, &c. “


    p.s. THIS (i.e., me) reader has read all your Holmes books at least 3x each, and is probably going to go into withdrawal if she has to wait until 2008 for another. ;-(

  12. There was a time when a bunch of my friends and I bought a coat together, and decided to pass it around and use it as a sort of scrapbook for the things we did in high school. A local newspaper thought it was cute b/c of the close paralell to sisterhood of the traveling pants, so she wrote an article on us. A few weeks later someone responded in the complaints section about how the lifestyle section shouldn’t be filled with stories of teenagers who are “obviously self-absorbed and selfish.” After the initial “HEY!” we all decided the incident was more amusing then anything, since obviously the writer had never met us before, but we couldn’t help but hope whomever had wrote the letter saw another picture of two of us a few months later, helping out at a local food shelter. 🙂


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