I discovered Laurie King’s The Moor browsing in a bookstore in 1999. It’s the fourth book in Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes series, but I’ve never minded reading series out of order. I was immediately entranced by the world of the books, Russell’s distinctive voice (the books are first person), and Russell and Holmes’s fascinating relationship. I quickly bought and devoured the three previous books in the series. When the fifth book in the series O Jerusalem was released, I was in the bookstore on the day it went on sale. I did the same last week for the eighth Russell & Holmes book, The Language of Bees.

As I mentioned in a comment on History Hoydens this week, these are books I often return to as comfort reads. Russell and Holmes and the other continuing characters feel like old friends. Holmes and Russell and their relationship are familiar and yet tantalizingly I always want to learn more about them. Like the previous book in the series, Locked Rooms (in which Russell confronted her past), The Language of Bees reveals a great deal and yet leaves one with more questions. In m favorite mystery series, though I look forward to each individual adventure, I also read to learn more about the characters themselves.

At the time I discovered King’s books, I had enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes stories on television, but I hadn’t, I confess, actually read them. I think the literary parallel that caught me more in the books was to Dorothy Sayers Peter and Harriet novels. Laurie King talks about Sayers as an influence, and there are deliberate references/resonances to the Sayers’ books that it’s fun to analyze.

And, of course, I’ve always loved mysteries with detective couples. At the time I discovered the Russell & Holmes books, I was writing the first draft of Daughter of the Game/Secrets of a Lady (which at that time was called The End of Reckoning). Mélanie and Charles are very different characters from Russell and Holmes, but King ‘s skillful depiction of the delicate balance of two independent people being true to themselves and also being a couple, and of the way a mystery investigation can at once challenge their relationship and bring them together definitely influenced me, just as Sayers is a big influence on me.

Do you the Russell & Holmes books? Did you start the beginning of the series or with one of the later books? Are reading The Language of Bees? What authors do you rush out to the book store to buy on publication day?

This week’s Fraser Correspondence addition is a letter from Mélanie to Simon in Edinburgh. Also, I am now on Twitter. (http://twitter.com/tracygrant).

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