Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Last night I read Locked Rooms, the latest installment in Laurie R. King's series about Sherlock Holmes and his wife Mary Russell. These books are really excellent--King's playing around with narrative voices in this one, and I'm not sure the third-person interludes work quite as well as the first-person main narrative, but it's always good to see a writer well into a series (I think this is the eighth book) take a chance on mixing things up. King is an exceptionally good writer--I really like this series, her Kate Martinelli series is very good too but I am particularly impressed with the standalone novels she's written in the last few years: Folly, Keeping Watch and (my particular favorite) A Darker Place, an intelligent and surprising novel about religious cults. King has an excellent feel for character and a set of intellectual interests that motivate her fiction without ever making it didactic or heavy-handed: I love it, for instance, that she has this longstanding interest in theology that crops up here and there where you wouldn't expect it.

I still haven't read A Slight Trick of the Mind (Mitch Cullin, sitting on the pile of books to be read--I extravagantly splurged on the hardcover but eyeing its short length thought that however good it turns out to be, it looks like a book that would have been better served by being published as a paperback original) or The Final Solution (Michael Chabon, I will have to get this from the library, I love Chabon & am sure I'll love this one too but can't pay that much for something that was actually already published & is essentially a long short story). But will hit both soon, as I love everything to do with Sherlock Holmes. The modern world & modern fiction are in some bizarre sense unimaginable without him. I did find it slightly odd that with all the blog attention to Chabon and Cullin's books last year, there was not so much mention of King--she is such a good writer, it makes you think that the unfair and shortsighted combination of people putting literary over "genre" fiction plus generally preferring men's writing to women's (and King is constantly playing with the implicit misogyny of a certain kind of Holmes fetishization in her novels) must have blocked their access to these excellent books. I see Caleb Carr has a Sherlock Holmes story out now too, I'll definitely read it but I bet it won't be as good as King's....

(And King has a great blog, too: up now are musings on San Francisco in the 1920s--the setting for the latest novel--and various interesting writing-related matters, including a desperate struggle with a paper-cutter to make the fortunes for Mary Russell fortune cookies for the book party next week....)

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