(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Laurie R. King is probably best known as the writer who dared disturb Sherlock Holmes’s century or so of bachelorhood by reinventing him as the mentor, partner, and eventually husband of Mary Russell, a scholar and sleuth whose wit matches that of the fabled detective. Although some Sherlockian purists objected to any tampering with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation, King’s Mary Russell series has won her many fans and critical accolades, including a Nero Wolfe Award. Keeping Holmes’s astute eye and amazing reasoning ability, King takes him out of the world of gaslights and hansom cabs and into the early years of the twentieth century, from World War I through the 1920’s. By pairing Holmes with a modern, independent young woman, King breathed new life into the legendary figure and created a character with whom female mystery readers can identify.

However, King is more than a reinventor of Sherlock Holmes. She is also the author of the Kate Martinelli series, featuring a thoroughly modern, lesbian female police detective in San Francisco. Amazingly, these two series began at approximately the same time and have continued to coexist, often with a title from each series published in the same year. While different in style and setting, the Russell and Martinelli series do share certain elements: a strong female protagonist and plots that concern themselves with aspects of women’s lives and women’s rights. Mary Russell, coming of age during and...

(The entire section is 522 words.)