Friday Forgotten Book: The Moor

~ Sherlock Holmes Month at Tip the Wink ~

this is the 189th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

This seemed like a fitting Friday Forgotten Book for today, since I re-read The Hound of the Baskervilles just over a week ago. How “forgotten” this is, as opposed to, perhaps, seldom read, I’m unsure.

The Moor by Laurie R. King, Bantam 1999 paperback, 4th in the Holmes & Russell series

The Moor cvrHolmes summons Russell from Oxford with a telegram stating simply “I need you.” She is needed at Dartmoor, for there has been a murder which has greatly upset Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould and Holmes has been called in to solve it. So we return to the scene of The Hound of the Baskervilles and King does a good job of describing the moor landscape and inhabitants as small hints of motive surface and slide away. A second murder and several seemingly unconnected events begin to form a pattern, causing both Holmes and Russell to tramp the wet, cold, muddy moor in search of information and clues.

Very moody and with a strong sense of place:

“Up a rise and down the other side, across a rivulet with sharply cut sides and a scurry of clear, peat-stained water in the bottom. Up again, avoiding a piece of granite the size of a bathtub thrusting out of the rough grass. A meandering ridge on the approaching hill, resembling the work of some huge, prehistoric mole, became on closer examination an ancient stone wall nearly subsumed by the slow encroachment of turf. A distant sweep of russet across a hillside, a scurf of furze and dying bracken fern was cut by the dark of another ancient wall drawn along it’s side.

It was, I supposed, picturesque enough, given the limited palette of drab colors, but as a piece of Impressionist art it served to evoke only the disagreeable feelings of restlessness, melancholia, and a faint thread of menace.”

Though the plot is slightly weaker here than in the previous book, A Letter of Mary, the writing is better. This is particularly enjoyable for the characters, mood and location. If you haven’t read this series, or haven’t gotten this far, I recommend you give them a try. Starting out, you’ll want to read them in series order, of course, beginning with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice.

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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13 Responses to Friday Forgotten Book: The Moor

  1. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I did read THE BEEKEEPER’S APPRENTICE, and while I enjoyed it somewhat I never had the urge to read another in the series. Give me Watson and the fog of Baker Street.

    • Richard says:

      I love the originals too, perhaps best of all, but I do think this is a very good series, at least the first 6 which I have read. Do you prefer to just read the canon, or are more traditional pastiche stories and novels OK?

  2. Had not even heard of these.

  3. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I have nothing against it, it just did not appeal to me. Isn’t that my right?

    I’ve read and enjoyed other Holmes pastiches, like THE GIANT RAT OF SUMATRA, but perhaps I just prefer the lighter touch.

    • Richard says:

      Of course it is, Jeff, sorry if I upset you, I sure didn’t mean to! I was just surprised. The collection of stories I’m reading now are all traditional stories as told by or through Watson in the traditional setting.

  4. I’m a big fan of this series, although I haven’t read the most recent 2. Must get on to that.

    I really liked the atmosphere of this one.

  5. Richard says:

    I haven’t read the most recent two or three either. The reviews haven’t been as good, but it mostly a matter of all those other things to read… 🙂

  6. Yvette says:

    Richard I love this series. Next to the original canon, these are my favorite stories based on Holmes. King does the impossible – she takes Homes and turns him into a flesh and blood man. I think THE BEEKEEPER’S APPRENTICE is one of the hundred best thriller/mysteries ever written and in fact, it is included on most lists of this sort. I love O JERUSALEM next and THE MOOR after that. What atmosphere. What incredible mood. What writer’s conceit to go back to Baskerville Hall.
    And to include a real person from history (the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould), an irascible eccentric and make him someone relevant in Holmes’ past life – conceit! I loved the scenes of Holmes and Russell tramping the cold, wet moors. I love the scene at Baskerville Hall when Russell pulls the owner aside and basically warns him off Holmes – a wife taking care that her husband won’t be annoyed – with oomph. Such a wonderful book. Slow, yes. Wordy, yes. But so rich and I think, meant to be luxuriated in.

  7. John says:

    I bought a bunch of Mary Russell books (up to JUSTICE HALL, I think) when they were at a library sale ages ago. I tried to read THE BEEKEEPER’S APPRENTICE but lost interest in it. Haven’t read any of the others. The only King book I read from start to finish was THE ART OF DETECTION, a story inspired by the bizarre suicide of Holmes expert/collector Richard Lancelyn Green. I think that’s her only Holmesian book outside of this series. It features her San Franscisco policewoman Kate Martinelli. It was OK with an interesting locked room murder plot and a storyline that will appeal to bibliophiles, but not something that made me want to read more of her work. I guess King is not my thing. :^)

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