~ 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
Holmes 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.
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.
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?
Had not even heard of these.
Charles, these have been quite popular, but you’ve been busy teaching and writing your own books.
I’m with Jeff.
See my comment to Jeff.
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.
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.
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.
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… 🙂
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.
Wonderful comment, Yvette, and insightful. I agree with all you say. I liked JUSTICE HALL a lot too.
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. :^)