Unusual Suspects
December 1, 2008
Available: December 2, 2008
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Laurie King

Since Laurie R. King’s first book, A Grave Talent, came out in 1993, she has gained a reputation as a prize-winning, best-selling author who holds an undying place in the hearts of readers ranging from fourteen year-old girls to members of the House of Lords to ninety year-old retired Air Force colonels.

King was born in northern California, the third generation in her family native to the San Francisco area. She spent her childhood reading her way through libraries like a termite through balsa, and her middle years raising children, traveling the world, and studying theology, earning a BA degree in comparative religion and an MA in Old Testament Theology. She now lives a genteel life of crime, back again in northern California.

Her fiction falls into three areas. First in the hearts of most readers comes Mary Russell, who met the retired Mr Sherlock Holmes in the winter of 1915 and became his apprentice, then his partner. Starting with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and continuing through Locked Rooms, Russell and Holmes move through the ’teens and ’twenties in amiable discord, challenging each other to ever greater feats of detection.

King’s other series concerns San Francisco homicide inspector Kate Martinelli, her SFPD partner Al Hawkin, and her life partner Lee Cooper. In the course of her five books, Kate has encountered a female Rembrandt, a modern-day Holy Fool, two difficult teenagers, and a manifestation of the goddess Kali.

King has also written three stand-alone suspense novels. A Darker Place truly stands alone, being the story of a middle-aged professor of religion who goes inside religious movements (so-called “cults”) to investigate their stability for the government, and here encounters a movement that embraces the ideas of alchemy.

The other two independent novels are actually very loosely linked, telling the stories of two people whose lives overlap very slightly in each book. Folly tells of woodworker Rae Newborne, who comes to a deserted island to rebuild a house, and her life. Keeping Watch is the story of Vietnam vet Allen Carmichael, who draws on his combat experiences to rescue abused women and children, until he comes across a boy whose problems may rival his own.

In addition to crime novels, she has written a futuristic novel, Califia’s Daughters (published in paperback original under the name Leigh Richards), and several short stories.

King has won the Edgar and Creasey awards (for A Grave Talent), the Nero (A Monstrous Regiment of Women) and the MacCavity (for Folly); her nominations include the Agatha, the Orange, the Barry, and two more Edgars. She was also given an honorary doctorate from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific.

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