A few years ago, I discovered Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series, about a brilliant young woman living on the Sussex Downs around the time of World War I, who meets the retired Sherlock Holmes, and becomes his apprentice. But Laurie King also writes contemporary crime novels, and one of those novels has a tie to Sherlock Holmes as well: The Art of Detection, a novel from the Kate Martinelli series. I'm currently reading the novel for the second time, and it's quite enjoyable, especially for those who have an interest in Sherlock Holmes. In the book, a body is discovered in a national park near San Francisco. When detective Kate Martinelli is called to investigate, she and her partner discover that one floor of the victim's apartment is a detailed reproduction of the famous flat at 221B Baker Street, as it is described in Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. It turns out that the victim is a member of a San Francisco Sherlock Holmes group, and a very serious collector of Holmes memorabilia, including a signed copy of the Beeton's Christmas Annual from 1887 (as all Sherlockians know, the debut of Sherlock Holmes).
As the mystery develops, the victim's activities involving his Holmesian interests are front and center. So we are treated to a very interesting mystery novel that, rather than trying to continue the Holmes stories (as King's Mary Russell series does), deals with the nature of Sherlockian enthusiasts and collectors. As mystery stories go, it's not brilliant or anything, but it is entertaining, especially for the Sherlockian reader. Kate Martinelli is a reasonably well-written character with an interesting back story. She's a lesbian who is raising her young daughter, the biological offspring of her domestic partner, who was injured in the spine and is confined to a wheelchair. I've never been to San Francisco, but the author seems to do a fine job describing the city and its environs. Sherlockians will likely recognize the title of the novel as an homage to a reference in "The Adventure of the Abbey Grange," in which Holmes tells Watson: "...I propose to devote my declining years to the composition of a textbook which shall focus the whole art of detection into one volume."
The ebook I'm currently re-reading is borrowed from Amazon.com, via my local public library. If you've never borrowed ebooks from your public library, I strongly recommend it. It's quick and easy, and saves you having to locate a physical copy from a different library branch.
I'm a stay-at-home dad, and Director of Music Ministries at a United Methodist Church in Mt. Juliet, TN. And a longtime fan of Sherlock Holmes.