Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Case of the Compatible Sherlockians





HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: It’s kinda like the best rom/com ever. With not romantic rom, but certainly personal and professional. And com, every minute of the day. 
 

Two of the most fabulous Sherlockians in the world, Laurie R. King and Les Klinger—I will pause a moment while you applaud—have put together another incredible volume of Sherlock-inspired short stories. As editors, (like Mickey Rooney and Shirley Temple but a tiny bit older) they tap their Holmes-loving pals and acquaintances and say—hey, we could put on a show!

 Et voila, a collection of original short stories. And the newest one, In League With Sherlock Holmes, is out right now—and they are giving away a copy to one lucky Jungle Red commenter! 


I was so thrilled to interview them, and like any great friendship and collaboration, I wondered how it all began. (And I wondered if they’d remember it the same way….) 

 HANK: When did you two first meet? And how? 

(LAURIE R. KING) It feels like we’ve known each other forever, but I think we must have met in person at one of the Left Coast Crime conferences in the early ‘oughts. People like us tend to set up our mutual admiration societies through conferences, which has made 2020 something of a holding pattern, when it comes to new friends…. 

[LESLIE S. KLINGER] Yup, it was at a conference, my first. I had heard of Laurie’s books, and I went to one of her presentations and boldly introduced myself, saying something like “We ought to know each other.” Laurie told me that she had my Holmes books on her reference shelf, and so it was love at first sight!

 HPR: I knew it! A meet cute! Ish. So you knew each other had an affection for Sherlock Holmes. 

 (LRK) Hard to miss it, really. Les writes nonfiction on the bloke, I write fiction where Holmes is a main character. 

 [LSK] Indeed, it was why we met! 

HPR: How much a part of your life is Sherlock Holmes and the whole canon? 

(LRK) Probably a lot less than he is in Les’s life! I certainly work around Holmes when I’m writing a novel, but other than that, I keep him firmly on the shelf. I swear, I can give him up any time. 

ed note: sure. 

[LSK] I try to write some new Holmesian scholarship every year, and I’m quite deeply involved with the literary society, the Baker Street Irregulars, so I’d say it’s a big part of my life. However, so are the many other fields in which I’ve gotten myself involved—horror writing and the Horror Writers Association, the field of comics/graphic novels, the field of classic crime fiction… too many interests! 

HPR: Do you remember the first time you decided to collaborate? What was that? 

(LRK) During the 2010 Left Coast Crime in LA, Les put together a panel with guests of honor Jan Burke and Lee Child, plus a couple of other top writers. Afterward, we looked at each other and Les said, Gee, wouldn’t it be fun to see if these writers would like to play in the world of Sherlock Holmes? So we asked, and they did, and it was fun indeed. 

HPR: Such a ridiculous impossible question, but what is it about the Holmes world that allows for such a glorious breadth of elaboration and creativity? 

(LRK) Well, when it comes to writing short stories inspired by a creation such as Holmes, it helps to have 60 great stories to begin with. The breadth of situations, characters, places—it means that none of the writers we’ve invited have come anywhere near to repeating one of the others. 

[LSK] I think that part of the endurance of Holmes is his archetypicity, if there is such a word. This allows writers to embody the idea of Holmes in many, many forms, places, and eras. 

HPR: I am going to use archetypicity forever. The range of authors who have contributed to your anthologies is so impressive – – tell us about inviting the people. What do they say when you ask? Do you simply assume they know enough to write a short story in this particular world? 

(LRK) As we go, more and more people have heard about the anthologies (and the awards they’ve won) so it takes less explaining. And with five books now, the list of fabulous writers who have already joined the team are truly impressive. I think people take us more seriously than we take ourselves.

 [LSK] What she said! Mostly, they say, “Really? Me? Oh, goodie!” 

HPR: Exactly what I said! I wrote “The Adventure of the Dancing Women” with much joy. And Debs and Rhys and Hallie have all contributed, too! And we are so grateful. 

 When you get the stories for the new anthology – – that must be such a treat! Talk a little bit about when they come in. Do you work together to edit? And oh--who chooses the title? 

(LRK) Yes, it’s a joy when the stories start to come in—we always talk about each one, either in voice or email. Then mostly I do the editing, and Les chimes in with his editorial thoughts and Sherlockian suggestions. Titles, too, come after a conversation. We try to play on some Sherlockian story or situation—and it’s always great to see what our publisher comes up with for the cover art! 

[LSK] We both live in California, so it’s convenient to talk a lot on the phone (same time zone)! There’s a lot of that when we’re at the point of editing and assembling! 

HPR: How has your personal "connection" with Sherlock Holmes and his world changed over the years? 

(LRK) When I first started writing my own series, which joins Holmes up with a young apprentice, Mary Russell, I was looking mostly at her world. But in recent years, I’ve become a little more interested in Holmes himself, who is in his late 50s when they meet (well after Arthur Conan Doyle finished with him!) It’s interesting to speculate on how this Victorian gent would change with the 20th century…. (And knowing that people like Les are looking over my shoulder, I take care to get the details right!) 

[LSK] The greatest joy has been my discovery that while Sherlockians may hook up because of their shared interest in the original stories, these “hook-ups” frequently turn into deeper, lasting friendships. This is true of the mystery community in general, I think—I love the people that I’ve been privileged to meet and call “friend,” and it has nothing to do with their writing or the writing profession. 

HPR: SO true! And do you think the Conan Doyle stories continue to get a new audience? 

 (LRK) Oh, absolutely. There’s always something new to discover there, even in the original stories. When I first started reading them—as an adult, after I decided to make him a character—I was astonished at the humor and the passion shown by this “thinking machine.”

 [LSK] For young readers, the stories are a revelation of invention and plot twists. For experienced readers of crime fiction, the stories seem to be filled with clichés—because Conan Doyle invented many of them! So I think that the pleasure for the latter class of readers is discovering--and basking in—the glow of the friendship of Holmes and Watson. 

 HANK:Yes, I remember reading them when I was a teenager, and the idea of "plot" and "character" and "sleight of hand" dawned on me.  So fantastic, and such a treat to talk with you both. We miss the conventions, too! 

SO Reds and readers, tell us—what’s your fave story starring Holmes and Watson? Or involving them? And a copy of IN LEAGUE WITH SHERLOCK HOLMES to one lucky commenter.



 

Sherlock Holmes has captivated readers for more than a century, simultaneously inspiring countless numbers of writers. In League with Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon (Pegasus – December 1, 2020) edited by renowned Sherlockians Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger, is the newest anthology in their Sherlock Holmes series. 

 Doyle’s great detective’s genius, mastery, and heroism became the standard by which other creators measured their creations. Influencing not only the mystery genre but also tales of science-fiction, adventure, and the supernatural. 

 In League with Sherlock Holmes features fifteen new Holmes inspired stories, written by award-winning authors of horror, thrillers, mysteries, westerns, science-fiction, and graphic novels. Critically acclaimed writers all bound together in admiration and affection for the original stories. 


 This latest collection spans from Victorian England to the modern day Jersey shore and features characters who are inspired, admire, or emulate Holmes. 

 Kirkus reviews said that in introducing this new collection of Sherlockian inspired stories, “the editors indicate the principal originality of this one: The authors are all “not previously known to be friends of Holmes.” This promise is paid off in spades,” and that all the authors have “updated or deconstruct Holmes in ingenious ways.”

66 comments:

  1. Laurie and Leslie, a new book in the Sherlock Holmes series is wonderful news . . . I’m looking forward to reading “In League with Sherlock Holmes” . . . .

    Favorite Sherlock Holmes story? It’s almost impossible to pick just one of the great detective’s adventures, but I have to say “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is one of my favorites . . . .

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  2. What a treat to find Laurie and Les on Jungle Reds today! I'm a member of Laurie's Friends of LRK, and being in this wonderful group has allowed me to be in the presence of Laurie and Les at a few dinners at Bouchercon. While being two of the smartest people you will ever meet, they are exceptionally fun and lively dinner mates, too. I love the work that these two talented authors create (together and apart), too, being a fan of Sherlock as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective and a fan of Laurie's Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell. I feel that we are so lucky that Laurie and Les have gotten together to give us the short story anthologies, too. So many of my favorite mystery/crime authors have contributed to these anthologies, which makes reading them all the more fun. Thank you, Laurie and Les, for significantly enriching my reading life,

    I have to go with Joan on my favorite Sherlock Holmes tale. "The Hound of the Baskervilles" is one of those favorites that I have multiple book editions of, and I will probably add to the collection.

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    1. Oh, so envious! ANd yes, they are both incredibly brilliant and generous. That must have been so much fun. And we have to hope for more to come!

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  3. Wow. I'm forehead slapping that I haven't read the previous collections! I read Sherlock Holmes as a child with a hyperactive imagination - possibly before I read Nancy Drew - and used to lie in bed petrified with fear that the Speckled Band was coming down out of the ceiling to get me. (I wasn't allowed to watch scary TV or movies because of the resulting nightmares, but the family bookcases stuffed with crime fiction were always open to me.)

    So I'd have to say Speckled Band, even though I haven't read any of the stories for many years. Congratulations on the new anthology, and thanks so much for sharing your process.

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    1. The Speckled Band was SO scary. And such a good story. And we don't care at all that it's preposterous. I love it, too.

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    2. Edith, do read the anthologies. You are in for such a treat!

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  4. LAURIE AND LES: Congratulations on your previous anthologies and thhis new collection of Holmes-inspired stories.

    Like Edith, I also read the original Conan Doyle books as a child/teen. Although the Hound of the Baskervilles is memorable, I would have to say that the short story with Professor Moriarty is my fave. That story, "The Adventure of the Final Problem" has that famous pursuit of Holmes and Mortiarty at the Reichenbach Falls, and when I first read it, I wondered if Doyle had killed off his beloved detective.

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    1. Such a great saga about that story, right? How the public rose up in protect over Holmes' death? And that Conan Doyle had been tired of writing about him? (hope you don;t have too much snow, dear Grace!)

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    2. HANK: No, we only got 7 cm (3 in) of snow last night. The Greater Toronto Area (where Hannah lives) got about 10-15 cm (4-6 in).

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  5. My favorite Sherlock Holmes story remains the first one I ever read. I was given an illustrated digest sized version of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES as a gift when I was a kid. I wish I still had it but I read it so often that the thing eventually just fell apart.

    I love the Sherlock material and the new stuff that is either inspired by, based on or pastiches of Sherlock Holmes.

    In the filmed version of Holmes, Jeremy Brett's performance remains my favorite.

    I have an old (but not ancient) hardcover copy of the Sherlock stories that my dad had and was passed down to me.

    And without it seemingly like I'm brown-nosing or anything, my favorite non-Doyle Holmes stories remain the Mary Russell stories by Laurie herself.

    I've recently branched out and started buying some Holmes stories written by various authors and published by Titan Books. I haven't started reading them yet so I don't know if or how good they might be but it is a chance to read more Sherlock.

    Oh, and I got to review Leonard Goldberg's THE ART OF DECEPTION for Mystery Scene last year and the author's Facebook page used a pull quote from said review for the banner photo on the FB page so I guess my review went over well.

    I'm not nearly capable of calling myself a Holmesian or anything like that. But if there's a Holmesian-adjacent, I'd like to think my fandom for The Great Detective would land me a spot there.

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    1. That's SO cool, Jay! And yes, we should all talk about our favorite Holmes! I think I'm a Basil Rathbone--but I did love Nicol Williamson in The Seven Per Cent Solution!

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    2. Oh, me, too, Hank! I loved that film!

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  6. Welcome to JRW Laurie and Leslie. In League with Sherlock Holmes is on the coffee table in my living room and the library has given me 2 weeks. The first 5 stories are all vastly different from one another yet the inspiration for each is definitely Holmes.

    I have not read the original stories in years and although I have loved the film and TV adaptations, it may be time to read the original stories again. What I want to do first is look for your other 4 anthologies of Holmes stories. The list of contributing authors, including some of my absolute favorites, is a huge draw!

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  7. What a great adventure in this new book. Always liked the Holmes stories. It’s wonderful to see the inspiration they bring to today’s authors.

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  8. I'm not sure I have a favorite story, but I loved the relationships: Holmes and Watson, Holmes and Moriarty. Non-readers have an image of Holmes as cold and passionless, an that just isn't true.

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  9. It's so hard to point to a favorite! Especially since I read them so long ago, and since there are so many. I still remember my shock when upon telling my English teacher I had read "all" of Conan Doyle's mysteries, Sister informed me that there were 60 Holmes books alone. Amended: I'd read all our local library had on the shelves.

    So I've still not read them all, but like Edith, I had a wild imagination that spurred nightmares, and The Adventure of the Speckled Band also terrified me. Not so much about the snake, but about the idea of being murdered inside a locked room. If the lock on the door couldn't keep harm away what could? That still makes me shiver.

    All the many spinoffs, like Laurie's Mary Russell series, are such fun. I really enjoy Mary's adventures and her great intelligence. I just both watched and read the Enola Hughes stories, and am chomping at the bit for more of those. And of course the BBC's Sherlock is stellar, with a modern-day slant. I especially liked that Dr. Watson had been in the war in Afghanistan, just as he had been in the original series. How clever.

    I will definitely look for In League with Sherlock Holmes!

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  10. A huge thrill for me was having a story I'd written accepted in one of the anthologies... and getting Laurie's thoughtful edits. My "Understudy in Scarlet" is about an actress who played Irene Adler in a classic movie of "A Scandal in Bohemia"... and now twenty years later they're remaking the film with the same actor playing Holmes and she's offered the role of Mrs. Hudson. It's a sly (and I hope feminist) take on how aging actresses are mistreated and young ones are seduced by Hollywood power brokers. SO MUCH FUN to write it - and I studied one of the scenes in A Scandal very carefully because while they're filming that scene in my story, there's an attempted murder.

    I don't (can't!) save a lot of books but I have all 3 volumes (tomes!) of Les's annotated Sherlock Holmes and Laurie's The Beekeepers Apprentice.

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    1. Hallie, which anthology was your story in?

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    2. RIght, Edith! Since several JR Writers have contributed to the anthologies, we want to know where to find each of your stories.

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    3. Jumping in because I'm taking a break from kvetching online about my town's mafia like business practices.

      Hallie's story is in Echoes of Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon. Hank and Deborah have stories in that book as well. I've got my copy signed by Hallie and Hank!

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    4. Thanks, Jay! Thanks, Hank! (And Hank, thanks again for 'birthing' the story's title which is SO perfectly Sherlockian.)

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  11. Oh Wow. Welcome to JRW's both of you. I am sure at book signings you know the red faced stammering fan who can't say how much they admire your work --a.k.a. me. Thank you both for keeping Sherlock (and Mary) alive.

    As far as my favorite, either the Red Haired League, or the Adventure of the Dancing Men. I like the Red Haired League because I was so close to figuring out the puzzle (wrong but close). Isn't wonderful that a person can read Doyle at any age with great pleasure?

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    1. Yes, that is such a treat. And they really hold up. So much fun to read. xxx. Wrong, but close is hilarious.

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  12. Do I check the ceiling fan over the bed before I turn off the light? Um...sometimes. You never know about a speckled band. I like the dogs in the Sherlock Holmes mysteries: the mastiff-bloodhound mix in Baskervilles and Toby, the lurcher-spaniel who appears in several cases.

    Congratulations on your new release!

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    1. RIGHT! Because they might have read the story, too! (Some days I feel like a lurcher spaniel. xoxoxo)

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  13. Congratulations on your new release.

    My favorite Sherlock? So hard to chose. I think it would be the Hounds of the Baskervilles - the clue not found being one of my favorite tropes.

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    1. Yes, the clue not found! What a great way to put it.

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  14. Welcome. Congratulations on this collection. What a treasure.
    My favorite is A Study in Scarlet. These stories are always fascinating and give me great enjoyment.

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  15. Congratulations and best wishes on your wonderful release! Reading Sherlock Holmes when I was young and catching up once again is a delight. The Sign of the Four was one of my favorites.

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  16. Welcome Les and Laurie! I had the pleasure of meeting Laurie briefly in the hospitality room at the Dallas Bouchercon. I love The Hound of the Baskervilles for the eerie atmosphere of the moor and getting Holmes and Watson out of their London environs to tackle the problem. I love A Scandal in Bohemia because a WOMAN outwitted Holmes! I've been a fan of Russell and Holmes for years and really enjoy reading how Holmes is navigating Europe in the 1920s with a young wife.

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    1. Yes, so brilliant! And there'll be more hospitality rooms, right right right?

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  17. Welcome Laurie and Les!

    I remember meeting Laurie at the Book Passage when I was in the Mystery Writing classes one summer.

    I read all of the Mary Russell mysteries. It has been a while since I read Sherlock Holmes. Trying to recall the title. There was a story about someone being blackmailed and Sherlock Holmes managed to trick the blackmailer and got the incriminating letters by breaking and entering?

    Diana

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    1. Oh,is that Scandal in Bohemia? I think so...

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    2. Hank,

      Thank you. I am so bad at remembering titles! I think that was Scandal in Bohemia where Sherlock was dealing with a sinister blackmailer (not Irene Adler).

      Diana

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  18. Yes! My story, The Adventure of the Dancing Women, is in Echoes of Sherlock Holmes. What a joy to write! The original is The Adventure of the Dancing Men--and it used a code as part of the clues. It's always been one of my favorites. And there's a secret about that original story that I love--which, of course,I can't tell you.

    In my version, both "Holmes" and "Watson" are women, And Watson a veteran of the war in Afghanistan (the current one) and there's a code--but a way more modern one that almost flummoxes the tech-hating Holmes. And there are lots of Holmesian easter eggs involved. (I am so proud of it!)

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  19. And yes, we should all talk about our favorite Holmes! I think I'm a Basil Rathbone--but I did love Nicol Williamson in The Seven Per Cent Solution! How about you all?

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    1. HANK: Basil Rathbone was my fave classic Holmes in the movies. But I also liked Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock.

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  20. Welcome, Laurie and Les!!! You two are just the very best. I'm a huge Mary Russell fan, and I love the anthologies. I had so much fun writing my story for Echoes of Sherlock Holmes. (Which I just discovered is FREE for Audible members at the moment!!!!) My story is The Case of the Speckled Trout and it's a jump off from the Cumberbatch SHERLOCK, set eighteen years after the last episode of the series. Holmes is missing yet again, and his goddaughter and namesake follows his trail to a hunting lodge in Scotland.

    It's so hard to pick a favorite Holmes story from the canon. I might have to go with the Hound, too, for all the reasons mentioned in the previous comments.

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    1. That is SUCH a wonderful title--and a fabulous story! xooxo

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  21. We'd be remiss not to mention Les himself starred in a real life Holmes-like story of one determined man trying to free our beloved detectives from the iron grip of a master villain -- excuse me, I mean a corporatized estate. It's thanks to Klinger v Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klinger_v._Conan_Doyle_Estate,_Ltd.) that new generations of writers are able to play with Holmes and Watson in all their possible varieties.

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    1. YES! So true! And thank you for the perfect reminder.

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  22. Happily I have just read the anthology.
    Great stuff, as always.

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  23. Sounds like a great collection! Congrats, Laurie & Les! I know I'm repeating others, but I also have to go with The Hound of the Baskervilles as a fave.

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  24. Another fantastic anthology. I love the inclusion of a graphic story!

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    1. Yes, another example of their brilliance..and the scope of the Sherlock canon!

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  25. How wonderful! Just what my Sherlock loving heart needed during this weird cold snap we're having in Phoenix.
    I'll be sure to pop into the Poisoned Pen to pick it up! Congrats, Laurie and Les!

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  26. Sign of 4 where Watson meets his future wife (I always hated the Conan Doyle killed her off just to keep Watson available for Holmes). I absolute love the Mary Russell books.

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  27. I've only ever read the original Sherlock Holmes stories, although I remember watching a cartoon as a kid- 'Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century.' The episodes followed the storylines but with a futuristic element (Holmes was brought back through cryogenics, Watson was a robot, etc).

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  28. I loved "The Adventure of the Dancing Women" and I love the Mary Russell books. Books have been crucial for coping with this Safe At Home year. My doctor and I discussed how valuable it has been for people to be able to amuse themselves in these difficult times. Thanks for the "medicine."

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  29. I am a long-time fan of Les and even longer-time fan of Laurie (and a charter member of the Laurie R. King Virtual Book Club and part of her social media crew) and have thoroughly loved all of their collaborative efforts, and look forward to many more. I first read the Holmes canon in high school (over 50 years ago, yikes!) and would be hard pressed to pick a fave but it is hard to top The Hound of the Baskervilles. Conan Doyle’s oeuvre was certainly not without flaw, but it has equally certainly become timeless!

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