In 1977, a highland air strip (that’s the plane’s strut above my head) and no, I’m not standing far in front of these ladies, they’re just really, really short. And fascinated by this figure from another planet.
Dunkirk by John Lescroart
In full dark and shrouded in fog, the Dover Doll rose and fell in the
still waters of the English Channel.
The Doll, an 18-meter former fishing boat converted to pleasure yacht, had disembarked from her berth in Dover at a few minutes before 7:00 that night, the 26th, one of the 161 British vessels that proved to be avail- able on the first day of Operation Dynamo. The Doll carried a crew of four. Two of them—Harry and George–were boys under sixteen years of age, nephews of Duffy Black, a clerk from Churchill’s War Office who, because he’d spent much of his youth on the water, had volunteered to act as the captain of his brother-in-law’s boat during this crisis.
The last crew member, lately arrived from the Sussex Downs, was a elderly man who had with great formality identified himself to Duffy only as Mr. Sigerson. Taciturn and close to emaciated, Sigerson struck Duffy as a potential if not likely liability, but Churchill had called for volunteers post haste without regard to rank or age, and Duffy wasn’t in a position to turn away an able hand.
If, Duffy thought, he was in fact, able.
* * *
By Any Other Name by Michael Dirda
“How could you? Just how could you?”
Jean Leckie looked up at Arthur Conan Doyle, the tears streaming
down her cheeks. The couple were seated in a quiet corner of an ABC Tea shop in Camden Town. Her companion, dressed in handsome tweeds, appeared perplexed.
“Dearest, sweetest love. Please don’t cry.”
“It’s easy enough for you to say. Don’t you care about my feelings?” “I adore you.”
“Save that for Touie, you hypocrite. You clearly adored her enough
to make your marriage, your happy marriage the subject of this!” Jean brought out a book from her capacious handbag and slammed it on the table.
Arthur quietly picked up the small volume and looked at the cover: A Duet, by A. Conan Doyle.
In the Company of Sherlock Holmes publishes in two weeks, November 11. You can pre-order a copy from:
Poisoned Pen Books (signed by Laurie King, Les Klinger, and others)
– are Laura R. and Ray Riethmeier, which means that two copies are on their way to Georgia and Minnesota, respectively. Congratulations, Laura and Ray, and I hope you love love love the book, and also that you don’t gloat too loudly but maybe a little bit.
The next giveaway will be another random drawing, but from the newsletter list. We haven’t decided the dates yet, but if you don’t get the newsletter, you might want to sign up, just in case, here.
On a sheet of stationery pinned to the pages of Mary Russell’s journal:
27 October 1914
Mary, because you seem worried that your brain has sustained an injury in the accident, as evidenced by your occasional lapses in memory, I am adding a page here as an aide memoire, that you may read it and reinforce your natural memory of the facts.
Rest assured, dear Mary, that each morning I personally bring the wall calendar across from your bed up to date, drawing a line through the previous day, checking to be sure the day’s appointments and scheduled visitors are accurate. I promise you I will continue to do this until you no longer need my help. I further promise you that your brain will return to its customary sharp state as its physical trauma subsides. Your fretting about it only delays healing.
Your family servants, Micah and Mah Long, visit on alternate afternoons, and bring you food since you seem to find that more appealing than the more Western foods offered by the hospital or your other visitors. Your friend Flo comes two or three days a week, and your father’s lawyer needs no more signatures at present (I mention those two people because you seem particularly concerned with them.) You have replied to all the letters in the lidded box on the small table, and between the Longs and me, any new letters reach you within a day of their arrival at your house. Similarly, I read you the day’s news and anything else of interest each morning, and again—yes, the headaches will lessen, as indeed they are beginning to do already, although it may not seem so to you.
Oh, and the other thing that worries you is your mother’s canary: yes, I have taken it home with me, where it sings to my large collection of artificial birds from around the world. I shall try to take a photograph of the little yellow thing perched atop the large black hawk carving you have admired in the past.
Please, child: worry not, and get well. Next week you will be moving to a convalescent hospital, where I believe you will find things more comfortable and less troubling. Certainly it will be quieter.
I will place this atop your journal when I come to your room this morning. Also, you will be pleased to hear, the October issue of The Strand arrived at your house, so I will bring it and see if you would like me to read you some of the new instalment of the Sherlock Holmes serial that you said you were anticipating.
(Later that morning: I am not at all certain that “The Valley of Fear” is an appropriate piece of fiction to read to a convalescent girl, concerned as it is with a brutal murder. However, when I made to stop, Mary grew agitated, and so I continued. Perhaps the story will be less appealing by the time its November episode appears. At least it has taken her mind off of German spies.)
(For the previous installments of Mary Russell’s War, see here.)
Introduction by Laurie R. King
Variations on the theme of Holmes have been played ever since the man first saw print. Some have been whimsical, others deadly serious; some have even taught us something about ourselves. For Sherlock Holmes is both us, and a super-hero, armed not with greater-than-human powers, but with wits, experience, a small community of dependable friends, and the occasional singlestick or riding crop. Like the artist-scientist, Holmes takes a mass of cold, unrelated, and inert fact, shapes it between his narrow, nicotine-stained hands, and then electrifies it—and us—with a bolt of inspiration.
Come to think of it, perhaps we should envision him, not as an archetype, but as a golem, a mud figure brought to life by human need.
* * *
The Crooked Man by Michael Connelly
Harry Bosch held his badge up to the man in the gray uniform at the guardhouse door and said nothing. He was expected.
“You know which one it is?” the guard asked.
“I’ll find it,” Bosch said.
The guardrail opened and Bosch drove on through.
“Going to be hard to miss,” said his partner, Jerry Edgar.
Bosch proceeded past estates that sprawled across the southern ridge of
the Santa Monica Mountains. Vast green lawns that had never accepted a weed because they didn’t have to. He had never been in the Doheny Estates but the opulence was even more than he expected. Up here even the guesthouses had guesthouses. They passed one estate with a garage that had a row of eight doors for the owner’s car collection.
They knew only the basics about the call out. A man—a studio man— was dead and a wife—a much younger wife—was on the premises.
Soon they came to a house where there were three patrol cars parked outside the driveway entrance. In front of them was a van from the coroner’s office and in front of that was a car that looked out of place on the street and not the driveway. It was a long, sleek Mercedes coupe the color of onyx. Bosch’s battered black Ford looked like a mule next to a stallion.
Edgar noticed the incongruity as well and came up with an explanation. “My guess, Harry? She’s already lawyered up.”
“That will be just perfect.”
In the Company of Sherlock Holmes publishes November 11. You can pre-order a copy from:
Poisoned Pen Books (signed by Laurie King, Les Klinger, and others)