Mary Russell’s War (twenty: parting’s eve)

14 December 1914

My commitment to writing a journal entry on the weekly anniversary of the start of War (which began on a Tuesday) is being put aside this week, for it looks as if my usual writing time tomorrow will be taken up with other things. That is because today—a Monday—my issue of the December Strand arrived. I can now leave on the next train east.

I do not, in fact, know why I so badly wanted to wait for this magazine. It is something to read on the train, yes, but more than that, it feels like a last, and rapidly dwindling, series of gifts from my mother. Silly, but true. In any event, I have written to their subscriptions department to inform them of my change of address—giving them the address of the London house for future issues, until matters have been arranged. And if the letter goes down on its Atlantic passage, or is lost in the chaos of wartime London, so be it: I can always buy a replacement copy, once in England.

My grandmother is not yet aware that my time in Boston will be so brief. I find that I am looking forward to this cross-country voyage as a respite from turmoil: on the train, no one will know who I am, what I represent, where I am going. My fellow passengers will no nothing but what I choose to tell them. If I put my hair up, I will even look like a woman rather than a girl. I could make up any sort of identity, and none of the other travellers would be any the wiser.

I shall spend this afternoon with Dr Ginsberg—but not for one of her hypnosis sessions (which, by the way, have not been terribly successful. Rather than restore my memories of the accident, as I had hoped, hypnosis seems to have made them even more distant. Nonetheless, the attempt alone seems to have restored a degree of contentment to my mind. So much so, I wondered briefly whether I should ask the good Doctor if she has manipulated my emotions, implanting a suggestion of happiness…? But I decided that even if that is so, perhaps I do not need to know it, quite yet. I can always write and ask her, later on.) Rather, today is time for our social farewell. She has become my family here (gently, unobtrusively—in comparison with the rather pushy attempts by my friend Flo’s mother!) and I shall, frankly, miss her. I have a gift for her, wrapped in green paper although she does not celebrate Christmas: a small bird sculpture, to go in her collection and perhaps keep company with Mother’s canary.

In the meantime, my big trunk has been locked and taken over to the station. Tickets are purchased, my new clothing is ready to go, my rooms in this temporary home cleared of possessions. I anticipate another argument over the need of a nurse to accompany me—one of many coming arguments over which I shall prevail, through logic and an icy, calm stubbornness.

Another thing I shall miss is the San Francisco Chronicle, with its blend of news and nonsense, petty local concerns beside earth-shaking events. I doubt I will find the London papers so blithely willing to forget War.


Giant Armed Air Craft to Make Attack on England Soon, Is Report



Many Soldiers Go Mad During Terrific Battles and Suffer Torture.




18 and 15 year old daughters coolly faced the revolvers and practically “shooed” them from the house.

In the Faulklands, the cruiser that visited my War Journal back in the summer has finally met her match:


German Cruiser Nuernberg Caught and Destroyed by British Warships, and Dresden is Cornered in Magellan.

And in a move of pseudo-sympathy I cannot but feel is typical of those with no stake in the matter:


Declares it Would Be Immoral to Stop Fighting and Then Begin it Again

My British face

I just received the UK cover for Dreaming Spies:


What do you think? Allison & Busby have done me some gorgeous covers over the years, take a look at them all, here.

Same date as the US edition, by the way, February 17.

Mary’s Christmas, in time for Christmas


So, I fought my way through storm and flood and fallen branches (yeah, it is indeed raining here in drought-land, and raining hard—really hard) risking life and limb and wet shoes JUST FOR YOU, making my way to Bookshop Santa Cruz (and back) where I signed a stack of the now-in-print short story,  “Mary’s Christmas”

photo copy

that they just got in from the printers. If you haven’t already, you can order one of these signed babies (they really are cute) from Bookshop, here, or from Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale (where they should arrive next week) here.

I hope you enjoy this glimpse of a very young Miss Russell, her varied skills, and a previously unknown (to us) character in her life, Uncle Jake.

(And yes, there are print copies of that other cover, Laurie R. King’s Sherlock Holmes for sale as well: here.)

(Hey! I managed to get this posted before the power went ou

A Random House giveaway!

Happy holiday season everyone!

MysteryThriller Facebook_Laurie King

Random House are hosting a Mystery & Thriller Holiday Giveaway where you can enter for a chance to win a prize pack of books by Carla BuckleyLee ChildJanet EvanovichAlan FurstTess GerritsenAndrew GrantJonathan KellermanDean KoontzLaura McHughKathy ReichsKarin SlaugtherAmanda Kyle Williams–and me! (You will also be entered to win a Grand Prize, which includes a Random House tote bag and some signed copies). 

Enter by clicking here

Good luck!

(Added note: my publisher says, regarding the entry process, “If you click on the link to an author’s Facebook page on the entry form, return to the form itself, and click I VISITED, you will then be entered. You can enter 1 time for each author, for a total of 13 possible entries.”

(This promotion is for US residents, and is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. We hereby release Facebook of any liability.

Mary Russell’s War (nineteen: young soldiers and Santa Claus)


8 December 1914

At last, I have the sensation of moving forward with my life, for the first time since I set out to find the German spies back in October. What a very long time ago that seems, and such a young child she was.

(I do feel, however, that the authorities were mistaken to dismiss my accusations, and before I leave here, I shall post a stern but anonymous letter concerning the dangers. If I type it, on Father’s machine, perhaps that will add a degree of authority.)

Letters arrive with regularity from Boston, my grandmother’s increasingly distraught pleas for me to board a train, with a hired nurse, instantly. I understand she has taken to writing Dr. Ginsberg as well, although I imagine that the tone there is less pleading than commanding. I have just sent a telegram to Grandmother, saying that I plan to arrive some time between the 18th and 21st, and that I shall cable again with further details. No doubt my unwillingness to consult with her as to the exact train I take, in which precise compartment, and wearing which hat is going to set off a positive blizzard of envelopes both postal and telegraphic. However, unless I am willing to turn my life over to the woman, here is the time to stand firm and convey the message that I intend to take command of my own life.

No: I shall pack my trunks, have another conversation with my parents’ lawyer—my lawyer, now—and make the final arrangements for closing up the house.

My house.

Also, have two or three more conversations with Dr. Ginsberg. I find that, as my health returns, my recollection of events is becoming oddly vague, as if my brain will only permit me one or the other: health or memories. It is worrying. I have dreams in which my mother’s face is obscured by a grey veil, like mist. Last night, I came bolt upright in my bed, unable to remember which of his two mechanical pencils Levi had with him when the car went off the cliff. I could not fall asleep again for the longest time—but why should it matter in the least? I can only think that some portion of my brain is protesting the obscuring effects of another portion. And since I cannot permit my own mind to rebel against me, perhaps Dr. Ginsberg can help me retrieve the clarity of those events.

Other than this peculiar mental quirk, my injuries are beginning to fade, and I am pleased to find that the strength in my hand is nearly restored. I can even raise the arm enough to brush my own hair, at last. Dr. Ginsberg will take me into the shops this afternoon, since all my shoes pinch and my winter coat is now childishly short. She says that we need not go into the City of Paris, that the Emporium has perfectly adequate clothing. Which is good, since I believe merely walking in the door of Mother’s favourite shop, particularly at this season of the year, would reduce me to tears.

So, my trunk lies packed in the house, ready for the final tucking-in of objects. I do not know who removed the mezuzah from the front door, but I have removed the one that graced Mother’s door into the garden, and packed that in. After a last survey of the house tomorrow (during which I shall type the letter concerning the deeds of the German embassy) the trunk will be shipped off for Boston, and I can turn to saying good-bye to San Francisco.

I need only wait for the arrival of the December Strand, and then set off across the country. If I am to be alone now, then alone is how I must go forward.

In the meantime, my eyes seem to linger over these final issues of the San Francisco Chronicle, although the reading makes for distressing news indeed.


Most Fiendish Atrocity in Galicia

French Youths May Fight

300,000 Under 18 to Prepare


utter surprise at the absence of movement and lack of noise. Within one’s range of vision

with a strong glass are probably concealed 100,000 men…

And, troubling to a different degree:

Commercializing Santa Claus Is Something New

It’s Positively the Very Latest Idea in Christmas Celebrations

*  *

The earlier episodes of Russell’s War are collected here.