Laurie R. King is the third generation in her family native to the San Francisco area. She spent her childhood reading her way through libraries up and down the West Coast; her middle years raising children, renovating houses, traveling the world, and doing a BA and MA in theology. (Her long autobiography goes into detail about how she uses these interests.) King now lives a genteel life of crime, on California’s central coast. Her crime novels are both serial and stand-alone. First in the hearts of most readers comes Mary Russell, who met the retired Sherlock Holmes in 1915 and became his apprentice, then his partner. Beginning with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Russell and Holmes move through the Teens and Twenties in amiable discord, challenging each other to ever greater feats of detection.
In the Russell & Holmes stories, King explores ideas—the roots of conflict in the Middle East and Afghanistan; feminism and early Christianity; patriotism and individual responsibility—while also having a rousing good time. Various stories revisit The Hound of the Baskervilles and Kipling’s Kim, set a pair of Bedouin nomads down in a grand country house in England, and offer an insider’s view of the great quake and fire of 1906, all the while forging an unlikely relationship between two remarkably similar individuals who happen to be separated by age, sex, and background.
King’s Stuyvesant & Grey series, also historical, follows American ex-Bureau of Investigation agent Harris Stuyvesant, damaged young Captain Bennett Grey, and Grey’s sister Sarah as they move through Europe between the Wars.
Five King novels concern San Francisco homicide inspector Kate Martinelli, Kate’s SFPD partner Al Hawkin, and her life partner Lee Cooper. In the course of the stories, Kate has encountered a female Rembrandt, a modern-day Holy Fool, two difficult teenagers, and a manifestation of the goddess Kali.
King’s stand-alone suspense novels include A Darker Place, the story of a middle-aged professor of religion who investigates “cults” for the FBI, and encounters a movement that embraces the dangerous beliefs of alchemy. 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 Rae’s friend Allen Carmichael, a Vietnam vet who draws on his combat experiences to rescue abused women and children—until he comes across a boy whose problems may rival his own. Califia’s Daughters (a paperback original by “Leigh Richards”) is a post-apocalyptic sort of tale set in a near future where women rule and men are fragile.
She has collaborated on nonfiction works including Crime & Thriller Writing and The Grand Game, and on several short story anthologies.