The Sussex adventures of Russell & Holmes, part 8

Miss Russell has been doing her part to celebrate the Fifteen Weeks of Bees in the Laurie R. King e-universe, explaining through her MySpace blog how she came to give her memoirs to Ms King. This, week eight of the Fifteen Weeks, finds the intrepid duo this far in the story:

In 1992 Mary Russell, having searched for someone to edit her memoirs, located the granddaughter of a childhood friend from San Francisco. However, before she could contact Laurie, the rural Sussex home that she shared with the aged Sherlock Holmes was invaded by, and I quote, “a ravening pack of Sherlockians.” These American enthusiasts (were they Brits, they would have been Holmesians) surrounded the house, forcing Russell to summon their neighbour Patrick, (grandson of Patrick the farm manager) and a member of the local dramatic society, who had once played a rather flamboyant stage Holmes. Russell and Holmes packed up their memorabilia and prepared their home for a siege. After dark, they left a stuffed dummy in Patrick’s car and set off across the Downs to a car-park near the Eastbourne road.

Week Eight:

The door of the waiting car clicked open and the gravel crunched. Our actor greeted us in low whispers as we handed over Holmes’ outer garments (which the Americans might recognize, if they had been keeping watch for some days) in exchange for his keys. In under two minutes, we were in the car and Patrick was leading the actor back the way we had come.

He was, I thought, already dressed and made up for his role, although anyone paying attention to his gait would know his middle-aged strength—he was a competitive runner, which gave him the necessary thinness to enact Holmes. In fact, I heard later, this fleetness of foot came in useful the very next afternoon, when the waiting Sherlockians saw “Holmes” set out for a walk along the cliffs, set off baying after him, only to be utterly confounded when Sherlock Holmes broke into an easy sprint and left them panting in his wake.

(The following day, Patrick withdrew his guard, and within the hour, knock came on the door. The actor was suitably taken aback by these Americans who imagined his stone cottage was inhabited by Sherlock Holmes. With exquisite rural politeness he asked, were they not aware that Sherlock Holmes was a fictional character?)

By the time the confused and downhearted pack walked back up the drive, we had been gone for three days, and our trail was cold.

Or so I thought.


  1. John Hoyt on March 24, 2009 at 10:52 am

    My daughter (and I) are big Mary Russell fans. She has recently been admitted to Oxford as a graduate student to St. Hugh’s College. I was wondering what college Mary Russell attends at Oxford?


  2. Staci on March 24, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Ok I know that this has very little to do with Part 8 of the short story but if I posted this under the posting it should be, no one would ever see it because it was a few weeks ago.
    Anyway, I was rereading Locked Rooms when this line from the book caught my attention: “Our beginnings on Friday had not been auspicious: Flo Greenfield and her entourage were late.” This reminded me of the first line I read from the exerpt of The Language of the Bees: “As homecomings go, it was not auspicious. The train was late.”
    I found it interesting how similar the lines were and wanted to share it with others who might also find it interesting.

  3. vickivanv on March 25, 2009 at 6:11 am

    Miss Russell does have a consistent style as a memoirist, doesn’t she? 😉

    John,congrats to your daughter on her admission to Oxford! As for which college was Russell’s, I like to think that she was a few years ahead of Harriet Vane at Shrewsbury College. 😀 Or maybe she was at Somerville in the same time frame as Dorothy Sayers and Vera Brittain. It’s fun to consider and imagine the possibilities!

Leave a Comment