The Art of Detection

Each Tuesday during this spring’s Twenty Weeks of Buzz, I post about a different one of my twenty novels, talking about how I came to write that book. This week, The Art of Detection, published in 2006 and winner of the Lambda Award.


Sitting in a BoucherCon hotel suite with my editor, talking about what’s next:

KM: What would you like to do next?

LRK: Well, I was kind of thinking about a sequel to Califia’s Daughters. I know you’re not crazy about sci-fi, but—

KM: I was wondering if there might be some way to bring together the Martinelli and Russell series.

LRK: What, you mean Russell meets Martinelli? Oh for heaven’s sake, even if I timed it immediately after Night Work, Russell would still be in her nineties. You want me to have Martinelli arrest a ninety year-old woman for murdering her even more ancient husband?

KM: No need to get snarky, Laurie, it doesn’t suit you.

LRK: It’s a bad idea.

Then two weeks later, at home, having settled in to write Touchstone, a second conversation, this one on the phone:

LRK: I’ve been thinking, about what to do next.

KM: Yes?

LRK: You know how I told you that bringing together Martinelli and Russell was a terrible idea, that it would never work?

KM: Yes.

LRK: Well it is. But it occurred to me, that I’ve already set it up that Russell and Holmes were in San Francisco in 1924, and since Russell has business interests in Southern California, she might go there, leaving him behind. And he, being Holmes, would surely get up to something in her absence, which he then might write up himself—there’s precedence, since two of the Conan Doyle stories are first person Holmes—and if that manuscript then came to light eighty years later, it could easily come to Kate Martinelli’s attention. So, a lost Holmes manuscript, what do you think?

KM: Yes!

LRK: And maybe—I mean, I’m happy to write Touchstone next, as we’d planned, but if you’d rather have this one first I could do that. Oh, and I was thinking of calling it The Art of Detection, which was the name of Holmes’ book on detection. You think?

KM: Yes! And, yes!

Only after we hung up did I realize that the diabolical woman knew me too well, and had planned it all the time.


  1. jtb1951 on April 20, 2010 at 3:49 am

    When Worlds Collide!!!


  2. strawberry curls on April 20, 2010 at 8:30 am

    This was the book I used as a threshold to draw my husband into the world of Mary Russell. He read TAoD without my requesting it, although I did leave the book conveniently displayed near his nightstand when I knew he was finishing a book. Although he wasn’t taken by Kate, (not having read the preceding books does hamper some enjoyment) he loved the Holmes manuscript and asked if it was anything like “those Mary Russell books you are always talking about.” I quite innocently said they were told from Mary’s POV not Holmes’ but were consistent with what was in that manuscript he had read. Well, he picked up BEEK and read his way through to LOCK, the last published at the time, and although he will never be the devotee I am to the series, he does ask when the next will be out and grabs it to read as soon as I’m done.

  3. Anna Elliott on April 20, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Some story ideas are just absolutely meant to be. It’s utterly delightful to read TAoD and Locked Rooms as a pair. And totally fascinating to know the story behind them!

  4. Cate on April 20, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Great things coming together and a scrip of synchronicity… I am rereading Touchstone while I wait for The God of the Hive to appear in my local independent bookshop, and another reading of Locked Rooms and The Art of Detection is to follow. Gorgeous books, all three of them…

  5. Mem on April 21, 2010 at 7:39 am

    Oh, Laurie, please, please, please convince them to let you do a sequel to Califia’s Daughters! Better yet, just tell them you are writing the book and let them bid on it if they want it. That was such a spectacularly well done book and it deserves the prequel and the sequel that were planned.

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