Clapboards & calamities
The last two Russell & Holmes novels—A Language of Bees and The God of the Hive—were fairly serious crime novels, their light-hearted moments few and far between. When I agreed to do a third series novel in a row, I agreed, but with the proviso that this one would be fun. A romp. A farce, even.
My editor was so relieved at not having to fight me for another Russell that she generated a contract without asking for details. Foolish woman.
(However, that reminds me: When you get to chapter 39, do not drink coffee if using an e-reader, unless the machine is inside a Ziploc bag.)
But with a world of farce before me, where to begin? It being England, the possibilities are considerable, and the temptation to make use of that ultimate brand of British silliness, Gilbert & Sullivan, proved irresistible (more on that next week.) But having tackled religious cults, international espionage, the drugs trade, and various forms of murder most foul, what was the least likely setting for our intrepid duo? What milieu would be guaranteed to provide the sharpest contrast to an ageing detective and his bluestocking wife? What group of people would be absolutely guaranteed to drive the two of them absolutely berserk? What about—
That’s right: Russell goes Hollywood—or anyway, the British equivalent. She is dragged, kicking and screaming, into the world of Fflytte Films, where megalomania is king and every actress a queen, and the great (if still silent) film Pirate King is being born:
(This poster, by the way, is being given as prizes for the various contests, and we’ll give one away at each event in September.)
Not that the film world is unfamiliar with Sherlock Holmes. As Russell herself discovers, when she is—
…startled out of my wits when my husband’s name appeared on the flickering screen.
Which is, in fact, a real movie, a genius piece of Keaton’s art with some remarkably sophisticated special effects. It is waiting for your viewing pleasure here: