Starting Anew

[Note, please, that in one week, Back to the Garden will be on the shelves–in the USA, at any rate. You can find a long excerpt here. ]

I turn 70 this year. The world is literally burning around us, I’ve had some energy-draining health issues, and there are books more than one series that I really really want to write before I become too decrepit to figure out what’s going on with those characters I love but have left on the shelf, bemoaning their abandonment.

So isn’t it…irresponsible of me to turn my back on Kate Martinelli and Harris Stuyvesant and Rae Newborn and the rest?  Certainly the fans of those characters are justified in grumbling.

Still, I’ve flitted between fictional worlds from the beginning.  My first fiction was a stab at SciFi, left half-finished to spend a couple books with Russell & Holmes, before moving from 20s England to the modern world of Kate Martinelli (which became the first one in print.)  For most of my career, I have alternated—a Russell or two, a Martinelli or a standalone, two Stuyvesant & Grey books—because I hated living with one set of characters for too many years in a row.

(It’s no accident that Garment of Shadows, in which our heroine Mary Russell wakes with injuries so severe she has amnesia, comes after an unbroken string of three other Russell & Holmes novels plus a novella. When I realized the pattern, I pointed out to my editor that while it was nice to have a popular series, if I didn’t take a break from those two, one of them was going to wake up dead…)

But readers love the others—at pretty much every event I do, someone asks when Kate Martinelli is coming back.  And I love them too, so I did write and self-pub a novella three years ago (“Beginnings.”)  However, when I talked to my editor about a new Martinelli novel, she didn’t say no, but she did gently point out that while loyalty was nice, a series that tries to start up after a nearly 20-year gap does make for a marketing challenge.

But “Beginnings” did remind me that I liked writing about my own time and place. And with Covid shutting things down, it would be a while before I could travel for research. Plus, there were some other things about “Beginnings” that I enjoyed, such as the dual time line of Kate’s own personal cold case.  And I’d always wanted to do a book set in the 60s or 70s.


Back to the Garden by Laurie R. KingEnter Raquel Laing.  Of Kate Martinelli’s world, but only connected to her through their mutual partner, Al Hawkin.

Still, it’s going to be a series. You never know what other SFPD Inspector is going to wander through in future days.




Find my upcoming events here.

You can order a signed copy from Poisoned Pen or Bookshop Santa Cruz, or unsigned from your local bookshop, Barnes & Noble/Nook, or Amazon/Kindle.

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  1. Vicki Mihajlich on August 31, 2022 at 3:00 pm

    Tell your editor I’d wait fifty years for another Martinelli, but I am not getting any younger, and please, please, please, embrace the marketing nightmare.

    Mind you, looking forward to the gimp with no makeup. It’s preordered from Santa Cruz.


    • Laurie King on August 31, 2022 at 8:14 pm

      She’s not Kate, but I think you might really like her….

    • Carol B. on September 12, 2022 at 3:52 pm

      I like Kate Martinelli, too! Very much!!

  2. Phyllis Young on August 31, 2022 at 3:07 pm

    I have very much enjoyed your stand alone books. Series or no, books of yours to read are a gift.

    Thank you

    • Laurie King on August 31, 2022 at 8:14 pm

      Hope you like it!

  3. JoAnn on August 31, 2022 at 3:18 pm

    You have earned the right to write any book starring any character you choose. I will read it. That being said, I love Mary Russell!

    • Laurie King on August 31, 2022 at 8:14 pm

      So, there’s this talking cat I was going to write about…

      • Pamela Mains on August 31, 2022 at 9:01 pm


  4. Jo LaMore on August 31, 2022 at 3:25 pm

    I could accept a stopping place for Russell/Holmes, but would rather know that it was done than hold on in stasis. I love that you have so many characters clamoring for your attention and time. I enjoy your Holmes/Russell world and will revisit often. Thank you for the gift of their adventures.

    • Laurie King on August 31, 2022 at 8:15 pm

      Oh they’ll be back, in the next book–probably February 2024.
      I’m definitely not finished with Russell!

      • Jennifer Kemp on September 1, 2022 at 4:05 am

        Thrilled to hear this news! Meanwhile I think there is some ‘Gardening’I need to do
        Take care

      • Susan Caldwell on September 8, 2022 at 6:43 pm

        Is that published in ‘24 or turned in in ‘24? I don’t like to read books again except for Christie’s( I can never remember who did it). I read Holmes over and over ( HIS and YOURS). Susan
        PS I read the Vor series over and over also.

        • Laurie King on September 17, 2022 at 1:33 pm

          Published, if I turn it in during 2023….

      • Cindy on September 16, 2022 at 11:23 pm

        Im still waiting to be enlightened on the little problem of Watson in 1924 (island of the mad, chapter 6; or have I missed something?!?!)

  5. Phyllis M Potter on August 31, 2022 at 3:32 pm

    Rae Newborn and Washington’s San Juan Islands certainly deserve another book in the cycle…necessitating another visit up to Lopez, of course, for more research. I still remember with enormous pleasure your visit here all those years ago when you came into my little bookstore and not only purchased a wonderful reference library worth of local history/flora/fauna guides to prepare for writing “Folly”, but kindly signed my shelf full of paperback Mary Russells and Kate Martinellis. While I do understand both the lure of new characters and those pesky realities of publishing, I do also hope perhaps Rae, et al may yet be woven into another tale.

    • Laurie King on August 31, 2022 at 8:16 pm

      Oh I would love that–and yes, I still have those books, such a fun trip that was.
      We shall see….

      • Nicola Morris on September 20, 2022 at 12:07 pm

        I just reread both those novels and wished immediately for more! Just saying.

  6. Robin Sommo on August 31, 2022 at 5:13 pm

    Thank you for your books, they have enriched my life. I will read whatever you choose to write, for as long as we’re fortunate enough to have you writing it.

    • Laurie King on August 31, 2022 at 8:16 pm

      Thank you!

  7. Lisa Masoni on August 31, 2022 at 5:36 pm

    Beginnings was a wonderful way to catch up with Kate, see how Lee and Nora were doing — like a card from an old friend. Kate and I seem to be much of an age — hitting life stages on more or less the same schedule. It would be fun to see her in a cameo!

    • Laurie King on August 31, 2022 at 8:17 pm

      We shall see, if she appears in Raquel’s life in future stories.

  8. Kelley on August 31, 2022 at 5:39 pm

    If you can self-publish novellas through Kindle or wherever, we will buy! Reading Beginnings now. So good! That being said, absolutely looking forward to the new novel. Do what you need to do. The fans will follow.

    • Laurie King on August 31, 2022 at 8:18 pm

      Nice to think–freedom to write is a blessing!

  9. GraceAnne DeCandido on August 31, 2022 at 7:13 pm

    I think I have read every one of your books. I was delighted to review most of the Russell/Holmes memoirs for Booklist. I am five years older than you, so I get it. Write what gives you pleasure, because it will please you and readers old and new. Oh, and I walk with a cane these days, too.

    • Laurie King on August 31, 2022 at 8:19 pm

      Canes are an interesting fashion statement.
      And thanks for your Booklist reviews–I am HOPING they review Back to the Garden!

  10. Chris on September 1, 2022 at 11:10 am

    Marketing… Such joy! Of course we’d all welcome Kate back, but if it’s a walk-on in a year or two, that will sustain us 😊… Will be interesting to see how quickly my imported edition makes it through of next week’s publication!

    • Laurie King on September 2, 2022 at 8:11 pm

      Fingers crossed and prayers to the gods of postal services said!

      • Chris on September 19, 2022 at 5:00 pm

        It has arrived… 3rd time lucky!

  11. Lauren on September 2, 2022 at 7:40 pm

    Hi, just got news that the Audible version of Back to the Garden has been delayed. If I were… impatient, would I find the book at the store on it’s original release date of the 6th? Or has the book been delayed in all formats? Just curious!

    • Laurie King on September 2, 2022 at 8:09 pm

      Hmm, I was just told by my audio guy that it would be out the 6th, along with the hardback (which yes, is definitely going to be available.) I wonder if it’s a problem with Audible itself?
      Not sure what to tell you, especially since nobody is around to ask over this weekend.
      Good luck!

      • Lauren on September 2, 2022 at 8:26 pm

        Thank you! It’s probably Audible, so I’ll just run to Barnes and Noble for a hard copy! I’m so excited, thanks for working so hard and for all that you do!

  12. Kathy Phillips on September 2, 2022 at 8:05 pm

    I’m always delighted to find a new Laurie King book, of any kind, in part because I will always remember A Grave Talent which I read as a review copy. I have never cried when I’ve finished a book, neither before or since. I reread it occasionally, remembering the impact it had on me then. I tried to sell it in numbers, but it wasn’t easy — people seem to look for series to get hooked into. Those customers became huge Mary Russell fans, but I never could communicate the impact A Grave Talent had on me.
    I am a few years older than you, so I recognize the infirmities can have their grip on body parts. Speak to them as you would a recalcitrant teenager. It does work. Get better.

    • Laurie King on September 2, 2022 at 8:10 pm

      Well, Kate doesn’t have as many fans as Russell, but they are ardent. Thanks for being one of them!

      • Ellen W Chu on September 6, 2022 at 1:13 pm

        I am of the same time and place as you, remembering, along with so much else, the impression Noel made on the UCSC campus back in the day. I have read nearly all of your books, support indy bookstores wherever I am, and find Bookshop Santa Cruz as good as bookstores get. A UCSC-trained biologist and editor now living in the Pacific Northwest, I give Santa Cruz credit for all that I’ve accomplished. If you ever hanker to speak for the Port Townsend Public Library—or when you write your next PNW-set book!—let me know. Maybe yours can be our next Community Read—when the whole town reads and celebrates the same book. Thanks for captivating so many readers through the years!

        • Laurie King on September 17, 2022 at 1:34 pm

          I love doing Community Reads, and I’d love to do another PNW book. Some day….

  13. Bob Peacock on September 3, 2022 at 11:53 pm

    “This is just so good. This is just good shit.” Sorry for the vulgarity, but those are the words that, with a laugh, popped right out of my mouth a few pages into Justice Hall – you do know how to grab us, right from the get-go. Sometimes I wish I could have that faculty, that ease (as if, right?) so I could too make a nice living writing. Nah, I’m retired, no longer need to, but, still, all of us out here envy your amazing ability, so fun.

    My brother-in-law recommend you a couple of years ago, and I’ve read Mary Russels in order, loved ’em, and just like my other serial faves, will be looking forward to reading them all. As well as Kate and Rae et al.

    Love what the friend said: “Infirmities can have their grip on body parts. Speak to them as you would a recalcitrant teenager.”

    • Laurie King on September 17, 2022 at 1:36 pm

      Thanks, Bob, I’m glad you’re enjoying all the various characters. And may your own recalcitrant teenagers stay under control.

  14. Philine on September 7, 2022 at 8:00 am

    well well.
    Me, I’d love a follow-up to Califia’s daughter….noone asked for that one yet.

    As for the audiobook, there is clearly a delay to having it on a certain big audio platform (au di ble) outside the US. We’ll be patient and opt for Beginnings in the meantime.

    • Laurie King on September 17, 2022 at 1:29 pm

      I hadn’t realized that Audible isn’t outside the US, how odd.

      • Sigrid on May 23, 2023 at 11:45 pm

        I have come across the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes books on Audible. Am still working my way through them. I enjoy the stories, the characters, the wit, language and so may interesting facts about different countries and history. Thank you.
        A note about Audible:
        Being born and raised in Germany and now dual citizen living in the US, I have used Audible US and the German I can now get many German books on audible US and vice versa but there seems to be delays at time because of publishing rights in the different countries.
        That might explain what Philine mentioned.

  15. Sally on September 8, 2022 at 11:39 pm

    The picture reminded me how much I liked Califa’s Daughters.

  16. Christine on September 10, 2022 at 1:03 pm

    I just finished Back to the Garden. My almost 70 year old back put me on the couch for 3 days. I was so glad to have a good book to read. Looking forward to a second book. Have read all of Mary Russell. Love your writing.

    • Laurie King on September 17, 2022 at 1:30 pm

      Happy to provide back therapy!

  17. Laura S Brown on September 11, 2022 at 10:49 pm

    Dear sister 1952 baby ישר כוח. I love, adore, love this new book. Loved meeting Raquel and want to know more about her and perhaps meet her again.
    I am a lowly writer of ponderous prose about feminism and trauma, and find your insight into each of those topics refreshing and enlightening. Inspires me to get back to my own manuscript. Thanks again for sharing the children of your brilliant mind with us. תודה רבה

    • Laurie King on September 17, 2022 at 1:31 pm

      So glad you enjoyed meeting Raquel–and all the best with your ms!

  18. Sarah Duncan on September 15, 2022 at 3:38 pm

    Raquel is wonderful, so much fun! I long to hear her sister’s backstory, what she does next, and how she ended up walking with a cane. I’m also a huge and devoted Kate Martinelli fan!!! And I hope you write only what brings you joy, even if Kate’s not the main character.

    Warm, warm wishes and deep gratitude to you for your wonderful stories.

    • Laurie King on September 17, 2022 at 1:31 pm

      I hope she lets me know about all those things, in future tales….

  19. Joyce Gunn on September 23, 2022 at 12:12 am

    I just finished reading Back to the Garden. I love it and I’m looking forward to more adventures with Raquel. Great characters, wonderful historical house, and of course a great mystery with an ending I never suspected. Thanks for another great reading experience.

  20. Caroline Beverstock on September 25, 2022 at 12:54 pm

    I was delighted and intrigued by back to the garden. Apparently I am one of your 70+ year old readers who finds herself full of images of the period you set this story. I spent 25 years as a docent at Filoli in Woodside and I kept thinking that you must’ve visited there and that you used some of those experiences and the setting for back to the garden. The Laurel hedge reminds me of the hedges that had to be dug back periodically so the perennial border would not be overwhelmed. Mrs. Dalhousie reminds me of the clever and dedicated 1500 volunteers who made opening that magical place possible. You took me not only into your story but also back to my life then. Brava,

  21. Sarah Baydala on October 1, 2022 at 5:44 pm

    I’ve enjoyed every character you’ve presented in print. Every time I open one of your books, I feel like someone I’ve known forever is telling me another story to help explain human nature to me.
    I’m quite sorry to know you’ve been handling health problems. I’m 18 months from 70 YO and juggling my own new physical limitations. It’s frustrating to say the least for people with the desire to create when our ability to function is challenged. I wish you good improvements in your abilities and success in all your endeavors.
    And may you enjoy the creative process for years to come. If you do, I know I will enjoy reading it!

  22. Cathy Pratt on October 25, 2022 at 2:08 pm

    I just finished Back to the Garden. It was fabulous! I will read whatever you write! Thank you for many happy hours of reading!

    • Laurie King on October 25, 2022 at 3:31 pm

      Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed meeting Raquel and her gang!

  23. Barbara Klucik on November 26, 2022 at 7:30 pm

    Thank you, Laurie. For all of your series, and now for Back to the Garden. I am of a similar age to you, and reading this book vividly recalled the 70’s for me, including the hitchhiking that seemed so innocent at the time. I’m delighted to hear that you are planning a Raquel Laing series!

    I’m sorry that you’re having health issues, and I hope that things will sort themselves out for you.

    • Laurie King on November 26, 2022 at 8:18 pm

      Hi Barbara, glad you’re enjoying Inspector Laing–and yes, hard to believe those days of innocence…
      Happy holidays, and great reading!

  24. Sheila Leavitt on December 3, 2022 at 7:39 pm

    Back to the Garden was terrific. I recognized several people from my past, and maybe a squirm-worthy former version of two of me (now 72, older than you).
    I hope your health problems resolve and that you write whatever makes you happy; we will read it all. If one of these is more R/H, that would be a bonus.
    I just (re-) listened to Locked Rooms, while stuck in unfamiliar SF for much longer than planned, caring for the dogs of family members with the plague. I found myself, serendipitously, walking through neighborhoods in which Russell or Holmes were chasing the crooks and shadows. The miles and hours flew by. Everyone recovered. Thank you!!

  25. Barbara Kine on November 17, 2023 at 5:38 pm

    Recently, I was going through my small personal library looking for my copy of O Jerusalem. Couldn’t find it. It had been falling apart so I patched it together and put it away. Then, I forgot where I put it and had to order a new copy. When I received my new copy it was like getting reacquainted with a long-lost old friend. I have been a fan of yours Laurie for a long time and love the way you write. You are a wonderful storyteller. Well done.

    • Laurie King on November 26, 2023 at 4:18 pm

      Old friends, indeed–and isn’t it amazing how a different cover or even font can change how we see the story?
      Enjoy your re-acquaintance!

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