LRK’s Research

One of the things readers love about Laurie’s novels is the close attention to detail and the research she puts into them.  If one of her books tickles your intellectual fancy, take a look at her suggested reading for that title.

(For general recommended reading, check out my page on Goodreads.)

  1. Notes on Research
  2. Books on writing
  3. God, Trickster, & The Feminine
  4. Mary Russell Books
  5. Stuyvesant & Grey Books
  6. Kate Martinelli Books
  7. The Stand-Alone Novels
  8. Other writings

Notes on research:

There is no such thing as an ex-academic.   Decades after leaving grad school, I argue with copyeditors over points of minutiae; I agonize when “what sounds right” conflicts with mere fact; my editor has been known to wrench footnotes out of my hand.

I am a recovering academic, and to call the following “bibliographies” is misleading, since I use dozens, scores, even hundreds of books in researching a novel, and these lists contain a mere handful of titles.

Instead, the books here are a beginning, recommended as either illuminating, entertaining, or basic in some aspect of the book: a soldier’s experiences in Vietnam, for example (Keeping Watch), or the life of an English woman during the Great War (the Russell series.) I tried to pick works that are readable for the non-expert, and are available without too much effort.

The books given do not include topics where any number of titles would do as well—alchemy, for example, or Fashion of the Twenties. Nor do I include titles mentioned already in the books, such as Maeterlinck’s treatise on beekeeping (cited in The Beekeeper’s Apprentice) or the Wodehouse biography of Saint Francis (To Play the Fool.) Nor do they cover online research or videos, many of which are listed on my web pages of the specific novels.

Even with the advent of Project Gutenberg and Google Books, I still depend heavily on actual books rather than online research.  Antiquarian booksellers are a trove of unexpected treasures, especially those in London.  My volume of Murray’s Handbook for India, Burma, and Ceylon, for example, was originally owned in 1919 by a soldier stationed in Ambala: the margin notes open a window onto his life.

When writing about a place, I usually depend on a Baedeker’s guide published near the time I am writing, or else Murray’sCook’s, or even the AA Handbook (research libraries or Interlibrary loans will have them). Vintage guides are far from the sterile Checklist of Sights that followed the era of mass tourism. When the beds of a hostelry had fleas or the guides were villains, the writer did not hesitate to tell you.

The book pages themselves have link to various interesting web sites, although they are by no means extensive, and sites tend to drop out of existence with depressing regularity. Also, whatever you really want to know probably isn’t going to be there.  However, the internet can also be of great help in finding an expert in the field (I am constantly amazed at how willing people are to give up their time for a writer!) and in planning a research trip, ensuring that you don’t overlook the antique cars at Beaulieu, the childhood museum in London, or that great collection of historical undergarments in Exeter…


Books on Writing

Every year sees a thousand new books on how to write and on how to get published (not necessarily the same thing.)  Since the book industry is undergoing such huge and rapid changes, it is difficult to recommend definitive guides for the business side of things.  However, certain books on craft are perennially helpful:

John Gardener, The Art of Fiction; On Becoming a Novelist; On Moral Fiction

Strunk & White, The Elements of Style

Mystery Writers of America guides to writing mysteries

And then there’s always:

Michelle Spring & Laurie R. King, Crime and Thriller Writing

God, Trickster, & The Feminine:

Laurie’s two academic theses, “The Role of the Fool in Western Culture” (her University of California BA) and “Feminine Aspects of God in the Old Testament” (Graduate Theological Union MA), shaped a number of her novels.  The text and their bibliographies on Trickster and The Feminine are available in a Kindle ebook, “My Thesis Being…

The Mary Russell books:

Eight LRK essays about Sherlock Holmes are compiled in “Laurie R. King’s Sherlock Holmes”, here.


On Sherlock Holmes and his creator:

W. S. Baring-Gould, Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street

Daniel Stashower, Teller of Tales (on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)


On England during and after the Great War:

Pat Barker, RegenerationThe Eye in the DoorThe Ghost Road (novels)

Vera Brittain, Testament of YouthTestament of Experience

Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory

Robert Graves, Good-bye to All That; (with Alan Hodge) The Long Week-End

Pamela Horn, Women in the 1920s

Lyn Macdonald—any of her myriad Great War titles

Siegfried Sassoon, Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting ManMemoirs of an Infantry  Officer


The Beekeeper’s Apprentice:

Dirk Bogarde, Great Meadow (a memoir of Sussex in the Twenties)

William Longwood, The Queen Must Die (on the art of beekeeping)

Leslie S. Klinger, A New Annotated Sherlock Holmes


A Monstrous Regiment of WomenA Letter of Mary:

(see the above “My Thesis Being…”)

Leonard Swidler, Biblical Affirmations of Women

Rosemary Radford Ruether, Sexism and God-Talk

Phyllis Trible, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality

Judith Ochshorn, The Female Experience and the Nature of the Divine


The Moor:

Sabine Baring-Gould, Dartmoor

William Crossing, Dartmoor

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles (a novel)


O Jerusalem:

Linda Osband, ed. (intro by Jan Morris), Famous Travellers to the Holy Land

Bertha Spafford Vester, Our Jerusalem (turn of the century life in Jerusalem)

Janet Wallach, Desert Queen (on the life of Gertrude Bell)


Justice Hall:

Mark Girouard, Life in the English Country House

Jervase Jackson-Stops and James Pipkin, The English Country House

Julian Putkowski and Julian Sykes, Shot at Dawn (on wartime executions)

Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited (a novel)


The Game:

Rudyard Kipling, Kim (a novel)

Peter Hopkirk, Quest for Kim

Charles Allen, Plain Tales from the Raj

Malcolm Darling, The Hill of DeviWisdom and Work in the Punjabi VillageRusticus Loquitur or, the Old Light and the New in the Punjab Village

E.M. Forster, The Hill of Devi

William H. and Charlotte V. Wiser, Behind Mud Walls

Tahir Shah, Sorcerer’s Apprentice


Locked Rooms:

Jo Hammett, Dashiell Hammett: A Daughter Remembers

Gladys Hansen, Earthquake! A Day That Changed America

Bernice Scharlach, Big Alma (the story of Alma Spreckles tells much about her era in San Francisco)


The Art of Detection (1924 section):

Lisa Benton, The Presidio

Rose Collins, Colonel Barker’s Monstrous Regiment

Jerry Flamm, Good Life in Hard Times

Herbert Asbury, The Barbary Coast, an Informal History of the San Francisco Underground

Kristin Baron & John Martini, Fort Baker Through the Years

Arthur Conan Doyle, Our Second American Adventure


The Language of Bees:

Guy Deghy and Keith Waterhouse, Café Royal

R. Thurston Hopkins, Kipling’s Sussex

Virginia Nicholson, Among the Bohemians

Lawrence Sutin, Do What Thou Wilt; a Life of Aleister Crowley

Douglas Goldring, Nineteen Twenties


The God of the Hive:

E. E. Fresson, Air Road to the Isles

William Anderson and Clive Hicks, Green Man


Pirate King:

Daniel Defoe, A General History of the Pyrates

Fernando Pessoa, Lisbon—What the Tourist Should SeeA Little Larger than the Entire Universe (trans Richard Zenith)

Scott Eyman, Lion of Hollywood

G. W. Bitzer, Billy Bitzer, His Story (cameraman for DW Griffith and others)


Garment of Shadows:

Tahir Shah, The Caliph’s House

David Woolman, Rebels in the Rif

André Maurois, Lyautey

Titus Burckhardt, Fez: City of Islam


Dreaming Spies

John Patric, Yankee Hobo in the Orient

Isabella Bird, Unbeaten Tracks in Japan

Harold and Alice Foght, Unfathomed Japan

John Man, Ninja: 1000 Years of the Shadow Warrior

  1. Philip Terry, Terry’s Guide to the Japanese Empire


The Murder of Mary Russell

The Diary of Frederick Bullock on the City of Adelaide

Dressing the late 19th century woman

William Bramwell Withers, The History of Ballarat

Ruth Goodman, How to Be a Victorian

Charles Dickens Jr, Dickens Dictionary of London

John Thomson and Adolphe Smith, Victorian London Street Life in Historic Photographs

Judith Flanders, Inside the Victorian Home

The Stuyvesant & Grey books


The Seigfried Sassoon books, above (shell shock)

Jessica Mitford, Hons and Rebels


The Bones of Paris

Biographies and autobiographies of all the artists and writers of the period are readily available, but in addition, the expatriate community is the focus of:

John Glassco, Memoirs of Montparnasse

Morley Callaghan, That Summer in Paris

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Janet Flanner, Paris Was Yesterday

Noel Riley Fitch, Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation

Alice Prin, Kiki’s Memoirs

Jimmie Charts and Morrill Cody, This Must be the Place


On Paris itself:

Andrew Hussey, Paris, the Secret History

Mel Gordon, The Grand Guignol

Vincent Bouvet & Gerard Durozoi, Paris Between the Wars, 1919-1929

Caroline Archer, Paris Underground

The Kate Martinelli books

To Play the Fool:

Enid Welsford, The Fool: His Social and Literary History

William Willeford, The Fool and his Scepter


With Child

Howard Schatz, Homeless


Night Work:

Michael David Coogan, Stories from Ancient Canaan

Marvin Pope, Song of Songs

The Standalone novels

A Darker Place (in England: Birth of a New Moon):

James Tabor and Eugene Gallagher, Why Waco? (“cults” and the government)

Tim Smit, The Lost Gardens of Heligen (an exotic English garden)



On depression:

Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind

Jay Neugeboren, Transforming Madness

William Styron, Darkness Visible


Keeping Watch:

On the “brutalization process” of abuse:

Elliot Aronson, Nobody Left to Hate

James Garbarino, Lost Boys

Richard Rhodes, Why they Kill


On Vietnam:

Philip Caputo, A Rumor of War

Michael Herr, Dispatches

Ward Just (intro), Reporting Vietnam

John Laurence, The Cat from Hue

Nathaniel Tripp, Father Soldier Son

Other Writings:

“The Salt Pond” (short story): Tim Flannery, Throwim Way Leg (on New Guinea)