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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Saturday, April 03, 2004

The Moor: a Mary Russell Novel by Laurie R. King. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998. ISBN: 0312169345

In this story, Laurie King allows herself to revisit the locale and milieu of one of the most famous Sherlock Holmes stories, The Hound of the Baskervilles. If you are unfamiliar with Laurie King's efforts in expanding upon the tales of the great detective, I refer you to my blog entry dated January 12, 2004.

The moor itself is almost as much a character in this novel as are Holmes and Mary Russell, the main character of King's Sherlock Holmes stories. By this time Russell and Holmes have been man and wife for some time, but she frequently finds him enormously exasperating, as when he summons her to his side in Dartmoor, with no consideration for her own scholarly work, for which he professes no high regard.

King also introduces a real live character, one Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924), aristocrat, Anglican priest and vicar, squire, archaeologist, architect, artist, teacher and a collector of English folk songs who wrote the text to the famous hymn "Onward Christian Soldiers." His was one of the more remarkable minds of the Victorian age, the author of 30 novels and nonfiction covering an amazing array of topics: theology, folklore, social commentary, travel, history and more.

In King's story, the man is near his death, old and feeble, but with a mind still brightly shining. King makes him Holmes' godfather and dear friend, and his house becomes the temporary lodging place for the couple as they investigate yet another manifestation of the old legend of the evil Hound of the Baskervilles.

Both setting and story make for yet another superb tale in the King/Holmes canon, and one not to be missed by any fan.

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