I have to say, it´s nice to read a Holmes story by King again. She does it so well, it´s such a pleasure to read. I´m not as charmed by Martinelli, I think she is a boring and wooden character and her partnership with collegue Alonzo Hawkin just too smooth and conflict free. Even Morse and Lewis had a bit of tension at times. And her domestic situation is very politically correct - actually, the theme of this entire story is very close to Martinelli´s particular home.
But these are small complaints and entirely a matter of personal taste. The riddle is pure joy. A dead man is found in an old abandoned battery on the San Francisco coast, and the case lands on Martinelli´s and Hawkin´s desks. The deceased has been a real Sherlock Holmes-afficionado, a dealer in Holmes collectibles, even looked a bit like Holmes himself, and was a bit of a star among the "sherlockians" of San Francisco. He had even recreated his home to look like Baker Street 221B. Among his possessions they find a manuscript, a rumoured "lost" novel by Arthur Conan Doyle and Martinelli sits down to read it. It´s a story, set in 1924, told by a nameless person, posing though as "Mr Sigerson", an alias of Holmes´. And the murdered man of that mystery is found in exactly the same place, the abandoned battery.
Of course, those of us who are in the know, realize immediately that the text is a diary, written by the real Sherlock Holmes, who, as we know, had some time on his hands while visiting San Francisco in 1924 with Mary Russell, for her to settle some of her father´s affairs (as told in "Locked Rooms"). It has been found in a hidden nook in the attic of Russell´s old house, along with the typewriter it was written on. Of course, no one realizes that it´s anything but fiction and for the Martinelli story it really doesn´t matter that they don´t. While the two cases aren´t directly connected, there is a literary connection, a common theme, and the manuscript itself is the trigger for the present day crime. Which I could write some more about, but I´d rather recommend that you find the book yourself. I will not give the mystery away.
One of the minor female characters that pass by in Martinelli´s enquiries, looks just like Laurie R King herself, or so I imagine. I would not be surprised if some other "sherlockians" have had the pleasure of being written into a Holmes story, of sort, but of course that´s only a speculation on my part. Anyway, I think she had fun writing this. And it´s the last Martinelli story. Or latest, perhaps. And it ends very happily, like the end of a fairytale. And they lived happily ever after? Will King return to Martinelli or devote herself to more Russell&Holmes? You know what I´m hoping for!
Actually, the latest Russell&Holmes book was released just a few days ago. I´m saving it for Christmas. I shall lie on a Spanish sand dune and read.