One summer I took on Conan Doyle as my reading project. I had read some Sherlock Holmes here and there, and like most avid readers, was aware of how Doyle's quirky detective and his bumbling counterpart basically gave birth to modern Noir Fiction, lead to slang that has become part of our mainstream modern language, and paved the way for our love of CSI-type mystery.
After I read and cherished all of Doyle's published Holmes stories, several adults and YA students told me "you have to read the Mary Russel novels." This came at a great time since The Beekeepers Apprentice was on the Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Awards nominee list for that year.
I devoured each novel! Kings gift for writing mystery, her beautifully reseached historical detail, and her uncommon and unforgettable character of Mary Russell struck a chord. A Monstrous Regiment of Women and O Jerusalem are my two favorite novels in the series thus far.
In A Monstrous Regiment, King does something incredible. She resolves the romantic climax between Holmes and Russell perfectly. And thankfully, she didn't make us wait any longer.
I read, then reread, the climatic passage multiple times trying to preserve the physical memories evoked by a handful of deftly arranged words. It is powerfully, sweetly and innocently erotic. For me, this tiny passage turned Sherlock Holmes from a egocentrically eccentric genius to an unlikely sex symbol. Unlikely for me maybe, but King must have understood that this romantic appeal is perfectly in character with the detective. With Holmes' obsession with the emotional responses of humans involved and effected by crime, and a long fictional life filled with unimaginable experiences, this 60+ year old character would probably know a think or two about the physical desires of women. This passage would be at home in the Song of Solomon.
Hey King, maybe your Holmes should write an article on the subject?