July 16, 2005

Ming? Adderley?

Laurie King's new mystery, Locked Rooms, is a delight.

Mary Russell and her husband, the old but active Mr. Holmes, stop off in San Francisco on their way home from India (where, last year, they met Kim). Things get complicated. They meet some interesting San Franciscans.

One of these Yanks is a young Pinkerton named Dashiell. Fair enough. (There's also a brief appearance by an old, small, and heavy statue of a bird from some Mediterranean island or other.) It's a lot of fun.

But there are two characters I couldn't place, and should. One is a delightful old lady, a Miss Adderley, who I finally figured out is the author's great grandmother. The other is a leading citizen of Chinatown and Feng Shui expert, one Dr. Ming. Who is he?

Update: Charlie recalls that Alex Raymond (Flash Gordon and Ming The Merciless) drew a comic strip called Secret Agent X-9, written by Dashiell Hammett (amazon ). Hugh Nicoll speculates that Robert van Gulik's Judge Dee might be involved.