In the Dead of Winter. Originally published in 1994 by St. Martin's Press, it is being reissued in advance of a late 2010 publication of a follow-up novel Death at the Round Table.
Here's a synopsis, from Ms. Baker's publicist:
Myrl Adler Norton was, by all accounts, one of the most remarkable women of the twentieth century. The daughter of the acclaimed opera singer Irene Adler, she was a respected professor of logic at Smith College as well as one of the most famous consulting detectives of all time. The books of her exploits, written by her lifelong friend and confidante Faye Martin Tullis, are among the most popular in the history of detective literature. Now, with this previously undiscovered manuscript, the true story behind the meeting of these two friends and their first case comes to light.
In 1918, while a student at Smith College, Faye first encountered Myrl, an enigmatic figure with an interesting past. When a local actress is found dead amid bizarre circumstances, Myrl takes an interest in the murder, and the two travel to Brattleboro, Vermont, to investigate.
There they uncover a twisted conspiracy, one far more dangerous than simple murder - and learn the truth about Myrl's real father, the world's most famous consulting detective.Kirkus Reviews said:
"Baker juggles her large cast and their secrets dextrously ... Recommended for readers who aren't sick of the centenary glut of Holmes pastiches, and even for those who are."
And a blurb from Laurie R.King:
"The Great Detective as a woman? Yes, with all the quirks, foibles, and misanthropy, all the genius, and all the darkness that runs through that remarkable mind. I look forward to more of Myrl Adler and her faithful Watson."
Interestingly, Ms. Baker's work was written in the same time period as Laurie R. King's first Mary Russell novel (The Beekeeper's Apprentice: Or On the Segregation of the Queen) and both concern clever women who play a Holmes-like role. We have a theory about the timing: the small screen and now the large screen have influenced the popularity of each. In 1994, the Jeremy Brett Granada series was coming to a close, and now, as we see this novel republished and its sequel being queued up, we've just seen a major success with the large screen version from Hollywood.
A clever use of the natural publicity and revived interest in Sherlock Holmes, or mere coincidence? Your thoughts?