(urth) mary king & shell

Roy C. Lackey rclackey at stic.net
Sun May 2 12:47:33 PDT 2010

Hassan Lopez wrote:
> Why would Bax ask Shell, a prisoner (and murderer?) about Mary King, a
> resident of Medicine Man?  Is there some connection between Shell and
> Medicine Man that I'm missing?

I don't know. But I've toyed with the idea that Shell may have more to do
with the story than seems apparent, because he is the only letter writer who
never makes it onto the stage. The compiler would be a possibility, despite
the apparent differences in writing skills.

The compiler's note had to have been written at least seven (maybe nine)
years after the last letter. That Shell was/is presumed dead is no real
obstacle, as we have seen. All through the book, Bax keeps writing that
Shell would be welcome at his house. The compiler's note indicates that
someone was living in the Black house at the time he wrote the note. Shell
could be living there, or he may have gone to faerie.

That he may have gone to faerie is suggested by his wanting to get away from
civilization and the little story he told Bax about being at a summer camp
when he was a kid (42-3). He had a parole hearing coming up in September and
thought he might make it to the Black house by Halloween. This idea is
indirectly supported by Martha's late (at the river battle) and seemingly
pointless mention of her best friend having been run down (presumably by a
motorized vehicle) while crossing a street. Bax told her that his best
friend was still in prison (285).

Earlier, Martha had indicated that she had left faerie because it was such a
dangerous place, yet her best friend had been killed in our mundane world.
By the end of the book, she seems to have changed her tune about faerie, as
indicated by her getting back together with Zwart and leaving her house to


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