The Livermore Library embarked on a mysterious literary journey Sunday that will last through February.

Bestselling mystery author Laurie R. King spoke to a packed room and gave some insights into writing mystery novels and her personal story. The author's speech was the opening event of Livermore Reads Together, an annual series of activities at the library.

Livermore residents are encouraged to read "The Beekeeper's Apprentice," the first of 12 novels featuring a mystery-solving duo that pairs King's character Mary Russell, a 15-year-old American girl, with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. In the novels, Holmes is trying to lead a quiet retirement as a beekeeper when Russell comes into his life.

Since King is a mystery writer, many of the activities are mystery-themed, but there is even a presentation on beekeeping at 2 p.m. Feb. 15 at the library. Next up at the library is a presentation at 7 p.m. Wednesday titled "Suave and Sophisticated: The English Detective in Film." Author and film critic David Thomson will be the presenter.

The Vine Theater will also show mystery film "The Hound of the Baskervilles" at noon Feb. 8. The following day, Robin Burcell, a crime writer, will give a presentation titled "From Sherlock Holmes to CSI." While all of the other events are free, for $10 adults 21 and older can attend "Murder in the Library: Dewey Decimated!" on Feb. 22 from 7-9:30 p.m. This will be an interactive murder mystery with professional actors playing roles. There will be refreshments and wine. Tickets can be bought at the Friends Bookstore in the library. Librarian Joyce Nevin said the library has already sold 50 tickets of the 160 available.

"People love the idea of being in the library after-hours for events," said Nevin. "This is really a great deal for a night of entertainment."

King, a native of Oakland, shocked the crowd on Sunday by revealing that she hand-wrote most of her novels using a fountain pen. She started writing fiction in 1987. While she types her novels on a laptop now, she said that computers often change the prose of a writer.

"You can also sometimes tell when an author got their first computer because their books go from 300 pages to 800," she said.

Many in the crowd brought their books from home to get signed, while others bought fresh copies. The library also lent 26 copies of "The Beekeepers Apprentice." I bought a copy and plan to read along with the rest of Livermore. This will be my first Laurie R. King novel, and I'm looking forward to it.

For kids, there is also a monthlong reading contest called "Get a Clue," where kids can get prizes for reading mystery books. Sign-ups for this contest can be found at www.cityoflivermore.net/citygov/lib.

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@bayareanewsgroup.com.