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Holmes - books

A Monstrous Regiment of Women

I wish I could remember who first recommended the Mary Russell series, by Laurie R. King, to me. It's a while ago, I do know that, probably a couple of years. I didn't actually read the first one, The Beekeeper's Apprentice, until late last year and have just finished the second, A Monstrous Regiment of Women. I *really* should have made the effort to read them before now, it would have been so worth it.

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Mary Russell is now twenty one, and about to come into her not inconsiderable inheritance. She's finished her degree but still at Oxford studying, lecturing etc. Her relationship with the retired Sherlock Holmes is still a working, platonic one, but to Mary's consternation she finds her feelings towards him changing and becoming rather intense. At the same time a chance meeting with an old friend from university brings her into contact with Margery Childe. Margery is the enigmatic leader of The New Temple of God, a sect involved in feminism and helping disadvantaged woman. A good thing then? Possibly. Mary is uneasy about the set-up and takes her worries to Sherlock Holmes. Things escalate when one of the sect's wealthy followers is murdered, whereupon Mary discovers that a couple of others have also died in suspicious circumstances. With Holmes' help Mary sets about investigating and it isn't long before she herself is in mortal danger.

When I read the blurb about this second book I thought that maybe I wouldn't find a mystery about a religous sect that much to my taste. Well, I finished it in two days so judge for yourself how rivetting I found it. ;-) What kept me turning the pages? Well, Laurie King writes the Edwardian era really well. She also writes Sherlock Holmes very well, and in Mary Russell she has a heroine every bit his equal. Mary is bookish, intelligent, independent and not very 'girly'. She loves to dress up in men's clothes and solve crimes and isn't remotely intimidated by the intellect of Sherlock Holmes. Some might find the eventual romantic attachment of these two not to their taste - there is a huge age gap. Personally, I like the older man, younger woman thing in fiction, so am not remotely worried by it and these two are *very* suited to one another. In short, I think this series is wonderful and am so happy someone, whoever it was, introduced me to it.

Comments

If I recall correctly, several of us recommended her books at about the same time. I've now read her non-series books, and am working on the modern series with a police woman, but I am stuck, and unable to find the third book. ARGH!
Ah yes, there was quite along conversation about good historical crime books, is that right? I think so. I ought to try and find it as there must be other things recced there that I've forgotten.

Another blogging friend of mine has read King's latest, 'Touchstone', a stand alone novel. She got an advance copy so I'm not sure if it's available yet, but she loved it to bits. I like that there are plenty of her books still to read. :-)
I wish I could take credit, because I love the Mary Russell books, but it suspect it was probably someone else. I'm behind on them - you've reminded me to go catch up!
Another fan! It seems there are quite a few of us...
I read the first two volumes in this series last year myself, and recently went on a "catching up on a series binge" and read all the others up to The Game. Locked Rooms, the latest in the series, comes out in paperback later this month, at which point I will promptly devour it as well.

I am quite a fan of A.C.Doyle's Sherlock, and have read several pastiches over the years, but King's are, I think, the finest.

In addition to the Martinelli series (which I haven't yet looking into) and her stand-alones, King has also written a post-apocalyptic SF book called Califia's Daughters under the pen name Leigh Richards, which I read before the Mary Russell books, and quite enjoyed.
I'm trying to work my way through ACD's original Holmes books this year... I've read some but not all. He's the best, obviously, but King's Mary Russell books are very good as well. Someone mentioned Nicholas Meyer to me so I will have to look into him.

I'll certainly look into King's other novels once I've finished this series. Her latest, Touchstone, is apparently pretty good too.
The Meyer ones are ... interesting. He plays pretty fast and loose with the Holmes character. I enjoyed the first one, but not the second.
Will add him to my 'keep an eye out for' list then. Ta. :-)