Fiction: The First Three Holmes/Russell Books (again) by Laurie R. King

beekeeper's apprenticeMonstrous-Regiment-Women-Bletter of maryI realized this summer that it had been three years since I’d read A Letter of Mary, and maybe it’s time to read the next book in the series.  True to form, however, I had to re-read the first three books in the series again before jumping into The Moor.

Rather than take up time re-re-reviewing books (which, remember, are the story of a retired Sherlock Holmes and his apprentice-then partner-then wife Mary Russell), I decided to just read them straight through and post a short review of anything I may have missed previously.  I can’t think of anything I didn’t already say about The Beekeeper’s Apprentice; it’s still one of five or so books I can pick up at any time and it’s just like putting on your favorite sweater or cuddling down under the covers in your feather bed, or watching your favorite black-and-white movie in front of a roaring fire. It’s cozy, is what I’m trying to say; it just feels like home.

A Monstrous Regiment of Women, however, feels more feminist in nature than my first (or second) reading.  Maybe it’s because I know the ending now and I’m not racing to get to the end where Holmes admits he loves Russell (or maybe it’s because I’m finding myself more attuned to those types of discussions, I’m not sure), but I felt like this time I read it, I was more attuned to the works and ideals of Margery Childe, and I really liked the relationship she and Mary Russell had.  I would liked to have seen more of her in future books, but her storyline is neatly wrapped up in the epilogue.

And as for A Letter of Mary, I still felt that I didn’t enjoy this title as much as the other two – I would say that I feel that the plot takes too long to get going, but then in Beekeeper’s Apprentice, the main mystery (who’s trying to kill Holmes and his compatriots) doesn’t even begin until, what, page 150? So that feeling seems invalid. Or maybe that the solution is almost — well, actually, Holmes was pissed off about the solution too.  (Here’s where I’d normally quote the book, but I just got back last night from housesitting for someone for ten days, and the book is still out in my car because I didn’t feel like unpacking when I got home last night.)  Paraphrasing the great detective, he was pissed off that the motive was merely money, and not something grander. And with the letter ostensibly being from Mary Magdelene, calling herself an apostle to Christ, there were a lot of “other reasons” for motive at stake.

Thus concludes my re-reads of the first three Holmes/Russell novels. As I said above, I was all ready to jump into The Moor, which is the fourth novel in the series, but when I read the back and realized it took place on the same more as The Hound of the Baskervilles did, I then realized that I had another book to read before cracking The Moor open.  So … Hound of the Baskervilles is coming up next.


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