On a side note, as a Holmes fan in general, his magical skills of deduction seem to be going away.
Because we can see, through the maturing character of Mary Russell, living through one of the most tumultuous and rapidly changing eras of civilization, an era when women finally begin to break free of societal conventions and strictures that have held them back for eons, how one young woman of deep faith, strict ethics, and broad scholarship, comes to be one of the most celebrated detectives, and the life-love of the curmudgeonly Holmes.
I think the last 25 pages or so I just barely skimmed, just enough to get the point so that I wouldn't feel like I'd totally wasted my time. It ended up being sort of painful to get through.
This novel, unlike the last few, is a story told out of chronology with the rest, detailing Holmes and Russell's adventure in Palestine, mentioned in The Beekeeper's Apprentice. On the run from dangerous bomb threats in London, Russell and Holmes have made their way to Palestine, where they find themselves in the care of two Bedouins, Ali and Mahmoud Hazr, who are also agents in the service of the Crown. As they slowly make their way towards Jerusalem, the Hazrs, Holmes and Russell find themselves caught up in an attempt to uncover a deadly plot involving the stirring up of resentment between Christian, Muslim, and Jew; lots and lots of dynamite; and the ancient city of Jerusalem itself. Palestine (as it's called in the story) is also of particularly special significance to Russell, who, being Jewish, views the trip as something of a pilgrimage, and her musings regarding the significance of the areas and locales through which they travel is particularly fascinating - well, at least for me, it is, and likely will be for any history buffs. The reader will be quick to note, through Russell's observations and musings, that though the novel is set in the early years of the twentieth century, nothing much has really changed, not since the city of Jerusalem was first built, not since the Crusades, and not since today. Although the caricaturing might be a result of the fact that Ali and Mahmoud are not really Bedouin, nor really even Middle-Eastern at all to begin with, I do wish their characters had been expanded a bit more. But it is the plot, and the resulting adventure that Holmes and Russell have in the Holy Land as a result of it, that really drew me in. Some might think the plot a little too "Indiana Jones" for their tastes, but those who love reading about Holmes (and hopefully, at this stage, Russell too) being put through hellfire, danger, and torture (metaphorically and literally speaking), but to come out of it triumphant heroes, then this novel will certainly be a resounding success.
Russell helped me out in her narrative, being specific about the rules she was and was not following and why, so it made a lot more sense going forward. Overall, this installation in the time line is useful to understanding the Russell/Holmes dynamic and filling in gaps, but not one I'd recommend reading.
Now its a good book for me, and I wouldnt mind re-read, but I was a bit disappointed when I read it the first time.
King is superb in painting the local color of each, especially Jerusalem, where she is so evocative that you feel as if you are right there, amid the dust, the smells, the Arabs, Jews, Christians, British, the holiest places of three religions. It is perfect for that story.returnreturnI can not recommend this book highly enough, although I would urge that it be read at the appropriate place in The Beekeeper s Apprentice for maximum enjoyment.returnreturnIf I forget you, O Jerusalem,returnmay my right hand forget its skill.returnMay my tongue cling to the roof of my mouthreturnif I do not remember you,returnif I do not consider Jerusalemreturnmy highest joy.returnreturnreturnPsalm 137, Hebrew Testament
Mary puts up with a lot of men and Holmes is kind of an ass to her through most of the book.
The Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series follows a brilliant young woman who becomes the student, then partner, of the great detective. Please note that Laurie checks her Goodreads inbox intermittently, so it may take some time to receive a reply.