I consider the Mary Russell / Sherlock Holmes books by Laurie King to be excellent and look forward to the next one as soon as the present book has been completed. Locked Rooms answered a lot of questions and was a very satisfying finish to the angst Mary suffered over the perceived guilt surrounding the death of her family. It was also written in a style somewhat different than the other books in the series of eight.
Mary is always my favourite character. She is improbably intelligent, outspoken and well travelled, married to a middle aged icon. Her many skills include the art of disguise as a detective in her own right, adept at self protection and attack, a degree in theology and chemistry from Oxford, master of many languages, an ardent feminist and the only other match to Holmes beyond Adler. Her stories are written over a span of almost 20 years, as memoirs, introduced by a series of writings delivered to a novelist with a request for any information on the writer, Mary Russell. Intriguing!
She is her usual enigmatic and factual self, with a little vulnerability thrown in. Mary has suffered dreams and memories that tormented her over the death of her family in an auto accident that she considers her fault. The resolution of this restores her equilibrium and brings piece of mind.
The best scene is the one that takes place in San Francisco's Chinatown where Holmes, Russell and a group of 'irregulars' end up on a chase of two suspects. The Chinese man with them, Long, was the son of her parents' good friends. He calls on the crowd to prevent them from getting away. Russell confronts the two before they are arrested, and is able to solve the last mystery — a memory she has of a man who tampered with her parents' car the day they died.
Oh yes. I was driving a long distance when I started it and sat in the driveway for a while after I stopped to hear more.
King often brings interesting characters into her novels. Mary has met met T. E. Lawrence, J. R. R. Tolkien and Edmund Allenby in addition to several characters in specific novels. In The Game, the spy is one whom Holmes knows from his travels in India long ago, under the name Sigurson - Kimball O'Hara, known to the world by the name Rudyard Kipling called him, Kim. In A Letter of Mary, a fictional Lord Peter Wimsey makes a brief cameo appearance. In God of the Hive, modern-day Robin Goodfellow is introduced to help Russell. She also meets Holmes' old acquaintance, Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould, the squire of Lew Trenchard, to help solve the mystery of the ghostly hound in The Moor. Locked Rooms is no exception where Holmes and Russell team up with a former Pinkerton agent Dashiell Hammett.
The Forgotten Garden reminds me of the story of The Secret Garden - lovely, but a child's tale. It is not written for adults unless you are looking for the characteristic simplicity a ten year old would like. It is an interesting story non the less, but a little over long and heavy on the trials and tribulations to end up all right in the end. Much along the lines of Cinderella.
Unfortunately, it has finally happened. I have had to scrap a book from Audible. This one was made truly dreadful by the reading rather than the text. Herbert read as though he was trying to cram a four hour book into 30 minutes and made it an irritant to hear and try to follow. I am sure the basic story was probably worth hearing but not in this circumstance. Give it a miss and go with Stephen Pacey.
I found the plot written to be of interest, but the book was not so. The narrator was indeed heavy and hard to listen to, the script equally so. As I listened, I found my interest wandering after 5 - 10 minutes, unable to concentrate on such a story.
I wish I had not wasted my money on such a book.
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