The third book in the Mary Russell–Sherlock Holmes series. It is 1923. Mary Russell Holmes and her husband, the retired Sherlock Holmes, are enjoying the summer together on their Sussex estate when they are visited by an old friend, Miss Dorothy Ruskin, an archeologist just returned from Palestine.
She leaves in their protection an ancient manuscript which seems to hint at the possibility that Mary Magdalene was an apostle - an artifact certain to stir up a storm of biblical proportions in the Christian establishment. When Ruskin is suddenly killed in a tragic accident, Russell and Holmes find themselves on the trail of a fiendishly clever murderer. Brimming with political intrigue, theological arcana, and brilliant Holmesian deductions.
©1996 Laurie R. King (P)2007 Recorded Books
When I finished King’s second novel in this series, ‘A Monstrous Regiment of Women,’ I was left a bit uncomfortable and unhappy. King had always kept Mary and Sherlock’s relationship as a mentor and one of a guardian. At the end of that book Sherlock proposes. Their relationship while strained and questioning in the book hadn’t been romantic, but Mary had turned 21 and their relationship caused questions, especially when traveling together.
My first response was that King was throwing in a needless romance and I was unhappy. Reading this series for me, however, is a family affair. My ever practical and precocious niece was put in the position where she had to educate her aunt(kindly of course.) She reminded me that I was judging the time of the book by present day values. I needed to remember that Sherlock and Mary could not continue working together without causing scandal and destroying Mary’s reputation. A marriage between a twenty-one year old woman and a fifty year old confirmed bachelor out of mutual respect rather than love was far more respectable than working alone together unchaperoned. My niece, of course, was absolutely correct. This, then thirteen year old is extremely smart, and her valuable insight allowed me to once again respect King’s skill and intelligence as a writer.
This settled, I picked up ‘A Letter to Marry,’ with an audible sigh of contentment. This book starts with a visit from an elderly scholar and friend they had met in Palestine in book one. She gave a generous gift of a papyrus believed to have genuinely been written by Mary Magdalene. You can imagine how this would enrage and turn the academic community upside down if validated. Shortly, after their friend departs company she did in an automobile accident and dies. Foul play can not be ruled out, and Sherlock weedles Mary away from her research to investigate the cause of death.
King did a wonderful job. I read mysteries frequently to escape. I’m not generally looking for an overly intelligent masterpiece but King is an exception to that rule. She provides an intelligent and exciting read. She creates a mystery I rarely guess the outcome of and a fabulously accurate piece of historical fiction as well. If you like Sherlock Holmes pick this up; if you enjoy pre WW II historical fiction pick this up; if you enjoy a fictionalized study of sociological gender roles and the human mind pick this up. I’m sounding like a broken record. I recommend you read it, but remember the series starts with ‘The Beekeepers Apprentice.’
That's not a fair question. Prefer to compare one reader to another reader. I do not hear that Audible understands this, OR they should constantly remind those of us that an excellent narrator-performer produces an extension of the story, another layer to the art form.
It is what I like best about Laurie King. She can tell as good a story as A.C.Doyle. She has expanded Sherlock, a seamless connection of the two authors.
I said enough
I really enjoy all of Arthur Conan Doyle's marvelous works and am not easily impressed with the modern Sherlock Holmes stories. But . . .
Laurie King has broken through my tough facade to allow me to totally accept her way of interpreting the Conan Doyle stories by successfully incorporating the much younger, less traveled yet extremely brilliant Mary Russell as his partner and wife! Unbelievable under the guise of the original story line yet believable in his older age with his partner Watson unable to adventure with him.
The stories are all incredibly diverse, very well researched and presented in such a manner as to keep the reader involved and anticipating the next development in the case.
Hurrah! Laurie King! Long may you Write!
The feel of the adventure and the interactions between Russell and Holmes feel authentic to Conan Doyle's original character. The narration is brilliant and the storyline engaging.
Really enjoyed this installment of Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes.
Jenny Sterlin brings it to life in the most perfect way.
Many thanks to Laurie R. King and to Audible.
The archeologist is endearing and intriguing. I am so sorry that she died, because I'd like to encounter her again. The hypnosis scene was amazing and educational. Mary led her in remembering without mentioning facts. The whole book was an adventure! I especially liked the unexpected ending.
A story of Sherlock Holmes from the point of view of an intellectual peer well written is hard to come by fortunately this is a rare example of the craft
Um, of all of the Laurie R. King books I've listened to so far, no, but I would definitely recommend the book. It's a fun mystery, plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing, and very well researched. I always appreciate historical fiction which is deeply researched, rather than characters from today wearing old-timey clothes.
Definitely start the series with Beekeeper's Apprentice. It's a wonderful introduction to the series. And I loved the second book, as well.
From beginning to end, characters (besides Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes) changed voices and accents. It was a little off-putting and definitely yanked me out of the story, because I kept thinking, "But that's not what they sounded like the first time I heard them!"
Aside from that one (rather significant to me) flaw, it was again a joy to listen to Jenny Sterlin's performance, and hearing her interpretations of Russell and Holmes felt like visiting with old friends.
I have now listened to The Beekeeper's Apprentice, A Monstrous Regiment of Women, and A Letter of Mary in order. I was put off by her performance in the first of these (my favorite of the entire series), but was charmed, and entranced at times, by it in the following two. Women deserve a better place in literature, movies, and in plays. Laurie King and Jenny Sterling have helped put them there.
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