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
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.
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.
Long and meandering with excessively long red-herrings; final answer to the mystery pretty unsatisfying and unbelievable. Way too much emphasis on feminist commentary (and I'm a woman) and not enough significant story. Way too much Russel, not enough Holmes.
I'm going to continue with the series as I enjoy the characters and the dialogue is very good
fine; comparable to others
The Colonel and his son -- pointless part of the storyline; no resolution with those characters. Just seemed like a way to have Russell have a possible extramarital affair with the whole weird sexualization of the hands parts.
Would have been more interesting if did more with the
I have really enjoyed the series but this book just doesn't live up to the earlier ones. A lot of the time I would forget what the mystery was supposed to be about & by the time I got to the ending I was really sorry that I had wasted all of those hours. I have to say though that I just love the narrator's voice- she made me forget that I was not enjoying the story.
Laurie King's series has become less and less good as it's progressed. This one was another disappointment.
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