Winner of the Nero Wolfe Award
It is 1921 and Mary Russell - Sherlock Holmes's brilliant apprentice, now an Oxford graduate with a degree in theology - is on the verge of acquiring a sizable inheritance. Independent at last, with a passion for divinity and detective work, her most baffling mystery may now involve Holmes and the burgeoning of a deeper affection between herself and the retired detective. Russell's attentions turn to the New Temple of God and its leader, Margery Childe, a charismatic suffragette and a mystic, whose draw on the young theology scholar is irresistible. But when four bluestockings from the Temple turn up dead shortly after changing their wills, could sins of a capital nature be afoot? Holmes and Russell investigate, as their partnership takes a surprising turn.
©1995 Laurie R. King (P)2008 Recorded Books
I am quite a few years behind in this series, and this is my 2nd Laurie R. King in the Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell books. Again, as with the first, I did not guess the identity of the criminal before the end, which makes this a good book. You can follow the plot and all the evidence clearly as the book progressed.
Poor Mary Russell: people have it out for her wardrobe. Last book an entire day's shopping fell victim, this one: New clothes on the first wearing and - I could almost hear Amelia Peabody Emerson (Elizabeth Peters' Egyptologist adventuress) shouting at her Emerson "Another shirt ruined!" through Mary's mind as she faced her attacker.
If you liked the first one, you may like this one. It's more ... um ... intellectual? There's a lot of theological debate about women, which I really enjoyed but I can also see why some people would find it tedious. I thought it was fun and interesting, though it caused the plot to drag a bit. But I think I will listen to this again. There was a lot I think I might have missed the first time.
As with the first book, I can especially envision Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes. Which is ironic as that movie was made after the book was written. Either way, I think she captures the essence of SH.
No. The first half is slow and I found I needed to put it down occasionally.
Spoiler alert. The "romance" between the heroine and SH is ridiculous, IMO. He's what, 40 years her senior? I feel like maybe the author confused herself with her character.
A Monstrous Regiment of Women is one of my favorite of King's Mary Russell books--and the series itself is one of my all-time favorites. The reader does justice to every character, nuance, and splendid stretch of narrative. Brilliant book; brilliant reading.
'A Monstrous Regiment of Women' is the second novel in Laurie R. King's 'Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes' series. I have very mixed feelings regarding this book. Right until the end this was going to go on my favorites shelf and could only receive a 5 star rating but there is a twist at the end that has left me disappointed and uncomfortable for the future of the series. I'm still coming to terms with it. I waited to write my review because of these feelings. I did not want to unfairly overshadow the rest of what is otherwise a fantastic book.
It is 1921 in Oxford and London. Mary Russell has graduated and is about to debut her first Academic Article that is not attached to being a student. She is turning 21 which allows her to throw out her distasteful, money grubbing Aunt whom has held the purse strings to her inheritance. Ms. Russell is going through many transitions as a student to academic, child of controlled means to an heiress, girl to woman, and the strange tension between Sherlock Holmes and herself - she is no longer an apprentice and can she be trusted to handle a case on her own?
Mary finds herself in London waiting to come into her inheritance and runs into a friend, Veronica, from her schooling in Oxford. Veronica, or Ronny, pulls her into her life. Ronny is engaged but is breaking the engagement because her young man came home from the war broken with drug addictions she has not been able to pull him away from. The book delves deeply into the effects on society, gender roles, and personal self-worth World War I had on its survivors. Holmes is brought into to help Ronny's young man but that is not the only mystery in London.
Ronny is deeply involved in The Temple and a charismatic woman named Margaret. Margaret is rallying women who previously were nurses and running the country in the absence of the men sent to war. These women were left without a place at the end of the war. King explores the fact woman were required to vacate the jobs they had to marry, but marry who. They are "surplice women," there are too many women and few men returned. The men that did return came back damaged, and many weren't choosing to marry, preferring to fall into paths of self-destruction. To fill a gap The Temple is giving these young women something to do: teaching women to read and build literacy, providing safety and supplies to battered women and their families, providing medical care, and working to increase women's rights now that the vote has passed. The problem is when you have a large group of the disenfranchised that are being directed and utilized by a leader are their actions really charitable or could there be a deeper agenda at work? That is Mary's case.
The book is extremely well researched and written. It addresses the issues that left England ravaged after World War I head on. She also evokes strong emotion on behalf of the characters and the situation. I learned a lot regarding the time period and was sucked into the period concepts of class structure, feminism, gender roles, addiction, PTSD, human nature, etc. I believe King did a remarkable job exploring these subjects without being overly biased.
The situation that left me upset deals with how Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell develop their friendship/relationship as equal adults opposed to an apprentice mentor relationship. To say anything else would be an extravagant spoiler. I do recommend this book despite my issues with the ending, especially to anyone who enjoys mystery's, well researched historical fiction, and sociological studies.
I really enjoyed King's first book in the Mary Russell series so i was very excited to listen to this story. *possible spoiler* I have to say the Mary/Holmes romance really grossed me out. Not because of the age difference but i never felt like they matched romantically. I loved Mary as a strong independent woman in a time where women were not historically well respected as serious thinkers. I really liked the feminist message but felt that was the main focus of the book. The mystery took a distant third seat to the feminist and then religious overtones. Hopefully the series has more thrilling mysteries but I would still highly recommend this to Holmes fans.
Once again, listening to a story I've read multiple times gives me a new perspective on a story I know very well. There's a lot of academia in this one and yet listening to it makes it much more interesting.
The ending! Without a doubt! It's one of the best parts of the series.
Sterlin has given both Russell and Holmes perfect voices as well as very other people they meet along the way. Her emotional reading of one particular situation Russell finds herself in touches me every time. It's as if I'm experiencing it for the first time.
Yes. There was no way I could but I had it playing every moment I could.
Whether this is your first time experiencing the series or you've read it basically once a year for a decade, this is an audiobook you'll enjoy!
This story draws you in and then turns in unexpected twists of plot. King lets you get to know and love her characters - even the quirky Holmes.
Speed it up
I am writing this review now since I am not sure that I will finish it. I am halfway through the book and so far I have been beaten over the head with this feminist manifesto. I get it. Women were suppressed, treated unfairly, lacked significant power etc. after WW1 and since. There were many references to the bible and other works to show the prevailing attitude toward women and other references to show why this should not be. She corrects bible translations to make her point. As for the mystery part.So far we have a body. Thats about it. The interplay between Russel and Holmes is interesting. It is possible that my lack of enthusiasm may be because my mind wandered and I missed some significant jewels that would move the plot along. But I don't think so.The narration is well done. Ms. Sterling has a very pleasant voice and is easy to listen to. I will continue for a while to see if Ms. King climbs down from her philosophical high horse and gets on with the mystery.
Not sure I can rank this books against EVERY audio book I've listened to, but among the mysteries, I'd give it a 7out of 10.
Yes - any mystery lover would enjoy this -- well more so women, than men. Although . . .there is a romance scenario that might stroke an older gentleman's ego.
Jenny Sterlin "IS" Mary Russell. Her reading of the character makes Mary seem older than we discover her to be in this story. That's not a bad thing though, because we WANT Mary to be older than she is for reasons discussed below.
No. It was slow burner.
The story's title is a bit convoluted, as are the first few chapters. I usually listen to my audiobooks while doing light house work, crafts, or driving and my attention on the story helps to pass the time. But for this one, my mind kept wandering during the first couple chapters or so and I would suddenly realize I didn't know what Mary was talking about! So, rewind and listen again. I did this several times throughout the book. So on the one hand I got a longer listening experience for my money! On the other hand, the story dragged and meandered more than was good for it. But I do enjoy a good mystery, and this was that. I won't disclose the ending, but it was inevitable that a mystery man would have to take the blame for all the evil doings and not any of the "monstrous regiment of women". (Still unsure what that phrase even means, but there it is.) On to the "romance" between Holmes and Mary. I had read other books in the series before this one, so I knew that they were destined for marriage. And I knew that he was older than she by good bit. But in my mind, I had somehow gotten the picture that she was late 20's or so and he late 50 something. Still a gap, but not impossible. However, in this book I found out the rest of the story. And my feelings are this: If Holmes, as he himself states in this telling, wanted to grab Mary and kiss her violently on the mouth from the moment he first saw her, then he was and is a pedophile. He was all of 55 years to her then 16 years. The idea that any 16 year old would return such feelings towards a man as old as her father -- and not even some senior Adonis bodybuilder type, but a long-time AARP card-carrying retiree -- is ludicrous! Are we supposed to find this May - September love affair romantic? It's not even believable. (You'd never be asked to imagine the reverse----a handsome 18 year old falling in love with an average 60+ grandmother? Not a chance.) Anyway, I assume that Ms. King needed someway to keep her character, Mary Russell, intimately involved in Sherlock's life in a period where strictures on male - female interactions were too conservative to permit the couple to be just friends whilst carrying on such clandestine capers. Marriage was her solution. This disturbing circumstance and preposterous plot device comes close to ruining the whole series for me. Thankfully I can ignore it for the most part since Ms. King doesn't try to make it a romantic relationship in other installments. It is just a prop so that these two detectives can carry on as a pair in early 20th century England. Enough of that. So, if you are a Mary Russell fan and you jumped in to the series at book 3 or 4, (like I did) you could go back to this one to "catch up" and it wouldn't be a waste of time. It'll explain some things you may have been wondering about and offer you an interesting mystery to solve. All in all, a good read for a second book in a series.
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