In a strange room in Morocco, Mary Russell is trying to solve a pressing mystery: Who am I? She has awakened with shadows in her mind, blood on her hands, and soldiers pounding on the door. Out in the hivelike streets, she discovers herself strangely adept in the skills of the underworld, escaping through alleys and rooftops, picking pockets and locks. She is clothed like a man, and armed only with her wits and a scrap of paper containing a mysterious Arabic phrase. Overhead, warplanes pass ominously north.
Meanwhile, Holmes is pulled by two old friends and a distant relation into the growing war between France, Spain, and the Rif Revolt led by Emir Abd el-Krim—who may be a Robin Hood or a power mad tribesman. The shadows of war are drawing over the ancient city of Fez, and Holmes badly wants the wisdom and courage of his wife, whom he’s learned, to his horror, has gone missing. As Holmes searches for her, and Russell searches for herself, each tries to crack deadly parallel puzzles before it’s too late for them, for Africa, and for the peace of Europe.
©2012 Laurie R. King (P)2012 Recorded Books
trying to see the world with my ears
If The Moor and The Game are your favourites in the Russell-Holmes series, you're more likely to enjoy this tale set in Morocco. This was the first book in this seres I found unengaging. In several spots, especially in first half, the writing was uneven, with pedantic (though interesting) backstory/history and some VERY clunky dialogue.
I was at first ecstatic to see Robert Ian Davies as co-narrator, but this turned out to be one of my favourite narrators at his worst. Sterlin was, as usual, very good
We already know Mary is inventive when escaping from dungeons, so can we get back to some clever sleuthing and Russell-Holmes banter? And preferably in England, please? I think the desert heat is getting to Sherlock and Russell because they are not as sharp as usual. I love Global Gumshoe series, and perhaps King is trying to do her part to help us better understand Islam, but that is not what King does best.
When a new book in a series I read is about to come out, I frequently reread the last entry (or even the entire series) so that I will have all the events leading up to the new entry clear in my mind. I wasn't sure I wanted to reread "Pirate King," but since Garment of Shadows didn't appear on Audible the same day that it appeared on Amazon in hardback, I was feeling I might explode with anticipation. So I thought to myself, "Maybe Pirate King wasn't really as bad as I remember. I'll re-listen to it while I'm waiting for 'Garment.'" Well, Pirate King WAS as bad as I had remembered it. I listened for about an hour and then turned it off again. So I was a little worried. I mean, I never would have believed that Laurie R. King could have written anything as bad as PK. Did she have a stroke? Is she on some new and horrible cholesterol drug that has destroyed her mind?
I was worried.
Well, put your minds at rest. I still don't know what happened with Pirate King, but it was apparently just temporary. Garment of Shadows is back in the groove. The plot is good and there is plenty of mystery. Mary gets to exercise her considerable tenacity and ingenuity. There is plenty of Holmes. There are subsidiary characters in this book that we can actually like. Danger abounds.
One strange thing. In some of the Mary Russell books, we get sections written from Holmes's point of view. That is true in this book too. In previous books, Jenny Sterlin narrated both those parts of the book from Mary's POV and those from Holmes's POV. But in this book, they chose to get a second narrator to narrate those sections which are from Holmes's point of view. I've gotten used to Holmes's voice the way Jenny Sterlin does it, and the new narrator's voice for him is quite different, so it was sort of a shock. Even more strange is the fact that when the story is told from Mary's point of view, there is still dialog in which Holmes speaks, and this is still spoken by Sterlin. So we have two very different voices for Holmes in the same recording. I suspect many people are going to hate this. I didn't hate it, but I did think it was entirely unnecessary. We've gotten used to Sterlin's performance of Holmes's voice over many books. It wasn't broken. It didn't need to be fixed.
So finally: I recommend this book highly. Thanks Mrs. King. I loved your new book.
I complained last time when she wrote the Pirate book, can't even remember the name of it now, and wrote a rather snippy review and posted it on both amazon and audible about how I thought it was all fluff and no bite.
Well folks, I guess the old adage "be careful what you wish for" is true because this one is certainly full of edges. There is certainly a lot more Holmes in this one but the readers who are hoping for a heating up of the relationship between Holmes and Russell are still going to be disappointed. Holmes does not wear his heart on his sleeve and neither does he allow readers to rummage through his private feelings to see if he has any. If he does they are definitely private. Actually I love this about him. It's so true to the Holmes Canon.
Anyway, the book had so many edges, some of them convoluted that it took me until the end of the book to really figure out was really going on and then I wasn't exactly sure I approved of them. I got a real dose of midleastern politics during 1924 and that helped me get a handle on some of what was going on.
I am going to give this book 4 1/2 stars in my journal not because I am downgrading the book it's self but because I'm not exactly sure that Holmes, Russell and the Hazar brothers should have been involved in this kind of "game". Just me probably.
ps: What's with that "other dude" anyway? This is the 12 book in the series for heaven's sake. We don't need someone coming in and being a different voice for Holmes at this late date. Bad idea whoever it was that had it.
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
I agree that this is a good entry, especially welcome after the disappointing "Pirate King". It is wonderful to see both Holmes and Russell present here and pondering an intellectual puzzle together. There's excellent action and suspense as well.
My one reservation is about the series' seeming direction. King obviously has a fine grasp on the history and culture of the Middle East and does a great deal of research into the politics of that area between the World Wars. So, this is becoming more an international spy saga and less a variation of the traditional Sherlock Holmes - basically British - mystery. Not sure how I feel about that for the series' future.
The double narration is OK, but I'm not sure it's necessary. In past entries, Sterlin has done a fine job alone, interpreting all voices.
Probably not. I would recommend the series but this isn't representative of King's best work.
The story got bogged down early on in a travel guide style of unending descriptions. The sense of place is often a powerful part of King's novels but in this case she went overboard with place and left the story hanging while we toured the city. The remnants of The Pirate King that were included just served to remind us of the previous book which was really off the beam for King.
I've listened to all of the Russell/Holmes books and enjoy Jenny Sterlin's performances immensely. Her voices are clear, nuanced and distinctive. McKenzie's Holmes isn't the supercilious and wonderful Holmes we've had with Sterlin. His voices are all pretty much the same. His performance seemed flat and was often irritating with the guttural sounding Arabic accents. Very disappointing. Why go to a dual narration when the original narrator is so exceptional? If it continues this way I'll be checking the book out from the library instead of listening.
No. I barely made it through this one so a follow-up would hold zero interest. Particularly if it is then recorded with the dual narration.
Laurie R. King's creation of Russel and Holmes has been brilliant, diverse, engaging and addictive. Jenny Sterlin's performance brings the characters to vivid life. I have high hopes that the series will get back on track with the excellent story telling we've enjoyed in the past.
Definitely. Expertly read, familiar interpretation, high quality emotion rendered.
Mary Russel, of course. Witty, dependable without being boring, graceful in the middle of unbeatable odds
Both give a great performance, as always. I love the fact that the voices are never exaggerated, the emotions always well expressed without sounding unreal. Even the descriptive or historical parts keep you on your toes. You know they lead somewhere as suspense builds and the performers carry the tune to perfection. The characters are british yet easy to understand for those of us who are not.
A memorable Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russel adventure taking place within the rich tapestry of Morocco's ageless world of colorful power plays and subtle undertones!
After my deception with the last book, Pirate king, this one is up to my expectations for a good Laurie King. Could not go to sleep until I finished it... I didn't want it to end.
After really enjoying Jenny Sterlin's narration of the previous entries in this series, I was surprised to discover that a male narrator had been introduced to do the Holmes bits. Jenny Sterlin did her usual great job, at least in as much of the story as I heard; however, I found the male narrator so annoying I didn't make it through a quarter of the book. Not only did he sound not the least like our so-superior Sherlock, I found it difficult to distinguish between his various male character voices and rapidly reached the point where I simply didn't care to try and figure out who was saying what. If future Holmes/Russell books are narrated in this manner, I'll be sticking with the print version.
Russell, of course.
Jenny Sterlin only, please.
Didn't get through enough of it to have an opinion.
Don't try and fix what isn't broke!
Although Garment of Shadows is a great relief after the silly pirate story, it's not one of the best of the series. I agree with the other reviewers who long to see the series go back to England - and more interaction between Russell and Holmes. I didn't think having a separate male narrator for Holmes was a good addition, more of a distraction. It seemed like Holmes and Russell had two separate stories with not much time together, and it's really the interaction between them that adds spice to the series. Russell's memory loss made a great start to the adventure. I thought the Holmes part of the story much weaker and less compelling. Still, it was a good listen overall. I'd put it somewhere in the middle of the pack for this series. Worthy - but not outstanding.
Other reviews seemed less than enamored with this Mary and Sherlock mystery. I must say it was distinctly better than the Pirates story, although I'm not all that crazy about the history of Morocco. The second voice, for Sherlock, didn't bother me as much as some other listeners. I won't give King up just yet.
More interesting, intelligent interaction among characters, maybe even a little humor would have made this book a four or five star experience.
I was somewhat interested the story of Mary's injuries. I am not interested in Morrocco's history so that this many-houred history book was not interesting to me.
The narrators' performances kept me listening to the end.
I have no suggestions.
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