A Monstrous Regiment of Women: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes

The Mary Russell Series, Book 2
Narrated by: Jenny Sterlin
Length: 11 hrs and 43 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,923 ratings)

Audible membership

$14.95 a month

Free with a 30-day trial
1 audiobook of your choice.
A monthly selection of Audible Originals.
$14.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $25.51

Buy for $25.51

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

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

What listeners say about A Monstrous Regiment of Women: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,180
  • 4 Stars
    546
  • 3 Stars
    159
  • 2 Stars
    29
  • 1 Stars
    9
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,333
  • 4 Stars
    318
  • 3 Stars
    86
  • 2 Stars
    12
  • 1 Stars
    7
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,024
  • 4 Stars
    491
  • 3 Stars
    179
  • 2 Stars
    39
  • 1 Stars
    14

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Echoes of "Another Shirt Ruined!"

Any additional comments?

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.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Intelligent period mystery with Mary and Sherlock

'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.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Deliberate with a new depth of emotion

Any additional comments?

3.5 stars. A solid entry in the series that is one-part mystery, one-part character study. This series is premised on a young heiress, the brilliant Mary Russell, meeting and forming a partnership with a semi-retired Sherlock Holmes (age 55 at the start of the series and 59 here). The books are most interesting for their historical research into the time, the point of view of the heroine (as an early 20th century woman of means and intelligence in an age where women are still fighting for their rights), and the added layers and insight into Holmes' character. This entry moves the ball forward significantly from the first book, with Russell coming into her inheritance and the partnership becoming deeper and more intimate. The central mystery is OK, but it is the relationship between Russell and Holmes that is really the main attraction. Well-written, quiet and deliberate, this is not a book full of bombastic scenes (though there is some excitement and even an explosion), but rather a thoughtful book that slowly reveals (and revels in) the protagonists as much as it sketches the time period.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Splendid

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.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A Most Interesting Sequel!

What made the experience of listening to A Monstrous Regiment of Women: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes the most enjoyable?

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.

What did you like best about this story?

The ending! Without a doubt! It's one of the best parts of the series.

What does Jenny Sterlin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

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.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes. There was no way I could but I had it playing every moment I could.

Any additional comments?

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!

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not as good as Book 1

Book #2 doesn't have any of appeal that the first book had. Sherlock Holmes only makes cameo appearances throughout most the book except for the last few chapters. When he does appear, there is sexual tension felt by Mary Russell for Sherlock (weird). The book painstakingly follows Mary around - searching the city for Sherlock, chatting with her Oxford friend Veronica, getting fitted for new clothes, listening to sermons by Margery Childe (suspicious leader of the New Temple of God), renting a flat, hiring servants, preparing for the presentation of her research paper on theology, and on and on. It's only after Chapter 12 (middle of the book) when there's an actual case.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A different sequel - well written, more character

A very interesting second book in the series, and it is equally as well written as the first. I am really enjoying this series; this one mixes history, feminism, a mystery, and more character development as Mary reaches her age of majority and fully inherits her father's estate.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Problem with the recording

There is an echo in the recording. Just a second or two after a sentence, when there is a pause, you can hear the last three or four words repeated. There is always an undercurrent of sound.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

SLOW "SET UP" , CURIOUS PLOT, WORTH THE WAIT

Where does A Monstrous Regiment of Women: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

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.

Would you recommend A Monstrous Regiment of Women: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes to your friends? Why or why not?

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.

What does Jenny Sterlin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

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.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. It was slow burner.

Any additional comments?

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.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Naration

Slow at the start but a well paced novel. Narration was excellent and the writing descriptive and informative.

1 person found this helpful