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Pirate King

A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes
Narrated by: Jenny Sterlin
Length: 11 hrs and 13 mins
4 out of 5 stars (977 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best-selling author Laurie R. King’s books have received high praise from critics and have earned the Edgar, Creasey, Wolfe, Lambda, and Macavity awards. As Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes embark on their 11th adventure together, they find themselves immersed in the world of silent filmmaking. Here, the pirates are real—and unlike the shooting done with a camera, this sort can be deadly.

In England’s young silent-film industry, the megalomaniacal Randolph Fflytte is king. Nevertheless, at the request of Scotland Yard, Mary Russell is dispatched to investigate rumors of criminal activities that swirl around Fflytte’s popular movie studio. So Russell is traveling undercover to Portugal, along with the film crew that is gearing up to shoot a cinematic extravaganza, Pirate King. Based on Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, the project will either set the standard for moviemaking for a generation - or sink a boatload of careers.

Nothing seems amiss until the enormous company starts rehearsals in Lisbon, where the 13 blond-haired, blue-eyed actresses whom Mary is bemusedly chaperoning meet the swarm of real buccaneers Fflytte has recruited to provide authenticity. But when the crew embarks for Morocco and the actual filming, Russell feels a building storm of trouble: a derelict boat, a film crew with secrets, ominous currents between the pirates, decks awash with budding romance—and now the pirates are ignoring Fflytte and answering only to their dangerous outlaw leader. Plus, there’s a spy on board. Where can Sherlock Holmes be? As movie make-believe becomes true terror, Russell and Holmes themselves may experience a final fadeout.

Pirate King is a Laurie King treasure chest—thrilling, intelligent, romantic, a swiftly unreeling masterpiece of suspense.
©2011 Laurie R.King (P)2011 Recorded Books, LLC

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

Not my favorite Mary Russell

Pirate King is the 11th Mary Russell book by Laurie R. King. I still like Mary Russell, but this wasn't my favorite book of hers.

Recap: Mary and Holmes are caught up in another adventure as Mary infiltrates a silent film company to investigate allegations of illegal activity.

Review: I am a huge Mary Russell fan. She's independent, she speaks seven languages, and she can throw a knife. However, this book does not showcase her many talents. Pirate King is subtitled "a novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes." Unfortunately, there is a lack of suspense, little Holmes, and even Mary is missing for a stretch.

The movie industry is one of my least favorite settings. I've seen these stock characters and standard situations before. I was hoping in a Mary Russell book some people might buck their stereotypes. Maybe the director could be accommodating or the female lead humble. No such luck. Even Mary falls into standard cliches as she travels and doesn't listen when her translator warns her about cultural differences. Listen to your informants, Mary. You're better than this.

The sections with Holmes were excellent, as always. I would have liked to have more time with him and Mary together. It would be great if they could just be home to see their day to day interactions.

Reading: For me Jenny Sterlin is Mary Russell. Her voice takes some getting used to. It's a bit gravelly, and she makes Mary a little more sarcastic than I picture her, but the reading is so energetic I just get swept away. This story had a couple British pronunciations I liked. Shiek is pronounced "shake" and harem "har-eem." It's always fun to learn a new language.

Final thoughts: For anyone who likes Sherlock Holmes or strong women characters

24 of 24 people found this review helpful

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Very disappointing

Well written descriptions of irrelevant story of an implied intrigue. Holmes doesn't even appear until 2/3 of the way through. Missing the essential Holmes-Russell story telling. Missing any sense of real intrigue until chapter 34 or so. Read all the other Mary Russell books but skip this one. A long way down from the emotional depth of the last 3 books. Humor lies flat because the story is so often full of pointless detail, I found myself not caring much about any of the characters or the plot. Nope, skip this one.

34 of 35 people found this review helpful

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What suspense?

I am a major fan of Laurie King and have raced through every book in this series as they just got better and better, until I got to this one! To say that there was no "suspense" is an understatement. Mind numbingly boring is the only way to describe it. The entire premise of why Mary was investigating to begin with was unbelievably weak and Holmes' role was almost totally peripheral. The dozens of characters were confusing, uninteresting, and for the most part, poorly developed. There were numerous times when I thought, ah, now something will happen but no! I kept waiting for something, anything, to happen - waiting, waiting, waiting! Jenny Stirlin did her usual perfect narration but the story could not be salvaged. I'm surprised she could stay awake long enough to narrate it. It is fortunate that this is not the first of the series or I would have gone no further. I have forced myself to listen till the end, thinking every minute that it just HAD to get better but sadly, it never did. If you have read the rest of the series, you may think you have to read this one too for completeness but trust me, you won't be missing a thing. Such a disappointment.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • courtney
  • south burlington, VT, United States
  • 09-22-11

Boring!

I LOVE the Mary Russell series, don't get me wrong! I have literally been waiting for this book to come out but I a seriously disappointed. One of the things that I love about these books is the interaction between Holmes and Russell. This is really lacking in this book. Read it if you must, but do not start the series with this book- you won't continue.

20 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • Evert
  • Burtonsville, MD, United States
  • 03-13-12

If there were negative stars

Please don't get this book! I've been a Laurie R. King fan for years but with this latest iteration of Mary Russell, King has jumped the shark. Jenny Sterlin's wonderful reading can't save this plodding, pointless bore of a book. If it were possible to give negative stars, I would. Most of the book consists of Mary complaining about something or another (shut up already!). No sleuthing or detective work every really takes place (once she looks around someone’s room), Holmes does absolutely nothing except play violin. All the drama is confined to a few paragraphs at the end – which are not worth wading through all the pointless detail to get to.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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SAVE YOUR CREDIT!

This is the first review I've written. I'm taking the time because I don't want you to waste a perfectly good credit.
As a fan of the Mary Russel/Sherlock Holmes characters, I was very surprised by how much I disliked this book. I had to force myself to listen to the whole thing and was relieved when, quite near the end, the book kindled a small spark of interest. Honestly, there were so many characters, so much pointless drivel of dialogue, and so little of the Holmes character that it was not worth listening to. As an example, for those of you who are familiar with the Mary Russel character, picture her on an ocean voyage with 13 very young blond actresses. It felt like hours of frustrated ranting about bickering characters impossible to keep straight or to care about.
Also, as much as I have enjoyed Jenny Sterlin's narration in the past, and as much as I cannot imagine the Mary Russel character without her, I felt that this book brought her limitations to the fore. She seems to have one accent for any non-English speaking male character. If you've ever listened to her other books, you'll know it. In this book, the nationality of the characters has changed, but the accent is the same. Perhaps she was as bored with the book as I was. It was a heroic undertaking on her part (as it will be for you if you purchase the book) and not a success in my opinion.
If you don't have all of the other Laurie R. King Mary Russel titles, you might look for another one. If you've heard them all, you may want to wait for the next. I wish I could give you mine, but I'm going to delete it.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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What on earth?

Unbelievably awful. I am a great fan of Laurie R. King's Sherlock/Mary Russell novels, especially the Beekeeper's Apprentice and Locked Rooms—but they're all worth listening to, erudite, complicated, perfectly in period, and very satisfying. EXCEPT this appalling outing, which is impenetrably stupid, plotless, asinine and boring. Listen to all the others first, they're very good!

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Marger
  • Brooklin, ME, United States
  • 10-07-11

Save your credit

Shame on Laurie King for writing this, her agent for submitting it, and her editor and publisher for letting it see the light of day. I'm a fan, but this book is a real stinker: no plot, endless boring scenes, and a really stupid premise.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Celia
  • Topanga, CA, United States
  • 11-05-11

Fool your fans only once

Shame on the author for trying get a tax write off for her trip to Lisbon with a dull, ridiculous, and pointless book. If her tax situation is not the reason for this book then the fans of this series might as well hold the funeral right now. It's truly the worst thing I've ever read by her, I frankly couldn't finish it, and I've read and enjoyed every book in this series. The narration is great as usual but she has nothing to work with. It has no real plot, no suspense, nothing to recommend it whatsoever. Even the well worn characters seem slightly out of sorts. So if you are a fan, DO NOT waste your credit or your time. Hold your breath and hope the next book is better.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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There just is no there there

Laurie R. King is one of my favorite writers and I love this series, but I was seriously disappointed in Pirate King.

So what happened to the plot? That's the real mystery of this book.
It just rambles on and on with one more antic of a 2-dimensional character after another. They all get captured & held for ransom, but I didn't even care! Oh my, there goes Mary picking some locks again. Oh goodness, there's the short director wearing lime green. Oh my, the star actress wants a feather bed. Hark! Could that violin playing be ... Holmes? HO HUM.

Sniff. I was really looking forward to this.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful