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Locked Rooms: A novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Paperback – April 27, 2010


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Product Details

  • Series: Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553386387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553386387
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In her last outing, The Game (2004), Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, traveled to India on a case of geopolitical significance, but in the richly imagined eighth novel in this acclaimed series, set in San Francisco in 1924, Russell undertakes a far more personal investigation. Since she began her journey back to her hometown—ostensibly to deal with her father's estate—Russell has been tormented by strange dreams, one of which involves the "locked rooms" of the title, and the sight of her San Francisco childhood home opens a flood of memories and emotions, most of which she's loathe to allow into her über-rational mind. When someone takes a shot at her, Holmes enlists the help of Pinkerton agent Dashiell Hammett and Russell tries to unlock her past, in particular the "accident" that killed her family and left her an orphan in 1914. King's re-creation of San Francisco, especially the backstory during the devastating 1906 earthquake, is superb, and it's a pleasure to see the unusually competent Russell struggling with her own psyche. The plot may be a bit thin, but the narrative has real momentum, the characters are engaging and the prose, as always, is intelligent, evocative and graceful. Agent, Linda Allen. (June 21)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell are at it again. Having just traveled to India in The Game (Bantam, 2004), they are stopping in San Francisco, Mary's hometown, before returning to England. It is 1930, 24 years after the great earthquake and 10 years since the death of Mary's brother and parents, and her removal to Anglia. Ostensibly, she is going to wrap up some business interests and sell her parents' house, but she soon becomes aware of strange goings-on there and what seem to be attempts on her life. This is a more character-driven title than many of the previous Russell/Holmes outings, and Mary's emotions and fears are in the forefront. The story is told in alternating sections, by Mary in the first person and from Holmes's point of view in the third. This tale is self-contained, but does explain Mary's origins and probes many secrets she has kept hidden, even from herself. Along with a fascinating story, teens will be introduced on a very personal level not only to the San Francisco of that frightening earthquake, but also to the various social and racial striations so important even into the 1930s. Fans of this series will not be disappointed and newcomers may be intrigued enough to start from the beginning.–Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

New York Times bestselling crime writer Laurie R. King writes both series and standalone novels.

In the Mary Russell series (first entry: The Beekeeper's Apprentice), fifteen-year-old Russell meets Sherlock Holmes on the Sussex Downs in 1915, becoming his apprentice, then his partner. The series follows their amiably contentious partnership into the 1920s as they challenge each other to ever greater feats of detection.

The Kate Martinelli series, starting with A Grave Talent, concerns a San Francisco homicide inspector, her SFPD partner, and her life partner. In the course of the series, Kate encounters a female Rembrandt, a modern-day Holy Fool, two difficult teenagers, a manifestation of the goddess Kali and an eighty-year-old manuscript concerning'Sherlock Holmes.

King also has written stand-alone novels--the historical thriller Touchstone, A Darker Place, two loosely linked novels'Folly and Keeping Watch--and a science fiction novel, Califia's Daughters, under the pseudonym Leigh Richards.

King grew up reading her way through libraries like a termite through balsa before going on to become a mother, builder, world traveler, and theologian.

She has now settled into a genteel life of crime, back in her native northern California. She has a secondary residence in cyberspace, where she enjoys meeting readers in her Virtual Book Club and on her blog.

King has won the Edgar and Creasey awards (for A Grave Talent), the Nero (for A Monstrous Regiment of Women) and the MacCavity (for Folly); her nominations include the Agatha, the Orange, the Barry, and two more Edgars. She was also given an honorary doctorate from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific.

Check out King's website, http://laurierking.com/, and follow the links to her blog and Virtual Book Club, featuring monthly discussions of her work, with regular visits from the author herself. And for regular LRK updates, follow the link to sign up for her email newsletter.

Customer Reviews

In the last few chapters of the book, things snap together.
Anne Wingate
This is the 8th novel in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series created by Laurie King.
C. Hutton
The development of the story was exciting and very well put together.
E. Ann Farrington

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 65 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"Locked Rooms" is Laurie King's eighth Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes mystery, and it is one of her best. After spending time in India and Japan, Holmes and his young wife set sail for San Francisco, California in 1924. The ostensible reason for their visit is so that Mary can sign papers connected with the estate left by her parents, who died ten years earlier in a tragic car crash. However, Mary has an even more urgent motive for revisiting her childhood home. She has been having disturbing nightmares, and she would like to exorcise the emotional demons that have been tormenting her.

In the three years that she has been married, Mary has revealed few details about her childhood to her husband. Her past is a confusing and frightening maze that she has been extremely reluctant to navigate. Mary knows that her parents lived through the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, but why does she have no memory of being with them during that time? Why does she blame herself for the accident that took the lives of her mother, father, and younger brother? Finally, what is the significance of Mary's recurring dreams about flying objects, a faceless man, and a house with locked rooms to which only she has the key?

Laurie King's novel addresses these and other questions against the backdrop of one of the world's most scenic cities. The author's colorful and beautifully detailed descriptive writing brings Prohibition-era San Francisco to life, with its clanging cable cars, its wealthy mansions, and its breathtaking waterfront views. "Locked Rooms" is a multi-layered and richly textured novel. It is also a satisfying puzzle in which Russell uncovers some long buried family secrets and reexamines her assumptions about her parents' deaths.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Isch TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mary Russell, the young wife of elderly Sherlock Holmes, is one of the mystery genre's most interesting and admirable inventions. But she spends three quarters of this book as a psychological basket case, not her usual brilliantly analytical self. And for that reason I recommend it only for series regulars, who will doubtless find that delving into the depths of their heroine's troubled past is worth the journey, even though it cedes all of the brainpower in the first three quarters of the book to Holmes.

Laurie King is a superb descriptive writer but lately her ratios of plot to description seem to me to be somewhat off. Her books first started feeling a bit under-plotted and over-padded to me with "Justice Hall." Then, a couple of years ago, I heard her speak at a book fair on the national Mall in Washington and she told us that her publishers push and push her to up her page counts and I got the impression she thinks that's a mistake. Me, too, although I must admit the descriptive writing about post-quake San Francisco is really superb here and King has created some intriguing new characters that I think you'll enjoy.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Log Cabin Pat on August 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I can see that there are definitely two camps in the reviews of this book: it's either the best in the series or just so-so. In my opinion, it's in the latter category. The reasons have been well-described by other reviewers; the plotting is weak, the book seems padded (especially with the memoirs of the Chinese servant), the main characters are seriously out-of character, and the dates regarding Mary's father joining the Army are confusing. The biggest problem, though, is that when you finally discover the secret behind her father's oh-so-mysterious actions and the family's death, what all those hundreds of pages have been building up to, the reason is just - laughable.

The best entries in this series - which in my opinion are The Moor, Oh Jerusalem, and The Game - are placed in an exotic locale. Apparently San Francisco is not exotic enough. However, there is a tidbit dropped about Russell and Holmes taking a brief sojourn in China on their way from India to the States, so I have hopes that that's where the next novel will take place.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By F. Orion Pozo on April 18, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the eigth in a series of novels by Laurie R. King which features the young detective Mary Russell and her partner of literary fame Sherlock Holmes. The title comes from a recurring dream that haunts Mary of a locked room to which she holds the key.

It is a series that keeps coming on strong, and this latest installment is one that faithful readers will truly appreciate. In it Mary returns to San Francisco, her childhood home, and confronts the trauma of her family's fatal car accident that only she survived. Plagued by a sense of guilt that she caused their deaths, Mary has never shared much of her past even with her husband, Sherlock Holmes. But is there something more sinister in her reticence to discuss the past? As they approach her home after ten years absence Mary becomes strangely unobservant and inwardly directed. Even when she is shot at two days after her arrival, she does not respond as she would have before. It is if she is in a cloud or hypnotic trance.

Laurie King does an admirable job of recreating San Francisco of the 1906 earthquake and of the Roaring 20's. The novel is rich in period detail, and contains a cast of well-developed characters which includes the young author Dashiell Hammett who, because of poor health, is making a career change from detective work to writing detective stories.

The suspense builds as first Holmes, and later Mary, begin to believe that her family was murdered to keep them from revealing something that is hidden in their old house. The book becomes a non-stop page turner as they discover that everyone associated with the family were murdered shortly after their fatal day. It seems that only Mary's departure for England right after the accident has saved her life so far.
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