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Dreaming Spies: A novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Hardcover – February 17, 2015
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Praise for Dreaming Spies
“[Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell’s] unusual partnership is, as always, a delight to observe, and [Laurie R.] King expertly combines rich historical detail, deftly drawn characters and taut suspense. For Holmes fans, mystery lovers and those interested in either Japan or Oxford, this novel is a multilayered and entirely enjoyable journey.”—Shelf Awareness
“Compulsively readable . . . Through astute, precise, and elegant writing, great attention to time and place, and beautifully realized characters, King has created a mystery series that is at once intelligent, reflective, and action filled.”—Library Journal
“A story that keeps the reader enthralled . . . one of the most consistently outstanding mystery series out there. Any time spent with the Russell-Holmes duo is a delight.”—Booklist
“Snappy prose and a captivating plot distinguish King’s fourteenth novel featuring Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes. . . . Many will find the character deepened by his partnership with the spirited and clever Russell. This book gives every indication that this series still has a long life ahead of it.”—Publishers Weekly
“The author continues to offer up incredible plotlines. . . . [Holmes and Russell’s] emotional bond only adds to the magic, suspense, and beauty of the original creation. King’s imagination continues to shine!”—Suspense Magazine
“[King] manages more surprises than usual in this graceful exercise in cultural tourism–cum-intrigue.”—Kirkus Reviews
Praise for the award-winning novels of Laurie R. King
“The great marvel of King’s series is that she’s managed to preserve the integrity of Holmes’s character and yet somehow conjure up a woman astute, edgy, and compelling enough to be the partner of his mind as well as his heart.”—The Washington Post Book World
“The most sustained feat of imagination in mystery fiction today.”—Lee Child
“A lively adventure in the very best of intellectual company.”—The New York Times
“Erudite, fascinating . . . by all odds the most successful re-creation of the famous inhabitant of 221B Baker Street ever attempted.”—Houston Chronicle
“Intricate clockworks, wheels within wheels.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Imaginative and subtle.”—The Seattle Times
“Impossible to put down.”—Romantic Times
“Remarkably beguiling.”—The Boston Globe
About the Author
Laurie R. King is the New York Times bestselling author of thirteen Mary Russell mysteries, five contemporary novels featuring Kate Martinelli, the Stuyvesant & Grey novels Touchstone and The Bones of Paris, and the acclaimed A Darker Place, Folly, and Keeping Watch. She lives in Northern California.
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Top Customer Reviews
Sure enough, Oxford book-ends the story, but the action mainly takes place in flashback, on another boat trip (oh, no!) and in the Far East. This is another slow boat, but not to China; instead, to Japan. Aboard ship, Russell and Holmes meet a young woman named Haruki Sato who may not be what she seems. Holmes also spots an aristocrat he suspects of being a blackmailer. And then a passenger goes missing . . .
In this series, Laurie R. King has taken to emphasize, more and more, the culture and politics of whatever country or society she has her characters visit or infiltrate. This time around, we read a lot about cruise ship culture and Japan in the 1920s. It's not that it's not interesting; it's just that it can feel a bit more like a travelog than elements blended to create a sense of time and place for a mystery.
All this world-setting also has a tendency to slow the plot down to a crawl. And so it is here. Well over half the book goes by before there is any actual detective work. If you are a particular fan of Mary Russell and enjoy reading about cruise ships and Japan in the 1920s, that leisurely pace won't be a problem. Readers expecting to have a mystery to solve may become impatient, though.
The final third of the book is where the meat of the detection and the action occur. If there had been more of this and less of the travelog, I would have easily given the book at least four stars.
If you love the Russell/Holmes series already, I would describe this as a mid-level entry. It's certainly better than The Pirate King, because Mary is on much better behavior here than in that book, and Holmes is present more of the time.
Maybe it's just me, though, but I find I'm no longer much of a fan of Mary Russell. I like strong female protagonists, and being an Oxford scholar is a fantasy for me, but in these later books in the series, Russell mainly operates on her own; that sparkling dialog and challenge of wits she used to have with Holmes is nearly nonexistent, and Russell on her own just isn't an interesting enough character to carry the books. I prefer to have my protagonist, however strong he or she is, play off another character more.
It seems clear at this point, based on the last few titles in the series, that the direction Laurie R. King is taking the story is to put Holmes very much in the background. As she is currently developed, the Mary Russell character isn't quite dimensional enough for me to be enthusiastic about that direction.
Maybe, after 14 Russell & Sherlock novels, it's time to give this series a rest and revisit King's other characters--Kate Martinelli and/or Stuyvesant & Gray, or invent a new hero/heroine?
Update, July 23, 2015: Amazon is now showing a date and title for King's next book in this series. Due out 4/9/16 and titled "The Murder of Mary Russell." Hmmmm.
Dreaming Spies has things in common with several earlier books in the series – a journey to an exotic location (in this case, Japan), a road trip in which Holmes and Russell learn more about the country, the culture, the language, and themselves, and a testing our heroes are compelled to endure before they can fully undertake the case in question. The latest book differs, however, in situating the story in two different time periods. The section in Japan takes place as Holmes and Russell are returning from India and the adventure described wonderfully in 2004’s The Game, while the story picks up again just as Russell returns to Oxford from the couple’s journey to Morocco (Garment of Shadows, 2012). Fans will enjoy the fact that for once, Holmes does not have the advantage on Russell when it comes to the country; Japan and its language are strange to him, also. Moreover, Holmes and Russell are together thorough out the book, and a good portion of the action takes place in Oxford, a city beloved to Russell and to the fans of the series.
It’s not necessary to dwell at length on the plot to assure you that this is an excellent read. We have the Emperor of Japan as a client, a missing book that is not only valuable in itself but which contains another secret, a blackmailer, a young woman who is not precisely what she seems, and mysterious events on both land and sea. And as if that is not enough, we have Oxford with its “dreaming spires,” and, as it turns out, Dreaming Spies. Very highly recommended.
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