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O Jerusalem (Mary Russell Novels) Mass Market Paperback – June 6, 2000

4.3 out of 5 stars 200 customer reviews
Book 5 of 13 in the Mary Russell Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Although O Jerusalem is Laurie King's fifth book in her Holmes-Russell series, it actually takes us back to the era of her first book, The Beekeeper's Apprentice. Perhaps King was afraid that her characters, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, were becoming too cozy as an old married couple, and she wanted to recreate the edgy sexual tension of their first encounter.

It's 1918. Nineteen-year-old Mary and her fiftysomething mentor are forced to flee England to escape a deadly adversary. Sherlock's well-connected brother Mycroft sends them to Palestine to do some international sleuthing. Here, a series of murders threatens the fragile peace.

Laurie King connects us, through details of language, custom, history, and sensual impressions, to this very alien environment. Russell, Holmes, and two marvelously imagined Arab guides named Mahmoud and Ali trek through the desert and visit ancient monasteries clinging like anthills to cliffs. They also find time to take tea with the British military legend Allenby in Haifa and skulk through or under the streets of Jerusalem. King puts us into each scene so quickly and completely that her narrative flow never falters.

Stepping back in time also gives King a chance to show us Holmes through the eyes of a Russell not yet as full of love as a honeymooner, nor as complacent as a comfortable wife. "There it was--sardonic, superior, infuriating," Mary says about Holmes's voice at one point.

Wisdom is knowing when, and how much, to shake things up--even in a successful series. Laurie King is a wise woman indeed. --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

O Jerusalem marks the fifth appearance of Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes (The Moor, LJ 12/97). This time around they have fled to Palestine on a mission for Mycroft Holmes. Disguised as itinerant Muslims and paired with two Arab spies, Russell and Holmes travel through the Holy Land trying to figure out exactly why Mycroft has sent them. A pair of seemingly unrelated murders sets them on the track of a brilliant and power-hungry killer. Only Holmes and Russell (along with some unexpected allies) can stop their adversary from destroying JerusalemAif they can get to him in time. King's clear prose and her vivid depiction of a British-occupied Palestine torn between opposing cultures are the book's main strengths. A bit slow at the start, the action gradually builds to a satisfying and dramatic conclusion. Strongly recommended for all public libraries.
-ALaurel Bliss, New Haven, CT
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Mary Russell Novels
  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (June 6, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553581058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553581058
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (200 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,295,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
When I first discovered that the latest adventure of Holmes and Russell wasn't in chronological order with Kings' previous novels in the series, I wasn't sure I'd enjoy it. That thought didn't last long. Kings' latest is, in my opinion, her best. . She always writes well, but she out did herself with this latest edition to this very enjoyable series.
This is a story rich with history, imagery and wonderful characters you really care about. Set in the Holy Land, the historical references meld neatly with Holmes' and Russell's present. Ancient history and post-WWI history is anything but dull as King paints a picture both realistic and captivating.
Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell are, as always, strong characters, but the other central characters are well rounded and real as well. I came to care about them and hated to come to the end of this novel. I hope that we'll meet up with Ali and Mahmoud, the odd detecting duos reluctant cohorts, again soon.
If you're uncertain about whether or not to buy this novel, don't be. Buy it now and feel the heat of the ancient desert between your toes. :o)
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I had the luxury of reading this book second, where it naturally fits timewise in the series, and I could not find the lack of plot and cold narration that other readers noticed. In fact, to me, this book is as good or BETTER than Beekeeper's Apprentice, simply due to the very details that some said would better fit in a travel guide. The way to snare a reader is to make them feel they are really there. I could almost feel the sand between my teeth and smell the smoke from the campfires. I'm sorry, but I love that kind of detail. Why read if all you want is taut dialogue? Might as well listen to the radio or something . . . Give me the descriptions anytime. All in all, I have found King to be a lovely read, and all too often, I find that I have over-stayed my time on lunch breaks because I've detoured through the Holy Land with Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have read most of the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes books, and was excited to see this one in paperback, but found it a less enjoyable read than her previous books (especially Beekeeper's Apprentice). It's tone and plot were a bit of a departure from the usual, which might be related to the "exotic" setting and, as another reviewer said, it's not really that much of a mystery. I felt like the book was loaded down with a lot of action that made it less interesting to me, because it was hard to figure out what the story was going towards, and hard to figure out what exactly was going on. One of the things I did find interesting was the beginnings of the romance between Holmes & Russell. I would say this book was well-written and evocative, but if you are looking for a page-turning mystery, this is not the book for you.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Laurie King has swiftly become one of my favorite authors -- the sort who make you grab any book with their name on the cover, without even reading what it's "about." She's an extremely powerful writer who puts you into the middle of the story/world she's writing about, and your "real life" goes away.

If you've found your way to this page, it's likely that you've read at least one of the books in the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series. If not, I strongly urge you to start with the first book, the Beekeeper's Apprentice. This story takes place chronologically in the middle of that book (with an arm wave to "after our adventures in Palestine" in the first novel), and I believe you really do need to have that foundation to get the most out of O Jerusalem. You don't, however, need to have read the other books in the series; in fact, I've found myself wondering if I'd have liked this one even better if I'd read it second.

What King does very well, here, is present a mystery story against a backdrop of history which most of us (including me) know only vaguely. During the action of O Jerusalem, the British have recently gotten control over the area, and we see the tensions and cultural clashes between Arab, Jew, Turk, British, and anybody else passing through. By the end, and without the pain of a history lesson, I'd learned a lot more about early 20th century problems and gotten a clue about how they affect us today.

Other reviewers have criticized King for creating a pre-feminist Mary Russell who magically raises the consciousness of the Arab men around her. P'shaw.
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It's true that Laurie King has never quite equaled The Beekeeper's Apprentice, but I don't really hold that against her. How could she equal that original book of the series? What's is important is that she's consistently entertaining, and that she is, even if she hasn't quite equaled her greatest moment. I have enjoyed every Mary Russell novel. Each novel has its constant joys, particularly the magnificent (particularly for genre literature) characterizations of Holmes and Russell. Under King's pen, Holmes becomes more human. With the development of the relationship between him and Russell, Holmes becomes much more than a rational machine. There's some actual character growth here. Of course, Mary Russell is quite the character as well. Laurie King also has the ability to throw in large plot twists that drive the Sherlock Holmes mystery to new places. In O Jerusalem, it is setting of the story in the post-World War I Middle East that makes this original. The clash of cultures, ample dose of history, the harsh living conditions all add to the adventure. In particular, O Jerusalem is made strong by the introduction of two characters, Mahmoud and Ali, who are compelling in their own ways. My one problem with the novel is that there is an enormous buildup and a somewhat weaker ending than is expected. Overall though, it is still an excellent read. The historical setting and the strong characters keep this series strong.
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