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O Jerusalem (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes) Paperback – April 28, 2009
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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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I am a bit surprised by some of the negative reviews of this books. The characterization of most characters is well developed, and especially those of Russell, Holmes, and two marvelously imagined Arab guides Mahmoud and Ali. King, like her scholarly protagonist Mary, is knowledgeable in biblical history, which adds to the realism of the story. Through King's personal study and research, she connects the reader with details of language, custom, history, and religion to this mysterious area of the Middle East. Strong use of descriptive phrases and sense imagery let us feel the heat and cough from the dust. King's knowledge and her affinity for this area of the world and people she is portraying make the story more compelling.
Laurie King has quickly become one of my favorite authors. After reading the first three of the Holmes-Russell series which I loved, I grabbed King's first Martinelli mystery, "A Grave Talent," and I quickly realized that it is King's writing, and not just the Holmes-Russell series that I love! If you have NOT read any of the Holmes-Russell series yet, do start with "The Beekeeper's Apprentice;" it provides necessary background and sets the tone for the rest of the series, and especially for "O Jerusalem"!
Laurie King has done her homework and the reader is educated about a land that today demands our understanding of its ancient and modern history. I learned much of that background and found this adventure, situated as second in her Holmes series chronologically, to be well worth the reading.
Jean Rodenbough -- author of Rachel's Children: Surviving the Second World War, by All Things That Matter Press, and a number of other books of poetry and prose.