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O Jerusalem (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes) Paperback – April 28, 2009
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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"!
I do. But not this one.
Little or nothing happens. Holmes is a minor character, certainly less prominent than the two English / Arabic / Jewish cohorts whom Russell / Holmes are assigned (by Mycroft Holmes) to help. There is no deduction. There is none of Holmes' acerbic wit. There is little elaboration about the developing romantic relationship between Russell and Holmes.
The mystery is to learn what King is after, what problem are the quartet trying to solve, and why one is reading this book.
This book was set in the time after the first volume, before Russell married Holmes (about winter 1918), and in the place of Palestine. There is lots going on here - the incipient founding of the state of Israel and the collapse of the Turkish empire. But, in addition to not getting a story, we don't get any of the empire-shaking stuff either. We learn: how bedouins travel, what they eat and how, the nature of desert climate and geography, why they hated the British, and the layout of the city of the book's name. This book is a nice narrative of travel in that place and time, but it's not a much of a story.
I have bought the sixth book in this series (Justice Hall) and will read it next. I could have skipped this one.