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A Letter of Mary: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes (A Mary Russell Mystery) Paperback – October 30, 2007
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Sherlock Holmes and his scholarly companion Mary Russell are caught up in an exciting mystery when an archaeologist leaves them with a treasured find, a papyrus supposedly written by Mary Magdalene. When the archaeoligist winds up dead and someone attempts to make off with the artifact, Holmes and Russel become embroiled in a rollicking story filled with political intrigue and highbrow sleuthing. The level of writing hasn't been higher in this Laurie King series.
From Publishers Weekly
King set a new paradigm for Holmesian scholarship with her inspired invention of a retired, still energetic Sherlock Holmes who trained young Mary Russell in The Beekeeper's Apprentice (1994) and then embraced her as a professional partner and wife (A Monstrous Regiment of Women, 1995). This third in the series, set in 1923, involves the suspicious death of Dorothy Ruskin, an amateur archeologist recently returned from Palestine, who gave Mary, an academic theologian, a letter dated about A.D. 70 written by "Mariam the Apostle" to her sister in Magdala. Mary Magdalene? An Apostle? Holmes and "Mrs. Sherlock," as Lord Peter Wimsey addresses her in a funny cameo, collaborate. Red herrings define the political and cultural climate: a retired colonel's opposition to women's suffrage; Dorothy's interest in Zionism; the British Near East scholar/spy network; the tumultuously upsetting implications of the letter for organized Christianity. The investigation also includes the Ruskin family. King's achievement is her depiction of the complex relationship between two individualists. Almost 40 years apart, they're fondly indulgent of one another's idiosyncrasies and share intellectual camaraderie, companionable humor and sexual attraction. While Sherlock delivers ongoing tutelage in arcane clue analysis, Mary hypnotizes a witness to prod her memory. If you can't imagine the misogynist Sherlock Holmes sharing domestic bliss, this novel will make you a believer. Major ad/promo; author tour; paperback rights: Bantam; audio rights: Durkin Hayes and Recorded Books.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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The story reveals Sherlock as a middle aged man, with the same personality he had as a younger man: cool, calculating, objective. Yet, he is no longer the unattached, emotionally uninvolved man we have come to know. He is married! And married to a young woman that he met when she was 15 years old, which could be a little disturbing in light of our view of him as a rigorously upright individual. He is certainly old enough to be her father.
However, it seems that Mary Russell has a personality very much akin to that of Holmes. Both have excellent deductive reasoning powers, and any passion is practically non-existent. We do, however, see concern for each other, but it still seems more like a partnership than a marriage. And where is Doctor Watson, Holmes' erstwhile partner? Well, in the background this time. Mycroft is also there, and contributes assistance when needed.
The mystery does involve a murder, and Mary gets the opportunity to go undercover as well as Holmes. There are a few twists and turns, but the cast of characters who could be the villains is limited. I suppose that makes it an easier read.